Socialist Worker

Reports round-up - Birmingham care workers overwhelmingly back more action

Issue No. 2634


Care workers in Birmingham during a previous strike to save the service

Care workers in Birmingham during a previous strike to save the service (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Home care workers in Birmingham have overwhelmingly backed more strikes in their fight against job cuts and privatisation.

The 120 Unison union members have been fighting the

Labour-run council’s package of redundancies and cuts since January.

They have voted to strike by 97 percent on a turnout of 73 percent. It is an overwhelming mandate for Unison to call further strikes.

Overall, it is a better result than both of their previous ballots and shows workers’ determination to fight.

The Tories’ Trade Union Act requires unions to reballot their members every six months.

Every trade unionist should build solidarity for the care workers’ crucial fight.

Donate to the strike fund at

Brum bins to reject council’s rubbish

A strike ballot for bin workers in Birmingham was set to close on Thursday of this week.

The dispute is about the treatment of workers following strikes at the Labour-run council last year.

Unite union members are fighting over alleged “secret payments” to GMB union members—who didn’t strike.

Cleaners fight over pay at Luton airport

Cleaners at Luton Airport staged a seven-day strike for a pay rate of £9 an hour last week.

The Unite union members work for outsourcer Sasse, which pays them just £7.83 an hour.

Passenger assistants—outsourced to Clece Care Services—were due to walk out with them.

But Unite suspended their strike so they could vote on a new offer.

Fight for pay rise at local newspapers

Journalists working for regional papers in Carlisle, Whitehaven and Workington were set to strike on Thursday 20 December over poor pay.

The NUJ union members say bosses at publisher Newsquest have not given them a rise since 2015 and have only paid them two rises in the past 11 years.

Union suspends strike at Shelter

The Unite union suspended a planned strike at housing charity Shelter following a last minute offer.

Over 400 Unite members were due to stage a three-day walkout from Tuesday of this week.

Workers wanted an increase of 3.5 percent or a flat rate increase of £1,100 for everyone. But instead they voted to accept an offer of a 2.25 percent raise, and a lump sum of about £500.

Coordinated fight at ministries

Workers at the Ministry of Justice plan to strike for three days in January.

The security guards and receptionists will walk out after they voted by 100 percent for strikes on a 100 percent turnout.

This section of workers joins cleaners who already have a live ballot.

The UVW union members’ demands include the London Living Wage of £10.55, occupational sick pay and equal annual leave as direct employees of the department.

Strikes are set to be coordinated with PCS union members at the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Employment Tribunal delivers victory for Ritzy workers

An employment tribunal has overturned the dismissal of two trade union members at the Ritzy cinema in south London.

The Prospect union members should be able to resume their jobs in January.

The judge found that there had been a “lack of neutrality at the investigation and disciplinary stages” and “an assumption of guilt on the part of the claimants”.

There is no legal obligation for the Picturehouse cinema chain bosses to uphold the tribunal’s ruling.

Takeover at Allied Healthcare

Allied Healthcare, a huge social care provider on the edge of bankruptcy, has been bought by Health Care Resourcing Group.

Bosses announced they would end their contracts with around 150 councils in mid-December.

It threw the future of 13,500 vulnerable people into chaos as councils had to look at alternative care providers.

But now Allied is keen to retain its existing contracts for the new owners.

All social care should be publicly provided so service users have secure, long-term care.

Bus strikes loom in Durham

Around 650 bus drivers in County Durham were set to start a seven-day strike for higher pay this Sunday.

The Unite union members voted by 95 percent to strike for a £1 an hour pay rise.

The action is set to affect services in Durham, Darlington, Redcar, Stockton and Whitby.

Unite regional officer Bob Bolam said the union had discussed speeding up the pay increments of drivers so they reach the top of their pay band quicker.

Arriva bosses should give workers a proper pay rise, not just adjust the pay bands.

Strikes for safety on trains

Northern Rail guards aren’t backing down from their programme of strikes for safety.

The RMT union members walked out against the imposition of driver only operation (DOO) on Saturday of last week.

DOO trains threaten their jobs and make train travel unsafe and inaccessible.

Northern workers were set to strike again on Saturday and on every Saturday for the rest of the year.

Train guards on South Western Railway plan to join Northern Rail workers on strike on 22 December.

Workers have beef with bosses 

Beefeaters at the Tower of London could strike, say the PCS and GMB unions.

Workers, including Beefeaters, at sites such as the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace are fighting attacks on their pensions.

Bosses at Historic Royal Palaces—which manages six unoccupied royal palaces—want to close their current pension scheme and replace it with a worse one.

Some 91 percent of PCS members voted on a 72 percent for strikes. The PCS should announce strike dates.

PCS union Left Unity 

Socialist Worker supporters in the PCS union are calling for another election to decide which candidate for assistant general secretary the Left Unity grouping should back.

It comes after Janice Godrich, backed by Socialist Worker supporters, won the previous election but stood down due to illness.

The threat of Besna Mark 2

Construction bosses are looking to tear up the electricians’ national agreement—again.

A document from the employers’ Electrical Contractors Association, seen by Socialist Worker, “Employment relations modernisation,” calls for the introduction of a new installer grade of electrician.

Under the guise of “harmonised terms and conditions” the bosses are looking to limit employment rights under the national agreement.

They want “more efficient utilisation of working hours” such as flexible scheduling of refreshment breaks.

The proposals say bosses will try to get their own side together but that “support is unlikely to prove sustainable unless Unite the Union is too able to demonstrate its own commitment to contemplate genuine modernisation”.

While some at the union’s top officials are far too open to the idea, the proposal has been rejected at a number of union meetings.

Some 100 workers met at a Scottish Rank and File meeting last weekend and unanimously rejected the new plan.

In 2012 rank and file electricians beat a similar proposal called Besna after six months of protests, occupations and unofficial strikes.

If the bosses decide to make the same mistake as before and attempt to impose the new grade to break up the national agreement then the same level of resistance will be needed again.

A copy of the bosses’ plan is available at


Bristol ready for fightback

Royal Mail workers at the South East delivery office in Bristol have voted to strike in defence of a sacked colleague.

Members of the CWU union voted by 86 percent for strikes for justice for delivery worker Barry Barker. Bosses sacked Barry for a “breach of business standards”.

The CWU said managers never explained what this standard was. Managers have since reinstated Barry, but insisted on imposing a disciplinary penalty on him and transferred him to a different office.

CWU Bristol branch secretary Rob Wotherspoon said, “While we’re pleased to win his re-instatement, the workforce here rejects the idea that Barry should be forced out of the office,” said Rob.

The vote comes amid growing resentment at pressure from managers, which has sparked a wave of unofficial walkouts.

Meanwhile, postal workers on the Isle of Man were set to strike on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 of December over plans to cut pensions and pay.

CWU members in Britain, who have faced similar attacks, should refuse to handle mail being sent to or from the Isle of Man.

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