Protesting in support of a living wage for cinema staff

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Protesting for a living wage for cinema staff – photo Yorkshire & the Humber TUC

On the weekend of the release of the new Star Wars film, protests across Yorkshire took place in solidarity with striking cinema workers in the Picturehouse chain, who are currently engaged in a two-year long dispute to win a living wage.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

The Picturehouse workers, members of BECTU, starting from the Ritzy cinema in London, have been taking action on a series of issues including union recognition and payment of the London Living Wage. Picturehouse had agreed to their demands, but since reneged on that pledge.

Socialist Party members took part in the protests outside the Wakefield Cineworld site and outside the White Rose Centre where the new Leeds Cineworld is based. A little over a dozen local trade unionists supported both events and received strong public support for the campaign.

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Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

Local residents and ex-mining families were outraged when news came through that Dewsbury Conservative Association was intending to have their annual dinner at the National Coal Mining Museum at the former Caphouse colliery in Overton near Wakefield.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

It was planned for 10 March, just days after the anniversary of the end of the 1984-5 miners’ strike. Given the role of the Tory party under Thatcher in running down the mines and forcing the 1984-85 dispute in order to break the power of the miners – then the most combative and best organised union – many local people saw this as an insult to the whole point of a museum commemorating the industry.

But also, the last deep coal mine in Britain at Kellingley on the other side of Wakefield, closed by the Tory-led coalition, is a more recent reminder of the contempt the Tories hold the industry in. They are prepared to bring coal in from places such as China to fuel local power stations.

In a matter of days almost 2,000 people joined a Facebook group set up to protest the event and e-mail and ring the museum demanding they withdraw the event.

At first museum management put up a defiant statement that they would be going ahead as they had to be ‘politically neutral’! But just a day later they were forced to cancel the event after the catering company withdrew.

This is a victory for local working class communities and groups such as the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign which had planned to picket the dinner if it went ahead.

But it also raises questions around why the museum management thought accepting the booking was a good idea.

DVSA pickets strike against attacks on terms and conditions

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PCS pickets at the Wakefield Driving Test Centre near Ossett- photo Iain Dalton

PCS members at the Wakefield Driving Test Centre began two days of strike action on Monday 4th December against attacks on their terms and conditions of work as part of a national dispute.

Iain Dalton, West Yorkshire Socialist Party organiser

Whilst much of the media coverage has focussed on the strike being on the first day of the new driving test, which part of the dispute covers some issues with it, most of the pickets anger was focussed around the ‘flexible’ working arrangements management are attempting to impose on them.

This includes being able to deploy Ops staff to anywhere they choose without notice, but on top of this that the time taken by staff to travel to these deployments is to be done on their own time! This also means that staff travelling to such deployments wouldn’t be covered by the Civil Service Injury Benefits Scheme.

There are other issues such as around test schedules facing staff, and also including removal of premium payments for working voluntarily beyond their contracted Monday-Friday hours, similar to attacks taking place in the retail and other sectors as well.

Despite this being the first strike for some picketers, they were well equipped with a gazebo and bacon butties and hot drinks and pickets were bouyed by the news that there were no tests booked in at the site on Monday – DVSA offering for the first time in an industrial dispute to allow those booked in to cancel or re-arrange for another day.

Argos workers still solid after 3 week strike

Argos strikers show their support for McDonald’s strikers

Argos workers, members of Unite the Union, finished the 3 week period of strikes they’ve been engaging in over issues around relocation and redundancies today.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire organiser

In Castleford, this is a key issue as many of the workers have been long- term employees accruing a significant redundancy package if they were made redundant.  Their fear is that transferring their work to another site out of reasonable commuting distance would rob them of that security. 

Strikers were clear that of Argos won’t budge then there more than prepared to take further action. 

The strikers want to thank those who have sent support for them and concluded their picket line by taking a solidarity photo in support of the McDonald’s workers who are on strike for the first time today over working conditions, zero hour contracts and low pay.

Argos Distrubution Workers Strike to Defend Job Security

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Unite pickets at Castleford Argos depot – photo Iain Dalton

Workers at four Argos distribution centres across the country, including the Castleford site, are taking 3 weeks of strike action to defend jobs and terms and conditions in the wake of the Sainsbury’s buying out Argos last year.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

The action has been prompted by the company’s decision to close their Magna Park site and transfer workers to Kettering, around 30 miles away.

Workers are concerned that further re-organisation could be coming in the distribution network, and although they have redeployment clauses in their contracts, they are seeking agreement about reasonable distances workers could be expect to be redeployed. They are also seeking agreed relocation and redundacy packages for any transfer beyond an agreed reasonable distance.

For the first week, support has remained strong amongst the 100+ permanent workers at the Castleford site. Despite management attempts to get workers from a neighbouring DHL-run Argos warehouse to cover the strikers workers, workers at that site, members of Usdaw, have correctly refused to do so.

In Argos stores as well, organised by Usdaw, there has also been concern about what the merger with Sainsbury’s means for staff with Argos stores located in close proximity to Sainsbury’s.

In a retail distribution sector which increasingly is dominated by contractors such as Wincanton, DHL Eddie Stobart and others, defence of in-house distribution networks, where the actual employer can be more directly held to account is vital. This is why workers at the Argos site in Barton are also seeking to join the other four sites as part of the bargaining group.

A victory in this dispute is important to send a message to those in the distribution sector that workers will not be pushed around and provide a basis for a push to ensure that distrubution contractors are organised on the same terms and conditions of in-house staff, or ideally brought back in-house.

Please send messages of support to paulaur.good@blueyonder.co.uk. Strike fund donations should be made payable to Unite the Union and sent to Paula Hutchinson, 37 Camden Road, Airedale, Castleford, WF10 3LY

Fujitsu workers strike for decent pay and job security

Unite pickets at Fujitsu office in Wakefield – photo Iain Dalton

Workers at Fujitsu Wakefield took part in their second day of strike action as part of the ongoing national dispute over job security, pensions, the living wage and union recognition.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Fujitsu is cutting around 1800 UK jobs via offshoring, with some of these coming in as soon as March 20th, as part of its ‘Agenda 2020’ plans. This comes on top of a recent trustee decision which has retrospectively cut the pensions of over-60s which the company is refusing to negotiate compensation for.

Scandalously, the company has now said that all its workforce could be included in the scope of further redundancy execrises.

Reprinted in the leaflet being distributed by strikers on the picket line is a quote from a recent communication from Fujtsu CEO Lucy Dimes which states “If you do not recieve this notification [of being in scope] this does not necessarily mean your role is not affected by Agenda 2020 as there may be other areas of the business impacted as part of longer term projects.”

Unite members at Fujitsu are not taking this threat lying down and will be taking further strike action on the 24th and 27th March.

 

 

Mary Creagh should resign not remain

Hundreds of signatures have been collected by Wakefield Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition members calling for the resignation of Wakefield’s Labour MP Mary Creagh.
Mick Griffiths, Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist Party

She recently voted against triggering Article 50 to leave the EU. With a 66% vote to leave in Wakefield, she voted against the wishes of a clear majority of her constituents.

In just one week alone hundreds have signed our petition calling for her immediate resignation.

Throughout Europe workers have suffered cuts and austerity while banks have been bailed out. We intend to lobby our MP in the near future once we have amassed thousands more signatures in support.

Meanwhile, we have organised a public meeting to discuss a socialist Brexit programme on Thursday 9 March at 7.30pm at Black Rock, Wakefield.