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Updated: 1 hour 33 min ago

Support surges for striking UNITE UK BA cabin crew

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 13:46

Support surges for striking UNITE UK BA cabin crew
Published on Jan 28, 2017
"You are the heroes and heroines of our movement", said Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell as he visited the British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew picket lines, saluting their bravery as they started a 3 day strike against poverty pay of just £12,000 basic a year. UNITE general secretary Len McCluskey also joined the picket lines to promise all the resources from the union they needed to win the dispute, as support starts to flood in from trade unionists and customers alike for the increasingly determined cabin crew. Now they've announced 6 days of strike action on February 5 - 7 and 9 - 11; you can show your support by joining them on the picket lines at Hatton Cross tube from 8am, and donating to the hardship fund (Account name: Mixed Fleet Branch, acct no: 20376387, sort code 089301, reference: MFU)

Tags: UniteBA Flight Crewstrike
Categories: Labor News

Don’t be Fooled by NYC TWU 100 Samuelsen’s Lies! Vote NO on this Wage-Cutting, Giveback Contract! Decades of Sellouts by NYC TWU 100 Union Tops Helped Lead to Trump-

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 10:48

Don’t be Fooled by NYC TWU 100 Samuelsen’s Lies! Vote NO on this Wage-Cutting, Giveback Contract! Decades of Sellouts by NYC TWU 100 Union Tops Helped Lead to Trump-
Don’t be Fooled by Samuelsen’s Lies!
Vote NO on this Wage-Cutting, Giveback Contract!

The Samuelsen leadership is conspiring with management against Local 100 members. They are trying to trick us into voting for their contract deal by telling us a pack of lies about it. That’s why Local 100 members have already begun voting in their division meetings to reject the deal – on January 18, Train Operators in their PM Division Meeting voted 27-3 in favor of a motion to reject the sellout deal that was raised by Revolutionary Transit Worker supporter Seth Rosenberg. All Local 100 members should follow this example and Vote No!

In an outrageous act of disrespect to Local 100 members, an attack on our democratic rights, and a break from past practice, Samuelsen & Co. are refusing to release the proposed contract to the membership so that we can judge it for ourselves. They are even refusing to release the “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) that summarizes the deal. They claim that it would be expensive to print and mail, but they won’t even post the contract or MoU on the union website. It’s obvious that they want to hide the truth from us.

Instead of providing us with the facts, Samuelsen & Co. have produced an advertising brochure that they are mailing to members along with ballots to vote on the deal. Their brochure promises in big headlines that the proposed contract’s “Wage Increases, Bonuses and Many Other Economic Enhancements Will Keep Transit Workers Well Ahead of Inflation!” and that there are “No Givebacks! No Concessions of Any Kind!” These are all lies and we have the facts to prove it:

Ÿ A Wage Deal Well Below Inflation that Means a Real Wage Cut

In his “Message From TWU Local 100 President” in his brochure, Samuelsen declares that “While inflation averaged 1.6% last year, your annual salary will increase 5% under this new agreement.” But every Local 100 member must sense that the cost of living has been rising faster than the rate of 1.6%. Samuelsen bases that claim on the Consumer Price Index released by the Federal government. But it is well known that the CPI is rigged to make the rising cost of living seem much lower than it really is, and any union leader who relies on the CPI should be ashamed.

Everyone in New York knows that “The Rent’s Too Damn High!” In Manhattan, average rents increased by 8% in 2015 alone. [1] Meanwhile gentrification is driving up rents in the boroughs – neighborhoods in the South Bronx saw apartment rental prices increase by 10-15% alone last year. [2] The CPI buries the rising cost of rent by assuming that people spend less than 10% of their budget on rent, while reality is that in New York now, people typically spend half to two-thirds of their income on rent! [3]

So the fact is that the two 2.5% wage raises in Samuelsen’s proposed deal will see our real wages continue to be cut by inflation – and that’s before President Trump tries to institute his trade war plans that threaten to send the cost of living skyrocketing.
Local 100 members should also understand that in addition to Samuelsen & Co.’s direct lies, they also conspired with management to produce some serious “smoke-and-mirrors” tricks to make our wage deal look better than it is. Samuelsen vowed that a 2% per year raise was not enough, and that he would fight for more – he ended up with two 2.5% raises over 28 months. The math clearly shows that the average raise per year is just under 2.17% – barely above 2%. Clearly what happened is that the TA wouldn’t budge, but it helped Samuelsen massage the terms of the deal by extending the contract expiration date and adding a cash bonus so that he could spin it in a way that is more palatable to members. Again, this is an example of Samuelsen and the TA working together as partners against the membership.

Ÿ “No Concessions” – a Flat-Out Lie!

Samuelsen & Co.’s claim that their proposed contract features “No Givebacks! No Concessions of Any Kind!” is a flat-out lie. Consider the OTO (Overtime Offset) changes in RTO and MOW: members can currently take off as many OTO hours as they accumulate. However, the new contract would mean that although members could accumulate and roll over more OTO hours, they could only take off no more than 72 OTO hours a year. What's the use of being able to bank and retain more OTO when we'd be forced to use less of it?

The hardest hit by this will be new hires who have less vacation time and probably fewer AVAs (Available Vacation Allowances) banked. Local 100 bureaucrat Steve Downs admitted at a January 25 Shop Steward Assembly that he negotiated the new cap on OTO in order to get management to agree to the sick-time cash-out program. However, the sick-time program is only a “pilot program” – it will only be continued if the TA sees a significant decrease in the average sick-time usage per employee. And if the sick-time pilot program is cancelled, there is no language for the OTO cap to be removed!

What kind of negotiators give up a serious concession for a “pilot” improvement which will most likely be taken away? Sellout negotiators who conspire with management to betray us, that’s who. And adding insult to injury, they’re hiding the truth about this dirty deal from the membership, not mentioning in their contract brochure that the sick-leave program is a pilot program. They know how bad that would look. So they hope to bury the truth.

The union agreed to this deal in the hopes of winning the votes of senior Local 100 members who are looking to retire soon. The raises are pathetic, so Samuelsen hopes to sway these members with a pot of gold that most of us will most likely never see, especially the new hires. It's yet another divide-and-conquer attack that the TA and union leadership are subjecting the membership to.

With both the OTO usage cap and the sick-time cash-out, Samuelsen & Co. are joining with the TA in trying to get more time at work out of local 100 members, with the hope of needing fewer workers to do the same amount of work.

Ÿ Past Givebacks That Screw New-Hires Especially Will Continue

And let’s not forget the other givebacks and concessions that Samuelsen & Co. have made in recent years that this contract threatens to continue:

In 2012, Governor Cuomo was looking to hand Wall Street more than $30 billion in debt repayments and billions more in interest, and he wanted NY State workers to pay the price with massive pension givebacks. Samuelsen rushed to Cuomo’s aid, agreeing to the Tier 6 pension for new hires, tripling their pension deductions – really a massive wage cut. He even called this a “victory” because he got a deal to make it less bad for us than for other workers. But this is exactly the kind of divide-and-conquer strategy we should be fighting.

During Local 100’s last contract round, Long Island Rail Road workers were preparing to strike after being forced to work without a contract for more than three years. A Federal mediator appointed by President Obama found that the MTA should accept the LIRR union leaders’ proposal. But Cuomo figured that being tough with the unions could win him ruling-class support for his presidential ambitions, so he pushed the MTA to reject the deal. With the LIRR unions refusing to give in, the stage was set for a strike.

Samuelsen again helped out. He agreed to a significantly worse deal for Local 100, including beneath-inflation wage raises for all, and an extra two years of work for new hires to reach top pay. So the LIRR workers were unable to threaten a united struggle with the TWU. Cuomo and the MTA charged them with greed for wanting more, and their leaders caved in.

Ÿ A Contract Deal That Betrays the Rest of the Working Class Too

Not only does Samuelsen & Co.’s contract deal sell out transit workers’ immediate interests, it betrays the rest of the working class as well.

Having captured the White House, the racist authoritarian Donald Trump is set to follow his attacks on undocumented immigrants and Muslims with attacks on civil rights, women’s rights and the unions, using racist divide-and-conquer tactics. Local 100, with our majority people-of-color membership and great potential power, could have used our contract campaign to begin to unite working-class and oppressed New Yorkers in a struggle to defend our living standards and rights. We could have not only mobilized in a struggle to defend and improve our own immediate interests, but we could have also demanded an end to the fare hikes that act like tax increases on working-class and poor people. Instead, Samuelsen & Co. took no action against the fare hikes, just like they refused to mobilize the union in support of the Black Lives Matter protests of the last two years.

Voting NO on Samuelsen’s sellout contract can be a first step in not only beginning a real struggle in defense of transit workers’ interests, but also in preparing a united working-class struggle against Trump’s coming attacks, and in building a new leadership in Local 100 and the rest of the working class that can lead those struggles to victory.

