Walworth and Kennington DO picket line Walworth and Kennington DO picket line. Photo: Unjum Mirza

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Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson has received a vote of no confidence from postal workers after the latest round of talks with the CWU.

On the eve of the upcoming strikes over the Black Friday sales CWU members held gate meetings up and down the country to discuss Simon Thompson’s “best and final” offer.

The offer, which the CWU has called a surrender document if they were to sign up to it, would do little to ease the cost-of-living crisis workers are facing nor protect them from invasive technology tracking their movements or the long-term threat of compulsory redundancy.

At every gate meeting members voted to reject the offer and voted that they have no confidence in the CEO, Simon Thompson.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward responded:

“We are disappointed that instead of reaching a compromise to avoid major disruption, Royal Mail have chosen to pursue such an aggressive strategy.

“We will not accept that 115,000 Royal Mail workers – the people who kept us connected during the pandemic, and made millions in profit for bosses and shareholders – take such a devastating blow to their livelihoods.

“These proposals spell the end of Royal Mail as we know it, and its degradation from a national institution into an unreliable, Uber-style gig economy company.

“Make no mistake about it: British postal workers are facing an Armageddon moment.

“We urge every member of the public to stand with their postie, and back them like never before.”

CWU members at Royal Mail will be on strike on: 24-25, 30 November and 1, 9, 11, 14, 15, 23-24 December. Get down to your nearest picket line and #StandWithYourPostie.

Nurses clap back

The Royal College of Nursing has announced strike dates on 15 and 20 December. Nurses in a majority of NHS Trusts in England and Wales and the whole of Scotland and north of Ireland will walk out for the first time in the RCN’s history.

Health workers across the NHS and across unions are currently balloting for strike action and the strength of support for RCN nurses could help build an NHS-wide fight that can stop the wholesale attack on the health service and health workers. News from the Frontline will keep you updated on times and locations of picket lines when they become available.

Nipsa and Unison coordinate health strike

Nipsa and Unison members in Northern Ireland have voted overwhelmingly for strike action that will impact all Health & Social Care and Health Trusts.

The unions are meeting to coordinate dates for action in December as the dispute over pay and staffing rumbles on.

With the power-sharing executive at Stormont having been in abeyance since May, agreements over pay and conditions for Northern Ireland’s workers are currently tied to Westminster’s unacceptable decisions for England and Wales.

Refinery workers on strike in Fawley

Julie Hope reports:

Large numbers of strikers have picketed the gates to Fawley refinery every morning from 21 November and will be there all next week as well. Contract workers are taking strike action over the refusal by the management to award them a £2.37 an hour increase in wages to offset inflation and honouring their incentive bonus scheme.

This action involves 100 members of general union GMB and 130 Unite members – all are employed as construction engineering maintenance workers as boilermakers, pipefitters, welders, mechanical fitters and scaffolders.  

Earlier in the year industrial maintenance workers were also out on strike over a 2.5% pay offer.  This was finally resolved by an offer of 9.2% increase and an agreement for sick pay benefits.

Fawley is the largest oil refinery in the UK refining 270,000 barrels of oil every day. It employs more than 2500 staff and contractors

Esso Refinery/Exxon Mobil made a profit of £17.2 billion in the past three months, so there are no excuses as to why the workers should not be awarded a pay rise in line with inflation.

Both Unions are hoping for an early settlement and as Unite regional officer Malcolm Bonner says:

“They have had every chance to resolve this dispute through negotiation but have chosen not to do so.”

Photo: Julie Hope

PCS members to strike over Common Platform rollout

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) staff will continue their industrial action over a new computer system, Common Platform, which has been forced on workers without agreement with their union.

The PCS union has reported that since Common Platform has been in place at several workplaces staff have reported “alarming increase in reports of stress and anxiety and long working” and musculoskeletal conditions caused by overworking.

Strike action will take place from Friday 2 December to Monday 5 December. 66 courts will see walkouts on Saturday 3 and regional strikes will be happening in Wales, the South West and the North West on 2, 4 and 5 December.

The PCS will ballot all of HMCTS from 23 November to 9 December over the bosses’ plans to continue the rollout of Common Platform despite the ongoing industrial action.

Another insourcing win for the IWGB

IWGB outsourced cleaners, catering and housekeeping staff at the private London Bridge Hospital have won in their fight against outsourcing.

The workers have been campaigning most of the year with several demonstrations and speaking out about their working conditions. The workers will now be bought in-house from 1 April 2023.

Marino a cleaner at the hospital said:

“Despite risking our lives during the pandemic, we were treated like second-class citizens. We were forced to take on extra work and faced bad management from subcontractors who refused to listen to our safety concerns.

“Moving in-house is a big step forward in improving our working conditions and we expect HCA to give us the same terms and conditions as our colleagues. But with the rising cost of living, we are still struggling to support ourselves. We want to build a future for our families, so we will continue to organise and fight for the pay we deserve.”

Guards against insecurity

The security company G4S has faced a staff rebellion after threatening to freeze their pay.

Following a GMB ballot, 97% of the cash delivery workers have voted to take action. Banks and supermarkets are now aware that the prospect of running out of cash during the Christmas season and are understood to be under huge pressure.

Supermarket supplier workers reject paltry pay offer

Over 700 Unite members at supermarket supplier Bakkavor’s Spalding, Lincolnshire site are set to strike between 25 November and 2 January after rejecting a below-inflation pay offer of 6.5%.

Bakkavor called Unite’s pay claim ‘simply unsustainable in the current trading environment’ while Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

“The situation these workers face is exactly what is wrong with Britain’s economy today: A company earning millions and millions in profits expecting already low paid workers to take a pay cut while prices soar.”

