As union announces four Royal Mail strikes, let’s strike together

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Jeandre Coetser No Comments
Royal mail workers outide a post office after balloting in success for strike action. They are holding CWU posters which reads I'm voting yes with raised fists in resistance

Postal workers, like these ones in Wantage, voted for action in vast numbers

Around 115,000 postal workers in Royal Mail are set to strike for four days in August and September. Their action should be a focus to build massive strikes to transform the present scale of resistance over pay and against the Tories.

On Tuesday the Royal Mail workers’ CWU union announced strikes on Friday 26 August, Wednesday 31 August and Thursday 8 and Friday 9 September.

It follows bosses’ imposition of a below-inflation “rise” of 2 percent. And that’s even more poisonous after the company has recently announced a £758 million profit, paid £400 million to shareholders and handed millions to its executives.

In response workers voted 98 percent for strikes on a 77 percent turnout.

Jane Loftus, vice-president and postal chair of the CWU, told Socialist Worker, “It’s outrageous that Royal Mail, a company awash with profits and handing millions to its top bosses, wants to cut the pay of the workforce in real terms.

“Everywhere now people are saying they have had enough and aren’t going to take this sort of treatment anymore.

“We want our pay strikes to be an encouragement to others to fight. Royal Mail management may well act in a ruthless way, but the CWU can beat them if we use all our strength. We’re looking for support and solidarity from workers everywhere.”

There is now a tremendous potential to unite strikes and make 26 August a focus for the whole working class. Well over 200,000 workers could come out that day—and that’s just the ones with live strike votes now.

If they move in the next 48 hours to give the necessary notice, the RMT, Aslef and TSSA unions on Network Rail, the train operating companies, the London Underground and the Overground could all stop that day. That’s over 50,000 workers.

Add In BT another 40,000 workers—also in the CWU—who could be out. Then there are the Post Office Limited counters and cash distribution workers. Then there are local strikes at several bus companies. There are bin workers, health workers and even barristers who are in dispute and could strike.

Around 2,000 workers at Felixstowe—Britain’s biggest container port—have already announced a strike from 21-29 August. So they could be part of it as well.

Add in Royal Mail, and it’s well over 200,000 workers. That would really shake up bosses and the Tories. And it isn‘t against the anti-union laws.

It can go much further. It should be a day for the whole working class. Union leaders must appeal for everyone to join in, come to rallies and marches and if possible strike. Make it a big all-union push for action at Amazon and Uber and all the other places where people are seething for action.

And it could kick off strike ballots in the NHS, local government, the civil service and other parts of the public sector.

The 26 August is also the day when Ofgem, the energy regulator, announces the next price rises in gas and electricity that will be applied in October. So as well as the pay strikes, the rallies and marches can be open to everyone who wants resistance to the deadly scale of price rises.

It could focus climate change campaigners and anti-racists around the powerful core of working class action.

Friday 26 August should be Fightback Friday for every worker. The only thing that will stop it from happening is if the union leaders don’t act quickly.

They must be pressured to build the individual sets of strikes but also to come together and to lay the basis for even bigger action by millions.

Workers revolt over poor pay + update

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Sarah No Comments
A dozen strikers, holding Unison flags, stare into the camera on a picket line in a pay fight

Workers have mounted strong picket lines throughout the dispute

Health strikers announce fresh walkouts over pay

Health workers battling poverty pay and outsourcing at Lancashire and South Cumbria Trust have announced new walkouts.

Some 50 workers, who are members of the Unison union, want the same pay as those directly employed by the NHS.

This would mean the cleaners, porters and caterers would get extra money for working nights, weekends and bank holidays.

Strikers, who are employed by outsourcer OCS, were due to walk out this Thursday and Friday. They were then set to strike for 48 hours from this Sunday. This will be followed by a three‑day strike from 18 August.

Workers have mounted solid picket lines throughout the dispute, and they’ve been receiving solidarity from the wider trade union movement. This must continue to support these workers in this important dispute.

Felixstowe workers get ready for action

Strikes are set for the port of Felixstowe later this month after workers were offered a below-inflation pay rise.

Talks at conciliation service Acas failed to produce an offer, sparking the action for 1,900 Unite union members.