Vote NO on Samuelsen’s Sellout Contract!



Decades of Sellouts by NYC TWU 100 Union Tops Helped Lead to Trump
Samuelsen’s Contract Strategy Is a Set-Up for Disaster!

Mass meetings for a union contract round should mobilize the ranks for a militant fight. This meeting in particular should be a springboard both for a fight against the hated MTA and a broader political struggle in unity with other workers. With our contract set to expire on January 15, just five days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Local 100 should be in a unique position to both benefit from the mass protests against Trump and to give that movement a powerful boost.

But President Samuelsen has never provided the leadership we need, and every indication is that he plans to have the union sit out a crucial battle in Washington while setting us up for betrayal in the contract round. This misleadership is a big reason why many workers feel passive and intimidated by the intensifying capitalist attack against workers and oppressed people.

Local 100’s uninspiring contract demands have kept us off combat footing. There are few if any calls for strike, though Samuelsen and TWUA President Lombardo vaguely and insincerely hint at the possibility. A strike normally requires serious preparation – something Samuelsen is not providing. If the union leaders are forced to call a strike vote, we would vote “yes” and solidarize with workers who want to demonstrate the power we really have as a mass organization of workers. We would fight within a strike for measures like elected strike committees to give practical leadership to the best fighters in the union. That is not now the situation before us, however.

Trump and Allies Planning Attacks on Whole Working Class
Donald Trump’s election shocked the world. The primary targets of his openly racist and sexist campaign are immigrants, Muslims, Blacks and Latinos, and women. The rise in violent racist attacks since Trump’s victory warns of the dangers facing all people of color from thugs and police. The latter are eager to reassert their authority after being challenged by years of Black Lives Matter protests. Trump has vowed that his Supreme Court will remove any constitutional right for women to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Other targets of Trump’s White House and the Republican Congress are also clear – and public workers like us are high on that list. There is every reason to think that these reactionaries will also be committed to banning dues check-off for public-sector unions. Given the current state of the union movement nationally, that could be a death blow.

Beyond any specific measure, public workers have already been increasingly used as scapegoats for the failings of government. We’ve been pilloried in the media and by politicians as an example of what is wrong with the country. The Republican Party platform explicitly says that Federal workers are paid too much and need to be brought in line with lower-paid workers.

Trump’s rule will be autocratic and unstable. But it promises an acceleration of these attacks. When a union leader pointed out how Trump lied about how many jobs he ‘saved’ at the Carrier plant, Trump’s Twitter attacks on that leader led to an avalanche of death threats and other harassment.

Samuelsen Refuses to Protest Trump
In the face of these threats, Samuelsen has ignored the many protests against Trump. He has refused to build them and done nothing to commit the union’s resources to them. In contrast, supporters of the LRP have had success in putting forward motions in division meetings to mobilize the union against Trump – an indication that the sentiment to fight Trump exists in the union and can be tapped. Samuelsen & Co have restricted our contract fight to a public relations media campaign. Instead of emphasizing our potential power on the job, or with other workers and oppressed people in joint struggle, they present us as powerless victims.

Samuelsen says little about the MTA bosses’ plans and occasionally criticizes them, gently. He pals around with MTA chief Prendergast at the new Second Avenue Subway. Meanwhile, he calls for improvements in the Tier 6 Pension (technically up to the NYS government but in reality subject to bargaining), and in the progression to top wage rate for many members. But he bargained away these positions himself! Apparently he hopes we will forget that these take-backs were his doing.

Many of TWU Local 100’s demands deserve support, but Samuelsen shows no recognition that a massive struggle will be necessary to win them, preferring mildly pro-union editorials in the Daily News. But those won’t do anything for us against the reactionary and racist forces Trump is mobilizing.

Samuelsen’s Silence on the Fare Hikes Is a Trap
The union lists opposition to the fare hikes as an official contract demand. But when supporters of Revolutionary Transit Worker spoke against the fare hikes at MTA hearings this past fall, we didn’t see any union officials there. And we have seen nothing else from them on this issue.

When the cost of living in NYC is driving even union workers out of the city, to remain silent on an increase in the fare hikes is to cut us off from other workers and make us look like we’re only fighting for ourselves.

If we get a raise while everyone else gets slapped in the face, a year or two from now Trump or one of his flunkies will want to make an example of us as living high on the hog at taxpayers expense. That lie is going to find more fertile ground thanks to Samuelsen. An editorial from the Daily News won’t save us (and we probably won’t get it either). If we don’t build a united fight with all those under the gun, we will isolate ourselves and we will be set up for failure ourselves.

The Democratic Party Paved the Way for Trump
The Democratic Party has offered less and less to working class and oppressed people for decades, but never so little as Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency. Eight years after the outbreak of the financial crisis on Wall Street, with millions still suffering from foreclosures and job losses, her campaign offered no real means to address the plight of working-class people. In response to the Black Lives Matter protest movement, Clinton looked concerned about Black people’s suffering at the hands of racist police, but refused to promise any specific response. She and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership hoped that Trump’s monstrous racism and sexism would scare so many people into voting for her that she would not have to offer the masses anything, making it easier for her to please her backers on Wall Street and the rest of the capitalist class.

At the same time, the leaders of this country’s unions increasingly avoided mobilizing working-class and poor people in mass protests and strikes to defend their interests – the way that the unions were built in the first place. Instead, they told workers that striking was too risky: we should elect Democrats and then lobby them for improvements. The result was a labor movement that grew smaller and weaker, lurching from one sellout to another.

Break Samuelsen’s Sellout Alliance with Cuomo!
With the brief exception of our 2005 strike which then-president Roger Toussaint sold out after just three days, Local 100 has been burdened for generations by leaders who pursued the strategy of avoiding mobilizing for struggle. The result has been one contract after another featuring givebacks of hard-won gains. (In 2005, RTW fought for a powerful strike strategy that could have defeated the Taylor Law; see our account New York Transit Strike Shows Working-Class Power.)

The current Samuelsen leadership of Local 100 has continued to pursue that losing strategy, in recent years focusing on collaboration with Governor Cuomo. The results have been disastrous for Local 100 members as well as other unions and the rest of the working class.

In 2012, Cuomo was looking to hand Wall Street more than $30 billion in debt repayments and billions more in interest. He wanted NYS workers to pay the price with massive pension givebacks. Samuelsen rushed to help Cuomo, agreeing to the Tier 6 pension for new hires, tripling their pension deductions – really a massive wage cut. He even called this a “victory” because he got a deal to make it less-bad for us than other workers. But this is exactly the kind of divide-and-conquer strategy we should be fighting.

During Local 100’s last contract round, Long Island Rail Road workers were preparing to strike after being forced to work without a contract for more than three years. A Federal mediator appointed by President Obama found that the MTA should accept the LIRR workers’ union leaders’ proposal. But Cuomo figured that being tough with the unions could win him ruling-class support for his presidential ambitions, so he pushed the MTA to reject the deal. With the LIRR unions refusing to give in, the stage was set for a strike.

Samuelsen again helped out. He agreed to a significantly worse deal for Local 100 including beneath-inflation wage raises for all, and an extra 2 years of work for new hires to reach top pay. So the LIRR workers were unable to threaten a united struggle with the TWU. Cuomo and the MTA charged them with greed for wanting more, and their leaders caved in. This is what Samuelsen is setting us up for under Trump.

Meanwhile, Samuelsen is continuing his treacherous collaboration with Cuomo. Cuomo has been working to replace Bill de Blasio as mayor with a complete flunkey. So Samuelsen had a big editorial in the Daily News that accurately attacked de Blasio for selling out unions that supported him to advance his political career. But Samuelsen did not hold Cuomo to the same standards, only attacking De Blasio for things Cuomo isn’t also guilty of. So in an editorial dealing with NYC working-class issues, Samuelsen said nothing about rising rents! Again, this is how we isolate ourselves and set up great defeats. If TWU Local 100 stood up against all the politicians presiding over astronomical rent increases, we’d not only be helping ourselves – we’d be setting an example of how to fight for everyone else and winning new allies.

Samuelsen Sitting out Fight Against Racist Police Brutality
Samuelsen certainly didn’t mention crimes like de Blasio’s appointment of the racist Bill Bratton as police chief and his support of “Broken Windows” policing. That’s the policy that made cops prioritize cracking down on misdemeanors in poor Black and Latino neighborhoods, the policy that infamously got Eric Garner choked to death by police in Staten Island. De Blasio promised to veto a city council bill banning cops from using choke holds and is fighting to keep cops’ disciplinary records secret from the public.

The most common cause for arrest in this city stems from the “Broken Windows”-linked policy of cops hiding in subway stations to arrest turnstile jumpers. With Trump’s election, limiting the cops’ power and excuses to brutalize and criminalize people is more important than ever. Yet Samuelsen has done nothing to mobilize our union with others against this policy.

