Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2855

Vote yes for more school strikes, and demand escalation

Plus news of North Sea rigs strikes, an important legal racism case, Manchester trams...and more
Issue 2855
Striking teachers looking determined on a march with a big orange NEU flag saying 'Pay Up'

Teachers struck on 2 May (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Hundreds of thousands of education workers in England have begun voting to renew or kick off pay strikes over pay.

The largest education union, the NEU, started a reballot of more than 200,000 members on Monday. Its ballot is scheduled to end on 28 July.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) also launched a strike ballot on Monday. It will last until 31 July. The NASUWT education union will begin balloting members from 5 June and the Association of School and College Leaders has said it will send out ballots soon. All four unions have vowed to unite future strikes.

Tory education secretary Gillian Keegan, says her offer of a £1,000 one-off payment for 2022–23 and a 4.3 percent pay rise for 2023–24 is the government’s final offer.

Later this week the NEU executive was to meet to discuss whether to go ahead with “a three-day strike in late June/early July” as agreed at the last union conference. The executive should go ahead with the action. Calling it off will mean a gap of more than four months from the last strike before there is a follow-up.

The three days need to be built as an outgoing strike that can lay the basis for the serious escalation that’s needed and help to win the re-ballot.

And the NEU should not hold back from strikes because other unions want to move more slowly.

Over 1,000 workers stop as rigs dispute continues

Hundreds of North Sea workers struck last week for 48 hours in their dispute over pay and conditions. This was the second 48-hour strike involving some 1,200 offshore workers. The first stoppage was last month.

The action includes deck crew, scaffolders, crane operators and pipefitters. Unite industrial officer John Boland said, “We are witnessing the biggest wave of industrial action in a generation in the offshore sector.”

Contractors representing firms including Bilfinger UK Limited, Petrofac Facilities Management, Stork Technical Services, Sparrows Offshore Services and Wood Group, are taking part to demand a better deal on jobs, pay and conditions.

The workers going on strike includes electrical, production and mechanical technicians in addition to deck crew, scaffolders, crane operators, pipefitters, platers, and riggers.

The workers’ Unite union has denounced government inaction over the “obscene profits” that are grabbed by the multinational oil and gas corporations.

BP and Shell together made first-quarter profits touching £11.7 billion—in just three months.

A series of disputes for over a year across a myriad of companies has seen some workers win above-inflation pay rises.

Others have secured better conditions such as increased time away from the offshore platforms. It is action across the companies and uniting the different jobs that has the oil barons worried.

Tribunal verdict overturns race discrimination victory

A tribunal has overturned an important victory against race discrimination, but workers are determined to secure justice.

The UVW union says it will appeal the decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal to overturn workers’ 2021 race discrimination victory against the Royal Parks.

“Our battle to prove that paying majority black and brown outsourced workers worse pay than majority white in-house workers is institutional (indirect) race discrimination, continues.,” said the UVW

The government tried to intervene in the case. The secretary of state for digital, culture, media & sport argued that UVW’s victory posed “a significant risk that the Employment Tribunal’s judgment will lead to a proliferation of ‘copycat’ claims brought by outsourced workers.”

But the hearing took place without government intervention in April. In early May, however, the EAT ruled in the Tories’ and bosses’ favour.

Petros Elia, general secretary of UVW, said, “The fact that the government sought to intervene makes us even more determined to fight for justice.

“We are not giving up and we will go to the Court of Appeal in due course. The tribunal did accept an important part of our case that the Royal Parks does effectively determine the pay of the workers in Vinci’s toilet and cleaning contract.

“This is contrary to the preposterously pleaded position of many clients that outsourced workers’ terms and conditions are solely set by the direct employer.”

Manchester trams could stop

Manchester Metrolink workers who staff the city’s trams, are furious after bosses offered them just a 5 percent pay deal for a 15-month period.

Now the 600 workers are voting to strike to beat back bosses’ pay attacks.

The ballot will close on Thursday of next week. If the ballot is successful Manchester’s transport system could grind to a halt as early as next month.

The Unite union says the Manchester Parklife festival could be heavily affected.

The starting rates for customer service relations workers are just £20,000 a year, drivers’ salaries start at £22,000 and engineers begin at £26,000.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This is a company operated by two incredibly wealthy multinationals who can afford to make a fair pay offer.”

Pay battles in the NHS

Workers at the South London and Maudsley NHS trust are planning a return to picket lines after pay talks with contractor ISS broke down.

The GMB union members work as domestics and catering staff at the trust and have already struck for two days over wages and conditions.

They planned to strike for a further four days from this Wednesday.

  • Senior NHS doctors in the BMA union could be heading towards a strike after talks with the government broke down last weekend.

A strike ballot opened this week and will run until 27 June. If consultants were to strike, it would be their first walkout since the 1970s.

Separately, junior doctors’ union leaders are still in talks with the government over a pay offer.

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