Strike dates are set for Sunday 21 August to Monday 29 August.

The Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company failed to improve its offer of a 7 percent pay increase, significantly below the 11.8 percent RPI inflation rate.

Workers only received a 1.4 percent below-inflation pay increase last year.

Felixstowe is Britain’s largest container port. Some 48 percent of containers brought in Britain come through the port, so strikes could paralyse the country and severely disrupt the supply chain.

Constructing a fight over poor pay

Unite union members at construction supplies companies Birtley Group Ltd and Bowater Doors Ltd announced strikes over low pay.

The 124 workers, based in Chester-le-Street, are spread across the two companies but work at the same premises and are part of the same parent company Hill & Smith Holdings PLC.

Thirteen days of strike are set for Wednesday of this week, ending on Monday 22 August. This will be followed by 16 more days of strikes beginning Sunday 4 September, ending on Monday 19 September.

An overtime ban will also commence from this Wednesday.

AQA strikers score give bosses a fail

Workers at the AQA exam board were set to strike for four days from this Friday.

Members of the Unison union at the Manchester office are battling a 3 percent pay offer.

The soaring cost of living has left many AQA workers unable to pay bills and stay afloat.

Trade unionists should visit their picket lines and offer support.

St James Tavern strike off for talks

A strike of pub workers at the St James Tavern in Brighton has been called off so talks with the leaseholder can take place.

Workers, who are members of the UVW union, planned to strike for 20 consecutive days to demand £11.50 an hour, sick pay and union recognition.

They also demanded the reinstatement of all sacked striking members of staff.

Striking rail workers say everyone should join fight

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Sophie No Comments
strike strikers Aslef RMT

Aslef strike in Leeds (Picture: Neil Terry).

The rail network is set to grind to a halt on Saturday, with around 6,000 train drivers ­planning to strike across nine train operating companies. In their battle for better pay, the members of the Aslef union are ­showing no sign of backing down—and now more workers are ready to join the fight.

Aslef members at four more ­operating companies are currently balloting for action. Strikes by train drivers will add to the mounting pressure on the bosses and the Tories. Next week sees bigger waves of action. Rail workers across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies are preparing to strike on Thursday 18 and Saturday 20 August.

It’s a battle to save jobs, protect safety and win a pay rise that beats inflation. Andy, a Network Rail worker from east London and member of the RMT union, told Socialist Worker that strikers are “ready to win.”

“The cost of living is pushing ­everyone to strike,” he said. “And that’s right. We need fair pay—there are people who I work with who no longer have enough money to raise their kids or pay rent or bills.”

Adam is a catering worker for train operating company LNER in Northumbria. He told Socialist Worker, “The mood is strong, full of hope and optimism for a victory. “There is a worry about the loss of earnings and the cost of living crisis. Fundraisers are planned to build a hardship fund for strikers, to keep them on the picket lines.”

Strikes on Network Rail will be boosted by around 10,400 London Underground and Overground workers who plan to strike on Friday 19 August in two disputes over jobs, pay and safety.

Train managers in the TSSA union and electronic control workers in the Unite union also plan to strike on 18 and 20 August.

Strikers have to make sure union leaders don’t settle for less than a clear victory, but action on the railways are only the tip of the iceberg.  Millions of workers sense that fighting back is the only way to ­confront the cost of living crisis.

There could be strikes in the postal service in the near future, with CWU union leaders expected to announce a date for action after Socialist Worker went to press. This would catapult a further 115,000 workers into action.

And 1,600 London bus workers employed by London United plan to strike on 19 and 20 August after refusing a paltry pay offer of 3.5 ­percent this year. In addition to all this, strikes by refuse workers, ballots for action in universities and wildcat strikes by Amazon workers show a growing mood to revolt.

 NHS workers start the votes on key pay strikes

Unions representing hundreds of thousands of NHS workers in England and Wales are this week starting a series of ballots for strikes over pay. The Tory government has imposed a flat rate increase of just £1,400 a year, which for most workers will be an effective pay cut.

The Unite union, which represents laboratory staff and others, has just begun a five-week consultative ballot and asked its members to vote for industrial action. The nurses’ RCN will ballot for strikes from 15 September with a recommendation that members vote yes.

