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Posts Tagged ‘strike’

Manchester Airport hit by cleaners strike

May 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Around 100 members of the Unite union took part in a 24 hour strike last week, walking out from 06.00 on Friday 3 May until 06.00 on Saturday 4 May.

From Manchester Evening News.

Unite says staff are angry at MITIE’s plans to slash their hourly paid lunch break to half an hour, amounting to a cut of £69.50 a month. They are also fighting proposals to chop their £20-a-month attendance bonus and are urging MITIE bosses to meet union leaders over their concerns. Staff will join picket lines outside terminals one, two, and three.

Dave Kennedy, Unite regional officer, said: “Low-paid cleaners, who work so hard to keep Manchester Airport clean for the travelling public, certainly cannot afford to lose almost £70 a month.

“Unite has remained committed to resolving this dispute, yet despite Acas’ involvement the company is still not willing to take the concerns of its loyal workforce seriously.

“Strike action is always a measure of last resort but our members have had enough – they are determined to stop this attack on their livelihoods.

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Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Disabled workers in the Russian strike wave of summer 1923

June 2, 2012 1 comment

Stolen from S. Pirani, The Russian Revolution in Retreat, 1920-24: Soviet workers and the new communist elite (London and New York: Routledge, 2008), p.201

… a protest organized over the summer by disabled workers, who were not union members and fell outside the party’s ideologically constrained definition of workers. The several thousand disabled, mostly injured in the world war, civil war or industrial accidents, met at municipal centres (doma invalidov); those that could work generally did so in the private or municipal workshops. Cost accounting impacted on disabled people’s benefits, and on 19 July the Moscow soviet proposed to abolish free tram travel for the disabled. This drew immediate protests from mass meetings of the disabled in five of Moscow’s six districts. A threat to demonstrate outside the Moscow social welfare department’s main offices quickly secured assurances that the measure, due to take effect on 1 August, would be reconsidered. But it was not. In the days before the deadline, a disabled ‘initiative group’ was formed. Its political colouring is unclear, but it may well have included rank-and-file communists, who had previously been active among the disabled. Its representatives visited dormitories and workshops. On 30 July, with the cancellation of free travel imminent, a 400-strong demonstration was held at the social welfare department. On 2 August, the ‘initiative group’ organized a meeting and made plans to convene an all-Russian conference of disabled people’s delegates. On 8 August a further gathering demanded not only free tram transport and the replacement of individual benefits by collectively paid benefits, but also the convening of a soviet of disabled deputies and places for disabled delegates on the Moscow soviet…*

*[Footnote by the author] I have found no information about the disabled workers’ movement dated later than 8 August. It may have been repressed, or have struck a deal with the Moscow soviet.

Categories: Simon Pirani Tags: , , ,

Baggage handlers on strike at Stansted

May 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Swissport baggage handlers are in the middle of a series of strike actions in response to roster changes that will take place over a three week period.

The action is as follows;

Wednesday 23 May from 5.30am ends 5.30am on Thursday 24 May
Saturday 26 May from 5.30am ends 5.30am Monday 28 May
Saturday 2 June from 5.30am ends 5.30am Wednesday 6 June

This is part of the strike action that was originally threatened at Easter.
Members of the Unite union voted for strike action by an overwhelming 94.4 per cent on an impressive 90 per cent turnout.

This is remarkable and I fully support the brave workers for taking action in defensive of themselves as well as everyone in civil aviation, however I have written before how these actions have to try and push themselves outside of the union framework – as the long fight at Liverpool Airport demonstrated.

Stansted strike called off

April 3, 2012 Leave a comment

GMB have called off their easter strike concerning Swissport baggage handlers at Stansted airport following ‘talks’.

Swissport baggage handlers at Stansted vote for Easter strike

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

From Union News.

Baggage handlers at Stansted Airport have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over Easter.

The GMB members working for Swissport will lose an estimated £1,000 each due to shift changes and say they will strike unless the company reconsiders the proposed changes.

