Unite

Bus workers strike again 3-6 March

Drivers at three London bus companies struck across 22-24 February, with further strikes planned across on 3, 5, and 6 March. The strikes, organised by the Unite union, involve drivers at London United, Quality Line, and London Sovereign. All three are owned by French parent company RATP. London Sovereign drivers will strike on 3 March, London United drivers on 5 and 6 March, and Quality Line drivers on 5 March. The dispute involves almost 2,000 drivers in total. At London United, RATP wants to impose new contracts, which would reduce wages by £2,500 for some drivers. The new contracts would...

Workers, trade unions and climate politics

Calvin Lawson - an RMT rep in Newcastle, part of the RMT Environmental Action Group, and co-lead on trade union strategy for Labour for a Green New Deal - spoke to Solidarity. Our trade union group within Labour for a Green New Deal is working with local groups to establish union link officers who can connect with trades councils, union branches and so on to support workers’ struggles but also take up environmental questions. We’ve organised some roadshows to encourage discussion and engagement, for instance in the North East where I’m based and working with Unison in the Manchester area. That...

Swawkbox returns a favour

Skwawkbox is one of several “alt left” websites to have emerged over the past decade. During Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, their declared aim was to defend him against the relentless attacks of the “MSM” (mainstream media). Skwawkbox distinguished itself by apparently having insider access to both Corbyn’s office and to the leadership of Unite. Or, to put it another way, it appeared to be the chosen mouthpiece of the pro-Brexit “Four M’s” faction (Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray and Len McCluskey) in Corbyn’s inner sanctum. The source of many of Skwawkbox’s...

Heathrow workers strike again

Workers at Heathrow Airport struck again on Sunday 21 February, in their dispute against a “fire and rehire” threat by their employer, Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL). Strikes planned on 13 and 16 February were called off, in what the workers’ union, Unite, called “an act of good faith”, as negotiations between Unite and HAL continued. A Unite statement said that HAL had provided “an initial positive response” to the union’s proposals, and they would therefore call off the strikes “to increase the prospects of securing a negotiated settlement.” Strikes have now resumed. This follows a similar...

Call for 10% rise in local government pay

Significantly later than usual, on 16 February, Unison, GMB, and Unite, the three unions who have negotiating rights for local government workers, including non-teaching staff in schools, have submitted a pay claim for a minimum 10% increase for all grades from April 2021. We have lost almost a quarter of our pay in real terms since 2010; as frontline workers we have continued to work through the pandemic; and the lowest paid have now fallen below the real living wage (as defined by the Living Wage Foundation). The claim also includes a demand for home working expenses, a reduction in the...

Bus workers will strike for pay

London bus drivers in the Unite union on three networks (London United, London Sovereign, and Quality Line, all owned by French company RATP) will strike in February, in an effort to win better pay and conditions. London United drivers, who drive routes in south and west London, will strike on 22-24 February. Proposed new contracts there could see drivers face pay cuts equivalent to £2,500 per year, and introduce zero-hour working for some drivers. Quality Line drivers, who drive out of a depot in Epsom, Surrey, and earn £2.50/hour less than drivers at other RATP-owned companies, will strike...

Don't look to Coyne to clear it up

Courtesy of The Times newspaper, Gerard Coyne is back in the limelight. Coyne stood for Unite General Secretary in the 2017 contest. Cheered on by the media, he ran a foul, racist-scapegoating, muckraking campaign, with large amounts of venom directed at the then Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Having stood on a platform of “cleaning up” Unite, Coyne was then sacked for misuse of data during his election campaign. His claim for unfair dismissal was thrown out by an Employment Tribunal. In recent weeks he has re-surfaced and been offered up by The Times as the authoritative voice of moral...

Time for solidarity

A number of disputes are ongoing or brewing involving the big union Unite, and should get solidarity. Scaffolders at British Steel plant in Scunthorpe employed by contractor Brand Energy struck over pay on 25 January, with six days announced. The workers are fighting to be paid in line with the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI). Their current pay is £2 an hour below NAECI rates. Unite members at Eddie Stobart Logistics in Warrington have started an overtime ban over the employer reneging on the agreement reached following previous action, a 2020 pay freeze...

Right-winger Coyne declares for Unite election

This year, 2021, will see an election for the replacement of Len McCluskey as General Secretary of the big cross-sector union Unite. And now union right-winger Gerard Coyne, the runner-up in the last general secretary election, in 2017, has declared his wish to stand. We don't yet know the detailed schedule. Sadly, jockeying for position, armtwisting, backroom deals, backstabbing, slanders and the outright lies are already in full flow. McCluskey’s favoured successor is Howard Beckett. In his capacity as head of the union’s Legal Department he has squandered vast amounts of members’ money on...

Barnoldswick strike saves jobs

Sustained strikes by Rolls Royce workers at the company’s Barnoldswick plant have secured a settlement that will save jobs at the site, which Rolls Royce had planned to cut. Workers voted to accept the company’s proposal, following the suspension of their latest strikes, due to run from 4-22 January. The settlement includes: • A 10-year manufacturing guarantee for the site • A guaranteed minimum headcount of 350 workers • The creation of a “centre of excellence”, supporting the development and manufacture of zero-carbon technologies • A two-year no compulsory redundancies agreement The...

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