Socialist Worker

Pay fight at Alstom sites + Glasgow guards + Doncaster bins victory + Driving examiners ballot + Heartless at Heartlands

Issue No. 2734

Strikers have won support

Strikers have won support (Pic: RMT)

Over 20 strikers gathered outside the rail maintenance depot in Longsight, Manchester last Thursday evening.

They are fighting to overturn a pay freeze imposed by the giant Alstom engineering multinational.

“Those managers over there told us all we had to keep coming in, we’re essential workers,” one of the pickets said. “But they all worked from home—and most managers have been paid a bonus.”

About 350 RMT union members are staging a series of 24-hour strikes, affecting maintenance work at depots along the West Coast Mainline from Wembley up to Scotland.

Mike Killian

Glasgow guards battle

Train guards in Glasgow struck for a second time against unfair deployment of disciplinary procedures on Sunday of last week.

The RMT union members are due to walk out for the next four Sundays. They are also undertaking an overtime ban, refusing to work on their rest days or perform duties from a higher grade.

Their strike shows it is possible to resist attacks even during the Covid-19 crisis.

Victory in Doncaster bins

Bin workers in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, are celebrating a victory after they threatened strikes.

The Unite union members were set to walk out on Tuesday of next week, the first in a series of actions this month.

They voted 94 percent in favour of strikes after bosses at subcontractor Suez dismissed the union’s lead rep Damien Nota and suspended other workers.

They have won the reinstatement of Nota, the lifting of all other suspensions and other demands.

Unite regional officer Shane Sweeting said, “This is a tremendous victory.

“Once Suez recognised the strength of feeling among members and understood the level of disruption that bin strikes would cause in Doncaster, it entered into negotiations and a highly satisfactory deal has been hammered out.”

Justice fight at Greenwich university

More than 30 workers at the University of Greenwich, members of the IWGB union, are to strike over pay and conditions.

The union says the university has failed to pay the majority black and Asian security workers that are outsourced to Sodexo the £300 Covid-19 bonus they paid to other workers.

The IWGB is demanding that outsourced workers are provided with the same terms and conditions as workers who work directly for the university.

Driving examiners demand safety

Driving examiners are balloting for strikes against being made to carry on working in unsafe conditions during the pandemic.

The ballot comes after the Tory government decided driving tests could resume in July this year. In a message to its members, the PCS union said, “Driving examiners obviously cannot socially distance.

“Indeed, they are compelled to be with six strangers a day, less than half a metre apart in what is, in essence, a box. At the same time, government are asking the public to keep to strict distancing rules, including advice on not sharing a car.”

The union says tests in areas under tier three lockdown should only go ahead for critical workers, and tests in tier two areas should be limited to two a day.

It says examiners over 60 or with underlying health conditions should not be made to carry out tests.

Heartless at Heartlands hospital

Porters at Heartlands hospital in Birmingham held their third 48-hour strike last week against plans to force them on to flexible shift patterns.

The low paid Unison union members could lose thousands of pounds in pay if new rotas are put through. And shift changes may force many porters out of the job.

Their present shift agreement allows them to factor in responsibilities, such as school runs and care for relatives.

The strikers are taking part in a series of strikes that will run until mid-January.

As a result of the action, the union has grown. Now the focus is to give zero-hour NHS bank porters the confidence to join the strikes too.

Strikers rightly demand that they should be able to work to live, not live to work.

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Bakkavor concedes on sick pay

Bosses at Bakkavor food processing in Kent have conceded full pay for anyone taking coronavirus‑related absence—and a rollout of mass testing at their Tilmanstone salads factory.

The company supplies major retailers including Marks & Spencer.

The concessions come after two Covid-19 related deaths among workers at the plant last week. Cases rocketed from around 35 in the third week of November to 99 recently.

The GMB union has been calling for the measures since the outbreak started.

Frank Macklin said, “These changes will help save lives.” It is outrageous that Bakkavor did not move sooner.”

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