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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 February 2012

Workplace news in brief

Unilever 1

To the sound of hoots of support from passing traffic, the delivery lorries normally supplying Walls Ice Cream were backing up, as drivers refused to cross the Unilever picket line in Gloucester on 25 January.

The lorries turned round next to a banner reading 'Unilever the greatest thieves since Robert Maxwell'.

The first national strike action to hit the world's third biggest consumer products company, started in December involving Unite, GMB and Usdaw.

This was after management broke previous promises when deciding to replace its final salary pension scheme with an inferior career average, affecting 5,000 workers.

Despite repeated union appeals and the offer of talks at the conciliation service Acas, Unilever has refused to meet and instead scrapped Christmas parties, gifts and bonuses.

So action has continued since 17 January for ten days, across all twelve British sites - from the Croespenmaen Pot Noodle factory in Wales and the Persil factory in Warrington, to the Colman's mustard factory in Norwich.

According to its profile: "No company touches so many people's lives in so many ways".

Chris Moore, Gloucestershire Socialist Party

Unilever 2

When the Unilever Crumlin plant in south Wales comes out on strike, every single one of the 180 workers does their shifts on the picket line.

It makes for a very strong dispute. In the latest strike from 26-28 January, this was shown very clearly.

Eight fitters were told they hadn't been included in the documentation to the company and they had to go in or their jobs were on the line.

Very tense scenes erupted, when they tried to go in to work. In the end, the pickets let them through, but only on the adamant instructions of the full time official.

But after a discussion with the manager, he admitted they couldn't be forced to cross a picket line, and they came back out again to support the strike!

A Caerphilly Socialist Party member

Stop DVLA closures

As previously reported in the Socialist, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is planning to close all 39 of its local offices and centralise operations at its Swansea headquarters.

This is part of a wider strategy to move away from face- to-face service to an electronic service. Not only will this move locally based facilities with experienced and knowledgeable staff away from the general public and the motor trade, but it will cut over 1,200 jobs.

PCS is strongly opposing these plans and a ballot on industrial action is to be held, not just at DVLA but across the entire Department for Transport group.

This reflects the fact that job losses and privatisation are a common theme throughout the department.

Lunchtime protests (12 noon - 2pm) are planned at all DVLA local offices on 9 February. Please visit the DVLA web site for locations of local offices and to respond to the consultation, which closes on 6 March.

Dave Warren, vice president DVLA section of PCS

+ For more on all these and other disputes see

Whipps Cross: Defend Len Hockey

Workers at Whipps Cross hospital in east London rallied in support of their Unison branch secretary Len Hockey.

Len is under attack from his employer Initial Rentokil. Shockingly he is also being attacked by his own trade union, in spite of Len's branch being given official awards by Unison for good trade union organisation!

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In The Socialist 1 February 2012:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Bankers bonus scandal - Fight this profit-mad system

Trade unionists and socialists prepare for May elections

What is the point of Labour MPs?

Dead end in Davos

Them & Us

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Don't let the racist EDL divide us

Disabled protesters demand scrapping of 'welfare' bill

Haringey takes action against academies

Coventry: Re-elect Dave Nellist

Socialist Party youth and students

NUS: name the day for student walkout

Save Derbyshire youth services!

Only one in six 'vacancies' real

Tough conditions for agency workers

South East Wales youth plan new campaigns

International socialist news and analysis

EU summit - no capitalist solutions to the spiralling eurozone crisis

Interview: the Tunisian revolution one year on

Socialist Party workplace news

Pensions battle: Unions must campaign for coordinated strike action in March

London Docklands transport workers win Olympics deal

Unison pensions cowardice

Remploy workers fight privatisation

Jet tanker drivers continue strike action

Workplace news in brief

The Socialist - readers' comments

Debate: Should socialists support the HS2 rail line?

Are the Greens a real alternative?

Smacking not the answer

Obituary: Gwenda Beishon


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