Strikes and lock-outs

Battles in three bus companies

Bus drivers at Manchester’s Go North West firm are continuing an indefinite strike against worsening conditions imposed via “fire and rehire”. The strike entered its sixth week on 4 April. The drivers’ union, Unite, says the new contracts represent an additional 130 hours of work, equivalent to a pay cut of £2,500. At talks at conciliation service Acas, Unite submitted a counterproposal detailing how the company could save £1.3 million to avoid the contractual changes. Go North West has refused, and has told Unite that, unless workers accept new contracts, it may close down the Queens Road...

DVLA strikes 6-9 April

Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea will strike from 6-9 April. It’s clear from last-ditch talks that the bosses aren’t budging, so strikes will go ahead. The issue is workplace safety; far more workers than strictly necessary have been made to come into the workplace, leading to numerous Covid outbreaks. Our demand is for all workers to be sent home, and for an emergency working arrangement, overseen by union reps, to be agreed which ensures only emergency and essential work is done on-site. Longer term we want investment in equipment and software to...

Thurrock council pay cuts

Council workers in the Unite union in Thurrock, Essex, will strike from 13 April to 7 May, excluding 3 May. The workers, including refuse workers, highway maintenance, and street cleaners, face pay cuts of between £2,000 and £3,500 per year. • Donations to the strike fund can be made to: S/C 60-83-01, A/N 20216557, Name: Unite 1/1152. Messages of solidarity can be sent to willie.howard@unitetheunion.org • More on the dispute in Tribune magazine

British Gas: sackings and strike on 14 April

British Gas engineers in the GMB union will strike for the 43rd time on 14 April, the latest date British Gas has set for the imposition of new contracts. Engineers who have not agreed to the new terms by that date face dismissal, as British Gas uses “fire and rehire” tactics to force through changes. The new contracts were due to be imposed on 1 April, but workers were informed by letter of the extension to 14 April. No reason was given for the change. British Gas says workers who do not accept the new contracts will be dismissed, with pay in lieu of notice, but no redundancy package. Justin...

"We need to develop workers' capacities"

Henry Chango Lopez (pictured above, centre, before the pandemic) is the new General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). He spoke to Sacha Ismail. In recent years the IWGB has had a high profile in part because it’s grown quite a lot when trade unions in general have stagnated. Why is that? It’s really just about the situation of workers at the moment, the way the economy is, outsourcing, precarious employment – these are problems that many unions have not tackled. Unions do not effectively organise workers in these situations. The problem is so wide...

School cleaners' strike wins

Cleaners in the United Voices of the World union (UVW) at La Retraite Catholic girls’ school in south west London have secured a 24% wage increase, full contractual sick pay, and the repayment of withheld wages, just three days into a planned 40-day strike.

The strike, which involved cleaners...

British Gas threatens "fire and rehire" for 31 March

British Gas engineers in the GMB union continued strikes against the imposition of new contracts via “fire and rehire”, from 19-22 March, with further strikes planned on 26-29 March. British Gas says it will dismiss the entire workforce en masse, and rehire only those who have agreed to the new contracts, on 31 March. GMB has advised its members to sign the contracts by 25 March, writing in an email to members: “If you plan to stay with British Gas after March 31 and intend to ultimately sign a new contract, our lawyers’ advice is to do so by noon on March 25 if you want to avoid the loss of...

Metroline bus ballot closes 9 April

A ballot of over 4,000 London bus drivers working for Metroline is continuing. The vote is due to close on 9 April. The dispute centres on the company’s plan to impose a remote sign-on system, which the workers’ union, Unite, says could lead to pay cuts and decreased safety. Meanwhile, drivers working for London United, a subsidiary of French firm RATP, struck again on 17 March, in a dispute over pay and conditions. However, planned strikes of drivers at Quality Line and London Sovereign, also RATP subsidiaries, were called off as Unite began a referendum on the employers’ latest offer. Should...

Heathrow workers plan rolling strikes

Unite has announced 41 strikes across a 23-day period, from 2-25 April, as its members at Heathrow Airport continue to battle the imposition of new contracts via “fire and rehire”. Heathrow Airport Ltd., the principal central employer at the airport, dismissed its entire 4,000-strong workforce and re-engaged them on worse terms and conditions, leaving some workers facing substantial pay cuts. A Unite statement said: “Workers have experienced pay cuts of up to £8,000 (25 per cent of earnings) and report being forced to downsize, move to cheaper areas or give up their car, as a result.” The...

Stand with Myanmar's workers

“One cannot overstate the heroism of the Myanmar union movement right now in the fight against the military dictatorship, nor the horror of the military’s ongoing crimes against humanity.” So wrote Andrew Saks, a US union organiser working in Myanmar, on 19 March. (See Saks' Twitter for regular English-language updates.) There is now a steady flow of killings by the regime. Current estimates in the international media, which Burmese activists say are too low, are around 250. 14 March saw almost a hundred killings, two thirds in the Yangon factory suburb of Hlaing Tharyar. The military is...

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