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Strike by nearly 320,000 Nigerian doctors enters third week
The strike by more than 300,000 resident doctors in Nigeria is set to enter a third week. The strike began on August 2, to protest the government’s failure to honour the Memorandum of Action (MOA) to end a previous strike in April.
In Abia state, the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors members are owed 19 months’ arrears, those in Imo and Ondo states are owed seven and four months, following the introduction of a new payment system. The doctors also want immediate payment of the COVID-19 inducement allowance and increased hazard allowance.
The doctors have not received their full salaries since the start of the pandemic. This caused some to resign, increasing pressure on those remaining.
The federal government withdrew a measure that would have led consultant doctors to join the strike. The consultants were being moved from one salary scale to another, causing an income drop.
The government took the doctors to court to stop their salaries under the “no work, no pay” rule. The Industrial Court adjourned the case on August 16 until September 15.
The director-general of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, reported a new surge of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, driven by the Delta variant and low vaccination rates. Nigeria reported 183,444 COVID-19 cases and 2,229 deaths, both underestimates.
Unpaid workers barricade council offices in Rivers state, Nigeria
On August 16, workers employed by the Rivers state government, Nigeria barricaded council offices in Port Harcourt to protest three months unpaid salaries. They held placards with slogans demanding “Chidi Lloyd [council chairman], pay us our three months salaries,” and “Chidi pay us our salary, May, June, July.”
Lloyd arranged security agencies to provide protection for the Council secretariat buildings. He claimed some of the names on the payroll do not tally with the names of those who report for duty, demanding that workers justify why they should be paid.
South African teachers in KwaZulu-Natal protest over pay and conditions
Teachers in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa protested Tuesday, demanding that all vacant positions in schools be filled, substitute teachers given permanent appointments and temporary teachers receive back pay. The province has 2,000 unfilled substitute posts, and over 200 schools have fewer than four teachers.
In Pietermaritzburg, 150 South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) members marched to the provincial premier’s office, and in Ladysmith SADTU members protested outside the Department of Education offices. The teachers blame budget cuts, saying, “Our classrooms are not conducive to learning. It is worse now because of COVID-19.”
African National Congress staff work-to-rule over pay affects ANC plans in South African local elections
A work-to-rule by African National Congress (ANC) administrative staff is causing South Africa’s ruling party to risk failing to register its candidates in coming municipal elections. ANC management pleaded with staff to suspend their go-slow and work overtime to meet the registration deadline.
Staff complain of late wages, insurance fund arrears and lack of a pay increase.
South African miners plan protest to demand the restart of operations at controversial mine
Following a mass meeting Sunday, South African miners at Richard’s Bay Minerals (RBM), KwaZulu-Natal, are planning protests to demand the mine is reopened. RBM is 74 percent owned by Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second largest metals and mining corporation.
The suspension of operations in June is having a detrimental financial impact on the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members. Rio Tinto stopped work at the RBM mineral sands mine citing “force majeure” due to ongoing unrest and violence, including the recent fatal shooting of a general manager. Locals want more mining jobs. The corporation says, “The reality is that RBM has finite resources. Our operations can only absorb a certain number of people.”
The Rio Tinto Group recently reported it would be paying out $9.1 billion in dividends.
South African metalworkers to strike
Workers in South Africa’s engineering and steel industry have begun picketing workplaces, ahead of a strike called by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.
Numsa initially threatened an indefinite strike in a pay dispute with employers represented by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) and have now served notice they intend to start picketing.
Numsa demands an eight percent salary increase for 2021 and the rate of inflation plus two percent for the next two years. Seifsa, the South African Engineers’ and Founders’ Association and others offered 4.4 percent for 2021 and inflation plus 0.5 percent in 2022 and inflation plus one percent in 2023.
Strike by Israeli telecoms workers over restructuring
Workers at Israeli telecom companies Pelephone and Bezeq International walked out on August 10 and 15.
The stoppages involved the total work forces at both companies and led to the closure of call centres and no technical support being given. The companies are trying to impose restructuring while refusing to negotiate with the unions. The Israeli trade union federation Histadrut declared a dispute at the end of June.