What Must Be Done
While Trump’s election promises harsher attacks, Cuomo’s political maneuvering and an improved MTA budget could bring Samuelsen a contract deal that will look good compared to what we’re used to and what others are getting. We’ve argued above why even in that best-case scenario his strategy sets us up for disaster.

The main opposition caucus, Joseph Campbell’s “Transport Workers United,” is a shameful excuse for an alternative leadership. Their latest effort is an alliance with the podcast and Facebook group “Progressive Action,” whose leader, Tramell Thompson, promised the MTA he would organize scabbing if Samuelsen called a strike.

Given this balance of forces, those who see the need to change course, to start turning this union around as part of a broader fight against Trump and all he stands for must come together to discuss the way forward and get organized so that we can play a bigger role.

Tags: TWU 100contract concessionssell-out contractSamuelson
Categories: Labor News

ILA mechanics union shuts down Port of Charleston's Wando Welch Terminal

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 09:01

ILA mechanics union shuts down Port of Charleston's Wando Welch Terminal
• By David Wren
• Jan 27, 2017 Updated Jan 27, 2017

Union workers man the control room for the State Ports Authority’s new gate system at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant.

Traffic within the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant was at a standstill Friday afternoon as members of the International Longshoremen's Association slowed truck movements through the State Ports Authority's largest container yard.

According to reports, union members were forcing truck drivers to stop for visual chassis inspections instead of allowing them to drive past cameras for video inspections made possible by a new automated gate system the SPA installed last summer. The inspections were forcing backups within the terminal with one trucker reporting he had moved just 50 yards in a half hour's time.

"We're working through issues with union mechanics," said Barbara Melvin, the SPA's senior vice president of operations and terminals. Melvin said the union's "leadership has been non-responsive thus far, and the SPA is doing all it can to get drivers back on the road ASAP."

At 1 p.m., SPA officials said the ILA's mechanics union had agreed to halt the disruption and that the maritime agency was working to clear the congestion. As of 2 p.m, heavy congestion was still being reported.

The SPA is scheduled to begin testing the automated system at its North Charleston terminal on Saturday. The system, called Go!Port, is used at most U.S. maritime facilities. The system uses an electronic kiosk where truckers are given a slip of paper telling them where in the terminal they need to go for their cargo. Computers and cameras then guide truckers through the terminal as union workers view the action in a nearby control room.

Tags: ILACharleston mechanics
Categories: Labor News

British Airways Unite cabin crew to stage six-day walkout in pay dispute Nearly 3,000 members of Unite’s mixed fleet branch will strike for three days from 5 February and again from 9 February

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 19:22

British Airways cabin crew to stage six-day walkout in pay dispute
Nearly 3,000 members of Unite’s mixed fleet branch will strike for three days from 5 February and again from 9 February
British Airways cabin crew strike over pay outside Glasgow airport. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty
Gwyn TophamTransport correspondent
Friday 27 January 2017 17.03 GMTLast modified on Friday 27 January 2017 22.00 GMT

British Airways cabin crew are to step up strike action by holding a six-day walkout in early February, in an escalating dispute about pay.

Approximately 2,900 members of Unite in the mixed fleet division, a branch of predominantly younger and lower-paid BA recruits, will strike for three days from Sunday 5 February, and again from Thursday 9 February.

The action follows two strikes totalling five days in January, which forced BA to cancel scores of flights. The airline said disruption to passengers was minimal, with all flying to their destinations on alternative or merged departures. BA also leased planes and crew from Titan Airways to operate dozens more flights on its behalf.

Union reps from the mixed fleet urged the airline to engage in further talks to avert more action. In a letter, they wrote: “Your reluctance to offer a reasonable pay deal to our members, yet spend what we believe is now reaching millions of pounds in trying to quash strike action, suggests money is available and this is a question of ideology.

“We urge you to recognise that there is a chance here for British Airways to take a different route.”

The mixed fleet was set up by BA during the bitter industrial dispute between cabin crew and the airline in 2010, and all new recruits now join the branch, which operates both short-haul and long-haul flights from Heathrow.

Basic pay starts at £12,192, although BA says all earn at least £21,000 a year once hourly flying pay and bonuses are added. Unite claims the average pay is £16,000, including allowances.

Unite’s national officer, Oliver Richardson, said: “Rather than addressing poverty pay, British Airways is spending money hand over fist on chartering in aircraft to cover striking cabin crew.

“If it can afford to waste money in such a manner then British Airways can clearly afford to address pay levels which are among the lowest in the industry.”

A BA spokeswoman said: “We have flown all customers to their destinations during the previous strikes by mixed fleet Unite and we will ensure this happens again.

“Our pay offer for Mixed Fleet crew is consistent with deals agreed with Unite for other British Airways colleagues. It also reflects pay awards given by other companies in the UK and will ensure that rewards for mixed fleet remain in line with those for cabin crew at our airline competitors.”

The airline said it would publish more details next week of its contingency plans for passengers who have booked to travel during the strike.

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew were this month given a pay rise worth about 10% over two years after negotiations between Unite and the airline.

Tags: BA StrikeCabin Crews Strikeliving wage
Categories: Labor News

Chicago ATU 241/308 Transit Workers Contract Rally MLK Day 2017

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 08:52

Chicago ATU 241/308 Transit Workers Contract Rally MLK Day 2017
View at:

Both Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) unions — ATU 241 and ATU 308 — are preparing to “take this to the wall” to get a proper contract, after about a year of working without one. This contract rally on Jan. 16, 2017, taking place on Chicago’s south side at the historic Mt Pisgah church, further revved up the energy and militancy that was shown last Dec. 21 at protests at the CTA HQ and 95th Street transit hub. Speaking and interviewed in video are: Carlos J. Acevedo (Financial Rec. Sec.-Treas., ATU 241); Kenneth Franklin (Pres./Bus. Agent, ATU 308); Leonard Morris (Ret. former Pres. of ATU 241); Elwood Flowers Sr (Ret. former Pres. ATU 241); Jonathan Jackson (Prof., College of Business, Chicago State University); Tommy Sams (Pres./Bus. Agent, ATU 241). Length - 14:01
ATU contract rally took place at Mt Pisgah church, where Dr. King spoke in 1967. Photo: Labor Beat

Tags: ATU 241ATU 308CTA contractunion bustingMLK
Categories: Labor News

Cathay Pacific’s US-based workers vote to unionise, after anger at threat to retirement benefits

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 08:50

Cathay Pacific’s US-based workers vote to unionise, after anger at threat to retirement benefits
Vote comes only shortly after airline’s announcements of falling revenues and job losses to come
PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 January, 2017, 1:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 January, 2017, 1:31pm

Danny Lee

Cathay Pacific to reassign jobs, review business
15 Jan 2017
Cathay Pacific Airways’ US-based cabin crew will unionise after almost all of them voted to do so, rejecting the Hong Kong airline’s attitude towards workers’ pay and conditions.
The vote – during which 97 per cent of voters backed the motion – creates a potentially more adversarial dynamic to employee relations, by making industrial action easier to launch. It follows uproar when bosses told hundreds of flight attendants they faced losing welfare benefits and social security protections.
All of Cathay Pacific’s 411 US flight attendants’ pay and contract negotiations will now be handled by that country’s Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), a labour union.

Hundreds of US-based cabin crew face loss of welfare benefits as Cathay Pacific halts payments

It all began when the company discovered it had for several years been contributing to a US government-run benefits scheme, despite an obscure rule exempting non-American employers with staff working on non-American-registered aircraft paying in.
Upon that discovery, bosses told workers that both parties – the airline and the staff – must both have contributed to the schemes, and since it could not make such payments under the law, such contributions, past and future, were void.
Workers faced the loss of government retirement payouts and post-retirement health insurance protection.
The AFA welcomed its new Cathay Pacific members, claiming that the airline’s unionised staff in Britain and Canada have higher pay with better benefits and job security.
“It’s past time for these hard-working US-based flight attendants to have a contract that lifts up good American jobs,” Sara Nelson, the union’s international president, said.
An AFA spokeswoman said it was “extremely disappointed” with the airline’s response to members’ retirement and disability benefits being voided.
She added: “Today’s 97 per cent vote in favour of joining AFA sends a strong message to Cathay that management needs to work with us to restore the benefits cabin crew have earned.”
Cathay Pacific announces 2 per cent pay rise for non-managerial staff

But Cathay Pacific said it was “committed to resolving this issue and providing clarity to our cabin crew employees in the US in a situation that is complex. While these efforts are ongoing, we appreciate our cabin crew’s patience and understanding as we work to rectify this situation.”
The airline said it looked forward to a “harmonious and productive relationship” with the union.
Cathay Pacific employs more than 10,000 cabin crew workers. The US is the largest base for its flight attendants outside Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific reassures staff over revamp of workforce

That its workers in the US could more easily seek higher salaries and benefits might add one more headache for the airline, already facing financial trouble.
Cathay Pacific recently announced an unspecified number job losses to come after falling revenue and profits, blamed on increased competition and costly fuel bills. In the carrier’s 2016 half-yearly results, profits slid 82 per cent year on year to HK$353 million.

