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16 February 2011

Workplace news in brief

Tata steelworks cleaners' strike

Around 70 contract cleaners, working for OCS at the Tata Steelworks in Port Talbot, South Wales are taking part in two days of strike action in a dispute over pay.

Alec Thraves spoke to Tony Eley, Community branch secretary on a determined picket line at the Margam site.

"Our members are on the minimum wage at the moment and all we want is a decent wage. We have been negotiating with OCS over the past few months but are not getting anywhere. We've had great support today from our members who have been on the picket line since 5.30am. Other contractors have also been supportive and we are determined to get away from a minimum wage so that we can have a better standard of living".


Building for action at Cardiff university

Members of the Cardiff University University and College Union (UCU) packed a lecture hall on 2 February in a special meeting called to launch the trade union's strike ballots, over pay and pension cuts.

Employers have refused to shift from their positions on either job security and pay or the university pension system, despite months of negotiations on both.

700 out of 3,000 academic jobs are under threat at Cardiff University in the 2010-2011 academic year alone, although hard work by the UCU branch has managed to prevent any compulsory redundancies.

The mood at the meeting was resolute and nobody spoke against action.

Rae Lewis-Ayling of student group Action Against Cuts - Cardiff, which led the occupation of a Cardiff University lecture hall last November, spoke in support.

He received enthusiastic applause and one lecturer later commented that the speech, showing student support for whatever action the lecturers' union feels is necessary to fight the cuts, was "just what we needed to hear".

Edmund Schluessel, Cardiff University UCU, personal capacity

CD launched for Shrewsbury pickets

A fundraising CD for the Shrewsbury pickets was launched by Ken Loach and Ricky Tomlinson on 10 February.

Shrewsbury: Whose Conspiracy? has been made to raise money for the legal costs needed to clear the names of the 24 pickets convicted in the first national building strike in 1972.

Six pickets were jailed, including Ricky Tomlinson and Des Warren. Des died in 2004 - campaigners feel that was brought about by the drugs given to him in prison.

The CD includes tracks from Chumbawumba, Billy Bragg and the late Alex Glasgow - famous for the Socialist ABC.