Shelly Asquith’s TU-esday round-up: Boohoo, Netflix and more

Shelly Asquith

For the first time, my column now looks at the breadth of industrial action taking place across trade unions, not just those affiliated to the Labour Party.

  • The RMT is balloting for strike on the London Underground over staffing cuts, following a protest outside City Hall last week demanding ‘no Tory cuts under a Labour mayor’. The union has an ongoing dispute on South West Railway too, as the strike to #KeepTheGuardOnTheTrain lasted all last week.
  • Bradford College UCU members will strike for three days next week (July 3rd, 4th, 5th) for the second time this year in an ongoing fight over drastic job cuts. The union has also called a protest at Stourbridge College on Saturday to oppose the planned closure, while Sandwell College is balloting for a strike until July 12th in a row over the sacking of activist Dave Muritu for criticising the racist Prevent legislation.
  • There’s another strike coming up in Bradford as 300 NHS staff in Unison will walk out over privatisation for a week from Monday 8th July. This follows the joint Unite and Unison three-day strike in Birmingham, which began yesterday over a similar issue.
  • There are a number of strikes taking place this week across Unite’s membership. Aberdeen airport workers will walk out on Thursday and Friday over the closure of their pension scheme. 900 bus drivers in South Yorkshire will strike on Saturday and Monday in rejection of a pay freeze, and workers at the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) will begin their strike – with an impressive mandate – tomorrow over a restructure.
  • The inspiring strike at Colloids plastics plant is now in its fifth week. Workers in Unite are on indefinite strike to #ReinstateGeorge after bosses disgracefully sacked the union rep. Last week police arrived after a scab car drove at the picket line. The union has organised a benefit this Friday to help raise money for the strike fund.
  • The GMB staged a protest outside DX in the West Midlands yesterday, as they sacked a union activist for seeking worker status as a self-employed courier.
  • The National Education Union is currently running an indicative ballot for its campaign Too Much Testing. The NEU is asking primary teachers if they would be prepared to join a boycott of all statutory tests in the next academic year.

  • NEU, NASUWT and Unison members at Grove Academy in Harrogate have joined forces to protest planned cuts to the Pupil Referral Unit. This week sees the 4th and 5th day of their strike.
  • Last week the FBU’s executive met to discuss the possibility of industrial action over pay, as reported on in my last column. We are still waiting for an announcement as to whether a strike ballot will commence.
  • Online retailer Boohoo was met with protests from USDAW members at its AGM last week. The hostile employer is accused of telling staff not to engage with the union, and putting its leaflets in the bin.
  • Contracted cleaners in the PCS union at government offices in Bootle and Liverpool are balloting on strike action until Monday, over a series of demands including a £10 minimum wage.
  • Meanwhile, PCS members at the Tate galleries have secured a pay rise after their well-supported threat of a strike.
  • The Prison Officers Association has released the results of its own indicative ballot, whereby 95% of members voted in favour of taking lawful action over safety at work. The POA reports 8 assaults on staff take place every day in prisons. It is against the law for prison officers to take part in a strike, but that didn’t stop 20,000 of them walking out last year over the issue.
  • Planning a Netflix and chill? You can now do so knowing the streaming platform has signed a landmark agreement benefitting members of the actors’ union, Equity.
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