Danish nurses’ strike over pay
The strike by thousands of Danish nurses, begun on June 19, is escalating with hundreds more nurses to join from the end of August. The Danish Nurses’ Organisation (DSR) announced that 225 nurses including fertility staff joined the stoppage from August 17, and a further 315 including in nursing homes, would walk out from August 31.
The strike began when the 75,000 DSR members rejected a five percent pay offer over three years by the Mediation Institute. There have been constant calls from the media for the government to shut down the strike, and the negotiator for the employers said the strike is “deadlocked,” although Børsen reported that the Minister of Employment has “no current plans” to intervene.
The ruling Social Democrats and their allies present the dispute in terms of gender, and the unions refused to call for a broader struggle in the working class. The Socialist People’s Party (SF) proposed a bill to provide an annual sum of 2 billion kroner over the next 10 years for so-called “women’s professions.” The SF chairman said she also intended to set up a committee to provide “recommendations” for pay increases, but politicians should not “interfere” in the pay structure of public institutions.
Strike at Fiat Plastic in Serbia against a pay cut ongoing since January
Workers at Fiat Plastic in Kragujevac, Serbia continue their fight to reverse a €300 annual pay cut, having begun one-hour daily stoppages in January. The strike committee demanded the return of machinery removed from the plant during the strike, and is due to meet the country’s prime minister.
According to H1, the United Trade Unions of Serbia denounced intimidation by the Security and Information Agency of Serbia (BIA). BIA called the president of the strike committee on August 11, to invite him to a “conversation.” The Fiat Plastic union refused, announcing that it was “not interested in politics,” only with trade union matters.
During the strike, workers formed their own union at the plant, complaining they were abandoned by Serbia’s trade unions. Fiat management refused to meet with the strikers until negotiations in July, which the strike committee described as a “farce.”
The plant’s management was charged with misdemeanours by the Labour Inspectorate in June over its attempts to break the strike, which included forcing 13 workers onto paid leave. The inspectorate forced the plant to close briefly in July, after temperatures reached over 30 degrees centigrade.
Serbian ex-Geox workers receive severance pay from state
Following protests two weeks ago, 1,277 workers from the liquidated Geox shoe factory in Vranje, Serbia received 53,950 dinars from the state, equivalent to a single month’s salary, according to Nova.
The workers began three days of protest outside the factory and city administration on August 3, after learning the local subsidiary of the Italian shoemaker had entered liquidation.
Spanish driving school workers strike for improved working conditions
Driving school instructors began a six-day strike on August 12 in the province of Pontevedra, Spain. According to Europa Press, dozens of workers joined a rally in Vigo, the province’s largest city.
The Workers Unitary Confederation (CUT) union denounced the low pay and conditions in the sector. Workers often lack paid vacations, and there is no recognition of most occupational diseases.
After the Pontevedra Driving School Association offered to negotiate, the CUT called off stoppages in July, but was forced to call new strike days after the employers’ association pulled out of talks.
Waste collection strikes over pay and conditions called off in Majorca, Spain
Unions representing waste collection workers on the Spanish island of Majorca called off ongoing and planned strikes last week, after reaching agreements with multiple municipalities. In July, workers voted to walk out over poor pay and dangerous working conditions.
On August 13, unions signed an agreement with the Capdepera city council to end the indefinite strike begun on August 8, Europa Press reported. The agreement includes the workers in a regional collective agreement, and includes a pay increase of 7.5 percent over three years, below the current rate of inflation.
Workers in Alcúdia and Sa Pobla in the north of the island were due to walk out indefinitely from Monday, but the Workers’ Commissions announced this was also called off. A simultaneous strike in the county of Pla de Mallorca was “postponed” to allow the local government to review its legal options to meet the demands.
Power plant workers in Gardanne, France on indefinite strike over job losses
Workers at a recently opened biomass power plant in Gardanne in the south of France have been on indefinite strike since August 5 against job losses, reported Le Figaro. In July, a local court approved a plan to eliminate 98 of the 154 jobs at the plant, prompting the call for a walkout by the General Confederation of Labour (CGT).
