Harland and Wolff
A hundred and thirty workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast face the loss of their jobs, after the employer went into administration. Workers have occupied the shipyard, demanding it be taken into public ownership. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell visited workers there on Monday 5 August. The Unite union has argued the yard’s productive capacity could be used to manufacture renewable energy infrastructure.
EMT out again on 17 August
Guards on East Midlands Trains, soon to be East Midlands Railway, struck for a third successive Saturday on 3 August.
The past two strikes have been well supported; EMT can only operate a much reduced service by drafting in its own and other companies’ managers to operate the train doors and perform platform duties.
The dispute is over EMT’s unilateral imposition of a 25% pay cut for guards in their first year, a failure on their part to fix the quota of “five day” guards at each depot and implement progression to “four day” link arrangements.
There is also an issue with “Pink days”, extra days that have to be worked to make up a shortfall in rostered hours.
As Stagecoach/EMT will be handing over the franchise on 18 August there doesn’t seem to be any desire from them to end the dispute.
Before the first strike they said they couldn’t attend last minute talks because there was nobody available on the management side. That position seems to have hardened with management withdrawing the role of full time union convenor yesterday. This could be a case of the old HR director (EMT), who becomes the new HR director (EMR), trying to firm up their position in the new company.
In any case we should add the reinstatement of the convenor role to our list of demands to settle the dispute.
To welcome the new owners on 18 August we have announced another strike for the previous day.
Multiple disputes on the Tube
Train drivers on London Underground’s Victoria Line are set to strike, after drivers in the RMT union voted unanimously, on a 62% turnout, for industrial action.
Members of the driver-only union Aslef also returned a majority for action on a 75% turnout.
Both unions are in dispute over the conduct of local depot managers, with drivers saying a culture of enforced overtime and overbearing discipline has developed. RMT says its reps were denied time to properly scrutinise new duty sheets, which management plan to impose.
The dispute mirrors a similar campaign on the Central Line, where RMT driver members have also returned a majority for strikes. The rank-and-file bulletin Tubeworker has called for the disputes and action to be coordinated.
On 14 August, shortly after Solidarity went to press, RMT members across all grades within London Underground were due to meet to discuss the ongoing talks with Tube bosses over pay and conditions.
All four Tube unions (RMT, Aslef, TSSA, and Unite) have demanded a 32-hour working week (currently 35 for full-time staff). Tube bosses have refused to engage with this demand, insisting their coffers are empty, despite London Underground posting an operating surplus of hundreds of millions of pounds per year.
Bosses insist the money is spoken for, citing a Transport for London policy to use LU’s surplus for such things as subsidising privatised bus companies.
Tubeworker has been arguing for some months that the unions should move to a network-wide ballot on these issues, given that the previous deal on pay and conditions expired in April.
RMT is also gearing up to ballot its outsourced cleaner members for strikes to win travel passes, company sick pay, improved holiday and pension arrangements, and the reversal of job cuts.