Strikes and lock-outs

University workers strike, students occupy in solidarity

Published on: Wed, 04/12/2019 - 16:09

University workers strike

By Ollie Moore

The strikes by higher education workers in the University and College Union (UCU) around pensions, pay, and workload, running from 25 November to 4 December, have seen significant student support.

A UCU striker in Cambridge sent this report of picketing at his university to Solidarity:

“There was a much noisier response from the road traffic today [27 November] where the West Cambridge picket is based. Possibly a sign that locally the news that a major strike is going on has got through.

“It genuinely also felt like fewer people were crossing our picket

Outsourced and directly employed workers unite at UCL

Published on: Wed, 04/12/2019 - 16:05

4 December will see a mass strike at University College London, as outsourced workers in the Independent Workers’ union of Great Britain (IWGB) strike to demand direct employment and equality, alongside directly-employed workers in UCU, striking as part of the national dispute.

The two unions have worked well together locally, with UCU supporting the IWGB’s campaign, including a recent demonstration and its previous strike on 19 November. This unity is a model for elsewhere, with unions organising outsourced and directly-employed workers working together to coordinate action.

The ultimate aim

Court rejects CWU appeal

Published on: Wed, 04/12/2019 - 15:58

Ollie Moore

On 28 November the High Court rejected an appeal by postal workers’ union CWU against the injunction granted to prevent strikes by Royal Mail workers.

A union statement said: “We have just left the High Court. Our appeal was dismissed. Six hours of evidence and they took two minutes to come to a decision. The justice system in this country is an absolute farce.”

Following the rejection of the appeal, most CWU activists think the union will now move quickly to organise a new ballot for industrial action. Some postal workers are discussing an unofficial “work-to-rule” over the Christmas period –

UCU Strike Bulletin: Build the rank and file! (November 2019)

Published on: Mon, 02/12/2019 - 16:02

AWL members in the University and College Union

Click here to download this bulletin as a PDF. This was modified slightly after the climate strike - download the old one here.

Build the rank and file!

The election of Jo Grady as UCU General Secretary earlier this year was a big step forward for the union.

The previous leadership had a record of compromising too soon in disputes and had never delivered the support for workplace organising needed to change the power balance in universities. Electing officials and NEC members committed to a more combative approach to organising is important, but it’s not sufficient, or an end in itself.


Labour must back UCU strike!

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2019 - 18:29

Ollie Moore

Above: UCU picket lines in Nottingham. At centre-right, holding the “four fights” placard, is, with supporters, including Nadia Whittome, Labour’s Nottingham East Parliamentary candidate. All Labour candidates near any of the 60 striking universities should join the pickets.

Higher Education workers in the University and College Union (UCU) are striking from 25 November to 4 December, in a national dispute over workload, pay, and pensions. A striker in Cambridge spoke to Solidarity:

“This was my first day on a picket as a striking worker. I’ve previously only picketed in solidarity. Although I

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2019 - 18:29

Ollie Moore, Jay Dawkey

“Driver Only” dispute spreads

The announcement by rail union RMT of a sustained programme of strikes on West Midlands Trains and South Western Railway represents a significant escalation and expansion of the union’s protracted and hard-fought war against the imposition of “Driver Only Operation”.

On West Midlands Trains, guards struck on 16 November, with further strikes planned every Saturday up to 28 December. The strikes on West Midlands Trains are especially significant as this is first new Train Operating Company (TOC) to join the DOO strikes since they were spread to Arriva Rail North

Postal workers still set for strike

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2019 - 18:29

A London postal worker

People on the shop floor aren’t happy. Lots of people were looking forward to the strike, it was a chance to really stick it to our incompetent managers, which obviously now won’t happen as soon as we’d hoped.

The conversations I’ve had have ranged from feelings of hopelessness or powerlessness — “what’s the point of balloting if the courts will stop us anyway?” — to anger with Royal Mail for going to court in the first place.

Online, I’ve encountered a very small amount of people blaming the CWU union’s social media campaign (“why did they have to make those videos of offices posting ballots?

