St Mungo's strikers protesting company providing agency workers St Mungo's strikers protesting company providing agency workers. Photo: @SMUnite / Twitter

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The government’s decision to repeal laws that banned bosses from using agency workers to cover for staff who are on strike has been ruled unlawful by the High Court. From 10 August, employers will no longer be able to use agency workers to cover striking workers.

TUC’s Paul Nowak says:

“This defeat is a badge of shame for the Conservatives, who have been found guilty of breaching the law. The government railroaded through this law change despite widespread opposition from agency employers and unions.

“This is the same reckless approach behind the anti-strike bill, which has faced a barrage of criticism from employers, rights groups and international bodies, and which has been amended by the House of Lords on three separate occasions during parliamentary ping-pong.”

St Mungo’s workers who are out on indefinite strike have seen the charity that claims it can’t pay them shell out on agency workers to minimise the impact of their industrial action and pretend like they’re upholding a level of service. This rule change will empower the strikers as the full weight of the loss of their labour will be felt.

A legal win is still a win – and it points to wider levels of contestation that indicate we’re in for a long haul. Buckle up!

Cycle Bosses suppressing instructors pay

Lambeth’s Cycle Instructors went on strike for the first ever time on Friday 14 July over their pay and working conditions. Despite an increase of 66% in funding for cycling programmes across Lambeth, Cycle Confident who run the service on behalf of the council have not sought to pass this on to the cycle instructors in any way.

Their union, the IWGB, says that their members pay has been frozen for 14 years, meaning a massive 50% decrease in real terms. The increase in funding means that a 50% increase in wages is affordable but the workers are only being ‘offered’ 5%. The instructors are also employed on zero hours contracts.

On the Cycle Confident website they write about “A future where everyone has the confidence to cycle as part of leading healthy, active lives” , well everyone except their workers!

All roads lead to Coventry on 5 August

Coaches to Coventry for the 5 August mass rally supporting Amazon strikers have now been confirmed from London, Bristol and Birmingham with more to be announced. A growing number of organisations, trade union branches and trades councils have backed the rally and support is pouring in from all corners.

The rally has been called by the strikers themselves, now numbering 1,000 in the Coventry warehouse and over a hundred at a second Amazon warehouse in Rugeley. The strikers are being supported in organising this rally by the Rank and File Combine and GMB Midlands.

This is going to be a milestone in the resurgence of the working-class movement: in defence of Amazon workers, in uniting our struggles and in rekindling the kind of labour movement solidarity that had bosses and Tories quaking in their boots in the 70s.

If you haven’t already, get this motion passed at your trade union branch or trades council, organise a delegation, find out what your nearest coach is or request one or help organise one if there isn’t one.

Stork offshore strikes: another Unite win

If proof were needed that workers respond to collective action, the recent strikes in the North Sea proved it. 6 months ago, in February, 300 offshore maintenance workers, members of the Unite union voted 98% in a 94% turnout for the union to run a strike ballot. They were furious that, with inflation then running at 14.5%, the company wanted to effectively cut their wages, and slash sick pay.

By March, the union revealed it had balloted 400 members, an increase in membership of 30%. By the end of June, that number had increased to 600, and the strikes were having a serious knock-on effect on production.

This week, the union announced that members had voted 2:1 to accept the company’s latest offer of 10% backdated to January, with the clawbacks removed. It is true that the offer more or less matches inflation now, but many members felt that it was the lure of the backdated pay that swung the vote, and the company should be very sensitive to the fact that 40% of those voting (it was an 84% turnout) rejected the offer and wanted to continue the action.

Even more worrying for the firm is that their greed has doubled the number of union members on the offshore installations.

Bin strikes in Somerset called off

Refuge workers in Somerset have called off their planned strike action after accepting an improved offer of a 9% increase in pay from their employer, Suez. Members of Unite the union had voted to go on strike after receiving a pay offer of just 4.85% from the company who run the waste collection service for Somerset Council. But after sticking together, not accepting a low pay offer and taking on the employer head on they have received and accepted an improved pay offer.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

“When workers stand together in a union they win, as Suez’s Somerset workers have shown. Once again, Unite’s laser focus on improving jobs, pay and conditions has put money into the pockets of our members.”

Luton Airport: car park staff have had enough

Workers at Luton airport are striking for two days on July 28 and August 1 in an all-too-typical dispute over pay. Unite have already warned that disruption to passengers and staff will be inevitable.

The workers – employed by Apcoa Parking UK – are getting the bosses to the table over the imposition a measly 6% pay deal.

Luton TUC have already committed to supporting the picket line on 28 July. There’s been a run of victories at Luton Airport recently; let’s hope this is the latest.

Lessons in Organising: What Trade Unionists Can Learn from the War on Teachers – book review

Lessons in Organising has vital lessons for anyone who is interested in building trade unions with strong rank-and-file participation, finds Orlando Hill

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