Pay, hours, conditions

The civil service in the crisis

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 07:46

John Moloney

We now have a civil-service wide agreement that all outsourced workers will be paid in full if their workplaces shut down, or they have to self isolate.

We are awaiting confirmation they will receive full sick pay as well. The union has to be active in policing the agreement.

There are agency staff in some government departments, doing processing and admin work, and the employer has agreed to furlough them on 80% pay if they have to self isolate etc. That’s better than nothing, as the risk was that their contracts would simply be terminated, but the union is pushing for those workers to be

No going back! Fight for socialism!

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 07:21

Sacha Ismail

In the emergency, Britain’s right-wing Conservative government is going for a limited, crude and undemocratic form of “socialism”.

It is overriding market signals and criteria, and being forced to fall back on a bureaucratic and hierarchical approximation of the socialist ideal of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”.

In sector after sector, from the (patchy) steps to guarantee incomes for those unable to work, to banning evictions, to acquiring private hospital facilities, to taking over rail franchises to removing competition-law curbs on cooperation

Covid-19: public health, and workers' rights too!

Published on: Tue, 24/03/2020 - 21:27


1. Requisition (in other words, take into emergency public ownership):

• private hospitals, so that all their resources are directly available to the NHS
• the pharmaceutical and medical-supplies industries, so that production can be ramped up in a coordinated way to meet the crisis
• manufacturing facilities which can be adapted to produce ventilators and other medical equipment
• hotels and empty houses, to use them for the NHS, for the homeless, and for domestic violence victims
• transport and logistics, so that essential deliveries and travel can be coordinated and planned
• the big

Industrial news in brief: London Underground, Royal Mail, civil service

Published on: Wed, 18/03/2020 - 07:42

Ollie Moore, John Moloney

Tube drivers vote for strikes, Tube workers make C-19 demands

London Underground drivers in the ASLEF union have voted by a 95.2% majority for strikes to win an improved settlement on pay and conditions, on a 74.5% turnout.

Although ASLEF is a minority union on the Tube overall, it represents a slight majority of drivers. The result is significant, and smashes the arbitrary thresholds of the Tories’ anti-union laws.

ASLEF’s pay claim overlaps substantially with other unions’ claims, including in its demand for a 32-hour, four-day week. It also includes a sectional claim for a driver-specific

Students ramp up support for UCU strikes

Published on: Wed, 11/03/2020 - 10:05

Maisie Sanders

In the last week of the strikes by the university workers’ union UCU (9-13 March), students are escalating solidarity actions.

By the end of Monday 9 March there were eleven universities in occupation: UCL, University of the Arts London (UAL), Cambridge, Royal College of Art (RCA), Edinburgh, University of Nottingham, Manchester, Brighton, Exeter, Imperial, and Liverpool.

The occupations at Imperial and Liverpool have been organised by Extinction Rebellion Universities to demand universities decarbonise, decolonise and democratise, as well as standing in solidarity with the UCU strike. There

Who’s “skilled”, who’s “unskilled”?

Published on: Wed, 11/03/2020 - 07:55

Katy Dollar

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced the government wants to “encourage people with good talent” and “reduce the number of people coming to the UK with low skills”.

Rightly, this has provoked a flurry of articles and social media content arguing that the government’s characterisation of care work, which is very badly paid, is ignorant and offensive.

Under the proposed point system, people wishing to move to Britain will need 70 points to be eligible. Migrants must have spoken English (10 points) and a job offer from an approved sponsor (20 points) at the skill grade of A-level or above (20

CWU goes for big ballot majority

Published on: Wed, 11/03/2020 - 07:18

A North London postal worker

The campaign around the ballot [closing 17 March] seems more proactive this time.

Our union [CWU] rep is having one-on-one conversations with as many people as possible, directly encouraging them to vote and ensuring they’ve posted their ballot. There are more posters up in the workplace.

We’ve had one gate meeting, which was addressed by a union official I’d never seen before. He gave a good speech, everyone cheered, but there was no discussion. Those meetings are clearly not seen by the union officialdom as somewhere for collective discussion.

We get something called “work time learning”

Strength and audacity we have never before known

Published on: Tue, 10/03/2020 - 16:45

Jill Mountford

“…the Ford women have definitely shaken the women of the country.” (Rose Boland, one of the leading women in the Equal Pay Strike at Ford Dagenham,1968)

“We have achieved more in six weeks than the politicians and trade unions have in years.” (Mary Denness, one of ‘Headscarf Revolutionaries’ who changed health and safety laws for fishermen working on the trawler ships, Hull, 1968 )

“It felt like the culmination of something. It didn’t feel like the absolute beginning.” (Sally Alexander, in an interview 20 years on from the first Women’s Liberation Conference in 1970. Sally was one the two

UCU: taking the struggle forward

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 10:46

How to continue after Easter

By a UCU activist

As I write, negotiations with the employers are ongoing, and we’re told they’re “constructive”, but we have no further detail beyond that.

Greater transparency in these negotiations is essential; rank-and-file members of the union need the right to scrutinise and assess what the employer is putting on the table, and collectively decide how to respond.

Lively pickets are being organised in many places, but on the whole the pickets since 24 February seem smaller than the October-November 2019 strikes, and than the USS pension strikes in 2018. Some

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 08:31

Ollie Moore

CWU ballots until 17 March

By Ollie Moore

As Solidarity went to press on 3 March, Royal Mail workers were beginning a new ballot for industrial action, after a successful ballot last year was injuncted by the High Court.

The ballot will close on 17 March. It is about action to prevent a restructure that could see the postal and parcel delivery aspects of Royal Mail’s business separated into distinct companies, a move which the Communication Workers Union (CWU) says could threaten up to 20,000 jobs.

The CWU is also demanding that Royal Mail honour an agreement reached in 2018 which included a

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