Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 10 January, 2018 - 1:22 Author: Gemma Short, Peggy Carter and Charlotte Zalens

On 2 January a notice appeared on the staff noticeboards of some McDonald’s stores announcing a significant pay rise for workers.

Pay for under 18s will now go up to a minimum of £5.75, under 21s to a minimum of £6.75, under 25s to a minimum of £7.95, and over 25s to a minimum of £8 in London. All workers will get an above inflation pay rise of between 5.4 and 6.3%. It is the biggest pay rise McDonald’s workers have had in 10 years.

A Bakers’, Food and Allied workers’ Union (BFAWU) organiser told Solidarity: “There is no doubt that this is a direct result of McDonald’s employment practices and wages being exposed by workers going on strike. There is also no doubt that a pay rise for these low waged workers will mean that workers and their families will be eating better, have a chance of finding better accommodation than they currently have, and children will have better clothes.

“However it is not enough. The real living wage in London is £10.20 per hour. They can afford to pay more, and they should pay more. Youth rates need to be abolished. Discrimination in pay would not be accepted in any other group in society so why should it be accepted, and legislated, for young workers?”

McDonald’s workers at two stores struck for the first time in UK history on 4 September 2017.

The BFAWU said: “Workers are organising in different parts of the country at the moment. We’ve had a significant response from across the country after the pay rise news. Not just from McDonald’s, but from workers across the service industry.

“There will be more strikes. Workers will chose to strike if McDonald’s does not increase wages more than it has — watch this space.”

Picturehouse workers to strike for 13 days

Workers at five Picturehouse cinemas will strike for 13 days at the end of January, including two 48 hour strikes on 20-21 January and 26-27 January.

The strikes were called after another ballot of workers returned 100% in four sites and 97.9% in one site in favour of more strikes. Workers at the cinemas also struck on 24 and 26 December, during a busy time for cinemas cashing in on Christmas holiday customers.

Picturehouse, and parent company Cineworld, still refuse to negotiate with the workers union Bectu. But the strain of the strikes on management is beginning to show as Picturehouse has maintained a recruitment freeze, fearful that new workers will join and spread the dispute.

Community supporters of the strike will be organising actions to put pressure on Picturehouse, particularly during the film awards season, as well as raising money for the workers′ strike fund.

• See PIcturehouse Four for more information

London transport workers’ roundup

DLR ISS staff

Cleaning and security workers employed by the ISS contractor on London's Docklands Light Railway struck on 31 December, after ISS refused to respond to the RMT union's pay claim.

Further action will be taken if the employer continues to refuse to negotiate.

Train prep fight still brewing

London Underground managers seem intent on pushing ahead with their plan to reduce the frequency of train safety checks from 24 to 96 hours.

This means that some trains could be running for up to three days without having vital safety mechanisms such as brakes and door operations checked and signed off by qualified staff.

RMT is opposing the cut.

“Road map” to pay parity at Ruislip Depot

Engineering workers at London Underground's Transplant Depot in Ruislip suspended a planned work-to-rule, due to commence on 20 December, after bosses agreed a "road map" to pay parity between difference grades of workers.

Maintenance staff balloted for action to demand equal pay after Engineering Train Operators and others secured a 6.1% pay increase.

Strike to end outsourcing

Security workers and receptionists at the University of London will strike on 25 January.

Workers, organised in the IWGB union, are fighting for an end to zero hours contracts, for the university to implement promised pay rises, and to be brought in house. Outsourced workers have far worse pensions, holiday entitlements, sickness entitlements, and maternity and paternity leave than in-house employees.

On the strike day the university will be holding the UK’s largest postgraduate fair, where universities market courses costing many thousands of pounds to prospective students.

Students and other supporters will be holding a solidarity demonstration at 6 p.m. on 25 January.

• Donate to the strike fund here

DOO strikes escalate

RMT guards on Northern, Merseyrail, Greater Anglia and South West Railways trains will strike on 8, 10 and 12 January, with Southern members also joining the action on 8 January.

This represents a necessary escalation in the fight against driver only operation (DOO), and will cause disruption to trains for most of the first proper working week of 2018. With the escalation have come some other developments —by choosing a Monday, Wednesday and Friday the union has ensured that three days of action span a full working week but only hit strikers for a maximum of two days pay each.

Further, this is being coupled with £200 per member strike pay that will offset almost the full two days' pay. This should help strikers carry on to beat the employer and the DfT.

Finally, a separate Merseyrail Solidarity Fund has been set up in recognition of the rock solid unity between drivers and guards on that franchise, where Aslef drivers have been refusing to cross picket lines. This will allow solidarity payments to be made both to RMT guards and any other rail workers who have refused to cross the picket lines on strike days.

Supporters of the fight against DOO should can help raise money for this fund by getting their union branches and other organisations to make donations or hold collections for the fund. We have included the bank account detaills for the fund below.

The Merseyrail fund should be opened up so that drivers and other workers at other franchises who have refused to cross picket lines can access it. This would have the added bonus of allowing the fund to be a focus for a national solidarity drive to keep the dispute going.

An increasing number of drivers at Northern have been refusing to cross picket lines, and a driver at one depot has secured a guarantee from the employer that no disciplinary action will be taken for not crossing the picket line.

• For more information on the Aslef “deal” on Southern see here

• Merseyrail Solidarity Fund:
Unity Trust Bank 60-83-01, account number: 20388537

Strikes against academisation

Workers in schools in London are fighting inspiring battles to stop their schools converting to academies.

Numerous news stories about spectacular failures and governmental and education reports have exposed converting schools to academies as a costly, and at the best, ineffective instrument for improving education, yet schools continue to try to convert. This has much to do with the huge pay packets for senior leadership and the opportunities to employ your family members.

Royal Docks School in Newham and Village School in Brent both struck before Christmas in their attempts to avoid academisation, Cumberland Secondary, also in Newham, will strike as Solidarity goes to press on 9 January.

School workers′ unions in Lewisham are preparing a campaign over the possibility of Childeric Primary becoming a part of a Multi-Academy Trust. As reported in this paper before Christmas, the impressive action by school workers at Charlton Park led them to a significant victory.

School workers in Brent, Newham and elsewhere in London will be bolstered by that victory, and hopefully will learn lessons from their colleagues at Charlton Park.