Health & safety

Make Labour councils back Royal Parks workers (John Moloney's column)

Royal Parks workers’ month-long strike is continuing. There’s no new offer from the outsourced contractor yet; we think they are talking to Royal Parks, to see how much license they’ll be given to resolve the dispute. The contractor says any changes to staffing levels that result from the restructure we’re opposing will be “minimal”, but that could mean almost anything. Until we get something firm then the dispute will continue. We want to increase the pressure on Royal Parks centrally. We’re writing directly to the Board of Trustees, which includes two leaders of Labour councils, Camden and...

Royal Parks on strike (John Moloney's column)

Outsourced cleaners and attendants in London’s Royal Parks are striking throughout October. We began the strike with a successful rally on 1 October. We have more workers participating in the strike this time, which is a good sign, especially as a month-long strike is a significant escalation. We’ve had good support from across the labour movement. Jeremy Corbyn and Andy McDonald sent solidarity greetings, and John McDonnell addressed the strike rally. Fundraising is particularly important, as we want to ensure strike pay at a level as close as possible to workers’ full wages. We don’t want to...

Fuel, wages and Brexit - put people before profit

The fuel shortages, queues at petrol stations and huge surrounding traffic jams which have choked up many cities and towns are an indictment of many aspects of our social arrangements: • Low-wages and terrible conditions for HGV drivers. • The ending of free movement between Britain and the European Union with Brexit, and the wider drive against migrants. • The whole framework of vital industries, including transport and energy, being run for private profit. The Socialist of 29 September carries an interview with a Socialist Party member who until recently worked as a driver. He vividly...

Fighting for COVID safety at work is working class solidarity

Even with high rates of vaccination COVID disease will still be a risk. Employed workers could be organising now, including legally refusing to work in unsafe conditions, in order to protect themselves, their households and communities. Workplaces are not only the origin of most COVID spread. Workplaces are where the case for collective safety through solidarity can be won amongst workers, and forced onto employers and the government. The work health and safety (WHS) legislation in all Australian jurisdictions gives workers the right to refuse unsafe work. The United Workers Union has promoted...

Diary of an engineer: The tests are OK, but the workers aren't

The company that processes the plant’s “Incinerator Bottom Ash” call to return three loads, and say they are quarantining two more. The logistics company who do the deliveries are not able to tip, and they tell their drivers to stop collecting from us. I ask the company if they’re able to separate the unburned waste from the ash and return it to us, at our expense — she says no. This means that the plant is now producing Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) continuously with nowhere to send it. The ash bay is very small, and it won’t take long before it’s full. The only way to stop producing ash is to...

Royal Parks out from 1 October (John Moloney's column)

We’re preparing for a month-long strike by outsourced cleaners and attendants in Royal Parks, which will begin on 1 October. That’s a significant escalation, so we’re also launching a new drive to fundraise for the strike fund. We’ll need active solidarity from our own branches, especially in London, and from the wider movement to help the strike win. Strategic discussions are ongoing within our branch at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea. There’s a strong resolve to launch a new ballot, but detailed discussions are taking place about exactly how that ballot...

Forced back into the office? (John Moloney's column)

Many of our members have been in the workplace throughout the pandemic. A majority, though, have home-worked. We have always known that these members will return to the workplace some time. Our argument is that they should only do so when safe. In September last year, the government made a concerted push to get everyone back to the workplace but that failed. This September, the concerned push has been replaced by an expectation that staff will return to the workplace for one or two days a week either this month or in October. The union is opposed to any moves to force staff back. Our...

BEIS strike 22-24 September (John Moloney's column)

Outsourced workers at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will strike again, unless a deal is found, from 22-24 September, demanding pay increases and the reinstatement of annual leave entitlement. The last day of that strike coincides with a global climate strike; that’s significant as BEIS is a key department in terms of the UK’s climate policy. We’ll make the picket line at BEIS a focus for mobilising union members across London, and will be promoting the union’s climate policies as part of that. PCS is balloting our driving examiner members for industrial...

PCS and UVW: a model for union joint working (John Moloney's column)

In Royal Parks, outsourced cleaners and attendants demonstrated on 30 August, part of a two-week strike against job cuts and for improved conditions [workers at the rally above]. The contractor, Just Ask, has already back off from its original plan to cut 33% of all jobs. On 9 September, they’re due to write to us with a new proposal. Some of our next steps will depend on that. There’s also a positive aspect to the dispute, including the demand for full sick pay. Royal Parks has admitted that the previous contractor had agreed to implement 18 weeks’ full sick pay entitlement to all staff...

DVLA workers stay strong (John Moloney's column)

A month-long selective strike (2-31 August) at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea has begun as we move towards the expiry of the current ballot mandate. The dispute was triggered by management’s insistence that far higher numbers of workers than we deemed safe continued to come into work during the pandemic, but the campaign has taken on a wider focus on workplace safety and an authoritarian style of management more generally. The new ballot will begin in the coming months, and we’ll campaign to ensure we exceed the required thresholds. Outsourced workers in the...

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