The outcome of the ballot has been notified to Swissport. GMB has asked the company to reconsider the proposed pay cuts. If the company refuses and there is no progress in the dispute strike action will take place over the Easter bank holiday weekend. Notice of strike action will need to be served soon.

Swissport imposed a change to shifts patterns which GMB estimates will cost each of the GMB members up to £1,000 a year. The changes will also require that the baggage handlers travel to work an additional 13 times a years with all the additional transport and childcare costs.

GMB organiser Gary Pearce said: “GMB members have voted overwhelmingly for strike action and for action short of a strike. Up to now the company has been intent on imposing these changes without agreement and this is completely unacceptable as this vote shows.

“GMB has offered several alternative shift patterns and working arrangements but the company refuses to listen so far. I have notified Swissport of the ballot result and I have asked them for more talks to try to avert action over these pay cuts.

“Swissport claim they have lost work on the Ryanair contact at the airport. GMB baggage handlers have seen no evidence of this. Swissport also claim that they are losing money on the contract. GMB has asked to see the evidence to confirm this but Swissport have refused to comply leading members to question if what they are being told is true.

“GMB members consider that Swissport is attempting to make savings at their expense and they are not willing to agree to this. Unless there is urgent talks and a settlement this vote for action this will result in disruption over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. The travelling public need to be aware that it has been this aggressive move by Swissport to cut our members pay at a time of high inflation that has led to this strike vote. If the strike goes ahead Swissport is entirely to blame for the disruption.”

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: “Ryanair doesn’t expect any disruption to its flights to/from London Stansted over the Easter weekend because in the unlikely event of strike action by airport baggage handlers Ryanair will operate its flights with carry-on baggage only, thereby ensuring that Ryanair passengers are not held to ransom by greedy unions.”

GMB head for courts in Servisair John Lennon Airport baggage handler dispute

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

From Liverpool Daily Post.

Liverpool Daily Post

GMB UNION bosses today said they would be heading for the courts in the bitter Servisair redundancy strike at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

It comes as baggage handling firm Servisair presses ahead with its intention to axe between 28-35 jobs in Speke.

The GMB union has to reluctantly end their industrial action today as they reach the end of the legally-enforced 12-week period.

The trade union said Runcorn-based Servisair had ignored attempts to find a resolution to the two-month dispute. The GMB will now head to the courts to obtain a “protective award” as the row deepens.

If a tribunal rules in the GMB’s favour, Servisair would have to stump up between 30-90 days pay for each of the 13 employees potentially left at the risk of redundancy.
Click here to find out more!

And, as relations sink to what the GMB describe as “an all-time low”, any future employment dispute would automatically lead to a full 12-week walk-out.

The union has conducted discontinuous action since November, picketing for two hours in a morning and afternoon, four days a week.

Termination letters have been handed out while some staff at Speke are set to begin contracts downgraded from 42 hours to part-time 32-hour contracts.

Some Servisair employees have chosen to take voluntary redundancy following anger over “partial performance”.

That dispute occurred as management stopped any payment to a striker if they walked out for two hours on a shift.

Servisair argued that the cost of hiring cover workers, financing their meals and accommodation, made allowing picketing employees back on shift not viable. Unlawful deduction grievances have been registered by the GMB, but both parties insist their legal position on this issue remains strong.

Regional organiser Eddie Parker told the ECHO: “As management won’t recognise the need for proper consultation, we will remain out for the full 12 weeks in future disputes.

“We have asked to be provided with financial information from Servisair to back up the redundancies which has been ignored. If shared, that would remain confidential.

“The fact remains, Servisair made a big profit last year and Liverpool is one of the more efficient sites.

“It has been pleasing that members have stood shoulder to shoulder with those made redundant. It shows the principles of the trade union movement are alive and kicking in Liverpool.

“It’s very rare when people will take a financial hit, when they don’t have to, to support their colleagues.”

