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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 February 2016

Victory for striking EDF energy workers

A Unite member

Unite members at EDF Energy working in metering services have won major concessions in a long running dispute over pay and conditions.

The priority for staff covered by long standing agreements is the issue of increased evening and weekend working. The employers have now agreed that this will apply to volunteers only and those not covered by the agreements.

In addition, the employer has dropped proposals to fit tracker devices in vehicles and to introduce random drug and alcohol testing.

Solid pickets

This shift by the employers followed five days of strike action, with solid pickets as well as protest action which effectively blocked the entrance to the main HQ building at Bexleyheath, Kent, as reported in issue 884 of the Socialist.

The big lesson is that well planned, strategic strike action works. The union pulled out workers whose role is to fit 'smart meters' - something that the company is under pressure to complete or face fines.

Workers turned out in large numbers to picket and demonstrate on every day of the strike. In a sign of things to come, the company called out the police when the campaign blocked the entrance to the building and caused traffic congestion. On the first day, the police simply asked that the protest stop, which it did.

On the second day, the police turned up and threatened mass arrests. On the third day, they turned up with several vehicles looking to make arrests - no protests had been planned for the third day!

Unite is now preparing for battles on a number of fronts with EDF. The company is proposing to reduce revenue protection staff by 50% - while millions of pounds in stolen electricity is not recovered from landlords or business.

This policy decision means that even when theft is discovered EDF writes off the stolen electricity. Meanwhile, there are over 49,000 avoidable deaths each year from fuel poverty and bills continue to be far too high.

The union is also preparing its pay claim for 2016. The victory by metering staff has set an example and shows how these campaigns can also be fought and won.

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The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 24 February 2016:


What we think

EU referendum: Vote OUT the Tories


Socialist Party news and analysis

Junior doctors: back new strikes

Trident: thousands to march - scrap all nukes!

Butterfields tenants demand action against evictions at Labour estate agent awards

Children take over County Hall in protest at cuts

'Benefit tourism' twaddle

Cameron, Cameron, meal snatcher

Them & Us


People's budgets

Tower Hamlets to take anti-cuts fight into the council chamber

Leeds sets up people's budget campaign

Leeds Labour 'anti-austerity' meeting: jam tomorrow


Socialist Party feature

Unison at a crossroads


International socialist news and analysis

Hong Kong: new year riot

International news in brief


Workplace news and analysis

Victory for striking EDF energy workers

Pensions strike by water workers in Warrington

Fresh round of strikes against fresh round of cuts

Stress, abuse and long hours for London bus drivers

Workers unite to fight pay attack in Leicester

Workplace news in brief


Socialist history

Khrushchev: the Stalinist who denounced Stalin


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

One-woman tragedy's fiery call for revolution

Letters


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Huddersfield: save our A&E!

Momentum must "take the fight to the right"!

Gateshead: reprieve for respite centre

Save Derbyshire children's centres

Wakefield: no fracking, no cuts

Cumbria cuts - the grim reaper

Campaign to save Pent Valley continues

Socialist Party Wales and North West conferences


 

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