Against victimisation

Defend Cetin Avsar

Security guard and union activist Cetin Avsar has been threatened with dismissal by his employer, Wilson James Ltd., who said in a letter that his opposition to outsourcing, and role in leading a strike for direct employment in his previous workplace, St. George’s University of south London, represent a “conflict of interest”. Cetin is currently working for Wilson James Ltd. on a contract at the Francis Crick Institute in King’s Cross, London, but has been told his “conduct has not reached the required standards.” The only issue cited for discussion at his probation review meeting is his...

Reinstate Richie Venton

The campaign to overturn the dismissal of Richie Venton — USDAW shop steward, USDAW convenor, and member of USDAW National Executive Council — continues, despite the lack of support from the leaders of his own union. Richie was sacked by his employer, IKEA, at the end of August. Richie had worked in the IKEA store in Braehead on the outskirts of Glasgow for twelve years, during which time he had built an effective trade union organisation in the store and achieved major improvements in working conditions. In the midst of the first lockdown IKEA informed union representatives of plans for major...

The Doctors Laboratory votes for strikes

Medical couriers transporting Covid-19 samples on behalf of NHS pathology contractor The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) have voted overwhelmingly for strike action, in response to the company’s decision to make redundancies during the pandemic, and its failure to address health and safety concerns. The IWGB union, on behalf of eight of its members who are being targeted for redundancy, has also filed a trade union victimisation and whistleblower victimisation claim. Almost all of the ten targeted workers had been demanding better and safer working conditions. One of them, Alex Marshall, is a key...

Factory gate meeting

Unite members working for Great Bear distribution recently organised a factory gate meeting at the Unilever Port Sunlight factory to protest at the dismissal of a Unite shop steward and the company’s refusal to pay full sick pay for workers self-isolating. The meeting, organised by Unite North West, showed how protests and workplace meetings can still be organised safely and effectively. Everyone observed social distancing rules. When the organisers were explaining why the meeting took place, they made sure that they explained to local residents who were watching and listening why the meeting...

The Morning Star and "patriotism"

On 7 May, the Morning Star carried an article with the snazzy headline “Patriotism is good for you.” A better headline would have been “Stalinism turns you into a useless nationalist who can’t pick the right side in an industrial dispute”. Before examining what this Comrade Blimp has to say about the fusion of nationalism and socialism, it’s worth saying something about the piece’s author. Doug Nicholls is chair of the board of Ruskin College. Last year college management victimised workplace activists in the UCU. Nicholls refused to back the workers, and then invited the college principal to...

Bullying is not just Rutnam

In the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), part of the Department for Transport, one of our leading reps, Paul Williams, is being targeted for compulsory redundancy. We believe this is an attack on the union in the workplace. Paul's local branch is discussing a possible dispute and strike to resist that attack. The union will ensure there is a national focus on this campaign. In wider politics, a light is being shone on the relationship between the government as an employer and the civil service. Clearly there are tensions at the top, in terms of how the people around Mr Cummings want...

Industrial news in brief

Sixth form colleges strike The NEU’s (National Education Union’s) last strike day in sixth form colleges over funding and pay was 20 November last year. The next is 12 February. In December the union executive and many NEU activists were, I think, hoping that an imminent Labour government would resolve the dispute in our favour. The reason for the delay being around a month after most colleges came back is to build up momentum again after the election and Xmas break. The upcoming three days (12 and 27 Feb, 10 March) are within the six month “shelf-life” of the first ballot, but at the same...

Industrial news in brief

University staff represented by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) are set to strike again in disputes over pensions, pay, equalities and casualisation with a series of walk-outs scheduled over fourteen days beginning Thursday 20 February. A further fourteen institutions are joining the sixty who struck in the autumn after reballots got them over the 50% threshold. In Scotland members of EIS (another, Scotland-only, union) have also rejected the employers’ offer, bringing the total number of mandates for action to seventy-six. Despite eight days of strike action last term the employers...

Post workers to ballot for strike

Postal workers’ union CWU is planning a strike ballot of around 100,000 workers in Royal Mail, with the vote due to run from 17 September to 8 October. The union also balloted Royal Mail workers last year, succeeding in meeting the thresholds of the anti-union laws, but strikes were called off after bosses agreed to a number of concessions, including a reduction in the working week from 39 to 35 hours. CWU now says the company is not abiding by this agreement. A postal worker told Solidarity: “There are other issues in the background to the dispute as well. There’s widespread bullying and...

Industrial news in brief

Care workers employed by charity Alternative Futures Group are balloting for strikes to resist a pay cut announced by their employer in November. The workers, who are members of Unison, face a cut of up to £40 following AFG bosses’ announcement that they will no longer pay an additional allowance for workers who sleep overnight at service users’ homes as part of their shift. AFG, whose work primarily comes from contracts tendered by local authorities, says that a July 2018 court ruling, which overturned previous rulings from 2017 and 2016, stipulates that they no longer have to top up the pay...

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