NSSN 176 – Local government cuts: Protest AND then strike

January 21, 2014 in Bulletins, News, Protest, Reports, Strikes

Since May 2010 407,000 jobs have been lost in local government and some of the biggest cuts are yet to bite. In adjoining counties in the east midlands, 2 county councils, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire – both Labour controlled, are planning cuts of £157m and £154 respectively over the next 3 years. These are examples not exceptions.

And for those ‘lucky’ enough to keep their jobs, over two-thirds earn below the coalition government’s low pay threshold and £5,500 less than annual median earnings. Over half a million local government workers earn less than £15000 annually and almost the same amount fall below the Living Wage.

According to the local government unions, the amount of money each council will have to spend on services in 2013/14 is 76.3p for every £1 spent in 2010/11.

And to top it all, after direct jobs and pay cuts, the next thing that every council looks at to save money is to privatise services, selling them off often to big businesses like Rentokil Initial, whose new chief executive officer gets paid a salary of £700,000 with a bonus of “100% max” and a long term incentive plan of “200% max”.

Unison, Unite and GMB have called a “day of protest” on Tuesday, 4th February and are asking their branches and members to organise “protests, stunts and rallies at lunchtime and outside work hours”. The NSSN and its members will throw their full weight behind such events. We will be helping to raise awareness of the appalling attacks on local services and the associated job losses and poverty wages of those who provide them.

NSSN members organised and were involved in last week’s tremendous lobby of Salford Council, for instance, where a new Head of Paid Services on a salary of £150,000 is being introduced at the same time as £24.5m is being cut from the budget and 300 jobs are under threat.

But we are reminded of “Nero fiddling while Rome burns”.  No amount of stunts is going to stop the cuts…it will take determined action. And that action has to be coordinated from the tops of the trade union movement. Union general secretaries and executives have a duty to provide a leadership that gives workers the options to fight for their futures.

As elected activists within the movement, NSSN members know that it is rarely the case that workers champ at the bit to go on strike. But workers are not stupid – they know that handing in postcards or dressing up in costumes will not protect one service, prevent one job loss or increase their meagre pay; they know it will take action which may mean them losing out in the short term to benefit over a longer period. But workers need assurances that their leaders won’t abandon them and that, instead, they will seek to widen the action.

The NSSN has been at the forefront of the campaign for the TUC to call a one-day general strike. This is not receding into the background as a demand; it is becoming ever more pressing. Will the figure of jobs lost in local government reach half a million without unions acting at national level? Workers are becoming sick and tired of the message that they must wait for a Labour government when absolutely no-one believes it will make any difference.

Attacks on trade unionists from any quarter must be resisted and the NSSN doesn’t care whether it is Labour, Green or Plaid councils doing the attacking – we will support any action from unions against them.

4th February should not be the day of protest; it should be the first day of protest which signals that local government workers have had enough – now we’re going on the attack.

 

 

 

 

NSSN News

Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSNC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, LondonE10 9DE.

And if you can, come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on info@shopstewards.net

The 8th Annual NSSN Conference will be on Saturday 5th July in Conway Hall – 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL – delegate/visitor fee £6

 

 

Union News

RMT

Docklands Light Railway vote by massive majority for strike action

RMT confirms strike vote on Docklands Light Railway over total breakdown of industrial relations

Transport union RMT confirmed today that members on the SERCO Docklands Light Railway have voted by massive majorities of more than nine to one  for both strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over a wide range of issues which amount to a total breakdown in industrial relations between the union and the employer.

The issues at the heart of the dispute include:

·         Stalling on talks over the 2014 pay award

·         Abuse of the disciplinary and attendance procedures

·         The use of agency and contract staff to undermine jobs and conditions

·         Failures on training, development and grade progression which are limiting staff opportunities

The ballot, for both strike action and action short of a strike recorded majorities of more than nine to one.

The mandate for action will now be considered by RMT’s executive committee.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“It is solely down to the actions of the Serco DLR management that RMT has had no option but to move to a ballot of our members across Docklands Light Railway to try and force the issues at the heart of this dispute to be both addressed and resolved.