The Gardanne plant was formerly a coal power station, providing an additional 700 indirect jobs according to the CGT. It was shut down for conversion to biomass in 2019. The CGT called for the French government to “bring all the actors to the table around a plan which preserves all jobs.”
French CGT union abandons defence of sacked cement worker
On August 13, the CGT called off a strike at the Calcia cements factory in Airvault, France. The indefinite stoppage began on August 9, after the plant’s management dismissed an employee accused of safety breaches.
According to Ouest France, despite calling the dismissal “disproportionate,” the CGT quickly called off the stoppage without any concessions from the company.
Pay strikes continue at Riesa pasta factory in Germany
Workers at the pasta company Riesa in Germany held another strike on Monday, after numerous stoppages in a wage dispute begun in July. The Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG) is calling for the €700 difference in wages between East and West Germany to be closed.
Last week, the NGG held a “staggered” strike, stopping workers separately in the production and packaging departments. According to the Sächsische Zeitung, production came to a complete standstill as the machines were shut down. Despite the large impact of a single shutdown, the NGG have arranged only five since July.
Strike in port of Limassol, Cyprus against “revenge” sackings ends with reinstatement
An indefinite stoppage at the port of Limassol, Cyprus ended after the management of DP World Limassol announced it would suspend four dismissals. The Cyprus Mail reports the company announced a new date for “dialogue” with the SEK and PEO unions, after the intervention of the Ministry of Transport.
The company announced last week it would sack four of the workers who were most active in a strike two weeks ago over collective negotiations. When these sackings were announced, the workers immediately walked out again on an indefinite strike, which lasted three days before the company suspended the dismissals.
Strike at Polish insulation factory ends
Last week, the Confederation of Labour and Solidarity ’80 unions ended a week-long strike at the Paroc Polska rock wool insulation factory. Strajk reported the strikers demanded permanent contracts, pay rises and an increase in the internship allowance.
The two unions announced a two-hour warning strike in June but did not begin another stoppage until two weeks ago.
According to Strajk, the company lost “millions of dollars” for each day of the strike. On August 10, the workers voted down a deal presented by the two unions, but they quickly came back with another deal which was voted through late the same night.
The agreement ended the practice of putting workers on 12-month fixed-term contracts, and workers will be placed on permanent contracts after passing a six-month probation. The deal agreed pay rises of just 850 złoty over the next three years.
Coal miners’ strike in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina banned by court
A strike planned for Monday at the Kreka coal mine in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s oldest mine, was banned by the Municipal Court, according to Radio Slobodna Evropa. The court ruled negotiations between the unions and the mining administration must resume.
The state-owned energy company announced last week that due to low levels of production it would place workers “on hold,” receiving 60 percent of their usual wages, triggering the plan for a walkout. There were numerous strikes in the past few months at the Kreka mine, which employs 2,100 people, over delayed payment of wages, including a total stoppage in April.
Scotland’s ScotRail workers continue Sunday strikes over pay
Several hundred train conductors and ticket examiners at ScotRail walked out on Sunday. The strikes began in March while ticket examiners joined the dispute at the end of April.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) members demand equal overtime pay with train drivers. The dispute is one of the UK’s longest.
The RMT said ScotRail is endangering safety by drafting in managers to replace the strikers, as they lack safety training and knowledge. The union warned the dispute could continue throughout summer and called on the Scottish government to intervene.
The team managers, Transport and Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) members, voted to strike in protest at being deployed as strike-breakers.
Train cleaners at ScotRail began an overtime and rest day working ban on July 13.
The RMT noted publication of a report by Abellio, ScotRail’s parent company, outlining job and service cuts. The plans include closing 140 ticket offices and cutting 85,000 rail services leading to a loss of 1,000 jobs.
From August 11, ScotRail gateline workers, also RMT members, began an overtime ban, and refusing to act up or work rest days to protest overtime rates. They will only work Sundays already booked.
The RMT betrayed the five-year struggle of rail workers against the introduction of Driver Operated Trains, reaching agreements that undermined the safety-critical role of conductors.
Further walkouts by rail catering workers in Scottish capital over management bullying and harassment
Staff at Rail Gourmet, at Edinburgh Waverley train station, Scotland, will begin further strikes, with a 72-hour walkout on Saturday.
