Thursday 27 August 2015

Indesit national strike

This morning drivers and warehouse workers at Indesit depots around the country started their second strike over pay - this time escalating to 48 hours.

The strikers are based at Andover; Barnsley; Chepstow; Gateshead; Grangemouth; Hayes (west London); Mallusk (Newtonabbey, Northern Ireland); Trafford Park (Manchester); Raunds (Northamptonshire); Sharpness (Berkeley, Gloucestershire); Wednesbury (West Midlands); and West Thurrock (Essex). They are responsible for delivering white goods to homes and retailers.

This morning I visited the pickets at Trafford Park, who were already in good numbers and spirits when I arrived at 6am.

They've been offered just 1.5% while directors got rises of up to 30% - of a much higher salary in the first place. The gap between big increases for the fat cats and the crumbs for the rest was a big factor in provoking the strike.

The workers say their pay has been eroded by below inflation "rises" and unreliable or unattainable bonuses for years, while changes such as monthly pay, paperless pay, and weekend working have benefitted bosses but not them.

The workers rely on very long hours and overtime to earn a living. As well as striking they are working to rule which they believe can have a big impact. The long hours are also driven by huge loads, drivers often delivering alone, and imposed changes to warehouse processes which reduce efficiency.

Pickets were discussing the threat of the new Trade Union Bill which would allow bosses to hire agency temps to try to break strikes. As one of the pickets commented, it's not as if strikes are common. This workforce hasn't had a strike in decades, during which their pay and conditions have declined. Now they have had enough.

The current strike continues until 6am on Saturday morning. If there is no deal a further 24 hours of strike action is planned from 6am on Tuesday 1st September.

If you want to give support, the picket is at: Premier Park, Trafford Park Road / Acheson Way, Trafford Park, M17 1GA

Saturday 22 August 2015

Checking for discrimination in selection

There are many situations, from recruitment to promotion to redundancies, where employers make selections between people. You often hear people talking about the importance of doing "Equality Impact Assessments" and checking for discrimination, but I've always struggled to get guidance on how to actually do this.

Professional statistician Nancy Carpenter has worked with me to produce a guide to checking for discrimination in selection. It covers everything from how to get hold of data through to how to present it to your employer. I'm aware of several cases where analysis similar to what we describe has worried employers enough that jobs have been saved. I'd be interested to hear experiences from other activists.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Protect the right to strike

The Tories' new Trade Union Bill is a massive attack on civil rights, from the right to strike to freedom of expression and assembly.

TUC General Secretary Fraces O'Grady has produced a short video as part of the campaign against it:

The TUC has also produced a briefing on the proposals.  This is well worth a read, because the government's proposals go much further than the Bill itself.  Many of the worst aspects are contained in the linked consultation documents and in amendments to the regulations governing temp agencies to allow them to supply scabs during a strike.

The TUC is organising a rally and lobby of parliament on Monday 2nd November which everyone should build and attend.  It's also worth getting involved with campaigns such as the Campaign For Trade Union Freedom and Right To Strike.

As Len McCluskey argued so powerfully at the Unite Rules Conference, many workers are also going to have to be ready to break this unjust law if it passes or be unable to resist their employer successfully.