We headline this week’s NSSN bulletin with what appears to be a major success for the Birmingham Home care workers in Unison. We hope that this can be confirmed and consolidated.
We also report on the catastrophic news that senior Honda management have announced that they intend going ahead with the closure.
We have been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with both groups of workers and will continue to do so. In the last few months, we have organised NSSN meetings in both areas to give a platform to the workers’ struggles. We invite them both to speak at our annual conference on July 6th.
This is from NSSN supporters:-
“Just as we go to press, Birmingham NSSN supporters have been informed that the Birmingham Home care workers have won their 20-month long dispute against Birmingham City Council.
The dispute was over cuts and changes to working hours with the Labour Council effectively trying to make all posts part time and unworkable to push people into leaving the service. The UNISON Home Care members have taken 80+ days strike action during their dispute, including a joint strike day with the Unite Birmingham Bin workers in February of this year.
This new victory will be another humiliating defeat to Birmingham Labour Council, the third time in two years it has lost its workers.
As the information stands so far, a member’s meeting was held on Friday 10th May where the home care strikers were informed by the union that the Council have dropped all proposals and their jobs will currently stay as they are. There were tears of joy but also the understanding that the Council cannot be trusted to protect any job as it continues to carry about the Tories dirty work of cuts and attacks on our public services.”
“Car workers in Swindon are reeling from the news that Honda bosses have confirmed the closure of the Wiltshire plant in 2021. Over 3,500 workers directly employed are facing redundancy but in addition, over 12,000 employed in component and related companies and industries are affected. This is a catastrophe for Swindon in particular – a town of 180,000 people and must be fought.
Unite had put forward an alternative plan to Honda that would have been the basis to safeguard the plant but this has been rejected by senior management. Inevitably, there will be shock within the workforce but the impressive demonstration of thousands in the town at the end of March shows the potential to build a fight that can challenge and potentially overturn the closure decision. On that demonstration, Unite plant convenor Paddy Brennan speaking alongside his shop stewards said, “This is the fight of our lives.”
NSSN supporters have raised the need for Jeremy Corbyn to boldly call for the plant to be nationalised to put Theresa May’s weak and divided Tory government under pressure to intervene. He could easily be prime minister before the plant closes in two years’ time. He should give a guarantee that a Labour government led by him the factory will be taken in to public ownership and demand that May gives the same commitment.
In 1971, a previous Tory government nationalised Rolls Royce and months later they were forced to intervene when workers at the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders conducted a working occupation and 80,000 marched in solidarity.
The union and the shop stewards have shown the workforce that they have been prepared to negotiate to save the plant. But Honda’s decision has taken the fight in to a new stage. We give our full support to the Honda workers, who are fighting for the whole community.”
Watch video of the March 30th Swindon demonstration against the planned closure of the plant
Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate to the NSSN – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSBC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE
Dates for your diaries:
- 2019 NSSN Conference – 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL – Saturday July 6th. Attendance fee £6. Please use this letter in your union and trades council to help us finance the conference and affiliate to the NSSN Facebook event
Download the ‘Join the NSSN’ leaflet here
And if you can, come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on [email protected]
Follow us on twitter via @NSSN_AntiCuts and Facebook
Interserve FCO workers to strike again 21 and 22 May (13 May) – Two more days of strike action are to be held by PCS members working for contractor Interserve at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, over the company’s refusal to negotiate on redundancies, contractual changes to pay dates, and attacks on holiday pay and sick pay. Our members, working for Interserve who provide services including facilities management, print room, porterage and cleaning, held a well-supported 2-day strike at the start of the month. The changes to pay dates have left many of our members out of pocket and some haven’t been paid for several weeks. The latest round of action coincides with PCS annual delegate conference in Brighton.
How you can support the campaign
- Urge your MP to sign early day motion 2346 in support of the strike which calls on ministers to intervene to secure jobs and to seriously consider bringing Interserve contracts back in-house as a priority.
