NSSN 378: Lecturers start pensions strike as Mears workers win!


In this week’s bulletin, we highlight the national strike by the UCU lecturers’’ union that begins this week to defend their pensions. We also salute the Mears workers in Manchester who have won a victory after an incredible campaign of action.



Over 1 million students will be affected by university pensions strikes (20 Feb) – A month of strikes due to hit 64 universities* will begin on Thursday (22 February) after the universities’ representatives refused to return to negotiations with the University and College Union (UCU). The union says the action will affect over 1 million students and see 575,000 teaching hours lost. The strike days are:

Week one – Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)

Week two – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)

Week three – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)

Week four – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

The union said it will meet on Friday 2 March to consider universities’ response to the first wave of strikes and what further action might be necessary. UCU said it hoped no universities would want a prolonged dispute that drags out towards exam season, but that members were determined to fight for fair pensions.

As well as picket lines outside entrances to universities affected by the action from 8am on Thursday, there will be a series of events over the next four weeks including rallies on Thursday in Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Oxford. Sally Hunt will be speaking at a rally outside Goldsmiths Library on Dixon Road in London at 11am.

UCU members are walking out over plans to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

The universities’ representatives – Universities UK – are seeking to push through the changes and have refused to negotiate with UCU. The union says this has left it with no alternative but to strike. In the recent strike ballot UCU members overwhelmingly backed industrial action. Overall, 88% of members who voted backed strike action. The turnout was 58%.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘We deliberately announced these strike dates to give universities time to come back round the table with us and get this mess sorted out. They have refused to do so and want to impose their reforms on staff. Unsurprisingly staff are angry and significant disruption on campuses across the UK now looks inevitable.

‘The key is how universities react to the action this week. We will be meeting on 2 March to consider what wave two of the action may need to involve and nothing is off the table. We doubt any universities want a prolonged dispute that carries on towards exam season and would urge vice-chancellors to put pressure on Universities UK to get back round the table with us.’ Read more on UCU website                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          UCU snipDefend Education: London March for Pensions and Pay (called by London UCU) – 12noon Malet Street, London, WC1E 7 Facebook event

USS strikes force cancellation of Southampton science and engineering event

UNISON writes to vice chancellors over university pensions dispute  

Disruption to hit 16 colleges as staff overwhelmingly back strikes over pay – Disruption is set to hit 16 colleges after staff voted overwhelmingly for strike action in an ongoing row over pay. Overall, 92% of staff at affected colleges voted for strike action. The average turnout was 63%. Action is due to begin in the coming weeks, with the majority of colleges planning a two-day walkout. Full details of action at each of the colleges will be confirmed in the coming days. The dispute has arisen following a disappointing pay offer of 1% from the employer representative, the Association of Colleges, in September. UCU said the below-inflation offer failed to address the years of pay suppression which further education staff have endured. Staff at all affected institutions are taking action over pay, but at some colleges the dispute also includes concerns about working conditions including holiday entitlement, workload and observation policies read more



Unite claims victory following agreement in marathon Manchester Mears dispute (19 Feb) – Unite members employed by Mears in Manchester are celebrating victory after they reached agreement to end their marathon strike action in a dispute over pay parity. The 180 members, who were employed by Manchester Mears and Manchester Working (a joint venture company operated by Mears), took over 80 days of strike action beginning in May 2017 before an agreement was reached. Workers at both organisations were being paid up to £3,500 less than colleagues for undertaking the same work. The workers undertake repairs and maintenance on 11,000 council properties managed by Northwards Housing, although the contracts are tendered by Manchester council. The deal to end the dispute which has been overwhelmingly backed by the membership will generally see across the board pay increases of 20 per cent.

The deal also included:

Equalisation of pay within and across trade groups

Parity of pay with similar organisations in the sector

The removal of the so-called ‘sackers’ charter’ which would have resulted in adverse changes to the workers’ contracts.

The final deal was reached following detailed negotiations with both Mears and Manchester council.


