Socialist Worker

Reports round-up

Issue No. 2492

Anti-fracking protestors say ‘leave it in the ground’ to oil bosses

Protesting near Gatwick airport

Protesting near Gatwick airport (Pic: Frack Free Surrey)

Up to 150 people—including 40 cyclists—protested at Horse Hill near Gatwick airport against oil drilling last Saturday.

Prospector Horse Hill Developments Limited is testing the flow of an oil well it drilled in 2014. Shareholders UK Oil and Gas say they won’t frack the site—but their plans rely on “tight oil” which can only be extracted by fracking.

An earthquake in Canada last week underlined the dangers of fracking. Protesters also pointed to the need to “keep it in the ground” to address climate change.

An inquiry into fracking in Lancashire continues. Residents in affected villages testified last week.

Storms brewing over Met Office pay row

Managers and specialists at weather forecaster the Met Office were set to strike on Wednesday of this week as part of a fight over pay. The Prospect union members are demanding that the Tory government lifts its pay policy to bring pay in line with the private sector.

Prospect says pay at the Met Office is as much as 30 percent lower than in the private sector. They also say the policy means the Met Office cannot give women equal pay to men.

Eighteen rail stations prepared for sale in Scotland

The Tories are bringing in bankers from Citibank to sell off Network Rail’s biggest stations to developers and shopping centre landlords. The bankers are looking at options for 18 major rail stations that could see outright sales or concessions for big firms that would last decades. It is being sold as a way to pay off billions in debt. But without huge cuts this wouldn’t be necessary.

Radical Independence Campaign pulls 200

More than 200 people joined the Radical Independence Campaign’s conference in Edinburgh last Saturday. A debate on the European Union referendum was one of the busiest sessions. Other issues taken up included land reform, climate change and the TTIP trade deal. Robin McAlpine of left wing think tank Common Weal outlined plans to win a second independence referendum in 2021.

Which cider you on, workers ask MPs

Unite union shop stewards from a threatened cider mill in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, lobbied MPs in the all-parliamentary cider group in Westminster on Tuesday.Bosses C&C are moving cider production to the Magners plant in Ireland. It will take a fight to save jobs.

Charity workers won’t donate their pay to bosses

Workers in the Unite and Unison unions have voted for strikes at charity Action for Children. Unite has over 400 members, Unison 700. Bosses are imposing a below inflation pay deal for around 2,000 workers.

Defend Rotherham anti-Nazis campaign

A defence campaign will be launched in Rotherham this Saturday to support a group of Asian men arrested after an anti-Nazi demonstration. They are charged with violent disorder following a march by Britain First last September.

Defence campaign launch, Saturday 27 February, 1.30pm, Unity Centre, St Leonard’s Road, Rotherham, S65 1PD.

Bedroom tax worse than was predicted

Victims of the bedroom tax lose an average of £66 more a year than the government predicted when it was brought in, new figures reveal. Social housing tenants with a bedroom deemed spare lose £15.27 a week—up 10 percent from the originally estimated £14.

Firefighters' dispute hots up in South Yorkshire

Fire brigade workers in South Yorkshire were set to begin action short of strikes on Wednesday of this week.

The FBU union members are fighting bosses’ plans to cut the number of emergency control operators.

South Yorkshire Fire Brigade bosses also want to change the way annual leave is managed.

Workers were set to begin a non-compliance campaign with the new leave system this Wednesday.

This means bosses would have no way of telling how many firefighters are on duty across the district at any one time.

West Midlands firefighters launch industrial action 

n Firefighters in the West Midlands are set to launch action short of a strike in a fight over pay. The FBU union wants West Midlands Fire Service bosses to pay workers the time and a half pay rate for overtime.

After cutting hundreds of jobs, bosses rely on firefighters working overtime for fire engines to be properly crewed. And as many as 300 more firefighter jobs could be cut across the district.

A ballot result announced on Monday showed 87 percent in favour of action.

The form of action had not been announced as Socialist Worker went to press.

GMB strike pours cold water on bosses

Water workers across the North West of England struck for 27 hours on Friday and Saturday of last week.

The 700 GMB union members are fighting bosses’ plans to close their final salary pension scheme after March.

They are employed by energy giant United Utilities.

The GMB members mounted solid pickets across the company’s 18 water and waste treatement sites.

Simon Loonan was picketing the Belmont Road site in Bolton.

He said, “If this goes ahead then it will take away the choice to retire earlier.

“But it will also remove that choice from my spouse and the benefit of more time with my children as well.”

He added, “To take that choice away after more than 20 years is very unfair.”

Workers had voted 82.4 percent to strike in a ballot in January.

The union should call more strikes if bosses don’t back down.

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