Union organising

How to organise young workers

One of the most visible impacts of capitalist globalisation has been the massive expansion of low-paid (and often semi-casual) jobs in the service sector. This “precarious” employment — in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, fast-food chains, supermarkets, high-street retailers, call centres and elsewhere — means long hours, barely-legal wages and unsafe working conditions. Young people fill these jobs. According to a recent TUC survey, workers between the ages of 16-24 make up nearly a third of the total workforce in hotels and restaurants in the UK (migrant workers and women of all ages...

Workers' Liberty 3/3: Factory bulletins in the 1920s and today

Workers' Liberty 3/3 (March 2006) reproduces many communist factory bulletins from the 1920s, and discussion from that era about how they should be produced. "Workers cannot write newspapers? Really? Just tell us some news about your factory". It also includes information on workplace bulletins produced by the AWL. Click here to download pdf .

The civil service in the crisis

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...

Councils: essential local services, full isolation pay for all

My union branch, Lambeth Unison, organises three main groups of workers — workers for Lambeth council, support staff in schools in Lambeth, and workers in Elis Laundry. We also have some members in smaller private sector workplaces. Our first step, and early on, was to win full pay for all workers in the council following public health advice, or staying home for childcare because of school and nursery closures, early on. For absolutely all workers in council workplaces, including agency workers and zero-hours workers. The next battle was in the libraries. On 20 March the library workers...

Full paid leave for all in the NHS

Essential workers at East London NHS Foundation Trust have organised and taken action to reduce the risk of infection and to keep each other and the patients safe. “We are the workers that will keep going through this pandemic. Together we can take action for safer workplaces”, they say. On 16 March mental health nurses, doctors, social workers, admin and cleaners in East London, emailed the chief executive seeking assurances that all workers operating in ELFT premises would be entitled to full paid leave, where necessary, to comply with the government’s public health advice. By Thursday 19...

Who’s “skilled”, who’s “unskilled”?

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...

PCS takes up Covid-19 issues

On Thursday 12 March, the union will be meeting the Cabinet Office to discuss workers’ rights in the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ll be putting a number of demands to them, including the right for workers to walk off the job if they feel themselves to be at risk of infection, and that people with underlying health conditions are moved away from public-facing work. We’re also demanding that the government ensures the companies to which it outsources various work pay full company sick pay from day one of any sickness, and that any outsourced workers who have to self-isolate are fully paid. If the...

Industrial news in brief

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...

Bullying is not just Rutnam

In the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), part of the Department for Transport, one of our leading reps, Paul Williams, is being targeted for compulsory redundancy. We believe this is an attack on the union in the workplace. Paul's local branch is discussing a possible dispute and strike to resist that attack. The union will ensure there is a national focus on this campaign. In wider politics, a light is being shone on the relationship between the government as an employer and the civil service. Clearly there are tensions at the top, in terms of how the people around Mr Cummings want...

Industrial news in brief

UVW at St George's Outsourced security workers in the United Voices of the World union (UVW) at St. George’s University in Tooting, south London, are continuing their campaign for equality. UVW members and supporters recently occupied the lobby of the main St. George’s building during a university open day, holding an impromptu rally addressed by St. George’s strikers, UVW reps from victorious anti-outsourcing campaigns at LSE and St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, and an RMT activist. UVW is also preparing what it describes as a “landmark legal case” to challenging outsourcing in court. The...

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