Picket lines were in place across London’s 70 bus garages today as over 20,000 bus workers working for 18 bus operators take part in a 24 hour strike to end unfair pay disparities across the capital’s bus network. With very solid support for the strike the bus workers’ union Unite urged TfL and the mayor of London to “bang the bus operators’ heads together” to get them to sit down collectively with the union to resolve the dispute.
There are over 80 different pay rates covering London’s bus drivers, doing the same job, even driving the same route but for different rates of pay. In contrast to tube drivers, there isn’t one collective pay deal for bus drivers in the capital, whose pay is negotiated on a company by company basis leading to pay inequality and disparities. Unite says a refusal by the operators to address pay inequality has led to pay gaps of over £3 an hour for new starters opening up, with pay varying from £9.30 to £12.34 an hour depending on the company. Continue reading
The call for a general strike in support of the democracy movement by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) – the only independent union in China – has attracted widespread international support.
The Swire Beverages (Coca-Cola) union and the HKCTU unions of school teachers and dockers were striking on Monday after mass civil disobedience actions had come under heavy police attack. It is said that they are being joined by other member unions.
In declaring their strike, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) said:
Hong Kong police used ruthless force to expel harmless citizens, inflicting injuries on demonstrators with the use of weapons, acting as enemies of the people”
Three of Britain’s biggest unions have agreed to escalate their dispute over pay with a coordinated strike in October, days before a massive demonstration against cuts. The three unions – GMB, UNISON and Unite, have agreed that their members will run a coordinated strike of their local government and school members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Tuesday 14 October.
Local government workers have suffered three years of a pay freeze, followed by a below inflation pay deal and have now been offered just 1%. They have seen their pay reduced in value by 20% since 2010. Workers took part in a one day stoppage on 10 July. No further talks have taken place since that date, despite the unions offering to go to the Government’s arbitration and conciliation service. Continue reading
No-one wants to strike, least of all the strikers who lose wages they can ill afford, but what do you do when public sector workers’ pay has been cut in real terms by 8% in the last 6 years and the employers flatly refuse to offer a very modest pay rise to at least try to keep up with inflation? Why should public sector workers bear the brunt of the crash they did not cause and continue to bear it till 2018 when the ultra-rich, who caused the crash in the first place, get off scot-free?
Why doesn’t Cameron answer these questions instead of denouncing strikes on all occasions, regardless of the circumstances or who bears the responsibility for provoking them? The truth is that the government itself has provoked this strike by cutting the funding of public sector employers by 40%, thus making it almost impossible for the latter to pay up, but then rounding on the workers who they knew were bound to rebel and then threatening to bring in rules which would all but make all strikes illegal. Continue reading
This Thursday, one and a half million workers including firefighters, teachers, civil servants and local government staff will exercise their democratic right to strike. On the surface the dispute is over pay and pensions but the strike is being billed as a wider protest against cuts to public services and the detriment caused to service users.
In a separate dispute over ‘pay for performance,’ transport workers at Transport for London have timed their strike action to coincide with public sector workers. The well-rehearsed arguments about the need for pay restraint to save jobs are already in full swing. They never really stopped following the last big public sector strike in 2011. Rather than the unions picking a fight with the government, it is the government picking a fight with the unions. Continue reading