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Industrial round-up: It’s right not to break a picket

Plus Merseyside bus strikes, eight school strikes and central London nurses walkouts
Solidarity with Birkenhead RMT members is widespread (Picture: @RMTunion Twitter)

Solidarity with Birkenhead RMT members is widespread (Picture: @RMTunion Twitter)

Hundreds of workers at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead on Merseyside are preparing to strike after bosses suspended seven from work for refusing to cross a picket line.

Already individuals are refusing overtime and rest day working.

The flashpoint came on Tuesday of last week when RMT union members in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary held a one-day strike over pay.

The RFA has a regular presence at Cammell Laird so the RMT members there put up a picket. Over 400 workers in the Unite and GMB unions refused to cross the picket lines.

Bosses then suspended the Unite convenor, the GMB health and safety officer and five rank and file members for secondary picketing.

Ross Quinn, the Unite regional officer for aerospace and shipbuilding, told Socialist Worker, “Management has declared war on our unions.

“We approached them well before the RMT strike to talk about arrangements and offered talks about any future dispute.

“We have been very reasonable. We want these suspensions lifted. Otherwise the unions are moving towards strike ballots. Already our members have made clear they would back action.”

At a mass meeting last week Ross told workers that they have to insist that they won’t be pushed around and that the rat race is for rats, not human beings.

Rank and file members, without union instruction are not waiting for a ballot. Many individuals refused voluntary extra work last weekend, which will hit the yard hard. It relies on people coming in on their days off.

Workers were right to respect the picket line and to prepare for action now. The best response to the suspensions would have been a walkout.

Workers must now organise to defend union rights and to put the managers back in their box.

Stagecoach bus strike set to hold up Merseyside

Bus drivers in Merseyside are vowing to see in a new government with a wave of strikes over unequal pay.

Almost 500 Liverpool Stagecoach drivers were due to stage a four-day walkout from Friday of this week. They’re also due to strike for three days from Friday next week.

Members of the Unite union, they are fighting for pay that matches the Arriva Liverpool drivers. They get £1.40 an hour more.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham blasted Stagecoach bosses for paying drivers “on the cheap”.

“This shows a total lack of respect and appreciation for its workers, without whom there would be no bus service”.

In another example of workers fighting back against unfair pay, some 250 drivers in Cornwall are voting on whether to strike.

The workers want £3 an hour more to be brought into line with Go Ahead drivers in other parts of England.

For example, workers in Brighton get £1.83 an hour more, while those in Oxford are paid some £2.84 more than those in Cornwall.

The Cornwall drivers who are also in Unite are demanding their wages be increased by 6.6 percent to £16 per hour for 2024. That’s instead of the £15.60 Go Ahead is currently offering.

In March, Go Ahead announced it had trousered some £89 million in profits. It can afford to pay these drivers more. The ballot closes on 1 July.

Five academy schools walk out over funds

NEU union members at five schools in the University of Brighton Academy Trust (Ubat) struck on Monday and Tuesday of this week over resources and workload.

The five schools are the Baird school, Robsack Wood, The Burgess Hill Academy, The Hastings Academy and The St Leonards Academy.

Other academy trusts take typically between five and eight percent of the annual funding grant for schools to pay for central services.

That’s already far too much and shows how academies drain the state system. But Ubat takes far more. It commonly takes about 13 percent, and in some cases more than 20 percent.

Workers are angry that not enough money is reaching schools on the ground, leading to cuts in jobs and services and increased workload for remaining staff.

Messages of solidarity to [email protected] and [email protected]

Derbyshire schools are ready for solidarity action

School workers at three secondary schools in Derbyshire are set to strike at Qegsmat academies.

They are taking action over back pay for support staff who have missed out on successive pay rises.

Workers plan to strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. The CEO of Qesgsmat, Anne Martin, has attacked the NEU union reps.

Martin questioned the legality of the strike. NEU members should be applauded for taking action in defence of the lowest-paid staff.

The school workers are rightly arguing that support staff are vital to keeping the school running and supporting the needs of students.

The three schools are the City of Derby Academy, Chellaston Academy and QEGS academy.

NEU union members at St Benedict’s Independent School in west London struck for two days last week and are set to strike on 3, 4, 5 September over pension attacks.

Nurses take action after bosses increase work day

Theatre nurses at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in central London struck last week and this week in a dispute about their hours.

The 50 Unite union members are furious with bosses who moved the end of their shift from 8pm to 9pm. Strikers say they are already “chronically overworked”.

Unite adds that theatre nurses had already had shifts extended from 7pm to 8pm and that they had started working on Saturdays to support extra operations.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is one of Britain’s busiest NHS trusts.

A theatre nurse said, “Staff in the day surgery units are striking because they are tired of having their concerns over burnout and patient safety repeatedly ignored by managers.

“The situation has now reached crisis point, with nurses feeling like they have no option but to strike to protect themselves and their patients.”

Important win for PCS on union rights

Around 150 security officers who are members of the PCS union employed by G4S have won two trade union recognition agreements.

These workers cover the Cabinet Office and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Cleaners are out to cleanse low pay

Around 60 PCS union members working as cleaners and security guards are voting on strikes.

They work at the successor departments that used to be the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

This group of workers employed by outsourcer ISS are demanding their pay be uplifted to £17 an hour.

ISS has failed to make a serious offer. The demand to directly employ these workers and end outsourcing should be added to this dispute.

London United is divided by pay offer

Some 1,600 bus workers employed by London United across seven garages are voting for strikes over a 4 percent pay offer.

The drivers, who are members of the Unite union, are also fighting a rubbish scheduling agreement and worse terms and conditions put forward by the bosses.

The ballot closes on 22 July— workers should vote to take on the penny-pinching bosses.

It’s the season to fight at Amazon

A group of Amazon seasonal delivery drivers, victims of a scam against migrant workers, are fighting back after being cheated out of their wages.

They were lured to Britain by an Amazon subcontractor.

The delivery drivers, who are in the UVW union, are appealing to all workers in Amazon who may have suffered similar exploitation to join the push to unionise.

Contact the UVW union at

Eurostar workers want Olympic gold

RMT union members at Eurostar International are balloting for strikes over payments for work during the Paris Olympics.

The decision follows the company’s failure to meet the union’s demands for extra pay during the major sports event.

RMT is also calling on Eurostar contractors Mitie, Churchill and Rail Gourmet to match any Eurostar payments. The ballot is set to close on Thursday of next week.

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