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Chep UK rally + Coventry bins + round-up

The Unite union is in two crucial battles in Manchester and Coventry
Issue 2800
Dozens of workers from the RMT, PCS, Unite and other unions with their banners back the pay fight at Chep UK

A previous rally for the pay fight at Chep UK

Workers at Chep UK in Manchester are holding out against a derisory 1.8 percent pay offer from bosses after nearly five months of strikes. They will now be balloted to extend the strike for another 12 weeks, with little sign that their action is weakening.

“It’s hard being on the picket line, and there are times when we think this really needs sorting out so we can go back to normality”, said one striker. “But between us we keep each other going and stay strong. “We have a lot of support from passing traffic—honking their horns, pulling up to give us doughnuts, pizzas, drinks.”

The striker added that they have had backing from local union delegations. “This is our first time out on strike so we’re learning from our own experiences and from others.

“We know that a lot of work has gone on in the background from our reps, building relationships and solidarity with other unions. It’s what keeps us going. I’m no more or less angry about the offer the bosses have made, we’ve learnt that we mean so little to them.”

Another striker added, “This is a strong picket and we’re being fair in what we’re asking for. We’re getting out to talk to other trade unionists and we’re open to all invitations to speak.”

Strikers were set to march and rally along with Manchester People’s Assembly and Greater Manchester trades council on Wednesday of this week.

  • Protest Wed 13 April, 6pm. Meet MediaCity Tram stop to march to Chep picket at Trafford Park. Donations to Unity Bank NW/1 Strike Fund. Sort code 60-83-01 Account 20217873.

Barry Conway

Escalate in Coventry to win on pay and victimisation 

Coventry bins strikers are still battling the Labour-run council who have hired scab labour to undermine the strike. Agency workers at Tom White Waste—fully owned by the council—are driving council HGV lorries to collect rubbish in the city.

The strikers have been all-out since 31 January over low pay. The basic starter rate is £22,183 a year. This is less than what the scab labour and workers at neighbouring councils are being paid.

The council suspended striker and shop steward Pete Randle on “trumped up charges”, according to the Unite union.

Unite has now lodged an employment tribunal claim against the council for victimising Randle in his role as a trade union rep. Strikers and supporters have repeatedly rallied to shown their support for Pete Randle.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said, “Why on Earth is Pete Randle being dragged through this kangaroo court? Judging from Tuesday’s hearing the council’s charges are groundless and they must be dropped.”

Unite needs to ramp up the pressure by holding more protests outside the Tom White Waste site. And it should look to expand the strike to drivers employed by the company, as well as bin collectors and other council workers.

  • Donations to Unity Trust Bank a/c Unite WM/7116 Coventry Local Government, Sort code: 60-83-01, a/c number: 20302665. Messages of support to [email protected]

Action set for Sandwell

Sandwell Leisure Centre staff in the GMB union have voted to strike in a pay dispute. More than 84 percent of eligible GMB members voted in favour of industrial action.

GMB will now meet with dozens of members across all nine sites to discuss possible strike dates, which could be as early as 25 April. Leisure centre bosses refused to discuss a pay claim put forward by GMB, Unison and Unite members at the end of 2021.

Sarah James, GMB Organiser, said, “This result sends a clear message to management and the board—GMB members have had enough. It’s time that our members are paid a fair wage. We urge the trust to come forward with a decent offer and avoid this industrial action.”

Adur fight continues

Bin strikers in Adur and Worthing are fighting on over pay and workplace justice. The GMB union members are in their fourth week of strikes.

Talks were scheduled this week between union and council bosses at the Acas arbitration service. A GMB spokesperson said the talks “could be a very critical day for the council when we meet them to attempt to resolve the refuse, recycling and street sweeping dispute.

“Are they and their partners committed to resolving the dispute with us and our members on strike for the 23rd day today?”

The ultimate objective of the strike is for all affected workers to be escalated up the grading system. They want to go onto the top incremental level of the next grade. This demand has to be won.

  • Post Office bosses have offered workers a tiny 2 percent pay rise—well below the current rate of inflation.

It comes after CWU union members voted to strike over pay. CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said, “Our members have delivered the biggest strike mandate that we’ve ever had in the Post Office. And without meaningful progress we will be striking soon.”

The best way to drive home that message is to call strikes immediately.

  • Telecoms workers at Telefonica/VM02 are voting on a 3 percent pay offer—a large real-terms pay cut—in a consultative ballot by the CWU union.

The union says it could call a real strike ballot soon.

  • Workers at schools inspector Ofsted voted by 78 percent to strike against bosses’ return to office plans. But turnout in the vote by PCS union members was 49.8 percent—agonisingly short of the 50 percent demanded by anti-union laws.
  • Journalists at BBC North West have begun a work to rule over job cuts. More than 97 percent of NUJ union members there voted for the action. It comes after BBC bosses announced plans to cut 450 jobs across England.
  • Over 100 drivers in the Unite union at DHL Tradeteam in Burton on Trent have won an improved pay offer after threatening to strike.  It includes a pay increase of 7.5 percent and the right to refuse routes that take longer than 11.5 hours.

At DHL Aberdeen. Some 30 drivers have a two-year pay deal of 8 percent for 2022 and 5 percent for 2023.

Action could have won an above-inflation deal.

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