Socialist Worker

Reports round up: Keep up the university fights on jobs, pay, equality 

Issue No. 2715

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Workers are engaged in the 'four fights' in universities (Pic: Guy Smallman)


UCU union members were expecting this week to hear the results of their consultative ballot on the employers’ offer in the “Four Fights” dispute.

The union is calling for rejection of the deal after pressure from its members.

UCU members held 14 days of strikes in 74 universities during the most recent wave of action.

They are fighting for equal pay, sustainable workloads, an end to casual contracts and a real-terms pay rise.

Workers are demanding equal pay for women and black workers.

And a swathe of planned job cuts as university bosses seek to use the virus crisis to push attacks means workloads will get worse.

The UCU Left organisation said, “A successful rejection of the offer will not, of course, lead to an immediate return to industrial action. But it would be a clear marker to employers that UCU is serious about defending members and higher education. 

“It would also boost the confidence to fight in those branches facing immediate cuts if the members know the union has their backs. 

“Finally, it would also start to turn around the defeatism in much of the leadership of UCU that thinks all we can do is manage the decline of the sector.”

Elections for two places on the UCU national executive began this week. The UCU Left is calling for a vote for Marian Meyer (Vice president) and Peter Evans (LGBT+)

More action on contracts?

Council workers in east London are hoping to strike again against plans to undermine critical parts of their terms and conditions. 

Around 1,500 Unison members in Tower Hamlets could strike for five days from 10 August—if their union agrees to the action. 

Strikers are following up six days of walkouts taken in June and July, where defiant picket lines were held. 

Workers are engaged in a long-running battle with the “Tower Rewards” programme, which attacks their redundancy pay, flexitime scheme, disciplinary agreement and travel allowance. 

Disgracefully, the Labour‑run council sacked and re-employed the workers on 1 July, as part of their drive to force the new, worse contracts on workers. 


Tate gallery must use its £1.5bn handout to save jobs  

Dozens of PCS union members protested outside the Tate Modern art gallery in London as it reopened on Monday of this week.

Workers there are set to ballot for strikes against bosses’ plans to sack more than 200 of them.

Tate Enterprises, which operates retail, catering and publishing services told workers in mid-June of restructuring plans aimed at saving £1 million.

It is pushing ahead with the plans despite the fact that the Tate is expected to receive some £7 million of a £1.5 billion bailout package for the arts and culture sector.

The PCS says that just 10 percent of this money would save hundreds of jobs and protect the poorest paid workers.

But bosses have said they won’t spend any of this additional money on Tate Enterprises and that the redundancies will go ahead.

The PCS is demanding the Tories provide more money—and that Tate bosses must use the money already given to save jobs.

Workers—mostly retail staff on part time or casual contracts—have voted to strike by 93 percent on a 99 percent turnout in a consultative ballot.

The result of their formal strike ballot was set to be announced on Monday of next week.

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  • Further protests were set to take place on Saturday by workers and trade union branches from across arts venues.

They are protesting  against mass redundancies. 

Activists planned to gather at 12 noon outside the National Theatre on London’s South Bank.


Pizza workers win wages  

Workers at Papa John’s Pizza outlet in Sheffield took action last weekend to win back the wages they were due.

Workers say they have not been paid for some shifts worked during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise group, Bfawu union members and others protested outside one of the sites to support the workers and send a strong message to Sheffield employers that this isn’t acceptable.

Placards included, “Pauper John’s,” and “We won’t settle for crusts, we want the whole pizzeria”.

As a result of the action, the current franchise owner promised to pay all money owed this week.

Workers vowed more protests if the money wasn’t forthcoming.


Fight against Easyjet cuts 

Easyjet workers in Newcastle, Southend and Stansted held protests last week after voting no confidence in their top boss.

A ballot of more than 3,000 Unite union cabin crew members at the airline was 99 percent in favour of the no confidence motion.

The Balpa pilots’ union also held a similar ballot which also returned a near unanimous vote of no confidence in EasyJet chief operating officer Peter Bellew.

Unite members are angry that while their jobs and incomes at the airline are under attack, EasyJet paid £174 million in dividends to shareholders at the start of the Covid-19 crisis. 

The company has also secured a government funded loan of £600 million yet is pressing on with a large-scale cuts and closure programme.


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