Pay, hours, conditions

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...

GMB votes to reject 4% in NHS

Scottish NHS workers in the GMB union have rejected the 4% Scottish government pay offer. The RCN, who also recommended rejection, are expected to announce their result as Solidarity goes to press on 11 May. Unison recommended acceptance of the offer, and Unite did not make a recommendation, so it seems likely their members will vote to accept. The issue in Scotland will now be whether GMB and possibly the RCN will ballot for action, or simply use the recommendation to reject as a crude recruitment ploy, as happened in the last pay round. Members should push for a ballot for strike action...

Train guards to strike

After a 20 month delay, due to Covid and a change of franchisee, guards on East Midlands Railway will resume their fight against unfair starter contracts and rostering which busts terms and conditions with three strikes on consecutive Sundays starting on 16 May, the first day of the new timetable. Reps have paid close attention to the strike days that members wanted, with the majority being in favour of consecutive Sunday strikes rather than Saturdays, weekdays, or more than single days of action per week. Planning has also been done to further pressurise management if they don’t see sense...

Gains at Go North West

A nine-week long strike by bus drivers has forced Go North West to back down from a plan to impose new contracts via “fire and rehire”. Drivers who were sacked or disciplined for social media posts during the dispute will also be reinstated and have disciplinary sanctions dropped. Although the details of the settlement are yet to be finalised, this appears to be a significant victory and a testament to the resolve of the workers involved in launching determined, indefinite strike action. For now, drivers are rightly continuing their strikes until a settlement is agreed. Activists say that Go...

CWU must ballot now on BT jobs!

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) continues to tell its members in BT Group, including EE and Openreach workers, to “get ready to vote yes”, in a long-promised ballot for industrial action. The union has held a series of well-attended online meetings for workers, most recently for EE workers on Tuesday 27 April. BT workers voted overwhelmingly in an indicative ballot in late 2020 for industrial action. There has been an online campaign (“Count Me In”) building support for an apparently imminent ballot. But there is still no timetable for the ballot itself. On 30 April, a CWU statement...

Covid: workers' controls still needed (John Moloney's column)

Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea will strike again from 4-8 May to demand improvements to safety. The branch is committed to taking further action if our demands are not met. Although the Covid numbers are trending the right way, we don’t know when a third wave could hit, how severe it could be, or what might happen with new variants. We need agreements in place now to ensure there aren’t more workers on site than necessary. At its heart this is a fight for a form of workers’ control. We want to ensure a direct say for workers’ representatives in...

NHS protests set for 3 July

Ballot results on NHS pay in Scotland are due in the next few days as we go press. Unison has recommended the 4% offer to its members; RCN and GMB are advising rejection. There has been minimal campaigning during the ballot and so the turnout is likely to be low. Whichever way the vote goes, work will be needed to involve members and raise the activity levels in workplaces. In England and Wales activity on pay in health has gone into a lull as the drawn out Pay Review Board process continues. The Pay Review Board is now expected to report in mid to late June, rather than May as previously...

Royal Mail: union embraces partnership

After a period of turbulence, including an industrial action that was struck down by the courts, the principal Royal Mail union CWU is embracing a partnership approach with the company. A joint online Q&A was held in late April, hosted by the CWU, where both parties answered questions from workers. This love-in failed to deal with the real issues and consisted of vague promises to fix things. The union has lost so much ground over the last 30 years it is unrecognisable from the organisation that once enjoyed real power in the workplace. Its activist base has shrunk dramatically, with what...

DVLA strikes again 4-8 May (John Moloney's column)

Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea will strike again from 4-8 May. We’re continuing to fight there over the fact our members are being compelled to come into the workplace, in a way we believe is unsafe. The employer has made some concessions in negotiations, but these relate mainly to changes in the medium-term future, around greater provision for homeworking. We need action right now — centrally for all on-site working, except for emergency and absolutely essential work, to be suspended. We’re also demanding agreements that will give the union direct...

Regrouping in British Gas

Over 1,000 workers attended an online meeting organised by the GMB union to discuss the next steps in British Gas engineers’ fight over terms and conditions. British Gas used a “fire and rehire” process to dismiss around 500 engineers who refused to sign new contracts that will see workers work longer for less. Union activists estimate that around another 500 workers left the company voluntarily during the dispute. GMB members struck 43 times against the new contracts, which were finally imposed on 14 April. With no negotiated collective agreement in place, GMB can submit a new pay claim. A...

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