Socialist Worker

Reports round-up - new strikes over guards and against driver-only operation

Issue No. 2602

Rail workers and supporters protested at parliament last week

Rail workers and supporters protested at parliament last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A fresh wave of strikes is set to begin as workers continue the fight for guards on trains.

The RMT union has called a strike for 9 May on Northern, Greater Anglia and South Western.

Workers on South Western also plan to walk out on 11, 14, 16 and 18 May.

They are fighting against driver-only operation which workers say will make trains unsafe and inaccessible.

Rail workers and their supporters demonstrated at parliament last week on the second anniversary of the battle over driver-only operation.


Scotrail workers were set to strike on Saturday over attacks to their service that are so severe the RMT union says they will compromise public safety.

Bosses want to chop 17 jobs from a CCTV monitoring service in Paisley and Dumfermline.

Workers there watch CCTV from Scotrail’s whole network, and say these cuts will have a huge impact on the service they provide.

The redundancy programme means the remaining workers will have to work enforced nightshifts, with staff having to “tear apart their work-life balance”.

A further strike is planned for 11 June.


Post workers call for ballot on changes to conditions

Postal workers at the CWU union conference last week called for union members to be balloted on any final agreement to changes to working conditions in Royal Mail.

Delegates passed a motion calling for ballots, after an agreement with bosses committed the union to trials of new working practices.

Many of the trials are aimed at making Royal Mail more efficient—which can mean cuts and increased pressure on workers.

The conference also passed two motions against management bullying.

Meanwhile delegates to the CWU’s Telecoms and Financial Services (TFS) conference called for industrial action by members working for BT Openreach.

A motion attacked bosses for breaching an agreement that protects workers from working more than 12 Saturdays a year.

It called for a campaign “up to and including industrial action”.


Usdaw conference shows move left

The retail and distribution workers’ trade union, Usdaw, held its annual conference at the end of April.

Usdaw—the fifth biggest union with 433,000 members—has long been a strong ally of the Labour right. A farewell video for outgoing general secretary John Hannett had contributions from Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

But times may be changing. Many delegates expressed a feeling that Usdaw should be more engaged with the wider labour movement.

There were calls for it to take mobilising for events such as the TUC’s demo on 12 May more seriously.

The union’s national executive was also defeated over its opposition to a motion calling for a legal maximum wage set at ten times the minimum wage.

Usdaw conference delegate


PCS conference could go for a pay ballot

The PCS civil service union will debate whether to ballot for industrial action to beat the 1 percent pay cap at its conference this month.

The PCS is demanding a 5 percent pay rise, a minimum wage of £10 an hour, pay equality and a restructure of pay and grading structure.

Delegates to the union’s annual conference in Brighton will vote on whether to launch a national ballot.

A consultative ballot last year saw nearly 79 percent vote for action on a 49 percent turnout. A strike ballot can build on that result.


PCS union members at conciliation service Acas are set to strike on Friday of next week.

They are fighting to stop attacks on pay grading and the closure of an office in Liverpool.


McDonnell speech cheered at Manchester May Day rally

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell was cheered by a May Day festival crowd in Manchester last Sunday when he set out Labour’s plan for government.

Labour would address homelessness and unsanitary rented property by building a million new homes, McDonnell said.

Labour would challenge big business to pay proper taxes, including a “Tobin tax” on financial transactions, and would nationalise some water, energy and rail provision.

But we also need a strong trade union movement, McDonnell said.

It’s clear that we’ll need a huge popular movement outside parliament, because the rich and powerful will not stand by as a left Labour government moves to take away chunks of their power.

Mike Killlian


NHS workers protest during strike ballot in Wigan

Hospital workers protested in Wigan last week as they took part in a strike ballot.

Workers at three hospitals in the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS foundation trust could strike over plans to outsource their jobs to wholly-owned subsidiary company, WWL Solutions.


Join silent walk to demand justice for Grenfell

The monthly Silent Walk demanding justice for the people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire is set to take place on Monday 14 May at 7pm.

This month it will revert to its original route—departing from outside the Methodist Church on Lancaster West road.

Earlier in the day at 3pm a protest will take place outside parliament.

A motion is being debated calling for a panel with decision-making abilities to be appointed to the public inquiry into the fire.


Victory for cleaners over redundancies

Workers at professional services firm Ernst and Young have won their fight against redundancies.

Around 65 cleaners work across three of the firm’s London sites. They were told by management that “restructuring” would lead to job losses.

Their union, the Independent Workers of Great Britain, balloted them.

On Wednesday workers announced that management had backed down.

“It shows that if we unionise we can fight back,” said one worker. “I want to say to all outsourced workers that we can fight back.

“We decided to fight and unionised in a couple of weeks. Now there are 40 of us.”


Hackney wardens will not park action

Parking wardens in Hackney, east London, are preparing to walk out on 14 and 15 May over pay. The Unite union members voted 100 percent for action.

Nearly 40 wardens work for APCOA Parking, which was awarded the contract by Hackney council. Workers want a 5 percent rise and action over sickness procedures and holiday allocation.


Fight against cuts to free school meals

Activists in Dorset met last weekend to discuss how cuts to free school meals will affect the most vulnerable families.

People in Weymouth and Portland have the lowest average wages in Britain.

The meeting was called by Weymouth and Portland Action on Wages.

Ali Chown, Dorset divisional secretary of the education union NEU, said, “The attack on free school meals is part of a wider attack on education.”


Workers refuse to eat amid germs

Refuse workers in Slough are balloting for action over the dismissal of a Unite union activist. Peter Nolan’s hearing was set for Tuesday this week.

His suspension concerned management putting pressure on workers not to return to the depot for their meal break.

Workers say they have no access to washing facilities, leading to a high chance of contracting disease.


Torus workers want a fight for more pay

Housing maintenance workers at Torus Group, who maintain social housing for 22,000 tenants in Warrington and St Helens, are fighting a below-inflation pay increase.

A consultative ballot rejected the bosses’ offer of 1.5 percent for 2017-18 and 2 percent for 2018-19.


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Tue 1 May 2018, 15:32 BST
Issue No. 2602
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