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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2011

Workplace news in brief

Pensions ballot

Teachers' union NUT members are participating in a survey about action over pensions. The education department is threatening to increase contributions from 6.4% to as much as 10% of salary. The NUT executive meets on 18 January to consider the results of the survey, so all NUT members should make sure their executive member supports an urgent ballot for strike action.

Members of the lecturers' union UCU will be balloting for strike action on jobs, pay and pensions. Higher education branches from 2 February to 2 March and further education branches and members in post-1992 universities from 23 February to 11 March.

Birmingham bins

The recently planned strikes by Birmingham bin workers were called off at the last minute by the trade unions. They say that negotiations have produced enough to call off the industrial action. Negotiations are proceeding as the bin workers clear the backlog of rubbish. But it seems that the workforce is still facing major pay cuts and a worsening of working conditions, whilst the position of agency workers is increasingly precarious.

Hull workers fight sacking

At midnight on 12 January, Lovells housing maintenance workers in Hull were told that they were no longer going to be paid. In effect they were being sacked. What has happened to these workers is a timely warning to all public sector workers who face privatisation. It also gives the lie to Cameron's claims that the private sector is better at doing public sector work.

The workers used to be part of the direct labour force in Hull city council. The last Labour government "outsourced" the housing maintenance work to three arms length companies - Keir, Connaughts and Kingston Works Limited (KWL).

In July last year Connaughts went bust. Under the original agreement, the Connaughts workers should have been taken back into Hull city council's employment. Instead Carl Minns, the Liberal leader of the council, sold the workers and the work to Lovells, another private firm.

Ken Thompson, UCATT steward, explained that: "The workers are demanding that the council either takes them and the work back in house or organises their transfer to KWL and Keir."

Mick Whale

Related links:

Pensions:

triangleLecturers strike around country in defence of pensions

triangleBosses divided - university pension strikes can win!

triangleUni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

triangleRoyal Mail forced back under threat of action

triangleUniversity workers' walkout for decent pensions

Birmingham:

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: The Iran 1979 revolution

triangleFat cat vice chancellors schooled by Brum students

triangleMajority of kids poor in some areas

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: Football under capitalism

Hull:

triangleCatchy folk rock with a socialist edge

triangleHull youth festival

Council:

triangleSave Salford nurseries!

triangleVictory: Pontllanfraith leisure centre saved

NUT:

triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

Education:

triangleFailing academy chain strips school assets - end academisation!

Bin workers:

triangleKirklees bin workers ballot for strike over schedule and bullying

UCATT:

triangleLetter from blacklisted construction workers

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