Pensions

Royal Mail: union embraces partnership

After a period of turbulence, including an industrial action that was struck down by the courts, the principal Royal Mail union CWU is embracing a partnership approach with the company. A joint online Q&A was held in late April, hosted by the CWU, where both parties answered questions from workers. This love-in failed to deal with the real issues and consisted of vague promises to fix things. The union has lost so much ground over the last 30 years it is unrecognisable from the organisation that once enjoyed real power in the workplace. Its activist base has shrunk dramatically, with what...

Universities ballot for strikes on course cuts

Multiple branches of the further and higher education union UCU are heading for industrial action after successful ballots. Prison educators working for private firm Novus across forty-nine prisons and young offenders’ institutions were due to take their first day of strike action on 26 April, with two more to follow on 11 and 12 May. That dispute is over health and safety. Staff at London’s United Colleges Group have voted to strike over increased workloads. UCU branches at Leicester and Liverpool have held successful ballots over redundancies, which at Leicester appear to be targeting union...

ASLEF votes for Tube strike

London Underground drivers in the Aslef union have voted by a 97.3% majority for industrial action to protect terms and conditions. With Tube funding, heavily reliant on fares, having collapsed due to the pandemic, workers expect bosses to attack conditions such as pensions as part of a commitment to the Tory government, which has given TfL a series of bailouts, to return to being “self-financing” by 2023. Although no specific cuts have been announced, two TfL reports have explicitly called for pension reform. RMT, TSSA, and Unite, the other three unions organising on London Underground, have...

France’s pension strikes still alive

The strike action renewed every day at SNCF (national rail) and RATP (Paris local transport) is over, but that doesn’t mean that the battle against the government’s Bill is at an end. On the contrary. Not a day passes without one sector or another making itself heard with never-before-seen actions. The strike is still alive, whether it be: • the strike of the firefighters who demonstrated on 28 January • the strike of the street cleaners and refuse workers in Ile-de-France or Marseille, who have been on strike for more than a week • the strike of the energy workers who have organised a series...

Industrial news in brief

University staff represented by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) are set to strike again in disputes over pensions, pay, equalities and casualisation with a series of walk-outs scheduled over fourteen days beginning Thursday 20 February. A further fourteen institutions are joining the sixty who struck in the autumn after reballots got them over the 50% threshold. In Scotland members of EIS (another, Scotland-only, union) have also rejected the employers’ offer, bringing the total number of mandates for action to seventy-six. Despite eight days of strike action last term the employers...

Students and the pensions movement in France

David from L'Etincelle, a grouping within the NPA (Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste, New Anticapitalist Party), talked with Michael Elms from Solidarity. In 2018 there was a movement about selection. In 2019 they increased fees for students outside the EU by like 1,000%. There was a small movement concerning that: but it was at the same time as the Yellow Vests movement, and it didn’t really get going. The Yellow Vests movement had an effect among some poor students, it was very strong among students for a couple of weeks, but things didn’t go much further than that. What’s the story with...

AWL delegation visits Paris

Since early December, France has been gripped by a mass strike movement over the Macron government’s plan to reform pensions. Workers’ Liberty organised a delegation of socialists of all ages from across the UK to visit France 24-26 January to bring our solidarity to strikers, and to talk to and learn from striking workers and socialist activists about events. By the time that we arrived in France, the movement was entering a new stage. After nearly 50 days of almost-uninterrupted strike action, transport workers were scaling back their action from an all-out strike every day to a series of...

Industrial news in brief

Although the action is yet to be announced, the next round of the university and college union (UCU) dispute appears set for the second half of February. Where strike ballots exist, they are either related to action defending the USS pension scheme, or over casualisation, pay, workloads and equalities (the “four fights”), however in most universities live ballots exist for both disputes simultaneously. A further 37 branches are currently being re-balloted, which alongside the live 98, would significantly enhance the strike’s impact, which in November and December saw thousands of UCU members...

Solidarity with the strikes in France

Labour for a Socialist Europe organised a demonstration at the French Embassy in London on 8 January in solidarity with the strikes against pension cuts in France.

“No retreat, no truce!” say French strikers

As we go to press, 7 January, the French government is sitting down with the various union federations to discuss the ongoing dispute over its pension “reforms”. The government hopes that a few limited or even cosmetic concessions will be enough to peel away some unions and begin to the mass strikes and protests that have swept France since early December. It is standing firm on its central policy of changing how the level of public-sector pensions is calculated and introducing disadvantages for those who won’t retire later (64, as against 62 now). Many private sector pensions are also tied to...

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