Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 25 February, 2015 - 12:06 Author: Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore and Gemma Short

Cleaners at financial analyst Bloomberg planned to strike from 23-25 February in a continuing struggle over pay and conditions.

The cleaners, members of the IWGB union, won the Living Wage in November last year after strikes and occupations. The cleaners also got the Living Wage updated to the newest rate after threatening to strike earlier this month.

However Bloomberg still does not pay sick pay, and workers are concerned about a culture of disrespect towards them in the workplace. Matilda, a mother of two and a cleaner at Bloomberg, said “Until we are treated with the respect we deserve, we will continue to organise and fight.”

The strike was suspended after the first day after Bloomberg offered some concessions and negotiations on other areas.

The IWGB is also balloting security officers, inspectors, receptionists and controllers at the Barbican centre over their demand for a pay increase to £12 an hour.

IWGB cleaners at Burberry are fighting for the Living Wage and continue to stage strikes at protests at the company's flagship store on Regent's Street, London.

IWGB members are also in dispute with the Royal Opera House, where they staged a noisy picket at the BAFTA awards ceremony.

More strikes at ICO

Following on from the strikes of 3-4 February and the continuing work to rule, staff at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have announced strikes for 26-27 February and 2 March.

No meaningful progress has been made with the ICO management on PCS’s demands to put members’ pay in line with the rest of the civil service. It is becoming increasingly clear that the refusal by the ICO management to meet these is purely political — not wanting to be seen as too “out of step” with other public sector bodies in the current climate of austerity. Pay at the ICO is around a grade below equivalent jobs in the civil service.

Management’s efforts to isolate the union by trying to coerce staff into consenting the contractual changes individually has failed, with fewer than half of the total workforce agreeing to the changes on an individual basis.

The strike day on 2 March is of particular significance as this coincides with the Data Protection Practitioners’ Conference which the ICO holds annually for external organisations. The threat of having key staff from the ICO refuse to attend and run the scheduled events will have a majorly disruptive effect on the ICO’s ability to run the conference. There will be a lobby of the event, at the Manchester Convention Centre, by striking ICO employees on the morning of 2 March.

PCS is calling for solidarity from other PCS members and trade unionists in the Manchester area.

Tube activists call for return to strikes

Tube unions have begun pay talks with London Underground (LU).

The RMT ‘s claim includes a four-day, 32-hour week for all grades, a pay award that reflects the rising cost of living, and the extension of staff benefits including travel passes to contractors and outsourced workers.

LU management is claiming its hands are tied by economic austerity — but not so tightly that it is unable to employ nearly 100 new "Area Managers" on £70,000 each, or spend £134 million on its plan to close ticket offices.

Consultation by workplace reps with local managers over station staffing levels will start soon, a process that was promised months ago but over which management has kept workers in the dark. Leaked sample rosters for some Northern Line stations showed a massive balance towards unsocial hours, which would increase fatigue and wreck work-life balance. Several RMT branches submitted motions to the union ‘s Executive before the New Year calling on it to convene a reps ‘ and activists ‘ meeting to discuss reinstating industrial action in the dispute against job cuts. So far, the Executive has dragged its feet. The rank-and-file bulletin Tubeworker is calling for further action to be planned as soon as possible.

RMT drivers ‘ reps also met recently to discuss how to progress the dispute against the unfair sacking of Alex McGuigan. A strike ballot returned a majority for action, and a decision on what action to take was being made as Solidarity went to press on 24 February.

Tubeworker supporters across several RMT branches are also calling for a ballot for action to win reinstatement for Noel Roberts, a station worker who was "medically terminated" (sacked) in September despite being declared fully fit by his doctors and LU Occupational Health, and not having had a day off sick in 10 months.

National Gallery strikes

Workers at the National Gallery are taking their second 5-day period of strikes from 22-26 February.

PCS union members at the gallery are striking over a proposed privatisation that will see their jobs outsourced to a private security firm. In the lead up to the first period of strikes, PCS rep Candy Udwin was suspended, and workers are also calling for her reinstatement.

Picket lines run every day from 9-11 at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Thursday 26 February will be a day of action, with a rally at the gallery at 1 pm, followed up a march at 1.30 pm.

Fighting a 9.5% pay cut

Workers at Your Choice Barnet (YCB) are on strike on 24-25 February in their ongoing dispute over a 9.5% pay cut.

The staff, who work with a variety of vulnerable adults, will now have taken eight strike days since September. In October YCB bosses made an offer of a 7.9% pay cut, instead of 9.5%, workers rejected this offer.

Barnet council are still refusing to meet with Unison and YCB, despite the fact that they hold the purse strings for the outsourced service.

The strike is well supported and workers are appealing to service users for support.

Unison is calling for the service to be brought back under council control, as well as fighting the pay cut.

• Send messages of support to Unison branch secretary John Burgess