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Reports round up: Protests tell Tories—stop and scrap Universal Credit

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Issue 2633
Campaigning against Universal Credit in east London
Campaigning against Universal Credit in east London (Pic: East London Unite)

The Unite union held a day of action against Universal Credit (UC) last Saturday.

The union said more than 90 events were held across Britain.

Several of these were Unite stalls where activists sang carols with rewritten lyrics attacking UC.

Liane Groves, Unite Community head, said, “We were getting feedback from members of the public and many of them were telling us of their own experiences which were quite heartbreaking.”

The Tories are on the defensive over UC, but it will take resistance on a much bigger scale to get rid of it.

Strike over paltry pay offer at Shelter charity

Over 400 housing and homelessness workers at Shelter are set to walk out for three days from Tuesday of next week.

The Unite union members’ action follows a measly pay offer of a 1 percent increase plus a one-off 1 percent payment.

Workers at the charity want an increase of 3.5 percent or a flat rate increase of £1,100 for everyone. Unite says

below-inflation pay “increases” have left Shelter’s workforce 11 percent worse off since 2010. One Shelter worker said, “Shelter has a vision of a safe, secure affordable homes for everyone.

“But it is a bit meaningless considering I am struggling to pay my mortgage every month.” Another worker added, “We are here to support people on low incomes, but Shelter staff are now facing this themselves.”

Unite regional officer Peter Storey said, “Our members are not looking to get richer, they are just trying to keep their heads above water.

“It is entirely unfair that the wages of Shelter workers have been declining at the same time that the charity’s reserves have been increasing.”

More action is planned in the New Year.

Trade unionists should build solidarity for their fight.

Manx post office workers could strike

The result of a strike ballot by postal workers on the Isle of Man was set to be announced as Socialist Worker went to press.

CWU union members at the Isle of Man Post Office could strike over attacks on their pay, pensions and conditions.

Workers have beef with the bosses

Beefeaters at the Tower of London could strike, say the PCS and GMB unions.

Workers, including Beefeaters, at sites such as the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace are fighting attacks on their pensions.

Bosses at Historic Royal Palaces—which manages six unoccupied royal palaces—want to close their current pension scheme and replace it with a worse one.

A strike was set to end of Friday of this week.

Postal protests over outsourcing

CWU union activists held a day of action on Saturday against plans to privatise and outsource post offices.

They held protests outside a number of Post Offices across Britain.

They are campaigning against plans to sell 74 flagship post offices to WHSmith.

Godrich wins and pulls out

Janice Godrich has stood down as a proposed candidate ahead of elections for the PCS union’s assistant general secretary.

Godrich had won a ballot to stand as the candidate endorsed by the Left Unity grouping inside the PCS.

The result was ratified at a Left Unity national meeting on Saturday.

But it was later announced that she was standing down due to illness.

Discussions among supporters of Godrich’s campaign were ongoing as Socialist Worker went to press.

Pay fight takes off at Luton Airport

Workers at Luton airport began a four-day strike against belligerent bosses on Tuesday.

Passanger Assistant workers, outsourced to Clece Care Services, walked out alongside cleaners employed by Sasse.

The Unite members are fighting for £9 an hour.

BT workers want to keep jobs in house

Members of the CWU union protested outside BT workplaces every day last week against plans to outsource staff.

Workers fear this could lead to attacks on their terms and conditions.

Plumbing strikes could be in pipeline

Plumbing manufacturers in South Yorkshire could be heading for strikes over pay.

Over 200 Unite union members at Pegler Yorkshire Group, based in Doncaster and Rotherham, are being balloted for action.

They want more than the 3 percent pay award they were offered in May, and an end to the “long-running inequality in the award of bonuses”.

Strike at Hackney housing association

A planned strike at a housing association in Hackney, east London, was called off after bosses caved.

Some 25 Unite members were set to stage a 5-day walkout from this Monday.

They were fighting for Peter Bedford Housing Association to implement the local government pay award.

Meanwhile, campaigners are gearing up for a protest against plans to redevelop the Elephant and Castle shopping centre in south London on Wednesday of next week. Protests forced Lambeth council to back down from the worst attacks.

Activists are demanding full guarantees for traders who would be displaced by the development.

6pm, Lambeth Council, 160 Tooley St, SE1 2QH

Strike day 38 on Northern

Workers at Northern Rail in the RMT union struck again last Saturday after company bosses refused to committee to key guarantees.

They’re fighting against driver only operation trains that will remove guards from services.

Meanwhile Rail Gourmet workers in Edinburgh struck on Tuesday over bullying and harassment of staff, abuse of disciplinary procedures and non-payment for additional duties.

The staff work on the inter-city LNER contract.

Another strike is planned for 24 December.

Britain is Broken campaign launched

The “Britain is broken” campaign, an initiative of the People’s Assembly, was launched last week.

Around 150 people heard speakers including Richard Burgon MP demand an end to the Tories’ brutal austerity regime.

Burgon said, “This is all about showing the truth behind the Tories’ claim that ‘austerity has ended’.

“It clearly isn’t over for millions of people who desperately need it to be.”

Other speakers at the launch included the Daily Mirror newspaper’s editor-in-chief Alison Phillips and Dr Aislinn Macklin-Doherty from Health Campaigns Together.

Following this event there will be a national speaking tour and building for a national mass mobilisation in spring of next year.

Bin strike looms in Birmingham

A bin strike could hit Birmingham in the Christmas period, as workers vow to fight bullying management.

Unite union members waged a long-running series of strikes against 100 job losses in 2017. And they could return to the picket lines as soon as 28 December.

Birmingham City Council have been allegedly giving GMB union members—who didn’t strike—secret payments.

Howard Beckett, Unite assistant general secretary, said, “Birmingham City Council has effectively blacklisted Unite members for carrying out their legal right to defend their jobs last year.”

Unite members should vote to attack their poor treatment at the hands of council management.

Meanwhile, a planned bins strike across Calderdale in West Yorkshire was called off at the last moment after council bosses made an improved pay offer.

Bus drivers strike in Keighley

Bus drivers in Keighley, West Yorkshire, struck on Tuesday over pay. Almost all the 180 drivers are in the Unite union.

They are demanding a 50p an hour rise. The company offered just a 34p an hour rise—over two years.

Phil Bown, Unite regional officer, said workers “just feel enough is enough.

“The cost of living has risen but pay hasn’t kept pace.”

Bus strike set for north east over pay

About 650 bus drivers in the north east of England are set to strike for a week from Sunday 16 December over pay.

The Unite union said Arriva Durham County Ltd drivers are the second lowest paid in the company.

Drivers in Darlington, Durham, Redcar, Stockton and Whitby plan to strike after voting by 95 percent to win a £1 an hour rise.

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