- Send a message of support to [email protected]
- Donate to the strike fund. Read more
PCS DVSA members win ballot to strike in long-running dispute over attacks on terms and conditions (10 May) – PCS members working for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have won the ballot for strike action in a long-running dispute over travel time, working time and workforce planning. The ballot, which closed at noon today (10 May), centred on DVSA management’s refusal to consult meaningfully having imposed working practices, and restructures that are impacting detrimentally to members’ terms and conditions and their jobs. The strike ballot, which passed the government’s strict 50% legal turnout threshold resulted in 82.6% of those voting in favour of strike action and 92.2% of those voting in favour of action short of a strike read more
BEIS outsourced workers strike back! (cleaners and caterers) – We are ON! On Friday 3 May ISS cleaners employed at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in Whitehall overwhelming voted for strike action. Together with their colleagues in catering (employed by Aramark) they are striking for 4 days calling for the London Living Wage and an end to exploitative outsourcing. This will be 7th day strikers have taken action and are now ramping up that action in a 4 day walkout. Disgracefully, the Department responsible for the minimum wage and workers rights, refuses to pay their support staff a liveable wage, despite confirming to their Union (PCS Union) they could afford to do so in 2017. Come and join us for picket lines at the following times:
Tuesday 21 May – 07:30 – 10:30am; and
Thursday 23 May – 07:30 – 10:30am
Picket lines will be located outside BEIS – 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET (nearest tube stations are Victoria, Westminster and St James’ Park) Facebook event
Support striking Interserve workers – Members working for Interserve at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) took their second day of strike action in their dispute with the outsourcing company on may 2nd. 100% of members walked out over the company’s refusal to negotiate on redundancies, contractual changes to pay dates, and attacks on holiday pay and sick pay. Urge your MP to sign early day motion 2346 in support of the strike which calls on ministers to intervene to secure jobs and to seriously consider bringing Interserve contracts back in-house as a priority.
Somerset workers to strike for three days in ‘paltry’ pay and productivity row (14 May) – Production workers at Somerset firm Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Bridgwater, where productivity is said to have ‘gone through the roof’, will strike for three days over a ‘paltry’ pay offer. Unite said its 65 members will strike on 28 and 31 May and also on 5 June. Each strike will be for the whole day, covering all shifts from 00:01 until 23:59. Unite announced the strike dates today (Tuesday 14 May) after recent talks with the management ‘hit a brick wall’. The workers had already overwhelmingly rejected a 2.8 per cent pay offer for the year starting January 2019. The company, founded in 1935, makes specialist seals for high pressure engines read more
Mitie workers at Sellafield striking against poverty pay (by Brent Kennedy, Cumbria Unite Community) – If anyone thinks that “social partnership” – trade unions and bosses working together for supposedly common interests – delivers decent pay and conditions for workers, let them just go to the Sellafield nuclear plant for a reality check. Here at this multinational, multi-billion pound nuclear site, one of the biggest in the country and backed by taxpayers’ money, they will find security guards, cleaners and canteen workers working for a poverty level of pay. The canteen workers regularly work weekends without overtime pay. Until they recently joined Unite, they weren’t even paid extra for working on bank holidays. Skilled workers directly employed by Sellafield Ltd are well paid for Cumbria, but these workers employed by outsourcing firm Mitie (and who outsourced the work?) are living in poverty after working all week.
One told me that because the basic wage doesn’t cover his regular direct debits, he works all weekdays and all weekends, except for one weekend free a month “just to put food on the table. Nobody should work seven days a week in this day and age. In 13 years my wage has just gone up from £6 to £8.21 an hour. The fat cats get fatter, the poor get poorer.” The canteen ladies agree. With an eye on the potential health hazards for everyone on the site, and the time taken up by site access, one says: “Everybody who works here should get at least £30 just for going through those gates.” Another points out: “We could get paid more on the checkouts at Morrisons without all the travel time and hassle … Mitie took two weeks’ pay off us, saying they’d give us it back when we leave, but they won’t. We’ve just taken it for too long.”
But now these disrespected and exploited workers are rising up. Around 200 have walked out of the GMB union, which they think is too cosy with the bosses, and joined Unite, which is offering a more fighting leadership. Instead of accepting an offer of just 24p above the minimum wage like the GMB, they voted by 98% on a 70% turnout to strike for a substantial pay rise, recognition for Unite once again, and to have their voice heard. Dancing on the long picket lines to keep warm, with open support from contracting workers driving past, you can see how the self-confidence of these men and women is going up. In the face of the shameless greed and arrogance of their bullying bosses they feel the power of unity, with men and women workers from different services sticking up for each other.
When Mitie tried to divide and intimidate them with techniques used by blacklisters, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey sent a video message of support to the strikers and openly warned Mitie to back off or “the whole power of Unite will come down on you.” You can visibly see the power of workers’ solidarity outside the main gate. All the construction contractor workers driving in stopped to take leaflets from the pickets and they took some time to inform themselves of the workers’ arguments. Despite the police opening both lanes of the road to the gate, the resulting traffic jam stretched back for maybe seven miles, delaying the start of work by about three hours. The over-run projects on the site cost half a million pounds an hour. That’s the power of workers at the point of production, construction or service. What an answer to the sceptics who say workers and unions are too weak to fight! The management has warned the contractors that it will dock their pay if they arrive late on the job, but if it does that then everyone could well walk out. So Sellafield is absorbing the cost – using taxpayers’ money to help out the bosses of the private contractors.
