Strikes and lock-outs

Step forward in Deliveroo

On 7 April, couriers working for Deliveroo struck across the UK. They were joined by many couriers working for other food delivery platforms including UberEats and Stuart. The demands of the strike were around pay, safety and employment rights. On pay, the union is demanding guaranteed living wage after vehicle and other costs; an end to unpaid waiting times in restaurants; an end to over-hiring which floods the streets and reduces the work that all couriers can get; and holiday and sick pay. In terms of employment rights the union is calling on Deliveroo and other companies to agree to...

DVLA strike solid

The strike at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea, from 6-9 April, was very solid. Workers there were striking against having been forced to come into the physical workplace in far greater numbers than necessary. Around 2,000 workers have been made to come in, when during the first lockdown, numbers in the low hundreds were required on site to perform essential and emergency work only. We estimate that, of that 2,000 or so, around 1,400 joined the strike, so that’s a significant number and one that’s had a big impact on the work there. I think the employer was...

Battles in three bus companies

Bus drivers at Manchester’s Go North West firm are continuing an indefinite strike against worsening conditions imposed via “fire and rehire”. The strike entered its sixth week on 4 April. The drivers’ union, Unite, says the new contracts represent an additional 130 hours of work, equivalent to a pay cut of £2,500. At talks at conciliation service Acas, Unite submitted a counterproposal detailing how the company could save £1.3 million to avoid the contractual changes. Go North West has refused, and has told Unite that, unless workers accept new contracts, it may close down the Queens Road...

DVLA strikes 6-9 April

Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea will strike from 6-9 April. It’s clear from last-ditch talks that the bosses aren’t budging, so strikes will go ahead. The issue is workplace safety; far more workers than strictly necessary have been made to come into the workplace, leading to numerous Covid outbreaks. Our demand is for all workers to be sent home, and for an emergency working arrangement, overseen by union reps, to be agreed which ensures only emergency and essential work is done on-site. Longer term we want investment in equipment and software to...

Thurrock council pay cuts

Council workers in the Unite union in Thurrock, Essex, will strike from 13 April to 7 May, excluding 3 May. The workers, including refuse workers, highway maintenance, and street cleaners, face pay cuts of between £2,000 and £3,500 per year. • Donations to the strike fund can be made to: S/C 60-83-01, A/N 20216557, Name: Unite 1/1152. Messages of solidarity can be sent to willie.howard@unitetheunion.org • More on the dispute in Tribune magazine

British Gas: sackings and strike on 14 April

British Gas engineers in the GMB union will strike for the 43rd time on 14 April, the latest date British Gas has set for the imposition of new contracts. Engineers who have not agreed to the new terms by that date face dismissal, as British Gas uses “fire and rehire” tactics to force through changes. The new contracts were due to be imposed on 1 April, but workers were informed by letter of the extension to 14 April. No reason was given for the change. British Gas says workers who do not accept the new contracts will be dismissed, with pay in lieu of notice, but no redundancy package. Justin...

"We need to develop workers' capacities"

Henry Chango Lopez (pictured above, centre, before the pandemic) is the new General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). He spoke to Sacha Ismail. In recent years the IWGB has had a high profile in part because it’s grown quite a lot when trade unions in general have stagnated. Why is that? It’s really just about the situation of workers at the moment, the way the economy is, outsourcing, precarious employment – these are problems that many unions have not tackled. Unions do not effectively organise workers in these situations. The problem is so wide...

School cleaners' strike wins

Cleaners in the United Voices of the World union (UVW) at La Retraite Catholic girls’ school in south west London have secured a 24% wage increase, full contractual sick pay, and the repayment of withheld wages, just three days into a planned 40-day strike.

The strike, which involved cleaners...

British Gas threatens "fire and rehire" for 31 March

British Gas engineers in the GMB union continued strikes against the imposition of new contracts via “fire and rehire”, from 19-22 March, with further strikes planned on 26-29 March. British Gas says it will dismiss the entire workforce en masse, and rehire only those who have agreed to the new contracts, on 31 March. GMB has advised its members to sign the contracts by 25 March, writing in an email to members: “If you plan to stay with British Gas after March 31 and intend to ultimately sign a new contract, our lawyers’ advice is to do so by noon on March 25 if you want to avoid the loss of...

Metroline bus ballot closes 9 April

A ballot of over 4,000 London bus drivers working for Metroline is continuing. The vote is due to close on 9 April. The dispute centres on the company’s plan to impose a remote sign-on system, which the workers’ union, Unite, says could lead to pay cuts and decreased safety. Meanwhile, drivers working for London United, a subsidiary of French firm RATP, struck again on 17 March, in a dispute over pay and conditions. However, planned strikes of drivers at Quality Line and London Sovereign, also RATP subsidiaries, were called off as Unite began a referendum on the employers’ latest offer. Should...

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