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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 March 2020

East London bin workers strike to get back unpaid holiday pay

Tower Hamlets bin workers on strike March 2020, photo Hugo Pierre

Tower Hamlets bin workers on strike March 2020, photo Hugo Pierre   (Click to enlarge)

Burning braziers and a mass picket shouting "scab, scab, scab". No, not news footage from the 1970s, this is east London in 2020. Just a mile and a half from the gleaming symbol of capitalism, Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets refuse workers in Unite are fighting to get back unpaid holiday pay from their contracted-out employer Veolia.

The workers are furious because 150 are owed substantial arrears. Some are claiming over 10,000 is due them. This is as a result of the 2018 employment appeal tribunal ruling that voluntary overtime should be included in holiday pay in addition to standard contractual hours.

Workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action with a 96.5% yes vote in the industrial action ballot with a 70% turnout.

They are angry that a small group have had claims settled, but the company are still holding out. Unite claims that the UK waste management division of Veolia generated revenues of nearly 1 billion in the first six months of 2019.

The refuse contract is actually being brought back in-house in a few weeks' time. While we clearly welcome this, it is scandalous that Tower Hamlets Labour council isn't insisting that this issue be resolved before it happens.

Unison national executive committee member Hugo Pierre visited the picket line, along with National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) chair Rob Williams. Rob spoke to strikers to give solidarity from the NSSN. He called on the council to intervene to ensure that every penny of unpaid holiday pay is returned to the workers. "Never again should services such as these be outsourced to these private companies again."

The workers ended their week of action with the news that the company had approached the union for talks. Understandably, while welcoming this development, they wanted to wait to see if Veolia were really serious about paying up. They have more strikes planned soon if they need to step up the action to get their money.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 18 March 2020:


Workplace news and analysis

Stop Press: postal workers deliver massive strike vote and offer to become additional 'emergency service'

East London bin workers strike to get back unpaid holiday pay

Determined St Mungo's homelessness workers strike for three days


International socialist news and analysis

French local elections: CWI candidate elected

New pamphlet: constituent assemblies and the revolutionary programme


Socialist history

South Africa: 60 years marking the Sharpeville Massacre


Coronavirus

Coronavirus: workers must not pay the price!

Capitalist crisis and corona: Johnson's budget for the bosses

Coronavirus - a workers charter 2020

Coronavirus: socialist planning, not capitalist chaos!

Coronavirus housing emergency - suspend rent and mortgage payments, seize empty homes

PCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

Councils must break austerity rules

Action needed to protect shop workers and access to essential goods

Coronavirus hospital worker: amazing response from staff - but worst still to come

'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

United States: private healthcare exposed as Trump throws money at markets

Workers at Lewisham coronavirus hospital walk out after not being paid

Coronavirus - waste processing employers putting us at risk

Bexley bin workers strike over lack of hand sanitiser

Going viral: socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

Under the microscope: socialist coronavirus news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Help us fund the Socialist

Stop gentrification of Lea Bridge

Tory student plot defeated at Cardiff uni

Nottingham uni occupation ends

Socialist Students speaking tour

Selling the Socialist


Readers' opinion

TV: Noughts and Crosses


 

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