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23 May 2012

Workplace news in brief

Dockers strike

Dock workers at Tilbury went on a 48-hour strike on 21 May. This is after a 24-hour strike on 7 May, the first at Tilbury since 1989.

The dispute is over the employers imposition of new contracts which would result in a 2,500 per year loss in wages. They want the workers to work when ships are ready for unloading, not to set shift patterns. The main cargo they deal with is reels of paper.

Bus workers' strike ballot

20,000 London bus workers are being balloted for action over the bus operators' refusal to pay a bonus for extra work during the Olympic Games. Their union, Unite has carried out a survey of nearly 3,000 passengers, revealing that 88% thought that the workers should get an Olympic payment in line with other transport workers in London.

Network Rail and Virgin Rail workers will get 500, Docklands Light Railway 900, TfL overground 600 and Unite members at London Underground 850.

Airport strike

The GMB has announced that ground staff at Stansted airport are to strike on 26-28 May and from 2-6 June. The dispute is over new rosters, which will hit pay. The workers are employed by Swissport, who claim that they are making the shift changes to save jobs.

Barristers to strike?

A poll of 1,600 barristers has found that nine out of ten are prepared to strike over proposed changes to the criminal justice system.

The government is trying to cut 350 million per year from the legal aid budget, currently at 2 billion per year. A parliamentary report has found that these cuts would mean 500,000 people per year not getting legal help and 45,000 fewer instances of legal representation.

On top of this, barristers' fees for criminal work were stagnant for 15 years under Labour, then cut by 13.5%. The Con-Dems are making a further cut of 11%. 3,500 barristers will have to be consulted before any action starts. M'learned friends have joined the police and doctors in showing serious opposition to the government's austerity agenda.