Pensions

Solidarity with the strikes in France

Published on: Thu, 09/01/2020 - 10:44
Author

Martin Thomas

Labour for a Socialist Europe organised a demonstration at the French Embassy in London on 8 January in solidarity with the strikes against pension cuts in France.

“No retreat, no truce!” say French strikers

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2020 - 12:48
Author

Sacha Ismail

As we go to press, 7 January, the French government is sitting down with the various union federations to discuss the ongoing dispute over its pension “reforms”.

The government hopes that a few limited or even cosmetic concessions will be enough to peel away some unions and begin to the mass strikes and protests that have swept France since early December.

It is standing firm on its central policy of changing how the level of public-sector pensions is calculated and introducing disadvantages for those who won’t retire later (64, as against 62 now). Many private sector pensions are also tied

Preparing a counter-offensive

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2020 - 09:14
Author

John Moloney

The key thing the union must consider now, in light of the general election, is how we prepare against a likely onslaught against both unions in general, and our members specifically as government workers.

Dominic Cummings has talked about a “radical reshaping” of the civil service. Whatever the precise detail of that reshaping will be, it’s inevitable that it will impact on our members.

It’s common under new governments that some departments will merge, and new ones may form; that’s normal practice, but a restructure in the hands of a government like this, and led by someone like Cummings,

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2020 - 09:01
Author

Ollie Moore

Rail union RMT has begun re-balloting its members on South Western Railway (SWR) for further industrial action to defend the role of the guard. SWR guards concluded a month-long strike on 1 January, and are now re-balloting as the six-month mandate of their current ballot, stipulated by anti-trade union legislation, has now expired.

The new ballot closes on 23 January. If it returns a majority and meets the required thresholds, SWR guards could take further action. No direct negotiations have been held between SWR and RMT since November.

Elsewhere, RMT members on the Tyne and Wear Metro struck

New university strikes from 20 February

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 09:01

A sectoral conference for University and College Union (UCU) members working in universities in the USS pension scheme, where workers struck in November and December, has voted for an escalation of the strike, passing a proposal to strike for two weeks from 20 February.

The Higher Education Committee of the union will now ratify that proposal.

That does leave a big gap between the end of the last strike and the next, but many universities have exams through January, so striking then wouldn’t have any impact on teaching. Negotiations are ongoing; the fact of a further planned strike will

Mass strikes in France

Published on: Thu, 12/12/2019 - 16:36
Author

Luke Neal

There have been mass strikes and a wave of working class protests since Thursday 5 December in France.

According to the police there were over 800,000 demonstrators on Thursday. The marches of strikers on 10 December – attended by 339,000 according to the Interior, or 885,000 in the unions’ estimation – is a show of continuing determination. The CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, MNL, UNEF and UNL have jointly appealed for further strikes on 12 December and on Tuesday 17.

By any measure, there have been powerful strikes in key sectors. The overall mobilisation in workplaces is of a depth and dynamism

Unis out from 25 November

Published on: Wed, 20/11/2019 - 13:02
Author

Dan Davison

Members of the University and College Union (UCU), the national union for academic staff in the UK, are set to strike at 60 universities for eight days between 25 November and 4 December 2019.

This follows a highly successful pair of strike ballots among UCU members in higher education: one on pensions, the other on pay, equality, casualisation, and workloads.

The pensions strike continues the long-running dispute over proposed cuts to the United Superannuation Scheme (USS), the main pension plan in the “pre-92” universities.

The pay dispute affects both the “pre-92” and “post-92” universities

Strikes at Virgin, West Midlands, South Western Railway

Published on: Wed, 06/11/2019 - 07:39
Author

Ollie Moore and Jay Dawkey

Rail union RMT has called strikes on Virgin Trains, West Midlands Trains, and South Western Railway (SWR).

On the latter, the union has named a calendar of strikes throughout November and December, which will see walkouts on 16, 23, and 30 November, and 7, 14, 21, and 28 December. West Midlands Trains is the latest Train Operating Company to see its workers plan industrial action over the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO).

On Virgin Trains, train managers, a grade of customer-facing train crew, on the West Coast franchise will strike on 19 November to demand the reinstatement of an

RATP

French metro workers strike

Published on: Mon, 16/09/2019 - 13:57

This report on the Paris metro workers’ strike appeared in the newspaper of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) on 18 September and was translated from the French by Luke Neal.

A strike on RATP (the Paris metro) has got the the ball rolling in the fight against pension reforms in France. After 12 years of lethargy - at least on the surface - the strike has made a smashing comeback in Parisian transport: 100% of strikers on the metro, 60% on buses and in maintenance workshops. The capital was paralysed on Friday 13 September. Well dug, you old mole!

Two days earlier, the traffic forecasts announced by the management had had the effect of a bomb, triggering the media comedy: RATP agents would be privileged, retiring on average with 3700 euros!

“3700 euros? I earn 2000 euros by working staggered hours and public holidays with work periods of 6 days in a row!” corrects a striking driver interviewed during the rally in front of the company headquarters. “Retirement at age 50? A legend. Many leave at 58. Not to mention the stories of the reductions, ” confirms another.

The work regime is no longer so special, except for the lower starting age. Leaving early, but with what? Since the contribution period is the same as for all employees, the reduction works to penalise earlier retirement through a lower pension for the same contribution. The pension is calculated over the last 6 months – a ‘speciality’ that still concerns more than 5.5 million civil servants.

“Isn't it fair, the six-month calculation? But everyone should have the last six months!” “If they want to make a unique retirement, let them do it to those at the top: they can lower their own benefits. Working? Alright, but not to death!” These are the words of strikers, who had only one thing in mind on Friday 13: what further action should the movement take?

Strikers said: “It is up to the base to decide what to do next. I agree to be led, but the unions must not sign anything without consulting us.”

“In 2007 we felt betrayed by the unions. I am a CGT union member but I am still bitter. We want our decisions to be taken up. Anyway, we're going to converge [struggles]. In 1995, we were converging – that’s what made us strong. There's no secret, we can't fight off the pension reforms alone.”

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Industrial news in brief

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

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

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