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Reports round-up: cleaners strike over low pay on Docklands Light Railway

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News in brief from workers’ struggles, including a strike by security staff at Heathrow airport, and a vote for action at FE colleges
Issue 2849
A group of workers, mostly black, let off a red flare and carry RMT flags, during a strike rally outside City Hall in east London

A strike rally at City Hall in east London (Picture: RMT)

Outsourced staff working for ISS on the Docklands Light Railway in London walked out for 48 hours last weekend in their fight for pay after rejecting an “insulting” 1.8 percent pay offer. The workers, employed as revenue protection, cleaners, security and travel safe staff are underpaid compared to those doing similar Transport for London jobs.

All workers on London’s transport system won free travel through a RMT union campaign. But ISS staff have so far not been told whether they will get access to this.

Heathrow strike gets some 70 flights a day cancelled

Ten days of strikes over pay involving over 1,400 security officers at Heathrow Airport began last Friday and were set to continue until Easter Sunday. Heathrow Airport Limited refused to substantially improve its pay offer, instead adding only an additional lump sum.

The strike involves security guards in the Unite union at Terminal 5—which is only used by British Airways—and those who check cargo. British Airways cancelled about 70 flights on Friday. Unite said the strike was being “well supported”.

Ahead of the strike, Heathrow asked airlines to stop selling tickets and allow customers to change travel dates. British Airways preemptively cancelled 300 flights and Virgin Atlantic confirmed it had limited new ticket sales and introduced a flexible policy.

Heathrow said it was deploying 1,000 “extra colleagues”—scabs—and its management team to assist passengers.

The current average salary of a Heathrow security guard is £30,000 a year. This is made up of a basic £26,000, after three years experience, with a £4,000 shift allowance. That’s down 24 percent in real terms since 2017.

Vote for college fightback

Workers in further education have indicated they want to strike over pay, workload, professionalism and binding national negotiations. An impressive 87 percent of UCU union members at more than a hundred colleges voted “yes” to action in a consultative ballot that closed on Friday of last week.

The turnout was just over 51 percent nationally. Now union leaders must push forward with an official ballot as soon as possible.

Teachers at Plympton Academy in Plymouth began six days of strikes on Thursday of last week over excessive working hours and workload.

The members of the NASUWT union say school leaders’ decisions are undermining their professionalism.

Teachers at Clydach primary school in Swansea called off a six day strike last week. The members of the NASUWT union are fighting over accusations of bullying and had already struck for five days.

Union leaders say the dispute continues, but called off the strike after bosses met their “requirements” to do so.

Make bosses come clean with cash

A domestic worker is battling to get £5,000 her bosses stole from her. Betty Ulloa’s former bosses—outsourcer Pridegreen limited—refuse to pay up despite being ordered to by an employment tribunal.

They had underpaid her while she was furloughed as a cleaner at the London Elizabeth Hotel—paying her only 42 percent of her salary instead of the 80 percent they were mandated to. She plans to protest every Saturday from 2 pm outside the London Elizabeth Hotel in central London alongside her union, Caiwu.

  • Join Betty every Saturday, 2pm, outside the London Elizabeth Hotel, at 4 Lancaster Terrance, W2 3DF

Journalists won’t cover election night

BBC local radio journalists are set to strike for a second time from midnight on 5 May—targeting local elections night. The members of the NUJ union are fighting plans to share programming between stations that would slash jobs.

The strike would be the second day of action, following a previous one-day walkout on 15 March.

More militancy needed at mills

The Unite union called off strikes by 150 mill workers employed by animal feed manufacturer AB AGRI after workers voted to accept a two-year pay deal worth 13 percent. Unite said the deal also contains an agreement to allow union recognition across AB AGRI’s mills.

No doubt Unite is delighted to have secured this recognition, and it can boost workers’ organisation. But the pay settlement is well below inflation and is a big real terms cut.

Pay takes big dip at theme park

Engineers in the Unite union at Chessington World of Adventures near London are balloting for strikes over pay.

The employer, Merlin Attractions, is seeking to impose a real terms pay cut on its workers. The strike ballot closes on Wednesday 12 April.

Strike could be a beacon of resistance

Scotland’s lighthouse workers are to vote on strikes over pay. The workers are employed by the Northern Lighthouse Board who maintain and operate Scotland’s lighthouses, beacons and buoys.

Around 30 Unite union members including base assistants, cooks and technicians will take part in the ballot which closes on 24 April.


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