“Our members have now shown the level of anger across the railway in this overwhelming mandate for action which will now be considered by the union executive.

“RMT will not tolerate the cavalier abuse of procedures, agreements and pay negotiations which has led to the complete breakdown of industrial relations on this vital section of the London transport operation.

“TFL, and their contractors SERCO, need to wake up and recognise just what an essential service the DLR staff provide to Londoners’ and it is about time that they were treated with the respect that they deserve. It is those members of staff, out of sheer frustration, who requested this ballot and it is now down to the management side to understand the level of anger and to start talking positively with a view to resolving the catalogue of complaints that they have allowed to build up.”

 

As Londoners’ face fares hike from Sunday – RMT exposes mayoral lies on cuts and closures and hidden plans for seven years of inflation busting fare increases

As Londoners’ brace themselves for average fare increases of 3.1% from Sunday, tube union RMT today exposes a barrage of “misinformation and downright lies” from the London Mayor which tie together the issues of job cuts, ticket office closures and fare increases which will hit the lowest paid and the most vulnerable the hardest. The union has also exposed a plan, buried deep in TFL documents that will see the City condemned to inflation- busting fare increases for the next seven years.

In a recent Survation survey of a 1000 passengers 71% of all travellers and 78% of regular commuters expressed the view that current fares on the London Underground were “too high”.

RMT says that it was pressure on the Mayor from the results of that survey, combined with the union and passenger campaigns, that led to him announcing a so called fare freeze last December for 2014, as described in an “exclusive” in the Evening Standard on 3 December 2013.

But the freeze is nothing of the sort. It is a sizable increase that far outstrips current wage increases and as an “average” will hammer those who can least afford to pay.

•    Single journeys within Zone 1 rise by 10p to £2.20, a 4.8 per cent rise. A single bus fare with Oyster goes up 5p to £1.45, while the cash fare stays at £2.40.

•    Weekly Travelcards jump up 4.1 per cent overall, in line with national rail services. A weekly Zone  1-6 card will rise 4.3 per cent from £55.60 to £58.

•    People paying cash, usually the poorest, will see a single fare in Zone 1-3 rise 20p to £4.70.

•    The Mayor has also made it clear that he is playing off his so-called “fares freeze” against job cuts and ticket office closures, services he promised to protect before he was elected.

Now RMT research has uncovered a ticking bombshell under London transport users. The small print of Transport for London’s Draft Business plan for the next ten years, presented to the Transport for London Board on 11 December, reveals that after 2014 fares will be going up in excess of inflation  until 2021.  The plan says,

“The Mayor announced his decision on fare increases for January 2014 on 3 December; this will be an average of RPI + 0%. For the purposes of this Business Plan, annual increases of RPI+1% have been assumed for future years. The actual increases for these future years will be decided by the Mayor in due course.”

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“Far from ushering in a freeze on fares this Sunday, the Mayor’s entire transport strategy is dependent on above inflation fare increases for seven years tied in to a programme of job cuts, attacks on safety and the closures of ticket offices that will combine together to make services a no-go zone for the vulnerable, low-paid, those with disabilities and women travelling alone late at night.

“The facts are that the Mayor has lied about keeping ticket offices open, has lied about freezing fares and is now at it again on the consequences for safety and services of the jobs cuts programme that RMT members have voted to fight. The fight to stop this relentless assault on transport users and transport staff is well and truly on.”

