Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 22 April, 2015 - 11:04 Author: Gemma Short and Charlotte Zalens

After voting for strikes over outsourcing by 87%, Unison members in Barnet Council will strike on Thursday 30 April and Friday 1 May.

On 1 May Unison hold a march and rally, followed by a members meeting to review the strike and any proposals from the council. If the council has not moved, a second phase of strikes will follow on Thursday 21 May and Friday 22 May, and a third on Monday 1 June and Tuesday 2 June.

Libraries are one of the services to be affected by outsourcing and cuts. Activists have been holding a “grand tour of Barnet libraries” with marches between local libraries in protest. The next march will start from Chipping Barnet Library at 11.00 on Saturday 25 April.

Unite members at Bromley Council are on strike against mass privatisation of services in the council.

Workers will be taking part in selective strikes, with library workers out on 27-30 April, parks on 5 May, Astley care centre and passenger services on 13-19 May, and all workers (apart from school staff) on 1, 7 and 19 May.

Workers had previously struck on 7 and 8 April after voting by 87% in favour of strikes against the privatisation.

Tory run Bromley council has £130 million in reserves, yet is privatising the bulk of its services.

The council has also attacked the Unite union, by withdrawing facility time from the branch secretary.

165 jobs to be cut at London Met

London Metropolitan University has announced that it plans to cut 165 jobs, including making compulsory redundancies.

Unison and UCU are organising against the job cuts, and both are considering balloting for action. University management set a time frame of just 45 days to “consult” on cuts, and part of this was during the Easter holidays.

London Metropolitan has seen redundancies every year since 2009, when management proposed 550 job cuts. Redundancies followed in 2011, 2012 and in 2013.

UCU ran a consultative ballot for industrial action over the Easter holidays, which returned 85% in favour of strikes against redundancies on a 30% turn out. Unison members also voted in favour of strikes by 86% in a similar ballot.

Unison and UCU have sent out an open letter to students making their case against cuts and arguing for their support, and the Student Union ran a debate with UCU and Unison representatives debating the Vice-Chancellor, where students showed support for the fight against cuts.

Anti-Academies march

“Stop Academies in Lewisham” will be demonstrating on Saturday 25 April.

The march starts from Hilly Fields school at 12.00 and goes to Ladywell and onto Cornmill Gardens opposite Vale school.

The Prendergast Federation organised “consultation” meetings last week at Ladywell, Vale and Hilly Fields schools. The consultation meetings were barely publicised by the schools and it was left to activists in Stop Academies in Lewisham to publicise them.

At the meetings parents were told that the main benefit for the schools would be extra money, £70,000 for Ladywell and Vale, and £50,000 for Hilly Fields. Yet campaigners say this fails to take into account increased costs that the schools will have out of local authority control.

A parental feedback form has been published by the Federation which campaigners accuse of having biased questions.

Three of the questions are prefaced with statements from the Federation about the benefits of Academy conversion.

Rail pay deal rejected

Rail union RMT has rejected new proposals from bosses in a dispute over pay for Network Rail workers. RMT will be balloting its members for strikes, with the ballot closing on 12 May.

An earlier offer was rejected by a massive 93% on a 56% turn out, and since then talks through ACAS have failed to produce significant movement from Network Rail.

The pay proposals include a £500 non-consolidated lump sum for 2015, a three year deal with an RPI level of inflation pay rise each year, and a “no compulsory redundancies” commitment extended until 2016.

RMT says that the non-consolidated lump sum for 2015 is inadequate, and wants to see the “no compulsory redundancies” commitment extended further into the future, so that staff are not living in fear for their future jobs.

Fightback can stop cuts

London Underground is continuing its closures of ticket offices across the Tube, with offices at major stations such as King's Cross and Brixton now boarded up.

The Hands Off London Transport campaign group, backed by Tube union RMT, has organised protests at many stations. The Labour group on the Greater London Assembly has opposed the closures, and the proposed staffing cuts, and protests have been backed by Labour MPs and PPCs, as well as candidates from other parties.

The closures are part of a huge cuts plan that — if it is not halted by public and union pressure — will see nearly 900 frontline station jobs go.

London Underground is also planning to make savings by commissioning driverless trains, cutting jobs in its training department, and preparing attacks on Tube workers' pensions.

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