Socialist Worker

Reports round-up—Two strikes at Heathrow and Rail Gourmet walkout

Issue No. 2688

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Baggage could 'disappear forever' during a strike (Pic: David McKelvey/Flickr)


Workers employed by Global Baggage Solutions at Heathrow airport are set for a series of strikes over pay.

The workers are responsible for finding passengers’ lost baggage.

The firm refused to make a pay offer for 2019 and is offering an increase of just 32p an hour for 2020.

Unite union members unanimously rejected this.

Strikes are set to take place from Sunday 2 February to Wednesday 5 February and from Saturday 22 February to Tuesday 25 February.

The union wants all workers to receive at least the London Living Wage of £10.75 an hour, and for senior handlers to get more.

Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said, “Passengers need to be aware that if their baggage is mislaid, it could disappear forever while our members are on strike.” Meanwhile another strike ballot began this week at Heathrow at ground handling firm Vanderlande Industries over pay and union rights.

The Unite union represents around 80 Vanderlande workers who are responsible for loading freight on planes.

The union said the breakdown in industrial relations with Vanderlande began after members rejected a 2.5 percent pay offer in August.

The dispute was on the verge of being resolved after talks mediated by the conciliation service Acas in October.

But after increasing the pay offer to 3 percent, Vanderlande announced it would not accept that its recognition agreement with Unite applied to staff who had recently joined the firm.


Strike on the menu at Rail Gourmet

Workers at Paddington rail station in west London are getting ready to strike again to fight for workplace justice.

RMT union members employed by catering firm Rail Gourmet are due to walk out on 30 and 31 January.

They are battling rostering practices, the incorrect payment of allowances and bonuses, and failure to replace faulty equipment.

RMT officials and Rail Gourmet management have met but the union said its members were “feeling as though they are still being treated with contempt”.


New action ballot at St Mungo’s housing

The Unite union is reballoting its members at St Mungo’s housing charity for strikes. An earlier ballot returned a Yes vote but missed the 50 percent turnout threshold by a single vote.

The union said, “This is no longer just about staffing agreements, unfair sickness policy and heavy-handed use of disciplinary procedures.

“Accidentally misdirected email revealed the charity had worked with a PR agency to stop people joining the union and ‘erode its support’.”


Battle looms over rubbish pay in Bexley

Outsourced street cleaners and refuse workers employed by Serco in the south London borough of Bexley are voting on whether to strike.

Their Unite union said, “Despite working long and hard hours doing a vital job, these workers are paid less than the London Living Wage.

“On 27January at 7pm Unite members will protest outside Bexley council offices demanding the same pay as neighbouring boroughs.”


Union recognition win at Lear Corporation

Hundreds of workers at a Sunderland-based car parts manufacturer have won trade union recognition.

This follows a long campaign by Unite union members at Lear Corporation in Houghton-le-Spring.

The government’s Conciliation Arbitration Committee ruled that Unite had a majority of the 370 workers in membership.


AA workers facing a pension breakdown

AA workers face a big attack as their bosses begin consultation on closing the current pension scheme.

The breakdown service has told staff it wants to replace it with a worse arrangement.

The workers’ GMB union said it will “fight tooth and nail for our members’ futures”.


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