Defending jobs

"This can inspire workers in all workplaces"

Rolling strikes by Rolls Royce workers in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, are continuing, as workers resist attempts by bosses to cut 350 jobs. The strikes, which involve workers in different parts of the factory striking at differ- ent times, maximising the impact on the employer whilst minimising the impact on workers, started on 6 November and will run until Christmas Eve. A statement by the workers’ union Unite said: “This week [starting 23 November], the company will be meeting with ministers and MPs to discuss the proposals. Given the criticism of Rolls-Royce’s actions from across the...

British gas workers fight "fire and rehire"

The GMB union has announced plans to ballot its members in British Gas for industrial action, after bosses refused to withdraw a plan to sack 20,000 workers en masse and rehire them on worse terms and conditions. A union statement said a “a national strike in the gas industry is weeks away” unless British Gas, now owned by the multinational firm Centrica, backed down from the fire-and-rehire plan. The union has yet to announce a timetable for the formal ballot. An indicative ballot in August returned a 95% majority in favour of action.

Striking to win at Barnoldswick

Workers at a Rolls Royce site in Barnoldswick (Lancashire) began an initial three weeks of rolling strikes on 6 November, to resist the loss of 350 jobs. The strikes have now been extended to 23 December. Unite organiser Ross Quinn spoke to Daniel Randall about the dispute. DR: How's the strike going so far? RQ: It's going really well. We've targeted specific areas in the factory. That's something we did at Camell Laird [shipbuilder] two years ago, where there was only ever 20% of the workforce on strike at any one time, but no production was going on. We've used the same overall principle...

Rolls-Royce workers strike for jobs

Workers at a Rolls-Royce plant in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, began a three-week programme of strikes on Friday 6 November, in a bid to resist the loss of 350 jobs. Rolls-Royce, which intends to cut 9,000 jobs throughout the UK, plans to outsource the work of the Barnoldswick site to Singapore. The industrial action is rolling through the three-week period and will see workers in different roles and departments strike at different times, but with Covid-distanced picket lines throughout. The strike ends on 27 November. A statement from the Unite union said: “It is simply unacceptable that Rolls...

Workplace and union reports: Royal Academy, Unison election, Sheffield couriers

Royal Academy jobs fight In the week ending 30 October, staff at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly held five days of demonstrations outside the building, calling for the RA to reconsider their proposal to make more than a hundred staff redundant. Since the start of the pandemic, the Prospect union has seen RA staff join at speed and reach over 150 members by the start of the demos, between 30% and 40% of total staff, numbers that mirror the scale of the proposed redundancies. The daily demonstrations, typically hosting between ten and thirty people, were joyful and replete with RA staff...

Let Music Live!

On 6 October the Musicians’ Union organised a 400-strong protest in Parliament Square about musicians’ jobs. The union is calling for the government to expand the self-employed “furlough” scheme so that more musicians can qualify. At present 38% of musicians are ineligible. It wants the Arts Council to be able to distribute money to help individual musicians in England, as is being done in Wales and Scotland. And it wants the government to fund local government to make municipal venues available for live performances with suitable covid-distancing. Another measure that could make a difference...

Work or full pay for all

The government has scaled back the weakening of its job support schemes — without significant labour movement pressure. If the labour movement fights, we can win more. The original, pre-October furlough and self-employment schemes were stingy enough, and they are still being cut. But the latest changes for after 31 October (increasing the state contribution to employers to keep jobs from 22 to 49%, and reducing the number of hours workers must work; doubling the payment to self-employed people from 20 to 40% of normal income) are real concessions. Neither trade unions nor the Labour Party have...

How to fight for jobs

The government’s figures say unemployment could approach five million next year. Young, women and BME workers are being and will be hit hardest. The government is driving ahead with the gutting of the furlough and self-employed support schemes, and with a rushed-through hard Brexit which will further batter the economy. This unemployment crisis is also one of low pay and insecurity. Even before the pandemic, almost four million workers were in highly insecure employment. Since the virus hit, the number of workers on zero hours contracts has passed a million for the first time — with the...

Concessions won in DWP (John Moloney's column)

Bosses in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have offered a number of concessions in our ongoing dispute about Job Centre opening hours and arrangements. The union’s Group Executive Committee for the DWP meets on Monday 5 October to consider these concessions and decide the next steps. If the GEC decides the offer isn’t adequate, the dispute will continue and likely move to a formal ballot for industrial action. We need a comprehensive settlement that covers the whole department, on an indefinite basis. There’s been some suggestion that decisions around opening times and arrangements...

Jobs or retraining on full pay!

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn. About three million workers are still on furlough, on government-supported temporary pay while their work is suspended by the pandemic Furlough is due to end on 31 October. If it does, and is replaced by the Tories’ new “Job Support Scheme” (JSS), many of those three million will be thrown out of work. With the JSS, the boss who thinks trade will be poor for the next six months but revive later will be better off sacking half their workers than keeping them all with half-pay plus JSS...

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