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Workplace news in brief
Members of the civil service union PCS are being encouraged to ensure a big 'yes' vote for action by asking them to bring their ballot paper to work on 27 February, some are exchanging them for badges saying "I've voted 'yes'". The national ballot for a campaign of industrial action against attacks on pay, pensions and terms and conditions, closes on 4 March. The vote 'yes' campaign is being backed up by workplace meetings.
Attack on union rights
Right-wing Tory ministers are campaigning for prime minister Cameron to put a clause in his manifesto for the next general election which would make a strike illegal unless at least 50% of union members take part in the strike ballot. An interesting proposal since only 15% turned out to vote in the Police and Crime Commissioners' elections last year. Were the PCC elections illegal then?
Other ideas for attacks on trade union rights include allowing agency workers to be brought in as scabs during strikes and to increase the amount of notice which has to be given to bosses before strikes are called.
There are also considerable attacks on facility time allowed for trade union reps in the civil service.
Tanker drivers working for BP at Grangemouth in the east of Scotland are due to start a four-day strike on 28 February. The Unite members are threatened with a pay cut of £1,400 a year and a cut in pensions after an aviation contract was switched from BP to DHL.
They walked out in protest on 22 February. None of the workers were expecting the bosses to come back to the negotiating table any time soon and so they are resolute in their determination to take the further four-day strike action.
Two important tribunals are being held this week, concerning blacklisted construction workers. On 26 February engineer Dave Smith is going to the Employment Appeal tribunal. At Dave's test case Employment Tribunal in January 2012, companies in the Carillion group admitted in court to blacklisting him because he was a trade union health and safety rep. But he lost the case on a legal technicality because he was not directly employed by the companies but via an employment agency.
He is now taking the case to appeal, arguing that to uphold his human rights, the tribunal should extend legal protection to all workers and not just direct employees.
Carillion are also facing claims of bullying, corruption and racism by nearly 100 GMB members who work at Swindon hospital.
On 27 February Unite union rep Frank Morris is going to an Employment Tribunal against construction firms on the Crossrail project in London. Frank claims he was sacked for raising safety concerns by Crossrail and the BFK consortium.
After elections to the Northern Ireland public sector union Nipsa, the left now has 20 of the 25 executive seats - up from seven last year. Of these, nine are members of the Socialist Party in Northern Ireland.
In The Socialist 27 February 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns