Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 25 April, 2012 - 10:08

550 workers could lose their jobs as British Gas plans to close its Southampton centre.

The company says it needs to “reduce costs” and than an increase in online custom means fewer call-centre workers are needed.

Rather than committing to oppose the plans, the trade union Unison – which organises some British Gas workers – has said only that it will “examine the company’s business case” for the closures, “with a view to avoiding compulsory redundancies”, and has lamely pointed out that workers “will need significant assistance from the company given the dire state of the economy if this plan goes ahead.”

The union should immediately state its opposition to any job losses, demand that the workers are retrained if it is genuinely the case that there is insufficient demand for their current roles, and organise a strategy to resist the closure and impose their demands.

Train drivers' pensions strike

Members of the train drivers’ union ASLEF working for East Midlands Trains have voted by 76.4% to take strike action in defence of their pensions.

EMT bosses want to reduce employer contribution to the scheme.

ASLEF has scheduled strikes a series of one-day strikes through May, on the 1st, 3rd, 8th, 10th, 15th and 17th.

Union busting in the new NHS

Private contracting giant Serco has unilaterally broken off relations with the GMB union at Plymouth’s Derriford hospital.

GMB members employed by Serco have been campaigning for nearly a year against the threat of cuts to terms and conditions. Now their employer is refusing to talk to their union, amounting to an effective de-recognition.

Serco has run help desk services, ward housekeeping, patient and staff catering, portering, and cleaning at the hospital since 1999.

Companies like Serco will have much greater opportunity to bid for service contracts in the Tories’ new NHS. The struggle in Plymouth shows that privatisation leads to union busting.

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