By Thomas Foster
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2907

Industrial round-up: Tractor strikers keep the hand-brake on

Plus Liverpool museum workers vote on new deal and GMB equal pay ballot across 35 Birmingham schools
Issue 2907
Pickets at Basildon  tractor factory earlier this month (Picture: Alan Kenny)

Pickets at Basildon tractor factory earlier this month (Picture: Alan Kenny)

Around 500 workers at the British headquarters for the CNH Industrial tractor factory in Basildon, Essex, continue strikes over pay that began on 14 May.

The workers also walked out on 15 and 16 May, Tuesday to Thursday last week and were set to strike on Tuesday to Thursday this week.

The factory makes New Holland farming equipment. Pay talks for 2024 began last October.

Management offered a 4 percent rise based on the CPI inflation rate in January 2024, rather than as an average for the whole previous year.

Bosses want the 2025 pay rise to be based just on December 2024.

Management and the workforce’s union, Unite, agreed in 2022 to increase pay calculated by the average rate of inflation over the year.

The workers estimate that they make 73 tractors a day—which can cost, on average, between £100,000 and £200,000 each.

That means the company could lose up to £10 million a day when workers strike. On some strike days all the strikers walk out together.

But for most dates the union calls out only a few departments at a time as production is still shut down and the bosses “lay-off” the other workers.

Unite should call more strike dates to extend the battle beyond this week and ramp up the pressure on the multi-billion pound company.


Better deal in Liverpool

Strikers in the National Museums Liverpool (NML) dispute are voting on an improved offer.

The PCS union has suspended action from Tuesday this week until Sunday—half-term week.

The offer is a one-off payment of £1,200, plus two additional days annual leave permanently and a 35 percent discount in the museum cafes and shops.

The branch is recommending a Yes vote. More strikes are planned if the deal is rejected.

“Our members at NML have taken more than 60 days of action in protest over the employer withholding a costof- living payment,” PCS said.

The Museum of Liverpool, the World Museum, the International Slavery Museum and the Maritime Museum, as well as the Walker Gallery, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery have been hit by the strikes.

The £1,500 payment was part of the government’s pay offer for 2022-23. Strikes from last Saturday to Monday this week went ahead.


Hackney teachers set to walk out over workloads

Around 20 education workers at St Dominic’s primary school in Hackney, east London, are set to strike over workload.

The NEU education union has so far negotiated successfully to remove the plan for teaching assistants to become midday meal supervisors—removing them from classrooms for almost six hours a week.

But governors are refusing to negotiate on workload, currently claiming workers don’t have enough evidence to support our claims.

The governors have so far refused to share any details on the future of the school.

And so workers are set to strike, with the current dates confirmed for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.


More action in Birmingham

Workers at another 35 schools in the GMB union are planning to ballot for strikes in Birmingham.

Around 1,500 teaching assistants, catering staff and other workers struck earlier in May to demand equal pay.

The mostly female workforce is angry that it is paid less than men who work for the council in similar roles like refuse collecting.

Workers are also furious because the Birmingham council continues to delay talks with the GMB.

If workers vote to strike, staff at 70 schools could strike together.


Repair wage cuts at Greenwich council

Some 150 workers at Greenwich council in south London were set to strike on Tuesday this week over plans that could see them lose a third of their wages.

The Unite union members carry out repair services.

The council has done a pay benchmarking exercise enacted over four years that could see workers lose nearly £17,000.


Driving off low pay in Manchester

Over 60 bus drivers in Greater Manchester who transport elderly and disabled people have voted to strike over low pay given to them by bosses at Greater Manchester Accessible Transport.

The Unite union members are paid just above minimum wage at £11.50 an hour. Some 7,000 people depend on the service.

The current rate of pay for bus drivers is £16 an hour. Unite will announce strike dates later in the summer.


Welsh ceramic workers in pay fight

Workers at Ceramtec UK in Ruabon in north Wales were set to strike for four days from Tuesday of this week.

The 150 Unite union members rejected a 79 pence an hour increase in pay.

They want an offer to match the National Living Wage that has increased by £1.02 an hour.

Ceramtec produces ceramics for healthcare and the automotive industry. Some workers are paid just £11.44 an hour.


Northern station staff jump barrier

Contracted out ticket barrier workers at Northern, the train operating company, struck last Friday and are set to walk out again on Saturday of next week.

RMT union members employed by Carlisle Support Services work at Northern Rail ticket barriers and are paid less than directly employed staff.

They cannot enter the company pension scheme or receive sick pay from their employer.

The contractor also does not recognise the RMT for collective bargaining.


Ballot on the Clyde after deal rejected

Workers at the Coulport and Faslane naval bases on the Clyde are voting on strikes.

The 600 members of the Unite union employed by Babcock Marine (Clyde) Ltd work on Britain’s nuclear submarines.

Workers rejected a two-year deal for a seven and three percent pay rise by 99 percent.

They want a pay rise in line with RPI inflation last year, which was 9.1 percent. The ballot runs for two weeks until 11 June.

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