Solidarity 231, 25 January 2012

Lecturers' union names new pensions strike date

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 16:04

The Executive of the University and College Union (UCU) has called strike action over public sector pensions for Thursday 1 March.

The vote gives a much-needed lead to the other unions involved in the public sector disputes.

A majority of 24 to 8, with one abstention, backed a motion calling for an escalation of the dispute in colleges and post-92 universities (with members in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme - TPS).

UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt had recommended to the NEC that the union move to ballot members on the current offer in the government’s “Heads of Agreement”. But, as the motion

Student campaign forces Government climbdown

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 15:59

Late on Monday 23 January, the Daily Telegraph website reported that the government has shelved its Higher Education Bill.

This Bill would have made it easier for private, for-profit companies to run courses in UK universities. It will now not be debated until at least 2013, and may be put back even further, or lost altogether. Details are still unclear, but this decision marks a major climbdown for the Government, which is effectively junking a central plank of its education reform policy and stymying the process of privatisation of education. It has been made possible by two years of mass

Unilever workers prepared to take further action

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 15:56

Workers at food and cleaning products manufacturer Unilever have begun an 11-day programme of rolling strike action at sites across the UK in an attempt to defeat bosses’ plans to scrap their final-salary pension schemes. It is the joint strategy of the three unions involved: Unite, USDAW and the GMB.

The plan is a bold move from workers at a company that had never seen strike action until December 2011.

Bob Sutton from Merseyside AWL reports on his visit to a local picket line:

“The picket on the production side of the Unilever plant at Port Sunlight [Merseyside] was around 25 strong on the

No to war and sanctions, no to the Islamic Republic: support Iranian workers!

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 15:54

The EU has agreed an oil embargo on Iran. In response Iran has threatened to close the strait of Hormuz (through which oil supplies pass). The US has said if that happens it could take military action.

The embargo might work, and Iran might back down. However Iran has other customers for its oil.

There is a possibility there will be a stumbling into a war which could ignite a series of other conflicts across the region.

The EU’s embargo comes after months of standoff between Iran and the west over Iran’s nuclear programme. The prospect of the clerical-fascist regime in Iran having a nuclear

Sparks to hit NG Bailey

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 15:39

The rank-and-file committee leading the electricians’ battle against pay cuts and deskilling has declared a week of action targeting NG Bailey, one of the “big seven” contractors threatening to leave the national agreement.

Activists are also building for a massive yes vote in a re-run strike ballot of Unite members working for Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, which closes on 9 February.

For more info, see here.

Lambeth Unison votes to continue pensions fight

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 15:27

A mass members’ meeting of the Lambeth local government branch of public sector union Unison has voted unanimously to reject the government’s pensions deal and back the campaign for a special sector conference within Unison to overturn the Local Government Service Group Executive’s decision to enter negotiations on the government’s terms.

Assistant Branch Secretary Ruth Cashman said: “Our members in Lambeth showed strong support for the strike on 30 November, and we believe that local government workers should remain united with other public sector and private sector workers in pushing for

Oil tanker drivers' seven days of strikes

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 15:24

Oil tanker drivers working out of depots in Immingham, Kingsbury and Stockton-on-Tees have begun a week-long strike against pay cuts and attacks on terms and conditions.

The drivers, who are members of the Unite union, deliver fuel to Jet petrol station forecourts across the UK. The decision to take seven days of action was agreed at a mass members’ meeting on 15 January, and workers will strike until 31 January. The vote to strike was 83% in favour on a 96% turnout.

The workers are employed by logistics firm Wincanton, whose employees in a Marks & Spencer distribution warehouse struck on 22

Heathrow Express strike ballot

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 15:22

Workers on the Heathrow Express (HEX), which provides fast services between central London and Heathrow Airport, began a strike ballot on 19 January.

The ballot is part of a campaign to win the reinstatement of an unfairly-dismissed colleague and to force bosses to cease a campaign of victimisation and harassment of a leading union activist.

Zahid Majid has been sacked by HEX bosses after a minor error, for which he has already taken full responsibility. Trade union rep Liaqat Ali has been subjected to what his union, the RMT, describes as “a barrage of unfounded, spurious and discriminatory

Newsquest national pay battle moves closer

Published on: Wed, 25/01/2012 - 15:06

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chapels in the Newsquest group of papers met for a national “group chapel” on Saturday 21 January to discuss a campaign against the profitable company's attempt to impose a pay freeze.

The journalists are trying to get hold of Newsquest trading figures for their respective areas.

Chapels could launch industrial action ballots around 24 February, when the TUC is organising a “Work your hours” day.

The group chapel was very supportive of Newsquest North and South Essex chapels. They have already launched an industrial dispute against a pay freeze and local

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