Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 3 July, 2015 - 4:53 Author: Ollie Moore and Anne Field

Members of all four Tube unions will strike on 8-9 July, in disputes over pay, the implementation of 24-hour running (“Night Tube”), and job cuts.

Drivers’ union ASLEF returned a 98% majority for strikes, on a turnout of over 80%. Members of RMT, the largest union on the Tube, voted by over 90% for strikes in two ballots (one of all grades, over pay and Night Tube, and one of station workers over job cuts), on turnouts of around 53%. TSSA and Unite members also voted for strikes by over 70%.

Action will begin on the evening of 8 July, and conclude on the evening of the 9th. Combined strike action by all four unions is almost unprecedented, and could bring the Tube to an almost complete standstill. 

The rank-and-file socialist bulletin Tubeworker, published by Workers’ Liberty, said:

“Unions also need to steel themselves for management to try every trick in the book over the week ahead to stop the strike. There’ll be talks (rightly), and no doubt deals will be offered. The company will probably try to exploit potential divisions between grades by offering a better deal for drivers, hoping that ASLEF will settle and peel away. Activists in ASLEF must pressure their officers to make sure this doesn’t happen. We can only win if we remain united.

“We don’t want to strike for the sake of it; we’re striking to win our demands. So if management back down between now and next Wednesday [8 July], and promise a collectively-negotiated agreement on Night Tube that protects our health and work/life balance; a decent pay deal that reflects increases in the cost of living; and a moratorium on the imposition of job cuts and a new “Framework Agreement” for station staff... then there’s no need for the strike to take place.

“But we all know that’s unlikely. We all know it will take this strike, and almost certainly more strikes after this, to push management back.”

First Great Western strike

RMT members working for First Great Western will strike for 48 hours over 8-9 July.

They are fighting to save jobs, as the company plans to transition to a new fleet of high-speed trains.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT has made every effort to secure a series of very basic assurances from FGW over jobs, services and safety as a result of the introduction of the new Hitachi fleet and they have simply ignored us.”

Workers voted by an 80% majority for strikes, and by 92% for action short of strikes.

The union’s demands are: to keep a safety-competent guard on every train; to keep safety-critical station dispatch staff; to keep buffet car facilities on every train; to ensure that the maintenance of new rolling stock remains in-house; and no job losses.

SNP and Labour fail homelessness caseworkers

Glasgow City Council Homelessness Caseworkers are now in the fifteenth week of their all-out strike for pay regrading.

The length of the dispute has not dampened the strikers’ morale. Support for the strike remains strong in the broader trade union movement, and not just in Glasgow but throughout the country.

But Labour Group Leader Gordon Matheson has refused to budge. His position is that the strike is nothing to do with him but something to be sorted out between Unison and Social Work management.

The strike involves “just” 70 Council employees. But much larger conflicts are on the horizon.

Faced with underfunding of £103 millions over the next two years, the Labour-run Council plans to axe 3,000 jobs – 15% of the workforce. These cuts would come on top of the 4,000 Council jobs already lost since 2010.

Matheson’s argues the jobs can be cut through “natural wastage” and “efficiency savings”.

The SNP line is no better. It wants a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, cuts to be implemented in consultation with staff and unions, and a search for other (unspecified) ways to save money.

Matheson’s position has triggered a revolt within the Labour Group, spearheaded by councillors representing wards in the Shettleston constituency.

According to Frank McAveety: “The majority of the Group think it would be better if Gordon’s transition (i.e. removal as leader) is sooner rather than later.”

Constituency Labour Parties which have not yet adjourned for the summer should demand regrading of the homelessness caseworkers, Matheson’s resignation as Group Leader, and no support for Matheson’s deputy leadership bid.