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Chep UK and more: build fighting strikes to win real pay rises

The whole union movement needs to make sure these battles win and encourage more resistance
Issue 2793
30 Chep UK strikers at a picket line rally with banners from GMB, RMT, Unison and other unions

Other unions rallied to support Chep UK strikers last week

As prices surge, ­everyone needs to get behind ­workers who are fighting for pay rises. Chep UK strikers in Manchester continue their battle for a real pay rise after voting 94 percent in favour of continuing their strike as they enter their 12th week of action.

Bosses offered workers a 1.8 percent pay rise, ­followed by 2 percent after they ­threatened strikes, despite working throughout the ­pandemic and Chep’s profits skyrocketing.

The strike began on 17 December and escalated to all-out action. The first pay talks began last Wednesday and a rally was held to show support for the strikers. A banner reading “Workers feel undervalued. Fair pay now” was accompanied by local trades council banners and Usdaw, GMB, Unison and RMT union flags.

Tweet messages of support to the Chep strike to @unite_northwest Donations to Unity Bank NW/1 Strike Fund. Sort code 60-83-01 Account 20217873

  • Airbus workers in Broughton, north Wales, and Filton, Gloucestershire have voted for strikes over pay.
    The 3,000 members of the Unite union were offered an “unacceptable low” pay offer for 2021 despite a pay freeze in 2020.

The Broughton and Filton factories make and test wings for Airbus’ commercial planes. Strikes could begin in March. Workers voted 94 percent in favour of action on an 84 percent turnout.

  • Tug boat ­workers employed by Svitzer Marine at Teesport, near ­Middlesbrough, could strike next month over pay.
    The company has imposed a pay freeze on the Unite union members who voted 100 percent for action.

The first strike will begin next Tuesday for 48 hours, followed by two further 24 hours strikes on 9 and 26 March.

  • More than 150 ­workers at Riverside Bakery in ­Nottingham are balloting for strikes over a bosses’ pay offer that would cut ­overtime and ­premium rates of pay.

The plant produces quiches, flans and tarts for major retailers including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Marks and Spencer.
Isabel Ringrose

Clean up London Bridge hospital sick pay scandal

Outsourced cleaners at London Bridge hospital have launched a campaign to address health and safety concerns and to give them the same benefits as those directly employed by the hospital.

The members of the IWGB union, who are outsourced to Compass Group by the hospital, are also asking for a £12.50 an hour living wage and to stop “endemic” bullying.

A cleaner at the hospital, Ramona Marredo Mendez, said, “The managers have sent us without PPE to clean areas that are full of infected people.

“When I caught Covid at work, I was forced to isolate for two weeks without the sick pay that directly‑employed workers get. The pay is already so low, I can’t afford to take two weeks off on just £96.35 a week.”

Post strike to counter snub

Post Office workers are set to ballot for strikes next month against a pay freeze.

Members of the CWU union met on Wednesday of last week to plan the first steps of a strike campaign.

Post Office bosses have refused repeatedly to give workers a pay rise. Post Office Supply Chain area rep Rob Jones told the meeting, “Our members are absolutely livid. They worked hard all through the pandemic and now they get smacked in the mouth.”

And counters area rep Carole Bowmaker said, “I’ve never seen them so up for a fight as they are now.”

“This is the fight, let’s have it,” was the message from CWU deputy general secretary postal Terry Pullinger.

The ballot is set to run from Monday 7 March to Monday 28 March.
Nick Clark

Cross Country rail strikes called off after just a threat

The RMT union last week suspended scheduled strikes by Cross Country senior conductors and train managers following a legal challenge.

The action was pulled without even going to court.

The workers are in a dispute over jobs and safety. In a message to union members, RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch said, “Cross Country asked us to suspend the industrial action as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ whilst at the same time referring to the possibility of pursuing the matter through the High Court in their attempts to prevent you and your colleagues from taking lawful industrial action.”

Details of the court challenge are unclear. But the RMT says it’s based on the anti-union laws.

In another letter to members, Lynch said, “Your union has sought legal advice on this challenge and the union’s solicitors inform us that we do not have reasonable prospects of defending it in court.”

In the face of bosses’ attacks, Cross Country workers should be prepared to return to picket lines with harder-hitting action. And that may require defying the law.

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