RIVER PILOTS on one of Britain's busiest waterways are continuing their all-out strike. The strike by the 130 pilots, all members of the TGWU union, centres around a dispute with the giant ABP firm which runs ports along the Humber.
The pilots are all members of a cooperative which has a contract with ABP to provide pilots to guide ships in and out of port. That contract finishes later this month. ABP wants to directly employ pilots, but on worse terms and conditions. The pilots say the new conditions will not only threaten their jobs, but will mean less training and less experienced pilots, and so risk safety. ABP said that 'at no point would safety be compromised' when the strike began last month, and it started using its own pilots to undermine the action.
Yet the very first ship to be brought into Goole dock under ABP's pilots, the 95-metre Rolf Buck, then promptly crashed into another vessel, punching holes in both ships. The strike is continuing, and the TGWU is calling for ABP to negotiate instead of continuing to compromise safety.
Morris met by protest
EDUCATION secretary Estelle Morris was met by an angry demonstration of classroom assistants when she arrived to speak to an education conference in Huddersfield last week.
The low paid workers, members of the UNISON union, get just £8,000 a year. They are furious that the government plans to increase their role in schools while it refuses to pay them all the year round. They waved placards saying 'Another Christmas without pay' and 'Justice for term time workers'. 'They are getting teachers on the cheap,' said UNISON official Mike Foster.
Air ballot takes off
SOME 1,600 workers at Manchester airport are voting on possible strikes over job cuts and attacks on conditions. The ballot among TGWU union members at the airport got under way last week, with the result expected later this month.
The workers involved include firefighters, security staff, engineers, clerical staff and airfield marshallers. They are furious at management plans to push through cuts of up to 30 percent of staff in some areas.
Local TGWU organiser Dave McCall says, 'Workers are unhappy about lots of things - unhappy about plans to cut labour costs by 30 percent, about proposals to cut security guards, and about plans to remove 'no compulsory redundancy' guarantees.'