Strikes and lock-outs

New settlement in British Gas

The GMB union’s dispute with British Gas formally ended on 20 July, when the union accepted a new settlement on pay, terms, and conditions. Engineers in GMB had struck for 44 days, but then new contracts were imposed via fire and rehire, with 500 workers leaving the company. The GMB says the company has made concessions on overtime rates, increasing them to “time-and-a-half”, and on unsocial hours payments, as well as agreeing limits on unsocial hours working. The new deal also strengthens the criteria for emergency call-outs, which potentially gives workers greater grounds to refuse being...

Building-wide safety committees (John Moloney's column)

The outsourced workers’ strike at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on 19-21 July was totally solid. I had the honour of addressing their picket line, and there was good support from elsewhere in the union and the wider movement too. It was especially good to see young activists from the UK Student Climate Network’s London chapter support the picket line, emphasising climate change as a class issue. BEIS is a key department in terms of climate strategy, so it’s especially important the links are made. The perspective now is to build towards further action in...

BEIS: ready for a long fight (John Moloney's column)

Outsourced workers at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) strike from 19-21 July. We’re prepared for a long dispute there if necessary. Neither ISS, the outsourced contractor, nor BEIS itself has offered a settlement to avoid the strike, so our members will continue taking action. Cleaners and toilet attendants at the Royal Parks will strike on 30 July. On the day of the strike, there’ll be a mass meeting where members will discuss any offer from the employer, if one’s been made, and discuss further action. Reps are proposing an ongoing programme of strikes...

BEIS strike from 19 July (John Moloney's column)

Our outsourced worker members at the government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will strike for three days, from 19 July. These are workers who’ve had to come into work throughout the pandemic, despite the buildings they service being mostly empty. They’re fighting for increased pay, a bonus for having worked through lockdown, and annual leave entitlement owed from last year. On 14 July we’ll get the result of our ballot of cleaners and toilet attendants in Royal Parks, who’re resisting potential job cuts and who want party of terms with those who work direct for...

Iran: strikes spread

The strike by the workers of Iran’s oil and petrochemical industries has spread to various cities, despite 700 workers at the Tehran refinery being fired. On 23 June workers in many refineries and petrochemical industries joined the strikers who had already been on strike for two days. It is estimated that there are now around 20,000 oil and petrochemical workers on strike across 11 provinces, demanding higher wages, an increase in leave and holidays, better health and safety conditions. In response, however, the regime stepped up its repression against the workers. According to labour...

Caledonian Sleeper struggle

Workers on the Caledonian Sleeper service concluded an 11-day strike for better pay on 26 June. Their bosses have imposed a pay freeze, in line with demands from the Tories for an industry-wide freeze on railway workers’ pay. The strike was extremely effective, with all Sleeper services cancelled. However, subsidies from the Scottish government have protected Serco, which operates the service, from the strike’s economic impact. Labour movement activists must plan action targeting the government, and ask why the Scottish National Party, which claims to be pro-trade union, is helping a...

Link outsourced workers' disputes

The union has now made a formal complaint to the Cabinet Office about the treatment of our reps in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Swansea. It’s increasingly clear that the strikebreaking campaign is, if not originating with management, certainly endorsed by them. The anti-strike, back-to-work petition was even tweeted by the DVLA’s official Twitter account. I’m pushing for the union to coordinate three outsourced workers’ disputes which are developing concurrently. On 29 June, we’ll get the result from a ballot of outsourced workers in the Department for Business, Energy, and...

Truck kills picket in Italy

Adil Belakhdim, coordinator of the SI Cobas union in Novara, Lombardy, Italy, and a member of the union’s national coordinating body, has been killed. He was hit by a truck driven into a picket line during the national logistics strike on 18 June. SI Cobas says: “It was not an accident — Adil was killed in the name of profit.” It says that the “murder is in fact the culmination of an escalation of organized violence against SI Cobas, which has been ongoing for months and is now without limits”. It cites many other incidents in recent months, arguing that they are “part of a single design under...

Sleeper battle continues with ban

The 11-day strike by RMT rail union members on the Caledonian Sleeper service finishes on 26 June. One of the strikers on the picket line in Glasgow spoke to Solidarity. Support for the strike in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland is excellent. It is a dispute which we did not seek. All we want is a level of fairness from the employer, Serco, which runs the sleeper service. Serco’s Chief Executive had his pay increased to £4.9 million last year. Serco has paid out £17 million to its shareholders. But then Serco turns round to us and tell us we’re not getting a penny. This shows contempt for a...

DVLA out again 5 July (John Moloney's column)

Our campaign at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea increasingly looks like becoming a long and bitter dispute. The union is in it for the long haul and it’s certainly necessary here. The next selective action strikes will be on Monday 5 July, Wednesday 7 July and Friday 9 July We still don’t know who pulled the plug on the deal that was on the table a few weeks ago and which could have settled the dispute. All the signs suggest it was Grant Shapps, the transport minister. MPs have asked questions in Parliament about who withdrew the deal, and he’s simply refused...

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