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Reports round up: Walkouts can deliver better deal for Royal Mail workers

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Issue 2584

Details of talks between postal workers’ union officials and Royal Mail management show bosses have made big concessions in a dispute over pay, pensions and conditions.

Bosses planned to force through pensions changes that would rob thousands of pounds from workers.

They also wanted to slash pay and force through changes to the delivery model that would worsen working conditions and pave the way for cuts.

CWU union members had been ready to strike in October but the action was called off after bosses got a court injunction forcing the union into mediation.

Bosses have offered a single “wage in retirement” pension scheme.

Previously they had wanted to force through a “defined contribution” scheme where workers’ pensions were left at the mercy of the stock market.

They have also offered an improved pay offer of a £550 lump sum and a below inflation two percent pay increase from April.

Workers won these concessions with their huge vote to strike and their readiness to take hard-hitting action.

The CWU has said the pay offer is not acceptable, and that there is “still a way to go” on many of the bosses’ new offers.

Socialist Worker says new strike dates must be called if bosses won’t agree to a deal that

  • Includes a pension with a guaranteed wage in retirement
  • Includes an above inflation pay deal
  • Guarantees no changes to deliveries that disrupt workers’ lives

Nick Clark

THE unite union and the Blacklist Support Group protested in London. It was part of a national day of action on Wednesday of last week against blacklisting of union members in the construction industry
THE unite union and the Blacklist Support Group protested in London. It was part of a national day of action on Wednesday of last week against blacklisting of union members in the construction industry (Pic: Guy Smallman)


New contracts don’t meet promises made in Durham

Durham Teaching Assistants (TAs) have been sent their latest contracts—but the numbers don’t match up to what they were promised.

The 1,800 Unison and NEU union members fought for two years against contracts that would have meant working longer hours for less pay.

They accepted an offer in November that meant 472 TAs will still lose money, some by almost £4,000 a year.

But some TAs could be paid even less than they thought—some to the tune of thousands.

Lisa from the TA committee said, “People are concerned because there’s no specifics.

“The letters are really confusing and could mean we are losing out even more than we thought.”

Workers were promised a vaguely worded “progression board” where TAs could individually apply for regrading. This has failed to appear, alongside the promise that TAs could elect who should represent them.

With the contracts due to come into force on 1 January, many TAs face an uncertain Christmas. And many are unhappy with the deal that was agreed.

Lisa said, “We haven’t won, I’ll never call it a victory as some people are losing out.”

Sarah Bates

Mears workers strike for more

Housing maintenance workers at Mears are continuing their strike to end outsourcing of their contracts and for better pay.

Outsourced Mears workers are paid up to £3,500 less than workers directly employed by Manchester City council.

The 180 Unite union members are on their second round of strikes this year. They have called strike dates every Monday and Thursday up to 9 February 2018.

Send messages of support to [email protected]. Donate to the strike fund by cheque, payable to UCATT UD393 Manchester 1st Branch, send to Andy Fisher, Unite 2 Churchill Way, Liverpool, L3 8EF, or online to account 46034412 sort code 60-83-01.

Workers want more than cheap cuts

Usdaw union members at two Scotbeef factories have voted by 80 percent for a 24 hour strike over pay.

They will walk out on Tuesday of next week at the Scotbeef sites in East Kilbride and Queenslie in Glasgow.

Scotbeef’s latest pay offer was a 1.7 percent pay rise—far below the level of inflation and effectively a pay cut.

Scotbeef supplies supermarket chains Lidl, Marks & Spencer and Aldi.

Breathing space as ‘Christmas saved’

Unite union members at the 3M breathing mask factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, are voting on strikes over pay.

They rejected a 1.5 percent pay offer. Unite declared “Christmas saved” at the factory last week after bosses backed down from making workers start coming in for three days between Christmas and New Year.

Strikes could have won more dough

Kingsmill bakery workers in West Bromwich called off a planned strike after bosses agreed an improved pay deal.

The maintenance workers, lorry drivers and security personnel are in the Unite union. They will now get 2.5 percent for 2017-8, backdated, and 2 percent for 2018-9.

Protest planned over poverty pay

Supporters of workers at Lee Hecht Harrison were set to demonstrate against the firm on Friday.

The United Voices of the World union members demand the London Living Wage of £10.20 an hour.

Friday 15 December, 4pm, 55 Gracechurch St, London EC3V 0EE

Let’s picket Picturehouse

Workers at five Picturehouse cinema sites were set to strike this week as part of their long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

The members of the Bectu section of the Prospect union are fighting for demands including the Living Wage of £10.20 in London, maternity and sick pay.

At the Hackney site in east London workers were to strike from 8.30pm on Wednesday 11 December until 3am on Saturday 16 December.

At the Crouch End, Brixton, Central and East Dulwich sites the strike was to begin at 10am on Wednesday 13 December.

There was only to be one picket for the whole round of strikes—at the Hackney site from 4pm to 7pm Friday.

Workers need a more active campaign if they are to force the bosses to give in.

Hospital death vigil 

Activists in Liverpool held a candlelit vigil last Friday to remember a hospital domestic worker who died a year earlier. They were also stepping up their campaign for better sick pay for hospital workers.

Freda Smith was employed by outsourcing company ISS. She was diagnosed with cancer but couldn’t afford to stay off work while recovering from surgery.

ISS employees can accrue only 12 sick days per year—compared to six months on full pay and six on half pay for NHS employees.

Liverpool’s deputy mayor Ann O’Byrne called the ISS policy “a disgrace”.

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