Tags: Cathay PacificunionizationUnion Bustings
Categories: Labor News

Lawmaker attacks UTA spending on ‘union-busting’ consultants-Utah Bill would ban hiring such consultants after transit agency spent $74K to help defeat unionization.

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 09:13

Lawmaker attacks UTA spending on ‘union-busting’ consultants-Utah Bill would ban hiring such consultants after transit agency spent $74K to help defeat unionization.
Lawmaker attacks UTA spending on ‘union-busting’ consultants
By LEE DAVIDSON | The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Jan 25 2017 03:03PM • Last Updated Jan 25 2017 10:39 pm

Sen. Karen Mayne ï D-West Valley City
Bill would ban hiring such consultants after transit agency spent $74K to help defeat unionization.

After the Utah Transit Authority spent $74,000 to hire "union-busting" consultants to convince just 44 supervisors not to unionize, one Utah lawmaker is pushing a bill to ban any such spending in the future.

State Rep. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, said she introduced SB103 because such expenditures of public money by UTA show "a culture of arrogance."

A former UTA board member, Mayne said she has long pushed for improved bus service on Salt Lake County's west side. "What irks me is if I want a new bus route in Kearns, they say they have no money. But they have money for [hiring of consultants]."

Mayne, whose late husband, Ed Mayne, was president of the Utah AFL-CIO labor union, is upset that UTA spent so much to hire the Labor Relations Institute (LRI) to help defeat efforts this year by the Teamsters Union to represent 44 TRAX supervisors. The teamsters called LRI "union-busting" consultants.

The TRAX managers voted 25-19 to reject unionization in September.

Documents obtained through open-record requests by The Salt Lake Tribune showed that UTA contracted to pay $3,000 a day for LRI consultants' work while they were in Utah, plus travel expenses — which included alcohol charges.

Also, UTA agreed to pay consultants at a rate of $375 an hour if they phoned the consultants with questions.

The company also provided videos, handouts, and posters for use in lobbying employees, and software to track efforts. LRI's website describes some videos, including one from a former labor organizer who "warns the average employee is very unlikely to learn the truth about unions until it is too late."

Mayne's bill, SB103, bans transit districts from "spending public funds or contracting with a third party to restrict employee rights."

Utah is a "right-to-work state," which allows any employee to choose to skip joining a union, so UTA's efforts to block unionization are "not their duty," Mayne said. "Their duty is to provide good transportation."

The bill also seeks to make changes to Utah's open-records laws, aiming to make it easier and quicker to appeal denials from UTA for public records. That comes after the UTA initially denied The Tribune's open-records requests for details of the LRI contracts and how much was spent.

After a two-month tussle — and just before the State Records Committee was scheduled to hear the Tribune's appeal — UTA decided to release documents listing $46,700 in expenses.

A month later, it said it had missed some receipts, and the total grew to $74,000, or about $3,000 for every vote that sided with the agency.

Mayne's bill shortens possible appeals of denials by allowing people to skip a now-required appeal to UTA's president to appeal directly to the State Records Committee. It requires that committee to give priority to consideration of denials from transit agencies, and allows it to order payment of attorney fees for successful appellants.

Tags: Transit Organizingunion busting
Categories: Labor News

SF TWU 250A Muni Driver Says Operators Are Entitled To Pay Raise To Offset High Insurance Costs

Tue, 01/24/2017 - 23:01

SF TWU 250A Muni Driver Says Operators Are Entitled To Pay Raise To Offset High Insurance Costs

Tags: TWU 250Aconcessions
Categories: Labor News

Want to Stop Trump? Take a Page From These ILWU 10 Dockworkers, and Stop Work

Tue, 01/24/2017 - 09:44

Want to Stop Trump? Take a Page From These ILWU 10 Dockworkers, and Stop Work
MONDAY, JAN 23, 2017, 5:38 PM
Want to Stop Trump? Take a Page From These Dockworkers, and Stop Work

To resist Trump’s agenda, Oakland longshore workers shut down their workplace and reminded us of the potential of organized labor. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, many Americans wrung their hands. Some took to social media to express their discontent while others protested. But, perhaps, the most dramatic and important action was taken by dockworkers in Oakland, California: They stopped working. Their strike demonstrated the potential power ordinary people have on the job, when organized.

Longshore workers, who load and unload cargo ships, chose not to report to their hiring hall. As a result, “Oakland International Container Terminal, the largest container facility at the Northern California port, was shut down Friday,” according to the Journal of Commerce. It also reported that all other Oakland container terminals were essentially shut down, too.

Crucially, these workers did not first come together to protest Trump. They belong to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), one of the strongest and most militant unions left in the United States.

The ILWU, founded in the 1930s, represents logistics workers up and down the West Coast of the United States, in Alaska, Hawaii, British Columbia and Panama. For some 80 years, the union has fought for equal rights, democracy, economic equality and a vast array of other social justice causes. ILWU Local 10, which represents workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, often has been at the forefront of those fights.

ILWU members refused to load scrap metal intended for Japan because it had invaded China in the 1930s. The ILWU condemned the racist, apartheid regime in South Africa and Local 10 members periodically refused to unload South African cargo, including in the face of federal injunctions and employer pressure. They also refused, in 1978, to load U.S. military aid for Augusto Pinochet, a Chilean military general who led a coup against a democratically-elected, socialist president, Salvador Allende. On May Day 2008, the ILWU shut down Pacific Coast ports to protest the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Activists take the lead
One key element of ILWU power is its job dispatch system. In the aftermath of its legendary Big Strike of 1934, which briefly became the San Francisco general strike, the union basically won control over job dispatch. Quickly, workers implemented a “low man out” system, which enshrined the idea that the person with the fewest number of hours worked be the first one dispatched. Such socialism in action should not be surprising from a union whose founding members included socialists, communists and Wobblies, the name for members of perhaps America’s most radical union, the Industrial Workers of the World. The ILWU also inherited the Wobbly motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Today, though some workers are assigned to specific companies on a long-term basis, many still are dispatched via hiring halls. This system gives workers incredible power because they decide when to report for work, creating the possibility for workers to coordinate not showing up. The result, as seen on Friday, was to shut down the port of Oakland.

Obviously, many workers, nationwide, do not operate under a dispatch system. But they can still organize something similar without technically calling a strike.

At the end of 2014, New York City police officers coordinated a “virtual work stoppage,” nicknamed the “Blue Flu.” And last year, Detroit public school teachers, enraged by the awful conditions students and teachers suffer from because of a lack of state funding, organized an effective “sickout.” In other words, workers need not officially “strike,” or even belong to a labor union, to engineer a shutdown.

Importantly, Friday’s action was not organized or endorsed by the ILWU leadership. Since its inception, the ILWU has stood on the left tip of the U.S. labor movement, but even this union has become more conservative during the past few decades. Nowadays, rank-and-file activists in Local 10 often take the lead.

“There is power”
Like most unions and working people, the ILWU opposes much of Trump’s anti-labor agenda, which promotes “right-to-work” (more accurately right-to-work-for-less) legislation, condemns public sector unions, seeks to privatize public schools and reverse the Obama administration’s actions on paying more workers overtime, reducing wage theft and ensuring worker safety. Trump’s proposed labor secretary, for one, has made his anti-worker positions clear. (That said, Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership is welcome.)

Nor have Bay Area longshore workers forgotten Trump’s insult of Oakland. The president once said, “There are places in America that are among the most dangerous in the world. You go to places like Oakland. Or Ferguson. The crime numbers are worse. Seriously.”

To resist Trump’s agenda, Oakland longshore workers shut down their workplace and reminded us of the potential of organized labor. As the old song, written by Joe Hill and sung by Utah Phillips, declares, “There is power, there is power in a band of working folks, when we stand hand-in-hand. That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land.”

Tags: ILWU Local 10Stop WorkPolitical Strikes
Categories: Labor News

ILWU's Trump protest shuts down Oakland terminal-ILWU Local 10 Members Speak Out

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 13:50

ILWU's Trump protest shuts down Oakland terminal

Oakland International Container Terminal, the largest container facility at the Northern California port, was shut down Friday as longshoremen were protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Oakland’s three other container terminals maintained yard and gate operations, though they were not working the vessel operations while the matter was being handled through the arbitration process. Job actions by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 in Oakland have occurred sporadically over the years involvinggeopolitical events as well as labor-management issues as the Northern California local has a history of militant unionism.

James McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, confirmed Friday that only 35 longshoremen accepted positions for the Friday shift. That is about 10 percent of the labor requirements. The employer group immediately requested arbitration, and a ruling is expected later on Friday, McKenna said.

Port of Oakland spokesman Mike Zampa said the port’s other container terminals — TraPac, Everport and Matson — were open for yard and gate operations, but they were not working vessels.

A spokeswoman for the ILWU said Friday the headquarters staff was looking into the matter. Reportedly the job actions were being taken to protest the Trump inauguration, but none of the organizations could confirm that point.

The fact that the other three terminals were working the yards and gates but not the vessels could indicate that the skilled-category ship-to-shore crane operators did not accept those positions on Friday, but that could not be confirmed.

ILWU 10 Members Speak Out On Trump, Capitalism & The Need For Workers Party
The day before the inauguration of President Trump, ILWU Local 10 members and leaders in San Francisco talk about what the election of Trump means for working people, what needs to be done to defend labor and the growing repression. They also discuss the need for a democratic labor party that will represent all working people.
Additional media:
Production of Labor Video Project

Tags: ILWU Local 10Trumpworkers partyunion busting
Categories: Labor News

ILWU 10 Members Speak Out On Trump, Capitalism & The Need For Workers Party

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 00:56

ILWU 10 Members Speak Out On Trump, Capitalism & The Need For Workers Party
The day before the inauguration of President Trump, ILWU Local 10 members and leaders in San Francisco talk about what the election of Trump means for working people, what needs to be done to defend labor and the growing repression. They also discuss the need for a democratic labor party that will represent all working people.
Additional media:
Production of Labor Video Project

ILWU Local 10 Longshore Workers Join Walk-out by UAW 2865 UC Graduate Students in Northern California To Protest Trump Government
January 19, 2017
By Steve Zeltzer

WorkWeek radio has learned ILWU Local 10 longshore workers will be joining the work protest by UAW 2865 UC graduate students on President elect Trump's January 20 inaugural day. Longshore workers today were interviewed about their fear and concerns about the incoming Trump government. Former ILWU Local 10 president Trent Willis sad that he was worried that his son who has autism will lose his medicaid coverage if Trump and his cabinet shutdown ACA.
Other longshore workers talked about the need to oppose the repression including at North Dakota Standing Rock Native Reservation. The local has sent a delegation and donation to the Standing Rock tribe and delegates were angry to hear today that journalists are being shot at and wounded with rubber bullets. Also the North Dakota National Guard has sent rocket launchers to supposedly guard the DAPA pipeline construction project.
UAW 2865 members have been meeting with longshore workers and discussing their struggle for free public education at UC and making it a sanctuary for undocumented students threatened by plans by the Trump administration for mass migration raids.
The closure of Bay Area ports by the work action combined with the UAW 2865 graduate students and support action by IATSE Local 16 makes these actions the most significant work actions nationally. The San Francisco Labor Council is supporting a picket of a Carl's Jr. in San Francisco and then labor delegations will be joining a march from the UN Plaza.
The AFL-CIO has urged it's affiliates to attend the January 21 march in DC and marches around the country but are not supporting any national labor march or even national labor conference on how to fight the coming attacks on labor by President Trump and his reactionary cabinet.

Steve Zeltzer
KPFA Pacifica WorkWeek Radio

Tags: ILWU 10Trumpsolidaritylongshore workers
Categories: Labor News

Germany: Bus drivers in Hesse continue their strike

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 21:45

Germany: Bus drivers in Hesse continue their strike
By Marianne Arens
18 January 2016
The strike by bus drivers in the German state of Hesse, which began last week, has continued this week. More than 2,000 bus drivers in Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Gießen, Marburg, Offenbach, Hanau, Maintal, Fulda and other municipalities are conducting a struggle against the intolerable conditions in their workplace.

Striking bus drivers in front of the Am Römerhof bus depot, Frankfurt-West
The strike is part of a worldwide wave of labour struggles. In every country the attacks mounted by the ruling elites have reached fever pitch and open class conflicts are breaking out. In the last few weeks and months, workers in bus and transport companies and the public sector have commenced major strikes in France, Italy and the US. In Britain, rail transport workers are also taking action.
In Hesse, workers from a number of private bus companies are on strike. The private companies are organized in the state association of Hessian bus companies (LHO). A tariff agreement between the bus drivers union, Verdi, and the LHO expired in April 2016. Since then, the LHO has refused to raise the gross hourly wage from €12 (US$12.85) to a miserly €12.65 ($13.55) per hour. Verdi is officially calling for a graduated increase in the gross salary wage to €13.50 ($14.45), improved regulations for breaks and an extra day’s holiday.
Seven months later, the union finally called for a strike on Monday, January 9, apparently anticipating a two-day strike. On the first day, Verdi’s area manager Ronald Laubrock told the press: “We do not want to fire all our bullets in the first week.”
Since then Verdi was forced to extend the strike day by day, until on Friday bus traffic in large parts of the region came to a complete standstill. Solidarity also came from drivers not directly affected in the dispute, such as tram drivers in Darmstadt and bus drivers in Hanau and Gießen. Verdi has blocked any wider mobilization of workers in other areas of public transport.
The strike has now achieved at least one objective: It has revealed the intolerable conditions prevailing in Hessian public transport and made them known to a broad public. These are the same conditions that apply among broad layers of the working class, working for bus companies, road cleaning, parcel post, train, airport and children’s day care centres—all indispensable parts of the public infrastructure, which Verdi is desperate to maintain isolated.
The striking bus drivers spoke openly about their working conditions with the World Socialist Web Site. “With all respect, what we receive as salary is far too little,” said Rasko, a bus driver in Frankfurt for the past 15 years. “In those 15 years, my basic wage has risen by just two euros. I started with 9.97 euros per hour and now receive 12 euros.”
One of his colleagues insists that the public learn what their real wages are: “What the media is writing is simply not true: i.e., that we receive an hourly wage of 12 euros. We are being denied breaks, although we cannot even use them often! This has been the case since 2002.” According to his calculations, his hourly wage is no more than 10.67 euros gross. “This means that we have been robbed of several hundred euros,” a young colleague confirmed. “With what we get, we are practically on the level of Hartz IV social welfare payments.”
Their responsibility is very high, the bus drivers stress. One said, “We are responsible on our own for a fully loaded articulated [jointed] bus. Often we have to transport the old, the sick or school children. You have to have your eyes everywhere.” If there is any damage the driver alone has to answer for everything. “The company does not protect us.”

Bus drivers at the strike post
Another driver reports that he worries constantly because he does not know how to pay his rent and provide for his family. “My work suffers as a result and the passengers notice it too.” “Modern slavery,” his colleague said, “a shame for a world metropolis like Frankfurt, one of the richest cities in Germany and Europe.”
Mustapha said that nearly all of his colleagues depend on social support, despite full-time work, receiving either child benefit or housing allowance, or a top-up from the job centre to the level of Hartz IV payments. “It’s just degrading,” he says. Previously, the bus drivers were municipal employees in a secure job, but a wave of privatization swept away all of their benefits: “This was accompanied by wage dumping. Colleagues who drive streetcars and subways earn almost double as much as us. They will also receive holiday allowances, company pensions, bonuses, job tickets and other municipal benefits. We do not receive any such thing.”
How did this come about?
Verdi, as well as politicians from the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the Left Party, all try to shift the blame for this state of affairs onto the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Seventeen years ago the state government headed by Roland Koch (CDU) in Hesse introduced the practice of allowing contract bids Europe-wide. As a result, dozens of private companies have split the transport market among themselves. “It’s just about profit,” as one bus driver said.
However, all of the parties in the state have supported this course for many years. In addition to the CDU, the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party also pursued a policy oriented exclusively to profit. Some politicians are today calling for the so-called “re-municipalization” of the privatized enterprises and wants to concentrate them into a single municipal holding, but this does not change the conditions for the workers in the least.
Public transport in Hesse was exclusively in municipal hands 20 years ago until being fully reorganised in 1995. Today, the LHO shares the local transport market with numerous partially and fully privatized companies. In addition to the ICB, MMF, Alpina, Regiobus or DB bus services, companies belonging to the French Transdev Group and the Italian Netinera Group are also active. Behind the image of modern public transport as portrayed in glossy brochures is a massive worsening of wages and working conditions.
The European Commission has succeeded in liberalizing local public transport, giving competitors the opportunity to participate in public transport bidding throughout the continent. The contracting authorities used the competitive pressure to implement low-wage tariffs in every sphere—and every new contract was signed by the public service union Verdi. Together they smashed up the Federal Employment Agreement for Public Transport and divided nationwide around 250,000 transport workers by state and region. Layoffs, wage cuts, reduction of leave entitlement and further social cuts were the result.
In Hesse there has been a cordial agreement between the ministry, private contractors and German trade unions, since the CDU-Green government’s presidency under Volker Bouffier (CDU) and Tarik Al-Wazir (Greens) took power. Al-Wazir, the then DGB district chairman Stefan Körzell and Hessian trade union leaders—including Verdi—all took part in a roundtable at the Economics Ministry. They said at the time their aim was to solve all issues of future labour market and economic policy. They decided to establish a so-called “hot line between the ministry and trade unions.”
Al-Wazir, who is also Hessian minister of transport, told the Frankfurt Rundschau that “almost all bus drivers were paid according to contract” and that all contracts had been “negotiated on the trade union side by Verdi.” Although LHO has so far been stubborn and has not yielded an inch, Al-Wazir, on Friday, urged that a resolution be taken as soon as possible to end the strike.

