Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 10 September, 2014 - 2:05

The Hands Off London Transport coalition plans a day of action for 16 September, involving leafleting, petitioning, and demonstrations at Tube stations.

The action will coincide with the introduction of contactless payment technology on the Tube which unions say will lead to problems for both passengers and staff.

The HOLT coalition want to raise the profile of cuts as a political issue, mobilise community direct action against them, and pressure GLAs and London MPs to take a stand on the issue.

London Underground management insists it will push ahead with plans to cut 953 jobs and close all ticket offices across the network. Tube union RMT called off a planned overtime ban and boycott of “development days” for Station Supervisors after management threatened legal action. Smaller union TSSA backed down from calling action after management agreed to postpone the assessment element of the “development days”.

The London Transport Region of the RMT recently passed policy in favour of joining the public sector pay strike. Some activists in the region are pushing for the union to act sooner.

BBC workers to strike

Members of the media union BECTU at the BBC will strike in September against job cuts.

The BBC plans 415 job cuts in BBC News, and although it promises to create 195 new ones, BECTU says it has received no guarantees that compulsory redundancies will be avoided.

Members of the National Union of Journalists have also voted for strikes.

Unions are seeking a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.

While voluntary redundancy schemes are preferable to bosses sacking existing workers, unions should set their sights higher. A “no compulsory redundancies” position keeps any dispute on management’s terrain, haggling over how job cuts are administered, rather than whether jobs should be cut at all.

BECTU says it will name strike dates soon. NUJ has already announced a work-to-rule and a boycott of a management appraisal process.

Strike at Heathrow Airport

Baggage handlers at London's Heathrow Airport will strike on Friday 12 September.

Their employer has offered a 5.5% pay deal over two years, which the workers' union, Unite, says will not keep pace with the soaring cost of living.

The strike will involve workers at Terminals 1, 2, and 3.

21 more strike days for Care UK

Care UK strikers celebrated their 60th day of strike action for a living wage on Friday 5 September.

Workers have been picketing Care UK offices in Doncaster daily, as well as travelling the country to speak at meetings or picket other Care UK offices. On 9 September they joined care workers in Barnet, who are also on strike over pay, for a joint rally and fundraising social.

Management recently made an offer in two parts. 2% pay rise to non-TUPE staff which equates to just 14p increase per hour. 0% for TUPE staff, with a vague commitment to raise pay by the same level as other NHS staff in 2015 (i.e. not much). There was no commitment to move towards a living wage.

The negotiators, members of the shop stewards’ committee, refused to give any response to the offer. It will be put to the next strike rally for a vote. They will be recommending to reject the offer.

Strikers have voted for a further 21 days of strike action.

Defend Julie Davies!

In July this year, Labour-run Haringey Council suspended the Borough’s National Union of Teachers Secretary Julie Davies.

The council is responding to pressure from some local headteachers who were refusing to sign up to an agreement on facility time while Julie Davies was in post.

In a letter from those heads to the council they say that “Ms Davies’ preferred approach and working style is one of confrontation and obfuscation.”

Haringey Council suspended Davies for “gross misconduct”, pending an investigation.

This is an attack on NUT members’ democratic right to elect their own trade union representatives, and an attempt to intimidate Julie Davies, who has been involved in recent high-profile campaigns in the Borough against forced academisation.

During the campaign to stop Downhills primary school from forced academisation, Gove described Davies, other campaigners and parents as “enemies of promise”. One local head of governors disgracefully compared her to Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering.

At the end of July, the NUT gave Haringey two weeks to drop the suspension, or face legal action “as Ms Davies is not centrally employed, and so could not be suspended by the council — only by the school where she works.” The union will now challenge the council in the High Court.

The suspension of Julie Davies, a Labour member, has caused anger inside the Labour Party. A motion condemning the suspension passed unanimously at Davies' own Tottenham Constituency Labour Party.

On 5 August the NUT wrote to schools asking them to clarify their position on facility time or the union “will have no option but to consider balloting our members for strike action in those schools.”

The union should not rely on the High Court to protect trade union rights and should ballot members as soon as possible in schools where no agreement on facility time is forthcoming.

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