GMB rally in London

GMB hospital workers in Croydon are holding a march and rally against outsourcing on Saturday 10 December 11:30 am assembling at Croydon University Hospital and marching to the high street for a rally.

Tram workers: return ticket to struggle

The threatened all-out strike action by the 170 Unite members working for the West Midlands Metro tram service has resulted in significant gains for the workforce. The company’s original offer was rejected by the workforce, whose vote for strike action has resulted in the company more than doubling the offer.

The workers have taken intermittent strike action since mid-October but told the company they were upping the action to an all-out strike from 20 November.  This brought an improved offer of 20.1% for tram drivers with a year’s service, 13.7% for new starters, and 10.25% for all other grades. The company has also promised a further review of tram crew pays this summer. The workers overwhelmingly voted to accept the new offer.

The staff on Nottingham tram were being balloted by GMB to walk out in defence of two of their colleagues whose pay was being cut despite their being terminally ill. A 94% yes result makes a strong strike now seem inevitable.

Prospect union takes on the EA

Prospect union members at the Environment Agency have joined their colleagues represented by Unison in voting for industrial action over a 3% pay offer.

Just over two-thirds of Prospect members voted for strike action and 92% voted for action short of a strike.

Workers at the government agency have seen their real terms pay fall by 25% since 2010 and with RPI inflation at 14.3% a pay offer of 3% is a real insult.

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect union, said:

“Our members work in the Environment Agency because they are passionate about their work but there comes a point where passion is not enough for you to carry on in the face of tough times – that point has been reached.

“The Environment Agency is already struggling to fulfil its regulatory duties due to resourcing issues and experienced staff leaving. We already know about the climate emergency, feeding into a biodiversity emergency and an environmental emergency. When your regulators have a pay and recruitment crisis at the same time we are in serious trouble.”

Strike dates have yet to be announced.

Colchester Council dispute

Local government workers in Colchester are in the opening stages of a dispute over the refusal of the local housing authority to raise wages to the same levels as in other Essex towns.

Unison is balloting this week and threatens that service from bin collections to leisure centres will take action if the workers aren’t given a better rise.

Welwyn and Hatfield groundskeepers strike eight days

Outsourced Unite members in Hertfordshire are striking on the first two days of every week from 21 November until 19 December. This is a pay dispute.

Local Unite officer Rich Gates says:

“Unite members at Continental Landscapes are paid just £10.12 an hour. At a time when inflation has hit 12.6 per cent, they need a substantial increase just to survive. All they are asking for is a decent pay increase in line with inflation, so they can keep their heads above water.”

The Unite strike pay is greater than the wages for some of these workers. The bitter legacy of privatisation persists for our class. News from the Frontline says decent pay for all and end outsourcing now.

Arrow XL strikers deliver the goods

The 350 Unite members working for delivery firm Arrow XL are increasing the pressure on the company.

The majority of the union’s members are concentrated at the main distribution hub in Wigan, but the sites at Worcester and Enfield have also been hit by Unite members striking every other day, since mid-October.

This Tuesday saw the Wigan strikers protesting outside the company’s HQ on Liverpool’s historic Albert Dock. They were joined by the shop stewards from the Enfield and Worcester sites, and also by shop stewards from the Port of Liverpool who recently won their battle with their employers.

Their message to the Arrow XL strikers was:

“Hang it out; together we can win. We proved that on the docks and we’re with you in your strike as well.”

Rail Resistmas

Aslef are commencing strike action across 11 Train operating companies this Saturday 26 November.

Following the Rail Delivery Group failing to enter talks with the RMT, the RMT have announced the following strike dates across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and January 3,4,6 and 7.

The RMT have also called an overtime ban from 18 December to 2 January.

Underground strike underway

RMT London Underground Station staff at several stations were on strike on Friday 25 November over bosses reducing the duties on the rosters in order to implement job cuts.

TfL bosses previously announced 600 job cuts on London Underground stations as part of the cuts forced by the government following bailouts during the pandemic.

Euston, Green Park, all Heathrow terminals, Hatton Cross, Hounslow West and Kings Cross and Victoria stations will be striking. The strike is on the 35th anniversary of the Kings Cross fire.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:

“In pressing on with their plans to cut more station staff jobs, London Underground’s managers are making a historic error and unpicking the work that dates back to 1987. RMT will mark another anniversary of this tragedy by continuing to vigorously stand up against job cuts, taking strike action where we need to.”

Midwives ready to ride strike wave

Members of the Royal College of Midwives in England and Wales are balloting for industrial action as part of the wider healthcare dispute over pay and staffing.

They voted overwhelmingly to reject a 4% pay offer described as ‘derisory and insulting’ by RCM Director for Employment Relations, Alice Sorby.

With the ballot closing 12 December, the union is urging members in other regions to join their Scottish members in voting yes to protect patients, staffing and pay.

Scotland’s teacher action looms

Scottish Secondary Teachers Association (SSTA) members are set to take strike action on 7-8 December after rejecting a 5% pay offer.

The union had submitted a pay claim for an undifferentiated rise of 10% which council employers and the Scottish government felt was not in line with offers made to other sectors. A revised offer of £1,926 or 5% if higher was made by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) on 22 November which the SSTA Salaries and Executives Committees will meet to discuss.

The offer of £1,926 represents a rise of between 5.1% and 6.85% for the lowest paid, still falling well below the union’s demand and the cost of inflation

Five things to do next week:

1Agitate for next Wednesday’s UCU rally. Locate your local transport.

2Watch Tony Benn & Duncan Hallas: Lessons of 1926 General Strike

3Donate to the CWU strike fund and raise at your trade union branch

4Join the CWU Postie picket lines on Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December

5Share these graphics widely so as many people as possible know when the picket lines are


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