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Hackney council strikers in pay fight + round-up

Council workers, rail workers, care workers and others in pay battles
Issue 2084
A group of Hackney strikers and their supporters with red Unite union flags

Hackney strikers and their supporters last week as part of their pay battle (Pic: Hackney SWP)

More than 150 striking council workers in Hackney, east London, ended six days of industrial action last Wednesday with a noisy march around the town hall, shouting “What do we want? More pay.”

Around 200 workers from the council’s waste, building services and special education needs and disabilities (Send) sections have been striking in protest at the council’s imposition of the government’s insulting 1.75 percent pay deal. They want a 10 percent rise.

The march was preceded by a rally where shop stewards congratulated their members for the lively action they had taken during the dispute. In particular they mentioned good picket lines at the two keys depots, Millfields and Andrews Road. 

A union reps’ meeting later agreed to continue the industrial action, possibly balloting other sections to join it.

Regional Unite union officer Steve Edwards told Socialist Worker that they were looking toward members in other councils being balloted for action over the 1.75 percent offer. “This is not a battle we can win on our own. We need the other unions to join us too,” he said.

The council says its hands are tied by the national deal. But union reps say the council has £300 million stashed away, some of which could be used to meet their demands.

They have also pointed to the eye-watering salaries that council executives have awarded themselves. More action is possible in the future.

Alan Gibson


Bristol care home battle

Workers at four care homes in Bristol are busy building a big Yes vote in their ballot for action over new contracts and conditions.

Care workers, nurses and staff at St Monica Trust, which runs four care homes, are being balloted over plans to change their shifts, slash their sick pay and unsocial hours pay.

Members of the Unison union say the attacks would leave some of them up to £300 a month poorer.

Bosses have told the key workers if they don’t agree to the changes they will be sacked and rehired on worse contracts.

Workers should keep up the battle to deliver a strong strike vote to beat back these attacks—and get ready for hard-hitting action. Their resistance can be an inspiration to others across the sector.


1,000 reasons for rail workers to strike

As rail workers across the country build a national strike ballot against cuts, it’s been revealed that over 1,000 ticket offices are at impending risk of closure.

The government in an attempt to save millions has updated its guidance relating to changes to ticket office opening hours.

The RMT union claims it clears the way for train operating companies to cut or close the majority, if not all, ticket offices.

The cuts reflect the train companies’ goal of slashing thousands of station staff jobs. This will make the railway less safe across the network.

This is an announcement that should fuel the national strike ballot and the struggle to bring the profiteers to their knees.

The ballot involves over 40,000 workers on Network Rail and 15 train operating companies. The RMT says if workers vote for action it could lead to “potentially the biggest rail strike in modern history.”

Network Rail intends to cut at least 2,500 safety-critical maintenance jobs as part of a £2 billion reduction in spending on the network. Voting in the ballot closes on 24 May.

  • Sixty workers employed by First Glasgow buses have accepted an improved pay offer after threatening to strike.

The agreed deal ensures a significant pay increase along with improvements to sickness pay which will increase by up to 50 percent.

  • Around 270 Stagecoach bus drivers in Aberdeenshire, have won a ten percent pay deal.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham applauded what she said was an inflation-busting deal. However, it covers 18 months and is therefore below the present rate of inflation.


Vote in Unison elections

Activists in the Unison union are organising to win key elections. Members have until 25 May to vote for candidates in the union’s Service Group Executive Committees.

The Time For Real Change campaign represents union activists who are on the left of the union. Its candidates are standing in support of a battle against the cost of living crisis. They are calling for action against attacks in the workplace, such as below-inflation pay deals, redundancies and extra work.

One candidate told Socialist Worker, “There’s a battle over who controls our union. We’re the biggest union in the country but we’re not pulling our weight,” he said. “We need people elected who want to fight and want to make our union more effective.”


Ballot coming at Asda

Thousands of Asda workers have moved closer to action after voting to strike in a consultative ballot this week. 

Drivers, warehouse, and clerical workers are being hit with a real terms pay cut that will slash their sick pay. 

Workers stand to lose the first three days of sick pay treatments. An impressive 95 percent of those who voted and are part of the GMB union were clear that they would take industrial action for a pay rise. 


JCB delivery workers set for resistance

Workers who deliver JCB diggers are set to strike after their employer, delivery giant DHL, offered them a pay award that would mean a pay cut. DHL offered them a five percent rise despite inflation being at nine percent. 

The members of the GMB union, who deliver JCBs to factories across Britain, voted to strike in a formal ballot, with 96 percent in favour of industrial action. Strikes are planned for the 23 and 24 May. 


UCL outsourced workers in justice battle

Low paid, and outsourced workers at University College London (UCL) are kicking off a new campaign to bring them in house. 

Porters, cleaners and security guards are demanding that they receive the same terms and conditions as those directly employed by the university. 

In the last few years, workers have suffered at the hands of subcontractors. 

Security officers weren’t paid correctly by their employer for six months last year, and cleaning subcontractor Sodexo laid off several cleaning staff. 

Workers and their union, the IWGB, have organised a protest on 26 May at Malet Place at 5 pm .  

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