Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 8 February, 2017 - 2:46 Author: Gemma Short, Ollie Moore, Peggy Carter and Simon Nelson

Workers at four Picturehouse branches in London will strike on Saturday 11 February. A new ballot including two new sites — Picturehouse Central and Crouch End Picturehouse — returned a 95% yes vote on a 75% turn out.

The Bectu section of Prospect, the Picturehouse workers′ union, had already balloted in January, but the ballot was challenged by bosses on a legal technicality. Individual workers have also been threatened with legal action over unfounded claims of intimidation and secondary picketing.

Picturehouse bosses continue to show that they would rather spend money on legal threats and busing in senior managers to run sites during strikes than pay their workers the living wage. Bosses’ continued insistence that they will not recognise the union shows how much they fear their workers′ continuing ability to collectively organise. Picturehouse workers and their supporters will also be holding a demonstration on 25 February in central London.

They will start at the Empire cinema, Leicester Square which Picturehouse has recently bought, before going on a tour of central London cinemas. Workers will walk out from 2 p.m. on Saturday 11 February and welcome supporters on their picket lines.

• Sign the petition

• Join a picket line from 2 p.m. on Saturday 11 February in Brixton, Piccadilly Circus, Hackney Central or Crouch End.

• Join the demonstration on 25 February

• Donate to the strike fund

Tube staff win concessions

Station staff on London Underground have secured significant concessions in their dispute over staffing levels.

A proposal from the company, which RMT negotiators accepted on Friday 3 February following discussion at a reps’ meeting, will reinstate 325 jobs, and guarantee promotion for workers in the non-safety-critical, and lower paid, “CSA2” role into the “CSA1” grade, giving more safety-critical staff on stations. RMT suspended strikes planned for 5-8 February and an overtime ban.

The rank-and-file socialist bulletin Tubeworker argued that, while the concessions should be celebrated, it was wrong to suspend strikes as more could’ve been won: “There’s no doubt that these concessions are big wins for us. When we began this dispute, the company was intransigent, insisting that not a single penny was available for a single additional job, and that the CSA2 issue was non-negotiable. After three months of a highly effective overtime ban, which led to over 100 station closures, and unprecedented strike action which shut down London on 8-9 January, we’ve forced the company to change its position [...] “Could we have come away from this dispute with more? Tubeworker believes so. When the dispute was launched, members were told to prepare for a protracted battle, and the 8-9 January strike (which many reps and activists felt should have been longer) was presented as the opening salvo in an ongoing campaign of strikes. Station staff may, therefore, be bemused at being congratulated for a magnificent, solid action in one breath, but being told we’re settling for something that falls short of our demands in the next. The strike was indeed solid and magnificent: why, therefore, not maintain that pressure and momentum to push for more concessions?”

An RMT rep told Solidarity: “Although many of us feel more could’ve been won if the strikes had been kept on, there’s no doubt that we’ve achieved a lot from this dispute. Significantly, we’ve also shattered the orthodoxy that had developed on the job — and, it must be said, within the RMT — that station staff have no industrial leverage or power. “Our strike on 8-9 January blew that out of the water, and should embolden us for future battles.”

LSE cleaners fight victimisation

Cleaners at the London School of Economics are balloting for strikes in their dispute with cleaning contractor Noonan. Cleaners do not currently get occupational sick pay or parental/adoption leave, their pensions and annual leave allowances are significantly lower than directly employed staff, their workloads have been increasing and one cleaner, Alba Pasmino was unlawfully sacked after 12 years at LSE.

The workers′ union UVW and students who support the cleaners have been organising solidarity events on campus, including a strike solidarity breakfast.

Find out more and support the strike

Southern: Reject this sell out!

The ″deal″ that has come out of Aslef-Southern Rail talks at the TUC is possibly the worst sell-out of workers in recent memory.

Given that the RMT were excluded from the talks and the TUC’s dismal record in intervening in disputes, many feared the worst. But what has come out of these highly secretive talks is mind-boggingly awful. It is hard to fathom how the ASLEF leadership is going to convince its members on Southern that this is acceptable.

In reality it does almost nothing to protect drivers from having to run trains that would previously have required a guard. A list of agreed reasons why a train can be run without a guard event includes things such as ″lateness, sickness, and routine delays″; dispatching responsibilities have been transferred to the driver; there is no protection for drivers if a passenger comes to harm.

Promises made in the deal are of the ″jam tomorrow and/or pie in the sky″ type. This agreement goes back on everything Aslef has been saying about safe train dispatch. It is not clear how Aslef will be able to sell this ″deal″ to its members in the referendum which runs until 16 February. Aslef members should reject the deal and demand that strikes are called alongside the RMT who remain in dispute.

• Find out more on the Off the Rails blog

Public support Derby TAs

As previously reported in Solidarity, teaching assistants are striking against imposed contract changes which will see them lose up to 30% of their pay. Teaching assistants have been gathering a lot of public support, and this weeks action will also include a ″love in″ for members of the public to show their support for the teaching assistants.

Teaching assistants have also received a message of support from Jeremy Corbyn who said: “I’m on the side of the teaching assistants and the pupils and the parents. Let’s get together and sort it out quickly.”

More information

Kinsley Three sacked

The Kinsley Three are cleaners employed by C&D cleaning who struck for 68 days for union recognition and the living wage after their jobs were outsourced when the school took academy status. The three women returned to work in December with a settlement, but just before Christmas they were sacked on “trumped-up charges.”

The three are now taking part in an employment tribunal and continuing to protest and call for support against their dismissal. Unison must provide national support for the workers and take the case up to show the realities of outsourcing and academisation.

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