The RMT members held a series of 24-hour strikes throughout July, with picket lines mounted at Waverley station. Rail Gourmet provides food and drink on the LNER rail service between Edinburgh and London.
The workers, who voted 100 percent to strike, are protesting bullying and harassment by management which led to a breakdown of industrial relations.
Cable manufacturing workers in Fife, Scotland to ballot for possible strike over pay offer
Around 50 workers at Leviton Manufacturing in Fife, Scotland, are to ballot for possible strike action over a pay offer. The ballot begins August 23 and closes September 3.
The Unite union members work for American-based Leviton producing cables, including for IT systems. They oppose a final pay offer of 2.25 percent backdated to April. Normally pay offers are backdated to January.
Leviton had been in Acas-mediated negotiations with Unite in which previous pay offers of 1.75 and 1.95 percent were rejected.
Staff at UK’s East Midlands Railways company strike over safety concerns
Train managers and senior conductors at the UK’s East Midlands Railways company held a 24-hour strike Sunday. They are in separate disputes over safety concerns operating the four-carriage Class 360 trains.
The four-carriage units can be coupled together to make eight- or 12-carriage trains. With no connecting passage between each carriage unit, it represents a danger to safety with only one manager or senior conductor on board. Further strikes are planned every Sunday until September 26.
The RMT, which refuses to unite the strikes in the rail industry, says the use of scab-operated trains resulted in safety breaches, citing doors being opened on the wrong side of the train, for example.
Further strike and protest by railway cleaners in Liverpool, England
Rail station and accommodation cleaners working for contractor Mitie at Merseyrail planned a further one-day strike on Friday.
The RMT members have held several one-day walkouts. They are opposing a pay offer that would leave them below the Real Living Wage figure of £9.50 an hour. They also oppose an imposed rota and attacks on holiday pay.
Protests are due outside Rail House in Liverpool where Mitie has offices. The chief executive of Mitie recently pocketed a £5 million bonus.
Weetabix cereal production workers in Kettering, England reject new pay offer and strike
Production workers at breakfast cereal maker Weetabix in Kettering, England, rejected a new pay offer from the company and held a 24-hour strike Monday.
The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) suspended 24-hour strikes planned for August 2 and 9 for talks with Weetabix management, but the workers rejected the ensuing offer.
Workers originally voted by a 100 percent majority to strike against a change in shift patterns and a cut in premium pay for unsocial hours.
Around 80 engineers at Weetabix face the imposition of “fire and rehire” contracts. Instead of unifying engineers and production workers, the Unite union called off a planned strike by engineers on June 23, to allow for talks with the company.
Suspended strikes by cross-Thames Woolwich ferry workers in London resumed after talks break down
On August 11 and 13, 57 workers on the Woolwich ferry service in London walked out. The workers are opposed to the victimisation of two Unite union reps, the excessive use of agency staff and the failure to give health and safety training to new hirees.
The Unite union suspended planned walkouts for talks on August 10 with employer Transport for London (TfL). The talks broke down and the suspended stoppages resumed. The ferry workers took 26 strike days in the dispute since May. Unite said strikes could continue into the autumn.
TfL took over the running of the ferry from Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd in January. Under Briggs, there was a long-running dispute over alleged management bullying.
The ferry service, providing free crossing of the Thames for pedestrians and vehicles, has operated since 1889. Prior to the pandemic around 20,000 vehicles and 2.6 million passengers a year used the service.
Further 24-hour strike by pharmaceutical workers in Nottingham, England against “fire and rehire”
Workers at BCM Fareva’s plant in Nottingham, England held a further 24-hour strike beginning Sunday. It follows three walkouts in July.
A ballot of the 300 USDAW members returned a 90 percent majority in favour of walking out against a “fire and rehire” ultimatum resulting in inferior terms and conditions.
The French-owned company produces pharmaceutical and beauty products for the Boots pharmacy chain and Bodyshop.
