Pay, hours, conditions

To beat the pandemic, beat poverty: good sick pay for all!

There is growing noise in the labour movement and more widely around the issue of sick pay. We urgently need a bigger campaign on this issue. Despite right-wing agitation about people flouting lockdown regulations, the evidence suggests something like 90% general compliance (British Medical Journal). But much lower numbers of those infected or in contact with the infected are self-isolating fully: more like 20%. Unlike hand-washing and social distancing, self-isolation often requires material resources and support, particularly sufficient space and an income. Data from the first lockdown...

Support British gas workers!

British Gas workers struck from 7-11 January, resisting their employer’s attempts to level down conditions by sacking workers en masse and rehiring them on worse contracts. The strike was extremely solid, with activists reporting that its strength grew as it went on. The workers’ union, GMB, is set to announce further strikes. Workers’ morale is high, bolstered by significant engagement with and support for the strike via social media. Workers report numerous instances of self-employed gas contractors committing on social media to take no work on British Gas strike days. British Gas bosses are...

Towards telecoms strike in BT?

In December, BT Group workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted by a 97.9% majority for industrial action to defend job security and conditions, in a consultative ballot. A BT Group worker and CWU activist explains the background to the dispute and other struggles in BT. The national consultative ballot against job cuts and compulsory redundancies across BT is the logical result of the failure of industrial leadership by the CWU Telecoms Executive for over a decade, and also of the disastrous outcome of the 2019 general election for communication workers. The current faction in...

Deliveroo goes to the stock market

Deliveroo is set to become publicly traded in the first quarter of 2021. This “initial public offering” (IPO) will mean incredible wealth for a few; cheated, red-faced shareholders a few weeks down the line; and intensified exploitation for food delivery workers. Deliveroo is not currently publicly traded on the stock exchange. Rather than raising money by selling shares (and being accountable to shareholders), the company has thus far funded itself by making impressive and boastful pitches to big private investors. Between 2014 and May 2019 it had raised over US$1bn in successive charm...

Support British Gas strikers

British Gas engineers are due to strike from 7-11 January, as they fight to stop Centrica, British Gas’s parent company, forcing its workforce onto worse terms and conditions. Workers voted for industrial action by a nine-to-one majority, and thousands have attended online events to build the campaign. A GMB referendum on the proposed new contracts saw the terms rejected by an 86% majority. The section of the affected workforce organised by GMB and in the dispute is comprised of electricians, smart-meter installers, and engineers repairing, servicing, and installing boilers in residential and...

Couriers: half a step forward

Food delivery firm Just Eat is set to bow to pressure and start employing couriers as employees rather than as spuriously self-employed “independent contractors”. The company plans to start employing 1,000 workers “directly” via a delivery arm (Scoober) which will be operated by the recruitment agency Randstad. This means that these workers will all receive some measure of sick pay, holiday pay and other employment rights which most UK food delivery workers are currently denied. Just Eat’s move is part of a Europe-wide move by the firm towards regularising the employment of its delivery...

Help couriers' strike fund

This January I’m going to wild swim every day to raise money for the South Yorkshire Couriers’ Network Strike Fund. Covid 19 has made demonstrations, pickets and face-to-face meetings difficult or impossible. It has also hit key workers in precarious employment very hard. By getting in cold water every day, I hope to spread the word about the couriers’ struggle against poverty wages, verbal and physical abuse, exploitative working conditions and unfair dismissal. • Contribute here

Industrial reports: DHL; British Airways; Sage; Rolls-Royce

DHL workers strike for better pay Workers at DHL Supply Chain, a distribution company based in Liverpool which distributes Burton biscuits to shops in the north west, struck on 19-23, 29, and 31 December, and 3-4 January, demanding a 50p/hour pay increase. From April 2021, pay rates will be just 2.5p/hour above the minimum wage. The low pay is despite DHL’s profits increasing by nearly 20% in the second quarter of 2020. Police were called over 10 times as bosses attempted to disrupt successful picketing at the depot. Nine days’ strike at British Airways Cargo workers employed by British...

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