Unite regional co-ordinating officer Andy Fisher said: “This is a victory for solidarity and direct action. Our members have stuck together through thick and thin…” read more   Send messages of congratulations to Unite rep Colin Pitt: [email protected] and Unite regional officer [email protected]



NSSN news

Advanced notice: the 2018 National Shop Stewards Network Annual Conference will be from 11am-4.30pm on Saturday June 30th in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London. It is open to all trade union and anti-cuts campaigners

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Union News


RMT supports petition calling for East Coast public ownership (20 Feb) – A petition – supported by rail union RMT – calling for failing Virgin Trains East Coast to be brought into public ownership is being handed in today – 20 Feb – as a government decision on the future of the franchise appears imminent. Activists will be meeting at 8:15 am at the Department for Transport (Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR) to hand the petition in read more

Strike action goes ahead on DLR this week in dispute over breakdown in industrial relations (19 Feb) – RMT cleaners, security staff and travel safe officers on Docklands Light Railway will be taking part in a further phase of strike action over a comprehensive breakdown in industrial relations this week as the intransigent attitude of the management continues to block any chance of progress towards a negotiated settlement. The workers involved in the dispute are employed by contractor ISS on the KAD contract and will take further strike action as follows: Not to book on for any turns of duty that commence between 05:30 hours on Thursday 22nd February 2018 and 05:29 hours on Saturday 24th February 2018 read more

RMT members victimised at Ruislip depot (19 Feb) – London Underground Management have today unlawfully stood down 3 RMT Members and the RMT Local Rep Kyle for taking part in action short of a Strike for which they are legally covered for under a bona-fide ballot. Our Transplant Members are not intimidated by London Underground Ltd’s victimisation and breach of the law, and their answer will be firm & resolute. Solidarity with the Ruislip RMT 4! Read more

RMT confirms further 24 hours of strike action on Northern and Merseyrail in fight over guards and rail safety (15 Feb) – RAIL UNION RMT today announced further strike action on Saturday 3rd March in separate disputes with train operating companies Northern and Merseyrail over attacks on the role of the safety-critical guard and the extension of Driver Only Operation in the name of increased profits. Members on Northern and Merseyrail, have been instructed to take action as follows: Not to book on for any shifts between 0001 hours and 2359 hours on Saturday 3rd March 2018 read more

RMT Waterloo picket January 8 anti-DOO strike
RMT Waterloo picket January 8 anti-DOO strike

National dispute fund (DOO disputes) – If you would like to donate to the RMT National Dispute Fund which makes payments to support their striking members taking part in National DOO disputes then you can donate via PayPal using the donate button below or make a cheque payable to RMT National Dispute Fund and send it to the address below. Alternatively, you can ring their Freephone helpline on 0800 376 3706 who will be happy to process a credit card payment for you, or, if you would like to pay via internet banking, please email [email protected] for further details. Vicky Thompson, Finance Manager RMT, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD. Tel: 020-7529-8843

Join us: London Tube cleaners day of action 21st February – tubecleaners ABM contract demo outside city hall and ABM offices on Wednesday 21 February at 2pm. At 2pm on Wednesday 21 February, we will be holding demos to protest against the treatment by outsourcing companies (especially new mega contractor ABM) of cleaners on the London transport network. The first demo will take place outside City Hall (Address: The Queen’s Walk, SE1 2AA) with participants then moving on to protest outside the nearby ABM headquarters (Address: George House, 75 – 83 Borough High Street, SE1 1NH) read more


More Unite

Fresh strike dates announced in Essex concrete maker dispute (20 Feb) – Fresh strike dates were announced by Unite, the UK’s largest union today (20 February), in a further escalation of the dispute with Essex based Tarmac Building Products Ltd, over the creation of a two tier workforce. Unite members at the Stanford Le Hope based company which produces concrete breeze blocks, are striking today and this Thursday (8 March) following the company’s decision to impose a new contract on new starters which will result in them receiving lower rates of pay, creating a two tier workforce. New strike dates have been announced for Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 March and it has already been announced that there will be walkouts on Tuesday 20 and Thursday 22 March, a total of nine days of strike action. Further strike dates are set to be announced in the coming days. There have already been three days of strike action since the first day of action on 30 January, all of which have been solidly supported by the membership. Since the strike action began Unite understands that production of concrete blocks at Tarmac has been severely affected read more

Unite in groundbreaking legal victory against bogus self-employment (15 Feb) – Unite has won a potentially groundbreaking legal victory at the employment appeal tribunal (EAT) in the battle against bogus self-employment and the use of payroll companies. Unite took the case on behalf of pipefitter Russ Blakely against the employment agency On-Site Recruitment Solutions Limited and payroll company Heritage Solutions City Ltd. The case was for the unlawful deduction of wages and employer’s national insurance contributions as well as the non-payment of holiday pay. This is the first time that an employment appeal tribunal has considered a bogus self-employment appeal involving the use of a payroll company read more

Castle Cement drivers set to strike over ‘unsatisfactory’ pay deal (14 Feb) – Drivers working for Castle Cement are set to take strike action over a ‘very unsatisfactory’ two-year pay deal offer, Unite said today (Wednesday 14 February). Unite and the firm’s management are holding last-ditch talks tomorrow (Thursday 15 February) in a bid to reach a settlement to avert strike action on 26-27 February read more

