Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 5 November, 2014 - 12:07

Train drivers' union ASLEF has gone into dispute with the Northern Rail franchise and is to ballot its members, after rejecting a two-year pay offer of 2.7% this year (RPI inflation in April 2014) and 2.5% or RPI next year, whichever is greater.

The company argues that this is a "good offer" "in the current climate". ASLEF points out that it leaves drivers at the company behind those at other train operating companies.

In a clear attempt to intimidate, propaganda threatening to withhold back pay and not to settle before Christmas has been sent to drivers' home addresses by HR Director Adrian Thompson.

The company has also said it will use Driver Managers to work trains in times of driver shortage.

RMT, the other rail union, is balloting members on whether to accept the current offer, with the caveat that they want any gains won by ASLEF to apply to their members too.

It is not unusual for ASLEF to "go it alone" in all sorts of situations, but for the RMT to drag its feet when ASLEF is already balloting is dangerous.

The company is likely to seek to resolve the dispute in favour of drivers only if ASLEF are effective enough. This would increase the pay disparity between grades of staff within the company and set a precedent for the break-up of the “single-table” pay talks.

Rail bosses, with the backing of the government, may seek to use the dispute to "break" train drivers (one of the highest paid and most well-unionised groups of workers) and start to force through the changes in the McNulty Report.

ASLEF ballot papers were sent out on 30 October and the ballot ends 14 November.

Defend Julie Davies!

NUT members in Fortismere and Highgate Wood Schools will strike on 5 November in the dispute to reinstate suspended NUT branch secretary Julie Davies.

Two strike days have been called for the following week. The NUT is paying full strike pay to members.

An indicative ballot has been held in Park View and a formal ballot will be requested next week.

The NUT considers that the secondary heads’ refusal to commit to union funding with Julie in post constitutes victimisation and a demand for her removal by the council.

Teachers vote to continue strike over pay

98% in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) consultation voted “yes” for continuing the “Stand Up For Education Campaign”, 80% in favour of further strike action.

The NUT Executive on 23 October stressed “the successes of our campaign” constituted by talks with new education minister Nicky Morgan, but retained the option of up to two strike days in the spring term.

Activists in schools should not wait. The NUT already has a continuing ballot mandate for strikes in local disputes on workload and pay.

Cinema workers win living wage

At the end of October, the Ritzy cinema, Brixton announced job cuts — then was quickly forced to drop them following public outrage and plans by BECTU members to return to strikes.

The threat of job losses comes after workers at the cinema won a pay deal that sees them move towards the Living Wage.

In a similar dispute Curzon cinema has agreed to pay its workers a living wage.

Ritzy also threatened to renege on the pay deal, until forced to back down.

Housing workers to strike for 10 more days

Unite members at housing charity St Mungo’s Broadway will be on strike for 10 days from 5 November.

This follows seven days of strikes from 17-23 October. The decision to call more strikes was taken at a mass members’ meeting on Thursday 30 October.

The dispute is over a restructuring following a merger of two seperate charities. During the restructure management reduced the pay of new starters and those existing staff who were moved to new posts by £5,000-a-year; took pay out of collective bargaining agreements; and imposed new and draconian policies and procedures.

Unite regional officer, Nicky Marcus, said “We are aware that new chief executive Howard Sinclair’s increase is £30,000.

“St Mungo’s property portfolio was valued at £101 million 15 years ago and they have continued to buy property ever since. This is not about there being no money available. It is about a redistribution of wealth.”

Strikers will be doing protests outside the town halls of councils who use St Mungo’s Broadway for housing services.