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Workplace news in brief
The local government employers have scrapped the pay negotiations for 1.6 million workers until the new rate for the minimum wage is set in May.
The unions, Unite, Unison and GMB have put in a claim for a minimum increase of £1 an hour and a living wage for the lowest paid workers.
The employers are clearly using the poverty-level minimum wage to hold wages down. They want to use the likely pitiful rise in the minimum wage rate to resist any meaningful wage rise.
Only a well-organised battle, including strike action, is likely to push the employers to reach a pay settlement which will address poverty pay and compensate for the effective pay cuts council workers have endured over the last few years.
Unite members working for Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trust were on strike for five hours on 17 February in a dispute over shift patterns. The new longer shifts could mean workers working for ten hours without a meal break.
The Trust is refusing to negotiate with Unite, which it has derecognised. In a clear cost-cutting exercise the trust is also trying to introduce emergency care assistants who are being given only six weeks training, while paramedics have to undergo a two-year degree course.
Transport union RMT and the International Transport Federation protested again at Portsmouth Commercial docks on 18 February.
This is to expose the practice of ferry owners like Condor who employ non-EU workers on poverty pay rates of £2.35 an hour. Condor operates a ferry service between Portsmouth and the Channel Islands.
Not only does this exploit the workers concerned but it also allows the employers to drive down the wages and conditions of all seafarers.
Royal Opera House
Porters and cleaners at the Royal Opera House are being balloted for strike action over non-payment of wages owed.
The contractor who employs them, Mitie, was forced to start paying the London Living Wage of £8.80 an hour, after strike action and protests, but they have still not paid some wages owed from last October.
This situation has been exacerbated by the company's refusal to recognise the workers' union, IWGB.
Another contractor, Company of Cooks Ltd, is paying some of their workers £6.50 an hour on effective zero-hour contracts.
IWGB has put in a claim for the London Living Wage and proper contracts of employment for these workers.
In The Socialist 19 February 2014:
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