Strike action to be stepped up in Essex concrete company strike – Workers at Tarmac Building Products Ltd are set to step up strike action in a dispute over the creation of a two tier workforce, their union Unite has warned…further strikes are scheduled for 20, 22 February and then 20, 22 March. The first three strikes were on 30 January and 6 and 8 February read more

EDF Energy ‘hypocritical’ smart meter vehicle tracking row escalates with seven days of strikes – Strike action by EDF Energy smart meter installers in London is set to escalate in the row over the imposition of tracker devices in vehicles, and also random drug and alcohol testing. The 24 hour strikes, starting at 00.01, will be held on 19, 22 and 27 February, and 1 March, followed by a 72 hour strike commencing on 6 March read more   Support the solidarity demonstration at the Bexleyheath picket this Thursday at 7am. The address is Heath House, 255 Broadway, Kent, DA6 8ET

Support the Woolwich Crossrail dispute at Balfour Beatty – a further strikes are planned for 21 February. The strike is a result of Balfour Beatty’s refusal to pay an improved second tier payment and an industry standard four week finishing bonus (payable when workers are made redundant). In response to the entirely legal strike action Balfour Beatty has deducted the workers’ bonus payments from their wages, which are part of their contracted earnings read more

Woolwich Crossrail picket February 7th
Woolwich Crossrail picket February 7th

Support Ian Allinson: ‘Discrimination’ of union reps sparks 11 days of strike action at Fujitsu in Manchester from January 24 The next strike dates are Thursday 8 – Wednesday 14 February. More than 250 Unite members in Manchester voted for 11 days of strike action at IT giant Fujitsu in one of the longest running industrial disputes in the UK. One of the features of this dispute has been a ‘victimisation culture’ of union reps, which has included the dismissal of Unite rep of 26 years standing Ian Allinson read more    Keep up to date with Unite: Our union in Fujitsu website

Support bus strikes at First Bus Rusholme in Manchester – Send messages of support and donations via Neil Clarke, [email protected] c/o Unite, Jack Jones House, 2 Churchill Way, Liverpool  L3 8EF

Please donate to support Sutton tanker workers at Eastham Refinery in Cheshire who are fighting cuts to pay and conditions, donate to support the strikers. Tanker Drivers employed by Sutton’s Tankers Limited on the Nynas Bitumen contract at Eastham in Cheshire were given proposals by their management on 18th December 2017 Accept redundancy and sign a compromise agreement of face being dismissed on 19th January 2018. As part of the company proposals the drivers were offered a new contract of employment on inferior contracts of employment with pay rates being slashed by between 32% & 40% with other elements of their terms which delivered a mandate of 100% in favour of an all out strike



TMASS Babcock staff to strike for three days over pay (16 Feb) – Staff at Babcock Armour Centre at Wareham in Dorset have already taken one day’s strike action in their dispute over pay. Staff employed on the TMASS contract at the Armour Centre, which is based next to the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset, train army personnel in tank and armoured vehicle driving, maintenance, gunnery, communications and manage the stores. Members of PCS took one day’s strike action in November for the first time. The strike was well supported with 96% of members attending the picket line, and training was halted for the day…The latest strike will be for three days on 19, 20 and 21 February.  A picket line will be in place between 7:30 and 10:00 a.m. each morning, at the main gate just past the tank museum at Allenby Barracks, Bovington, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6JA read more

Support DWP strikes:

  • Send messages of support to [email protected]
  • Send donations to the strike fund to PCS DWP Group, 3rd Floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8LY



Catch up on the latest with the CWU’s campaigns and disputes: Royal Mail Four Pillars, BT Pensions and Close the Gap/Justice for Agency Workers in BT



Local government pay consultation – Members in schools and local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being consulted on two-year pay offer read more

Support the Birmingham Homecare Workers read more on Birmingham Unison website Facebook page



Strike threat looms as ScotRail slashes Health and Safety department (14 Feb) – Manuel Cortes today expressed his horror at news that Abellio ScotRail’s latest round of voluntary severance has left the rail stations without a Health and Safety department read more



Sign the petition against the Government reducing the Prison Officer Pension



Victory for FBU in Cheshire (16 Feb) – Following a robust campaign sustained over two years, the FBU in Cheshire have finally got the decision overturned to downgrade fire appliances at Crewe and Ellesmere Port from full time to on call. Following the Cheshire Fire Authority’s approval to downgrade both stations’ appliances, the vote for the review which the union pushed heavily for eventually took place on 14 February.   The result was a majority vote of cross party authority members who sensibly rejected the service’s proposals.  They voted instead to keep two full time appliances at Crewe, and maintain the full time appliance at Ellesmere Port whilst commissioning a review to look at relocating it read more read more

