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Reports round up: London Overground workers take on bosses

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Issue 2642
RMT union members working for contractor Vinci on London Overground struck on Monday over sick pay and other issues
RMT union members working for contractor Vinci on London Overground struck on Monday over sick pay and other issues (Pic: RMT East London Rail Branch)

A breakthrough at South Western rail?

The RMT union has called off a strike planned for this week on South Western Railway. It followed what union leaders called a “significant breakthrough on the guard guarantee”.

RMT members are fighting driver-only operation trains that threaten their jobs and passengers’ safety.

The union said, “the company has offered a guarantee of a guard on the services that have been in dispute.”

Print strikers make bosses think again

On the picket line
On the picket line

Unite union members working at CPI William Clowes printers in Ellough, Suffolk struck on Wednesday of last week against management’s refusal to offer a pay rise in both 2018 and 2019.

This comes on top of a virtual pay freeze for the past 14 years.

This is the fourth month of one-day strikes which have stopped production at the plant.

It comes on top of an overtime ban and a refusal of workers to change shifts to fit in with management’s wishes.

The action followed management’s refusal to discuss a pay increase in April 2018 and their insistence instead on a further two-year pay freeze.

The ballot for action was carried with 71 percent voting for action.

Firm action by the 75 Unite union members has begun to force a climbdown by management.

Talks with the company’s parent firm are set to take place in Brussels.

As one of the strikers said, “Taking action has hit the company where it hurts. If they don’t come up with something satisfactory in these talks the action will continue and we will be out here again.”

Kevin Wingfield

Fightback at government business department 

Outsourced catering workers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) struck for two days last week to demand better pay.

The members of the PCS union are paid as little as £7.38 an hour.

This is well below the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour.

One striker, Novlette Hurd, said, “We can’t live because, for starters, I’ve got dependent children and this amount of wages is just not enough.

“You think, why do I bother to work? It just makes you desperate some days.

“You just get up and you think, does it make sense to go to work?”

The strike comes as PCS members employed directly by government departments prepare to ballot for national strikes over pay.

They are demanding a 10 percent pay increase to end an attack on pay that has lasted almost a decade.

The strike ballot is set to run from Monday 18 March until Monday 29 April.

Strike ballots in PCS union

Workers at an HMRC tax office in Ealing, west London, began balloting for strikes on Monday against the closure of their office.

The planned closure means workers face the threat of redundancy if they are unable to travel to new workplaces several miles away.

The closure is part of a plan which will see around 90 percent of HMRC workplaces closed and relocated to fewer than 20 “regional centres and specialist sites”

  • Security workers in parliament began a strike ballot last week. PCS union members are demanding the reinstatement of a colleague, and also want issues over rest breaks resolved. The ballot is set to end on Thursday of next week.
  • A ballot for strikes by PCS union members at two Universal Credit (UC) centres was set to end on Monday of next week. Workers at UC service centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton say there is understaffing at the centres. It causes delays which mean misery for claimants and stress for workers.
  • The PCS union has suspended strikes by workers at three Historic Royal Palaces after an offer on pensions from bosses. Workers at Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London have been fighting bosses’ attempts to close their current pension scheme and replace it with a worse one. The PCS said it suspended strikes, which were set for last Saturday and Thursday of this week, to allow workers to consider the offer.

BA flights could lose food and drink

Drivers at Gatwick airport are set to vote on whether to strike over poor pay. It follows a unanimous vote for walkouts in a consultative ballot.

The 50 HGV drivers work for Alpha Flight UK and transport food and drink for British Airways flights.

Their Unite union said they are paid “below the going rate”. The ballot closes on 28 February—workers should vote to force better pay from their bosses.

Care strike is on the cards in Dundee

Some 200 care workers in Dundee are set to strike over plans to slash their pay and hours.

The SNP-controlled council wants to force the low-paid workers on to split shifts, which would mean pay cuts of up to £4,500 a year.

Over 80 percent of union members in Unison, the GMB and Unite have voted for strikes. Workers marched through Dundee centre to build support for their action.

Fashion protest over Grenfell deaths

Justice 4 Grenfell campaigners were part of a photo call at London Fashion Week last Thursday.

Models and DJs joined survivors and activists wearing a T-shirt designed for the occasion with the words, “72 dead and still no arrests? How come?”

Moyra Samuels told Socialist Worker, “Justice4Grenfell wanted to use the reach and influence of the fashion industry to remind the world that in London, the atrocity of Grenfell remains a symbol of the inequalities in our society,” .

Rena Niamh Smith

Cleaners consider Dagenham pay deal

Cleaners at Ford in Dagenham, east London, are being recommended by their Unite union to accept a pay rise of 3 percent.

The 150 cleaners work for Hamton Environmental cleaning contractors.

200 link arms over threat to sell off Dorset hospital

More than 200 people joined a “hands around the hospital” protest in Portland, Dorset, last Saturday.

Dorset Health Care NHS trust has threatened to sell the hospital site.

The protest is another step in efforts to contest a savage assault on Dorset’s NHS, which faces over £150 million of cuts.

Phil Marfleet

outsourced support workers at Liverpool Women’s Hospital were set to strike over pay on Monday of next week.

The 40 Unison union members are demanding that private firm OCS pays them the same as workers employed directly by the NHS.

Some only receive the minimum wage of £7.83 an hour compared to £8.93.

Big vote for pay strikes

Care support workers at Alternative Futures Group have voted overwhelmingly to strike over pay cuts.

Bosses want to slash workers’ wages by more than £2,000 a year by cutting

£15 from each shift.

Some 87 percent of the 660-strong Unison union membership voted to strike.

Meanwhile, Unison is taking the fight for care workers’ pay to the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeal had overturned a previous ruling that said care workers are entitled to the national minimum wage for every hour of their shift, not just a lump sum.

Unison has won the right to take the case to the Supreme Court to challenge this decision.

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