Union members lobby Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust to drop transfer of staff outside the NHS

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Lobby of Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust board meeting 14/6/18 – rally being addressed by Socialist Party member and Unison branch secretary Adrian O’Malley – photo Iain Dalton

Mid Yorkshire Unison members and public supporters lobbied Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust board meeting held on 14th June. Following a 97.4% vote for strike action on a 58% turnout, a strike will proceed if the Trust does not back down from it’s plan to transfer estates & facilities workers out of the NHS.

Mick Griffiths, Wakefield & Pontefract Socialist Party
Demonstrators were invited inside the Trust headquarters to address the board.
Some of the board members seemed surprised that staff strongly supported striking against back door privatisation. Despite assurances that staffs views would be seriously considered the board is using ‘commercial confidentiality’ as an excuse to make decisions in secret.

Union members are determined to resist being removed from the NHS. The strike will follow if the Trust does not drop this ‘proposal’.

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Strike ballot message to Trust board: “We’re 100% NHS!”

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Health workers and supporters protest against ‘Wholly-owned subsidiaries’ across West Yorkshire – photo courtesy of Leeds Keep Our NHS Public

Four Yorkshire branches of health union Unison are balloting simultaneously for strikes against plans to transfer estates and facilities workers into separate companies – owned by NHS trusts, but outside the NHS.

Adrian O’Malley, secretary, Unison Mid Yorkshire health branch (personal capacity)

Calderdale and Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, and Mid Yorkshire plan coordinated strikes across West Yorkshire if the trusts do not back down.

Mid Yorkshire Unison has voted 97.4% in favour of striking on a 57.8% turnout – smashing the Tories’ undemocratic anti-strike ballot thresholds! “The message to the trust board cannot be clearer – we are 100% NHS!”

Up and down England, NHS workers are organising against similar plans. The companies are called ‘special purpose vehicles’ or ‘wholly owned subsidiaries’. Trusts use them to avoid paying VAT and employ staff outside nationally agreed terms and conditions.

Unison members struck for 48 hours at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust on 23 May against transfer into a company called WWL Solutions. Hundreds attended the picket lines outside the hospitals, determined to fight to remain in the NHS.

NHS bosses thought they could move the staff over into new companies under ‘Tupe’ transfer law without a fight. They have been taken by surprise by workers’ determination to retain NHS employment.

Mass meetings, petitions, lobbies and indicative ballots have been held across the country. They have attracted support from other health workers and community groups, who rightly see this as yet another step towards the privatisation of the NHS.

The struggle is showing that low-paid workers are prepared to fight for their terms and conditions and their status as NHS workers. The lesson from Yorkshire is that we are stronger when we organise together and fight together.

As the Yorkshire NHS staff are saying: “We are 100% NHS and will fight to remain so!”

 

March to defend the NHS on it’s 70th birthday

Saturday 30th June, London

Transport is being organised by Leeds TUC, including a Wakefield pick-up —visit their website  for info,  leedstuc.wordpress.com or via ‘Leeds TUC’ on facebook

 

 

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.

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 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.

 

 

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