On Friday 18 February 30 people demonstrated outside St Thomas’ hospital in Westminster in solidarity with 72 migrant workers who were “disappeared” (arrested without anyone's knowledge) by the UK Border Agency last month.
Migrant workers occupy an extremely precarious place in the European labour market; they experience high levels of exploitation and the constant threat of being deported, which very effectively dissuades them for organising for better conditions. Raids and disappearances are quite common UK Border Agency practice.
The labour movement should know no borders. So it is imperative that trade unions in the UK begin organising vulnerable migrant workers.
Council workers at Portsmouth City Council organised by the GMB will apply to their union’s Central Executive Committee for permission to hold a strike ballot.
Council bosses have announce a cuts package that could hit over 400 jobs, as well as leading to cuts in pay, cuts in overtime payments, cuts in unsocial hours pay and cuts to holiday pay and entitlement.
Overall the cuts would represent the equivalent of a 6% pay cut for GMB members, who include workers such as non-teaching staff in schools.
The cuts come despite the council’s recent announcement that it has £76 million in reserves, including £16 million cash. The cuts are therefore clearly ideologically driven without even the veil of financial necessity.
Southampton council workers held a strong demonstration outside a recent council meeting in protest at proposed pay cuts of over 5%.
The council is also planning to adopt the mass dismissal tactics several other local authorities have used to impose new terms; Unite and Unison have said they will ballot for strike action if this goes ahead.