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Reports round up: Civil service workers could ballot for national strikes

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Issue 2640
PCS union members on strike last month
PCS union members on strike last month (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The civil service workers’ PCS union looked set to announce a national strike ballot as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.

The union is demanding that the government gives workers a pay rise of between 8 and 10 percent after years of below-inflation 1 percent rises—effectively pay cuts.

Yet John Manzoni, chief executive of the Cabinet Office which oversees civil service pay, said workers would only get 1 percent unless the PCS agrees to cuts elsewhere.

Speaking on Friday after a meeting with Manzoni, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said, “I think it’s very likely that we will move to an industrial action ballot.”

National pay strikes can force the Tory government to hand over the money to make up for years of civil service pay cuts.

But winning a strong result in the ballot will take solid organisation and active campaigning involving as many union members as possible.

PCS reps should set up regional activists’ committees to organise campaigns, and hold mass leafleting and rallies.

Egg on bosses’ faces as bird catchers win

Food workers declared victory last week as bosses backed off from threats about public holiday working.

Bosses at Hook 2 Sisters in Suffolk wanted to make the seven chicken catchers work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

But after the Unite members announced a ballot, bosses backed off.

People to assemble against austerity

The People’s Assembly against Austerity is organising a speaking tour as part of its Britain is Broken campaign.

Events are planned in Northampton on 16 Feb, Pembrokeshire 2 March, Newcastle 12 March, Nottingham 13 March, Cambridge 16 March and Brent 21 March. Dates will be announced for meetings in Milton Keynes, Brighton, Bristol, Doncaster and Sommerton and Frome.

lDetails can be found at

Guards battle on for safety and jobs

Strikes against driver only operation trains on Northern rail continued on Saturday. RMT union members struck for 24 hours against plans to remove safety-critical guards.

It was their 47th day of action and they plan walkouts for the next two Saturdays.

Build support for Turkish resistance

Campaign group Solidarity with the People of Turkey (Spot) is holding its annual conference this Saturday in London.

It will give an opportunity to hear from those who have experienced the reality of life under president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime.

Go to for details and to register

3,500 Yorks bus drivers could strike

Around 3,500 bus workers in Yorkshire could be balloted for strikes if management does not reinstate two union reops facing disciplinaries.

Unite union members at First Group companies say there is an “anti-union” stance.

Hermes workers win minimum wage deal

The GMB union has won a deal with delivery firm Hermes to offer drivers guaranteed minimum wages and holiday pay.

It means that its 15,000 self-employed workers can choose to become “self-employed plus” with pay rates of at least £8.55 an hour.

An employment tribunal last year found that a group of Hermes couriers were workers.

Keep up pay fight in Scottish local government

A fight over Scottish local government pay could still be on as Unite union members voted to reject the latest offer.

They voted by 55 percent to reject the offer from bosses’ organisation Cosla.

The result comes after Unison union members voted to accepting the offer by 91 percent on the recommendation of their leadership.

The offer would see them get 3.5 percent pay rise for 2018, 3 percent this year and 3 percent for 2020.

Unite recommended rejecting the offer.

The union is demanding a “trigger clause” is included in future offers, which would allow for renegotiation of the pay offer if inflation rises.

Rally for Birmingham home carers

Around 200 people rallied in support of the Birmingham home carers last Tuesday.

Home care workers in the Unison union have struck for over 60 days in the last 12 months against attempts to privatise their home enablement service.

The Labour-run council’s cuts have been referred to the scrutiny committee, which may provide a last-ditch opportunity to axe the plans

Caroline Johnson, Birmingham Unison branch secretary, said, “In the fifth richest country in the world we can afford good quality care for everyone.” Unison general secretary Dave Prenits vowed, “We will make sure we win this dispute”.

Workers are preparing to strike again on 9, 17, and 23 February.

Home carers could strike in Dundee

Home care workers in Dundee could strike over bosses’ plans to introduce a new split shift system.

Workers have been told they have to move to four days on a split shift system. This would mean working 7am-11am and 4pm-10pm. The Unison union members’ consultative ballot is set to close on 15 February.

Deliveroo workers strike 

Workers for the food delivery firm Deliveroo struck in five cities on Friday of last week over pay and waiting times. They are members of the IWW union.

The company claims riders are paid between

£10 and £12 an hour—but many workers dispute the figure.

Bosses’ calculations for an hourly rate are based on a fee per delivery of £4.50. But riders have shown they are often paid less than this.

Workers also don’t get paid sick pay or holiday pay because they are technically self-employed.

Birmingham bins back out again

Strikes are set to begin again at the bin service in Birmingham following a breakdown in negotiations.

Some 350 Unite union members plan to walk out for two days a week from 19 February. This follows an overtime ban and work to rule.

The Labour-run council has reduced the bin service to fortnightly collections as a result of the action.

Workers complain that council bosses made cash payments to GMB union members who didn’t take part in a programme of strikes in 2017.


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