Socialist Worker

Reports round-up - high stakes for Beefeaters

Issue No. 2639

PCS members on strike at the Tower of London in December

PCS members on strike at the Tower of London in December (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Workers at three royal palaces are set to strike on Wednesday of next week against attacks on their pensions.

PCS union members at the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace are set to stage four-hour walkouts.

They are set to stage two more walkouts on 16 and 21 February.

Workers include the Beefeater guards at the Tower of London. Bosses at Historic Royal Palaces want to close workers’ defined benefits pension schemes and transfer them to a worse defined contribution one.

PCS members struck against the plans for three hours last month.

Members of the GMB union also struck against the attacks on Tuesday of last week.

PCS and GMB members can defeat the attack if they strike together—with longer strikes that can hit the bosses even harder.

Bus workers’ strikes drive up low pay in north east

Bus drivers in the north east of England have declared victory in their fight for better pay.

Unite union members working for Arriva North East voted by 395 to 230 to accept an improved pay offer last week.

A planned ten-day strike from Monday of this week was called off.

The workers have won hourly rate increases for drivers with less than three years’ service, and a new top pay rate of £10.60 an hour.

It follows a seven-day strike in January that had a big impact on bus services in Darlington, Durham, Redcar, Stockton and Whitby.

Strikers had previously rejected bosses’ offer of a 75p an hour increase over two years in four instalments.

The deal sees all pay rises backdated to March 2018.

Yorkshire bus workers are balloting over a “systematic campaign of anti-trade union activities” at their workplaces.

Around 3,500 Unite union employed by First Group are set to vote on whether to strike over bullying management. Two senior Unite reps are set to appeal against their dismissal.

Walkouts to derail unsafe driver-only operation plan

RMT union members on Northern Rail took their 46th day of strikes against driver?only operation (DOO) trains.

They are demanding bosses guarantee a second safety-critical member of staff on board at all times.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash warned that DOO would not only “lose the protection of a safety critical conductor. They will also have to travel without the protection of any second person at all,” he said. Workers are planning to strike again this Saturday and 9 and 16 February.

The RMT transport union said it had “racked up an important victory” after securing 550 cleaning jobs on the London Underground.

Outsourcer ABM planned to axe up to 1,000 jobs.

The union pledged to “leave no member behind” in the continuing fight for jobs and pay justice.

Save services at Lambeth council

Campaigners in Lambeth, south London, protested last Saturday over the Labour-run council’s plans to axe five children’s centres.

The protest was called by Lambeth Unison union and Lambeth Save Our Services.

Workers, children and their parents demanded council bosses back off.

They said, “Children’s centres are a lifeline for parents, carers and children in the borough, providing vital services for all our families—but especially those most in need of support.

“They are precious and we say to Lambeth council—Hands off!”

Royal Mail workers stage a sit-in in Southend

Royal Mail workers stage a sit-in in Southend (Pic: @CWUnews on Twitter)

Postal workers at an Essex mail centre staged a mass sit-in on Wednesday last week over treatment by management.

CWU union members at the Southend mail processing unit held a sit-in in the canteen before returning to work.

Strike to get chicken bosses on the run

Specialist poultry catchers in Suffolk could strike over bosses’ attacks on public holiday working.

The seven Unite union members will vote on whether to strike after being told they will have to work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

The workers—employed by Hook 2 Sisters food production firm—capture chickens being reared in sheds and put them in crates ready for slaughter.

Drug workers back higher pay strikes

A unanimous vote for strikes could see workers at a pharmaceutical manufacturing company walk out to demand higher pay.

Unite union members at Recipharm in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, are set to strike for three days in February following a breakdown in talks with the company.

Bosses have offered only a 2 percent pay increase.

The 29 workers are set to walk out for 49 hours from 6am on 12, 19 and 26February.

Taxi drivers block central London

Hundreds of minicab drivers blocked Blackfriars bridge in London for the third week in a row on Monday.

They were protesting against the lifting of an exemption which means currently they do not have to pay the central London congestion charge.

The drivers are in United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD), part of the IWGB union.

UPHD argues the drivers could lose as much as 25 percent of their pay if Transport for London’s (TfL) proposal goes ahead.

Many drivers only make the equivalent of the minimum wage. TfL should make paying the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour a condition of taxi firms operating in London such as Uber.

Build for a ballot over pay in civil service

Civil service workers were set for more meetings this week as part of their PCS union’s campaign to smash low pay.

The PCS is gearing up for a potential national ballot for industrial action to end a pay freeze that has lasted more than a decade.

National strikes across the civil service can beat low pay. But PCS activists need to prepare to deliver a strong result for strikes in a ballot. The consultations are a chance to organise, build and strengthen the union.

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Results of an election to decide the Left Unity group’s candidate for the PCS union’s assistant general secretary were announced last week.

Chris Baugh got 181 votes and Stella Dennis got 165.

Keep fighting in Birmingham

The future of Birmingham’s home enablement service hangs in the balance as the city’s Labour-run council turns on itself.

Birmingham City Council’s cabinet approved the final revised proposals for the home enablement team on 22 January. But two Labour councillors “called in” the council’s decision—which means a scrutiny committee will consider the plans.

The scrutiny committee is set to report back on 5 February, and may make it more difficult for the council to pursue its plans.

Care workers have been fighting for almost two years to save the service from privatisation and cuts.

The low-paid Unison union members struck again last Saturday, and leafletted councillor Paulette Hamilton’s ward in the Handsworth area of the city.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis was due to speak at a solidarity rally on Tuesday night as Socialist Worker went to press.

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