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University jobs battles + NEU victimisations fight + Heathrow resistance + New Sage action + Defend libraries + Manchester buses + Stobart crisp crunch coming

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Issue 2739
Where redundancies are targeted in Leicester
Where redundancies are targeted in Leicester (Pic: @leicesterucu on Twitter)

More college and university workers are moving towards fights to stop job cuts. 

UCU union members at Roehampton university last week passed a motion to request a “move to a ballot for industrial action immediately”. 

The motion was passed by 89 percent. It follows a consultative ballot where 64 percent backed strikes on a 70 percent turnout.

At Leicester university, general secretary Jo Grady joined a large meeting of UCU members on Monday.

The meeting voted overwhelmingly to oppose all compulsory redundancies and to “ballot for sustained industrial action” with no votes against.

And at Chichester College, UCU members have unanimously voted to declare a dispute to save jobs in Maths and English. The UCU has also pledged to resist plans to close Goole College. 

NEU members fight to stop victimisation

An online rally in solidarity with victimised NEU union reps was set to take place on Wednesday of this week. 

It follows a growing number of victimisations. 

Louise Lewis, an NEU rep from Huddersfield, has been suspended since October after raising concerns about coronavirus safety measures.

John Boken, an NEU rep at Shrewsbury Colleges Group, faces a disciplinary after raising issues about management bullying. 

John told Socialist Worker, “Management at my college has decided to punish me rather than work with me.

“I will not give up fighting a toxic management system that would rather blame and accuse than work with teachers and unions.” 

NEU members have delivered a 95 percent vote for strikes in support of John.

Rally Wed 27 January, 6.30pm. Go to Send messages of support for John Boken to [email protected] and for Louise Lewis to [email protected]

New strike at Heathrow takes on fire and rehire

Unite union members at Heathrow Airport (HAL) are striking again next month in a bitter dispute over fire and rehire of the entire 4,000-strong workforce.

Workers went on strike for four days in December, and will be going out again on 5 February.

The fire and rehire of the workforce will result in workers facing up to 25 percent pay cuts—equivalent to £8,000 a year.

Unite regional coordinating officer Wayne King said, “Our members—who are being forced to move home, downsize their properties or give up their cars because of the cuts imposed on them by Heathrow airport—are determined to keep fighting.

“The cuts imposed by HAL are all about greed and not need.”

Sage care strikes

Care and cleaning workers at the Sage care home for the elderly in north London are preparing for a second round of strikes.

Members of the UVW union plan to go strike from 4-8 February. 

Workers say they will not be moved over their demands for a £12 an hour living wage as well as terms and conditions in line with those working for the NHS. 

Bile who is a care worker at Sage said that workers “haven’t been listened to” after their three days of strikes two weeks ago. 

“Its time for change, it’s time for the care industry to become more unionised.”

“Before the pandemic we’ve been working very hard, in the pandemic we’ve worked even harder. We look after elderly people’s lives. 

“We’ve been living on poverty wages for too long, Now we want a living wage and more support.” 

Donate to the strike fund at 

Confronting library cuts

Activists in Tower Hamlets, east London, are preparing for battle as their council tries to slash library services.

The Labour-run council wants to close Cubitt Town library, cut the opening hours at Bethnal Green library by 15 a week and reduce Watney Market library from three storeys to one.

The attacks would mean the equivalent of 35 full time jobs going.

This is from the same council that implemented its own version of fire and rehire on its workers last year.

Over 180 workers, Tower Hamlets residents and library campaigners joined a Save Our Libraries meeting called by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions on Tuesday last week.

Sign the petition to save the libraries here

Manchester bus battle

Almost 500 Manchester bus drivers at Go North West are at risk of being fired and rehired. This will see a 10 percent reduction in the workforce and conditions worsen.

Workers will be nearly £2,500 worse off per year and be forced to work longer hours with no additional pay.

The sick pay agreement will also be shelved—resulting in workers being forced to work when they are sick or self-isolating during the pandemic.

Last year Go North West issued a notice that they would begin a process of firing and rehiring, but this was halted to allow for negotiations.

The company announced last week that it was no longer prepared to negotiate and will restart the process.

Workers have notified bosses of their intention to organise a strike ballot.

Unite union senior steward Colin Hayden said, “We are now facing a vicious, premeditated attack on our pay, terms and conditions and job security. It’s a slap in the face for dedicated key workers in Manchester.”

Crisp contract crunch coming

Unite union members employed by Eddie Stobart Ltd at its Warrington depot on the Walkers Pepsico contract are preparing to strike.

A 97 percent vote in favour of action before Christmas came as a result of Eddie Stobart bosses trying to enforce pay freezes on drivers. And they refused to enter pay negotiations with Unite.

An overtime ban was introduced for a three week period beginning 26 December.

Eddie Stobart has since refused to enter talks, so a further overtime ban commenced on 23 January and will last until 16 February.

This will be followed by four days of strikes from 17 February to 20 February.

Unite has announced a further overtime ban from 2 February to 27 February and three strike days from 28 February to 2 March.


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