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Reports round-up: Oxford drivers walk out

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Issue 2544
On the picket line
On the picket line (Pic: Pat Carmody)

Some 450 workers at Oxford Bus Company (OBC) struck on Monday and last Thursday.

Bosses refused to pay them the usual extra rate for two bank holidays costing some drivers up to £100 per day.

Management have torn up the recognition agreement with Unite, ended reps’ facility time and evicted them from the union office.

OBC is part of Go Ahead group, the transport giant behind the dispute on Southern (see page 8).

Hundreds have joined the pickets—they know the stakes are high. One worker said, “They’ve brought in at least 100 drivers from other contractors to break the strike.”

Management sacked a striker for commenting on Facebook about the dispute and suspended another two.

Two more strike dates have been called for 17 and 24 March. The scale of the attack means that the strikes must be escalated.

A strike at the end of the tunnel

London Tube maintenance workers in the RMT union began action short of strikes from Tuesday over a breakdown in industrial relations.

Drivers in the RMT and Aslef unions are voting on action due to bosses blocking part-time drivers from applying for full time posts.

The ballots close next Tuesday and Thursday.

Workers at London Bridge station group are expected to vote to stand with colleagues.

One worker has been sacked and two others disciplined, but no ballot had been called as Socialist Worker went to press.


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Solid support for action in Kirklees

Social work staff in Kirklees Council children’s services held a one-hour walkout last Thursday.

The Unison union members, who struck to keep their ballot live, solidly supported the action. But it has to be the beginning of a programme of action and not the end for another 12 weeks.

That’s why they demanded that Unison call longer action straight away.

The council’s reaction to the stoppage convinced activists that it is terrified of action. Union officials must call more strikes.

Nick Ruff Kirklees Unison branch chair (pc)

Ballot over BMW’s plot to rob pensions

Around 4,500 car workers are to be balloted for strikes to stop BMW robbing their pensions. The firm plans to close their final salary scheme on 31 May, despite record profits of £6 billion.

The Unite union members voted by 96 percent to strike in a consultative ballot. Unite should waste no time in turning it into action.

Nazis opposed in Clackmannanshire

Anti-fascists were set to protest against the Scottish Defence League in Alloa, Clackmannanshire this Saturday. The Nazis plan to demonstrate in Alloa to target a refugee family there.

The counter-protest will take place on High Street, Alloa between 12.30—3pm.

Anti-fascist protest at French embassy

Unite Against Fascism has called a protest at the French embassy in South Kensington, London, on Monday 24 April from 6pm.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the fascist Front National, is standing in France’s presidential elections. The first round is on 23 April.

Women’s march held in London

Thousands of people joined a women’s march through central London last Sunday. They called for action to help female refugees.

Singer Annie Lennox, human rights activist Bianca Jagger and London mayor Sadiq Khan made speeches.

Make noise for Orgreave justice

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign plans to protest outside the Home Office next Monday from 2pm.

It demands an inquiry into the 1984 Battle of Orgreave. Go to Make Some Noise for Orgreave on Facebook.

Taking on the bosses in West Bromwich
Taking on the bosses in West Bromwich (Pic: Martin Lynch)

Around 180 workers held a lively protest at Tesco in West Bromwich, near Birmingham, on Monday. They were protesting against their treatment by bosses at the 2 Sisters food supplier.

The company has suspend-ed four Unite union shop stewards and sacked one after

two of them brought up grievances. One allegation raised was that a rep was pushed out of the office when trying to represent a member. Another was the company’s use of hidden cameras and audio to spy on workers.

2 Sisters is Britain’s biggest company supplying food to supermarkets, but workers say it treats them like “slaves”.

They have already held one protest at 2 Sisters’ office in Birmingham and plan to keep up the fight—possibly including industrial action.

Martin Lynch

Duke of York joins pickets

Following the successful Picturehouse strikes last month another cinema in the chain has joined the dispute.

Workers at the Duke of York cinema in Brighton voted 100 percent to join the fight for a Living Wage and maternity and paternity pay.

That brings the total sites involved in the dispute up to five, just in time for the next round of strikes which are scheduled for 18 March.

The Duke of York is also the first site of the chain to join the dispute outside London.

This is a significant development which could see the campaign grow nationally.

And workers at other sites are talking about the campaign.

Meanwhile, workers at the Hackney Picturehouse in east London were set to walk out from 2pm on International Women’s Day, 8 March.

Workers currently get statutory maternity pay. This is either £139.58 or 90 percent of your average weekly earnings for 33 weeks—whichever is lower.

That’s not enough to pay rent in London and many other cities in Britain.

Picturehouse workers are demanding real maternity pay equivalent to their wages as part of their fight for a Living Wage.

Sweep away LSE low pay

Workers at the London School of Economics (LSE) have voted 100 percent to strike for equal pay and conditions on the 15 and 16 March.

They are United Voices of the World (UVW) union members. Bosses at contractor Noonan Ltd have so far refused their demands.

Workers are also fighting against homophobia. One cleaner was subjected to vile homophobic abuse and the university and Noonan have yet to investigate the incident.

“We want answers for why they didn’t act on hate crimes,” said union leader Petros Elia.

Some 15 councillors in Haringey rebelled against the Labour council’s decision to demolish seven estates in the north London borough last Thursday.

The council has set up a part-private Haringey Development Vehicle to develop the land.

Housing association tenants on some estates have now been told they will have no right to return after demolition.

Some 60 people protested outside the council meeting against the HDV and dem-olitions. Paul Burnham from

Haringey Defend Council Housing said, “We need to make it toxic for Labour councils to associate them-selves with Tory policy.”

Housing activists are set to protest in Southwark in south London  on 25 March against plans to push the market further into housing.

12 noon, Sat 25 March, Canada Water Library, SE16 7AR

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