strikes

On the university picket lines

Today, Liverpool Solidarity Federation visited the UCU picket lines in Liverpool City Centre to show our support for those coming out on strike.

Whereas Tuesday's strike had been over attacks on pensions, today's was in protest at the threats to members' jobs. An 80% cut in teaching budgets from the government means that 40,000 jobs are at risk. This represents not only an attack on jobs but also on the education sector as a whole, as pickets were keen to stress when they handed leaflets to students urging them not to attend lectures.

One picket on Brownlow Hill told us that the area was a lot quieter than it would normally be first thing in the morning. There had been good support from UCU members, however by the same token the density of non-union members amongst the staff meant that there were still people going in to teach.

Solidarity on the picket lines at Sussex university

As part of a national strike day, members of UCU at Sussex university have been picketing. They were joined by other education workers and students at the entrance to campus who expressed their support for industrial action. 

UCU are involved in a series of rolling strikes across the UK which started last week in Scotland and culminate in a FE and HE strike on Thursday. Strikes are nominally over changes to the pension scheme, however at Sussex it was clear that strikers see this as part of the wider fight against austerity. This was also in evidence from the solidarity from students and education workers well beyond the UCU membership.

Wisconsin occupies for union rights

Workers, students and activists have been pursuing an intensive campaign of direct action in response to attempts by recently elected Republican Governor Scott Walker’s to shatter public sector unions by withdrawing collective bargaining rights. In a clear attempt to break the influence of the unions within the public sector entirely, Walker has forced through a bill which would not just remove collective bargaining, but legally cap pay increases, abolish union dues check-off and require annual union recognition elections – all this after unions accepted all of Walker’s other demands, including a significant paycut.

The bill targets every Wisconsin state worker, with the exception of the police and fire service. However, despite their exemption from the bill, there has been much solidarity evident from firefighters and even in some cases, the police too.

'Bread and freedom!' - North African revolts spread

Across the Arab world, unrest continues to mount. Though not revolutions in the full sense of the word, the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have set the example that more and more people are standing up to follow. As we watch history unfold before our eyes, it is hard to know what comes next. But talk of global revolution is certainly premature.

In Tunisia, Mohamed Ghannouchi is still prime minister, as he was under the now-deposed Ben Ali from 1999. Though most of the regime’s senior figures have been removed from office following further unrest, the same repressive state apparatus remains in place. Demonstrators have continued to be killed on the streets since Ben Ali’s departure.

Solidarity with striking lecturers and teachers!

On Tuesday March 22nd and Thursday March 24th, the University & Colleges Union (UCU) are going out on strike over pay, job security and pensions.

There will be strikes and picket lines at Knowsley Community College, St Helen’s College, Hugh Baird College (Bootle), Southport College, Wirral Met, Liverpool Community College, Edgehill University, John Moores University, Hope University, and the University of Liverpool.

Liverpool Solidarity Federation expresses its solidarity with the strike and urges students to support it by joining and refusing to cross picket lines.

International news in brief

India: boss shoots at striking workers
A ‘manager’ at the Combo Allied Nippon Company in Sahibabad, India, shot at striking workers before they overpowered him. Nine workers have now been arrested for his murder.

Around 400 workers had been striking over the issues of contracts, bonuses and a pay rise. Company officials went to confront strikers and opened fire with 4-5 shots, wounding a worker. Workers then fought with officials leaving several injured on both sides and the shooter dead.

Sources close to the workers claim that many of the so-called ‘management’ are in fact company goons hired to break the union, and that beatings of workers have become commonplace. Reportedly it was also “quite common for them to roam inside the factory openly carrying the guns in order to terrorise the workers.”

I'd rather be a picket than a scab!

Liverpool Solidarity Federation members joined a picket line today to show support for comrades in the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union. The aim of the picket was to try and prevent scabbing by workers defying an overtime ban voted for by union members to defend civil service jobs.

Q&A with a SolFed member and PCS activist

What’s this action all about?
PCS have been in dispute with the government for some time now over proposed changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme [CSCS]. This is the scheme which says how much compensation members get if made redundant, and naturally with job losses on the horizon they want to lessen the cost. It was the previous government’s refusal to negotiate on this matter that necessitated the 3-day strike in March and the court case, which PCS won.

Postal workers - taking no shit

In 2000, over half the strike days in Britain were in the Post Office. Most were unofficial. The run-up to the New Year saw plenty of direct action, with royal mail workers walking out across Britain. In particular, Mersyside postal workers weren't afraid to show their anger at management tactics. Bootle were out, which spread to Liverpool, while Frodsham (30 staff) came out in November. Then West Derby in Liverpool (70 staff) were out between Christmas and New Year.

Hackney Showdown

Workers at the London Borough of Hackney went on strike on Tuesday 1st May over widespread attacks on pay and conditions. The action follows 24-hour stoppages in December and March, and a three-day stoppage in January.

Meanwhile, all sections have been applying localised “withdrawal of goodwill” to fit the problems workers face in their own sections. This means going back to not covering for vacancies, working to grade and job description, not doing extra hours, etc. Not only does this link in with the corporate dispute, but it also gives workers a chance to take direct action over issues which immediately affect them, and to gain confidence from immediate results.

Workers escalate year-long strike

Workers in Hackney's libraries have been on strike for over a year - in fact, every Saturday since 24th November 2001. They are calling for mass pickets of Hackney Central, Stoke Newington and Shoreditch Libraries to prevent scab labour recruited by the Labour-controlled Council from opening them. These pickets will take place on the first Saturday the scabs are called in, probably 7th December, and on each subsequent Saturday until they are withdrawn.