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(en) Freedom 6322 16th Nov 2002 - Bosses start to wilt

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 20 Nov 2002 06:28:47 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Angry workers at private rail firm Arriva Trains Northern
walked out again on 2nd November in the latest of a series
of one-day strikes against the company. The workers are
conductors, retail and station staff who say they're
incensed by a pay offer of 4%. The dispute has now lasted
ten months, making it the longest running on Britain's
railways. It has been accompanied by repeated accusations
of management intimidation. RMT activists say bosses
have cancelled safety courses, threatened to sack workers
who talk to the press and "thrown disciplinaries around like
The strike, which followed the collapse of talks between
Arriva bosses and trade union the RMT, took place just
days before the government's Strategic Rail Authority
(SRA) said that Arriva would be stripped of its lucrative
Trans-Pennine franchise after 2003. The RMT said it was
unconcerned about the firing of Arriva, announced on 6th
"Our members at Arriva Trains Northern will shed no
crocodile tears over this decision," RMT assistant general
secretary Pat Sikorski said. "Arriva have attempted to bully
and intimidate RMT members into accepting low pay as a
way of life, and I've no doubt their shamefully inept
handling of the conductors' dispute has influenced the
SRA decision." Although the SRA insisted their decision
hadn't been influenced by the strikes, the RMT
interpretation was backed up by travellers' pressure groups.
John Bourne, of pressure group Rail Future, said "a year's
industrial disruption, which still shows no sign of being
solved, can't have helped."
The next 24-hour stoppage on Arriva Trains Northern will
be held on Saturday 21st December. This will be followed
by another four days of action over Christmas and New
Year period.

Local government workers in six boroughs went on strike
on 4th November. The action by members of Unison hit
refuse collection, street cleaning and civic amenities. It
was the latest in a series of week-long strikes aimed at
winning an extra £4,000 a year London weighting. The
boroughs affected were Harrow, Hounslow, Havering,
Merton, Redbridge and Lewisham. Union activists said
they were frustrated by council bosses' refusal to make a
new offer to low-paid workers. They vowed to continue
their campaign.

Managers of further education colleges admitted last week
that a strike by lecturers and support staff forced over forty
institutions to close on 5th November. Lecturers' union
NATFHE said over 200 more had been affected by the
walkout, held to protest at a pay offer of 2.3%. The bosses'
organisation, the Association of Colleges, said it was the
first time in a decade that FE colleges had been forced to
close. FE lecturers are paid, on average, £3,000 a year less
than teachers. Over 60% of support staff earn under
£13,000 a year.

Subway bosses reinstated 35 drivers on 8th November, two
days after they'd fired them for holding an unofficial strike.
The drivers had taken action against managers' attempts to
impose additional unpaid duties on staff. Strathclyde
Passenger Transport had initially insisted that 'militant
behaviour' wouldn't be tolerated and that the drivers
wouldn't be reinstated. But bosses were forced to back
down when it became clear that training scab replacements
would take until January. This would've left the city's
55,000 daily subway users without a service for two

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