Socialist Worker

Reports round-up

Issue No. 2664

Health workers in the GMB union in west London held protests over low pay last week

Health workers in the GMB union in west London held protests over low pay last week (Pic: GMB)


 

Outsourced staff at three NHS trusts in north west England will strike for pay equality next week unless their employer Compass agrees to match NHS rates.

Unison union members at St Helens and Knowsley teaching hospitals, Blackpool teaching hospitals and Liverpool heart and chest hospitals plan strikes on Wednesday of next week.

Workers at all three trusts produced 100 percent votes for action, on turnouts of between 67 percent and 79 percent.

The workers involved are catering, cleaning, security, portering and reception staff. Most of them are on the national minimum wage of just £8.21 an hour.

But they work alongside colleagues—either directly employed by the NHS or employed by Compass on Tupe “transfer protection” NHS terms—who are paid at least £9.03 an hour.

That 82p an hour difference amounts to a loss of £1,600 a year for full-time workers, says Unison.

“It’s disheartening to work alongside colleagues doing the same job who are getting paid more than you,” says St Helens hospital porter Donovan Rowe.

“It’s affecting staff morale and creating a divide between staff on NHS contracts and the rest of us. We do the same jobs and it’s only right that we get the same pay.

“I’m working weekend and night shifts, but unlike my NHS colleagues, don’t earn any extra for doing these.”

As well as a higher pay rate, staff employed on NHS Agenda for Change terms receive unsocial hours payments and better sick pay.

But without these, says Donovan, “At times I’ve worked 45 hours of overtime a month just to get by. If we got the pay rise, I would be able to work my contracted hours every week and have more time to spend with my family.”

Unison regional organiser Lisa Walsh says Compass made £1.7 billion profit last year.

“The company should put their hands into their pockets and find the 82p per hour that would make little difference to profits but would be a help to workers in St Helens, Blackpool and Liverpool,” she said.


East Midlands train workers strike against pay attacks

Workers on the East Midlands Train line struck last Saturday against attacks on their pay and working conditions.

The line is franchised out to Stagecoach. The RMT union accuses the firm of “cutting and running” before it ends its contract.

Stagecoach has been forced to give up its franchises after the government banned it from holding further contracts. Stagecoach tried to duck paying its share of staff pensions.

Strikers have been forced to endure Stagecoach bosses snubbing negotiations, as the RMT blasts the company’s “scorched earth” approach.

Workers were set to strike again this Saturday and 3 August.

Workers on the East Midlands Train line struck last Saturday against attacks on their pay and working conditions.

The line is franchised out to Stagecoach. The RMT union accuses the firm of “cutting and running” before it ends its contract.

Stagecoach has been forced to give up its franchises after the government banned it from holding further contracts. Stagecoach tried to duck paying its share of staff pensions.

Strikers have been forced to endure Stagecoach bosses snubbing negotiations, as the RMT blasts the company’s “scorched earth” approach.

Workers were set to strike again this Saturday 27 July  and 3 August.


Unite suspend South Yorkshire bus strikes 

The Unite union has suspended strikes by around 900 bus drivers after a new pay offer on Monday.

Strikes at First South Yorkshire would have hit Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and part of the Derbyshire Dales.

Unite regional officer Phil Bown said, “We held further talks with the management and an improved offer was made which we will now be balloting our members on. We are recommending that they accept this new package.

“As a result, the two strikes have been suspended and members will work normally.

“We won’t be revealing the terms of the offer until our members have had an opportunity to consider and vote on it.”


Cheers at Sellafield after pay success

Strikers at Sellafield nuclear processing plant in Cumbria are celebrating after winning a pay rise.

The Unite union members held 31 days of strikes. They have now gained a 55p an hour pay rise which will take them up to £9 an hour.

The 180 Unite members, who work as security guards, cleaners, vending, laundry and environmental operatives backed the deal by 79 percent.

Workers are outsourced to Mitie and rejected an initial deal of just £8.45 an hour.

 


Strikes scheduled at Heathrow airport

Over 4,000 Unite union members at Heathrow airport were set to strike this Friday and Saturday over pay.

Action by security guards, engineers, passenger service operatives and passenger service drivers could see flights grounded.

Unite says it has been engaging “constructively” and “positively” in talks.

There are further walkouts planned for 5, 6, 23 and 24 August.

 


Rum deal offered at Diageo drinks firm

Workers at alcohol firm Diageo could be headed for strikes after being offered a rum deal by management.

Over 1,500 Unite and GMB members across Scotland are fighting a 2.5 percent pay rise.

Unite has blasted the firm for its plans for a £150 million “flagship whisky experience” in Edinburgh at the same time as it is offering workers a “derisory pay offer”.

Unite members voted by 95 percent to reject the pay offer.


No gloss on Valspar paint firm bosses

An overtime ban is set to begin on Monday at paint company Valspar. And workers plan a 48-hour strike from 11 August.

Workers are fighting for underpaid wages for hours worked, which union members say they raised with bosses in 2018.

Some workers are owed thousands in back pay and are “determined to secure a fair settlement”, says their Unite union.


Library vote could bring council to book

Library staff in Bradford, West Yorkshire, will vote in a consultative ballot for industrial action over cuts at the city’s 13 libraries and four museums.

Around 50 Unite union members will be asked if they want a full-scale industrial action ballot in defence of the library and museum service.


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