Defending jobs

More lessons from Grangemouth

The recent debacle surrounding the dispute at the Ineos petrochemicals plant at Grangemouth in Scotland could represent a significant defeat for the trade union movement. It certainly is a debilitating setback and an embarrassing climbdown. It raises some very worrying questions for socialists.

A further contribution to a discussion on the lessons of the defeat at the Grangemouth oil refinery.

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Understanding the Grangemouth defeat

Over the coming days we will be publishing responses to the Grangemouth defeat as part of a discussion on what socialists can learn from it. For some background, see here.


The enormity of the defeat suffered by Unite at Ineos in Grangemouth is virtually impossible to exaggerate.

A contribution to an ongoing discussion about the defeat suffered by organised labour at the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland.

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Unions predicts 25,000 job losses in Welsh councils

The public sector union Unison predicts 25,000 jobs will be under threat from recently announced budget cuts in Welsh councils, to take place over the next three years.

Cuts in Wales have been slower than in England, but thousands of jobs have already been lost over the last three years — a 5.8% cut in real terms.

Cardiff council plans £50 million cuts next year out of a £500 million budget, of which 60% is spent on statutory functions. English councils have already warned that they may be unable to meet statutory functions by 2015-16.

The public sector union Unison predicts 25,000 jobs will be under threat from recently announced budget cuts in Welsh councils, to take place over the next three years.

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Occupy Grangemouth! For public ownership and workers' control to stop closure!

On the morning of 23 October, Ineos bosses at the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland announced that the petrochemical plant within the complex is to close, threatening over 1,000 jobs.

The workers' existing dispute, over the victimisation of shop steward Stevie Deans and attacks on terms and conditions, must now escalate to consider sit-down strikes (occupations) and the demand for public ownership. So far, the SNP government has ruled out nationalisation, saying it wants to find a new buyer for the plant.

Workers at the Ineos petrochemical plant at the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland will need to consider tactics like occupations and demands for public ownership if they are to keep the plant from closing.

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Threat of strikes forces bosses' climbdown at Liverpool University

On 7 June, the University of Liverpool ended normal negotiations on a new harmonised contract for professional, administrative and specialist technical staff and announced that S188 dismissals [mass redundancy notices that bosses use to sack and re-engage workers on worse terms and conditions] would be given to 2,803 staff to get their way over scrapping TOIL.

Higher education workers at the University of Liverpool have forced bosses to scrap a plan for mass redundancies after threatening strikes.

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Wallsend occupation

Workers and Resident Occupy Wallsend Peoples Centre and Memorial Hall

On Friday 13 September, around 30 workers and community activists occupied Wallsend Memorial Hall in North Tyneside.

On Friday 13 September, around 30 workers and community activists occupied Wallsend Memorial Hall in Newcastle.

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Job cuts threatened at Npower

On Wednesday 14 August, RWE the troubled German owner of energy company NPower, announced a 60% fall in revenue, mainly to do with power generation in Germany.

Buried beneath this was a plan to shut unspecified 16 out of 26 sites in the profitable British section. (See a Daily Mirror report here.)

Although details are unspecified, they are talking about 3,000 job losses, or a third of the workforce.

On Wednesday 14 August, RWE the troubled German owner of energy company NPower, announced a 60% fall in revenue, mainly to do with power generation in Germany. Buried beneath this was a plan to shut unspecified 16 out of 26 sites in the profitable British section.

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No job cuts on London Overground!

Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).

Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).

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Justice for the 33!

Agency workers staffed the north of the Bakerloo Line and the south of the District Line since London Underground took over from Silverlink in 2007.

Agency workers staffed the north of the Bakerloo Line and the south of the District Line since London Underground took over from Silverlink in 2007. Wearing LU uniforms without earning LU wages, agency workers delivered outstanding customer service on flexible terms that suited LU’s needs.

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Cleaners' battles continue

The Tyne and Wear Metro cleaners’ struggle for living wages, sick pay, and travel pass equality is now one of the longest-running disputes in the British labour movement.

The Tyne and Wear Metro cleaners’ struggle for living wages, sick pay, and travel pass equality is now one of the longest-running disputes in the British labour movement.

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Fighting casualisation

This issue of Off The Rails focuses on the issue of casualisation, and how to fight it (and how not to fight it!).

This issue of Off The Rails focuses on the issue of casualisation, and how to fight it (and how not to fight it!).

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Tubeworker/Off The Rails joint bulletin for London Overground workers - August 2013

A bulletin for London Overground staff discussing the fight against job cuts.

Click here to download the PDF.

A bulletin for London Overground staff discussing the fight against job cuts.

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Industrial news in brief

Further Education workers at Lewisham-Southwark College will strike on Wednesday 17 July against departmental closure and job cuts.

A lunchtime strike rally is planned from 12.45 outside the college on Lewisham Way (SE4 1UT).

Send messages of support to pete.bicknell@googlemail.com

Cleaning workers’ two-week strike

Cleaning workers on the Tyne and Wear Metro began a fortnight-long strike on Friday 12 July.

