Privatisation

Victory at Sage care home

Strikes by care workers at the Sage care home in north London have won significant pay increases. From 1 December, care workers, domestic, and maintenance staff will receive a pay increase to ÂŁ10.85 an hour. This represents a minimum pay increase of 11%. All other staff will receive a pay rise of 5%. The dispute at the care home began in March 2020, and has seen workers, who are members of the United Voices of the World union (UVW) strike several times, most recently in October 2021. Trustees of the care home include property magnate Benzion Freshwater, who has a net worth of over ÂŁ2 billion...

Royal Parks: an interim advance (John Moloney's column)

Outsourced cleaners and attendants in the Royal Parks have voted to accept a settlement in their dispute. A vote was held at a meeting on 18 November, with a follow-up check of members who couldn’t attend. It vastly improves sick pay arrangements, and enhances holiday pay. It also recognises the union, and several workers have come forward to be elected as reps. Although a clear victory, this is an interim settlement. There are many outstanding issues and other demands that workers want to press for, including issues regarding their contracts, health and safety and other matters. Another key...

Near victory in Royal Parks dispute

Last week I wrote that one of our members in the Royal Parks dispute was facing victimisation. Until that threat was lifted we couldn’t settle the dispute. The good news is that the threat of dismissal has now been withdrawn, and the member’s probation period has been extended, which is the outcome he was looking for. That means we can move forward with discussion around the employer’s offer. That offer includes the recognition of PCS, significant enhancement of sick pay arrangements, and improvements in many contractual terms. We’ll discuss the offer with members at a meeting on Thursday 18...

How to clean the stables of capitalism

Corruption. Conservatives. And the other big c-word here, really, is contracting-out. Contracting-out of public functions has expanded hugely over decades, since the 1980s. It generates lush and repeated profit-chances for those who can make the introductions, drop words in the right ears, or just give inside knowledge on the right notes to strike in applications. The squall about sleaze set off by the affair of paid-lobbying MP Owen Paterson comes on the back of two great contracting-out scandals which, somehow, so far, the Tories had managed to navigate with little punishment. The PPE...

Diary of an engineer: Bin strike - “Someone must be bullshitting”

The ERF [Energy Recovery Facility] where we work is fuelled and funded by bin waste. In a series of morning meetings, we’ve heard that the city’s refuse collection workers are taking strike action over pay and conditions. The first strike day [scheduled for 1 November] was called off after the company made a pay offer, but the GMB drivers’ branch rejected it. The following week, workers and managers at the ERF began discussing the effect on the plant. Management estimate (or at least tell us that they estimate) a small reduction in waste. Other waste streams will be tipped at the plant as...

Sticking issue in Royal Parks

In my last column, I reported that the month-long strike by outsourced workers in Royal Parks had forced a major concession, with Just Ask, the outsourced contractor, proposing to increase sick pay entitlement from six days to a maximum of three months, depending on length of service. But they wanted a whole range of differentials to apply, so that only certain workers would get the increased sick pay. They have now backed down from that, so length of service will be the only variable affecting sick pay entitlement. Obviously, the ideal would be maximum entitlement for all workers from day one...

A union policy on climate (John Moloney's column)

I spoke at an online members’ meeting about the union’s climate change activity on Tuesday 26 October. Although much of the discussion understandably focused on the upcoming COP26 conference, I was keen to emphasise that the real fight for us is after COP, both industrially, in terms of organising around decarbonisation demands in civil service workplaces, and politically, in terms of pressuring the government to take radical action. The government has no serious plan, either as an employer, for the decarbonisation of government workplaces, or at societal level for meeting its targets for...

Sage workers boosted by GOSH win

Workers at the Sage care home in north London struck from 20-22 October, as part of their ongoing fight for higher wages and improved conditions. The workers are demanding a pay increase to £12 per hour, as well as parity with NHS staff terms on sick pay and annual leave. They also want paid breaks on night shifts, and unsocial hours pay for weekend and night working. The strike saw a lively picket at the workplace, as well as a demonstration outside the head offices of Freshwater, the property conglomerate whose owner, Benzion Freshwater, is on Sage’s board of trustees. Care worker Bile, who...

Signs of movement at Royal Parks

Our outsourced worker members in Royal Parks, who have been on strike for the entirety of October, may be close to a breakthrough in their dispute. The latest communication we’ve received from their employer, the outsourced contractor Just Ask, suggests they are prepared to agree a recognition agreement. They have also abandoned their initial plans for job cuts of up to one third, although obviously we will push them to commit to no cuts at all. We are hopeful for progress on other issues, such as sick pay, too. Throughout the dispute, we have sought ways to pressure not only Just Ask but...

Green reps for PCS?

One of my briefs as Assistant General Secretary is to oversee the union’s work on climate change. With the COP26 conference coming up, we’re mobilising members to attend demonstrations and take part in actions around the country. We also want to use COP as impetus to build up a network of “green reps” throughout the union, with at least one in every branch. Longer term, we want to push for employers to recognise these reps. Climate change can’t be treated as an issue “out there”, it’s something we have to organise around as an industrial issue in our own workplaces. I want to see green reps...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.