Tags: German : Bus Drivers in Hesse continue their strike
Categories: Labor News

UK BA cabin crew strike over poverty pay

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 19:27

UK BA cabin crew strike over poverty pay
Published on Jan 13, 2017
British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew have taken the very brave step of 2 days of strike action against a management who have deliberately created a climate of fear, who are using bullying tactics to try to break the strike - and who are making huge profits while they keep their workers in poverty. But the confidence and resolve of the crew is growing after a very successful start to a major dispute for a living wage. Next strikes on Jan 19, 21 and 22 - come and support them on the picket lines at Hatton Cross tube and near Terminal 5.

Tags: UK Cabin Crew Strike
Categories: Labor News

RMT union puts anarchist in charge of London

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 16:26

By anonymous - Freedom, January 15, 2017
Freedom has received the following, written by an anonymous railway worker with the RMT union

At the beginning of this year the RMT elected Andy Littlechild (pictured right), a longstanding anarchist and member of the Solidarity Federation (Solfed), to the RMT union’s National Executive Council as its London transport representative.
The role, which lasts for three years, takes responsibility for the entire battlezone of London Underground including trains, stations, engineers, all ancillary staff and contracted companies, along with Transport for London, Docklands Light Railway, Black Cabs and even Boris Bikes.
Andy, who’s worked for many years as a Tube track worker and union rep, stood unopposed for the position and was duly elected after receiving nominations from every RMT branch in the constituency. His unopposed win was generally linked to Andy’s perceived militancy and non-sectarian approach to organising, which endeared him to RMT’s London activist base and gave him a clear run.

Being elected in this way is not without its downside as it meant there was no election involving the members; and is equally controversial given a general trend of anarchist disdain for full-time union positions, not least within SolFed itself, which bars full-time union officers from membership.
Ed’s note: SolFed, and other anarchist groups, see trade union bureaucracy as taking agency out of the hands of workers and transferring it to people who are not at the site of, or affected by, the struggle taking place. The full-timer’s wages and community ties are linked to a national-level body removed from direct struggle, and their role is therefore based on what’s best for the institution, rather than the workers.
(For more on SolFed and anarcho-syndicalist thinking, try Fighting For Ourselves online|book)

Whether Andy’s decision to engage with the RMT’s executive will be productive or not is yet to be seen. The test will be in how and whether he manages to preserve his class-based anarchist politics in practice against the relentless industrial and political warfare in London, especially on the Tube where he has walked straight into the bitter, escalating dispute and strike activity around staffing stations, as well as several smaller skirmishes which are developing there as I write — and how Andy preserves his politics likewise in his dealings within the hierarchy of the RMT.
One thing we can say is only the RMT would put a known anarchist in charge of London.
Edit: There is one other union which has elected an openly anarchist member to a major position in recent times — Donnacha DeLong was president of the National Union of Journalists from 2011-12 and still sits on its NEC.

Tags: RMTLondontranspoort workers
Categories: Labor News

Some SF TWU 250A operators oppose $8 million lawsuit settlement with Muni — and want more money

Mon, 01/16/2017 - 06:51

Some SF TWU 250A operators oppose $8 million lawsuit settlement with Muni — and want more money
Some Muni operators are not happy with an $8 million settlement that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved earlier this month. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on January 16, 2017 1:00 am

Some Muni operators plan to dispute an $8 million settlement in a class action suit against their employers, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The amount isn’t enough, said plaintiffs Michael J. Benardo, Dorian Maxwell and Anthony Parker in a joint letter, to account for their unpaid overtime which amounts to $395 million, the amount operators initially sought when they sued the SFMTA.

The SFMTA Board of Directors voted to approve the $8 million settlement Jan. 3, in anticipation of a settlement hearing on Jan. 24 with U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

It’s at that hearing the Muni operators in opposition to the settlement plan to make themselves heard.

“The SFMTA over the years has been taking advantage of its employees and the San Francisco taxpayers by violating wage and hour standards, leaving it vulnerable to fines and lawsuits,” the operators wrote in a letter to Judge Gonzalez Rogers on Jan. 10.

“Enforcing the $395,000,000.00 judgment will send a clear message that will strongly discourage them from committing further Labor Code violations,” they wrote.

The suit, filed in United States District Court in San Francisco, may be nearing its end as an attorney representing the original plaintiffs, the Tidrick Law Firm, and the SFMTA reached a settlement agreement over the winter.

Muni operators weren’t paid for travel time between the bus yards they clocked into and the bus yards they needed to pull buses out of, or for certain post-driving inspections and other periods, alleged Darryl Stitt, the suit’s plaintiff.

Tags: SF TWU 250A Driverswage settlementMUNI
Categories: Labor News

Free Korean Railroad Worker Lee Jin-Young of Labor Books Now!!!

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 17:31

Free Korean Railroad Worker Lee Jin-Young of Labor Books Now!!!
Joint Action against the Oppression on Labor Books under National Security Law

International Campaign to Free LJY 2017
Free Lee Jin-Young!
Stop the Repression of Labor Books!
On January 5th, a South Korean district court decided to detain Lee Jin-young, coordinator of Labor Books, a book-sharing web site, in violation of the notoriously draconian National Security Law. This abrupt decision is extremely shocking, considering historic candlelight protests against the political scandal of Park Geynhye government and the subsequent crisis and her impeachment.
On January 4th, the persecution suddenly applied for a arrest warrant for him long after the search and seizure operation over five months ago, when 9 plain-cloth police officers descended upon Lee's home early in the morning and confiscated his books and digital devices.
Search and seizure in 2016
In this outrageous attack on July 28th, 2016, the 4th Investigation Division for Public Security of Seoul Police Department seized 107 books, 10 papers, a hard disk drive, an SD card, and others, on charges of violating the National Security Law.
The list of confiscated books include Maxim Gorky's Mother, E.H. Carr’s The Russian Revolution, Karl Marx's Capital, and Paulo Freire's Pedagogy for the Oppressed People, all of which are classics easily found in any public libraries and books stores.

What is Labor Books?
Lee Jin-young is Coordinator of Labor Books, an internet web site and a virtual community of readers. He and his colleagues founded this virtual space to share social science and history books that are out of print, not available in print. He spent his time and energy, as well as money in getting by, copying and scanning old out-of-print books. His dedication and commitment helped a small infinity group to develop into over 1,500 membership community.
Who is Lee Jin-young?
Lee Jin-young is a railway worker and active member of Korean Railway Workers' Union. While dismissed, he worked at the Union head quarters, and he is currently a longtime union delegate representing his department.
In 1990s, he was convicted twice for violation of National Security Law in the course of fighting for the democratization and social justice in South Korea. And in 2010 he was dismissed and fined for leading a strike, and in 2016 he took part in the 74-day railway strike. And in spite of being prosecuted at any time, he courageously took part in the candlelight protests demanding the immediate resignation of Park Geunhye.
Why now?
In this context, what is the real intention of the prosecution to detain him now? The police and prosecution labelled those confiscated books as "enemy-benefiting publications that "agitate a violent revolution, and propagate the overthrow of the regime and a revolt against the state."
Furthermore, the court endorsed the prosecution's ridiculous claim on the danger of Lee's possible attempt to "run away or destroy evidences." The police already secured the enough evidence, and he has a job and family, so he has no reason to run away. Rather ironically, it is impeached president Park Geun-hye who systematically has destroyed evidences.
National Security Law and candlelight protests
Basically, it is well-known that the raison d´être of the National Security Law is not for public security. Historically, this infamous law was used to suppress social and political protests and control freedom of thought and press. Though under dictatorships tens thousands of victims were convicted as criminals violating it, this anachronic law is still here to stay in the 21st century.
Then, what is the real purpose of the law enforcement authorities? It is regarded as part of the government's maneuver to contaminate the authenticity of candlelight protests. The extreme right-wing reactionary forces are organizing the anti-impeachment counter-attack on candlelight protest with dirty smear campaigns, especially attributing the protests to conspiracy of pro-North Korean forces.
He is innocent! Let him free!
However, the facts are crystal-clear: Lee Jin-young and Labor Books are never a threat to the national security in any sense of the word, and their activities are fully legal and legitimate, guaranteed by the constitutional rights. Rather, anachronistic National Security Law should have been abolished a long time ago.
The South Korean government, led by Hwang Gyo-an, acting president, known for Mr. Public Security, is fully responsible for the illegitimate detention of Lee Jin-young. The government should give up any dirty maneuvers and stop the illegitimate procedure. And it should immediately set him free.
We support Lee Jin-young's struggle for his freedom, and we'll struggle with millions of candle lights for full democracy and the abolition of the out-dated National Security Law. WE SHALL OVERCOME!

