“It is not sympathy or feelings of frustration that are needed now. You must go away determined to organise and act.”
“It is not sympathy or feelings of frustration that are needed now. You must go away determined to organise and act.”
Workers at Newham Sixth Form College (NewVic) in east London returned to picket lines for the eleventh day of strikes on Wednesday.
It marked the second day of a three-day walkout in the NEU union members’ battle over academisation, workload and bullying. And more strike days are planned from Tuesday to Thursday of next week if management doesn’t finalise a deal.
Simon, a teacher at NewVic, told Socialist Worker, “The local school here has been academised so NewVic is very important. Students from lower socio-economic backgrounds deserve better provisions. Academisation will never bring those to these students.”
Academies put profit before pupils’ education and school workers’ conditions. They bring the market into education—and demand schools prove they are “economically viable”.
Many NewVic workers fear that, if their battle is lost, it’ll open the floodgates to more academies across Newham.
Simon explained that they’re willing to join the picket line for weeks to come because it’s such as important battle. “Privatisation affects those at the bottom of society much more than those at the top,” they said.
Jane, a teacher, told Socialist Worker, “We are getting close to an agreement. Management has said they’re going to hold off academising until 2025, but that gives them the go-ahead to do it then.”
— Socialist Worker (@socialistworker) January 26, 2022
Picket lines are full of placards and banners. Last weekend the strikers leafleted the local market where Jane said they had “great feedback”.
Parents and relatives supported the picket lines and have researched the dangers of academisation. “One woman who lives locally has two nieces and nephews at the college,” said Jane.
“She saw our large picket line and asked what was happening. We gave her a leaflet and she went home, photocopied it and spread it around.”
Jane and Simon say management face a simple choice. If they don’t want strikes, they must stop academising.
Solidarity has boosted strikers’ morale on the picket line. “Listening to students explain why they support us and listening to our colleagues’ frustrations and passion at the rally’s has really lifted us up,” said Jane.
Students have joined the picket lines, taken and shared leaflets and a handful have refused to enter the college.
The determination and strength of NEU members at NewVic can lead them to victory. They should continue to strike and refuse watered-down deals until bosses dump academisation and guarantee students and workers proper conditions. And every trade unionist and campaigner should build solidarity for their fight.
Workers’ names have been changed.
Workers at St Matthew’s Church of England Primary school in Preston have completed nine days of strikes against academy plans.
The members of the NEU union are set to strike again for three more days from Tuesday of next week—the day the academisation begins.
Over 40 of the 65 workers have struck holding picket lines on the school gate and outside academy trust Cidari’s headquarters in Blackburn.
Messages of support to NEU rep Julie Copeland at [email protected]
Teachers at Abbots Hill School in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire struck for two days over pensions and against the threat of fire and rehire.
NEU and NASUWT union members were set to walk out again on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.
Teachers are angry at the school governors for removing their pension scheme and using fire and rehire tactics to achieve it.
Teachers at Gordano School in Portishead, Somerset, are set to strike from Thursday of next week over workload after an overwhelming vote for action.
NEU union regional officer Ian McCann said the workload level is “having a detrimental effect on our members’ welfare”.
Messages of solidarity to [email protected]
Vehicle technicians at Mercedes Benz Retail Group have won a 13 percent pay increase for 2022 after threatening strikes. Bosses previously offered no pay rise—effectively a pay cut.
The 185 Unite union members had planned four days of strikes this week before accepting the offer.
Workers that grit roads in Carmarthenshire have suspended strikes after council bosses made a new offer.
The gritters struck for two days earlier this month over bad treatment by bosses.
Security guards at Great Ormand Street Hospital in central London suspended strikes last week after members of the hospital’s boards announced improvements to terms and conditions.
Members of the UVW union want to be brought in house and receive the same benefits as staff directly employed by the NHS.
Workers say if they don’t receive a clear proposal from the hospital, they will strike for six weeks from Wednesday of next week.
Supporters of the Scunthorpe scaffolders in their pay dispute protested on Monday.
The scaffolders are employed by Actavo. They were set to begin a continuous strike from Wednesday of this week.
The workers are being paid up to 15 percent below the nationally agreed rate for the job. One Unite member, Dayne, told Socialist Worker, “We’re putting our message across that we’re not happy with what they are doing.
“All the other companies on the site are getting paid the rate that we want.”
He added, “We’ll be escalating things a bit more this time.
“We got a lot of support off a lot of people, but standing there waving a flag wasn’t getting the message across.
Wirral Council has proposed £19 million of cuts to services. It is set to make its final decision on 28 February.
Wirral trades council, and public sector unions are preparing opposition. A grassroots organisation Wirral Needs Action is also spearheading a broad campaign of activists to fight back.
Outsourced train cleaners employed by Atalian Servest Limited are taking to picket lines in widespread strikes for higher pay.
Despite working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic many receive just £9.68 an hour and have no sick pay.