Fury as fire authority agrees to sack firefighters (15 Feb) – The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has slammed Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority who this week granted permission for all firefighters to be sacked in two weeks if an agreement cannot be reached on a new duty system. The service would then offer firefighters re-employment but with inferior contracts, including working longer hours. It had been hoped that the fire authority would defer the decision in order to allow negotiations between the service and the union to continue in good faith. However, authority members who backed this position lost the vote. More than 40 FBU members lobbied councillor’s outside the fire authority meeting read more

Sign petition: Stop West Midlands Firefighters being taken away from the frontline! #FiredUp – Recent events such as the fire at Grenfell Tower and terrorist attacks across the country have shown that when you need the fire service, you need them quickly. But now, councillors in the West Midlands want to use flexible contracts to make firefighters undertake non-emergency work such as transporting people from hospital and picking up people who fall in their home. This will involve frontline firefighters and their emergency vehicles. Our message is clear; if firefighters are tied up with non-emergency work then they cannot be there for you and your family in your time of desperate need: This is unacceptable



Support the Newham strikes against academisation: three schools in Newham are on strike again this week against threats of academisation: Avenue Primary, Cumberland and for the first time, Keir Hardie. There will be a strike rally at 10am on Thursday and a demonstration next Monday at 5.30pm outside East Ham Town Hall –  328 Barking Rd, London E6 2RP

You can tweet messages of support to @NUTLondonOffice



Picturehouse members on week-long strike – BECTU members leading the campaign for the Living Wage at Picturehouse cinemas are currently on their first ever week-long strike. This escalation of the action demonstrates the enduring commitment of members to the campaign, despite continued hostility from the company and its refusal to sit down with the union to discuss ways to resolve the dispute. This next period of action will run continuously from 5am Saturday 17 February to 5am Saturday 24 February coinciding with the BAFTA Awards ceremony on Sunday 18 February read more. Read the latest on Brixton Ritzy Facebook Page and those of Hackney, Crouch End, Central, Dulwich East and Duke of York Brighton

Feb 19 strike protest outside Picturehouse HQ
Feb 19 strike protest outside Picturehouse HQ

Donate to the Picturehouse Cinema strike fund: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/250/picturehousestrike



Trinity Mirror announce savage job cuts after chief exec brags over profits (16 Feb) – Newspaper publishing giant Trinity Mirror has announced a further 49 redundancies. The specific details of the cuts and restructuring remain unclear. Nevertheless the cuts will have a major impact on already weakened newsrooms and four regions will be affected by the announcements so far. Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset and Dorset in the South West, the East Midlands, West Midlands and the North West of England will all be subjected to significant and harmful changes read more



Keep sending solidarity to the BFAWU, donate to the strike fund and also help the fund by buying a #McStrike t-shirt. More info on the Fast Food Rights/Hungry for Justice website



IWGB applies for Judicial Review of Deliveroo worker rights decision – The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is applying for permission to judicially review the decision by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), which ruled that Deliveroo couriers are not workers and consequently not entitled to collective bargaining rights.  Being a worker is also a prerequisite for entitlement to holidays and minimum wage read more


United Voices of the World union

BREAKING NEWS! Cleaners at the Daily Mail – all of whom are migrant workers and members of UVW – are set to strike over poverty wages! (16 Feb) – They are demanding the London Living Wage of £10.20 p/hour! Stay tuned for strike dates www.uvwunion.org.uk



More news

Walthamstow: ‘Save our Square’ – join the occupation of E17 Market Square against the land grab of greedy developers and for affordable housing for all. From 1pm Saturday February 24th supported by Waltham Forest Trades Council



Blacklisting & Victimisation

Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils. Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)

‘Carillion ruined my life by blacklisting me for raising health and safety concerns’ – Dave Smith Joint Secretary of the Blacklist Support Group in the Metro

Blacklisted t-shirts available at: https://shop.hopenothate.org.uk/component/hikashop/product/78-blacklisted-t-shirt

Book: http://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNcgrNs6pB8

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/

Blog: www.hazards.org/blacklistblog




Three journalists sentenced to life in Turkey read more









13 PCS pay lobby of Parliament

17 National Marches against Racism in London, Glasgow and Cardiff Facebook event



12 TUC demonstration ‘A new deal for working people’ https://www.tuc.org.uk/events/new-deal-working-people-tuc-march-rally



30 National Shop Stewards Network 2018 Annual Conference 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London



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