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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 June 2021

Workplace round-up

Liverpool Uni three-week walkout

Around 1,300 staff at the University of Liverpool began three weeks of strike action on 24 May, in a fight over cuts to jobs in the faculty of health and life sciences, said the University and College Union.

Staff are on strike every working day until 11 June unless the university halts the cuts.

The strikes come after 84% of members, who voted in a ballot last month, backed strike action to fight the university's plans to slash teaching and research jobs in the faculty. The university originally intended to sack up to 47 staff. This has since been revised down to 32 after UCU threatened industrial action.

Engineers fight 'fire and rehire'

Field service engineers at Brush Electrical Machines in Leicestershire have started a three-month strike over proposed changes to their contracts. The job involves going out to sites across the world to service the manufacturer's generators.

Unite says the contracts include reductions to overtime rates, allowances, holidays and other terms and conditions that would result in a pay cut of between 10,000 and 15,000 a year, and the company is using 'fire and rehire' to try and push the changes through.

Unite regional officer, Lakhy Mahal, said: "Throughout the pandemic, these engineers have continued to travel wherever Brush Electrical needed them to be, even though they had to spend weeks quarantining in solitary confinement to do so.

The industrial action will last from 25 May to 16 August.

Marks & Spencer distribution strike

Usdaw members have voted to strike in a dispute about the amount of redundancy pay that long-serving staff will receive when the site closes at the end of July. The industrial action affects a Marks & Spencer third-party logistics contract, operated by DHL at Long Eaton in Derbyshire.

Ed Leach, Usdaw area organiser, says: "Over 90% of Usdaw members have voted in favour of industrial action. DHL's refusal to agree that staff employed prior to July 2003, who are now being made redundant, are entitled to significantly enhanced redundancy pay."

Pizza Express slice workers' tips

Pizza Express workers demonstrate to win back their stolen tips, August 2015, photo Socialist Party

Pizza Express workers demonstrate to win back their stolen tips, August 2015, photo Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Unite has said that Pizza Express workers could lose an average of 2,000 a year if the cut to their share of tips paid via credit and debit cards or the company's app continues. It was suddenly reduced from 70% to 50% as restaurants reopened.

Waiting staff said their take-home pay had been as much as halved as the shift to contactless payments had also led to fewer cash tips, which waiting staff keep in full.

One worker said: "My wages have nosedived. The reality is everybody I'm working with is on minimum wage - so that is council tax or a dental bill."

Card tips at Pizza Express are managed via a 'tronc', in which a committee of staff members decide on how they are allocated. Workers said the members of the committee, led by a member of Pizza Express's head office team, had not been elected by staff and minutes of meetings were not available.

London sixth form college dispute

City and Islington College Sixth Form workers in their third week of strike action against the college's merger into Capital City College Group, which has led to falling pay and staff levels, rising workload, and zero consultation from management.

Trade union membership on the up

Between 2019 and 2020 trade union membership increased by over 100,000, the fourth consecutive year in which it has risen. The last time that happened was the late 70s.

This increase was propelled by a massive increase in the number of trade union members in the public sector of over 200,000. Almost 150,000 of these new members were employed in education, reflecting the trade union struggle for Covid safety in the schools.

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Finance appeal

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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 2 June 2021:


NHS

3 July day of protest - save our NHS from the Tories


Covid-19

Capitalism's Covid failings


Unite election

Unite general secretary campaign: Statement from Sharon Graham

Unite general secretary campaign: Statement from Howard Beckett


Israel/Palestine

Boycotts - what role can these play in the struggle for a Palestinian state?

Stop Israeli state terror: solidarity protests continue


US politics

Will Biden's 'green' agenda avert an impending climate change catastrophe?


Workplace news

Sparks force bosses to talk after blockading AWE

Save jobs, save livelihoods, save GKN Automotive - nationalise the plant!

Workplace round-up


International news

Belarus: Lukashenko's desperate attempt to silence opposition

Colombia: General strikes continue


Campaigns news

Cladding danger: Protest 5 June!

Pimlico Academy protest demands elected governors

York students demand democratic control of schools

Protests against anti-protest bill

Waltham Forest byelections: Council homes not unaffordable flats

Raising Fighting Fund in Southern region

Hillsborough crimes go unpunished


Universities

University funding reform: Fight for free, fully funded education for all


 

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