Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 10 June, 2015 - 11:17

Following a one-day strike at Lewisham and Southwark College on 4 June, union members report a different atmosphere in the college.

The dispute has now broken out of the world of committee meetings and into the classrooms and corridors, canteens and staff rooms. Everybody now has to have a position on the strike, everybody has to think about taking a side.

For many staff and students, this is a further political education and a first direct experience of trade union struggle.

Managers walk around smiling, trying to convince themselves things are back to normal, that is, closing sites, sacking staff and dismantling further education. Things will not go back to normal. Lessons are being learnt, links are being made, that are going to change the political landscape in further education.

Lesson: we can't win these disputes on our own. We need to unite all the colleges in the region and all the unions in the colleges. Those links are already being built through pickets, joint meetings and rallies.

Lesson: union members need to inspire the very generation of working class youth that the Tories are trying to right-off by their own examples of militancy, solidarity and rank and file organisation.

Lesson: colleges are not here to serve employers but to equip young minds with the courage and confidence to civilise the world of work, to make it fit for human beings.

The next strike is for two days on the 18-19 June, please join the picket lines.

National Gallery protests

Workers at the National Gallery will be on strike again on Thursday 11 June.

It will also be a day of action for sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin, with a rally in Trafalgar Square from 1-2pm. Last week workers finished their period of 10 strike days, totaling 34 strike days so far.

On Friday 5 June, campaigners staged a flash mob in the gallery along with a lecture on the painting “St Michael triumphs over the devil”. Campaigners called for incoming gallery director Gabriele Finaldi to step in to stop the privatisation.

From this week, gallery staff on information and ticket desks will no longer be allowed chairs to sit on while on shift. This follows the removal of chairs for staff working for the privatised wing of the gallery when outsourcing firm CIS took over.

PCS members at both Tate galleries in London are organising to end disparities between outsourced and directly employed staff.

Outsourced staff are paid £3 less than directly employed staff, are on zero hours contracts, do not have the same pension, sick pay and maternity pay rights, and do not have access to secondments or other benefits that directly employed gallery staff are offered.

• Sign the petition against two-tier working at the Tate here

Probation pay strike

Unison members in the National Probation Service will strike on Thursday 11 June over a 0% pay offer for 2014.

Members voted by 73% in favour of strikes against the pay freeze. After an earlier indicative ballot showed 96% voting to reject the pay freeze the employer offered a one-off, non-pensionable lump sum for those at the top of their pay band and confirmed that all staff due an increment would have it paid. However they did not budge on the pay freeze. Unison members will also take part in action short of strikes from the 12 June until 17 July.

Unison represents 4,300 probation workers in England and Wales. The other probation workers union, NAPO, has voted to rejected the deal but has not yet balloted members for strikes.

Teesside construction protests

Construction workers in Redcar are protesting against bosses not paying the locally agreed rate of pay to migrant workers. The unions involved also claim the company has blocked them from organising migrant workers. More info here.

No cuts at London Met

Unison and UCU members struck together on Thursday 4 June in a dispute over 165 job cuts.

The strike followed an earlier one taken by Unison members alone on 21 May. The strike had a large impact on university services, with management being forced to tweet that their student enquiries line was not functioning due to “technical difficulties” - also known as their staff being on strike!

Strikers held picket lines at all university sites and a lunch time protest and rally which saw supporters come from other union branches.

Reject Network Rail deal

The RMT union is recommending Network Rail members accept the company's latest pay offer.

The offer is for a two-year deal, with a 2% pay increase in year one followed by an increase at the rate of the Retail Price Index in year two. Network Rail also want to impose efficiency savings and restructures; much debate focuses on whether the pay offer is conditional on the union agreeing to these.

It is clear that, with the overwhelming rejection of both the company's first and second offers, plus the huge vote for strikes, Network Rail members were up for a fight. By suspending strikes for offers that only slightly improved on the previous ones, RMT may have missed an opportunity to win more from Network Rail.

Workers' Liberty members working on Network Rail advocate that the union rejects the deal and fights on to win more.