British Airways check-in during cabin crew strike, credit: Jules Mattsson (uploaded 22/03/2010)
British Airways check-in during cabin crew strike, credit: Jules Mattsson (uploaded 22/03/2010)

Manchester AQA exam body strike

After being offered a measly 3% pay rise – a figure distorted to 5.6% by AQA with the addition of a non-consolidated £500 payment – AQA workers in Manchester went on a 72-hour strike organised by Unison, starting on 29 July.

The picket on day one was around 45-strong. One member of staff called the pay proposal an “insult”. They further commented that bosses “haven’t done anything for discrimination against gender, sexuality or anything” within the workplace. The strike was spurred on by mention of ‘fire-and-rehire’ tactics to try and force acceptance of the new proposals.

The workplace has a Unite-Unison Joint Union Committee. But this time Unison took action alone. Unite is yet to ballot. The action saw over 50 workers at the Manchester office join Unison within a week, and further industrial action will be called if AQA do not return to negotiations.

AQA striker

Eastleigh VFS Car assembly workers strike

Striking automotive assembly workers at VFS in Eastleigh are very angry at the lack of respect from their bosses. After an initial 1% pay offer, with RPI inflation at over 10%, workers voted to reject. The bosses’ revised offer was then only another 1.5%. Workers balloted again and rejected. “They are taking the piss” was the common view.

This is the first ever strike at VFS, a newly unionised workforce of Unite members, but there was an upbeat mood on the picket, boosted by the overwhelming support from other workers, with nothing going in or coming out of the factory.

Mabel Wellman and Nick Chaffey, Southampton Socialist Party

Southampton Red funnel ferry strike

“First-class service, second-class wages!” was the chant of Red Funnel ferry strikers in Southampton and the Isle of Wight, fighting for a 16% pay rise on 27 July. When local supermarkets pay more, and without the extra safety responsibilities that come with working at sea, the company cannot retain staff.

Support for the Unite strikers was very noticeable and loud.  A number of RMT train staff striking on the same day visited the picket in solidarity. The idea of holding a joint meeting with all local unions to coordinate future action was warmly supported. Further strike days are scheduled throughout August.

Sue Atkins, Southampton Socialist Party

Airport workers’ victories

Airport workers have proven that, such is the power of workers, sometimes even just the threat of strikes can score victories. 95% of British Airways (BA) check-in staff in GMB and Unite unions voted for strikes on a turnout of 80% in June. Bosses had been refusing to reverse a 10% pay cut imposed during the pandemic.

By July BA bosses had made a U-turn, pledging to restore pay and offer workers a one-off bonus. Workers in both unions have voted to accept the offer.

Meanwhile, refuelling workers at Heathrow represented by Unite, also suspended a planned three days of strikes after voting to accept a 12.5% increase in overtime pay and a £2,500 bonus.

And at Gatwick, bus drivers in Unite have won a 21.5% pay rise. Here bosses were jolted into action, not by a strike vote, but because the union grew from one or two individuals to 100% membership over the course of just a few months.

Felixstowe dockers vote to strike

92% of dock workers at Felixstowe, members of Unite, have voted for strike action on an 81% turn out. Workers rejected a real-terms pay cut offer of 5% while RPI inflation runs at 11.9%. The container port is responsible for 48% of the UK’s container trade making the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company extremely profitable and its workers potentially extremely powerful.