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Industrial round up—vote down PCS plan to end strike

Workers shouldn't let union leaders pause strikes for years to come to make shoddy deals with those in charge
Issue 2867
PCS workers

Workers in the PCS union march through the streets

Civil service workers in the PCS union are voting now on whether to back the leadership’s “stop pay strikes without a deal” strategy.

The PCS says the plan is to “pause our strike action (except for the small number of areas yet to commit to paying the £1,500 cost of living payment), while we engage in departmental talks on pay for 2023-4.

“Once the talks have taken place the national executive will reconsider PCS’s ­position.”

The government is imposing a 4.5 percent pay rise for 2023-4 plus a one-off £1,500 lump sum that won’t be considered as the basis for future pay rises.

Some union branches have rightly launched a campaign to vote No in the union ballot and restart national strikes.

The campaign points out that, “The package of ­measures announced by the government on 2 June was not an offer to PCS and was not conditional on PCS ­calling a halt to its campaign to secure a 10 percent consolidated pay rise backdated to 2022-3 and a minimum wage of £15 per hour.”

And it calls on the union executive to renew strike mandates and “implement a programme of national and selective strike action”.

The ballot continues to 31 August.

  • Over 650 PCS member at National Highways at 36 workplaces across England are to be balloted on whether they are prepared to strike following their employer’s refusal to pay the £1,500 lump sum.

The ballot of National Highways members opens on 10 August and closes on 31 August.

Birmingham planes will be grounded

Refuelling tanker drivers and operators at Birmingham airport are set to walk out over a 9 percent pay offer. The Unite union members refuel three quarters of the planes using the airport.

Bosses at Menzies gave workers a 6 percent pay rise last year. Now the workers are set to start an all-out strike from Tuesday of next week.

Take Luton airport to the cleaners

Cleaners at Luton Airport are set to walk out after rejecting a 5 percent pay offer for day workers and  7 percent for night workers.

The 30 Unite union members are on just £10.90 an hour. Two strikes were planned for Friday of this week and Wednesday 30 August.

More strikes will be needed to flush the bosses’ out.

Bosses need to get their bearings

Some 100 Unite union members at Cooper Roller Bearings in King’s Lynn are set to walk after rejecting a below-inflation 5.5 percent pay offer. The offer includes a “strings attached” performance-related bonus of up to 6 percent.

The union plans to strike on 21 August and start a continuous overtime ban. The number of strike days will double every week.

The company produces sit roller bearings, tapered roller bearings and specialised bearings used in the steel, mining, marine, power and cement industries.

Housing bosses won’t come clean

Some 60 workers at Freebridge Community Housing are set to walk out. The largest social housing provider in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk offered workers just 5 percent and a £500 non‑consolidated payment.

Freebridge has a turnover of £32 million and a surplus of £3.57 million in 2022. The Unite union workers provide cleaning and maintenance services. They plan to strike on 21, 28, 30 and 31 August then 4 to 8 September.

Not a sausage in Wiltshire

Workers at hospitals across Wiltshire are set to strike after not receiving the pay rise they were promised. Some 87 percent of Unison members at Wiltshire Health and Care voted yes in a consultative ballot.

All health workers on Agenda for Change contracts were promised a non‑consolidated payment worth two percent of their salary. But Wiltshire bosses decided not to implement that.

The battle on the bins

Bin strikers in Selby, employed by outsourcer Urbaser on behalf of North Yorkshire unitary authority, have ramped up their battle against bosses’ garbage offer.

The workers rejected an offer of 8 percent plus a bonus. Bin loaders and ground workers are paid just £10.64, with drivers getting just £12.51 an hour. The Unite union members are now moving from individual days of action to four days of strikes a week.

They walked out for ten days in last month, and were out from Tuesday to Friday last week. They now plan to strike from Tuesday to Friday next week, and from 29 August to 1 September, 12 September to 15 September and 26 September to 29 September.

Urbaser has implemented the rejected pay deal for workers that are not striking.

  •  Bin strikes by 150 Unite union members in South Gloucestershire are over after strikers voted to accept the offer of a 10.1 percent pay rise.

The strike began in June, with strikers escalating to all-out action after rejecting an 8 percent pay offer. The strikers walked out from 12 to 18 June and 26 June to 9 July, before deciding to go all-out. Suez runs the refuse service on half of South Gloucestershire council.

  • Refuse workers in Canterbury are planning strikes into next month.

The GMB union members are outsourced by the council to Canenco. They have been striking for over a month already. Canterbury city council promised it would engage in talks facilitated by conciliation service Acas. But these have so far failed to happen.

Workers have now voted to extend their strikes to at least 10 September. They say they will continue to strike until they receive the hourly rate that other councils in the area are offering—£12 an hour for loaders and £15 an hour for HGV drivers.

Our advice is to walk out

Some 60 Unite union members who work for Hull and East Riding Citizens Advice struck on Monday—and are planning more action next week.

The workers’ pay is set by the local government NJC terms and conditions. Strikers have rejected an offer of a flat-rate rise of £1,925 for 2022-3. They point out that over the last ten years, NJC awards have led to a real terms pay cut of 27 percent.

  • Every social worker in a department at Swindon borough council has voted to strike.

The GMB union members voted unanimously to strike at the Emergency Duty Service department. The department provides 24-hour emergency care for vulnerable people.

The social workers are enraged that bosses plan to steal more than £700 a month from them after a “pay review”. That process cut unsocial hours pay by 20 percent cut.

Talks between bosses and the union last week made no progress. Andy Newman, GMB Branch Secretary, said, “A unanimous vote for strike action sends a clear message to the council.

“The last thing that social workers want to do is to take strike action, but they are being forced into this drastic step due to a planned pay cut.” Labour took over control of Swindon after recent local elections.


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