Pay, hours, conditions

Make Labour fight for “grand schemes”!

Both the government and the scientists who criticise it say that finding people with Covid-19 symptoms, testing to confirm, tracing their close contacts, and getting sufferers and contacts to self-isolate, is central to controlling the virus. Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds told the Marr show on Sunday 5 June: “I’m not going to say to you that Labour is going to be advocating some massive grand scheme right at this moment when social care is in crisis”. But we need grand schemes exactly at this time of crisis! The Tories’ floundering has imposed a massive grand Covid-19 death toll, threatens a massive grand risk of a whole new second wave of the virus, and is generating massive grand job cuts.

Support the Tower Hamlets workers!

Thousands of council workers in Tower Hamlets struck on 3-6-7 July against mass sackings and the imposition of new, significantly worse terms and conditions under the “Tower Rewards” scheme. As we go to press Tower Hamlets Unison reps have been meeting to discuss their next steps. There may be more strikes in the week starting 13 July. Picket organisers reported a strong strike turnout and good numbers at socially distanced pickets across the borough, plus many more members “striking from home”. Refuse workers organised by Unite and GMB supported the action, and some refused to cross picket...

University staff rally against cuts

On 25 June, over 500 people attended an online rally jointly organised by branches of the University and College Union (UCU) at Imperial College, SOAS, Roehampton and Liverpool Universities in parallel with socially-distanced protests in Liverpool and London. Those institutions are facing some of the harshest cuts in the university sector. Management at Reading have threatened to sack the entire workforce and rehire only those prepared to accept inferior terms and conditions. Roehampton staff have been asked to take a voluntary pay cut, and a redundancy scheme is up and running. Their branch...

British Airways threatens to fire and rehire

British Airways has seized on the pandemic crisis to attack the terms and conditions of its entire workforce. Using the claim that they need to impose redundancies, they are attempting to fire and re-hire every BA worker. Only weeks into the furlough scheme, with the state picking up almost the whole wage bill for BA staff, the company issued redundancy notices to 42,000 staff, with a deadline of 14 June to accept a wholescale change to their contracts and pay. BA was one of the first companies to argue that the lockdown left them no choice but to cut jobs and wages. Unite, the main union in...

Support cleaners' fight for dignity and fair pay

On 4-5 June 17 cleaners at Ark’s Globe Academy, just south of the Elephant and Castle in Southwark, South London, walked out over unpaid and underpaid wages. The workers are members of the small, radical, United Voices of the World (UVW) union. Their employer, the cleaning company Ridgecrest, seems to have now addressed some of the issues of money owed. Nevertheless some of these badly paid workers had faced the threat of eviction for non-payment of rent as a result of not being paid properly and on time. The workers are now fighting for the London Living Wage, which would represent a...

Support the Tower Hamlets strikers

On 6 July, Tower Hamlets Labour council intends to implement a plan, “Tower Rewards”, to sack its entire 4,000-strong workforce — carers, caretakers, children’s centre workers, housing and homelessness workers, refuse workers, cleaners, social workers, teaching assistants and many, many others — and re-employ only those who will accept substantially worse terms and conditions. Key elements include reducing severance pay on redundancy; a longer working week; ending automatic incremental pay progression; cutting shift, premium and overtime payments; and abolishing the flexi scheme. So much for...

NEU and the Tower Hamlets dispute

Tower Hamlets council has re-started the process of imposing a cut in workers' conditions, and Unison has declared strikes on 3, 6, and 7 July. Shamefully, the leadership of Tower Hamlets NEU have demobilised their membership.

Organise to make the future safe and equal for all

The great wave of street protests after the killing of George Floyd on 25 May still continues, but the pace looks like slowing. Activists will be thinking about how they can continue their efforts over the months and years needed to win and consolidate change. That this killing has generated so broad a protest must be partly because a pandemic which has hit the worst-off hardest everywhere, and a wave of job cuts which has done similar, especially in the USA, are in everyone's minds.

Goldsmiths action grows

Fixed term teaching staff have joined the marking boycott at Goldsmiths, started by Associate Lecturers (ALs) and Graduate Trainee Tutors (GTTs). They are also “working to rule”, performing only contractual duties. The college, part of University of London, has been planning cuts since the start of the year and wants to sack 163 academics on fixed term contracts and 309 ALs and GTTs. The college is putting through the sacking by allowing the contracts of these staff to expire. According to research by staff at Goldsmiths, around 75% of those being laid off are from a BME background. That is a...

Dying for sick pay (John Moloney's column)

On Monday 15 June, PCS launched our new campaign, “Dying for Sick Pay”, with an online rally. The demand of this campaign is for equal terms and conditions for outsourced workers, specifically full occupational sick pay from day one. Early on in the pandemic, we secured an agreement with the Cabinet Office that outsourced workers would be paid in full for sickness and self isolation, but on some contracts this simply wasn’t enforced, such as OCS at the Ministry of Justice, where Emanuel Gomes tragically died after working through his symptoms, because he couldn’t afford to live on Statutory...

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