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Further education support staff walk out in pay dispute

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Teachers and support staff set to take action across schools, and at Falmouth University workers plan to strike for three days next week. Offshore workers are gearing up for a fight and more Unite members are due to join the fray in Newham, east London
Issue 2826
A dozen workers, some wearing unison union jackets and holding union flags in purple stand outside an entrance of a college and smile at the camera fighting for fair pay in further education

Workers at Kings College London, part of an earlier wave of strikes (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Workers at four universities in England were due to walk out this week. Unison union members at Liverpool Hope university struck on Tuesday. 

Workers at the University of Brighton, City University in London and the University of West England were all set to walk out on Thursday this week. 

And the strike is set to continue at the University of Brighton the following day. 

They are battling a miserly 3 percent pay offer from the bosses, and have asked for a rise that’s 2 percent above inflation. Workers in Unison are likely to be watching the upcoming result of the UCU ballot closely. United and sustained action could bring universities to a standstill.

North Sea storm brewing

Over 300 offshore workers are set to strike for ten days between now and the end of the year following an escalating dispute over pay.

The action will hit platforms in the North Sea operated by energy giants such as BP and Clair Ridge.

Contract workers involved in drilling and maintenance will take part in five two-day strikes, after Unite union members rejected a 5 percent pay offer.

It will involve workers employed by Archer, Maersk, Transocean and Odfjell. 

And it involves workers covered by the United Kingdom Drilling Contractors Association. Workers backed strikes by 95 percent, in a ballot turnout of 86 percent.

The action will involve a series of 48-hour stoppages every second week for the first eight weeks, beginning on 20 and 21 October. A further series of stoppages will take place on 3-4 and 17-18 November, 1-2 and 15-16 December.

The move to strikes is welcome as is the different approach from Unite.

Earlier this year the union condemned other groups of North Sea offshore workers in a different national agreement who struck unofficially against the same proposed pay cut.

School strike fightbacks

Teachers and support staff at Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory school near Romford in Essex were set to launch a 24-hour strike this Thursday and a 48-hour one from Wednesday of next week.

The NEU union members have been in a long fight over a restructure which will result in cuts to hours and pay grades. 

The union says that the 12 highest earners in the multi-academy trust earn between £800,000 and £1 million. But a resolution to the dispute would cost just £12,000.

Meanwhile, primary school workers at Calverton school in Newham, east London, were set to strike on Wednesday and Thursday this week. It’s due to be followed by a three-day strike from Tuesday of next week. 

The 37 NEU members are battling proposals including a halving of dependency leave and an end to the extended day programme where students are cared for until 6pm.

And workers at West Coventry Academy are set to unleash a programme of six days of strikes, starting on Tuesday this week. 

The 50 NEU members are fighting a dispute over excessive workloads.

Teaching hours had recently been increased and the academy management plans to increase them further.

Sam Ord

DHL workers set to deliver strike vote

Workers for delivery company DHL’s depot in Bradford will vote over whether to strike for better pay. 

Around 100 workers, who are members of the GMB union, have been offered a paltry 5 percent pay rise and a £100 one-off payment. 

Managers at the company in Bradford claim that there is no money left for a pay rise for workers. 

Ballots will close on 19 October.

Fighting to free Julian Assange

Around 5,000 people formed a human chain at the Houses of Parliament on Saturday against the attempt by the United States to have Julian Assange extradited to face criminal charges.

Assange is currently caged in Belmarsh maximum security prison—where he has been for almost four years. He is set to be sent to the US for revealing imperialist war crimes. He would face charges that carry a life sentence in solitary confinement. 

WikiLeaks, founded by Assange, released some 91,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan by July 2010. This included footage from Granai in 2009, in which a US airstrike killed up to 147 civilians.

British courts and the home secretary have approved Assange’s extradition, but he is appealing against the decision.

More workers join Newham fightback

Road and street sweepers employed by the Labour-run Newham council in east London are being balloted by the Unite union for strikes.

The street cleaners began voting on Tuesday of this week. On average they earn an average of just £22,500 a year.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said, “By failing to address the real financial hardship faced by council workers in Newham, council bosses risk allowing industrial action to spread across the borough. If these workers choose to escalate their campaign for pay justice, they have Unite’s full support.”

Bin workers in the borough have also been fighting for months against rubbish pay.

Workers at Falmouth University have announced they plan to strike on 17, 18 and 19 October.

They are fighting the imposition of a two-tier workforce. Bosses are recruiting workers through a subsidiary company called Falmouth Staffing Ltd.

It’s an attack on the ability of workers to negotiate.

Over 400 education workers at 48 prisons and youth offender institutions in England have voted to strike. 

Workers, who are members of the UCU union, and work for outsourcer Novus

They have been offered a tiny 2 percent pay increase for this year and 3 percent next year. 

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