 

FGW Mitie cleaners strike solid in fight for Living Wage (20 January) –

MEMBERS OF rail union RMT working for sub-contractors Mitie on First Great Western at Paddington and Old Oak Common will be picketing at Paddington Station at 08:00 tomorrow (Tues 21 January) on the last day of a solid three day strike in their fight for the London Living Wage and workplace justice. Mitie is a wealthy company that can easily afford to lift its staff out of poverty pay and the appalling working conditions that they are being told to put up with.  The most recent company accounts show that Mitie Group PLC for the year 2012-13 made pre-tax profits of £58.8m, paid out dividends to shareholders of £20.6m (a 11.9% increase) with the highest paid director pocketing £1.374m (a 7.4% increase) more from RMT website    photo of NSSN supporting strike

 

 

 

 

GMB

Save Eggborough Power Station

GMB Seek Meeting With Government Over Policy Change That Will Lead To Closure Of Yorkshire Power Station With Loss Of 850 Jobs

This power station is a viable if converted to biomass and there are foreign investors interested in the conversion but without the biomass subsidies the investment will not happen says GMB

The Engineering Construction trades unions, GMB and Unite, are seeking an urgent meeting with the UK Government over the omission of the proposed biomass development of Eggborough Power Station from the original list of projects to go ahead. Unless Government reverses this decision the power station will close by end of 2015 with a loss of 850 jobs in the power station.

Eggborough is a 2,000 megawatt (MW) coal fired station in North Yorkshire. It is one of the largest generating stations, currently, providing 4% of Britain’s total electricity supply, keeping the lights on in three million homes. The station is owned by Strategic Value Partners.

The Chief Executive of Eggborough Power Limited announced in November plans to convert the station from coal to biomass as part of a £750 million expansion project for the station. The project which was due to start on the 6th January 2014 has now stalled. If it had gone ahead this would have been one of the single largest construction project in Britain to commence in the first quarter of 2014.

Phil Whitehurst GMB National Officer for Engineering Construction said “This power station has been left high and dry because the carbon capture project at neighbouring Drax power station is more favourable to the Government’s failing energy policy.

850 in house workers will go, as well as thousands in the supply chain. In addition a £60m investment at Immingham Docks, and another one at Teesport will be shelved. These port facilities would have handled the biomass fuel imports. The rail networks to handle the movement of the fuel from the docks to the power station from both ports will also be shelved.

The imminent closure of Eggborough is another indictment of the failing energy policy of this Government. This power station is a viable generation facility if converted to biomass. There are foreign investors interested, but without the biomass subsidies the investment will not happen.

When will this Government wake up to the facts of economic life. It does not take Einstein to work out, that if our power infrastructure is not under public control, then foreign investors want a return on their investment in the form of subsidies, and without these subsidies this power station will close, with the loss of 800 in-house workers and hundreds more in the supply chain.”

 

BFAWU

Fast Food Rights Day Of Action On February 15th!

As many will be aware, 2014 is the year that the BFAWU, along with various other organisations and affiliates will seek to address the lack of rights and justice for those working for fast-food companies.

Some of these companies are amongst the most profitable in the world, yet the people who work for them have some of the most miserable terms and conditions in the western world, along with the lowest pay.

As the only independent Union that represents people in the food industry, the BFAWU feels that the time has now come to tackle this issue head on.

The Fast-Food Rights campaign has called for a day of action on Saturday, February 15th 2014 to build Union links and take the message to the public that people who work in this industry are worth far more than they are getting.

(The BFAWU is affiliated to the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) in order to strengthen Union links and bring the wider Trade Union Movement together.)

 

Unison

Glasgow strike

Care workers in Glasgow City Council’s residential homes took 2 days of strike action last week to resist new job roles, longer shift patterns and pay cuts of up to 7 per cent. Some reports can be found here, here, here and here (including the desperate and bizarre claim that Glasgow Unison pickets were wearing “dark clothing and balaclavas”). More reports next week.

 

A message from Barnet Unison

Dear Colleague

For the past five years our branch has been involved in a well documented mass privatisation fight with Barnet Council. As a direct result of our carrying out our trade union duties the Council is proposing to cut our facility time to zero as from 1 April 2014.

The reality is that our branch officers are being forced out of the UNISON office and we are going to have to try and represent, support and defend our members at a time where we have ongoing outsourcing to a number of private sector companies, the largest being Capita. Our Council is embarked on a race to outsource the whole of the Council in order it is can complete its desire to be 100% Commissioning Council.

I wish this was an April Fool’s joke but it is not.

Over the next months we are going to issue weekly updates to supporters as we prepare for the 1 April 2014.

