Socialist Worker

DVLA strikes hit hard + Woolwich Ferry new action + Tower Hamlets Unison + round up

Issue No. 2761

Strikers have picketed during their strikes

Strikers have picketed during their strikes (Pic: PCS DVLA branch on Twitter)


Workers’ action at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has caused a backlog of work for bosses to sort out.

Members of the PCS union are striking over unsafe working conditions. Some 600 workers at the DVLA offices in Swansea have caught coronavirus since the pandemic began.

In their latest strikes workers are taking targeted action to maximise disruption.

Workers who open and scan post—including tax and application forms—struck between Tuesday and Thursday of last week.

It means DVLA managers now have to face up to a backlog of 1.4 million items of post, according to the PCS.

Those workers were set to strike again on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Contact centre workers—who have been made to come into work in crowded conditions—were also set to strike on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

One striker, Daniel, said, “We are the only civil servants in the office in the numbers we are.

“I can’t stand by and watch as the agency sleepwalks into disaster.”

The battle at the DVLA comes as the Department for Work and Pensions, is forcing jobcentre workers back into the office.

The strike has won a media profile and Labour MPs challenged transport secretary Grant Shapps over it in parliament.

Organising for strikers to speak at union branch meetings, and a national demonstration, could help turn support into solidarity.

Donate to the strike fund. Account Name: Fighting Fund Levy. A/C 20331490. Sort Code: 60-83-01 Reference: DVLA. Send messages of support to [email protected]

Nine Woolwich Ferry strikes

Woolwich ferry workers in east London are escalating action in support of two victimised union representatives.

Workers, in the Unite union, have walked out for eight days since 14 May. This was in support of a single victimised rep.

They have now set nine strike days in July.

The escalation is in response to a second union rep being issued a written warning from the new Transport for London (TfL) management.

Workers also oppose the failure to agree to a new pay and reward scheme.

They claim there’s overuse of agency staff and a failure to provide adequate health and safety training to new employees. All the ferry workers take health and safety very seriously.

Strikers often look back to the death of a young worker in 2011.

The ferry has suffered from poor employment relations which led to TfL taking over its operation from Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd in January.

Despite the takeover, employee relations remain incredibly low.

Unite has since called on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan to intervene to resolve this dispute.

Messages of support to [email protected] Donate to the strike fund, Cheques to Unite 1/2050 Greenwich Branch, Account No 20267438, Sort Code 60-83-01

New fight in Tower Hamlets council

Workers at Tower Hamlets council in east London have relaunched a battle over fire and rehire that saw large and angry strikes last year.

Members of the Unison union are balloting for more strikes. Workers struck last year when the Labour-run council demanded they accept new contracts that ran roughshod over hard‑won terms and conditions.

Now Unison has demanded improvements to the contracts. But after council bosses rejected this as “unviable”, some 71 percent of workers rejected their proposals to end the dispute.

Their Unison branch said, “Our action last year won huge support. We can galvanise even greater support as people challenge why essential workers are seeing cuts to terms and conditions and jobs.”

The ballot is set to end on Thursday 22 July.


Battle at DHL Long Eaton

Usdaw union members in Derbyshire are striking over the effects of a depot closure.

Workers at the Long Eaton Marks & Spencer distribution centre operated by DHL at Long Eaton have a third 24-hour stoppage planned for this Thursday.

The battle is over how much redundancy pay the workers will receive.

They have already held two strikes.


Fire and rehire at Brush Electrical

Engineers employed by Brush Electrical Machines, in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, are striking against bosses’ fire and rehire plans.

The 30 Unite union members began strikes on 25 May and are set to continue until 16 August.

Fire and rehire plans will result in a pay cut of between £10,000 and £15,000 a year.


Scotrail workers fight on

Scotrail train conductors and ticket examiners are continuing their Sunday strikes with solid support.

The union is demanding that the Scottish government intervenes.


Don’t let coffee strikes go cold

Strikes and protests at the Jacobs Douwe Egberts coffee factory in Banbury, Oxfordshire, have been suspended as two weeks of talks began on Monday.

Unite union members have been involved in strikes since the beginning of May over fire and rehire plans for 291 employees. Th ese plans have now been pushed back until 13 September.

The workers have run a strong strike, with lots of support and momentum that means they can win. Keeping strikes going during the talks can keep up that momentum—and keep the pressure on management.


Weelchair makers accept pay deal

Unite union members at electric wheelchair maker Sunrise Medical in Dudley have accepted an improved pay offer and ended strikes.


Towage workers could go toe to toe

Towage workers at the Sullom Voe Terminal in Scotland could strike after talks with bosses broke down.

The 40 Unite union members are already set to start a seven-week overtime ban from Monday of next week.


Wardens enforce action in Ealing

Outsourced traffic wardens in Ealing, west London, were set to strike for two weeks from Wednesday of this week.

Bosses at outsourcer Serco want workers to accept severance packages.


Break in breakfast cereal strike

Strikes at Weetabix factories in Northamptonshire have been suspended for talks. The Unite members were fighting against a fire and rehire attack.

But Weetabix bosses have now agreed to not make any of these changes until at least 1 September.


Wheel take action against cuts

Over 200 workers at wheel manufacturer GKN Sankey in Telford are set to strike over cuts on Mondays 5, 12 and 19 July.


End the cycle of pay freezes in Enfield

Cycle safety instructors in Enfield, north London protested on Tuesday of this week over a 12-year pay freeze.

The IWGB union members are also angry at their employer, Enfield council, for frequently cancelling their workdays with little notice.


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