Industrial news in brief

Submitted by AWL on 30 October, 2019 - 8:48 Author: Darren Bedford, Ollie Moore and Jay Dawkey

Postal workers are discussing the timing of potential strikes, likely aimed at disrupting “Black Friday” retail deliveries on Friday 29 November, and/or Christmas post, after the Communication Workers Union (CWU) strike ballot returned a 97% majority for action on a 76% turnout.

The CWU’s Head of Communications Chris Webb, in an article for Tribune magazine discussing the successful ballot result, wrote: “Most crucial of all were our 1,250 workplace meetings.

“The explosive combination of the workplace meetings being posted on social media created a competitive feeling in our membership across the UK. 150 members lined up to post their ballots in Warrington, then this was beaten by 200 in Croydon.

“Dancing postal workers in Plymouth were pipped by spiderman posting his vote in Cumbria. Nobody wanted to be left out as members literally queued all over the nation to cast their vote.”

Mediation between Royal Mail and the CWU, which prior agreements require to take place before industrial action is named, is ongoing.

McDonald’s workers to strike

Workers at six London McDonald’s stores will strike on 12 November.

They are demanding a pay increase to £15/hour; the choice of guaranteed hours of up to 40 hours a week; notice of shifts four weeks in advance; recognition of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union; and to be treated with respect and dignity at work.

Workers at stores in Penge, Wandsworth Town, Downham, Balham, Deptford, Catford and Crayford will join other McDonald’s workers across the world in taking action.

This is part of a of a global day of action called by the International Union of Food workers, a global federation of unions organising food workers.

Hospital workers strike for equality

Outsourced workers at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, are striking on 28, 29, and 31 October.

They are demanding greater equality of pay and conditions with directly-employed NHS staff. The workers are employed by Sodexo.

A statement from their union, United Voices of the World, said: “In 2018 alone Sodexo turned a profit of 997 million euros.

Sodexo’s contract with Imperial allowed its former CEO, Michel Landel to enjoy obscene executive pay totalling nearly a million pounds a year and annual bonuses of up to 200% of his salary.

Sodexo and St Mary’s can afford to pay our workers in line with NHS rates and we urge them to do so — otherwise the strikes will continue indefinitely.”

Tube cleaners ballot for strikes

Tube union RMT has begun balloting outsourced cleaners on London Underground for strikes. The ballot commenced on 28 October and will run until 19 November.

The strikes aim to win free travel passes for cleaners; company sick pay; and improved holiday and pension entitlements.

The RMT’s Bakerloo Line branch has passed a resolution calling on the union to ensure maximum financial support for the dispute, including via full strike pay.

RMT reps for directly-employed London Underground staff will meet on 7 November to discuss LU’s latest pay offer, which proposes a four-year deal including a one-hour reduction in the working week over the life of the deal, equating to six additional days off per year. LU proposes to pay for this by offering lower pay increases, of 1.4%, in years two and four.

Rank-and-file bulletin Tubeworker wrote: “Our demand is for a 32-hour week. We should be aiming for something more like an additional rest day every week, not one every two months! We also can’t accept pay increases of 1.4% which are likely to be below inflation.

“[We have] been arguing for some time that our unions should have launched ballots for action. LU is not going to make meaningful concessions except under the pressure of action, so why the delay?”

Meanwhile, RMT is planning a ballot of London Overground workers to resist a planned cut in ticket office opening hours.

A union and community campaign defeated a previous proposal to close ticket offices entirely, but London Overground bosses are now seeking to radically reduce opening hours. An RMT statement said:

“The proposals equate to a cut in hours of over 65% across the Overground. Many stations are facing cuts in hours of over 80%.

“If these cuts go ahead, and many ticket offices are closed for large parts of the day, RMT is concerned that:

• Stations will become less safe, secure and accessible.
• Passengers will not be able to access all ticket types and services at a machine.
• Many people, including some elderly and disabled passengers, would struggle to purchase tickets and get advice.
• It will be easier for London Overground to close more ticket offices and reduce staffing even further in the future.”

The timetable for the ballot has yet to be announced.

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