Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 12 June, 2013 - 12:48

Teachers at Bishop Challoner School in East London have voted by a 95% majority to strike against management practises described by many teachers as “bullying”, and the victimisation of a National Union of Teachers rep, with a strike due on 19 June.

The victimisation is the latest episode in a string of attacks by management, which have accelerated since a successful action by the NUT group in the school to scupper a “mock Ofsted” inspection, planned by management without consultation and against the wishes of staff. One young teacher said: “We’ve got to go out. I’ve been waiting so long for this.”

Teachers across the whole of London will also march and rally on 25 June, ahead of the NUT and NASUWT’s regional strike in northwest England on 27 June.

The demonstration assembles at 5pm at Westminster Cathedral Plaza and will march to the Department of Education, before a rally at 6.30pm in the Emmanuel Centre.

All-out strikes in Brighton

Brighton Council’s CityClean workers returned a massive 96% majority in their ballot for strikes against pay cuts.

The workers, some of whom face a cut of up to ÂŁ4,000 from their take-home pay, have been conducting a successful work-to-rule since Friday 10 May, which has seen rubbish pile up around Brighton. The work-to-rule followed a two-day wildcat sit-down strike and occupation of the staff canteen.

The workers have announced a week of all-out strikes from 14 June and elected a strike committee to oversee the action.

One worker told Solidarity: “We never really doubted getting a yes, but it’s a cracking result and we’re really chuffed that all our hard work paid off.”

The workers’ position is to not accept a single penny off their pay packet. CityClean workers have already faced £7.5 million “efficiency savings” and a three-year pay freeze.

The action has already caused significant ructions inside the Green Party, with unpopular council leader Jason Kitcat facing rebellions from inside his own ranks.

Over 1,500 people have signed a petition to support the workers, who returned an 89% satsifaction rating in a 2012 council survey of local residents.

On Tuesday 11 June, the council backed down from plans to use agency labour during the strike. The GMB has said it will attend talks in the days before the strike, but said that “substantial movement” would be required from the council to avert industrial action.

For updates, see here and follow @gmbcityclean on Twitter.

RMT puts brakes on Northern Rail strike

The Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers union (RMT) decided not to call strikes on Northern Rail in a dispute over casualisation, after signing an agreement with management which offered some concessions on ongoing issues.

The company has agreed to changes or reviews on issues including concessionary travel and rostering systems. A communiqué from management to Northern Rail staff said the resolved items were “relatively minor in the scheme of things”.

The central issue in the dispute, however, was Northern Rail’s use of agency staff, through the Trainpeople and G4S agencies. Although Northern Rail has committed to not expanding the use of agency staff during the current franchise, they did not commit to taking on agency staff as direct employees when the current Trainpeople contract expires in July 2013. The union also agreed that Northern Rail may have to employ some agency staff on a shot-term basis, and that it would be involved in planning and consultation as and when this was necessary. Management’s statement boasts of how they successfully “resisted [union] demands” to employ the agency workers.

The agreement has left some Northern Rail workers frustrated. Workers voted by a 58% majority to strike over the issue, and while some activists felt that the narrow majority and the failure of other rail unions TSSA and ASLEF to join the fight made the strength of any potential strike doubtful, others feel that this does not justify endorsing an inadequate agreement.

One RMT activist told Solidarity: “Sometimes you have to be honest and say that you don’t have the strength to pull off a solid strike, but that doesn’t mean you have to positively endorse a particular agreement with management.

“We balloted to strike against the use of agency labour and for the direct employment of all agency workers, and instead we’ve signed up to a deal that accepts agency labour and says the union will help management plan when to use it.”

The RMT’s Executive agreed to endorse the deal with only one vote against.

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