We are not going quietly.

This is the biggest fight our branch has ever experienced and we are looking for support from fellow trade union branches, members and public.

Today we are asking you to do two things:

1. Sign our petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-gagging-local-unions-in-barnet-councilhttps://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-gagging-local-unions-in-barnet-council and encourage everyone you know to sign it. If you have a Face book or Twitter account please circulate this petition.

2. This is a link http://youtu.be/o6I9kP6nCMg http://youtu.be/o6I9kP6nCMg to an animation which explains the mass outsourcing in Barnet. If you have a Face book or Twitter account please circulate this animation.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

0208 359 2088

 

 

POA

POA launch mass March, Rally and Lobby of Parliament on 19th March 2014

The National Executive Committee are to begin a detailed campaign strategy commencing on the 19th March 2014 at the Central Methodist Hall, Westminster, London.

 

The launch and theme of our campaign leading up to the General Election in 2015 will be as follows;

 

68 is too late Pension Campaign.

Violence in the Workplace.

Privatisation of Public Services and Prisons.

Pay.

 

Within these four elements lots of issues will develop in relation to budget cuts, prison closures, terms and conditions of employment, personal protective equipment, overcrowding and mental health issues. We are sure there are many other areas that will be expanded upon during the launch and debates.

 

Our intent is to bring our issues into the public domain to gain the general public’s support and ensure politicians of all political parties understand they need to make commitments in the Election Manifestos to ensure workers in the Criminal Justice System from prisons to our SecurePsychiatric Hospitals and the Immigration Services are treated fairly.

 

 

 

NAPO

TR Split Put Back By Two Months

The Ministry of Justice have announced further delays to the Secretary of States plans to privatise the Probation Service. Chris Grayling had said that on 31st March the existing Probation Trusts would be abolished and on 1st April 2014 all staff would be transferred to the new National Probation Service or the new Community Rehabilitation Companies. He has made it clear since the original announcement of his plans in January last year that this timetable was non negotiable. However, today, the MOJ said that they are not able  to meet this timetable and the abolition of Trusts would be put back until the 1st June. This is further evidence that Graylings dangerous plans to privatise the Probation Service are being rushed through on an unrealistic timetable.

Ian Lawrence General Secretary of Napo said “we have said all along that these ill thought through plans are not only dangerous to the public but are even riskier given the governments unrealistic timetable. We will continue to tell the public and the MOJ that such huge changes to the criminal justice system cannot be achieved safely in such a short space of time. It is clear that it is driven by ideology and an election timetable rather than public safety and the rehabilitation of offenders.”

The new delays to the plans could see the intended share sale of the Community Rehabilitation Companies being pushed back into 2015. This will raise questions as to whether Mr Graylings plans can be achieved at all prior to the general election. Any further delays may well leave potential bidders concerned about the future plans to privatise the Probation Service and whether the new CRC’s will be functioning or manageable by the time the government plans to sell them.

 

 

UCU

HE pay dispute – 2 hour strikes begin 11am on Thursday

At 11am this coming Thursday (23 January) all HE members involved in the dispute will begin the first of a series of 2 hour strikes aimed at disrupting university activity over a period of time. This escalation from one-day strikes and the work-to-contract is aimed at causing the maximum disruption while costing members less in terms of lost pay. Our legal advice is that employers can only lawfully deduct pay for the duration of the strike, in contrast to Action Short of a Strike.

Please get behind these strikes and help to make them effective. Contact your branch to find out what’s planned for the day and This action is planned to take place on a rolling weekly basis but we are also in discussion with the other unions about a possible further joint one-day strike in February.

There was an amazing press response to our announcement (see UCU Comments, below) and also from UCEA who shifted their tone from dismissing the impact of our action as ‘minimal’ to shedding crocodile tears for the impact on students. Read more in our blog post on this here and our press response here.

The employers could of course, sort this out tomorrow if they wanted. Universities are sitting on healthy surpluses and reserves that are projected to grow over the next few years while pleading poverty and awarding their Vice Chancellors big pay rises.