Last week 2,500 construction contractors magnificently walked out on strike for two days in solidarity with their poverty-pay workmates, against anti-union bullying, without strike pay. Ryan Armstrong, the Unite full-time officer organising the strike, told me how effective the strike was, with only one of the five canteens on this huge complex still open and the dirt piling up.
Tory MPs tell us “the best way out of poverty is to get a job”. No, the best way out of poverty is to strike for more pay. A victory for these workers will inspire low-paid workers elsewhere to fight. Please send messages of support to [email protected]
The 180 Unite members are currently taking 10 days of industrial action, which began on Saturday 4 May and ends on Monday 13 May. This is the second period of strikes following six days of action which ended on Monday 29 April. Unite has announced a further 10 days of action beginning on Sunday 19 May and ending on Wednesday 29 May read more
Strike vote over ‘punishing’ working patterns at Heathrow (10 May) – International airlines flying from Heathrow Airport face major disruption to the supply of inflight food, drink and duty free after members of Unite voted for strike action over the imposition of ‘punishing’ new rotas. Workers employed by Alpha LSG will take strike action from 00.01 on Wednesday 22 May concluding at 23.59 on Sunday 26 May. 87 per cent of the workers that took part in the ballot voted for strike action. HGV drivers employed by Alpha LSG at Heathrow are responsible for transporting food, drink and duty free to planes. The company supplies 29 airlines including American Airlines, Air Canada, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways (see notes to editors). On 1 March Alpha LSG imposed new rosters on HGV drivers who transport food, drinks and duty free to planes at Heathrow Airport. The workers claim the punishing new rosters are affecting their health and family life read more
Lancashire bus drivers to strike over pay (9 May) – Britain and Ireland’s largest union Unite accused Stagecoach of ‘penny pinching’ as it confirmed that its bus driver members operating out of Preston and Chorley bus stations would start a series of one day stoppages this Saturday (11 May) in a dispute over pay. Nearly 300 drivers are involved in the pay dispute with further one day stoppages planned for Tuesday 14 May, Saturday 25 May, Tuesday 28 May, Friday 31 May and Saturday 1 June. It comes after talks aimed at resolving the dispute broke down earlier in the week (Tuesday 7 May). Members are angry at being treated as the ‘poor relation’ and earning over £1 less than colleagues driving for Stagecoach elsewhere in the North West read more
Workers at First Cymru buses drive ahead with pay above 10 per cent (9 May) – Drivers and bus workers employed by First Cymru buses in Wales are in line for a pay increase above 10 per cent thanks to a pay deal negotiated by Unite. The deal which covers 600 workers across south and west Wales means that a typical worker will receive an extra 10.6 per cent in their pay packets by 2021. The workers have received an inflation beating 4.6 per cent for 2019 with the remainder of the deal spread over 2020 and 2021. The deal also helps to lift the salaries of the lowest paid drivers and will help to recruit new drivers into the organisation read more
Woolwich Ferry staff to strike for 10 days in Groundhog Day safety dispute, says Unite – Workers, who operate the Woolwich Ferry used by an estimated 2.6 million passengers a year, are to strike for 10 days in a dispute over pay, health & safety, and lack of staffing. The 31 workers, members of Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, who are employed by Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd, voted unanimously for strike action. The 24 hour strike dates are: 17, 20, 24, 28, and 31 May. This will be followed by five days in June on 3, 7, 10, 14 and 17 June. All stoppages will start at 00:01. The key issues in the dispute are the refusal to grant a six per cent pay increase for the year starting January 2019; the imposition of new duties; failure to deal with safety concerns; and lack of an adequate number of staff to operate the service. Two years ago, there was an acrimonious and long-running dispute at the ferry with the same employer, which runs the service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), over a bullying culture and health & safety issues. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The travelling public, who use the ferry, may well think Groundhog Day has arrived with yet another dispute with the management at Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd…” read more
Support the strike at Angus council – the strike action includes a ban on overtime and work to rule, will take place from April until late June 2019. The first days of industrial action will take place from 00:01 hours on 8 April 2019 concluding at 23:59 hours on 12th April 2019. A series of 48 hour stoppages will commence at 00:01 hours on:
- 6, 13, 20, 27 May 2019
- 3, 10, 17, 24 June 2019 read more
