Industrial news in brief

Submitted by AWL on 27 July, 2016 - 1:57 Author: Dennis Brian, Luke Hardy and Gemma Short

On Wednesday 20th July, library workers in Lewisham took their third strike day to defend our libraries. In the evening the workers, service users and community activists held a lively lobby of Lewisham council.

The council wants to make ÂŁ1 million of cuts to the library service. They propose taking staff from four libraries, hoping that local voluntary organisations will take over the running of these libraries.
This would leave only three full libraries open in the borough.

The library workers’ union, Unison and the local community has mounted a vigorous campaign against these cuts. There have been regular meetings, including well attended public meetings, and activists have been working with the local Momentum group, Labour Parties and other unions to fight
the cuts.

Unison points out that should these cuts go through: professional staff will not be available in the 4 volunteer run libraries, opening times in these libraries will be reduced, if there are not enough volunteers, then libraries will close, library usage and services to the community will be reduced and vulnerable users won’t be able to access library services.

Despite the strike, lobby and campaign, the council rubber-stamped the cuts which had been proposed by the mayor and cabinet. However, that is not the end of the struggle and we will continue to fight the implementation of these cuts.

• Sign the petition

• Visit the blog

Leeds bus workers win pay deal

This week bus workers at First in Leeds were due to take indefinite strike action. The workers organised by Unite have been in dispute since June over pay.

Despite First owning large swathes of the bus network throughout Britain the pay rates are negotiated locally. The Leeds First workers ended up being paid up to ÂŁ2 less an hour then some other first drivers in Yorkshire despite the companies ÂŁ52 million profits and large increases in board members pay, the bus workers were offered only 38p an you spread over 2 years. Which does nothing to address the pay gap. Unite had four separate days of strike action. Then the company began singling out the union activists. The branch secretary and two others were suspended from work. Eleven others were disciplined.

Unite members fought back and planned indefinite strike action this week. First have now offered a new pay deal leading to the union suspending the strike pending a ballot on this offer. As Solidarity went to press it is unclear what the offer is.

The union statement says 13 of the disciplinary cases against union activists have been resolved “to the union’s satisfaction”. Only the case of the branch secretary is outstanding and that appeal is due.

At the recent Unite Policy Conference the union adopted a policy of fighting for public ownership of the bus network. Events at First show why this is needed.

Striking cleaners win London living wage

Striking cleaners at offices in the City of London, housing the likes of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, have won the London living wage after 44 days on strike. The workers, members of the United Voices of the World union, have been on indefinite strike since Thames Cleaning sacked half of the cleaners when they started campaigning for the living wage. Workers have decided to carry on the indefinite strike until their sacked colleagues are reinstated. Workers are picketting the offices at 100 Wood Street every day and ask for support.

• Follow their campaign here

Keep the guard on the train!

The fight against ″driver-only operation″ on train networks across Britain is continuing to grow, with the RMT now balloting members on Virgin East Coast trains.

The RMT is balloting members to seeks assurances on compulsory redundancies and keeping a safety-critical guard on every train as Virgin has refused to make assurances since it took over
running the franchise.

Members of various rail unions plan to protest on Thursday 28 July at a meeting of the MerseyTravel committee over the proposed introduction of driver-only operation on MerseyRail. RMT members on Scot-rail struck again on 24 July in their dispute over driver-only operation.

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