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28 February 2018

Workers strike back!

Coordinate the struggles

Mick Whale, Hull Trade Union Council

Faced with a fresh series of attacks from the Tories and their friends in big business, workers are striking back up and down the country.

National strikes by lecturers and rail workers are ongoing. And local struggles are on the rise, like the mini-strike wave in Manchester.

In Hull, the national strikes are joined by striking recycling workers, and disputes brewing in construction and the local council.


University lecturers in the UCU union have walked out against plans to cut their pensions by up to 40%.

They were supported on many campuses by their students, often organised by Socialist Students societies.

Students understand that high-quality teaching and experience depends on well-qualified, well-motivated lecturers. If the college bosses don't back down, lecturers will want to escalate the action.


Rail workers in the RMT union continue long-running strike action on lines across Britain against plans to scrap the safety-critical role of guards on trains.

This is a battle to maintain health and safety standards, protect passengers, and defend pay and jobs.

Pete March, secretary of Hull RMT, explained that last month a train split in half in Leeds station during rush hour and had to be evacuated. Without the presence of a guard, passenger safety would have been at serious risk.


In Hull, recycling workers employed by FCC Environment are also beginning a series of strikes to fight for the rights of all workers to equal sick pay. Tony Smith, shop steward, explained workers were solid and determined.

The bosses of FCC say they can't afford equal sick pay. But Madrid-based FCC Group reported 56.5 million profits in the first half of 2017 alone!

The FCC strike is significant because it is not a defensive strike, only defending existing conditions - as vital as those are.

Rather it is offensive, an attempt to win better conditions for a section of the workforce.

Already, GMB union steward Tony Graham has made it clear that no bin wagon driver will cross a picket line.

Other workers in Hull are balloting for industrial action, including housing officers at Hull City Council.

And local construction workers are also continuing protests against bosses' cynical attempt to use super-exploited foreign labour to undercut national union agreements on terms and conditions.

Socialist Party member Keith Gibson reported that Polish labourers queued up to join the union and the fight for equal treatment after he and other activists extended the message of trade union solidarity.


All the attempts by the Tories and Blairites to intimidate, split and undermine the confidence of workers through the law have failed. There is a growing confidence that we can win.

In Hull, the trade union council is organising a rally and demonstration in support of all the workers striking locally. We will also be establishing a hardship fund to help support their actions.

The Trade Union Congress should be looking to coordinate action on a national scale. With the battle to defend the NHS as a priority, it should be linking up disputes across the public sector and beyond.

Striking together, workers can force out this divided and hated Tory government, and push Jeremy Corbyn into power on anti-austerity programme.

Note: reports and pics of the latest UCU strikes in HE and FE will be posted up soon

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