BREAKING NEWS!! RMT chalks up major victory and suspends tube strike action as LU pulls fleet cuts plans (14 May) – TUBE UNION RMT has announced a stunning victory for militant trade unionism, and has suspended strike action involving over a thousand tube fleet staff due to start on Friday, after London Underground confirmed that it is withdrawing all proposed cuts to train inspection and preparation – the issue at the heart of the dispute. The workforce was due to protest at City Hall on Thursday, and strike for three days from 7am on Friday, but the union executive has suspended all action after receiving a letter from LU last night confirming that the cuts plan has been withdrawn in the face of the united opposition of RMT members from fleet depots across the Greater London area. RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said: “First of all I want to pay tribute to London Underground fleet members who have proved once again that militant, united and determined trade union action can roll back the tide of cuts. This is their victory but it also a victory for the travelling public, the RMT campaign on tube safety and for basic common sense. It is a massive achievement for this union to overturn the planned cuts to tube train inspections and preparation but the campaign doesn’t stop here, not by a long chalk. We now expect London Underground to reverse the planned cuts to jobs under their “transformation” programme and give us an assurance that there will be no further attacks on our members, their working conditions and the safety culture on the tube network. Our action this week is suspended but RMT remains vigilant and will have no hesitation in taking whatever steps are required to block cuts and their consequences wherever and whenever they may emerge.” Read more
Over a thousand key London Underground staff to strike over safety-critical cuts – TUBE UNION RMT confirmed today (2 May) that over a thousand key London Underground maintenance and engineering staff will strike for three days in a dispute over the hacking back of train preparation and inspection schedules which the union warns would have a devastating impact on both service reliability and public safety. The announcement follows a nine to one vote for action. Staff will take strike action as follows: Not to book on for any shifts between 07:00 on Friday 17th May until 07:00 Monday 20th May 2019 read more
On RMT Day of Action 95% of Great Western Railway workers say the company must Bring Back The Buffet (13 May) – On the morning that rail union RMT is holding #BringBackTheBuffet events in Swansea, Plymouth and London the union has released research citing examples of how the axing of the buffet service has impacted on GWR services and showing the 95% of staff support it’s reintroduction. With a total disregard for the passenger experience, Great Western Railway (GWR) has removed the buffet car from all of its new Intercity Express Trains, despite the fact that they serve long distance routes such as London to Paddington read more
Cleaners vote overwhelmingly for strike action to halt privatisation at the Princess Alexandra (10 May) – Cleaners at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow have today (Friday) voted almost unanimously in favour of strike action against plans to outsource cleaning services. UNISON members voted 99% in favour of industrial action on an 84% turnout. The 220 staff that provide cleaning and domestic services warn that if jobs are transferred to the private sector it could spell disaster for patients. Research has shown that hospitals with outsourced cleaning have higher rates of infection than those with in-house services read more
UNISON recommends higher education staff reject ‘inadequate’ pay offer (8 May) – A pay offer to higher education staff falls far short of the annual rise they deserve as university bosses have seen their salaries soar, says UNISON. The union’s higher education executive has now agreed unanimously to recommend the “inadequate” 2019/20 pay offer from UCEA higher education national employers should be rejected. UNISON will now undertake a consultation to ask members what they are prepared to do in order to achieve improvements to the offer, which is way below the claim jointly submitted by unions read more
Hospital staff vote to strike over ‘pauper pay’ (13 May) – Hospital staff have voted to strike after a £400 million private outsourcing company refused to increase their ‘pauper’ pay. The low-paid workers – who provide cleaning, porter and catering services at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals – voted unanimously for industrial action. Outsourcing giant ISS Mediclean has refused to match the pay rise other members of staff across the hospitals have received. ISS Mediclean turned over more than £400 million last year and made a pre-tax profit of £28 million read more
Net-A-Porter to recognise GMB Union in historic win for workers (13 May) – GMB, Britain’s general union, is to be officially recognised by luxury online fashion brand Net-A-Porter in a historic win for workers. Hundreds of distribution assistants working in the company’s warehouse in Charlton, South London won the right to be represented by GMB after applying to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). The employer and union now enter into a period of negotiations to agree terms. The predominantly young workforce – who pick and package for Net-A-Porter’s business – voted overwhelmingly in favour after a secret ballot read more
