Protesting in support of a living wage for cinema staff

wakefield cineworld

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.

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.

Arriva Drivers Strike across West Yorkshire

Unite members picketing outside the Castleford depot - photo Iain Dalton

Unite members picketing outside the Castleford depot – photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party members visited Unite picket lines at Wakefield, Castleford and Selby on Monday morning as workers for Arriva took strike action.

Not a single bus moved at Arriva’s Castleford depot as Unite members took part in a strike across the service in West Yorkshire. The 24-hour strike was taking place on both the issue of pay and driving hours, with Unite seeking a 20p an hour pay increase and a reduction in number of trips between breaks. A couple of young drivers talked of how they had to work for years before coming off the training rate. They also spoke of huge pressures on drivers over sick days, with many working while ill leading to more drivers coming down with illness and needing to take days off. The mood on the picket line was upbeat and determined. Yet despite the shutdown in the service, several workers felt they would need further action to force Arriva to meet their demands.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Fast Food Rights march in Wakefield

Fast Food Right protest for £10 an hour minimum wage in Wakefield

Fast Food Right protest for £10 an hour minimum wage in Wakefield

Chants demanding £10 an hour minimum wage rang out through Wakefield city centre as activists from Baker’s, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ), National Shop Stewards Network took part in a demonstration to mark the #FastFood Global day of action.

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire YFJ Organiser
Over the last week we’ve visited fast food workplaces across Wakefield and nearby shopping centres where we’ve received an enthusiatic response. On the evening after the protest, a public meeting heard via Skype from a Fast Food worker in New York taking part in the strikes and gaining ideas from that of how to take the campaign forward locally.

Socialist Party member and new BFAWU activist, Tom commented “We’ve had a fanatastic few weeks of raising awareness of the BFAWU and it’s call for a £10 an hour minimum wage, and if we continue taking that message to local workplaces I’m confident we can build BFAWU among fast food workers in Wakefield.”

Wakefield Council Votes to Oppose Fracking

Socialist Party members & Frack Free Wakefield District campaigners leafletting outside the council meeting - Photo Wakefield SP

Socialist Party members & Frack Free Wakefield District campaigners leafletting outside the council meeting – Photo Wakefield SP

Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist party comrades teamed up with Frack Free Wakefield District to Lobby Wakefield District councillors before a full council meeting. The Council was scheduled to debate housing and fracking. The result was that the council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion, which we have been calling for,  to oppose fracking and call on central government to withdraw licences issued for the Wakefield district. We also took the opportunity to lobby councillors on setting a no cuts budget prior to their budget meeting next month.

John Sibbald, Wakefield & Pontefract Socialist Party