Socialist Worker

Reports round-up: Ambulance strike, Oil walkouts, Living Wage strikes and more

Issue No. 2614

Chagossians held a two-day protest in London

Chagossians held a two-day protest in London (Pic: Chagos Islanders Movement)


Chagossians—people exiled from their homes on the island of Chagos in 1966—held a two-day protest in Trafalgar Square last weekend (see above).

They were raising awareness of their battle for justice and the right to return to the island in the Indian Ocean.

Harold Wilson’s Labour government forcibly removed Chagossians from the island to make room for a US military base.

Chagossians have lived in exile in Mauritius and Britain ever since—many of them in poverty.

The protest was organised by the Chagos Islanders Movement and supported by the Chagos Support Association.

Nick Clark


North Sea oil rig strike hits production hard

Workers struck for 24 hours on North Sea rigs operated by oil giant Total on Monday.

The action is over a wage review that could force workers to increase offshore working time from two weeks on, three weeks off to three on, three off.

The Unite union said action by 44 of its members had halted production on the Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin platforms.

John Boland, Unite regional officer, said, “This is about having more time at home with families and loved ones.”

One-day walkouts are set to take place on 6 and 20 August, and 12-hour stoppages were planned for 30 July and 13 August.

Unite said a continuous ban on overtime had also begun.

The Energy Voice website reported that “anger over the firm’s plans to hold a barbecue in the midst of redundancies” had led to increasing “tensions”.

  • GMB and Unite union members working for Aker Solutions on board the Statoil Mariner Oil Platform have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.

They are in dispute over pay and conditions. GMB members voted by nearly

78 percent for action, and Unite members by 83 percent. The GMB turnout was 79 percent.

Initial plans for staggered increasing strikes have been substituted for a full strike at the earliest possible date after a seconded proposal from the floor.

Rig worker


Paramedics stage walkout saying, ‘Enough is enough’

Ambulance staff across the north west of England struck for 12 hours last Saturday.

Around 160 workers took part in a walkout in Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

It was the fourth walkout by paramedics in recent weeks after a ballot saw more than 84 percent of those who responded vote for strikes.

They have been waiting for the outcome of job re-evaluations going back more than a decade.

Mike Buoey, GMB union organiser, said, “Our members are desperate to get this situation resolved.

“They’ve been waiting a long time for their job to be re-evaluated for the years between 2005 to 2016.

“We’ve had just one meeting since the strikes started—most of the time we are forced to speak via email.

“We’ve asked a number of times to meet with the chair of the Trust, and we get ignored.

“After almost 13 years, our members are now saying enough is enough.”


Sky's the limit for Aberdeen Airport workers

Aberdeen Airport workers have won a 3 percent pay rise following the threat of a strike.

Some 170 Unite members voted for action. They were demanding parity with workers at Glasgow International Airport who were awarded 3 percent.

Bosses tried to get Aberdeen workers to accept a 2.8 percent rise, but workers rejected that offer.

Meanwhile baggage handlers, check-in and boarding staff at Luton airport have suspended a planned strike.

The Unite members will be considering a revised offer on pay and conditions from Menzies Aviation.

And at Manchester Airport, workers will be considering a new offer on rosters.

Their Unite union is recommending acceptance of the deal.

The security staff, who are also Unite members, were due to start a strike ballot on Friday of last week.


Now squash the bosses

Strikes are set to hit a Britvic factory in Norwich as workers begin walkouts over redundancy packages. Bosses plan to close the factory by 2019, putting 242 jobs at risk.

The industrial action will see strikes for three days for the next six weeks. It follows a 24-hour strike on 12 July.

The site is the home of Robinson’s squash and Fruit Shoot.

The workforce is split into three groups, who will each strike for one day a week.

Technical operators will walk out every Wednesday, operators on Thursdays and drive site and engineering staff on Fridays.

Ivan Mercer, GMB regional organiser, said, “It is clear that Britvic have no concern for the well-being of their employees.”


NHS workers vow to beat back outsourcing bosses

NHS workers in the Unison union are campaigning to stop their jobs being outsourced from Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation.

A key decision on their futures was set to be made at a board meeting this week.

The board at the hospital will meet to decide whether to transfer services such as estates and facilities to a wholly owned subsidiary company.

This could mean staff lose the benefits and protections of working for the NHS.

Dropped

A similar move was recently dropped after a series of strikes at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust.

Trusts claim that money will be saved by exploiting a tax loophole. But the major savings will come from employing new staff on non-NHS terms and conditions with no access to the NHS Pension Scheme.

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said, “This worrying trend is caused by the government’s underfunding of the NHS.

Trusts are seeking to save money by creating wholly owned subsidiary companies but it is the workers and patients who lose out as a result.

“As we saw in Wigan, NHS staff will fight being outsourced, and they will win.”

If the board goes ahead with the plans, workers will have to follow Wigan’s example and strike.


Cleaners set for Living Wage strikes

Workers at the Ministry of Justice and Kensington and Chelsea council have voted for strikes.

The United Voices of the World union members are set to strike for the London Living Wage of £10.20 an hour.

They are currently paid £7.83 an hour and employed by outsourcing firms.

Cleaners at the Ministry of Justice do not get the same holiday and sick pay entitlements as workers employed directly.

The strike dates are 7 August to 9 August.

To donate to the workers’ strike fund go to uvwunion.org.uk/current-campaigns

A postal ballot for London bus garages

Bus workers at nine garages in London are preparing for a ballot on whether to strike over pay.

Unite union members at Arriva North garages returned an overwhelming vote to take action in a consultative vote.

Some 1,161 workers backed a strike, while only 31 voted against action.


Anger at academy job cuts in Walsall

The GMB union has slammed an academy chain’s plan to make 13 school support staff redundant.

The move will affect children at Bloxwich Academy in Walsall.

The GMB suggested that chief executive Dame Maureen Brennan could take a pay cut instead of slashing workers’ jobs.

She gets £150,000 a year.


Tolpuddle Festival draws thousands

Thousands of people gathered for the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival in Dorset last weekend.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady stressed the need for unity among workers.

“Black and white, women and men, migrant and indigenous—we are all working people and we will always be stronger together,” she said.


Mass struggle can shift Welsh Labour

Mark Drakeford, Labour leadership candidate in Wales and a Corbyn supporter, addressed a meeting of Swansea Momentum last week.

He represents a welcome change from current first minister Carwyn Jones.

But a candidate can win the popular vote but still lose because of the impact of the electoral college.

A mass movement from below is needed to drive through a radical alternative.

Rhoda Thomas and Tim Evans


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