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Workplace news in brief
Unite members in Bromley, south London, notched up an important win in their campaign to stop the privatisation of the borough's libraries. The building firm Carillion confirmed it had withdrawn a bid to run the libraries on behalf of Bromley council. The confirmation follows a concerted campaign by the union which included marches, demonstrations and strike action to defend Bromley's library service. This has also seen Bromley Community Link withdraw its bid to run Bromley libraries with volunteers. The campaigners understand that the only bidder left in the running for Bromley libraries is Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL). GLL currently runs libraries in Greenwich where the Unite branch, led by Socialist Party members, has already taken sucessful strike action to defend pay and conditions and oppose zero-hour contracts, while at the same time winning permanent jobs.
Bromley Unite branch secretary Kath Smith said: "I want every union branch to be encouraged by this victory so that we can have a united fightback against cuts in local government."
The governors at Swiss Cottage School in Camden have agreed to apply to convert to an academy. They have received substantial support from Camden council over the years, but have decided they now want to be directly accountable to government commissioners instead of the local authority and local parents.
The governing body organised a very short consultation process for parents and staff to consider the possibility of an academy. But they have decided to defy, as many suspected they would, the responses they received. Only 3% of parents supported the change to an academy. The majority of school support staff rejected the proposals. Twice as many teachers completely rejected the proposals as those that expressed any interest in the possibility of the school becoming an academy.
Hugo Pierre from Camden Unison said: "The governors have not persuaded the vast majority of Unison members, teachers or parents that this is a good move. We know parents will be appalled that the governors chose to ignore this and will get involved in campaigning with us to get the governors to change their position."
Liverpool dock strike
Port of Liverpool dock workers are set to ballot for industrial action after recent unrest among staff employed by contractor Blue Arrow.
A Unite official has explained that a recent wave of sackings "has left morale at an all-time low". Blue Arrow recruitment agency was awarded the managing contract in 2014 and has already seen another dispute take place last month when external hauliers and dock workers protested against the poor break facilities on offer. That protest exposed the Victorian conditions the workers were enduring for toilet and dinner breaks.
Unite believes that Blue Arrow disciplines and dismisses workers far too quickly whenever there is the slightest problem. The present unrest is based on all of the recent dismissals being highly questionable and the workforce demanding that the union campaign for an employer who is fit to manage and look after the dock workers.
Neil Dunne, Liverpool Socialist Party
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