And, the giant Unison union is balloting for strikes—but not until 27 October.

The battle is now on to ensure the biggest possible turnout and the largest yet yes vote for strikes.

In Scotland, where the offer is a tiny 5 percent rise—a big pay cut—the results of unions’ consultative ballots on the offer were due on Friday this week.

The only way to stop the destruction of the NHS, and chronic understaffing, is to back the fight of those who work for it.

Coordinate action to hit Tories

Rail workers have been given strength by huge waves of solidarity from other trade unionists and activists. Network Rail worker Andy said the support is “overwhelming”, adding that “it’s nothing that we expected”.

He believes the solidarity has strengthened the mood among his colleagues to win. “The Tories now have to think twice about attacking us because there’s an army of people behind us.”

But to make the strikes stronger, they ought to be coordinated. Union leaders from RMT, Aslef, TSSA and Unite should call out every rail worker on the same day. And every worker across every industry who has a mandate could strike on the same day.

So, for example, bus drivers and refuse workers in dispute everywhere could strike on the same day as rail workers.

Even those workers who aren’t in a union could be urged to take part. Walkouts by Amazon workers have shown that it is possible to take action without going through ballots and meeting thresholds.

A day—or even better, several days—of united strikes would send a message the Tories could not ignore. And we need more rallies and demonstrations. The RMT has called demos for 20 August in cities such as Sheffield and Liverpool.

These should happen everywhere. They can focus support, build strikes, encourage others to join the battle and provide a forum for discussion.

Every striker has to be actively involved—on the picket lines and in deciding how to take the battle forward. It can’t be left to the union leaders.

How to flush away trump

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Sophie No Comments
Donald Trump

Donald Trump could be investigated (Picture: Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Former US president Donald Trump is angry. He denounced a raid by FBI agents this week at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of a ­witch‑hunt by “radical left Democrats”. He went on to compare it to the Watergate burglary—ordered by leaders of his own party—50 years ago.

The authorities were looking for official papers and investigating if he left the White House with classified records. There are plenty of reports of the Trump administration destroying material after the failure of the 6 January 2021 raid on the Capitol. Trump had to deny he flushed key documents down a toilet.

But such raids and official investigations won’t stop Trump’s plan to push for a second term and take the far right into office again. He hopes to repeat his trick of 2016 of posing as the friend of the forgotten and the abandoned.

As poverty sweeps through the US, this hugely wealthy racist wants to pose as the enemy of the corporate elite and the politicians. But stopping Trump and his far-right friends requires a fight that goes beyond the chosen method of legal battling in the courts.

It will require a battle against everything he stands for by striking workers and movements on the streets. And that also means taking on president Joe Biden as he backs big business and the military.

U.S. Taiwan manoeuvres ramp up war dangers

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Sophie No Comments
image of nanci pelosi at the podium in a green dress with a huge projection on the screen behind her as she talks about china and taiwan and war

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will (Picture: Flickr/Global Climate Action Summit) w ar

The provocations by the United States over Taiwan have further ratcheted up the danger of imperialist war between nuclear powers. US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, recently. She was backed up by an aircraft carrier, two warships, and multiple high-tech F-35 aircraft.

It was a deliberate attempt to impose a new US dominance in the region. The clear message was that the West had shown it was ready to fight a proxy war and pour in virtually unlimited cash and weapons into Ukraine.

Old deals and spheres of influence can be torn up, regime change is possible, and war is still on the agenda. A year since the US’s humiliation at the hand of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US wants the world to know its crushing armed power hasn’t gone away.

And after the hoped-for defeat of Russia, it will be China that faces an onslaught of economic and military pressure. To ram home the message the US this week approved another $1 billion (£820 million) of military aid to Ukraine. The total of direct military aid from the US is now almost $10 billion (£8.2 billion).

Meanwhile the Tory leadership contenders clash over who can be the biggest cheerleader for war in Ukraine and the most gung-ho against China. That comes as human rights charity and pressure group Amnesty International reported that Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way.

The Nato-backed military has established “bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals”. The world grows more dangerous as war, economic crisis, pandemics, and climate chaos interact.

