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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 October 2009

An autumn of discontent in South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU) demonstration, photo Yorkshire Socialist Party

South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU) demonstration, photo Yorkshire Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Lecturers in the UCU union have already held one day strikes this term at Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster colleges, for the implementation of the 2004 pay awards and against cuts and job losses.

Alistair Tice

Unison members in Doncaster will march this Saturday in support of their branch secretary Jim Board who was victimised by the English Democrat mayor - a strong union response got his suspension lifted but members remain vigilant against further attacks on trade union facility time and representation.

Last week, The Socialist reported that the 1,500 bribe that South Yorkshire Fire Authority was offering 744 firefighters to buy out a change in their shift patterns was to be funded by 39 job losses. It turns out that these jobs have already been lost!

The reason why the management say that they can afford the 1.3 million compensation cost is that they have underspent on this year's budget by not replacing 39 firefighters who have already left the South Yorkshire service. In other words, the service has already been cut even before these shift changes were proposed.

Backed by a 83% vote for strike action against the Chief Fire Officer's threat to dismiss and re-engage firefighters on the new contracts, South Yorkshire FBU will decide on industrial action on 7 October, followed by a national meeting of brigade officials on 8 October called to organise solidarity support.

South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union FBU demonstration, photo Yorkshire Socialist Party

South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union FBU demonstration, photo Yorkshire Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Merseyside FBU could also be taking more industrial action after winning a 65% vote for 'discontinuous' strike action to win the reinstatement of Brigade official Kevin Hughes.

South Yorkshire First bus drivers, members of Unite, held a one day strike back in July against the company's pay freeze. Further action was suspended on union legal advice after, in the words of one branch officer: "the Tory right-wing, working-class hating Law Lords made this pathetic ruling against us".

However, even more drivers have voted for strike action in the re-ballot, in fact in three ballots for industrial action. 82% voted to strike over pay and by the same margin over management's decision to pay all leaving employees' holiday pay at 2003 rates (an average loss of some 600).

91% of drivers at the Sheffield Rgarage voted to strike: "against the perverse and out of control disciplinary culture that exists at the Olive Grove depot".

Strike dates have been set for three successive Mondays across South Yorkshire and for an additional three-day strike by Sheffield drivers against bullying management.

Strike action is being co-ordinated with First drivers in Bury, Bolton and Wigan. With Essex drivers voting 95% for action, and ballots in London and West Yorkshire at an advanced stage, around 8,000 First workers could soon be taking simultaneous strike action against the company pay freeze.

And the Sheffield bus drivers could be joined by the Stagecoach Supertram workers who have voted 9-1 against a pay-freeze and for industrial action.

Both these private transport operators, First and Stagecoach, each made over 100 million profit last year, but are now trying to use the recession to impose pay freezes and so boost their profits further. It just makes the case for the return to public ownership and for democratic control of all public transport even more pressing.

Sheffield's privatised refuse collectors, GMB union members employed by Veolia, have voted 89% in an indicative ballot in favour of industrial action against the company paying new recruits less than the council TUPE rates.

And mass meetings of Sheffield city council Unison members have voted to hold an indicative ballot for better pay protection for the nearly 2,500 workers who stand to lose out under the Single Status Agreement. GMB members meet this week to follow suit.

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In The Socialist 7 October 2009:

Needed a party for workers, not bosses

War and occupation

Afghanistan stop the war

Afghanistan - Bring the troops home now

Youth fight for jobs

Youth Fight for Jobs

University accommodation scandal: Students must defend rights

University freshers fairs: Students seek out socialism

Socialist Party news and analysis

Wirral anti-cuts victory: 'If you fight, you can win'

Young parents need support, not attacks

Fight for a living wage

Not to Darling's pay freeze

Fast news

Campaign forces health Trust to save Crowlin House

Workplace news and analysis

An autumn of discontent in South Yorkshire

Leeds council calls for talks with unions

Fighting against outsourcing, defending working conditions at British Telecom

NUT vice president: Elect Martin Powell-Davies

Cambridge post workers strike

North Wales shop stewards network

Socialist Party feature

Social care in crisis

International socialist news and analysis

Ireland: Lisbon Treaty vote is not an endorsement for hated government

Portugal: Voters turn to the left

Foreign aid - chaining the world to capitalism

Fish Tank directed by Andrea Arnold

I speak Fula by Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba


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