Winning a fair pay deal is part of reminding universities that they don’t exist purely to sweat their staff and milk students of their money but to invest in and provide education.

 

 

IWGB

Royal Opera House Living Wage dispute

Ken Loach calls for no-one to cross picket lines on BAFTA’s strike

“No-one should cross your picket lines. The union leaders must call on their members to show their solidarity with you by respecting your picket. BAFTA has a particular responsibility.”

Award winning film director Ken Loach has issued an impassioned appeal for support for the porters and cleaners due to strike at the Royal Opera House for the Living Wage during the BAFTA awards.

The porters and cleaners who employed by sub-contractor MITIE, are members of the Independent Workers Union (IWGB) – they voted by 100% in a ballot to strike for the London Living Wage of £8.80 per-hour.  The BAFTA awards will be held on Sunday 16th February at the Royal Opera House, the porters and cleaners will strike over the whole weekend.   Ken Loach who was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship in 2006 in a message of solidarity to IWGB states:

“I send you my very warmest good wishes in your struggle for a living wage.  Everyone has the right to be paid a fair wage so that they can live in security and with dignity. The Royal Opera House management cannot escape responsibility. They employ the sub-contractor, Mitie. They should make payment of the London Living Wage a condition of the contract. I bet the management don’t have to live on starvation wages!

You should have the support of all trades unionists. No-one should cross your picket lines. The union leaders must call on their members to show their solidarity with you by respecting your picket. BAFTA has a particular responsibility. Many of its members would claim to be in favour of social justice and against gross inequality. Let them show that commitment by standing alongside you when the red carpet is rolled out.  Good luck from Ken Loach and all at Sixteen Films”

Award winning actress, Glenda Jackson MP has joined growing support amongst MPs for Early Day Motion 919 tabled by John McDonnell MP in support for the campaign.   John McDonnell states:

“People attending the Royal Opera House need to know that when they leave it will be workers on poverty pay that clean up after them. I urge them to join with us in pressing the Opera House management to demand their contractors pay a living wage.”

Talks took place at ACAS on Tuesday 14th between IWGB and MITIE, discussions continue with the ROH.  Chris Ford IWGB General Secretary says:  “For a mere 0.15% of the Royal Opera House annual income the poverty pays of the porters and cleaners could be ended.  Support for the strike will be solid and already many direct employees at the ROH have stated they will not cross the picket line at the BAFTAs strike”.

IWGB University of London branch to strike on 27, 28 and 29 January 2014 http://iwgb.org.uk/2013/12/10/iwgb-university-of-london-branch-announces-strike-dates-for-the-new-year/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blacklisting & Victimisation

Court highlights “blacklisting injustice” and human rights but rules agency worker not protected by UK employment law.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal judgement in the high profile blacklisting case of Smith v Carillion (JM) Ltd has been released (attached).

The written judgement by Mrs. Justice Slade DBE identifies human rights violations and expresses concern that Dave Smith (secretary of Blacklist Support Group) “suffered an injustice from blacklisting” (para 70) but still finds in favour of Carillion because Mr Smith was not directly employed by the construction multinational but by an employment agency and UK employment law does not protect agency workers.

Mr Smith was represented by John Hendy QC, David Renton (counsel) and Declan Owens (solicitor) via the Free Representation Unit (photo attached). John Hendy QC identified that blacklisting of Mr Smith breached Article 8 and Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The case gained front page media coverage and was discussed in parliament, following the original Employment Tribunal hearing in 2012. The original Employment Tribunal decision found that managers for various companies within the Carillion group had been actively involved in blacklisting Mr. Smith in his role as a UCATT union safety rep who had raised safety concerns on a number of building sites in London and Essex. But Mr Smith lost his case because as as an agency worker he was not protected by UK law.  The original ET judgement states “We have reached our conclusions with considerable relecutance. It seems to us that he has suffered a genuine injustice and we greatly regret that the law provides him with no remedy.” (para 71)

Finding of facts in the case are on Paragraph 4-11 of the EAT judgement

Dave Smith commented

“Being a union member is not against the law. Raising concerns about asbestos is not against the law.

