Eriks workers in Chesterfield on strike this week are determined to win (Picture: James Eaden)

Nearly 40 engineers struck in Chesterfield this week after bosses at Eriks industrial services offered them a pitiful below-inflation pay rise.

The dispute began in January when the Unite union members put in a pay claim that was never officially recognised by higher management.

By late June, negotiations were cancelled at short notice, before the bosses eventually returned with a two-year deal. It offered 7 percent in the first year—on the condition that workers do an extra 30 minutes each shift, saving the bosses overtime pay. The second year would see a 6 percent rise.

One Eriks striker said on Monday, “Other branches accepted the 6 percent but they are paid more so their  6 percent is bigger than our 6 percent and the gap widens every year.”

He explained, “Some Eriks workers are paid £16.09 an hour, against Chesterfield’s £14.62 for the same job.”

This deal was unanimously rejected when put to the Unite members. Every one of them took part and they all said no to the offer.

Workers are out on Mondays and Tuesdays for four weeks together with a complete overtime ban.

Across Eriks there are only three officially recognised union branches—in Cardiff, Swansea and Chesterfield. All other work areas received as little as a 4 percent offer.

More encouragingly, in addition to Chesterfield workers’ fight for pay justice, engineers in Cardiff are fighting for pay parity between the roles of fitters and winders.

The Chesterfield branch stands in solidarity with Cardiff, believing all workers are worth more than this deal.

Kai Harrison

Fighting against the ISS outsourcers in London

Workers in the PCS union at three major Whitehall departments struck for five days last week over pay.

Cleaners, security guards and support staff working for the outsourced contractor ISS at the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, the Department for Business & Trade and Department for Science, and the Innovation & Technology walked out.

Bosses had offered them just a 2.2 percent uplift.

The week started brightly on Victoria Street in central London. Dozens of workers gathered waving PCS flags, carrying placards, blowing horns, leafleting members of the public, and dancing to music that was blasting out from a speaker.

ISS made a profit of £73 million last year, with ten board members receiving almost £1 million between them in payouts.

One member, John, told the PCS, “Our employer makes almost a hundred million pounds a year and they are paying us peanuts.” Flavio said workers “received an offer of an increase in pennies but the price of everything increases in pounds”.

Charles said, “If we didn’t go for a strike, ISS wouldn’t change their mind.”

Workers are prepared to keep fighting.

PCS members who work for The Pensions Regulator (TPR) in Brighton began a two-week strike over pay last Tuesday.

After the PCS called strikes, union membership almost doubled at TPR.

Over 250 PCS members are on strike until Monday 18 September because their employer is refusing to pay even the government’s—grossly inadequate—new pay deal.

TPR is offering only 3 percent while other civil service employers are paying 4.5 percent, with an additional 0.5 percent of the overall pay pot for the worst paid staff.

Support workers set to walk out at 21 institutions

Support staff at 21 universities in England and Scotland are set to strike for at least two days over pay.

More than 6,000 workers in the Unison union plan to walk out as they escalate action for a real pay rise after years of below-inflation deals—cuts.

In England, all 17 universities will strike on Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 October.

This will come just after UCU union strikes. But some Unison members will also be out on different days in September alongside the UCU. 

Four institutions in Scotland—Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art, University of Dundee and University of Glasgow—will be out together on Wednesday 20 September, and different institutions on other days as well.

The new strike dates coincide with the start of term and follow industrial action at a number of universities earlier this year.

Staff voted to reject a pay offer for 2023-24 of between 5 percent and 8 percent.

In a formal ballot that ended in July, workers at these 21 higher education institutions backed further action.

Other universities voted for a strike but did not hit the turnout threshold under the Tory anti-union laws.

The university workers represented by Unison include cleaners, IT technicians, administrators, library staff and others supporting student learning.

For a full list of strike days at each university, go here

Stirling work by university strikers

Workers at the University of Stirling began a two‑week strike on Monday over punitive pay docking.

Those who took part in a marking and assessment boycott earlier this year—a relatively small part of their overall job—have had their pay cut by half.

The action is set to continue until 22 September.

They will then join the national action from 25 September (see above)meaning three weeks of action overall.

UCU Stirling said, “In no case did the marking withheld come close to representing 50 percent of our workload.

“In some cases, staff lost half their wages for refusing to mark one or two exams.

“This was done to punish.”

Donations to UCU Stirling hardship fund. Sort code 60-83-01 account number 20392141

Colleges out in Kirklees and Barnsley

Workers at Kirklees College in West Yorkshire began a four‑day strike on Monday and Tuesday this week.

It comes after college bosses offered them a pitiful 1 percent pay rise and £500 lump sum. For the 2023-4 year, the bosses only offered a 2.5 percent pay rise. The UCU union members have already been out for six days this year.

On Monday Unison union members joined them.

Workers plan to strike on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

And over 90 Unison members at Barnsley College struck on Monday. Strikers held large and lively picket lines at all the college sites.

College management imposed a pay settlement without negotiation. The offer is below that recommended by the Association of Colleges.

Members’ meetings were being held to decide what next.

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