I London bus demo
I East Kilbride hospital strike
I Edmonds retires
I Norwich on strike
London bus demo
Hundreds of London bus drivers took part in a demonstration on 15 October to demand higher pay on the International Road Transport Day of Action. Their union - the TGWU - has been running a campaign to win parity on pay with London Underground drivers. The demand is part of the TGWU's "Busworkers' Charter".
Bus drivers in London are paid an average of £17,000 a year. The erosion of pay since the privatisation of the late 1980s means bus drivers' pay has fallen by £120 a week compared with average earnings.
In the 2002 pay claim the TGWU put identical pay claims to all of London's bus companies. However the union was not strong enough on the ground to run such a co-ordinated campaign, and it collapsed. The union's separate negotiating committees settled for different amounts with the different companies.
The mood of the demonstration was angry but it is difficult to see how bus workers can win substantially better pay without a change in union organisation and democratisation of the union.
East Kilbride hospital strike
Ancillary staff employed at Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride, by PFI contractor ISS Mediclean, have voted to take strike action by an overwhelming majority. The workers want a minimum wage of £5 and hour and a return to Whitley Council terms and conditions.
The first day of strike action has been set for Thursday 31 October, followed by a 2 day stoppage on 4-5 November.
Donations would be gratefully received to support these already low-paid workers. To: David McAnsh, Branch Secretary, Union Office, Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride, G75
GMB General Secretary John Edmonds is retiring early. The position is likely to be contested by London Region's Paul Kenny and Northern Region's Kevin Curran.
Kevin Curran should have the support of Blair - these days likely to be the kiss of death for any would-be trade union General Secretary.
Norwich on strike
Workers in the Norwich area are planning a joint demonstration against low pay and attacks on their conditions of service. NATFHE college lecturers will strike together with Unison's college support staff on 5 November to demand proper funding for public services. Meanwhile TGWU members who drive the privatised buses in the city are balloting to strike against changes to their work-conditions which would mean pay-cuts of up to £18 per week and significant increases to the length of time they must spend behind the wheel.