But despite mountains of documentary evidence proving that construction firms were systematically blacklisting union members who questioned safety standards, it seems that big business are above the law.

Blacklisting is a violation of human rights. We intend to fight this all the way to Europe until we achieve justice. My heroic legal team are already preparing our appeal”.

 

Shrewsbury 24 backbench debate

What: backbench debate on the Shrewsbury 24 campaign

Where and when: House of Commons at 11.15 am on Thursday 23 January

Campaigners urge the government to release papers which have been supressed for almost 40 years.

Dave Anderson MP for Blaydon has secured a backbench debate for the Shrewsbury 24 campaign on Thursday 23 January over the government’s continued refusal to release papers related to the 1972 building workers strike.

In 1973 Ricky Tomlinson, Des Warren and John McKinsie Jones were sent to prison on conspiracy charges arising from the strike. 21 other building workers were also tried at Shrewsbury Crown Court. They became known as the Shrewsbury 24.

The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign believes that the charges were politically motivated and that there was government interference in the prosecutions. We are calling for the release of all the government papers relating to the trials. The government is continuing to refuse to release these documents under the Freedom of Information Act claiming “national security” as the reason.

The debate will be on the following motion which will then be followed by a vote: ‘That this House is seriously concerned at the decision of the government to refuse to release papers related to the building dispute in 1972 and subsequent prosecutions, and calls on them to reverse their position as a matter of urgency.’

 

Construction National Rank & File meeting

1pm Saturday 1st February

Jurys Inn

Jamaica Street

Glasgow

G1 4QG

Speakers include: Jackson Cullinane (UNITE), Louise Taggart (Families Against Corporate Killers), Dave Smith (BSG)

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/270361989780126/?ref=3&ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

 

 

Other News

 

International (also see Labourstart)

 

India – Alfa Laval Workers’ Strike

Workers from Swedish company Alfa Laval India Pvt Ltd. situated at Kasarwadi, Pune are on a strike for the last three month. More

US – Walmart

Walmart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 60 employees, says US Labour Board. More

 

Diary (see & use false economy)

January

22 Save our Services in Surrey public meeting meeting against fire service cuts – 7.30pm in Staines community centre

25 Anti Academies Alliance meeting “Campaigning against forced academies”, Saturday 25 January, 1-4pm, Central London venue, plus AAA AGM and Steering Committee – contact http://antiacademies.org.uk/ for further info.

30 Already in Cardiff, details are emerging of brutal cuts planned for jobs and services in the city. Cardiff Council is pushing ahead with plans to close the STAR centre in Splott and a nursery will shut unless the plans are halted. Join the protest and urge the Council to refuse to pass on the Tory cuts onto jobs and services, and instead take the road cut by Poplar, Clay Cross and Liverpool in the past – the path advocated by rebel councillors in Southampton, Hull, Warrington and elsewhere today. Contact Ross with details of any other cuts planned via Facebook message or at 07772215281 or on cardiffatc@gmail.com.

February

1 National Rank and File Construction Meeting – Jury’s Inn Hotel, Glasgow at 1pm – 4pm.

4 Save our Services in Surrey lobby of Surrey County Council cabinet meeting against fire service cuts

6 RMT member P Mihaj vs Sodexo Ltd 9am London Holborn on unfair dismissal on Trade Union grounds.

15 Fast Food Rights Day of Action

ROCK AGAINTS THE CUTS – BREAD AND ROSES, CLAPHAM MANOR

7.30PM with 48 Thrills, Comrade X and the Lone Groover

https://www.facebook.com/events/656633904387092/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

27 Stop the Bloodbath Budget 3.30 – 6.30pm Cardiff City Hall

March

29 Uniform Day

July

5 8th Annual NSSN Conference – Conway Hall – 25 Red Lion Square, LondonWC1R 4RL

 

CONTACT US

PHONE 07952 283 558

EMAIL mailto:info@shopstewards.net

 

TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts

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ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, LondonE10 9DE