Socialist Worker

Reports round-up

Issue No. 2506

Durham TAs defy Labour pay cuts

Teaching assistants (TAs) and the wider trade union movement in County Durham are coming together to resist a major attack on pay voted through by the Labour-dominated council.

County Durham trades council has organised a solidarity meeting to help build a campaign to defend 2,700 TAs from a savage pay cut of up to 23 percent.

The “savings” are equivalent to the wages of just 28 senior staff at the council.

Councillors plan to sack every TA and rehire them on new contracts from January.

The workers’ union, Unison, has still not balloted workers for action. Trade unionists were furious that a union official last week was actively trying to sabotage the solidarity meeting.

Activists should redouble their efforts to build for the biggest possible turnout at the solidarity event.

Solidarity event hosted by Durham trades council, Thursday 9 June, 7pm, Durham Miners Association, Flass Street, DH1 4BE.

Birmingham council sick pay fightback

The GMB union has forced Birmingham City Council to back off from slashing council workers’ sick pay.

The Labour-run council’s plans would have seen council and school support workers lose pay for the first three days of sickness.

Christine Mooney, the GMB Birmingham education branch secretary, told Socialist Worker, “It’s a big victory. We started balloting our members and then the council backed down.”

GMB members have shown that it’s possible to successfully resist council bosses’ attacks.

Parents and children fight against academy plans

Children and parents protest against academy plans in Leytonstone

Children and parents protest against academy plans in Leytonstone

A strong protest by parents at George Tomlinson Primary School took place in Leytonstone, east London, on Friday of last week. The local authority has appointed an interim head from Lime Academy Trust.

Within days this head declared the school in crisis, despite Ofsted having rated it “Good with outstanding features”. Children have come home saying, “There are lots of people with clickety-clack shoes in school” and, “The new teachers don’t like us”.

Parents suspect a plan to convert the school to an academy. Around 100 protested outside school after drop-off and then petitioned at Leytonstone station.

Ben Morris

Tories in solidarity with GTR rail bosses

The Tories are helping out train bosses in south east England as they confront unions and drive through changes that will be felt across Britain’s railways.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) bosses have docked extra pay from striking train guards and victimised strikers. They are using the courts to block driver strikes.

The RMT and Aslef unions are resisting the extension of driver-only operation on Southern Railway and Gatwick Express—both part of GTR.

Facing calls to remove the franchise from GTR, the government changed the rules to allow the firm to increase train cancellations by a third.

Binworkers battle on in South Ayshire

Refuse workers in South Ayrshire are continuing a series of half-hour strikes over bosses at the Tory-run council imposing new shift patterns on them.

The Unite union members are striking against new shifts that now see bin collections up to 10pm.

The short strikes are well-supported and are disrupting the service.

Three to one vote for strike to take off

Thomas Cook Airlines cabin crew have voted by 74 percent to strike over health and safety concerns and changes to rest breaks.

Their union Unite was in talks with bosses as Socialist Worker went to press.

The Unite members work on flights to major tourist destinations from ten airports.

Chance for action to flow in North Sea

StrikEs on North Sea oil platforms are possible after talks over pay, proposed cuts and changes to working conditions by the Wood Group broke down.

Wood Group is proposing pay cuts of up to 30 percent.

Unite says it will now prepare to ballot several hundred members working for Wood Group.

Addison Lee sacks drivers after demo

At least five drivers working for taxi firm Addison Lee have been made redundant after a GMB union demonstration against the company’s terms and conditions.

According to the union, within an hour of the protest ending, Addison Lee terminated the contracts of three GMB group reps without explanation.

The GMB needs to take urgent action against this blatant attack.

Cinema workers strike for bigger picture

Striking workers at the Rio cinema in Dalston

Striking workers at the Rio cinema in Dalston (Pic: Sasha Simic)

Workers at the Rio Cinema in Hackney, east London, struck on Wednesday of last week against new contracts that will mean redundancies and less pay.

Sofie Mason, an official of the strikers’ Bectu union, said, “The new contracts begin on 1 June. 30 out of 33 staff will not sign them.

"We need the support of local trade unions and community organisations to win this.”

Two strikes for 2 Sisters

Workers at factories owned by food manufacturer 2 Sisters in Sheffield and Newport in South Wales were set to strike over pay this week.

Members of the Bfawu union at Newport’s RF Brookes and Sheffield’s Pennine plants are fighting plans to cut overtime and shift allowances.

Around half of the 800 workers at RF Brookes were set to start a two-day walkout on Thursday this week.

And in a separate but related dispute, workers at Pennine, which makes ready meals for Marks & Spencer, were set to strike on Sunday and Monday.

It will follow a previous

48-hour walkout and a protest outside Marks & Spencer in Sheffield last week. Unite union members at the 2 Sisters Pizza Factory in Nottingham have also begun a strike ballot.

Protest demands freedom for campaigners in Egypt

Students, academics, trade unionists and campaigners from Amnesty International and Egypt Solidarity Initiative protested on Friday of last week against state violence in Egypt.

They demanded the truth about the murder of Giulio Regeni and justice for Egypt’s disappeared.

Meanwhile 47 of the

101 Egyptian activists recently sentenced to five years in jail have had their custodial sentences quashed.

This is clear evidence that organised resistance and solidarity have an effect.

However, the appeal did not remove the very large fines imposed on them and they are likely to spend several months in jail because they cannot afford to pay.

The 47 affected are those unjustly sentenced after protests against the Western-backed Egyptian regime selling the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.

The jailings were met by a wave of outrage in Egypt and expressions of international solidarity with the prisoners.

A support statement in Britain won widespread backing from union leaders, campaigners, academics and MPs.

Now there needs to be more protests to free the other 54 sentenced to five years in jail, the 50 others sentenced to two years, and all of Egypt’s prisoners.

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Tue 31 May 2016, 16:00 BST
Issue No. 2506
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