Strikes and lock-outs

Lessons from McStrike

Author

Justine Canady

Last year the “McStrike” campaign got an enthusiastic response from many labour movement left and labour movement activists.

But now, for a long time, there haven’t been any local branch meetings for fast food workers, any meetings for workers in the “McStrike” campaign, or meetings with organisers about the direction of the campaign. What went wrong?

Over the last year or so I’ve worked in Wetherspoons, and before that in Brixton McDonalds. Another worker previously involved in cinema worker organising was already working at Brixton when I started there.

PCS says: join coup protests

Author

John Moloney, PCS Assistant General Secretary (in a personal capacity)

PCS nationally has made a clear statement against Johnson’s coup, and is encouraging members to join protests.

Our National Executive Committee (NEC) meets this week [starting 2 Sep], and will discuss the unfolding situation in more detail. Our conference policy on Brexit is to remain neutral on the question itself, which the NEC can’t overturn, but obviously we will need to think about how we respond, particularly as it’s PCS members’ labour that will be relied upon to a large extent to “deliver Brexit”.

Post workers to ballot for strike

Author

Gerry Bates

Postal workers’ union CWU is planning a strike ballot of around 100,000 workers in Royal Mail, with the vote due to run from 17 September to 8 October.

The union also balloted Royal Mail workers last year, succeeding in meeting the thresholds of the anti-union laws, but strikes were called off after bosses agreed to a number of concessions, including a reduction in the working week from 39 to 35 hours. CWU now says the company is not abiding by this agreement.

Rail workers strike again against DOO

Guards on South Western Railway are striking again from 30 August – 2 September, as their fight against the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO) goes on.

Company figures expected that 40% of services would be cancelled on Friday 30 August and Monday 2 September, with up to 50% of services cancelled at the weekend. Union activists believe these figures could be conservative.

Industrial news in brief

Author

Sacha Ismail and Ollie Moore

Tube union RMT suspended strikes planned by drivers on London Underground’s Central and Victoria Lines on 3-4 September, after bosses made a number of concessions.

The issues at the heart of the dispute include authoritarian management culture on both lines, and driver numbers on the Central Line particularly.

The union remains in dispute and activists say strikes should be reinstated if management renege on agreements.

Plans for TUC congress

Merseyrail strikes off, but SWR strikes go ahead

Submitted by Off The Rails on Thu, 29/08/2019 - 22:02

Guards on South Western Railway are striking again from 30 August – 2 September, as their fight against the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO) goes on. Company figures expected that 40% of services would be cancelled on Friday 30 August and Monday 2 September, with up to 50% of services cancelled at the weekend. Union activists believe these figures could be conservative.

As guards prepared for the strike, the news that SWR's parent company First had received £32 million from the government, in compensation for the impact of anti-DOO strikes. This means that taxpayers have subsidised a private company to minimise the impact of industrial action, significantly weighting the scales against workers.

On Merseyrail, RMT has suspended strikes due for 24 August, 3 September, and 5 September, after bosses made a revised offer. The new proposal does represent progress, most significantly in moving away from Merseyrail's previous position of retaining guards' jobs at the expenses of cuts in other areas, including cleaners' jobs. But questions remain over the detail of the deal, and whether guards will retain control of opening and closing doors. We've been here before on other companies, namely South Western and Northern, when a deal touted as providing a “guard guarantee” was reached, leading to the suspension of strikes, only to find that, freed from the pressure of industrial action, bosses' interpretation of the deal turned out to be little more than a soft form of DOO, leading to strikes being reinstated.

Merseyrail is the company where strikes have been strongest, bolstered by near unanimous support from Aslef driver members refusing to cross RMT picket lines. Those strikes were demobilised for months while dodgy deals, trading cleaners' jobs for guards' jobs, were brought back to the RMT NEC. Now, having finally made the decision, under the pressure of Merseyrail workers' mass meetings, to reinstate action, suspending strikes merely to “continue talks” about a new deal is a significant risk.

If the details of the new proposal are not ironed out to workers' satisfaction – i.e., a firm commitment to retain safety-critical guards' jobs, with control of the doors – the further strikes planned for 30 September, 2 October, and 4 October must go ahead.

PCS in rash of strikes

Author

John Moloney, PCS Assistant General Secretary (in a personal capacity)

Our members working as cleaners and catering staff at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are continuing an all-out, indefinite strike to win living wages.

Other outsourced workers at BEIS, including security guards and mailroom staff, have also struck, and they are discussing escalating the dispute by joining the indefinite strike.

Cleaners at HMRC offices in Bootle and Liverpool are also striking for living wages, and are striking from 11-13 August.

Industrial news in brief

Author

Ollie Moore

Harland and Wolff

A hundred and thirty workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast face the loss of their jobs, after the employer went into administration. Workers have occupied the shipyard, demanding it be taken into public ownership. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell visited workers there on Monday 5 August. The Unite union has argued the yard’s productive capacity could be used to manufacture renewable energy infrastructure.

EMT out again on 17 August

All out strike at BEIS

Author

John Moloney, PCS Assistant General Secretary (in a personal capacity)

Cleaners and catering staff at the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) began an all-out, indefinite strike on 15 July.

This is extremely significant. It’s the first all out strike in a Whitehall government department for decades. The demands include the London living wage, sick pay, and direct employment.

The union is paying full strike pay. We won’t let these members be starved back to work. Fundraising for the strike funds is one of the best things activists in the wider labour movement can do to help these workers win.

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