Defending jobs

Towards telecoms strike in BT?

In December, BT Group workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted by a 97.9% majority for industrial action to defend job security and conditions, in a consultative ballot. A BT Group worker and CWU activist explains the background to the dispute and other struggles in BT. The national consultative ballot against job cuts and compulsory redundancies across BT is the logical result of the failure of industrial leadership by the CWU Telecoms Executive for over a decade, and also of the disastrous outcome of the 2019 general election for communication workers. The current faction in...

Barnoldswick workers consider offer

Workers at Rolls Royce’s plant in Barnoldswick are considering a proposal from their employer which could end a weeks-long strike at the factory. Unite suspended its latest strikes, which began on 4 January and were due to continue until 22 January, when the offer was received. The union has described the offer as a “landmark deal”. 350 jobs at the Barnoldswick site were threatened by Rolls Royce’s plan to offshore the factory’s work to countries including Singapore. The cuts are part of a wider tranche of job cuts planned by Rolls Royce, totalling 9,000. Unite says the employer’s offer would...

Industrial reports: DHL; British Airways; Sage; Rolls-Royce

DHL workers strike for better pay Workers at DHL Supply Chain, a distribution company based in Liverpool which distributes Burton biscuits to shops in the north west, struck on 19-23, 29, and 31 December, and 3-4 January, demanding a 50p/hour pay increase. From April 2021, pay rates will be just 2.5p/hour above the minimum wage. The low pay is despite DHL’s profits increasing by nearly 20% in the second quarter of 2020. Police were called over 10 times as bosses attempted to disrupt successful picketing at the depot. Nine days’ strike at British Airways Cargo workers employed by British...

Barnoldswick workers resist lockout

Workers at Rolls Royce’s plant in Barnoldswick in Lancashire have been striking since 6 November to prevent the offshoring of 350 jobs. Facing strikes through until Christmas, the company has now locked the workers out. Ross Quinn, a Unite organiser involved in the dispute, spoke to Daniel Randall from Solidarity. The targeted action we’ve taken has put the company under huge pressure. The majority of workers were still coming into work, but nothing was moving, and nothing was getting done. The employer couldn’t use the government furlough scheme, because the impact on work wasn’t to do with...

BT workers ballot

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is conducting a consultative ballot of its members in the telecom giant BT, which could presage a formal ballot for action to resist what the union calls “a vicious programme of compulsory redundancies, site closures, and attacks on pay, terms and conditions”. The consultative ballot closes on Thursday 10 December, and CWU reps and activists say they are confident of a huge vote in favour of action. Almost 50,000 workers are being balloted. The CWU has also criticised BT management’s “newfound disregard for longstanding agreements with the union that have...

Fight job cuts in retail

Arcadia, the owner of Topshop, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins, has gone into administration, putting 13,000 jobs at risk. In retail, 85% of Arcadia employees are women, while at head office 71% are women. It is also a young workforce. 75% of the retail workforce is under 35 while at head office 63% of the workforce is under 35. The company said the pandemic had had “a material impact on trading across our businesses”, and in fact it was already in difficulties due to a chunk of its traffic moving to competitors more adroit about going online. Hospitality and retail are the foremost sectors for...

Barnoldswick workers face lockout

Striking Rolls-Royce workers at the company’s Barnoldswick plant face a lock-out, after bosses closed the site from 27 November. Strikes against plans to cut 350 jobs at the factory were scheduled through to 23-24 December. Rolls-Royce has said it will immediately transfer work currently being undertaken at the site to Japan, Singapore, and Spain. Unite officer Ross Quinn said: “We have consistently called on Rolls-Royce to work with us to find the resolution that the members who have given their working lives to Rolls-Royce deserve. “However the company has shown absolutely no appetite to...

"This can inspire workers in all workplaces"

Rolling strikes by Rolls Royce workers in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, are continuing, as workers resist attempts by bosses to cut 350 jobs. The strikes, which involve workers in different parts of the factory striking at differ- ent times, maximising the impact on the employer whilst minimising the impact on workers, started on 6 November and will run until Christmas Eve. A statement by the workers’ union Unite said: “This week [starting 23 November], the company will be meeting with ministers and MPs to discuss the proposals. Given the criticism of Rolls-Royce’s actions from across the...

British gas workers fight "fire and rehire"

The GMB union has announced plans to ballot its members in British Gas for industrial action, after bosses refused to withdraw a plan to sack 20,000 workers en masse and rehire them on worse terms and conditions. A union statement said a “a national strike in the gas industry is weeks away” unless British Gas, now owned by the multinational firm Centrica, backed down from the fire-and-rehire plan. The union has yet to announce a timetable for the formal ballot. An indicative ballot in August returned a 95% majority in favour of action.

Striking to win at Barnoldswick

Workers at a Rolls Royce site in Barnoldswick (Lancashire) began an initial three weeks of rolling strikes on 6 November, to resist the loss of 350 jobs. The strikes have now been extended to 23 December. Unite organiser Ross Quinn spoke to Daniel Randall about the dispute. DR: How's the strike going so far? RQ: It's going really well. We've targeted specific areas in the factory. That's something we did at Camell Laird [shipbuilder] two years ago, where there was only ever 20% of the workforce on strike at any one time, but no production was going on. We've used the same overall principle...

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