Privatisation

Battles in three bus companies

Bus drivers at Manchester’s Go North West firm are continuing an indefinite strike against worsening conditions imposed via “fire and rehire”. The strike entered its sixth week on 4 April. The drivers’ union, Unite, says the new contracts represent an additional 130 hours of work, equivalent to a pay cut of £2,500. At talks at conciliation service Acas, Unite submitted a counterproposal detailing how the company could save £1.3 million to avoid the contractual changes. Go North West has refused, and has told Unite that, unless workers accept new contracts, it may close down the Queens Road...

DVLA strikes 6-9 April

Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea will strike from 6-9 April. It’s clear from last-ditch talks that the bosses aren’t budging, so strikes will go ahead. The issue is workplace safety; far more workers than strictly necessary have been made to come into the workplace, leading to numerous Covid outbreaks. Our demand is for all workers to be sent home, and for an emergency working arrangement, overseen by union reps, to be agreed which ensures only emergency and essential work is done on-site. Longer term we want investment in equipment and software to...

How Stevenage fought Future Academies

In 2017-2018, the workers, students and community of Barclay School in Stevenage waged a major campaign to prevent takeover by Future Academies, who have leapt to wider attention recently as a result of the anti-racist rebellion by students at Pimlico Academy. We republish here a 2019 interview about the campaign with Jill Borcherds, who was a teacher and National Education Union rep at Barclay School, and Labour candidate for Stevenage in the 2019 general election; and Josh Lovell, a Labour councillor in the ward. Never published online before, it was originally printed in the Clarion...

Vale Peter Simpson, 1963-2020

A tribute to Peter Simpson, lifelong activist with the Electrical Trades Union and Queensland state secretary 2009-2016

"We need to develop workers' capacities"

Henry Chango Lopez (pictured above, centre, before the pandemic) is the new General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). He spoke to Sacha Ismail. In recent years the IWGB has had a high profile in part because it’s grown quite a lot when trade unions in general have stagnated. Why is that? It’s really just about the situation of workers at the moment, the way the economy is, outsourcing, precarious employment – these are problems that many unions have not tackled. Unions do not effectively organise workers in these situations. The problem is so wide...

Pay the care workers!

On 19 March the Supreme Court ruled that care workers had no right to the minimum wage for “sleep-in” shifts. Showing an astounding lack of understanding, the judge stated, “The sleep-in worker who is merely present is treated as not working for... national minimum wage purposes”. Care workers, often perched on a sofa, usually barely sleeping, listening out for a call, and regularly interrupted, are not “merely present,” they are doing a vital role and obviously deserve to be paid at least the minimum wage for it. Mencap, the organisation who challenged the care workers’ claim, said it was...

Lessons from Texas

As a blizzard of snowstorms tore across Texas in February 2021, many faced energy bills of sixteen thousand dollars for only a few days. And they were the lucky ones. Countless others found themselves without power, having to burn whatever they could to keep warm, having to boil water to sterilise it. While Hell, Michigan was literally freezing over, an earthly hell was created in Texan prisons. Power was lost, toilets overflowed, food and medicine shortages added to the fear prisoners experienced of falling asleep, lest they didn’t awake, ice-cold air flowing through broken windows into their...

Rank-and-file links key

Thanks to Dave Chapple for his article (in Solidarity 583), which is an important contribution to the history of trade unionism in the UK Post Office. As a CWU [Communication Workers’ Union] activist of 25 years standing I would like to add some additional comments. I joined Royal Mail in the 1980s. Like Dave, I found that my older colleagues sometimes talked about 1971. Indeed, the key branch officials had all taken part in the strike. As I became more active in the union, one interesting theory I heard was that Tom Jackson was actually playing a game of internal politics within the UPW...

Bring Tube cleaning in house!

RMT and the TUC in London and the South East have teamed up produced an extremely useful briefing, setting out the case for Tube cleaning to be brought in house.

The contract, currently held by ABM, is up for renewal next year. RMT is pressuring Sadiq Khan’s Labour administration to bring the...

School cleaners to strike for 40 days

Cleaners in the United Voices of the World union at La Retraite Catholic girls’ school in south west London will strike for 40 days from 16 March, in what the union describes as “the longest school cleaners’ strike in history”. The cleaners, who are employed by outsourced contractor Ecocleen, have faced cuts to their hours, as well as being low-paid, and denied contractual sick pay. Several cleaners have also recently been docked wages, after they exercised their right to refuse unsafe work under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act. The union estimates that 25% of cleaners at the...

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