Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/700/13465
Workplace news in brief
Unite rejects pensions attacks
Unite's local authority national industrial sector committee rejected the government's pensions proposals on 9 January. This was after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles had claimed before Christmas that agreement had been made over many of the proposed cuts to the scheme, including raising the retirement age.
On 5 January Unite's health sector committee had also voted to reject the proposals.
Unilever workers to strike again
Unilever workers, members of Unite, Usdaw and GMB are to strike again to defend their pensions for up to 12 days from 17 January. 2,500 workers at sites in Purfleet, Port Sunlight, Warrington, Leeds, Crumlin, Gloucester, Manchester, Burton-on-Trent and Ewloe in Wales will be involved.
After the last strike, the company banned Christmas celebrations by the workers.
So far the company has refused to meet the unions or to go to the conciliation service Acas. But on 9 January there was a demonstration outside the company's headquarters by workers protesting about the attacks on their final salary pension scheme.
Paradoxically, the company founder and philanthropist, Lord Leverhulme campaigned for workers' pensions.
Unite the Union has just circulated a letter to all 24,000 of its London bus worker members. It says reps voted unanimously last month "to pursue all London bus operators for a payment of £500 in recognition of the increase in work" we'll all face during the London Olympics.
It argues: "for too long you have been treated as second-class citizens by your employer, TfL [Transport for London] and the Mayor, this needs to stop."
This is the first time Unite has contacted every London bus worker directly, asking us to get involved in the campaign. If this campaign is seriously fought through to a successful conclusion, it will really change our union. London bus workers desperately need a strong trade union.
A London bus driver
Health and safety gone mad?
David Cameron has been pleasing his big business gallery by attacking the 'monster of health and safety' and the 'compensation culture'. Families Against Corporate Killers (Fack) have responded by sending a New Year's Day card to Cameron and his main cronies, pointing out the lies in his statement.
Fack explains that, rather than living in fear of the demands of health and safety regulation, many employers regularly expose their workforce to appalling levels of risk. On top of that, many families of people killed at work get no compensation at all.
They conclude: "This is a government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%, and to hell with the lives and health of workers and the 99%."
Support striking bus drivers
Stagecoach bus drivers are striking in Barnsley and Rawmarsh, Rotherham, in a series of rolling 24-hour strikes. The majority of over 250 drivers are on strike but Stagecoach is bussing in supervisors and managers from all around the country.
The company imposed an 18p pay rise in November taking their top rate to £8.74 an hour. The drivers are demanding £9.50 an hour with no strings. The next strike is 16 January.
- Messages of support should be sent to Barnsley Unite branch secretary Tony Rushforth, firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheques should be made payable to Barnsley Unite and sent to Tony at 45 Tune Street, Wombwell, Barnsley S73 8PX
Save Greenwich libraries
Greenwich Unite has learnt that the council has set aside money from its book budget in order to prepare for a legal challenge.
The council is planning to transfer the library service to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), a move opposed by the trade union. The union claims that the transfer will be followed by cuts - including library closures and the introduction of charges.
Unite Officer Onay Kasab stated: "Rather than sacrifice money from the book budget, the council should shelve its plans to cut the service by proxy. The transfer will simply get the council off the hook politically as far as closures are concerned - instead it will be unaccountable managers at GLL not councillors who face election who make the cuts.
"Yet the reality is that there really is no need for this measure - the council still has over £130 million in its reserves gathering dust."
Reinstate Vik Chechi
On 18 October 2011, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Unison branch secretary Vikhas Chechi was suspended from his post. This is clearly linked to Vik's vocal opposition to the cuts and restructuring being imposed on the university.
The latest situation is that management still haven't completed their preliminary investigation. The process started on 18 October, almost three months ago.
While not suspended from trade union activities, his long term employment and therefore union position as shop steward and branch secretary, remains severely in doubt.
- Please send letters of protest to QMUL Director of HR Chris Pearson (email@example.com) and director Fran Balkwill (firstname.lastname@example.org) demanding his re-instatement and opposing trade union victimisation at QMUL.
In The Socialist 11 January 2012:
Socialist Party Interview
Them and Us
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party features
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party news
Socialist Party reviews and comments