Strikes and lock-outs

Forced back into the office? (John Moloney's column)

Many of our members have been in the workplace throughout the pandemic. A majority, though, have home-worked. We have always known that these members will return to the workplace some time. Our argument is that they should only do so when safe. In September last year, the government made a concerted push to get everyone back to the workplace but that failed. This September, the concerned push has been replaced by an expectation that staff will return to the workplace for one or two days a week either this month or in October. The union is opposed to any moves to force staff back. Our...

BEIS strike 22-24 September (John Moloney's column)

Outsourced workers at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will strike again, unless a deal is found, from 22-24 September, demanding pay increases and the reinstatement of annual leave entitlement. The last day of that strike coincides with a global climate strike; that’s significant as BEIS is a key department in terms of the UK’s climate policy. We’ll make the picket line at BEIS a focus for mobilising union members across London, and will be promoting the union’s climate policies as part of that. PCS is balloting our driving examiner members for industrial...

Barnoldswick votes for strikes

Following two weeks of strikes by a group of 17 specialist engineers at the Rolls Royce plant in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, the rest of the workforce has now voted for strikes, in a ballot which closed on 13 August. Their union, Unite, has delayed calling action. Union officers say “tangible progress” is being made in talks, and that workers are hopeful the dispute can be resolved without the need for further strikes. The latest phase of the dispute began when Rolls Royce bosses reneged on commitments, won by workers via sustained strikes in 2020, including maintaining staffing levels at the...

PCS and UVW: a model for union joint working (John Moloney's column)

In Royal Parks, outsourced cleaners and attendants demonstrated on 30 August, part of a two-week strike against job cuts and for improved conditions [workers at the rally above]. The contractor, Just Ask, has already back off from its original plan to cut 33% of all jobs. On 9 September, they’re due to write to us with a new proposal. Some of our next steps will depend on that. There’s also a positive aspect to the dispute, including the demand for full sick pay. Royal Parks has admitted that the previous contractor had agreed to implement 18 weeks’ full sick pay entitlement to all staff...

Honour and learn from the Grunwick strike!

20 August 2021 was the 45th anniversary of the start of one of the most important struggles in British working-class history, the two-year strike by Grunwick film-processing workers in North West London. Below we republish an overview of the strike and its significance written by Jean Lane in 1998, with a short introduction from 2012. The kind of lessons Jean highlighted in 1998, from the strike's magnificence but also its galling defeat, were still relevant in 2012 and are relevant today. To honour this history, we are encouraging donations to the strike fund of outsourced cleaning and...

Off The Rails, August 2021: Time for action!

The new issue of Off The Rails urges support for the wave of strikes that is building across the rail industry, including coverage of disputes on Scotrail. East Midlands Rail, Transport for Wales, Rail Gourmet and Hull Trains.

Letter: British Gas outcome still a defeat

The report on the settlement in British Gas in Solidarity 602 was right to acknowledge that the concessions in the new deal are real. However, this is not some last-minute victory, nor even a score-draw, but an outcome that blunts some of the employer’s worst attacks within an overall context that is still very much a defeat for the workers. The new settlement does not return engineers to the terms they were on before new contracts were imposed. British Gas has ultimately succeeded in imposing worse conditions. Hundreds of engineers remain sacked for refusing to accept the new contracts, and...

Barnoldswick strike vote closes 13 August

The Unite union is balloting its members at the Rolls Royce plant in Barnoldswick for strikes, with the vote due to close on 13 August. A group of 17 engineers at the plant have already launched a new strike from 9 August, following a planned shutdown of the plant. Prior to the shutdown, the engineers had struck for two weeks, concluding on 23 July. The first day of the new round of strikes was marked with a protest at the plant. Workers at the plant previously struck in 2020 against Rolls Royce’s plans to offshore work, thereby cutting jobs. The strikes ended with a settlement including a...

DVLA workers stay strong (John Moloney's column)

A month-long selective strike (2-31 August) at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea has begun as we move towards the expiry of the current ballot mandate. The dispute was triggered by management’s insistence that far higher numbers of workers than we deemed safe continued to come into work during the pandemic, but the campaign has taken on a wider focus on workplace safety and an authoritarian style of management more generally. The new ballot will begin in the coming months, and we’ll campaign to ensure we exceed the required thresholds. Outsourced workers in the...

New settlement in British Gas

The GMB union’s dispute with British Gas formally ended on 20 July, when the union accepted a new settlement on pay, terms, and conditions. Engineers in GMB had struck for 44 days, but then new contracts were imposed via fire and rehire, with 500 workers leaving the company. The GMB says the company has made concessions on overtime rates, increasing them to “time-and-a-half”, and on unsocial hours payments, as well as agreeing limits on unsocial hours working. The new deal also strengthens the criteria for emergency call-outs, which potentially gives workers greater grounds to refuse being...

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