Asked to explain their current stance, Servisair said they did not wish to comment.

Negotiations between management and GMB have proved difficult with little sign of headway on either side despite the intervention from arbitrators ACAS.

Management have stressed the jobs cuts would result in a more multi-skilled workforce, but the union have accused the company of ‘blatant profit-making.’

GMB said relations between Servisair management and their members was now ‘dire’ with an absence of any goodwill.

Mr Parker added: “Our members will be professional and do their job, but in all jobs people do things that’s not expected of them, that’s what a good working relationship is about.

“But that’s now gone.”

Staring at another noble defeat? Or an opportunity for a real workers’ victory?

January 6, 2012 1 comment

Apologies for the nature of this post but I feel the need to think out loud.

I read on the Liverpool Echo website today that the GMB shall be calling off their members’ strike action at the end of this month, as after this 12 week period any people taking part in strike action can legally be sacked by Servisair for taking part in ‘unofficial action’. At first this made me feel how the laws are unfairly weighted in favour of the bosses and against the workers. Then, I thought about all the successful instances of workers in the UK taking unofficial action that I had read about. Such as the hundreds of electricians who took unofficial action on the 7th of December. They nationally coordinated this day of action in response to their union calling off an official strike that had 81% of members voting for action, after Balfour Beatty claimed 25 office workers who were Unite members were not balloted.

Unfortunately, this is not one of the pictures plastered in the Servisair buildings at JLA

I also thought about the politics of Left-Communists and the ICC’s pamphlet ‘Unions Against the Working Class’ and if it would be right to state that this shows the bankruptcy of the union framework.
I thought that if I was heavily under the influence of the ICC I might say something like ‘Against GMB bureaucrats! Fight union sabotage!’. Although it is true that a problem with unions is that the legal hoops they have to jump through serves to hamstring their actions and demoralise workers, if I turned up to a picket line with a leaflet with this headline the workers would not be very happy! Workers on strike, for all their misgivings of it, do identify with their union and such an approach would probably demoralise them (if I was taken seriously at all). However, only the most dysfunctional creep takes an interest in politics to make friends – the real reason I feel I could not take this approach is that I know nothing of the real situation on the ground. Not only do I not work there but the dispute has been overshadowed by both the national electricians and public sector pensions disputes, meaning that there has been next to no coverage in the left wing press. This means the key factor is unknown, is there a real will amongst the workers to fight and win?
It could be possible for the workers to defeat the bosses in January if they were able to set up mass pickets, preventing scabs from getting to work (watch this video of a mass picket of London fire fighters from November 2010, part of an official strike). Successful mass pickets would cost Servisair much money and important prestige and could see them back down.

Although I can only speculate from afar, evidence would suggest that there is a will to win. The workers themselves know that they can beat the bosses, management first tried to push through redundancies in the summer of 2009, they were met with a two week all out strike and backed down after fire service workers at the airport prepared to ballot for strike action in their defence. Furthermore, despite taking place in the run up to the Christmas period, ballot results in the highly unionised workplace were strong, with 85% voting to strike and 95% voting for action short of a strike. Attempts to ‘lock out’ strikers and confiscate security passes will have only served to heighten tensions.

I mentioned in a previous post that this is part of a (inter?)national move by all ground handling firms to casualise the industry. Baggage handlers are traditionally seen as militant workers and due to their strategic position have received relatively high wages for what is classed as unskilled work. The capitalist class is using the mass unemployment created by the economic crisis to force out full time workers and replace them with a larger, casualised, agency work force, working less hours and with no ‘right’ to strike. A defeat for the Liverpool baggage handlers would not only be a defeat for all those in the industry, but for the working class as a whole.

If the GMB regional organiser is to be believed when he reports “Our members have made a statement and they are more solid now than before. I attended eight picket lines and the strength was evident.” then why don’t they go for it? They have nothing to lose but their chains!