Workplace Notes

BEIS Workers Out On Indefinite Strike

Cleaners and catering workers are on indefinite strike at the Department For Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). So far the workers have been on strike for 3 weeks. These workers work for outsourcing firms ISS and Aramark and are demanding that they pay the London Living Wage and improved sick pay and holiday pay and that be returned in house. The cleaners were joined on strike for five days by porters, security and post room workers which boosted the confidence of the strikers.

Hackney Transport Workers Strike

Drivers and passenger assistants employed by Hackney Council have recently taken strike action on a number of days to get proper pay for doing split shifts. On one occasion workers blockaded the entrance to a private car park where the employers had put the buses normally stationed in the council depot. They hoped in this way to foil pickets but this little ploy was spotted and cars driven across the exit.

   Hackney is a majority Labour council. Labour councillors have shown a distinct hostility to the strike. One of them turned up to help with the strike-breaking and told strikers they should be happy with their wages -some earning less than £800 a month- and that there was no “magic money tree” (a direct quote from Theresa May!)

Sainsbury Distribution Workers

Workers at Sainbury’s Waltham Point distribution centre in Essex went on a 24 hour strike for the second time on 25th July against cuts to sick pay, reduced from 26 weeks to 2 weeks. A picket numbering several dozen strikers was put up outside the warehouse.

Bradford health workers

Hundreds of health workers at Bradford Royal Infirmary began a two week strike in the last week of July against privatisation. This entails outsourcing cleaners, porters and other support staff. Workers are strongly opposed to this which they see as a move to full privatisation of the Infirmary. There is widespread distrust of management, seen as liars ready to break promises on guarantees of NHS terms and conditions. 100 people were out on the picket on the first day.

Lincolnshire Health   Visitors on Strike

Health visitors employed by Lincolnshire county council went on strike for 48 hours from July 15th. They again went out on 24 hour strikes on 19th July and 22nd July, and then another 48 hour strike on 25th July. They are striking over not getting paid the rate for the job and the erosion of their professional responsibilities. This is the first time that they have taken strike action.

   The health visitors are on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales, but have had no increases in pay since being transferred to the local authority which has different pay rates – even though both council and NHS employees have received wage awards, these health visitors have not.

   NHS staff in England last year accepted a three year pay deal which, for the majority of staff, meant a 6.5 per cent hike in pay over the three years.

   The dispute only involves those 58 health visitors transferred from the NHS under Agenda for Change terms. There are 111 full-time equivalent health visitor posts – and those other health visitors are either on grade 10 contacts or were employed by the county council since October 2017. There are also some student health visitors.

   The latest figures from NHS Digital reveal the lowest number of health visitors in England since September 2012. There were 7,694 health visitors in England in January this year, a fall of 25 per cent since their peak of more than 10,000 in October 2015 when the Health Visitor Implementation Plan came to an end.