# Timeline of the oppression on Labor Books
- Lee Jin-young, coordinator of Labors Books, is a member of the Korean Railway Workers' Union, and worked as a union leader at the national headquarter of the union head, and was a long-time union delegate.
- At 6 o'clock in the morning, on July 28th, 2016, 9 detectives searched his home and confiscated books and digital materials, long after these plain-cloth investigators from the 4th Division for Public Security of Seoul Police Department carried on extensive surveillance operation on him.
- After the search and seizure, Lee was temporarily arrested and interrogated at a secrete office in Shinchon, Seoul, but he exercised his right to remain silent, claiming freedom of thought against the National Security Law.
- After the search and seizure, several news outlets reported the incident, with critical comments on the absurdity of the oppression.
- On August 24th, 2016, a press conference was held in front of Southern Seoul Police Station, to protest the police oppression on Lee and Labor Books.
- On January 4th, 2007, the Prosecution applied for arrest warrant on Lee.
- On January 5th, 2017, District Court of Southern Seoul issued the arrest warrant, and Lee was detained.

Our Demands:
# Immediately release Lee Jin-young, coordinator of Labor Books!
# Stop the attempt to fabricate a public security lawsuit!
# Stop the oppression on freedom of thought and expression!
# Abolish the Nation Security Law!

January 7th, 2017
Joint Action against the Oppression on Labor Books
under National Security Law

About Joint Action:
- After the police attack, Joint Action against the Oppression on Labor Books under National Security Law was organized and has been taking actions to protest the oppression and protect the website Labor Books.
- In September 2016, Lee and his wife, Choi Do-eun, famous singer activist, held a music concert to financially prepare for the coming legal action.
- The Joint Action now focuses on the struggle to free Lee, as well as a wider struggle for freedom of thought and conscience, and to abolish the National Security Law.

Please express your solidarity:
# Visit the website Labor Books:
# Send your solidarity message to:
Please donate for the legal battle:
- Bank adress: 38, Gonghang-daero, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, KOREA
- Account number: 409-20-030758
- +82-10-5451-4491

Tags: Lee Jin-Young of Labor Books NowKRWUrepressionNational Security Law
Categories: Labor News

Sunken tugboat a consequence of letting foreign crews in Canadian waters, says Canadian ILWU union

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 11:16

Sunken tugboat a consequence of letting foreign crews in Canadian waters, says ILWU Canada union
'We'll let the coast guard know 'hey, we're in trouble, we need help,' because it's our coastline'
ILWU and Other Unions Speak Out
By Andrew Kurjata, CBC News Posted: Jan 12, 2017 2:27 PM PT Last Updated: Jan 12, 2017 2:27 PM PT

Between 100 and 200 maritime workers gathered outside Liberal MP Hedy Fry's office in Vancouver to protest the Canada-EU trade agreement, citing fears of lost jobs and lowered safety standards on B.C. coasts. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Canadian maritime unions protest European trade deal as 'an attack on workers'7:24

Over 200 maritime workers gathered in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince Rupert Thursday to protest what they view as "an attack on jobs" from the federal Liberal government.

They say proposed changes will cost jobs and degrade environmental standards along Canadian coastlines.

Concerns revolve around the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) and changes to the Canada Transportation Act.

Canadian crews wanted for Canadian waters

Keeping onboard crews local is crucial, says Robert Ashton, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada

"Right now to work in domestic trade within Canada... you need to be a Canadian-owned vessel crewed by Canadians," Ashton told CBC Daybreak North host Robert Doane.

"My fear is... our seafarers that we have currently that go along our shores will be replaced by foreign crews, underpaid foreign crews, that don't have a stake in our coastline."

He pointed to the Nathan E. Stewart, a U.S. tug that sank off the coast of Bella Bella last year, as one of the consequences of giving too much leeway to foreign crews operating in Canadian waters.

• Timeline of the sinking and recovery of the Nathan E. Stewart
"Currently if one of our vessels runs aground or gets into troubled waters... we'll call ahead, we'll let the coast guard know 'hey, we're in trouble, we need help,' because it's our coast line," said Ashton.

Union leaders says the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart tug is a consequence of allowing foreign crews in Canadian waters. (Heiltsuk Nation/April Bencze)

"If you look at what happened with the Nathan E. Stewart that didn't happen. When they radioed the coast guard, they said 'everything is fine', they sat there and they sat there and they sat there."

'It puts families out of work'

At Ogden Point in Victoria, the protest was more focused on jobs, with workers speaking out against a cable repair vessel that works in Canadian waters but employs a foreign crew.

Workers in Prince Rupert were worried about the security of their jobs at Ridley Terminal, and the potential envirionmental consequences of having more foreign crews in Canadian waters. (George Baker/CBC)

"You can't help but feel a little bit worried that we might be losing some of our jobs because they don't want to pay as high a wage as they can get away with foreign workers," said Victoria Cossette, a tugboat deckhand.

Ashton said the CETA deal with the European Union could be "the death knell" for many Canadian jobs and standards.

"Under the comprehensive economic trade agreement, that changes. It opens up the doorway for foreign companies, in this case European ship owners, to bring in vessels that are flagged out of Panama or are flagged out of Marshall Islands to operate domestic trade within our boundaries. So what happens is, the vessels are run at substandard conditions."

At Victoria's Ogden Point, workers were concerned about local jobs being replaced by foreign workers. (Liz McArthur/CBC)

He said up 12,000 "family-supporting" jobs across Canada could be affected by the deal, with "tens of thousands" of indirect jobs also affected.

Expect more protests

"We're seeking fair trade, not free trade, to keep Canadians working," said Regan Fletcher, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada Local 523 in Prince Rupert.

"[With the] increasing cost of living for Canadians, housing costs, everything, we can't afford to have less wages and less jobs. We need more."

Fletcher said he expects more protests from unions and workers in other industries across Canada.

"Canadians can expect trade unions across Canada coming together in protest of these free-trade deals," he predicted.

A spokesperson for Transport Canada said it is consulting with stakeholders about concerns over changes, but it believes CETA is a "positive opportunity" for Canadian citizens and maritime workers.

With files from George Baker, Elizabeth McArthur and Rafferty Baker.

Maritime workers expect more protests against free trade deals to crop up across Canada. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Tags: ilwuhealth and safetyunion bustingCanadian shores
Categories: Labor News

UK Aslef rail union boss Mick Whelan: ‘I'm not a great fan of glorious defeats’

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 10:50

UK Aslef rail union boss Mick Whelan: ‘I'm not a great fan of glorious defeats’
After months of strikes causing transport chaos across the south-east, Mick Whelan is fast becoming Britain’s most-hated union leader. But the stakes are so high he won’t be backing down, he says

‘I don’t shout at people. We want to make our case in a rational way’ … Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
Simon Hattenstone
Saturday 14 January 2017 06.00 GMTLast modified on Saturday 14 January 2017 09.43 GMT

‘Interesting times,” Aslef boss Mick Whelan says, with an understated smile. It’s 11am on Thursday, and he’s already had a session with his legal team. Earlier this week the train drivers’ union was on strike, bringing Southern rail – and a fair bit of the south-east – to a stop. On Wednesday night, Southern announced it would take Aslef to the supreme court to try to have upcoming strikes declared illegal. It’s both a complex and a simple battle over a proposal to extend DOO (Driver Operation Only) trains. Complex in the details (the fact that many companies have been operating DOO for more than a decade; the technology used; the laws being cited by Southern in the hope of outlawing the strikes) and simple in the principle – scrapping guards on large trains is unsafe for passengers, says Aslef, and puts drivers under extreme pressure.

Whelan’s office is poky, but packed with paraphernalia: vintage Aslef badges, pictures of coal-fuelled locomotives, biographies of Keir Hardieand Dennis Skinner, campaign leaflets. On the wall behind him is a huge black-and-white photograph of a 1971 demo to “Kill the Bill”. He swivels in his chair, looks up at it, and laughs. “Unfortunate way it’s worded,” he says. “That was about killing the employment bill, not the police. I’ve had people come in here and think I’m some kind of football thug.” In the corner of a room is a pile of official Chelsea football magazines.

