Union organising

How to organise young workers

One of the most visible impacts of capitalist globalisation has been the massive expansion of low-paid (and often semi-casual) jobs in the service sector. This “precarious” employment — in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, fast-food chains, supermarkets, high-street retailers, call centres and elsewhere — means long hours, barely-legal wages and unsafe working conditions. Young people fill these jobs. According to a recent TUC survey, workers between the ages of 16-24 make up nearly a third of the total workforce in hotels and restaurants in the UK (migrant workers and women of all ages...

Workers' Liberty 3/3: Factory bulletins in the 1920s and today

Workers' Liberty 3/3 (March 2006) reproduces many communist factory bulletins from the 1920s, and discussion from that era about how they should be produced. "Workers cannot write newspapers? Really? Just tell us some news about your factory". It also includes information on workplace bulletins produced by the AWL. Click here to download pdf.

The union and outsourcing (John Moloney's column)

Following their victory in the recent dispute, our members in Royal Parks are preparing further demands, including over a range of safety issues, to submit to management. Throughout my time as Assistant General Secretary I’ve worked support and empower outsourced workers in the civil service to organise and take action. We’ve increased our membership by hundreds. We have a number of targets for next year, including winning company-wide bargaining with Mitie. This company holds ten major outsourced contracts in the civil service; we currently have recognition in seven. We want an agreement that...

Couriers prepare strike against pay cut

On Sunday 28 November Sheffield’s JustEat couriers — who are employed by the gig-economy contractor Stuart — held a demonstration through central Sheffield against an impending pay cut. They were supported by the city’s Trades Council, labour movement and left. They are members of the IWGB union and have been organising in the city for two years with the help of members and friends of Workers’ Liberty, who were also central to organising this demonstration. Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam spoke on their platform, as did representatives of GMB health workers, Unite and UCU members at...

Royal Parks: an interim advance (John Moloney's column)

Outsourced cleaners and attendants in the Royal Parks have voted to accept a settlement in their dispute. A vote was held at a meeting on 18 November, with a follow-up check of members who couldn’t attend. It vastly improves sick pay arrangements, and enhances holiday pay. It also recognises the union, and several workers have come forward to be elected as reps. Although a clear victory, this is an interim settlement. There are many outstanding issues and other demands that workers want to press for, including issues regarding their contracts, health and safety and other matters. Another key...

Building organisation at Barnoldswick

Workers at the Rolls Royce site in Barnoldswick have voted to accept a new offer from the company in their dispute over staffing at the site. Ross Quinn, a Unite officer involved in the dispute, spoke to Solidarity. The key concession in the settlement is the extension of the no-compulsory-redundancies guarantee to five years. That’s a three-year extension on what was on the table previously. The deal also includes an agreement for a company furlough scheme for up to 70 workers, which is a kind of baseline insurance policy if work streams dry up in future. But that’s not something either party...

Near victory in Royal Parks dispute

Last week I wrote that one of our members in the Royal Parks dispute was facing victimisation. Until that threat was lifted we couldn’t settle the dispute. The good news is that the threat of dismissal has now been withdrawn, and the member’s probation period has been extended, which is the outcome he was looking for. That means we can move forward with discussion around the employer’s offer. That offer includes the recognition of PCS, significant enhancement of sick pay arrangements, and improvements in many contractual terms. We’ll discuss the offer with members at a meeting on Thursday 18...

Diary of an engineer: Bin strike - “Someone must be bullshitting”

The ERF [Energy Recovery Facility] where we work is fuelled and funded by bin waste. In a series of morning meetings, we’ve heard that the city’s refuse collection workers are taking strike action over pay and conditions. The first strike day [scheduled for 1 November] was called off after the company made a pay offer, but the GMB drivers’ branch rejected it. The following week, workers and managers at the ERF began discussing the effect on the plant. Management estimate (or at least tell us that they estimate) a small reduction in waste. Other waste streams will be tipped at the plant as...

Sticking issue in Royal Parks

In my last column, I reported that the month-long strike by outsourced workers in Royal Parks had forced a major concession, with Just Ask, the outsourced contractor, proposing to increase sick pay entitlement from six days to a maximum of three months, depending on length of service. But they wanted a whole range of differentials to apply, so that only certain workers would get the increased sick pay. They have now backed down from that, so length of service will be the only variable affecting sick pay entitlement. Obviously, the ideal would be maximum entitlement for all workers from day one...

A union policy on climate (John Moloney's column)

I spoke at an online members’ meeting about the union’s climate change activity on Tuesday 26 October. Although much of the discussion understandably focused on the upcoming COP26 conference, I was keen to emphasise that the real fight for us is after COP, both industrially, in terms of organising around decarbonisation demands in civil service workplaces, and politically, in terms of pressuring the government to take radical action. The government has no serious plan, either as an employer, for the decarbonisation of government workplaces, or at societal level for meeting its targets for...

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