Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 1 March, 2013 - 6:06

150 people demonstrated at London Metropolitan University (LMU) in solidarity with victimised trade unionists Max Watson and Jawad Botmeh as they faced a hearing on Monday 18 February.

Max and Jawad, who are activists in Unison, are suspended from their jobs because of alleged “gross misconduct”.

A statement from the union branch said: “Thank you to all those who attended the lobby and helped to publicise it and build support. The huge turnout sends a strong message to university management that we will not tolerate victimisation and intimidation of trade union members.”

University management has continued its offensive against trade unionists at the institution and has also suspended Professor Steve Jefferys of the Working Lives Research Institute.

Tube drivers' safety fight

Tube drivers demonstrated at Queen’s Park station in northwest London on Friday 23 February as part of an ongoing campaign about passenger safety.

Drivers on the Bakerloo Line have been refusing to take trains into sidings or depots until they have performed manual detrainment checks (which were previously performed by station staff, before staffing cuts). Over 3,000 passengers have been overcarried into sidings or depots, including a 12-year old boy who wandered out of a train onto live track before being rescued by a driver.

Since the industrial action, which involves members of the Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers union (RMT) and drivers’ union ASLEF, began in January, London Underground has consistently misinformed passengers about the real cause of the delays on the Bakerloo Line.

An RMT statement said: “After the Queen’s Park incident, drivers decided that we were no longer prepared to go along with London Underground’s dangerous policy. Both our unions — RMT and ASLEF — balloted us for industrial action, and since 15 January, we have been insisting on checking that our trains are empty before we take them into sidings or depots.

This is what has caused the delays. We are not striking, and we are not demanding higher pay. We are insisting on a procedure for taking trains out of service that is safe for passengers and staff.”

“You could easily miss an announcement to get off the train, and get ‘overcarried’ into a depot or sidings. London Underground claims that new barriers between the carriages make it impossible to escape from the train and that therefore it is safe for passengers to be accidentally taken into depots and sidings. This is not true.

“We have tried to persuade London Underground to bring back the station staff it got rid of, to carry out the checks without delaying the service. There are 33 laid-off agency workers who want to work for London Underground and can do this work.

“But London Underground is not listening. When we discussed the dispute at ACAS, London Underground offered little more than to make more announcements!”

Unite derecognised by Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Yorkshire Ambulance Service have derecognised Unite, which represents around 400 workers within the service.

The derecognition came shortly after the imposition of the Trust’s reorganisation of front line workers, including the downbanding of Assistant Practitioners, who work alongside paramedics and technicians on emergency ambulances. The downbanding will give a less skilled response in emergency situations.

Unite had opposed the plan and had a strong indicative vote for industrial action. The branch committee of Unison, the biggest union with around 3,000 members, had not recommended rejection of the plan, resulting in a 59% acceptance on a low 30% turnout. Rumours that the derecognition had been part of a deal with the Unison leadership have been denied.

Since the derecognition, Unite’s membership in the Trust has grown significantly, although Unite has not used this on the ground to launch any significant campaign for re-recognition or for action against the attacks on pay and conditions.

Post Office strike ballot

The Communication Workers Union has begun balloting 4,000 of its members who work in Post Offices for strikes.

The workers, who have been waiting for an annual pay offer since April 2012, recently received what CWU officer Andy Furey called “the most appalling pay proposal I have seen in 20 years of being on the union's executive”.

The Post Office also plans to close 70 Crown offices (offices which are directly managed by Post Office Ltd., rather than subpostmasters or franchisees), risking 700 jobs.

The ballot opened on Friday 22 February and will run until Friday 8 March.

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