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Workplace news in brief
Private pensions strike
Workers at Unilever have voted overwhelmingly for strike action to defend their pensions. 85% of those voting supported a strike and 92% supported action short of a strike. The 24-hour strike on 9 December is the first time that the Unilever workers have taken national strike action. Unite is the main union but there are also members of Usdaw and GMB.
The sites affected are in Norwich, Burton, Gloucester, Trafford Park Manchester, Purfleet, Port Sunlight (two sites), Warrington, Crumlin Gwent, Colworth Bedford, Deeside and Leeds.
Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Langdon School in Newham, east London, are striking for three days, 6-8 December, against excessive workloads and management bullying.
The response of Newham's Labour council is to recruit supply staff to try and break the strike.
The use of agency staff during a strike is illegal but in the run-up to the 30 November strike action over pensions, the Department for Education issued guidelines to education authorities saying that a school could directly employ staff supplied by an employment agency.
The union's discontinuous strike action has been solid and is getting support from both parents and from trade unionists. A Newham NUT meeting voted by a magnificent 90-0 for a ballot for borough-wide action.
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On the N30 strike day, the appalling attitude of Labour leader Ed Miliband was discussed on picket lines all over London. The necessity of standing anti-cuts candidates against all the main parties was a popular subject of debate. When Socialist Party members and supporters of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) showed them the appeal letter from leading RMT and FBU figures in London, many picketers discussed the idea and took copies of the appeal letter, wanting to give it serious consideration. Many more were ready to sign straight away in support of the idea of trade union anti-cuts candidates in the Greater London Assembly elections in 2012.
New signatories, all in a personal capacity, include: Rula Sotiri GMB, Anthony Lines NUT, Hiren Das Gupta NUT, Sharon West Unison, Nia Phillips NUT, T Manning Unison, C Paul Unison, Eddie Tunnah UCU, John Barclay UCU, Christine Caldwell UCU, Adrian Budd UCU branch secretary, Mike Leary UCU, M Bishop PCS, Z Jamison PCS, Tracey Price-Tupper PCS
Olympic pay rise
Rail union RMT has negotiated a deal for workers on the London Overground over the period of the Olympic Games. Over 500 workers will be paid an enhancement rate of 25% (normal time plus one quarter) for shifts during the games, with a minimum gross payment of £650. This will ensure that adequate staff are available to work on the vital transport hub of Stratford while the Olympics and Paralympics are going on.
In The Socialist 7 December 2011:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party editorial
Workplace news and analysis
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International socialist news and analysis
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