Defending jobs

How to fight for jobs

The government’s figures say unemployment could approach five million next year. Young, women and BME workers are being and will be hit hardest. The government is driving ahead with the gutting of the furlough and self-employed support schemes, and with a rushed-through hard Brexit which will further batter the economy. This unemployment crisis is also one of low pay and insecurity. Even before the pandemic, almost four million workers were in highly insecure employment. Since the virus hit, the number of workers on zero hours contracts has passed a million for the first time — with the...

Concessions won in DWP (John Moloney's column)

Bosses in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have offered a number of concessions in our ongoing dispute about Job Centre opening hours and arrangements. The union’s Group Executive Committee for the DWP meets on Monday 5 October to consider these concessions and decide the next steps. If the GEC decides the offer isn’t adequate, the dispute will continue and likely move to a formal ballot for industrial action. We need a comprehensive settlement that covers the whole department, on an indefinite basis. There’s been some suggestion that decisions around opening times and arrangements...

Jobs or retraining on full pay!

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn. About three million workers are still on furlough, on government-supported temporary pay while their work is suspended by the pandemic Furlough is due to end on 31 October. If it does, and is replaced by the Tories’ new “Job Support Scheme” (JSS), many of those three million will be thrown out of work. With the JSS, the boss who thinks trade will be poor for the next six months but revive later will be better off sacking half their workers than keeping them all with half-pay plus JSS...

Southbank workers fight 70% cuts

Southbank Centre [in London] is cutting its staff headcount by 70%, but this will only reduce the payroll by an estimated 38%. The lowest-paid staff with minimum hours contracts in the Visitor Experience and Ticketing teams are to be cut entirely, as there is no prospect of the Royal Festival Hall fully reopening to the public until April 2021. The Exhibition Hosts at the Hayward Gallery, who’ve spent the past month reopening the gallery in a new Covid-secure way, have also been told that they will be made redundant when the current exhibition closes on 31 October. In 2018-19, the Chief...

Where will the axe fall? (Diary of a Tube worker)

"I've been here 13 years, so you know what, yeah? If this fucks me, now, and it doesn't come round, I'll be pissed, pissed". D shakes their head and goes back to their food. "Well, the training [for Tube station workers to become drivers] has to restart at some point, but it's going to be a long time yet. They haven't even got enough instructors that can do the in-cab training yet". I'm in a similar boat myself. Several of us all thought we had a route out. It has been six months now since the lockdown put our training on pause, and time is really dragging. And some days drag more than others...

Tube: an alternative to cuts

As well as a loud “no” to cuts proposed by the ongoing KPMG-led audit of Transport for London’s finances, Tube workers and our unions also need to spell out our “yes”. We’re unlikely to get that kind of vision from the “independent review” London Mayor Sadiq Khan has commissioned to run in parallel. RMT has produced its own submission to the TfL review, making the case for public funding, public ownership, increased staffing levels, and the in-housing of all services. It’s a useful contribution to discussion, but needs to be connected to an active campaign with roots in workplaces. It also...

Action on jobs and re-opening (John Moloney's column)

Strikes to resist job cuts by our members at Tate galleries are continuing. I attended picket lines on 28 and 29 August. Tate bosses have now identified the workers whose jobs they intend to cut, cruelly doing so by sending out emails late at night on Friday 28th. Meanwhile, Tate is advertising for new jobs and is still recruiting staff! We’re therefore demanding that the workers facing redundancy be reallocated to the positions for which Tate is now recruiting. We’ll begin a ballot of our members at London’s Southbank Centre, also over job cuts, on 1 September. Bosses there have extended the...

Unions: use the lull to organise

Drax power station workers are balloting, 14-25 August, for industrial action against 230 threatened redundancies there. The GMB union has won a 95% majority, on a 67.5% turnout, for strikes at British Gas if the bosses do not back down on a threat to fire their whole workforce and rehire on new terms. The Unite union held a mass meeting of 1,000 British Airways ramp, baggage, and cargo workers near Heathrow on 20 August, and they voted for the union to move for “industrial and legal action” over job cuts, pay cuts, and BA cheating on redundancy pay for workers who have already signed for...

"Conditionality" and DWP hours (John Moloney's column)

“Conditionality” for benefit claimants has been restored, which means claimants can be “sanctioned” — i.e., have their benefits revoked — for things like being late for appointments. This is a spectacularly cruel decision on the government’s part, which PCS completely opposes. At the moment, bosses are still proceeding with a light touch and often not insisting that frontline DWP staff impose conditionality. But that’s likely to change, especially as claims continue to rise. We oppose conditionality both in terms of its impact on claimants, and its use as a productivity measure to discipline...

Expand jobs, boost pay!

Article and video. On 8 August, NHS workers and supporters across the country will demonstrate to demand a 15% pay rise, something like but better than what France has already paid its health workers. The Labour Party would help on jobs more by backing these protests than it is doing by its “jobs, jobs, jobs” campaign launched on 31 July. In the coming months, millions of furloughed workers are set to lose their jobs. And even more if it proves necessary to shut pubs and cafés again, as it may do. Over half a million young people leaving school and university are searching for jobs which aren’t there. The article sketches what we need.

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