National Express workers could strike

Almost 4,000 National Express bus workers in the West Midlands have begun balloting to strike for improved pay. If the workers vote in favour of strikes, they will join around 200 National Express engineers who recently returned a successful strike ballot.

National Express reported revenues of £2.2 billion in 2021. But it has offered workers a real terms pay cut.

Some drivers earn as little as £11.80 per hour and most admin staff make little over the minimum wage. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “National Express brings in huge amounts of money while its workers are struggling with the cost of living crisis. “It can afford to pay for a decent wage for its workers and that is exactly what it needs to do.”

The ballot closes on 1 March, with strikes likely to begin later that month. Any strikes would massively impact some 93 percent of the West Midlands bus network.

‘Rent freeze now’ protest

The Homes For All campaign is calling a protest this Saturday at the Department of Levelling Up as part of a day of action against the housing crisis. Activists will gather at 12 noon to demand the government funds a rent freeze and stops evictions. They are also campaigning to freeze an increase to service charges.

Rents are rising faster than inflation—with bigger rises set to hit in April. Private landlords are upping rent and tenants in social housing are facing a 7 percent rise.

Activists are also demanding action on poor conditions, mould and fire safety.

Join the protest at 12 noon, Sat 11 Feb, Department of Levelling Up, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF

OCS strikers win unsocial hours pay

Privatised health workers in Blackpool and Blackburn were celebrating again last week after news that they’d won unsocial hours payments equal to those paid by the NHS.

The Unison union members, working for OCS, struck last year and won a big pay rise. But the vital issue of unsocial hours was left to future negotiations. The union has now won all its significant demands.

Outsourcing victory in Liverpool NHS

Bosses at Liverpool hospitals last week agreed to bring nearly 700 outsourced jobs back in-house with greatly improved pay and conditions. Unions at the hospital are overjoyed at news of this victory over NHS outsourcing.

Radio journalists fight huge job cuts

Journalists at BBC England local radio stations are set to ballot for strikes over job cuts. The members of the NUJ union have already voted to reject plans to share news content among radio stations. The plans could cut as many as 139 jobs.

The NUJ says that action will happen in March if workers vote for strikes. Regulators fight for above-inflation rise

Workers at the Care Quality Commission are fighting to win a strike vote over pay. Members of five unions—Unison, PCS, Prospect, the Royal College of Nursing and Unite—are balloting over an imposed pay deal of between 2.75 and 3 percent, and a one-off payment of £100 or £150.

It affects workers who do the vital job of inspecting, monitoring and regulating hospitals, care homes, GPs and dental surgeries. They want an above-inflation pay rise, saying their wages have fallen by as much as a quarter in 13 years.

Diageo strikers hit the bottling plant

engineering workers at the Diageo distillers plant in Leven, Fife, are fighting over pay. Weekend strikes—from Friday night to Monday morning— began on 14 January and are set to take place every weekend until 3 April.

The strikes by the engineers will affect engineering support for the alcohol bottling plant. Workers will also protest outside the Johnnie Walker Experience in Edinburgh next Saturday, and outside the bottling plant in Leven next Sunday.

The Unite union members are set to lose 6 percent of their pay when bosses change pay rates.

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