Industrial news in brief

Submitted by AWL on 16 January, 2019 - 9:24 Author: Ollie Moore, Darren Bedford and Jay Dawkey

Deliveroo riders in Bristol will strike on Friday 18 January, demanding higher pay and other demands which managers have repeatedly ignored. This follows a national courier strike on October 4, and a spontaneous strike in Bristol on December 11, which brought Bristol Deliveroo to a standstill.

Riders are only paid per delivery, not guaranteed a minimum wage per hour or any workers rights. Hourly and weekly pay have steadily reduced. They plan repeated and escalating strikes until they win their demands. Many struggle financially to participate. They're planning to build a strike fund — watch this space and start planning fundraisers now!

Food factory workers strike

Workers at a food factory in Holme¬on¬Spalding-Moor, East Yorkshire began a fourday strike on 12 January, demanding an improved pay offer. Bosses at the factory, which makes ingredients for chocolate manufacture, have offered a 2% pay rise, which the workers’ union, Unite, says fails to keep pace with rising living costs.

The union is demanding a 3.5% increase. The strike is due to finish on 15 January.

Outsourced workers strike for wages

Outsourced cleaners, catering workers, and security staff at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) are set to strike from 21¬23 January, with outsourced workers at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) striking on 22 January. The workers, who are employed by agencies including Aramark and Engie, are demanding the London living wage of £10.55. Most are currently paid around £9.

MoJ workers are organised by the United Voices of the World union, with outsourced staff at BEIS in the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS). The strike is significant as a rare instance of explicitly coordinated action between a “mainstream”, TUC-affiliated union and a smaller, “independent” union.

An MoJ worker told the Guardian, “Some of us have worked here for 10 years, all we’re asking for is a wage that allows us to make ends meet and live with a little more dignity. Is that too much to ask from the Ministry of so¬called Justice?”

Birmingham bin workers work to rule

Birmingham bin workers launched a work¬to-rule and overtime ban on 29 December, in a sequel to a long¬running dispute fought in 2017. The workers’ union, Unite, says additional payments were given to members of the GMB union, which did not support the dispute, for not participating in the strike, arguing that this amounts to a form of blacklisting of Unite members.

The action is already having a huge impact, with bags of rubbish mounting up on streets. A union statement said: “Unite members have no wish to inflict disruption and upset to the people of Birmingham, but they have no option but to take action to protect their collective rights. The blame for this dispute lies squarely at the door of the council.” Members of Unison, which has a small membership within refuse services, also recently voted to take industrial action alongside Unite members.

Tube station workers make gains on staffing

London Underground workers at five stations on the Bakerloo Line forced concessions on staffing from Tube bosses after
naming strikes on 26 December and 14 January.

Both strikes were eventually suspended after bosses committed to cover all shifts on stations and fill job vacancies. They have also promised a review of the staffing levels at each station. RMT members elsewhere on London Underground
stations are now considering similar disputes to demand improvements to the staffing level.

An RMT rep told Solidarity:

“Union reps and activists on the Bakerloo Line organised an outgoing, assertive campaign to win the strike ballot vote, returning an excellent result. Naming two strike dates was enough to force significant concessions from management.
We can now use the review to press the case for additional staff, and with a ballot mandate remaining live for six months, we can take action in future if necessary.”

A strike by driver members of the RMT union on London Underground’s Central Line, planned for 22 December, was called off after management presented new evidence in a case involving a driver dismissed after a disputed drugs test. RMT says it will now pursue the case via an Employment Tribunal, including challenging LU’s refusal to present the evidence until the 11th hour. A wider dispute over management bullying on the Central Line remains live, with RMT driver reps due to meet to discuss ongoing strategy.

RMT has also submitted its pay claim to London Underground, where workers’ deal on pay, terms, and conditions is due to expire in April 2019. The claim demands a “substantial pay award”, with a guaranteed minimum flat-rate increase for the lowest-paid, and a reduction in the working week to 32 hours. However, many RMT activists are unhappy that the claim does not specify that the minimum flat-rate increase should be at least £2,000, a figure which many RMT branches called for in a consultation exercise the union ran to inform the content of the claim. Some activists now say they plan to propose addenda to the claim to clarify this demand.

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