Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 9 March, 2011 - 2:38

A wildcat strike at a BP plant near Hull has forced management to back down on plans for unilateral redundancies.

The GMB and Unite members, opposed attempts by Redhall (an engineering construction contractor operating on the site) to impose redundancies that were outside the framework of the nationally-bargained collective agreement for the industry. 400 workers walked off the job and blocked the main road into the site, backing up rush-hour traffic.

The strike marks a further flare in militancy in an industry that saw enormous unofficial strikes over similar attempts by bosses to disregard the terms of the national agreement. The strikes, though making necessary a political battle against chauvinistic hostility to migrant workers which threatened to poison the dispute, succeeded in winning significant concessions from management.

Court victories

The RMT has won a major court victory against injunctions preventing a strike on the Docklands Light Railway.

The High Court granted the injunction to Serco Docklands in January 2011 after workers voted by an overwhelming majority to take 48 hours of strike action in a dispute around the victimisation of trade unions reps and what the RMT called “a breakdown in industrial relations”.

Elsewhere on London Underground the RMT plan to escalate the ongoing fight against the sacking of Eamonn Lynch and Arwyn Thomas, two tube drivers victimised for their trade union activity. They plan a ballot of all driver members for strike action. Strikes have previously been limited to drivers on the Bakerloo and Northern lines.

Train drivers’ union ASLEF also won its appeal against an injunction banning strike action by its members working for London Midland.

Jobcentre Plus

The PCS union will ballot its members working in Jobcentre Plus call centres in a “widening” of a dispute that has already seen 2,000 workers take strike action.

Changes in working conditions have already seen nearly 20% of the total workforce leave their jobs since April 2010. The union says this results from a management “obsession” with hitting targets at the expense of quality public service. Conditions are set to worsen as JCP looks to axe nearly 10,000 staff before April 2012.

Rawmarsh

Teachers at Rawmarsh Community School in Rotherham have suspended their strike after winning some concessions from management.

The number of planned redundancies has been reduced from 25 to 7, and a nearby school has also backed off from similar plans as a result of the Rawmarsh strike. Union activists have reaffirmed their commitment to defeating redundancies entirely and are retaining the option to restart their strike action if necessary.

Defend Steve Hedley

RMT London Regional Organiser Steve Hedley has been fined over £700 after allegedly “assaulting” a scabbing manager on a picket line at Mile End station.

Hedley had been attempting to persuade the manager to close the station, which was in use despite not having the legally-required numbers of trained staff to operate safely. Witnesses say that although the exchange was heated, little or no physical contact was made. Steve told Solidarity that he “never expected justice from the bourgeois courts. My case was presided over by a blue-rinse magistrate whose eyes glazed over as soon as she heard ‘RMT’. I was guilty from then on.” Steve plans to appeal against the fine.

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