A major strike is looming at Wilko over the company’s decision to force staff to work weekends (9 May) – More than 90% of GMB members at two Wilko distribution centres – in Magor, Wales and Worksop, Nottinghamshire – said they would take industrial action over the rota changes during a consultative ballot. More than 2,000 people work across the two sites – which supply Wilko stores across the UK. “More than 90% of our members are so angry they are willing to walk out – that shows the strength of feeling amongst staff. Gary Carter, GMB National Officer.” Talks were held after Easter to avert the dispute, but these have broken down after management failed to compromise. The strength of feeling amongst the workforce is so strong, GMB will be conducting a full strike action ballot read more
John Roan Strike May 14 picket line: Revoke The Academy Order! – Come down and support NEU staff are on strike defending our community school from the DFE handing it over to a private business through the governments unjust forced academisation policy. (Followed by a trip to London and Lobby of the DFE to take our message direct) Facebook event
Strikes on the cards at Winchester University after UCU members back industrial action (9 May) – Industrial action is on the cards at Winchester University after UCU members overwhelmingly backed strikes and action short of a strike. The university has said it wants to get rid of 55 posts – around 10% of the workforce. It has cited increased costs in pensions as a reason for the drastic move*. The union has said the university must avoid knee-jerk reactions to changes in pension costs and rule out compulsory job losses if it wants to avoid disruption. UCU said members will finalise details of the industrial action in the coming days. As well as strikes likely to hit lectures this term, the union is looking at other forms of action such as working to contract, not covering for absences and boycotting open days read more
Strikes off at Lambeth College as deal reached on pay and conditions (9 May) – UCU members at Lambeth College have called off next month’s strikes after agreeing a deal* with the college worth over 3% in pay with additional holiday days, sick pay benefits and a reduction in teaching hours. Staff at the college had taken 10 days of strike action since November in the long-running pay dispute. The deal will see staff receive a pay rise of between 2% and 3% backdated to September 2018, with an extra payment of £250 for the lowest paid staff. All staff will benefit from six months’ full sick pay entitlement and six months’ half sick pay entitlement. In addition teaching staff teaching staff who are on a contract introduced in 2014 will receive an additional five days’ annual leave and a reduction in their teaching hours. UCU members had threatened to walk out again after seeing their pay fall behind in real-terms after years of below inflation deals. The union said that other colleges who wished to avoid disruption in the future should follow Lambeth’s lead and negotiate now on pay and conditions read more
EIS FELA back on Strike this week – The EIS FELA are campaigning to secure a fair cost of living pay rise for Scotland’s college lecturers. Further strike action is scheduled to take place on the following dates: Wednesday 15th May and Thursday 16th May read more
Donate to the Picturehouse Cinema strike fund: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/250/picturehousestrike
Scottish prison officers to ballot on industrial action (10 May) – At a special conference convened in Perth the Prison Officers Association Scotland agreed to ballot their membership on Industrial Action over pay. Facing the prospect of receiving yet another year of capped rises from public sector pay policy Prison Officers are saying enough is enough. Speaking on the outcome of the conference Andy Hogg Assistant General Secretary said “this decision reflects the anger and frustration of our members over the lack of progress around their inadequate levels of pay. In 2014 it was accepted by the then Justice Secretary that a new pay structure should be introduced to recognise and reward Scottish prison read more
Prospect announces HIAL air traffic controller strike for 23 May (9 May) – Following the breakdown of talks at ACAS last week, Prospect has today (Thursday 9 May) announced a new day of strike action on Thursday 23 May as part of the ongoing air traffic controllers’ dispute dating back to April 2018. Airports that will be directly affected are Dundee, Inverness, Wick, Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Stornoway, and Benbecula. Prospect had previously called off a day’s strike on 26 April to allow the company to develop new proposals. No new offer has been made and with no further talks scheduled an offer is not likely to be tabled read more
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)
Unite secures historic million pound plus blacklisting legal settlement (14 May) – Unite has settled its current long running blacklisting case against the construction companies who systematically ruined the lives of their workers. As part of the overall settlement, which is subject to court approval, 53 blacklisted workers will receive over £1.9 million in compensation. The defendants have also agreed to pay Unite’s legal fees read more
Blacklisted t-shirts available at: https://shop.hopenothate.org.uk/component/hikashop/product/78-blacklisted-t-shirt
Journalism on trial in Turkey (14 May) – Evrensel editor Fatih Polat faces charges of “insulting the president” at Barikoy 31st Criminal Court read more in Morning Star
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