UCLH physiotherapists picket line UCLH physiotherapists picket line. Photo: @cyclingkev / Twitter

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Midwives and maternity support workers in Wales are to stage an eight hour walkout on 7 February in response to the 4% pay offer made to members of the Royal College of Midwives.

After a decade of real terms pay cuts, RCM director for Wales Julie Richards said:

“To offer them a pay deal well below half the rate of inflation is simply an insult that does a massive disservice to our maternity staff.”

Members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy are also staging a one-day strike in Wales the same day, blaming a ‘decade of underfunding’ for ‘chronic workforce shortages’.

4,200 physiotherapy staff across 30 NHS trusts in England walked out on 26 January, with Jim Fahie, assistant director of employment relations at the CSP saying:

“Our members didn’t want to have to strike today, but they simply can’t afford to accept the current pay offer as it stands.”

London: parking attendant action gets results

Parking attendants and CCTV operators in the London council areas of Ealing and Brent have won their dispute with employer Serco, gaining 17% and 19% respectively over two years backdated from April 2022.

The workers represented by Unite had declared a two-week strike from 18 January across Ealing, Brent and Hounslow, with Hounslow still out as Serco and the council still refuse to agree to similar terms.

Petrofac: firefighting no solution

Less than two weeks after Unite struck a deal (worth over 20%) with Petrofac Repsol, covering eleven offshore installations, strikes have broken out at the Andrew, Clair, Clair Ridge, ETAP and Glen Lyon facilities run by BP Petrofac.

The 200 Unite members covered by the Repsol deal voted 84% to accept it on a 97% turnout. The BP Petrofac vote, centring on the 3-week on, 3 week off shift rota, was 98.3% to strike, and the 80 plus Unite members intend to pursue their actions until the company sits down and talks.

Historic Amazon strike takes aim at billionaire Bezos

Around 300 workers at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse walked off the job in the first-ever Amazon strike in the UK on Wednesday. After workers staged a wildcat strike and unofficial action short of strike last year, the GMB led a successful campaign to formally unionise the workers.

Towards the end of 2022, they balloted for official strike action but fell just short of the threshold under draconian anti-trade union legislation, and in no small part thanks to a massive anti-union propaganda offensive by Amazon, and an attempt to bribe the workers with a one-off £500 payment. But the workers successfully reballoted, crossing the threshold and 98% voting for strike.

Their strike on Wednesday will hopefully give confidence to Amazon workers across the country to get organised and get unionised. The strike wave is spreading and billionaires like Jeff Bezos should be very afraid.

Striking Amazon workers. Photo: @jeremycorbyn / Twitter

Welsh government fails to settle health strike

The RCN in Wales has rejected an offer from the devolved government of a one-off payment to members in order to avert strikes in February.

The details of the offer were vague, with RCN Wales director Helen Whyley explaining that:

“Our elected members have judged this as a political quick fix rather than a move towards a solution of the crisis in the nursing workforce recognising the value of nursing in a substantive and restorative pay award.”

NASUWT and SSTA join EIS in calling strike action Scotland

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) have announced plans for a further 22 days of strike action over pay, which includes strikes on the same day as sister unions. The union called 16 days of strike action at the beginning of 2023 across January and February.

Now members of the NASUWT and SSTA members will be joining EIS members on the picket lines after their unions announced that they will also be striking on 28 February to 1 March.

EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley says:

“Our members are not prepared to accept the sub-inflation five per cent that has repeatedly been offered; strike action will continue until that improved offer is on the table for our members.”

NASUWT national official Mike Corbett said:

 “A substantially improved pay offer which is fully funded by the Scottish Government must be tabled without delay; there is a window of opportunity to avert further strike action, but the ball is very much in the court of ministers and employers.”

EIS members have also got 7 days of strike action between 27 January and 6 February across different areas of Scotland.

EIS picket line. Photo: @EISUnion / Twitter

Pay takes off at Luton Airport

Baggage handlers and check-in staff in Luton have agreed to settle their pay agreement, in a genuinely bumper deal, before any strike action took place.

The employer, Kuwait-owned Menzies Aviation, presented Unite with a 28% increase as of February. This is nearly three times the rise the equivalent workers won at Heathrow last year and shows the potential for strategically positioned workers to make real gains, despite the severity of current inflation.

Valero workers win in Wales

130 construction workers at Valero’s Milford Haven site in Pembrokeshire are celebrating double-digit pay rises this week. The workers, members of the Unite union, struck last year for increased bonuses to cope with the cost of living increase.

The deal, worth an extra £2.06 an hour as a flat rate increase, is worth 10.6% to skilled workers, rising to 24.5% for first-year apprentices.

A worker on site told NFTF:

“This isn’t just a Pembrokeshire issue. The Kaefer lads [working on the GSK plant in Irvine] and the lads and lassies at Fawley – we’ve had disputes from all over on this issue.”

Built into the deal is the employer’s acceptance that if the current national negotiations covering all NAECI sites cut a better deal, Valero will match it in Pembrokeshire.

ADCU to protest against Uber exploitation

The App Drivers and Couriers Union has called a protest outside the Transport for London HQ in London on Tuesday 7 February to demand that it regulates Uber properly and protects drivers. The union successfully beat Uber at the Supreme Court but it says Uber is still refusing to abide by the ruling and its policies of dynamic pricing and arbitrary dismissals are unfair to drivers.

Support the Uber drivers and join the protest at Palestra House, 197 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NJ from 11am to 1pm on Tuesday 7 February.

5 things to do this week:

  1. Get down to your nearest NEU, PCS, UCU, Aslef or RMT picket line on Wednesday 1 Feb.
  2. Get to a rally or march in your town or city on 1 Feb. NEU, PCS, Trades Councils and People’s Assembly groups have called actions in almost every town and city, take the day off or take your work colleagues on your lunch break and show your support.
  3. Donate to the UCU strike fund.
  4. Donate to the RCN strike fund.
  5. Join the SOS NHS day of action this Saturday.

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