There was a protest in west London last Saturday against the expansion of Heathrow airport
Railworkers signal the mood for action
Members of the RMT rail workers’ union are set to strike on Network Rail for 24 hours from 1pm on Tuesday of next week over pay and conditions.
The strike will involve 5,000 Network Rail signallers and operational staff. Workers are also set to strike from 9pm on Sunday 25 June to 8.59pm on Monday 26 June.
Members voted overwhelmingly to strike after the company said it would bring in an effective two year pay freeze and delay the introduction of a 35 hour week for a year. Workers in the TSSA union narrowly voted against striking.
Power station workers: Will the power be switched off?
Work on a £60 million power plant on Teesside could halt this summer over a long-running pay dispute.
The Amicus, GMB and T&G unions could vote on industrial election at SembCorp’s Wilton 10 project in Middlesbrough. The unions want contractors Foster Wheeler to bring their pay in line with that of workers on similar engineering construction developments in the area.
Disabled workers protest in Barrow
A national campaign to protect 5,000 disabled workers’ jobs was launched last week in Barrow. A lively march started from outside the office of work and pensions secretary, John Hutton, who is the MP for Barrow & Furness.
Protesters fear a review of Britain’s 83 Remploy factories by Hutton’s department will lead to some of them being shut down and jobs being lost.
Refuse workers refusing to be treated badly
Refuse collectors in King’s Lynn, West Norfolk, were poised to begin a work to rule over pay and working conditions this week .
A ballot of GMB union members saw 95 percent in favour of striking after employer Cleanaway offered a 2.9 percent pay rise and refused demands about additional holidays.
Left gains in Unison elections
A number of Unison United Left candidates were elected to the service group executives (SGEs) covering different sections of the union.
John McDermott and Dave Eggmore were elected to the local government SGE, and Tom Silverlock was elected to the higher education SGE. In the health SGE elections, Mark Ladbrooke was re-elected, and Karen Reissmann and Caroline Bedale were elected.
Yunus Bakhsh, who was seeking re-election, won widespread support. However, the result was not announced in his northern region seat. This is thought to be because another candidate has submitted a complaint.
Yunus said, “I hope this issue is resolved rapidly because there are two crucial meetings coming up—a special SGE meeting to discuss pensions, NHS cuts and privatisation, and its annual general meeting.”
Rail workers' pensions
The RMT and TSSA rail workers’ unions have agreed to participate in a commission to sort out the problems of pensions on the railways following strike ballots in both unions.
The RMT won its ballot by three to one, while the TSSA’s was suspended. The Aslef train drivers’ union did not ballot.
It is disappointing that the RMT has decided not to take action after receiving such a massive vote. This commission could be a recipe for a shoddy deal. After the vote we could have gone a bit further and pushed the employers back.
The RMT executive will discuss the commission again on Tuesday of next week.
Scottish teachers' pensions
Delegates at the conference of the EIS Scottish teaching union last week made it clear that they are angry at attacks on teachers’ pension rights.
Conference voted by a clear majority that teachers should have the right to retire at 55 on a full pension.
Unfortunately the anger of delegates was not matched by confidence to take action or widen the fight to defend pensions.
An earlier motion which would have committed the union to industrial action to defend pension rights for future generations was defeated by 199 votes to 99.
Maureen Watson North Lanarkshire EIS delegate
Defend the NHS
Around 70 pensioners met in south London last week at a conference about the health service and in particular its treatment of the elderly.
It was organised by the Southwark Pensioners Action Group. Frank Dobson MP and Geoff Martin from London Health Emergency highlighted the dangers of privatisation.
The conference passed a resolution welcoming increased funding for the NHS but deploring the reimposition of competitive market forces on it.
Workers at NHS Logistics, the non-profit organisation that supplies hospitals, have called a protest against its threatened privatisation on 1 July in Maidstone, Kent, assembling at 12 noon at Brenchley Gardens by Maidstone East station.
A demonstration in Manchester will oppose sweeping cuts and job losses across the north west of England. The protest will assemble at 11.30am at Victoria Station, Walkers Croft, Manchester on 24 June. In Birmingham on 15 July a protest will assemble at 11am at City Hosptial, Dudley Road.