Socialist Worker

Reports round up: Bosses’ tricks can’t squash Robinsons workers’ resolve

Issue No. 2620

A BritVic striker speaking at the Burtson School Strike rally

A BritVic striker speaking at the Burtson School Strike rally

Robinsons (Britvic) strikers in Norwich received a boost last Sunday at the annual Burston School Strike Rally in Norfolk.

A striking GMB union member addressed the crowd from the stage and people donated generously to the hardship fund.

The squash factory workers were set to strike again on Thursday and Friday of this week, Monday and Friday of next week and on 9, 20, 21 and 22 September. Bosses are offering above-average pay rates to agency workers to cover the strike.

But this is a winnable dispute. On one of the recent strike days bosses only managed to get six pallets loaded.

And they will not want to risk losing wholesale customers, as it could take months to win back those contracts.

Wendy Smith

Wetherspoon workers join the battle for £10 an hour

Workers at two Wetherspoon pubs in Brighton could strike for £10 an hour and union recognition.

The Bfawu union members of The Bright Helm and The Post & Telegraph are being balloted for industrial action.

Chris Heppell, a kitchen worker at The Post & Telegraph, said, “I’ve worked at Wetherspoon’s for four years.

“In that time I’ve struggled to survive on poverty wages and seen my colleagues battle to make ends meet.”

The Weatherspoon chain, which owns around 900 pubs, saw its profits before tax surge by 27 percent to £102.8 million in 2017.

Ian Hodson, Bfawu national president, said, “Wetherspoon depends on its workers to make its large profits.

“The least those workers deserve is a living wage of £10 an hour to ensure they can afford the basic things in life.”

The dispute at the two pubs follows strikes by workers at McDonald’s sites in London, Cambridge and Manchester for a £10 an hour wage and union recognition. Chris said, “The McStrikers standing up for £10 an hour and a union showed us that if we come together in a union we can make our voices heard.”

Activists build pay fight at universities and colleges

Tens of thousands of UCU union members are balloting for strikes over pay. The ballot involves workers in 110 English colleges and 147 universities.

Workers are challenging below-inflation offers and years of real terms pay cuts.

University bosses offered workers in universities a 2 percent rise.

But the union said pay has fallen by 21 percent in real terms since 2009. For college workers, the drop is 25 percent.

The ballot in higher education (HE) follows a series of impressive strikes earlier this year over pensions.

Thousands joined the union to be part of the action, and many helped to organise the strikes. These new activists can help build the pay ballot.

Workers must organise Get the Vote Out campaigns to win the biggest possible turnout in the ballots. This can start with organising meetings to pull workers together and plan how to check members in every department have voted.

In HE workers are demanding a rise of 7.5 percent. Big surpluses in universities mean the money is there to meet the claim.

Further education workers want a 5 percent rise. Again the money is there to pay it—a third of college bosses grabbed pay rises of over 10 percent in 2016/17.

The ballots end on 19 October.

Union calls off oil rig workers’ walkout

The Unite union suspended strikes for talks at Total oil rigs last week.

Workers at the Elgin, Alwyn and Dunbar platforms off the coast of Scotland are fighting changes to their shift patterns.

Bosses want to implement three weeks on, three weeks off rotas.

But research suggests that the proposed shift patterns are damaging to workers.

A report from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen said those on three week cycles are almost twice as likely to experience ill health compared to those on two week cycles.

The workers had been set to strike for 12 hours on Monday followed by action every other Monday.

Cheque workers strike over pay

Cheque printers in Crewe struck for higher pay on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week.

The walkouts marked the second week of strikes by the Unite union members at communications giant Communisis.

They are planning to strike for four more Monday and Tuesdays to fend off a rubbish three-year pay deal that bosses have imposed on them.

The deal would see workers get a below-inflation pay rise of 2 percent in the first year and 3 percent in the second and third years.

Crane makers aim for higher pay offer

Workers at crane manufacturers Liebherr in Sunderland struck for two days last week and are preparing for two further days of action on Thursday and Friday.

The Unite union members voted overwhelmingly against the bosses’ pay offer.

It would have seen them get a 3 percent pay rise, a £150 lump sum and an extra day off at Christmas. The crane builders plan a further four days of action if the bosses don’t give in.

Protest demands union recognition

Workers protested outside the offices of uniforms company Arco in Preston last Wednesday.

Bosses derecognised the workers’ GMB union after it held a ballot over a pay offer.

Arco workers sew badges onto uniforms for companies such as arms manufacturer BAE Systems

Karen Lewis, GMB Regional Organiser, said, “This is nothing more than bully boy tactics meant to intimidate those less able to speak up for themselves.”

Derby debates how to transform society

Around 400 people joined the Derby Transformed conference last Saturday.

It was organised by left wing Labour MP Chris Williamson and supported by Labour left group Momentum.

The mood was for action.

Nahella Ashraf from Stand Up To Racism gave a rousing speech in the session on fighting racism and fascism.

She spoke alongside Ash Sarkar from the Novara Media website.

Other sessions asked, how do we transform the Midlands for the many? And is the media biased?

Hopefully the great feeling on the day will be followed up by activity on the streets.

Sue Arguile

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