Around 80 anti-fascists and LGBT+ activists defended Drag Queen Story Hour in Swindon (Picture: Julie Simmons)

Unions engineer a split in vital maintenance strikes

Almost 2,000 driving test examiners in the PCS union are set to strike next week over workloads. Members have pushed back on the idea that existing staff need to work harder. Driving examiners say transport secretary Mark Harper’s plans pose “significant” safety risks for them and their customers.

They also say they will erode their terms and conditions by expecting them to deliver a further 150,000 tests by the end of March. Instead, says the PCS, there needs to be more investment to employ extra examiners. Workers were set to strike for four days this week from Thursday to Sunday. Picket lines were planned at key sites among the 270 test centres across Britain.

For details of the sites go to tinyurl.com/TestStrikes

Social workers strike after botched review

Social workers in Swindon plan to strike for two days every week for two months. In total, 19 members of the GMB union are set to strike from 27 February. The dispute is over pay as bosses undermined workers’ pay after a botched pay grading review.

Social workers in the emergency service department struck last year over a proposal by the council to cut almost 20 percent of their unsocial hours pay. Swindon council is evidently in chaos. More strikes and action can pressure council bosses to restore social workers’ pay to what they deserve.

Cambridge uni workers hit back

Workers at the University of Cambridge are on strike. They walked out on Wednesday of last week until Friday of last week. The 450 workers are based in the university library, department of engineers, estate management, Fitzwilliam Museum and information services.

They earn just £23,000 a year and are demanding an above inflation pay rise. Cambridge is one of the most expensive parts of Britain to live outside of London. But the university is trying to force through a five to six percent wage increase.

Strike amid DHL sky-high profits

DHL aviation workers at east Midlands airport plan to strike on Friday of this week until Monday 19 February. Workers rejected a 9.8 percent pay increase. The 180 workers, who are Unite union members, undertake ramp duties, provide aircraft handling and oversee the tower at the airport.

They are paid just £10.96 an hour. DHL Aviation reported profits of £66 million last year—bosses have the money to give workers a pay rise. Workers are also angry that the pay offer is less than their counterparts at Bristol and Gatwick airports.

Lucozade workers have bosses fizzing

Workers at Suntory Beverage and Food in Coleford, Gloucestershire started a week of strikes on Monday this week. A two-year pay deal starting in April 2022 was taken by the 180 Unite union members at the time.

Bosses agreed to review the deal if inflation was higher than five percent between January to June 2023—which it was. But bosses at the company, which produces Lucozade and Ribena, have not reviewed pay for last year. The strike would be the first at the company since the 1970s.

Gardeners throw the trowel

Gardeners at Regents Park in London are angry they are paid less than those at Royal Parks. Workers employed by a private contractor took to picket lines on Monday of last week. They are especially furious because their work has won the park several awards in recent years.

Last year, they won the British Association of Landscape Industries award for their work in the park last year. Yet managers of the park haven’t decided to award them with a pay rise.

Asda bosses could face worker fury

Workers at two more Asda supermarkets could take action. This would bring the total of ballots at the supermarket to four in the last few months. Workers are now balloting for strikes at the Brighton Marina Asda store and Brighton Hollingbury Asda store.

Workers are furious that management refuse to listen to their concerns, especially around safety. They are also angry about a lack of hours managers are offering workers, inadequate staff training and a high staff turnover.

These latest ballots add to a still ongoing ballot at Asda Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. Workers at Asda in Gosport also balloted for strikes but voted not to strike following negotiations with management.

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