Bin workers rally against the Labour council in Coventry town centre in 2022

Coventry HGV refuse lorry drivers employed by the council have voted for strikes over attacks on terms and conditions. Some 40 drivers are striking against the Labour council’s plans to end “task and finish” and privatise the city’s services.

The council was set to meet on Monday to discuss the move to scrap a condition that allows refuse workers to leave work when collection rounds are finished. Management want them to stay in work until the end of the working day.

The plans come as the council fights equal pay claims by the GMB union members. The union has launched 200 equal pay claims against the council.

Coventry’s HGV refuse lorry drivers struck for six months in 2022 for a pay rise. The Labour council spent £9.4 million to break the strike and pay agency staff.

New offer at Suez

Strikes by 150 bin workers who work for Suez on behalf of South Gloucestershire council have been suspended for three days beginning Monday of this week. The Unite union members returned to work while voting on an “improved offer”. They will walk out again on Thursday if it is rejected.

Last week Unite accused Suez of “refusing to enter into renewed negotiations”. The strike began in June, with strikers escalating to all-out action. Unite should have kept the workers out until a deal had been made, rather than potentially weaken the strike if it needs to continue.

Unite to strike in local government

Some 3,000 local government workers across 16 councils in England and Wales have voted for strikes. They are battling an across the board pay offer of £1,925 a year. That equates to rises of between just 4 and 9 percent, depending on pay grade.

Unite union members in Bath and North East Somerset, Cardiff, Chesterfield, Cornwall, Coventry, Cumberland, Cynon Valley, Darlington, Derby and North Tyneside, Gwynedd, Ipswich, Plymouth, Sefton, Warrington, Wigan and Wrexham all voted to walkout.

*Some 60 Unite Union members who work for Hull and East Riding Citizens Advice are set to strike. Their pay is set by the local government NJC conditions. They also rejected the offer of a flat-rate rise of £1,925 for 2022. Over the last ten years NJC pay awards have resulted in real term cuts of 27 percent for Citizens Advice staff. The strikes were set for Monday of this week and Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week.

Manchester busses set to walkout

More than 1,000 Manchester Stagecoach bus drivers have voted to strike. They rejected an offer of 4 percent from June 2023, with a further 4 percent to be added this December. Strikes by the Unite union members are set for Friday to Sunday of next week, and Monday 14 August. More strikes will be scheduled if the dispute is not resolved.

Meanwhile some 300 workers at Warwickshire Stagecoach are voting on strikes. The Unite union members rejected a 6.4 percent pay offer. They are voting until next Friday. Stagecoach’s latest figures show its adjusted profit before tax has increase by 98 percent to £36.4 million in the six months to 29 October 2022. For 2021-22 its profits hit £72.7 million.

New deals ground airport strikes

Strikes at Birmingham airport have been grounded after security officers and terminal technicians voted for an improved deal. The new, one-year offer is made up of a 10.5 percent consolidated pay rise and a one-off 2.75 percent non‑consolidated rise.

The deal includes two new Unite union reps, a wider collective bargaining agreement and more union access at the airport. The all-out strikes were suspended “as an act of goodwill” to allow workers to vote on the deal on Monday of last week.

Meanwhile strikes at Gatwick airport by a range of workers have also been called off. Workers employed by ASC, which handles huge volumes of cargo, are voting on “a double digit pay rise”.

Menzies workers, voted for a 13 percent increase for ground handling staff and 17 percent for the lowest paid staff. Gatwick DHL workers also cancelled their strike after accepting a 15 percent pay rise. An uplift in skills pay also means some hourly rates will increase by between 15 and 31 percent.

And a new shift premium of £1.25 an hour for shifts beginning at midnight and ending at 04.59am was secured, increasing rates by between 23 and 43 percent. GGS workers are also voting on an improved offer.

In brief

Workers at a sealant factory in Durham completed their sixth day of strikes last week.  A dozen GMB union members plan to strike for a further nine days at Nicholson’s Sealing Technologies in Stanley.

Workers rejected a 6.7 percent pay increase that would have amounted to a real term pay cut. And the bosses are employing dirty tactics to break the strike. The GMB reports that bosses are paying agency workers increased wages to do the work of strikers.

⇒Cleaners and concierge workers at a luxury apartment complex, West End Quays (WEQ), decided to strike again after the bosses offered them a shoddy deal. Workers who are outsourced to contractor Lee Baron already struck in June. After that bosses offered an 8 percent pay rise.

But workers were not satisfied because bosses said they wouldn’t harmonise annual leave and sick pay. The members of the IWW union report that residents has been very positive.

⇒Years of real term pay cuts are not workers’ cup of tea. Members of the GMB union at Tata Consumer Products Limited in Teesside, have begun a strike ballot. They produce Tetley tea bags.

Most of the 150 factory workers are women, and the bosses haven’t given them a real pay rise in many years. Already 88 percent of members have turned down a bosses’ deal. The results of their ballot were to be released this Thursday.

⇒Construction workers downed tools at the site of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset last week in reaction to plans to cut travel allowances. Hundreds of mechanical, electrical and logistics workers refused to come to work on one day as the dispute escalated into unofficial action.

According to one worker, “Hundreds of workers for Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey did not turn up for work after rejecting a 50 percent cut to their travel allowances.” The Unite and GMB unions are now planning to ballot for industrial action over the cut.

⇒A strike at the Trelleborg component factory in Leicester has ended after 100 workers accepted a two-year pay offer.  The deal included an 8 percent pay rise backdated to April, and a one-off £750 payment. It also commits to a rise of just 3 percent next April, unless CPI inflation is above 5 percent.

An all-out strike began on 11 July and lasted for 14 days causing delays for many engineering companies. The company originally offered 4 percent and a £700 lump sum.

Strikes at Trelleborg factories in Tewkesbury and Bridgwater came to an end recently after workers also accepted a deal of 8 percent in the first year and 3 percent in the second. The Unite union should have fought harder for an above-inflation pay deal at all the sites.

University of Huddersfield bosses plan to make 105 workers redundant. This would be the fifth round of redundancies in four years.  Yet bosses have spent millions of pounds on new buildings and had a £9 million surplus last year—and £179 million in the bank.  Workers should take inspiration from those at Brighton and vote to strike.

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