Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 17 October, 2012 - 9:06

Members of teaching unions NUT and UCU at K College in Kent struck for half a day on Monday 8 October as part of a battle to save 145 jobs. The workplace is spread over six campuses and has more than 25,000 students. College bosses want to make cuts to shrink an £11 million deficit. 57 jobs have already been lost, and workers fear that campuses in Ashford and Dover could be sold off altogether. Staff walked off the job at 1pm and held pickets and protests at college sites.

Tesco jobs fight

Delivery drivers for Tesco based in Doncaster could strike for 48 hours from 18 October.

Drivers’ contracts have been transferred to Eddie Stobart Ltd., who have given a 90-day notice of termination and no guarantee of re-employment.

The drivers have already held a march through Doncaster town centre.

Charity workers' second strike

Workers at human rights charity Amnesty International struck for the second time on Wednesday 10 October.

They are striking in opposition to a cost-cutting programme from management which could lead to compulsory redundancies.

Unusually for the charity sector, Amnesty’s income has continued to grow during the recession. Workers are particularly angry that the charity’s bosses are pressing ahead with cuts despite this fact.

A statement from the workers’ union, Unite, said that they had “no confidence” in Amnesty’s management.

Amnesty workers first struck on 12 September.

Striking for work/life balance

Railway signallers involved in a months-long dispute with Network Rail over roster arrangements struck on Friday 12 October, in what rail union RMT promises will be “the first in a series of strikes”.

Signallers working in the Stirling Middle, Stirling North, and Dunblane areas are demanding twelve-hour rosters, which would give them more time off in between shifts and improve work/life balance. Workers previously voted by 100% to strike.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The RMT will not allow Network Rail to ride roughshod over the clear democratic will of our members to improve the quality of their work/life balance.

“That is why we are now stepping up the strike action again and we remain available for meaningful talks.”

Northants cuts battle

Northamptonshire County Council has begun a consultation with a view to making £4 million “savings”, including a 3.6% reduction in workers’ pay.

The proposals also include cuts to sick pay, no pay increments, no pay award for 2013 or beyond, and mandatory unpaid leave of two to three days per year.

The Council’s alternative proposal, which will also be investigated, is to push through 250 compulsory redundancies (which could equate to more than 300 workers, as the proposed redundancies are full-time equivalents rather than single posts).

Rachelle Wilkinson, an officer for the GMB union, which organises at the council, said: “Class cuts like a knife through everything that this Tory-led government and its councils propose and deliver.

“In the same breath as announcing this proposal, the council spoke of further proposals to spend £43 million on a new suite of council office. They also talk of receiving The Blue Riband prize from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

“This was awarded to the council for a £10million loan given to the Silverstone racing circuit ... and an investment of a further £1.5 million in the Silverstone wing [a conference centre and banqueting facilities at the racetrack], allowing the super-rich posh boys, to quaff their Bollinger in comfort.”

Shop stewards at the council should hold cross-unions all-members meetings immediately so workers can discuss how to fight back.

Strong talk and class hostility from union officials in press statements is a good start, but a workplace-led industrial and political campaign will be needed to beat these proposals.