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Workplace news in brief
Teachers' strike suspended
After a successful strike in London on 23 February, NUT members in sixth form colleges outside London were due to take a half-day's strike action on 15 March. The employers have resorted to trying to drag the union through the courts, so the strike is suspended for the time being.
Nigel Fox, Secretary of Hampshire NUT, explains why the action was planned: "The purpose of the strike is to draw attention to the 20% funding cut colleges are experiencing between 2011-16. It is of the same magnitude as the cuts being faced by the police service, where some forces are looking at privatising large swathes of their service in response.
"We are particularly concerned by the effect on staff workloads - which are increasing by 20% - and the consequences for 16-19 educational provision. One particular strand of funding hit by the cuts is the so-called 'entitlement' element. This is used to fund things like tutorial support, careers advice and the non-examined curriculum. Funding for providing this is being cut by 75%."
Killed at work
Part of the government's crusade against 'red tape' is to reclassify dock work as 'low risk'. But Hazards magazine has recently revealed what a lie this is. Since the end of October 2011, five workers have been killed working in docks at Tilbury, Sunderland, Ipswich and Immingham. Also, on 31 January this year, Health and Safety Executive inspectors issued an immediate stop work notice at part of the Humber International Terminal, effectively bringing all activity at the dock to a halt. This can only be issued where there is "risk of serious personal injury."
The Con-Dems are happy to play to the gallery with glib gestures about eliminating 'red tape', while workers' lives are put at risk.
A number of protests and events are being organised across the country on Workers' Memorial Day on 28 April.
Fighting the rail cuts
Transport union RMT is organising a budget day of action on 21 March, against the many attacks on the rail industry. The McNulty rail review allows train operating companies to ramp up fares while cutting the service to the public, including closing ticket offices and removing staff from stations. The protests will specifically target South West Trains, where a private takeover of the infrastructure begins on 1 April.
The RMT is calling for transport to be run as a public service in public ownership.
Tube strike ballot
The RMT has announced the timetable for the strike ballot of its members employed by Tubelines on London Underground. The dispute is over the demand for equal pension and travel pass rights with other staff on the tube.
Tubelines workers perform tasks across the tube network and maintenance and upgrade work on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines.
The ballot, for strike action and action short of a strike, will begin on 20 March and run until 16 April.
In The Socialist 15 March 2012:
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