Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 12 February, 2014 - 11:30

Lecturers at Edinburgh College are continuing their rolling programme of strikes.

The aggressive campaign of walk-outs has met with the overwhelming support of members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) at the college, 92% of whom backed strike action. The union is striking in protest at the 3% pay rise offered by management, a deal which is tied in with a number of attacks on workers’ terms and conditions, including the abolition of a class-contact maximum. Lecturers fear that with these protections removed, they could face a major increase in their work load with little to show for it.

The strikers have received support from the students’ union and other workers at the college.

Aramark caterers struggle for 3 Cosas

The 3 Cosas Campaign at the University of London has turned its attention to the catering provider Aramark, another outsourced company providing services.

Though the University claims to be a Living Wage employer, the campaign has produced evidence that some Aramark workers are being paid below the London Living Wage rate of £8.80 per hour. An Aramark worker’s payslip posted on the 3 Cosas Facebook page shows that some employees are earning just over £8.

Aramark employees have not benefited from the changes introduced to the Balfour Beatty and Cofely GDF-Suez contracts after the two-day strike by Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) members last November. Aramark workers still receive only the statutory minimum levels of sick pay and holiday pay.

An officer of the University of London IWGB branch told Solidarity that the union has received an influx of members from Aramark in the last week, complaining of bullying and harassment from managers. One worker told him that she was dissatisfied with the local Unison branch, which as far as she was concerned “works for Aramark.”

This is the same Unison branch whose Cofely representative recently took two workers to a disciplinary hearing in her capacity as their manager. Unison members, who are overwhelmingly in support of the 3 Cosas Campaign, should demand that the national union investigates its Senate House branch and the regional officers responsible for overseeing it.

After last month's three-day strike, the 3 Cosas Campaign is continuing its fight for equal sick pay, holidays and pensions for all workers at the University of London.

Free school strikes against double-cross

Teachers at the Stem6 Academy, a “free school” in Islington, suspended three days’ strike on 11-13 February after bosses agreed to talk about union recognition.

Management at the school have been trying to force teachers onto “zero-hours” contracts, with legal consequences threatened for those who don't comply. Management have also refused to recognise the NUT as the union representing the teachers.

At the end of January, a threatened strike action forced the bosses into offering union recognition.

They went back on their word but a strike on 5 and 6 February made them renew the offer.

Ambulance bosses back down

Yorkshire Ambulance Service has backed down on plans to withdraw payments for late meal breaks, as a result of threatened industrial action from Unison and two days of action from the minority union, Unite.

The final rejection vote from Unison members on the changes was 80% despite a branch committee recommendation.

There are still important issues remaining, not least a small group of members facing a 25% pay cut through a rota change, but the strongest message to go out at this stage is that even in these hard times members working together at workplace level can achieve victories.

Members meetings of Unison and Unite this week will plan what next.

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