Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 11 May, 2011 - 12:38

Following a successful strike at Newcastle College in April, two more further education colleges could see industrial action as workers fight back against pay and job cuts.

Up to 200 posts are under threat at South Tyneside College, where some lecturers also risk losing up to ÂŁ11,000 from their salaries. In a poll in the local press, 85% of respondents said they supported the workers. Their ballot result is expected on Monday 16 May.

Elsewhere, workers at Sheffield College will strike on 16 May unless management withdraws a threat of compulsory redundancy. A six-day rolling strike will bring workers at each of the college’s three centres out on one of the days. 84% of voting members supported strike action when the University and College Union held its ballot at Sheffield College last month.


All three unions organising at Southampton City Council could move to strike action in a battle against cuts.

The £25 million cuts passed by the council in February will see all workers earning more than £17,500 (65% of the council’s staff) face a pay cut, and 285 jobs axed.

GMB members voted by 91% in March to oppose the plans and the union said it would move to a ballot for strike action. This week, Unison returned a 56% majority in favour of strike action. A ballot result from Unite is due soon.


London postal workers will ballot against the closure of several London workplaces.

These include the south London Nine Elms office and the giant Rathbone Place site, the closure of which would result in the loss of 3,000 jobs.

The Communication Workers’ Union ballot will run from 13 to 23 May.

Elsewhere in the industry, postal workers in Liverpool took wildcat action after six workers were dismissed for following an incorrect instruction.

Thanet Foods

Unite is continuing a campaign of demonstrations against Marks & Spencer and Tesco, in protest at exploitation at Thanet Foods, the Kent-based agricultural producer that supplies them (along with Sainsbury and Asda).

Despite Thanet promising in 2009 that it would create 500 jobs locally, most of its workers are agency staff employed in what Unite calls “a system of permanent casualisation.”

Due to competition between two employment agencies operating in Thanet’s pack house, a rota system was scrapped and workers are forced to phone their agency every day to see if there is work available.

Unite demonstrated at the flagship stores of M&S and Tesco in London’s West End on 5 May.

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