USDAW previously expressed its willingness to help the company impose the changes if it lifted the fire and rehire threat. USDAW national officer Daniel Adams explained, “USDAW has consistently reiterated its willingness to talk should the threat of dismissal be removed, including under the auspices of ACAS if necessary. Sadly, this has been consistently rejected by the company. However, the offer remains, and the company could still prevent industrial action if they withdraw their ‘fire and rehire’ threat.”
An USDAW press release of August 13 noted, “Members have been given an arbitrary deadline to accept the changes next week or potentially face dismissal. No business should behave like this in 2021. Usdaw continues to call on the business to pause the process and enter into meaningful talks with the union. Management should put fairness first, stop the threats and get round the negotiating table.”
Further strike by biomedical scientists at Lancashire, UK hospitals over unpaid pay upgrade
Twenty-one biomedical scientists at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals voted by an 89 percent majority to continue striking over an unpaid pay upgrade.
The Unite union members, whose duties include testing blood samples and tests associated with COVID-19, held walkouts between May 31 and July 28. The renewed action begins August 20 until November 11.
The dispute centres on the failure of employer, the Lancashire NHS Trust to honour an agreement made in 2019. Some workers are owed thousands of pounds, with claims going back until 2010.
Strike of cleaners working London’s Royal Parks
Cleaners working for contractor Just Ask in London’s Royal Parks began a two-week strike on Monday.
Just Ask provides cleaning services for facilities in the Royal Parks. The cleaners are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and United Voices of the World unions. The workers are opposed to proposed job cuts and are seeking parity in pay and conditions with staff directly employed by Royal Parks.
Just Ask in discussion with union officials sought to have the strikes postponed until September 9. However, meetings of the cleaners demanded the strike begin on Monday as originally planned.
Protest by motorway workers in southeast England over sick pay
UK motorway maintenance workers employed by Kier Construction held a protest Wednesday over sick pay.
The Unite union members, responsible for motorway maintenance in southeast England, protested outside the offices of Kier. Kier refuses to pay them sick pay, and they are only eligible for statutory sick pay of £96.35 a week. The protesters demanded to be brought into line with directly employed Highways England staff who receive full sick pay of three months from day one.
Strike vote by beer delivery drivers at UK firm over pay offer
Around 1,000 draymen who deliver beer, including the Heineken brand, voted by a 97 percent majority to strike on August 24 and September 2. They rejected a 1.4 percent pay offer.
The Unite union members who work for GXO Logistics Drinks Ltd are based at 26 depots across the UK. They will also begin an overtime ban and work to rule starting August 24 until November 15.
The pay offer is below the current inflation rate of 3.9 percent. Drivers lost around £9,000 last year due to being furloughed and loss of overtime.
Strike vote by traffic wardens in London borough of Westminster over pay
Traffic wardens employed by outsourcing company NSL in the London borough of Westminster voted 100 percent on a near 80 percent turnout to strike over pay.
The wardens are currently paid £10.75 an hour. Their allowances have not been increased for 10 years. NSL offered an extra £0.21 an hour in a three-year deal. With current inflation, a figure double this would be needed just to maintain their current pay in real terms.
Logistics workers at JLR car plants in UK strike ballot over pay
Around 2,000 workers employed by logistics firm DHL at car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) are to ballot for possible strikes over pay.
The Unite union members are employed at six JLR plants in the West Midlands and Merseyside. They are protesting incorrect pay slips resulting from being furloughed, so some workers are owed up to £800.
They are also protesting the low pay offer made by DHL, the world’s largest logistics company, which made £1.3 billion in profits in the first half of the year.
Strike threat by London bus drivers after survey indicates overwhelming opposition to remote sign-on
A survey of 2,200 London bus drivers by the Unite union, showed an 84 percent rejection of remote sign-on. In an August 16 press release Unite stated it will ballot its 200,000 London bus driver members for strike action if it is introduced.
Under remote sign-on a driver would meet a bus at a bus stop en route rather than at bus depot. Drivers would only be paid once they start driving. This would lead to a pay loss of between seven and 12 percent, or force drivers to extend their working time to make up for losses, leading to fatigue. Remote sign-on could mean less security and make toilet breaks difficult. Many drivers have said they would rather leave the job.
