Socialist Worker

Reports round-up

Issue No. 1985

London Firefighters

The London regional committee of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is recommending a ballot of its members in defence of the shift system.

Firefighters are outraged that senior officers have handed themselves a 28 percent pay rise. The same managers are cutting Manchester Square fire station, have sacked cooks and now want to take away the shift system.

A series of union branch meetings will now take place, which will also discuss voting on defending pensions. The regional committee also voted to send a delegate to the World Social Forum currently taking place in Caracas, Venezuela.

Merseyside FBU have asked union leaders for permission to ballot its members over winning an improved leave system for officers.

Turning defence into an attack

Over 20,000 Ministry of Defence civilian workers across Britain are considering a ballot for industrial action over job cuts.

Over 100 trade union reps met in London last week to agree action to defend their members’ jobs following a government announcement in November.

The government wants to close a new £130 million military aircraft repair facility, Dara at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

This will lead to the loss of 800 jobs from the facility, and more than 225 from Fleetlands, near Southampton.

The announcement will also see three military land vehicle repair stations close, at Donnington near Telford, Warminster in Wiltshire and Colchester in Essex, slashing 1,226 jobs.

Trade unionists were set to lobby parliament on Wednesday of this week against the government’s plans.

We’re striking on Sunday morning

RMT union members on Virgin Cross Country struck again last Sunday. The latest one-day strike remained solid across the country.

The workers are in dispute over Sunday working. Payments for Sunday working used to be 17.5 percent higher than for a weekday until a new agreement in 2002 reduced them to just 6 percent more.

In Birmingham pickets again confirmed that the service was seriously disrupted.

It is believed that very little revenue is coming in as Virgin don’t have enough staff to do ticket checks on the few trains that run.

So far there has been no movement from management.

Pete Jackson
Send messages of support to local depots or via Birmingham Rail Branch, c/o RMT, 4th floor, Coleridge Chambers, 177 Corporation St, Birmingham

Stroud workers reject flexibility

Unison union members at Stroud district council have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action over restructuring plans.

The council workers voted by 80 percent to consider strike action because the council wants to create a “flexible workforce”.

Opera staff win pay harmony

Bectu union members at the English National Opera (ENO) have suspended plans for strike action after a new pay deal.

The opera company has offered a three-year deal with pay increases in excess of inflation and a boost to staff’s pension contributions.

Union officials and ENO management have also met to discuss working conditions.

Bectu official Willy Donaghy said, “This new offer is a testament to the unity of our members at ENO. The offer includes pay increases in real terms.”

North West London buses

Bus drivers in north west London took wildcat action last week and refused to leave their garage in protest against management bullying and cameras in their cabs. A number of disciplinary issues contributed to the walkout.

A driver said, “One person had a medical condition and was dismissed, even though he had a doctor’s certificate. Another was suspended because he was reported by a member of the public, even though the report wasn’t supported.

“Another person was being paid sick pay when they had been assaulted and therefore should have been receiving accident pay, which is higher.

“There is concern that drivers are being bullied by management over various issues.”

Travel West Midlands

Four thousand Travel West Midlands bus drivers are set to ballot for strike action in a bid to win a better pay deal.

In December, drivers voted by a majority of two to one to reject a pay deal. Talks between the company and the T&G union then broke down – leading to the current ballot.

Ambulance workers

Paramedics and technicians in the north east of England have voted for action over payments for meal breaks.

Last year, management imposed conditions on workers, which the union, Unison, claims breach the Agenda for Change agreement. Workers found they would no longer be paid during meal breaks even though they are on call at these times.

The ambulance workers want time and a half if they are called out during breaks, and they want the right to be off duty. This week they rejected a proposed deal because it did not meet these demands, voting against it by four to one. They also voted for action short of strike including an overtime ban.

Youth workers

Members of the Community and Youth Workers’ Union are threatening industrial action unless Liverpool city council reverses its decision to issue new contracts and replace youth workers’ terms and conditions in April.

If implemented the new contracts will mean less leave time and less favourable salary increments.

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Article information

Sat 28 Jan 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1985
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