Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/690/13005
Workplace news in brief
TV license strike
About 50-60 TV licensing workers in Bristol, members of the CWU, gathered from various picket lines for a short rally to mark the first day of their strike on 17 October. They are fighting for a decent pay increase after their employer, Capita, have offered them only 2.6% this year. The cost of living is rising at almost double this rate and this deal comes on the back of a two-year pay freeze.
The company claim this is all they can afford but as angry workers pointed out they make £1 million profit daily and bosses recently awarded themselves £5,000 each. Companies like Capita that specialise in winning contracts for privatised public services are actually looking forward to an even bigger bonanza thanks to the government's austerity drive. They're only able to make these huge profits off the back of driving down workers' terms and conditions.
Everyone I spoke to was clear that if bosses didn't budge after this first day of action then there would be more.
West Mids NSSN
Around 30 trade unionists attended the West Midlands conference of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) in Birmingham on 15 October. It marked another positive step forward for the NSSN.
The first discussion of the day heard introductions from Rob Williams, chair of the Network, and Sian Ruddick chair of the PCS in the Midlands. Both speakers outlined the current situation, with unions gearing up to take action on 30 November.
After that discussion there were two workshop sessions - one on strengthening unions where they already exist, and the other on building unions where there are none. These were excellent discussions - activists from the shop floor exchanging ideas, experiences and practical advice on organising.
The final session was on building the NSSN for the battles ahead.
A delegation of Unite members from Remploy in Staffordshire formally thanked the NSSN for the support they have received.
Socialist Party reporters
The international class struggle hit one of the more exclusive parts of London's West End on 13 October when professional art handlers at auction house Sotheby's salerooms in New York, members of the Teamsters union, took their protests to the London contemporary art auction.
Jason Ide, president of Teamsters Local 814 in New York said to the Socialist: "Despite record profits and growth, Sotheby's locked out all of their art handlers when they refused to accept worsened contracts. We have been locked out for two and a half months when we refused to accept an extra 30 minutes on the working day, reduction in overtime rates, the introduction of a 'permanent' class of temporary workers and having to train these new workers to do their jobs!"
Jason said they will continue their protests outside Sotheby's events wherever they happen around the world.
In The Socialist 19 October 2011:
Socialist Party news and analysis
What we think
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review