An open letter to fellow South Western Railway guards: don't give in to bosses' bullying!

Published on: Tue, 26/11/2019 - 18:12

There's been uproar on South Western Railway (SWR) today, as workers received a threatening letter from bosses, attempting to intimidate them out of striking. The letter, which we reproduce below, suggests workers or the union could be liable for any losses incurred during the strike, saying SWR is "entitled to recover the loss and damage in sustains as a result of you participating in the strike." The legality of the letter's claims is dubious; what is not in doubt is that it is a clear attempt by a frightened employer to prevent workers from exercising their right to withdraw their labour.

As RMT guards gear up for what will be the longest rail strike in British history, taking place throughout December, except 12 December, a guard and union activist has written an open letter to their colleagues, responding to the bosses' threats.

Dear all,

I am writing in response to a letter, which you will have received by South Western Railway (SWR) to your addresses this week. This is nothing, but scaremongering nonsense. Firstly, let’s be 100% clear, this is legal strike action. It was completed legally with a ballot and two weeks notice. This strike action is to protect your job and terms and conditions.

SWR have not guaranteed a guard on every train, the last framework stated that a train could go without a guard on board in “extreme circumstances.” Southern Railway had stated this as well, with their OBS grade. Now over 50% of their trains run regularly without a second member of staff on board. There was a deal in front of Acas, which has been withdrawn by SWR and First Group up in Aberdeen. SWR are citing that they withdrew the deal because RMT told their members about it. That is complete rubbish. SWR are being peddled by the Department for Transport (DfT) because strikes will be a critical part of this General Election.

Don’t cross the picket lines. Don’t listen to the scaremongering.

SWR are scared that we are walking out because they don’t want their middle managers being bogged down in a months worth of paperwork in January. Therefore the people at the top of the business are bullying their workforce into trying to cross pickets.

All that SWR are entitled to do are withdraw pay for not signing on for a shift. Because of this legal strike, SWR cannot take any legal action against you personally.

In the letter they have graciously given us some scary sounding bullet points.

They say that thousands of people will be disrupted. If you look, our core routes are running with buses on ones that are not and alternative transport available. People won’t be disrupted. Our lives will be when we’re all made redundant.

You will not be paid. But you will receive hardship payments and any annual leave, which you are booked on. Please see your local guards rep and tell them what you are booked to work. Help us to help you.

You are entitled to swap shifts as per the 1999 GRI agreement. 6.4 Exchange of Duties. Please don’t listen to this false threat. (Attached)

If your rules and assessments are due in December, that’s not your problem. You will just come back to work on the 3rd of January to normal circumstances.

No legal action will be taken against you as a person or employee of SWR. It is illegal to take legal action against employees during legal industrial action.

Please take no notice of this letter from SWR. It’s four pages of wasted trees.

Support the strikes. Spend December with your families this year. Don’t cross the picket line.

Yours faithfully,
An RMT member and guard

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Tube workers gear up for strikes

Published on: Wed, 20/11/2019 - 13:32

Jay Dawkey

Tube union RMT will ballot its members across London Underground, after a reps’ meeting on 7 November rejected LU bosses’ latest pay offer.

Tube workers’ current deal expired on 1 April 2019, and unions have been in negotiations to secure a new settlement since February. A central demand has been for a reduction in the working week, with unions citing scientific evidence that extreme shift working shortens life and demanding additional time off for workers.

LU’s latest offer is for a four-year deal, with RPI + 0.2% pay increases in years one and three, and 1.4% pay increases in years two and

Unis out from 25 November

Published on: Wed, 20/11/2019 - 13:02

Dan Davison

Members of the University and College Union (UCU), the national union for academic staff in the UK, are set to strike at 60 universities for eight days between 25 November and 4 December 2019.

This follows a highly successful pair of strike ballots among UCU members in higher education: one on pensions, the other on pay, equality, casualisation, and workloads.

The pensions strike continues the long-running dispute over proposed cuts to the United Superannuation Scheme (USS), the main pension plan in the “pre-92” universities.

The pay dispute affects both the “pre-92” and “post-92” universities

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