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Workplaces round-up: University workers fight major attacks + Medway Norse + fighting council and fire ccuts

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Issue 2706
More resistance is needed
More resistance is needed (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Workers at Roehampton university are fighting plans to attack jobs and pay. The university has announced a voluntary severance scheme and 15 percent of academic posts are at risk.

Some workers are also being pressured to accept a “temporary” pay cut.

The UCU union branch said any such pay cut would represent an attack on national bargaining.

And it warned that other vice chancellors would try to force through similar attacks if they go through at Roehampton.

Workers at Roehampton have received solidarity messages from union members across Britain.

Sign a petition against the attacks here

  • The UCU union has said it will fight the planned closure of Newton Rigg College in Penrith. The plan would slash 117 jobs and be a “hammer blow” for the region, the union said.

The college, run by Askham Bryan College, has outlined plans to close in July next year.

UCU regional official Iain Owens said this would hit young people’s access to education.

“The closure would leave Cumbria—one of the most agriculturally-dependent counties in the country—without any specialist agricultural education,” he said.

  • Plans by the University of Bolton to open in September could put staff and student safety at risk, the UCU union has said. It added that the plan is out of step with other universities.

Strike call at Medway Norse

Bin workers in Kent are expecting soon to hear the result of a ballot for industrial action after bosses suspended eight workers and de‑recognised the Unite union.

Bosses at subcontractor Medway Norse suspended the workers at the end of last month.

It came after a group of workers drove past the council head office, honking their horns in protest at the lack of proper personal protective equipment.

And there are reports that the company has now recognised the GMB union, during Unite’s ongoing dispute. Medway Norse is half owned by the council and outsourcing giant Norse.

Workers walked out on 30 March under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act.

Workers say bosses reneged on an agreement.

Demand an end to fire cuts

Firefighters are calling for a halt to all fire cuts across Britain—and to plans for further attacks.

The FBU union has written to Boris Johnson and the leaders of devolved governments to criticise the lack of preparedness for the pandemic and the dangers in more reductions in fire cover.

Last week East Sussex fire authority began a consultation on sweeping fire cuts. Plans include removing ten fire engines, at least 30 full-time firefighters, and 60 on-call firefighters from the force.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said, “The crucial value of investing in public services has never been more apparent.

“We cannot return to the failed politics of slashing services and then expecting them to spring into action when a crisis comes around.”

Stop cuts to council services

Luton council is planning to make £22 million cuts in a move that is set to savage adult social care services.

The council said it will have to make the sweeping cuts after the revenue from Luton Airport dropped.

Labour-led Luton council has been using a £20 million dividend from the airport to maintain local services.

“We are now going to feel the full force of austerity in council services,” said Andy Malcom, the council’s cabinet member for finance.

“I think we are going to be able to make these savings, but it is not going to be pleasant.”

The national government gave English councils £3.2 billion in March and April, and an additional £600 million to spend on adult social care.

But these amounts fall far short of what is needed.

A government survey of councils’ financial projections indicated that local authorities are set for a £9‑10 billion shortfall this year.

Across Britain local councils are slashing jobs and axing even the most vital of services.

There ought to be resistance. A fight from workers is needed.


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