Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Janine on 5 September, 2004 - 9:36
  • Wembley steel workers sacked
  • Met Uni lecturers strike
  • Swansea council strike set to escalate
  • Fire pay dispute settled

Wembley steel workers sacked

Steel construction workers on the Wembley Stadium project picketed the site on Monday 23 August after they were sacked. 200 of them, members of unions GMB and Amicus, were sacked on Friday 20 August by their employers Hollandia-Fast Track. The companies say they sacked the workers for taking unofficial action in a dispute about working hours and breaks.

The dispute arose when the workforce was transferred to Hollandia-Fast Track in July from its former employer, Cleveland Bridge.

One sacked worker explained that he and his colleagues are mainly from the north east and needed time off at weekends to go home. This had been allowed until Hollandia took over the contract.

“All we wanted was the same that we had. We’re lodging here and we wanted to be able to go home every weekend and see our families. We weren’t being unreasonable — all we wanted to do is work.”

After they were sacked, some of the workers were rung up by an agency offering them a job back on the site! One worker explained: “My employment was terminated by Hollandia-Fast Track… then I got a phone call on my way home from another agency in London asking if I could start a job and could I get another five men?

“He later told me it was the Wembley project. I said: ‘No disrespect, but I will not cross the line. It’s against all my principles’.”

Amicus and GMB repudiated the action, although GMB said it was sympathetic to its members.

Met Uni lecturers strike

London Metropolitan University has threatened to terminate lecturers’ contracts if they do not accept by 1 September a new contract being imposed on them. NATFHE members will strike on 1 September against this.

The lecturers have condemned LMU’s management style. This was highlighted recently when the university ordered the pulping of thousands of copies of a book about the university’s formation, originally commissioned by LMU President Roderick Floud.

As one lecturer put it: “A university management that behaves like a burner of books does not understand academic freedom or how to run a university.”

Up-to-date information from NATFHE.

Swansea council strike set to escalate

Information Technology staff at Swansea Council have been on all-out indefinite action since the middle of August. The strike is over the privatisation (outsourcing) of IT services. The Birmingham company involved in possible deals, ITNet, is already organising workers to scab on the dispute.

On 26 August Swansea council Unison members voted to ballot for industrial action across the council workforce. There is a very good chance of winning the ballot for action. Workers believe that the IT privatisation is the thin end of the wedge — other services will be lined up for the same treatment in due course.

The IT workers have set up a website, where you can get more information and register your support.

Fire pay dispute settled

A ballot of the Fire Brigades Union’s 52,000 members for strike action has been suspended with the news that the firefighters will finally get all the back pay that has been owing to them, that’s 3.5% backdated to November 2003 and 4.2% that was due in July 2004.

A deal had been scuppered in early August at the last minute, it seems by New Labour reps among the employers (when Lib-Dems and Tories wanted to settle!). The issues in dispute were:

  • whether firefighters should be expected to work “normally” on Bank Holidays. A fudged wording has been agreed;
  • whether it had been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Audit Commission that promised “modernisation” of fire brigades — shorthand for firefighters working harder for their money — had been achieved. The Audit Commission says it has.

The Ministry of Defence had admitted recently that it would not be in a position to provide full national fire cover in the event of a strike.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.