Defending jobs

BT: take the dispute off hold

The Communications Workers Union’s (CWU’s) ballot for industrial action in the telecoms sector is currently paused. The CWU previously stated its intention to ballot all its members who work for BT group (BT, EE and Openreach) in response to job cuts and site closures and the breaking of long standing agreements with the union. At the heart of the dispute is whether the company’s future strategy will include job security and consultation with the union or not. BT group remains a highly profitable firm in a growing sector. Employees have the right to expect job security and assurances about the...

Reject "catch up" blather: fight school cuts!

On 2 June the government announced a £1.4bn “Covid Catch-up” programme for pupils and students, to cover up to six million sets of 15-hour tutoring courses for disadvantaged pupils and expansion of an existing fund for helping 16- to 19-year-olds with subjects such as English and maths. Kevan Collins, the government’s “Catch-up tsar” resigned after the announcement. According to the Financial Times, he and education secretary Gavin Williamson wanted to pay teachers to extend the school day by 30 minutes, and that was vetoed by chancellor Rishi Sunak on grounds of cost. Sunak spent £0.84...

Steel jobs under threat from Gupta sale

Sanjeev Gupta, the owner of Liberty Steel, has announced he intends to sell-off the steelworks at Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire, which were taken over by Liberty, part of the Gupta Family Group (GFG), from Tata Steel in 2017. GFG, currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Squad following the collapse of the finance company Greensill (for whom David Cameron lobbied), is using the livelihoods of the 750 steelworkers at Stocksbridge as a financial pawn to pay off Gupta’s £1 billion debt to Credit Suisse, inherited when Greensill collapsed in March. Liberty Steel has sites elsewhere...

McVitie's factory: more strategy needed

Around 250 people turned up on 22 May for a rally protesting the proposed closure of the McVitie’s biscuit factory in the East End of Glasgow. The focus of the campaign against closure is a cross-party alliance to demand intervention by the Scottish Government to guarantee the factory’s future. Having the local Tory councillor denounce Pladis (owners of McVitie’s) for treating the workforce with contempt probably helps build confidence (“everyone is on our side”). But, for obvious reasons, it also lacks credibility. Demanding intervention by the Scottish Government also makes sense. Some 700...

Disputes in DVLA, DWP, Parks (John Moloney's column)

Negotiations with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) over safety arrangements at the Swansea complex continue. A strike of contact centre workers there is planned for Wednesday 2 June. There’ll be a members’ meeting on 1 June which will discuss the dispute. Wales has a high vaccination rate, and bosses want to increase the numbers of people working on the site. We’re insisting that the union has a say in those decisions, and they’re not simply unilaterally imposed by management. Our consultative ballots for potential action over workplace safety in the Department for Work and...

Resisting parks job cuts

Following a meeting with the United Voices of the World union (UVW), we’ll be issuing a letter to the outsourced contractor which employs cleaners in the Royal Parks. Currently workers are assigned to specific parks, but the contractor wants to move to a mobile workforce model. UVW estimates that this could lead to job cuts of up to 25%. In particular, all existing women workers can’t drive, so they’d be particularly at risk as workers would now be expected to drive between parks as part of the mobile workforce model. Our letter will make a series of demands. The key one is that they commit to...

Battling biscuit closure

Members of the GMB union will be demonstrating outside of the McVitie’s factory in Glasgow on Saturday 22 May (from 10am, at Tollcross Park: Facebook event here) in protest at an announcement that it is to close. The factory has a workforce of nearly 500, with union membership split 3:1 between the GMB and Unite. Although the protest was initiated by the GMB, Unite members will also be supporting it. McVitie’s is owned by the Pladis company, which is part of the Turkish investment firm Yildiz Holdings. According to Pladis, it needs to close the plant and shift all production to English plants...

Liverpool University strikes on job cuts

Staff at Liverpool University are set to strike for three weeks over a management threat to cut 32 posts in Health and Life Sciences. The action, organised by the University and College Union (UCU), will run from 24 May to 11 June and follows an 84% vote for strikes in a ballot last month. It is timed to hit end-of-year exams so as to put maximum pressure on management. Campaigning has already reduced the number of posts under threat from 47. Meanwhile, staff at Leicester University have begun action short of a strike, also over job cuts and restructuring that has targeted multiple union...

DVLA bosses back off for now (John Moloney's column)

Bosses at the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), where our members have struck twice against a lack of workplace safety, threatened to increase the number of workers on site even further from 17 May. Under the threat of a week-long strike starting the 17th, though, they have backed off. They have this week to reach a deal with us; if they don’t, then we have served notice for another strike for the entire week beginning Monday 24 May. Previously our strikes have only involved those workers who were being made to work from the physical workplace. This time it’ll involve...

BT ballot: still waiting

On 30 September 2020, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) announced that its “Count Me In” campaign against planned job cuts and other attacks to terms and conditions by BT was “stepping into full gear.” More than seven months since that announcement, and nearly six since CWU members voted for industrial action by a 97.9% majority in a consultative ballot, the union has still not launched a formal ballot. More announcements about “intensification” and a “significant ramping up” of the campaign have followed, but no ballot. A large national ballot requires preparation. The CWU is right to...

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