As the US encouraged Taiwan to face off against China, the Chinese state responded with its own threats. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “The People’s Liberation Army will never sit by idly.”

And the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, told Joe Biden, “Whoever plays with fire will get burnt.” War in Ukraine, the Russian invasion and Nato escalation have created perfect conditions for the arms firms. The Telegraph newspaper reported that Britain’s BAE Systems is “expecting a flood of new orders from countries preparing for the return of industrial war.”

Such vultures know governments in Britain and across the world will always find the cash for weapons, even as people’s living standards plummet. We need to bring together the fight against the Tories over the cost of living with the battle against war. Not a penny more for the escalation in Ukraine, no to imperialism everywhere.

University cuts show need for resistance

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Sophie No Comments
universities university workers strikes UCU

UCU members on strike at Soas university in January 2022 (Picture: Guy Smallman)

All modern language courses at Leeds Beckett university are set to close in the latest assault on university education. The UCU union described the timing of the announcement while workers are not teaching as “cynical”.

It said the move will leave, “staff completely uncertain of their futures and knowing that their chances of seeking other employment is severely impacted”. Languages at Leeds Beckett have been a key part of the institution since the late 1970s.

Meanwhile, staff at Roehampton university in London are facing a fire and rehire attack that will see university bosses cull over 200 jobs.

The university of Huddersfield and the University of Wolverhampton also said there would be cuts to arts and humanities courses. These cuts are ideological and a reflection of a Tory government that continues to devalue certain subjects.

A much larger fight is needed to stop these attacks. Last month the UCU confirmed it would ballot its members across Britain for more industrial action. Strikes that include more university branches could stop the onslaught.

Activists in the UCU must fight hard to make sure there is massive vote for strikes in the coming term over pay, pensions, jobs, contracts and equality.

Reports round up: DHL strike in Scotland + North Sea medics in pay battle

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Sophie No Comments
image of a DHL yellow and red delivery van as they go on strike

DHL workers at Unite union are fighting back

DHL workers in Scotland supplying Sainsbury’s stores were set to strike from this Saturday for a week. The Unite union represents over 300 DHL warehouse workers who are based at the distribution centre in Langlands Park, East Kilbride.
The distribution centre supplies Sainsbury’s stores throughout Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Some 96 percent of DHL workers on a 68 percent turnout voted for action. This follows the rejection of DHL’s final offer which represents a real terms pay cut.
Currently DHL pays lower wages to workers in Scotland than to those in other parts of Britain.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unite will challenge DHL and its mega-wealthy owners Deutsche Post DHL Group.”

North Sea medics in a pay battle
Medics who work on Shell platforms in the North Sea will vote on strikes after they rejected a real terms cut pay. The Unite union represents more than a dozen workers employed by United Healthcare Global Medical (UK) who provide essential medial cover on oil giant Shell’s platforms.
These include the Brent Charlie, Gannet Alpha, Shearwater, Nelson, Sole Pit Clipper and Leman Alpha platforms. United Healthcare made a “final offer” of just 3.5 percent.
Unite has warned United Healthcare that its 3.5 percent offer is “completely unacceptable”.

The company last recorded profit after taxation of £8.9 million in December 2020. And if that’s not enough, they could ask Shell for some loose change from its billions of profits.

ScotRail workers throw out a below-inflation offer

ScotRail workers in the RMT union have voted to reject a below-inflation pay offer. RMT officials advised the 2,886 members—over half of ScotRail’s total workforce—to vote against the deal. As well as the pay issue, a new technology move will remove vital station staff, who are crucial to rail safety.

On a 65 percent turnout the RMT members voted 60 percent to reject. More strike dates could be announced soon, bringing the network to a standstill. The offer included a 2.2 percent pay increase to address the cost of living crisis funded by Transport Scotland, backdated to April 2022. And a further 2.8 percent increase, funded by ScotRail.

Workers were also offered no compulsory redundancies over the next five years. But bosses also want to bring Sundays into the working week by December 2027 with a 10 percent Sunday working increase. Now RMT officials will meet with ScotRail bosses to discuss new terms.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, “If no improved offer is forthcoming then we will ballot our ScotRail members for strikes.”