Several bus companies operating in London plan to introduce remote sign-on. In May, the Unite union called off a strike at Metroline after the company temporarily agreed to pause its plans while remote sign-on was investigated by academics. The report is due this autumn.
Unite has a record of betraying its members. It called off a stoppage of Metroline drivers in May and action by drivers working for RATP in London, after narrowly pushing through a rotten pay deal.
In Manchester, it negotiated attacks on jobs and conditions at bus company Go North West, while claiming victory against “fire and rehire.”
UK air traffic control staff prepared to strike over redundancy terms
Staff at Nats Holdings, the UK’s main air navigation service provider, voted by more than 80 percent in a consultative ballot that they are prepared to strike.
The PCS members demand an increase in pay, improved industrial relations and that Nats reverse its decision to tear up a longstanding redundancy agreement. PCS negotiators were to meet with Nats representatives on Tuesday.
Welsh health workers in ballot over pay offer
NHS workers in Wales are balloting over the three percent pay offer.
The ballot began on August 17, and is due to close September 23. The Unite union is recommending rejection of the offer and members will be asked if they are prepared to take strike action.
Ballot of auto workers at Birmingham, UK plant over closure threat
Around 500 workers at the GKN Automotive plant in Birmingham, England are balloting for possible strike action. The ballot closes August 31.
An earlier consultative ballot of the Unite union members returned an overwhelming majority in favour of a strike ballot. A Unite press release August 16 stated any proposed walkout could begin mid-September.
Workers are opposed to plans to close the factory which produces drivelines for automobiles. It is owned by venture capitalists GKN Melrose, who plan to close the factory in 2022, transferring production to Europe.
In an August 10 press release, Unite said, “In May, company bosses rejected an alternative business proposal put forward by a coalition of GKN workers, the factory's senior management, Unite officials and local politicians, including MP Jack Dromey.”
UK Labour Party staff to ballot for possible strike
Staff working for the UK Labour Party are to ballot for possible strike over cuts in posts.
The Unite and GMB union members’ ballot will run from August 23 until August 31. The Labour Party is proposing to cut its current staff of around 360 by a quarter, with 90 posts to go. It is hoping to make the cuts by voluntary redundancies. Labour faces a financing crisis due to falling membership under leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Police civilian staff in England and Wales ballot over pay freeze
Police civilian staff in England and Wales are balloting over a pay freeze by their local authority employers.
Their duties include answering 999 emergency calls, forensic and administrative work. With inflation at 3.9 percent, a pay freeze represents a pay cut. According to the Unison union, police staff suffered a 25 percent pay loss the last 10 years.
Unite union police staff members are taking part in a consultative ballot, closing on September 13, which could trigger a strike ballot. Unison union members are balloting until September 6.
London council leisure workers’ strike ballot over pay
Thirty-one workers employed by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) in the UK capital are to ballot for industrial action beginning August 27 until September 27.
The Unite union members work at four leisure centres in Lewisham, plus the Bridge Leisure centre, which did not reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic.
GLL, which describes itself as a “worker-led social enterprise” is accused of failing to pay wages owed, unilaterally reducing and changing working hours following the return of staff from furlough and failing to pay contractual redundancy enhancements following the closure of the Bridge centre.
UK Ministry of Justice workers to ballot over pay offer
UK Ministry of Justice (MoJ) workers will ballot over a pay offer. The ballot opens August 20 and runs until September 9.
The PCS is recommending its members accept the offer of a 10.3 percent increase over three years. With the current level of inflation, it would mean MoJ workers maintaining their current pay levels in real terms. The offer is tied to a worsening of conditions, with workers currently on a 35- or 36-hour week increasing their hours to 37, as well as losing some allowances.
GMB union calls off planned strike of gravediggers in Barry, Wales
The GMB union called off a planned strike by six gravediggers employed by Barry council in Wales. The gravediggers voted unanimously to walk out. They were opposed to Barry council’s imposed change to their working conditions, extending work until 7 p.m. in the summer.
On Monday, the GMB announced the suspension of any walkout after the council, under the auspices of government mediation service Acas, agreed to withdraw its proposed changes to allow for discussions.