Shelly Asquith’s TU-esday round-up: Worker wins at Cammell Laird, Shelter and for Yorkshire dinner ladies

Shelly Asquith

Some good news. If you hadn’t already heard, the six-week strike involving hundreds of workers at Cammell Laird in Merseyside is suspended – and so is the redundancy proposal that threatened 291 livelihoods. We are yet to see if the bosses will halt the job cuts altogether, but this is a much welcome development ahead of Christmas, and one that would not have taken shape without the bravery of those workers, and the backing of a movement. The two unions, Unite and GMB, hope this pause will allow for a long-term solution to be found.

You may have also heard about the strike at housing charity, Shelter. It’s now off, as Unite members there have accepted a 4% structured pay rise, a big improvement on the 1% offered previously. Not only has the vote to strike forced the bosses to concede, it has also vastly boosted union membership with over 100 more people joining.

There are two lesser known triumphs for Unison members. Heroic dinner ladies in South Yorkshire were on strike for 36 days opposing redundancies. They are now back serving meals as the employer served them a victory – the school management has called off the job cuts thanks to the action.

Last week, LabourList received a heartwarming email from Dave, a Unison official, informing us that the strike we’d reported on at Leicester University had won. Security staff there secured what he called a “Triple 100”: 100% union membership, 100% turnout in the ballot and 100% in favour of a strike. The strike didn’t happen, though, as Leicester backed down and has agreed not to cut their hours. Congratulations to the workers.

It was great to hear about it first-hand. If you’re involved in a dispute mentioned in this column, please do get in touch with updates. Labour movement victories, however small, are not reported on enough.

In other strike news: an impressive 650 bus drivers in County Durham, some of the lowest paid in the country, will strike for a week starting Sunday demanding a pay rise of £1 an hour.

And CWU’s members in Royal Mail know the meaning of solidarity. On Friday, one delivery office returned a decisive vote for strike action over the sacking of Bristol’s Barry Baker.

You may remember the Birmingham bin strike last year. Currently 300 refuse workers in Unite are balloting again over whether to strike. This time, the dispute centres on the accusation that Birmingham City Council dished out a payment to the workers who did not take part in the strike; a despicable union-busting, blacklisting move, if true. If this footage of a mass meeting of the workers is anything to go by, it will be an enthusiastic ballot. Waste management is set to be affected in Cheshire too, as Veolia workers will strike from next week in a dispute over unpaid shifts.

The FBU is taking the fight to fire and rescue authorities over further plans to cut back on services. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority has been blasted for the lack of scrutiny of, and errors in, its cuts proposal, while firefighters in East Sussex have passed a vote of no confidence in their respective leadership team.

This time of year is usually a busy one for transport unions. TSSA has launched a petition for a publicly-owned ScotRail, while ASLEF has slammed the government over the fares hike due to kick in in the new year. Higher fares is something Labour members be protesting, too. Speak to your CLP about planned activity, as campaign officers had until Sunday 9th to apply for their free materials from the party for the Rail Campaign Day on 2nd January.

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