Chelster-le-Street bus workers fight for depot

Around 170 bus workers at Chester-le-Street garage in north east England are set for an indefinite strike against Go North East bosses’ plan to close their depot. Workers in the Unite union will walk out from next Friday to stop efforts to permanently move staff to different depots.

 While drivers and engineers will not lose their jobs if they relocate, cleaners, admin and other workers do not have that guarantee. The workers also say strikes will protect the local residents and the bus routes they rely on.

 Go North East claims services will not be impacted if the depot is closed. But the company is cutting dozens of routes across Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, and parts of the Tyne Valley.

 Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Go North East needs to withdraw its poorly thought out closure plans and enter into meaningful negotiations with Unite to ensure an improved service can be implemented.

“Our members at Go North East will receive Unite’s total support until this dispute is resolved.”

Civil servants get “strike ready”

The PCS union is telling civil service workers to get “strike ready” ahead of a national industrial action ballot. Workers will vote on strikes over pay, pensions, jobs and redundancy pay which runs for six weeks from 26 September.

The unions says, “Tens of thousands of our members are struggling through the spiralling cost of living crisis.

“In response our annual delegate conference agreed to ballot after our union rejected yet another derisory civil service pay remit.”

The union wants members to update their details to make the postal ballot as efficient as possible.

Healthcare Assistants launch new campaign

Over the last month, Band 2 Healthcare Assistants at the Northern Care Alliance Hospitals in Greater Manchester have met to launch a campaign.

These meetings come after over 1,000 workers have completed surveys about the clinical duties they perform but don’t get paid for.

The campaign has won huge support, and shows the mood to fight across the whole health service.

Met police strip-search 650 children in two years

Posted on: August 9th, 2022 by Sam No Comments
Picture taken of Met police officer from the back with their high visibility jacket on

Report finds further evidence of rampant police racism. (Picture: Yukiko Matsuoka)

The Metropolitan police shockingly strip-searched some 650 children over two years—disproportionately targeting young black boys.

Some 58 percent of those ­profiled and strip-searched—aged from 10 to 17—were black. This is despite just 19 percent of that age group in London being black.

Deborah Coles, director of ­charity Inquest said, “This report is about state-sanctioned child abuse operating outside the law. It also reveals racist and discriminatory policing and the dehumanising of black children.”

According to data from the ­children’s commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, 53 percent of the profiled children had no further action taken against them. But the effects on these ­children’s mental wellbeing has been described as “traumatising”.

Almost a quarter—23 percent—of the searches were undertaken without an appropriate adult ­present, despite this being a ­statutory requirement. The report also slammed “a lack of appropriate oversight” because in one in five cases the police have not said where the search took place.

In 2021, of 296 searches where the location was recorded, 57 ­percent were at a police station and 21 percent at a home address. Some 22 percent happened at another location, but “low quality” recording practice meant it was indeterminable.

De Souza said the Met has not been “consistently considering ­children’s welfare and wellbeing” and blamed “systemic” problems. The investigation leading to the findings followed the anger over Child Q who was strip-searched in 2020 by Met officers in Hackney, east London.

“I am not reassured that what happened to Child Q was an ­isolated issue,” de Souza said. “But instead believe it may be a particularly concerning example of a more systemic problem around child protection within the Metropolitan police.”

Meanwhile the Met has denied allegations of racism after a black man was awarded £30,000 in damages after being strip searched and put in a headlock as he walked his dog. Plain-clothes officer PC Duncan Bullock stopped and searched Zac Sharif-Ali in December 2012.

Last month the Met accepted that the headlock that left him ­“gasping for breath” was illegal because Bullock did not identify himself. The admission took ten years.

Sharif-Ali was released without charge and suffered a breakdown as a result of the ordeal. But the Met says his race had nothing to do with it. It issued an apology, but not for any of the force used.

The Met carried out three internal investigations which the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found to be inadequate. The IOPC concluded in 2017 that Bullock should answer for misconduct, but the Met found he had ­reasonable grounds to search.

These cases aren’t isolated. From strip-searching children to using brutal force against black men, racism within the Met is endemic and institutionalised.