Industrial news in brief: train cleaners; Sports Direct; Tube; Riverboats; Argos

Submitted by cathy n on 21 September, 2017 - 12:19 Author: Solidarity
Sports Direct hits headlines

Train cleaners ballot

Cleaners working for Southern and Southeastern railways will be balloted by the RMT in two separate disputes over pay and working conditions.
The cleaners are employed by two different cleaning contractors — Wettons on Southeastern and Churchill on Southern.
The ballot closes on 21 September.

Sports Direct

Working conditions in Sports Direct have hit the headlines again after the Guardian reported that warehouse workers were being asked to touch ″happy or sad emoji faces″ to indicate their satisfaction with working conditions. The touch pad faces are apparently linked to the warehouse′s fingerprint system, thus identifying members who are unhappy with working conditions to management. Unite called demonstrations, such as this one in Nottingham, outside Sports Direct stores on Saturday 2 September in response.

Tube bosses attack RMT reps

London Underground has unilaterally "de-recognised" 14 RMT union reps on Tube stations, in an act that can only be described as a form of union busting. 
RMT has one "industrial rep" per station group, except in some larger areas where we have two, totalling 51. Now, without any consultation and almost no prior notification, LU bosses have said they will only recognise 37, one per area. 

Worse still, they have unilaterally named the 14 reps they will no longer recognise, directly disenfranchising members who voted for them and undermining union democracy.
The RMT's Bakerloo Line branch has passed a resolution calling on the union to declare a dispute over this issue. The resolution is currently being discussed by the union's NEC. 
One can only speculate as to the company's reasoning behind this attack. They are likely feeling emboldened by the new anti-union laws, which scuppered a recent strike ballot in defence of a sacked colleague, and may be taking advantage of the new restrictions on our ability to fight back. They may also feel stung after being forced to reinstate 325 jobs they cut in a recent restructure following a successful stations strike in January 2017. 

Whatever the reason, no union can tolerate unilateral attacks on its levels of representation. We must fight this all the way. 

Riverboats workers win reinstatement

The threat of strikes by captains and mates on Thames riverboats company City Cruises has won reinstatement for Hairia Abdo, a member of City Cruises customer services staff.
The company was so rattled by the threat of industrial action that they reinstated Hairia before her appeal hearing had even taken place.

Argos workers three-week strike

Unite members at Argos distribution centres have just finished a three-week long strike in a long-running dispute over bosses using a dodgy method of transferring their contracts to different companies which allows bosses to sack people without paying proper redundancy pay.

The strike covers sites in Basildon in Essex, Bridgwater in Somerset, Heywood in Manchester, Barton near Burton-on-Trent, and Castleford in west Yorkshire.
Workers plan more strikes to disrupt the start of Argos busy period leading up to Christmas.

Unite has also caught the company using agency workers to cover striking workers’ jobs during the strikes, which is illegal.