Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 07:39

Ollie Moore, Jay Dawkey, Cath Fletcher and David Pendletone

UCU ballot opens

University staff belonging to UCU are being balloted for strike action this autumn over pay equality, job security, workload and pay deflation.

Working conditions in higher education have been deteriorating. The gender pay gap is over 15%; over 100,000 staff across the sector are on fixed-term contracts; academic staff work over 50 hours in a typical week; and in the past ten years pay has declined by 20% in real terms.

In 2018 an impressive strike forced pre-92 universities to back down on massive pension cuts, but since then employers have refused to compromise and now they

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Thu, 05/09/2019 - 07:45

Sacha Ismail and Ollie Moore

Tube union RMT suspended strikes planned by drivers on London Underground’s Central and Victoria Lines on 3-4 September, after bosses made a number of concessions.

The issues at the heart of the dispute include authoritarian management culture on both lines, and driver numbers on the Central Line particularly.

The union remains in dispute and activists say strikes should be reinstated if management renege on agreements.

Plans for TUC congress

At the time of writing discussions are taking place among labour movement anti-coup people about activities at the 2019 TUC Congress (8-11 September, in

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 03/07/2019 - 07:52

Ollie Moore

Tube workers fight job cuts

Tube workers are currently voting in an industrial action ballot, as the RMT union pushes back against job cuts proposed as part of the so-called “Transformation” process.

Nearly 2,000 workers are being balloted, including workers in engineering, signals, electrical, track, the London Underground Control Centre, and the Emergency Response Unit. “Transformation”, a sweeping restructure and job cuts plan, has already led to admin workers seeing their numbers slashed.

The current phase of the plan includes the outsourcing of waste collection workers who are currently

Left initiatives at FBU conference

Published on: Wed, 22/05/2019 - 09:04

Sacha Ismail

I attended the Fire Brigades Union conference in Blackpool, 15-17 May, as a visitor for the Free Our Unions campaign. The conference saw debate about the union’s industrial strategy as well as significant decisions and stances on a number of big political issues.

After FBU members resoundingly rejected a pay proposal from fire service employers which would introduce open-ended contracts, without a clear definition of firefighters’ role, in return for only the possibility of a pay rise, the union is moving towards a national dispute. The conference debated various aspects of strategy and

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 01/05/2019 - 09:30

John Moloney and Ollie Moore

The PCS union’s ballot for action on pay, which closed on 29 April, gained a turnout of 47.7%.

That is over 6% higher than in 2018, but still about 3,000 votes short of reaching the 50% threshold required under Tory anti-union laws. This has highlighted, yet again, the extreme unevenness of our organisation on the ground.

There has to be a frank and honest discussion about how we can rebuild our organisation. Involving a full autopsy of our areas of strength and weakness. In the past, the suggestion that the union leadership should be open with members about which areas are stronger or weaker

A bridge to the far right

Published on: Wed, 10/04/2019 - 11:03

Steve Michaels and Sacha Ismail

This is a reply to a Full Brexit article.

The “Full Brexit” project describes itself as a network of “activists, academics, journalists and policy experts, all on the broad political left” dedicated to “seizing the historic opportunity Brexit offers for restoring popular sovereignty, repairing democracy, and renewing our economy”.

Its list of founding signatures includes Paul Embery (of the Arron Banks-funded Trade Unionists Against the EU group who recently spoke at Nigel Farage’s Brexit rally) and Maurice Glasman (of Blue Labour, slogan “Faith, Family and Flag”).

On 25 March, these policy

Union rights campaign wins support

Published on: Wed, 30/01/2019 - 10:56

Gerry Bates

The Eastern region of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to back the Free Our Unions statement – the second FBU region to do so, after the West Midlands – and purchase 200 copies of the Free Our Unions pamphlet produced by the Labour left group The Clarion. The two regions have also arranged to raise the campaign at FBU national conference in May.

On 21 January, Clarion editor Sacha Ismail attended the Eastern regional committee of firefighter and control representatives from across six counties to give a presentation. On 23 January, Bakers’ Union member Justine Canady followed up

Fighting fire in the class struggle

Published on: Wed, 26/12/2018 - 22:56

Sacha Ismail

In 2018 the Fire Brigades Union, which organises operational firefighters, fire control staff, fire brigade officers and others in the UK fire and rescue service, celebrated its hundredth anniversary as an independent union. For its centenary the FBU has published a book, Fighting Fire, about the last thirty years of its history.

(For centenary resources on the FBU website, see www.fbu.org.uk/centenary. For an interview focused on this that FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack did with The Clarion in May, see 'One hundred years of the Fire Brigades Union'.)

The FBU is a fairly small union (today

Grenfell campaigners united

Published on: Thu, 21/06/2018 - 13:09

Clare Horner

Campaigners marked the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire with public demonstrations and resolute promises to fight for justice.

On Thursday 14 June, at least 12,000 people marched through Ladbroke Grove on the silent walk that has commemorated the victims of the fire every month since the terrible fire, which cost 72 people their lives and directly affected thousands of others. Then on Saturday 16 June, the Justice for Grenfell campaign and the Fire Brigades Union organised a rally outside Downing Street to point the finger of blame where it ultimately belongs — with central government

West Mids FBU strike

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2018 - 15:19

Gemma Short

Firefighters in the West Midlands have voted by 90%, on a turn out of 82%, for strikes over the creation of a two-tier workforce.

Contracts introduced by the West Midlands Fire Authority mean new firefighters entering the service will have to take on work outside the currently agreed role of a firefighter. The new contracts would allow the employer to unilaterally change the work of firefighters at any time, breaching nationally negotiated agreements with the union, the FBU.

There has also been growing tensions between FBU members and the fire authority over the imposition of non-fire service

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