Socialist Worker

Reports round-up: Unite tells construction workers not to walk off site if one of them dies

Issue No. 2622

The Unite union has agreed a deal that would see workers carry on working if anyone is killed during construction of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.

The union encouraged construction workers to agree to the deal.

It goes against what is standard practice in construction to down tools on site in the event of a fatality.

Unite said, “If a terrible tragedy should occur and someone is killed on site then it is essential that workers in the immediate vicinity and anyone also potentially in danger should leave the site.

“The size and scale of the Hinkley project is unique.

“Workers on one part of the project will likely never meet or see workers on other sections.

“Such a policy if it is properly and sensitively applied is appropriate.”

In return for the promise not to stop work, a price has been put on the life of workers on the project. This would see families receive £50,000 if a worker dies.

Management also offered to match any money raised by workers.

Scot rally demands second referendum

Around 500 Scottish independence supporters gathered at a Hope Over Fear rally in Glasgow’s George Square last Saturday.

The rally was led by socialist former MSP Tommy Sheridan.

Among the other speakers was Scottish National Party MP Angus MacNeil, who said he thought another referendum would take place next year.

He said, “These rallies are important because we have to be ready.

“It is going to happen and it’s going to happen fairly soon.”

Journalists chase redundancy pay

Journalists in the south west of England began an industrial tribunal claim on Monday.

They claim they are owed up to £250,000 in total.

View From newspapers was based in Lyme Regis, Dorset.

It was closed on 4 January due to “falling revenues” according to former owner Peter Masters, also owner of the Sunday Independent.

Some 27 former employees at the newspapers are still chasing redundancy and notice payments.

British Steel bosses to slash 400 jobs

Bosses at British Steel are trying to slash 400 jobs in what they claim is a “streamlining” process.

The plans are likely to hit some of the 4,000 workers based at its Scunthorpe plant in North Lincolnshire.

The National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee said, “Throughout the consultation process the trade unions will challenge every job reduction and seek to mitigate the impact of the company’s proposals.”

The most effective way to challenge job cuts is through strikes, occupations and protests.

Activists in Cardiff discuss far right

Over 70 people joined an anti-fascist meeting in the Bangladesh Centre in Cardiff last Saturday.

People heard from professor Abyd Quinn Aziz and Institute of Race Relations director Liz Fekete.

They described the growing threat posed by fascists and the racist right throughout Europe and what we need to do in order to defeat it.

The meeting, organised by Unite Against Fascism Wales, brought together Labour Party activists, Muslims and many others.

Everyone left determined to build even greater unity in the struggle against fascism.

Julian Goss

The anti-fracking protest in parliament square

The anti-fracking protest in parliament square (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Activists gathered in central London to raise awareness of the climate-destroying fracking industry last Wednesday.

Many came on coaches from Lancashire, where fracking is likely to begin soon at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool. And some dressed as Suffragettes to “highlight how there are still many democracy issues on dirty energy companies taking priority over communities”.

Traffic wardens in Camden, north London, are preparing for strikes, despite Tory anti-union laws forcing them to call off a strike planned for this week.

The Unison union members are now set to start a five-day strike on 1 October.

The 120 workers are currently paid the London Living Wage of just £10.20 an hour, but are fighting for a pay rise to £11.15 an hour.

Local government workers across Scotland could be moving towards action, as they are balloted over a pay offer.

The Unison, Unite and GMB unions wrote to local authorities’ body Cosla to say they would recommend rejection of a below-inflation 3 percent rise for all those earning under £80,000 a year.

Mark Ferguson, chair of Unison Scotland’s local government committee, said “Many workers are relying on food banks to get by.”

A walkout by prison officers last week in protest at “unprecedented” inmate violence ended after the Tories withdrew a legal threat.

Up to 5,000 members of the Prison Officers Association union were accused of “unlawful action” when they started demonstrating outside jails last Friday.

It was triggered by a report into “dangerous lack of control” at HMP Bedford.

Staff returned to work after six hours when the Prison Service agreed to hold talks.

Prison officers are legally banned from industrial action.

It should be remembered that the victims of the prison system are the prisoners rather than the prison officers.

Those locked up are mostly poor and disproportionately black. Increasing numbers suffer mental health problems.

Prison officers’ work upholding law and order frequently pushes them to accept the actions of the prisons system.

Keep the guards on trains

A support rally in Leeds

A support rally in Leeds (Pic: Neil Terry)

Workers on the Northern and South Western train lines struck again last Saturday in their fight for passenger and staff safety.

It’s part of a programme of action against the rollout of driver-only operated trains that would see bosses scrap train guards.

This would make train travel unsafe as there would be no member of staff to help passengers if they become unwell, or need assistance.

Wheelchair users would also find it harder to travel by train.

The strike is hitting South Western hard—managers are being paid £250 a day to break the strike.

Northern and the RMT union were set for negotiations this week.

Safety-critical workers help keep the transport system safe—don’t let greedy bosses get rid of them.

Workers on the Eurostar are preparing for a 48-hour strike that is set to severely disrupt the international train line.

It follows a 24-hour strike in June, where 140 station staff walked out.

Now train managers (guards) are joining the fray. They voted by 92 percent to strike, on a 60 percent turnout.

The RMT union members are fighting for passenger and worker safety.

Delays to the service mean the platform at St Pancras station in London becomes dangerously overcrowded.

During the peak summer rush, thousands of passengers can be squeezed on to the station concourse.

This leaves staff dealing with the brunt of public anger, causing stressful and chaotic working conditions.

Workers should strike until bosses take the safety of passengers and staff seriously.

Tube drivers on the London Underground are set to strike in a long-running dispute over the “abject failure” of transport bosses.

RMT union members on the Piccadilly line say they will strike for 48 hours from 12 noon on Wednesday of next week.

This will be followed by a five-hour walkout from 8.30pm on Friday.

The action is in reaction to “a comprehensive failure by management to deliver on promised improvements following previous rounds of industrial action”.

The RMT said bosses have failed to deliver on a “raft of issues” including health and safety, and abuse of policies and procedures.

Workers at Trent Barton buses in the East Midlands struck for the second time on Monday. There were more workers on the picket line than the previous week.

Workers are fighting for a better pay increase than the bosses’ offer of 2.5 percent.

Some drivers are choosing to work in a different part of the company, rather than come out on strike.

But there are plans to escalate the action, with a further 460 drivers due to ballot on action.

The Unite union members plan to strike on the next two Mondays with further strikes if necessary.

Richard Buckwell

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