Socialist Worker

Solid strikes carpet bosses at floor maker + reports round-up

Issue No. 2769

Polyflor workers fought  and won

Polyflor workers fought and won (Pic: GMB North West)


Workers at Polyflor, in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, have won a much improved pay offer after a series of strikes.

They forced a bullying and overconfident management to back down.

The initial offer was 2 percent. But it rose after a series of solid strikes.

GMB union members have now voted to accept a 3 percent rise backdated for 12 months and 5 percent from July 2021.

The pickets were well supported by the trades council, pensioners and socialists.

During the dispute, workers had received letters justifying huge increases in management pay. They had also suggested that the workers, many of whom have many years of service, should leave and find work elsewhere if they didn’t like it.

Workers were also angry that during the pandemic they were classed as key workers because they produced flooring for the NHS.

They had worked lots of overtime.

Then at the end of the lockdowns they got a pathetic pay rise.

But the site in Whitefield still produces more than half of the company’s profits and the line completely stopped during the strike.

So bosses were forced to back down.

Adam Rose


Battles on rail and ferries

Woolwich ferry strikes in east London resumed this week.

Workers continue to take action over the victimisation of two union reps. Workers also oppose the failure to give adequate health and safety training to agency staff.

The workers have walked out for 30 days since May. The Unite union says actions could continue into autumn.

  • East Midlands Railway bosses are employing strike breaking staff which the RMT union claims aren’t “safety competent”.

Senior conductors and train managers have been taking action in two separate disputes.

East Midlands Railway has pushed through new working arrangements which will see just one train manager oversee operations on 12-carriage trains. The dispute also raises concerns over pay and contracts.

Strike breaking staff have received only one day’s training.

  • RMT union members who work for Rail Gourmet in Edinburgh have escalated their strikes.

The new phase included a four day walkout in a continuing fight for respect and justice in the workplace.

One example is that workers are forced to eat their meals on the station platform after bosses removed a socially distanced area in the staff canteen.

  • The RMT union, has called off London Underground strikes set for this week.

Night tube drivers were initially due to strike for two days at the beginning of August over changes to shift patterns.

But following negotiations, the union suspended the action.


Protest makes Geffrye ­uncomfortable at Home

Over 150 people joined a Stand Up to Racism protest at the Museum of the Home in Hackney, east London, last week.

They were demanding the removal of the statue of the 17th century slaver Robert Geffrye that stands over the museum.

Local MP Diane Abbott addressed the protest.

She said, “Bringing down this statue would be a victory for progressive politics, a victory for people of colour, a victory for young people of colour, and people who support anti-racism.

“I am committed to campaign with you all until we see Geffrye Fall.”

Hoxton councillor Carole Williams agreed.She declared, “There’s a movement here that the museum trustees don’t get.

“Change is coming.”

Campaigners plan to target museum bosses again in September.

Sasha Simic


Our pay is not fair, say bus drivers

Drivers and engineers who work for bus company Stagecoach in Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales plan to strike at the beginning of September.

Members of the GMB union are demanding that they are paid the same as their colleagues at different depots.

Workers at other depots earn up to £1 more an hour than those in Merthyr Tydfil, despite being close by.

Workers are set to strike on 6 September—the day the new school term begins.


Yodel drivers vote on Xmas action

Drivers for delivery company Yodel will ballot over whether to strike this week.

Workers are demanding that the company honour its agreements around sick and holiday leave, a better work‑life balance and the return of outstanding annual leave payments.

They are also angry that agency drivers are being paid more than those directly employed by the company.

If workers, who are members of the GMB union, vote to strike it could mean disruption for the company over the busy Christmas period.

The ballot will run from 25 August to 15 September.


Workers take bosses to cleaners

Cleaners and security workers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been brought in house, after months of campaigning.

The members of the IWGB union, who are mostly migrant workers, threatened a full-scale campaign if they weren’t brought in house by 30 August.

But pressure from workers meant that bosses were forced to give into their demands.


Sheffield shows uni bosses some steel

UCU union members at the university of Sheffield have indicated that they would be prepared to strike to save the Archaeology department.

In an indicative ballot 79 percent of members voted in favour of strikes and 89 percent voted in favour of action short of a strike.

The university has, so far, refused to engage with the campaign to save the department.

Now workers are stepping up the fight and demanding that the university involve all members of the department in an action plan to keep it open.

There are also calls for a pause in the restructuring of language and cultural studies departments and a review into how university management has conducted itself during this dispute.


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