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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


Battles ahead and won

by New Worker correspondent

LAST WEEK industrial action was dominated by transport union RMT. This week train driver’s union ASLEF is taking on the cause of the Croydon tram drivers, whilst transport and other unions are taking or preparing for industrial action.

Their organiser on the London Underground, Finn Brennan, said: “More than six months after the end of our last pay settlement and with the RPI rate of inflation running at over 11 per cent, there has still been no offer from the company to resolve this dispute. Every day our members are seeing the price of their necessities, from fuel to food go up, while the real value of wages has fallen dramatically. Tram drivers, like other workers in public transport do a difficult and demanding job with round the clock shifts seven days a week.”

very well

General Secretary Mick Whelan pointed out that whilst passenger numbers are back to pre-pandemic levels, “this blows the argument that ‘there is no money’ right out of the water”, warning that: “The train companies are doing very well out of Britain’s railways – with handsome profits, dividends for shareholders, and big salaries for managers – and we are not going to work longer, for less.”

At London’s Heathrow Airport, 500 Unite members employed as check-in staff by British Airways (BA) have overwhelmingly voted for strike action to reverse the 10 per cent pay cut made during the pandemic. It has been restored to managers but not to those who do the work. The action will cause far more disruption than the recent well publicised airport chaos that was caused by airports sacking rather than furloughing baggage handlers and other staff.

Oliver Richardson, the union’s Aviation national officer, said: “The problems British Airways is facing are entirely of its own making. It brutally cut jobs and pay during the pandemic even though the government was paying them to save jobs. BA is treating its loyal workforce as second-class citizens and they will not put up with it a moment longer. The company has a short window of opportunity to reinstate our members pay before strikes are called. I urge BA not to squander that opportunity.”

victories

There have already been some victories at the airports. At Glasgow Airport, 20 tanker drivers employed by North Air who deliver aviation fuel have won a nine per cent increase in both basic pay and shift allowances, giving a total increase of £3,159.

This is only the cherry on top of the cake for about 800 workers based at the airport. Unite points to successes for those employed by ABM who got a nine per cent rise, ICTS Central Search and Hold Baggage Screeners secured massive 15 and 28.5 per cent increases, whilst OCS Group workers got 10.2 per cent increase, Loganair 11.2 and Menzies Aviation won 9.1 per cent.

Despite the fact that some Labour MPs, including some Shadow Cabinet members, made an appearance on RMT picket lines, Labour is refusing to back the strikers. Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy refused to endorse the action.

Unite’s General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “This dispute is not about a pay rise, it’s about restoring money taken out of workers’ pockets by an opportunistic employer. British Airways and its parent company IAG hold billions in reserves and assets and are predicting a return to profit this quarter.

“Supporting bad bosses is a new low for Labour and once again shows that politicians have failed. It is now down to the trade unions to defend working people. We are their only voice.”

On the buses, Merseyside bus drivers and engineers employed by Stagecoach have secured a much-improved pay offer on which they are presently balloting.

Grasping

Another pay victory over grasping Stagecoach was secured on the south coast town of Worthing where Unite won a 15.8 per cent deal in the shape of a back-dated five per cent rise to March this year, followed by another five per cent increase on the March rate in June and a five per cent increase on the June rate in August.

Sharon Graham said: “This inflation-busting pay rise at Stagecoach in Worthing is Unite in action, delivering for our members and helping them through this cost-of-living crisis by getting more money into their pockets.” At least that is a much better away of securing a pay rise than hoping for a favourable motion at the company’s AGM.

Another triumph claimed by Unite was secured in Leicester, where 180 Citybus drivers won at least £2,450 per year. Equally important was a promise was made to reopen negotiations if the RPI (Retail Price Index) is at 5.5 per cent or more next April.

Lastly but by no means least, 114 Crown Post Offices will close on Monday 11th July due to strike action by the Communications Workers Union (CWU).

Bottom of Form

Announcing the news, CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said: “After the first two actions in May and June, we agreed to talks with Post Office leaders last week and, as a gesture of good faith we decided to pause further strikes in the genuine hope that a resolution could be found through negotiation.

“But their pay position only increased by a half of a per cent and this frankly insulting proposal was clearly not a serious attempt on the part of the management to find an agreed settlement.”