The Socialist 17 October 2012
Build a 24-hour General Strike
Workplace news in brief
Living wage now!
Transport union RMT is campaigning for London Mayor Boris Johnson to increase the London living wage to £10 an hour, benefiting cleaners and other low-paid workers.
Campaigners demonstrated outside the headquarters of the Greater London Authority on 17 October, to call for better pay and conditions for transport cleaners.
Cleaning companies on London Underground, DLR, London Overground and the various national rail companies pay wages varying between £6.09 an hour to £8.30 an hour.
A study has just found that one in five workers in London, over half a million people, are paid less than the current 'living wage' of £8.30 an hour.
Nearly 200 Tesco drivers in Doncaster were transferred over to Eddie Stobart's Logistics (ESL) firm in August and immediately lost their pension scheme and other benefits.
That is bad enough, but within one month of the transfer the drivers were all given three months notice, with no promise that they will be re-employed once the 90 days is up.
After the drivers voted by 91.7% to 8.3% for strike action they went on a 48-hour strike, which started on 9 October.
Unite, their union, fully supports the strike and has provided a mobile canteen for its duration.
The pickets were in a very angry but hopeful mood; there were a lot of drivers beeping in support as they passed the site.
The strike will be well supported by the residents of Doncaster, a once proud industrial town.
The 200 drivers who are being treated so shamefully deserve better but the system that is built on the exploitation of workers will continue to grind us down until we make a stand.
Unite has been leafleting rail and tube passengers in London, exposing the fact that Crossrail bosses are doing nothing about contractors who sack workers who raise health and safety concerns.
The union is calling for urgent talks with Crossrail over these claims of victimisation and that there is an anti-union bias across the project.
There is a daily picket at the Westbourne Park site where recently a waste hopper collapsed, underlining the importance of having proper safety reps.
Here Crossrail allowed a contractor to cancel a contract, effectively sacking 28 workers, including a shop steward and safety rep.
Unite is also raising concerns about the tax-dodging antics of contractors on this £18 billion project.
UPS workers defend union rep
Union busting is alive and well in the UK as the campaign to reinstate Winston Dallen clearly shows. Winston is a Unite rep at UPS Camden, the parcel delivery firm, with 14 years employment at the company's Camden depot in London.
For the last five years he has been an effective and popular Unite rep. In a leaflet handed out to workers on 9 October, Unite explain that Winston has been unfairly suspended for his trade union activity.
UPS is a notoriously anti-union firm in the US. Those methods seem to have been imported wholesale to Britain.
During leafleting by Unite officials and supporters, including Socialist Party members, groups of managers attempted to intimidate workers into refusing to take leaflets.
The chief manager is a spitting image of Sid James but there was nothing funny about his attempts to disrupt leafleting, often standing beside leafleters as they spoke to workers, threatening them with disciplinary action if they displayed 'Reinstate Winston' leaflets on their dashboards of their delivery vans.
Despite these tactics union activists were determined to carry on leafleting. Several drivers were seen to keep the 'Reinstate Winston' leaflets in their windscreens in defiance of management bullying.
Building the fightback in Salford
On 8 October, over 170 Salford city branch Unison members gathered to discuss pay and grading, car allowances and the anti-cuts campaigns in Salford.
The Labour controlled council is proposing a £15 million reduction in the wages bill over five years.
It has also 'offered' a new car allowance scheme, and further cuts to admin services, mental health services and environmental services.
In an indicative vote, 168 members voted in favour of a motion rejecting the council's proposals. It included support for a ballot for industrial action if the council doesn't remove this proposal from the table.
The meeting also supported an indicative motion to reject the car allowance offer and to campaign for a fair scheme that doesn't amount to a pay cut.
There was overwhelming support for admin staff who are facing cuts, refuse collectors whose terms and conditions are under attack and staff in mental health services where services users and staff have linked up to resist cuts.
In this issue
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
The Socialist Party