FE lecturers to strike in South London; Tyne and Wear Metro cleaners walk out.

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Postal workers strike

Postal workers in Bridgewater, Somerset struck on Saturday 6 July in a dispute over job cuts and management bullying.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) rep Dave Chapple said the strike was “one of the best we’ve ever had”, with over 100 workers taking part.

Union reps have promised escalation if the dispute is not resolved.

In Peterborough, 170 postal workers held a wildcat strike following the suspension of a union rep.

Postal workers in Somerset, Peterborough and Plymouth strike in disputes over job cuts and management bullying.

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Industrial news in brief

Workers on council run golf courses in Brighton were due to strike on Wednesday 3 July against pay cuts of up to £4,000.

The workers are employed by Mytime Active, who manage the Hollingbury Park and Waterhall golf courses for Brighton and Hove City Council. Members of both GMB and Unison will take part in the strike, which would be the second in the dispute so far.

Meanwhile, CityClean refuse workers suspended their action on 21 June following further negotiations with the council.

They had previously struck for five days against cuts.

Brighton golf strike; FE job cuts in South London.

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Liverpool University puts "a gun to the head of its workers"; Warwick students occupy against pay hike

Liverpool University has said it will sack 2,800 workers and rehire them on inferior contracts — or sack them if they refuse.

Unions representing Liverpool University workers have described this as a “gun to the head”. Jo MacNeill, president-elect of the UCU lecturers’ union at Liverpool University, spoke to Solidarity:

Everyone from gardeners to managers is in the firing line — it’s 52% of staff. We think that this attack is a move towards much more of a “business model” for the university, away from it being an academic institution.

Workers and students fight back against mass sackings and pay cuts at Livepool and Warwick University.

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Ford workers ballot for strikes

Workers at the Ford stamping and tooling plant in Dagenham have begun voting in a ballot for strikes over the closure of the plant.

652 workers will take part in the ballot, which closes on 30 April. The closure of the plant, along with another factory in Southampton, was announced in October 2012. The ballot follows protests at both the Southampton and Dagenham plants, organised by Unite, on 18 April. The closures threaten 1,500 jobs directly, and more in Ford’s supply chain.

Workers at the Ford stamping and tooling plant in Dagenham have begun voting in a ballot for strikes over the closure of the plant.

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Industrial news in brief

PCS branches are mobilising to defend workplace reps victimised for union activity.

Lee Rock in Sheffield, Jon Bigger in Merseyside, and Kevin Smith in Bootle all face the sack for trade union activity. For more on these cases, and how labour movement activists can support Lee, Jon, and Kevin, see here.

The Civil Service Rank-and-File Network (CSRF), a newly-formed grouping of PCS activists, is planning local actions to coincide with the European TUC’s Day of Action on 13 March.

PCS reps victimised; union officials block Lewisham hospital fight; Sheffield drug workers face cuts; London Met activist reinstated.

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French car strike continues

A strike at the Citroen car plant in Aulnay, to the north-east of Paris, started on 16 January and is now in its seventh week.

A strike at the Citroen car plant in Aulnay to the north-east of Paris is now in its seventh week.

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HMV jobs fight

Nearly 1,000 HMV workers are set to lose their jobs, after administrator Hilco announced that 66 of the entertainment retailer’s stores will close.

Nearly 1,000 HMV workers are set to lose their jobs, after administrator Hilco announced that 66 of the entertainment retailer’s stores will close. Young trade unionists have begun a campaign to save jobs.

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Korean union leader on hunger strike

The LabourStart website has launched a campaign to support Kim Jungam, the president of the Korean Government Employees' Union, who is on hunger strike outside government offices in Seoul.

LabourStart write:

The President of the Korean Government Employees' Union (KGEU), Kim Jungnam, launched a hunger strike in the streets of Seoul outside the offices of the Presidential transition committee on 15 January.

Korean union leader Kim Jungam is on hunger strike outside government offices in Seoul against the sacking of 137 public sector workers. Support his campaign!

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Industrial news in brief

Honda job cuts

Car manufacturer Honda will cut over 1,000 jobs from its plant in Swindon, with 800 permanent and 325 temporary staff set to go.

Honda job cuts, construction workers' safety strike, Scottish rail signallers' ballot, Hull City Council bans blacklisters

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Sack the agency, not the workers!

Thirty-three Tube workers face unemployment unless a battle to save their jobs is successful.

The workers are employed by the Trainpeople agency and work on London Underground stations, with full LU training and wearing LU uniforms.

Thirty-three Tube workers face unemployment unless a battle to save their jobs is successful.

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Sack the agency, not the workers! Demonstrate to demand justice for the 33!

Date: 

7 January, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00

Location: 

Wembley Central station

Description: 

The ruthless and callous sacking of 33 RMT members employed by the Trainpeople agency just before Xmas has stirred some very raw emotions amongst rank-and-file workers. There is a demo on Mon Jan 7, 1300hrs at Wembley Central station. Badges, placards, banners and T shirts are all being made, it looks like Monday could be a noisy and vibrant demo.

Make sure you are part of it. Badges will be available for all.

More here.

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