Solidarity 218, 28 September 2011

Turmoil in civil service union

Published on: Tue, 04/10/2011 - 09:10

The ruling Left Unity faction in the civil service union PCS is in turmoil, with the Socialist Party (the main force in LU) withdrawing support from Jane Aitchison, union president in the union’s most important sector, the Department for Work and Pensions.

Aitchison, a long-time member of the SP, has resigned from it.

The SP has said nothing publicly about this. First reports inside the union were that the SP had turned against Aitchison because she and her partner Rob Williams (also an SP member, and a PCS Exec member) send their daughter to a private school.

Later reports are that the SP

SNP passes on Con-Dem cuts

Published on: Wed, 28/09/2011 - 13:10

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is passing on the Con-Dem cuts and throwing in a few of its own. Pay, pensions, jobs and services were all targeted for cuts in Finance Secretary John Swinney’s first Spending Review earlier this year.

Scotland’s local authority workers already faced a three-year pay freeze. Now, as a result of Swinney’s announcement, the pay of all public sector workers in Scotland is be frozen not only for this year but in 2012 as well.

If there is a pay rise in two years time (a big if), it will certainly be less than the rate of inflation.

With inflation running at over 5%

Site workers gain confidence

Published on: Wed, 28/09/2011 - 13:07

Four hundred workers took part in a protest on Monday 26 September at the Lindsey Oil Refinery as the campaign against the plan by eight big contractors to cut pay for construction electricians continues.

The 400 included some workers from West Burton and Saltend who had taken wildcat strike action to join the protest.

Protests were also held at the Manchester Town Hall construction site and the Tyne Tunnel site in Newcastle (where the tunnel was briefly blockaded) on 22 September.

Workers focused on leafleting workers going into the sites; building up organisation and union membership among

College workers strike in Glasgow

Published on: Wed, 28/09/2011 - 13:01

Unison members in Stow College in Glasgow are beginning a campaign of strike action this week against the imposition of a pay freeze.

The union’s 90 members in the college include learning support workers, administration and clerical workers, caretakers, cleaners and catering workers. Many are low paid, with some earning only slightly more the national minimum wage.

With inflation running at over 5%, electricity and gas prices rising by 18% or more, and the ever-increasing cost of food, the pay freeze being implemented by the college management is, in reality, a pay cut.

Management cannot

Unions hold firm on pensions strike

Published on: Wed, 28/09/2011 - 12:56

Local government unions have vowed to continue building for strike action on 30 November despite new proposals from the Local Government Association intended to soften the blow of Tory pensions reforms.

The plan, which the LGA has presented to the Department for Communities and Local Government, would freeze the proposed increase in employee contributions for two years and provide greater protection for the lower-paid. The scheme also includes an option for workers unable or unwilling to increase their contribution to take a cut in their pension benefits instead.

In the LGA’s letter to Eric

University workers to strike

Published on: Wed, 28/09/2011 - 12:52

Academic workers at 67 of the UK’s biggest universities have voted for a “sustained campaign of industrial action” to resist changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS, the pensions scheme for workers in “traditional” — i.e. pre-1992 — universities).

Bosses want to increase employee contributions, reduce overall pension benefits for new starters and workers made redundant and remove inflation-proofing.

The workers’ union, the University and College Union (UCU), plans an escalating programme of action including working-to-rule, a marking boycott, a full assessment boycott and

Tube: no sell-off for drivers

Published on: Wed, 28/09/2011 - 12:49

London Underground management are attempting to ride roughshod over tube drivers’ terms and conditions as they seek to impose a new working agreement for the London 2012 Olympics.

The new terms include 9-hour shifts at weekends (plus a 30-minute unpaid meal break) and the overriding of local agreements such as the one on the Bakerloo line where drivers currently drive through no more than five tunnels per duty but would be expected to drive through six under the terms of the new deal. Bosses also want the right to change drivers’ duties and rest days at shorter notice than before. The working

Council strikes make their mark

Published on: Wed, 28/09/2011 - 12:46

Council services all over Shropshire were closed on Thursday 22 September as over 1,000 local government workers struck against the council’s cuts plans, which include a proposed pay cut of 5.4%. 500 workers attended a rally at Shirehall in Shrewsbury.

250 striking workers in Birmingham also rallied outside the Liberal Democrat conference on Wednesday 21 September as they walked out in protest at council plans to impose new contracts that could see some workers taking a pay cut of up to 33%. 2,500 workers also struck on Wednesday 21 September in Doncaster, where council bosses plan a pay

BAE job cuts: workers need their own plan

Published on: Wed, 28/09/2011 - 12:42

Arms industry behemoth British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) has announced plans to axe 7.5% of its UK workforce with 3,000 job losses slated, mainly from sites in the north of England.

The BAE factory at Brough, near Hull, will lose 900 workers from a workforce of just 1,300.

Responses from politicians and union officials alike have been mainly characterised by sympathetic but insubstantial grumbling and calls to “mitigate the impact” of cuts. Labour’s Shadow defence minister Jim Murphy MP has described the cuts as a “body blow”. His comment comes soon after a speech at Labour Party conference

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