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Strikes over pay in York, Hackney and Manchester

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Issue 2529
GMB members on the picket line in York
GMB members on the picket line in York

Sour taste of sweet firm Tangerine’s pay offer

Workers in the GMB union at the Tangerine sweets factory in York began the first of four 24 hour walkouts on Tuesday. The firm’s brands include Mint Humbugs, Barratt Sherbert Fountains, Butterkist Popcorn and Princess Marshmallows

Workers are furious at a 1 percent pay offer after a series of attacks on their terms and conditions. They voted to reject it by 86 percent. The dispute will include a work to rule and an overtime ban.

The private equity firm, Blackstone, took a majority stake in the company in 2011. Since that time workers’ pensions have been cut and paid breaks removed.

The lead up to the strike has seen union membership increase by triple and fantastic unity among a very mixed workforce including many Polish people amongst others.

Ben Kirkham, GMB organiser said “As Christmas approaches we are saying “Baa humbug” to this Scrooge employer.”

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Fujitsu workers strike for jobs, pay and pensions

Part of the picket line in Manchester

Part of the picket line in Manchester (Pic: Tony Harper)

IT services workers at Fujitsu in Manchester brought placards demanding equal pay to their picket line on Monday.

The Unite union members struck on Monday and Tuesday of this week and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week over job security, pay and pensions.

Monday’s walkout was timed to coincide with the launch of the new “living wage”, as Fujitsu refuses to become an accredited living wage employer. There were around 25 people on the picket line.

Bosses encouraged people to work from home to break the strike—even people who were previously banned from working from home.

Women at the firm are paid an average of 16 percent less than men.

Workers also receive lower pay if they are disabled. Fujitsu is cutting older workers’ pensions retrospectively, and is planning 1,800 job cuts across Britain.

Pickets at Picturehouse demand living wage

Strikers in Hackney

Strikers in Hackney (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The opening of new film Nocturnal Animals was disrupted at Hackney Picturehouse cinema in east London on Friday of last week as workers struck.

Members of the Bectu union are fighting for the London Living Wage of £9.75 an hour. They are targeting days when the company makes the most profits.

“We’ll almost certainly call strikes on the premieres of the new Harry Potter and Star Wars films,” one striker told Socialist Worker. “On a profitable night Picturehouse can make as much as £50,000.”

Previously they struck alongside workers at the Picturehouse Ritzy cinema in Brixton, south London. Workers are organising at other sites too.

One rep urged supporters, “When you go to the cinema, talk to the workers and let them know you support them.”

Offshore workers reject bosses’ sham pay offer

Unite and GMB union members have rejected a pay and conditions offer by the bosses’ Offshore Contractors Association (OCA).

In a statement the unions said workers had “overwhelmingly” rejected the offer. OCA boss Paul Atkinson claimed a pitiful 0.8 percent pay offer was a “substantial pay rise”.

That would mean less than £350 a year but it would also be cancelled out by other attacks. The “improved sick pay” offer amounted to an extra £1.50 a week.

Workers were right to reject the insulting offer. Bosses have slashed their conditions, undermined safety and will have axed up to 120,000 jobs in the industry by the end of this year, according to the latest estimates.

The officials should use their “significant mandate” to push for industrial action, where possible involving other unions, instead of simply “seeking a meeting” with bosses.

Action by Wood Group workers on Shell North Sea rigs earlier this year showed the power of collective action to wring concessions out of the employers.


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