So far only workers outside of London have been offered a measly pay rise of 2p an hour. Bosses refuse their demands for £9.90 an hour.
Workers held picket lines between Thursday and Saturday in several towns and cities including Carlisle, Liverpool and Wembley, north London.
Strikers know there is money for pay. Their union the RMT, revealed that the company paid £10.8 million to its parent company last year.
This money would be able to give 300 cleaners £15 an hour three times over.
Another pay battle among hundreds of cleaners is brewing across the south east of England. Workers on four separate services provided by outsourcing company Churchill are balloting.
The cleaners work on Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern, Southeastern, High Speed 1 and Eurostar services.
Many of the cleaners are paid only £8.91 per hour. But Churchill paid a £12 million dividend last year which would be enough to rise all wages to £15 per hour.
“We’re having to literally fight with them when they could easily give a pay rise to us,” Churchill cleaner Bella told Socialist Worker.
“It comes from pure greed and they’ve got away with it for so long. Attacking our terms and conditions, keeping us on minimum wage and minimum everything, including uniform standards.”
Alongside pay Churchill cleaners are fighting for free transport, “It’s the guys in London I feel sorry for”, said Bella. “A lot of them are paying about £240 a month just to get to work.”
Workers on the London Underground have begun a work to rule against attacks on jobs, pensions and working arrangements.
Yet the workers—members of the RMT—voted by 94 percent to strike in a ballot that ended earlier in January. Bosses want to make workers pay for the fall in income from passengers during the pandemic.
The workers showed clearly they’re ready to strike. RMT should call strike dates immediately.
The RMT union has written to London mayor Sadiq Khan over suggestions that strikes could have forced a retreat over Night Tube working. Members of the RMT union are striking every weekend against plans to make every worker take at least one Night Tube shift a year.
Yet at a London Assembly committee, deputy mayor Seb Dance said, “It is not the case that drivers will have to work a night shift.” Strikes should not be suspended until the attacks are fully withdrawn.
Middle and upper class people are more likely to hold prejudiced views about Muslims than working class people.
The Peruvian government declared a climate emergency this week after 6,000 barrels of crude oil, owned by the company Repsol, spilled into the South Pacific Ocean.
The spill has hit over 20 beaches along the country’s coasts, killing and injuring marine life. Hundreds of dead birds have been seen floating in the sea covered in oil. And the spill is already having a devastating impact on those who live in Peru’s coastal areas.
Fisher Bernardo Espinoza told reporters, “Right in the middle of high season they have gone and basically cut off our arms,”
“We can’t work. We already are using up the last of our savings.”
Another fisher, Giovana Rugel, said, “Nothing is selling at all. The fish more than anything comes out with the smell of oil, and people don’t buy it, they don’t eat it because they are afraid of getting poisoned by it, by the oil spill.
Fishers protested and held a sit-in outside Repsol refinery in the province of Callao to demand action be taken against the company last week.
They held signs reading, “Repsol killer of marine fauna,” and, “No to ecological crime.”
The spill is likely to have a terrible impact on biodiversity and industry in the years to come, but what caused it is highly contested.
The widely supposed view is that large waves caused by the eruption of an undersea volcano near Tonga hit an oil tanker that was unloading. This is the version of the story that Repsol has gone with.
The report conducted by scientists found no connection between the spill and the eruption of the volcano thousands of miles away.
Instead the report concluded the spill was much more likely caused by sudden movement by the Mare Doricum tanker, causing it to rupture.
The Supervisory Body for Investment in Energy and Mining has now asked Repsol what it did to stop the spill. Initial reports by the company said that only very small amounts of oil had spilt into the ocean.
And in a statement Peru’s environmental assessment and enforcement agency agreed that Repsol had not done enough to stop more damage to wildlife after the spill.
Irresponsible companies dead set on making as much profit as possible are causing devastation to the planet that will impact the poorest first.
Bus drivers employed by First Manchester have returned to picket lines in a dispute over pay.
Over 300 workers struck on Thursday of last week and Monday and Wednesday of this week. They are set to strike again on several dates throughout February.
The members of the Unite union are fighting after bosses refused to backdate any pay increase to August 2021.
August is the month when the annual pay increase was due.
Unite branch secretary Sohail told Socialist Worker, “We’ve not had a pay rise for the last couple of years. Even the pay rises we are getting are so low they don’t cover our household bills.”
Manchester bus driver Tracey Scholes is celebrating victory following a campaign in her defence.
Changes to the busses left five foot tall Tracey unable to reach the pedals when looking in the mirrors.
Bosses at Go North West threatened her with reduced hours or the sack.
But after protests, they backed down and agreed to protect her hours and pay.
More than 360 workers at Stagecoach bus depots in Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud, Coalway, and Ross-on-Wye could strike over pay.
A strike ballot began on Tuesday of this week and is set to end on Thursday 10 February.