Privatisation

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...

Withdraw "conditionality"! (John Moloney's column)

The vast majority of directly-employed civil servants continue to work from home, but despite the worsening situation with the pandemic, bosses in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) still want to keep job centres open for face-to-face meetings with benefit claimants. We support limited opening for vulnerable claimants who need additional support, but as a general rule we want contact to be remote. Forcing claimants into job centres puts both the claimants themselves and DWP workers at risk. We’re also fighting for the withdrawal of “conditionality”, under which claimants are sanctioned...

Win isolation pay, win social solidarity

Over 60% of those applying for the Government’s meagre and ill-advertised £500-per-fortnight isolation pay are being refused in some areas, like Yorkshire and Humber, so the Guardian reported on 1 December. Back in August, research found that fewer than 20% of those with confirmed Covid symptoms were self-isolating properly, and scarcely 10% of those who knew they were contacts of infected people. No-one knows about those due to self-isolate after travelling, or those who should stay home to look after self-isolating young children. Isolation pay isn’t the only factor here, but it’s an...

Test and trace workers don't get isolation pay

Speaking to the Coronavirus Lessons Learnt meeting in parliament on 10 November, the head of Test and Trace, Dido Harding, told MPs: “All the evidence shows that people are not complying with isolation not because they don’t want to but because they find it very difficult. “The need to keep earning and to be able to feed your family is a fundamental element of it which is why I think the financial support payment is a very good thing.” The financial support that she refers to is the £500 isolation support payment which was introduced in September. But millions of workers, including thousands...

Preparing to fight the pay freeze (John Moloney's column)

Our National Executive Committee (NEC) meets on 10 December, and will decide our strategy. I am sure industrial action will be considered. If it is, no doubt the union will approach other public sector unions and trying to build towards coordinated action, but we of course have to be prepared to go on our own if necessary. If the NEC say yes, then we could build towards action in the new year. There’s a specific process inside the civil service called the “pay remit”, where the Treasury issues guidance about how much money is available. That usually takes place in April, so that could be the...

Defend Cetin Avsar

Security guard and union activist Cetin Avsar has been threatened with dismissal by his employer, Wilson James Ltd., who said in a letter that his opposition to outsourcing, and role in leading a strike for direct employment in his previous workplace, St. George’s University of south London, represent a “conflict of interest”. Cetin is currently working for Wilson James Ltd. on a contract at the Francis Crick Institute in King’s Cross, London, but has been told his “conduct has not reached the required standards.” The only issue cited for discussion at his probation review meeting is his...

Strike vote pushes care bosses to talk

Workers in the United Voices of the World union at the Sage Nursing Home in North London are demanding £12ph, parity with NHS annual leave and sick pay, pay for unsociable hours, and recognition of UVW. Following a 100% vote for strikes, energetic campaigning by UVW, and strong support from local labour movement activists and the wider community, the Sage bosses have just agreed to negotiate. A victory here would have major consequences for the entire social care sector. It would strengthen other care workers’ ability to organise, and — with the right arguments and campaigning — add momentum...

Workplace safety and lockdown (John Moloney's column)

Our Group Executive Committee in the Department for Work and Pensions is continuing to discuss our dispute with the DWP over workplace safety. That dispute and the threat of industrial action has wrung concessions from the bosses, including a commitment that individual Job Centre workers will have the final say over where a claimant is seen face to face. It now seems that the employer will make concessions over the other central issue in the dispute, the extension of Job Centre opening hours. Our reps and activists will discuss the proposals; the GEC will decide a way forward. In the...

Sick pay for outsourced workers (John Moloney's column)

PCS's “Dying for Sick Pay” campaign, demanding full sickness and isolation pay for all workers, is continuing. We’ve been applying political pressure, and have written to the government demanding that the right of all workers, regardless of contractual status, to full sick pay is written into agreements across the civil service on a permanent basis. MPs who work with the union have also raised this issue in Parliament. Crucially we’re also contacting every outsourced worker member to discuss the campaign with them and encourage them to get active in the union. Our reps working in Department...

HSCA 2012 eight years on

The scrapping of Public Health England (PHE) and a new government health task force point to the Tories using the background of the pandemic to make radical changes to the NHS. The abolition of PHE is seen as an early attempt to cast blame for the devastating Covid-19 response away from Boris Johnson. It may also be the first step to bringing the NHS into increased central and political control. Last time the Tories led an NHS reorganisation was the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) of 2012. This made fundamental changes, removing central responsibility for healthcare from the Secretary of...

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