Picturehouse workers at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, and East Dulwich, Crouch End, Hackney and Central Picturehouses struck on Sunday 5 and Monday 6 November for the start of Living wage week.
On 6 November the new Living Wage was announced, and in London it rose from £9.75 an hour to £10.20 an hour.
Striking on the day of this announcement meant the strike gained national press coverage, including on ITV news, as the press covered the raise in the Living Wage.
Strikes completely closed the Ritzy cinema in Brixton and partly closed other sites. The Mayor of Hackney joined picket lines at Hackney Picturehouse. Other sites had strong delegations from CLPs and trade unions branches, which helped buoy up striking workers morale.
In the first picket lines, a year ago, workers often picketed alone.
In other strike news, the in house staff forum, which is used to rubber stamp company pay offers and act as legal block to BECTU recognition, appears to be rebelling against its role of being the company′s lackey. At an emergency general meeting last week members removed all elected official and all executive committee members from their positions, paving the way for fresh elections for pro-Living Wage candidates.
A move which may well remove the company’s fig leaf of approval for their pay offers, which will only embarrass the company further.
Fundraising events for the Picturehouse strike:
• Poets on the picket line hosts on Saturday 18 November
• Fundraiser as part of The Clarion magazine’s first birthday party on Thursday 23 November
Tube driver Danny Davis reinstated
Tube worker Danny Davis will be reinstated with a guaranteed job as a train driver from 12 months after the date he was sacked for a routine error ordinarily treated as a performance and coaching issue, rather than a disciplinary matter.
He is already about six months into that period, having been recently been reinstated as a CSA.
This is a great win for workers’ solidarity. Undoubtedly we’d all prefer to see Danny reinstated as a driver immediately, but the fact is that forcing a previously intransigent management first to reinstate him as a CSA, and then to guarantee reinstatement as a driver after a fixed period, is still a victory. What forced this climb down from the company was the thumping majority for strikes secured by RMT Central Line drivers.
The campaign in the depots has been exemplary. Workplaces were plastered with propaganda and communication, making sure everyone knew the facts of the case. Members were engaged and encouraged to take an active role, speaking to friends and colleagues to raise the profile of the case and ensure everyone returned their ballot papers. The leadership of workplace reps across Central Line depots was key.
The lesson for all of us, wherever we work and whatever our grade, is that solidarity is our best weapon. When we stand up and say that we will not let the bosses ride roughshod over us, whether on an individual basis or collectively, and back that up with votes for strikes, we can force the employer back.
Tubeworker extends our congratulations to Danny and all reps, activists, and members at Central Line train depots for a battle well fought.
Capita pension nine day strike
Workers employed by Capita across the country struck for nine days between 28 October and 5 November in a dispute over the ending of their current defined benefit pension scheme.
The Unite union has calculated that a 35 year old worker′s pension would be halved under the new scheme, and a 60 year-old who planned to retire at 65 would loose about £1,650 a year.
Capita handles outsourced contracts from a large number of private and public sector organisations. The workers affected by the pensions change work for Capita Life & Pensions Regulated Services Ltd, and a few for Capita IT Services Ltd in Birmingham, Reading, Bristol, Manchester, Stirling and Belfast.
Workers voted by 95% in favour of strikes, on a 72% turnout, when talks at ACAS broke down.
• Messages of support can be sent via their Facebook page
British Airways workers win pay rise
Mixed fleet workers at British Airways have accepted a pay deal, ending a year long dispute.
The final deal, which was accepted by 84%, will give workers pay rises of between £1,404 and £2,908 by March 2018. British Airways has also returned travel concessions and entitlements to bonus schemes returned to workers who struck.
The victimisation of workers who struck by removing these benefits had previously been the reason workers had rejected a deal.
The pay rise for Mixed Fleet workers after 85 strike days will boost the morale of others fighting over pay.
No money for equal pay?
On Monday 6 November Glasgow City Council finally released the workforce pay data needed for talks aimed at resolving the Council’s long-running equal pay dispute.
The dispute centres on implementation of the Single Status Agreement (SSA), intended to end the historic discrimination against women in local authority rates of pay. Over a decade later the council still has 11,000 SSA claims unresolved.
In Scotland as a whole, there are nearly 27,000 pending or unresolved SSA equal pay claims, 90% of which are from female workers.
A report by the Scottish Accounts Commission found that the steps taken by Scottish local authorities to deal with SSA claims had “kept men’s salaries higher than women performing equal roles.”
Long-running legal proceedings against Glasgow City Council saw the Court of Session rule in August that the Council had failed to demonstrate that its job-evaluation scheme was fit-for-purpose in identifying and rooting out discriminatory rates of pay.
The response to the ruling by the SNP-run Council was to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court — despite the SNP election promise only a few months earlier that it would resolve all equal pay claims.
At the same time the Glasgow Council SNP group is claiming that its real aim is to resolve the claims by way of negotiations, even though, until last Monday, it had failed to release the workforce pay data needed for those negotiations.
The SNP Group is arguing that it is only seeking leave to appeal to the High Court, as opposed to actually appealing — although, of course, an appeal cannot be lodged without leave to appeal first being granted.
Agreeing to the SSA claims would cost the City Council between £500 and £750 millions. But thanks to the cuts in the funding of local authorities imposed by the SNP government in Holyrood, SNP-run Glasgow does not have that money.
Thus, when the new SNP administration settled the year-long dispute with school janitors, council officials told schools that the cost of the pay rise could be met by taking money from the Pupil Equity Fund — created to improve levels of educational attainment by pupils from poorer backgrounds.
PCS pay ballot returns yes vote
A consultative ballot on pay by civil service union PCS has returned 80% in favour of strikes on a 49% turnout.
This turnout is higher than many sector wide ballots PCS has carried out before and, whilst just shy of the required 50% turnout under the Trade Union Act, is good news.
Union activists are calling for the union to use information about turnouts in different sectors to target organising for real ballots.
Showroom cleaners reinstated
Cleaners working at Ferrari and Maserati car showrooms in south Kensington have won the London Living Wage after strikes and protests.
Two cleaners were sacked after striking. After over 60 people descended on the showroom in a protest organised by their union, the United Voices of the World, they were reinstated. However the company still only offered a small interim pay increase while delaying implementation of the Living Wage.
Cleaners rejected this offer, and the company came back to offer an immediate implementation of the London Living Wage, with subsequent annual increases in the month following the Living Wage announcement in November each year.
49 strikes for housing workers
Housing maintenance workers employed by contractor Mears have launched a programme of 49 strikes due to last from November until February 2018.
The first strike will be for 48 hours on 16 November.
Workers have already struck for 40 days in a dispute over pay, with some workers being paid as much as £3500 less than workers doing the same job on another Mears contract.
The strikes are scheduled for a time where bad weather usually results in more housing repair work needing to be done.