Whelan is a bear of a man, with a gruff cockney voice and a soft boxer’s handshake. Today, he is bearded. But normally, shaven-headed and shaven-faced, he could pass for a jumbo-sized Bob Crow. That’s not entirely inappropriate, because Whelan – or Militant Mick, as he is referred to these days – might be about to inherit Crow’s mantle as Britain’s most-hated trade union leader. Like Crow, who died three years ago, he is general secretary of a small but powerful transport trade union (Aslef’s 19,000 working members account for 95% of the country’s train drivers) that can cause havoc by calling out its workers. Whereas Crow tended to rely on his rhetoric and his street-fighter smarts, Whelan is more of a data nerd – part barrow boy, part actuary. He’s more likely to grind you down with an equation than with polemic. (“Freight is basically volume times distance,” he says within minutes of meeting me.)

It would be hard enough to win over the public without a hostile media determined to monster him as an extremist who promised “10 years of passenger hell” (he insists he never said these words to transport secretary Chris Grayling); hypocritical (photographs of him travelling on the trains he says are dangerous); and greedy (his pay package is often quoted as £137,000, though this includes pension and national insurance contributions; his actual salary is £94,000.) Some of the “exposés” have been laughable – not least that he lives in a “£500,000” house in Wembley (cheap for London).

Aslef members on the picket line outside Selhurst Park station in south London in December last year. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
But yes, he says, of course he knows why rail users are upset with him. “If I’m the travelling public, and I’m paying the excessive fares they’re paying, up to £5,000-£6,000 a year for a second-class, 60-minute journey from the south coast, and I can’t get to work and I’ve had my pay frozen for years, I don’t look at the reason for the dispute, I just look at how it impacts on me.”

What he has to do, he says, is get over his side of the story and dispel the myths. “If I was to ask you when was the last time we took industrial action on Southern, as an impartial observer, you’d probably say, ‘You’re taking it all the time,’ when the reality is that the last time was 2000. So one falling out in 17 years is hardly us rushing to the barricades every two minutes. We’re not a trade union that’s recognised as being ultra-militant or seeking to have battles all the time.” As he points out, when he was appointed vice chair of the Labour Policy Forum, most papers said: “Oh, they’ve elected a moderate.”

Next, he says, he has to convince the public that they and the drivers share a common interest. “We know what passengers want: clean, safe trains that run on time and are affordable. Strangely enough, the same things we want. So outside the week of a dispute, you’ll find people agreeing with us 100%. Even in this dispute, polls have shown that 73% of people want a guard or safety-critical person on a train. Fact.”

I’m confused, I say – didn’t the union agree to driver-only operation years ago? Yes, he says, but the circumstances were different; trains now have more carriages and carry many more passengers, and when they agreed to DOO it was on the understanding that the all-important blue light would fail to come on in the driver’s cabin if anybody was trapped in a door, and the train would automatically stop. But history has shown that the technology is not 100% reliable. “A report came out last year that says we cannot rely on that technology any more. So what do we do as an organisation? Ignore it?”

The report investigated an incident in which a passenger was trapped in the door. “The driver might well go to prison. He’s no longer a member of Aslef – there are other things he didn’t do on the day – but the fact is, regardless of his activity, the picture is of a woman with her hand clearly trapped in the door and she’s off her feet being dragged 60 feet along the platform. We were told that could never happen, and that we’re luddities against modernisation, but they are using 1980s and 90s technology designed for three-car trains and a quarter of the footfall we now enjoy – 1,100 people on these 12-car trains, and people just urging us to get out of the platform for the next train to get in.” The more passionate he gets, the faster he talks. Now he sounds like the Ben Elton of trade union activism.


What infuriates him most is the luddite smear, when in fact Aslef is protesting against outdated technology. “Yes, the trains are new, but the technology is old.” Take the multiple CCTV images the drivers see of the platform, he says. “In some areas we’re given two seconds to assimilate 24 images. Now if I was to take you to the caff across the road, lift the menu up to you, give you two seconds to read the first 24 items, then ask you to tell me what’s happening at item 6, 7 and 14, quite rightly, you couldn’t do it. I can’t do it and I speed read.”

The chief inspector of railways recently concluded that DOO “can be safe”. Again, Whelan was criticised for distinguishing between “can” and “is”. Southern said he was dancing on a semantic sixpence. But he isn’t having any of it. “Read it,” he says. “I know the difference between ‘is’ and ‘can’. I negotiate for a living. You have to know the value of words, and he said it can be safe; he didn’t say it was safe. He went on to say that people had to be trained, and the right equipment and processes had to be in place. Well, we know drivers that haven’t been trained and been expected to drive these trains, we know they went out and found that the lenses on the mirrors weren’t being cleaned and drivers couldn’t see.”

In short, he says, it is impossible for drivers to ensure the safety of passengers getting on and off the train. “You don’t have to be a train driver to know that. If you’re a commuter and you use a major station, you will see people five or six deep on a platform, you’ll see a train run in rammed to the gills and people saying, ‘Please stand back, there’s one two minutes behind,’ yet nobody stands back. No train is meant to leave if there isn’t a gap between the train and the public – what they call the passenger-train corridor. We know that virtually every train in London, in Birmingham and elsewhere, at peak times, is ignoring the safety of the railway.”

And the thing is, he says, when a disaster happens, the bosses are never held accountable. “I haven’t seen one company director in the past 20 years who has got a fiduciary responsibility hauled in to the dock, had their job taken away or go to prison for it – but I have seen it happen to guards, platform staff and drivers.”


Should the company be charged with corporate manslaughter if a passenger dies in such circumstances? “Yes. If these people are telling us the system is safe, when it goes wrong, do you pass the blame to the lowest common denominator who you are forcing to do it, because we are now in a penalty-driven industry? We spend more time writing reports about why a train is late, so somebody can offcost it to another stakeholder, than we do about safety.”

Whelan, now 56, has spent 31 years in Aslef as guard, driver, union official and ultimately general secretary. He was born to Irish parents in Paddington, London. His mother worked in a sweet shop (at Euston station) and his father was a bricklayer. It was his father, he says, who really politicised him. “He was into rights on building sites, health and safety and all things we didn’t have back then. He was SWP [Socialist Workers Party]. Mum was always hard Labour. My wife is ex-Workers Revolutionary Party, so let’s not go there – she’s mellowed a bit down the years!”

Whelan was a bright boy who passed the 11-plus and went to grammar school: the Oratory, where Tony Blair sent his children. He devoured books, loved learning, and hoped to go to university. But his father fell off scaffolding, could no longer work, and that was the end of Whelan’s university dream. He spent a couple of years working as a bank clerk before joining Aslef. Whelan has three grownup children, and is married to Lorraine Phelan, chief biomedical scientist for special haematology at St Mary’s Hospital, London. He tells me with huge pride that she has an MBE for her work in the health service.

He laughs at the fact that he is suddenly being called “Militant Mick”. Sure, he’s always been political and supports Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, but he says he hasn’t a militant bone in his body. Isn’t he just an old-fashioned protectionist, defending jobs long past their sell-by date? “No. This isn’t purely about us believing in the protection of jobs, because they tell us they’re going to keep all these people. But they are going to take their safety skills away. They won’t be able to evacuate, lead people down a track if there’s a major incident, deal with anybody if a driver collapses.”

It would be a lot easier, he says, if he was fighting a more traditional battle. “I’d find it far easier to be aggressive if you were saying, ‘Well, if we’re going to do someone else’s job, give us 10 grand for it.’ We’re not doing that. Or: ‘If we’re going to be doing other people’s roles, give us a shorter working week.’ We’re not doing that. I got criticised the other day for saying some of my members were really scared, but they are. They’re terrified about safety and terrified for their futures.”

And he’s not even mentioned disability yet. With driver-only trains, it is difficult, if not impossible, for people in a wheelchair to get on a train without advanced warning. In September, Aslef won its case against DOO in Scotland, and disability was a key factor. “We threatened a judicial review in Scotland about disabled access because the law in Scotland on transport access was far stronger than down here, and that helped us win. I believe Southern are suggesting that disabled people in England ring up 24 hours in advance of when they want to travel. The whole basis of the industry is ‘step on and go’. The idea that sectors of our community should have to book in advance when others don’t is anathema to me. Everybody should have the same access and rights to get on and off a train.’”

Why was it easier to win in Scotland than England? “Well, it’s not over yet,” he huffs. And, he insists, he will be happy with nothing less than victory. “The trade union movement is full of glorious defeats, and I’m not a great fan of glorious defeats.”

Does he need a thick skin to be doing his job? He smiles. “You do, and it’s also temperament. I don’t shout at people, I try not to get angry, we’re incredibly data-driven, we want to make our case in a rational way. Nobody takes industrial action lightly. My people don’t want to be losing money, my people don’t want to be verbally abused, they don’t want to be attacked. I don’t want my receptionist fielding death threats downstairs.” And have there been? “You get the odd idiot ringing up saying things they’ll probably never carry out.”

What’s the most offensive thing anybody has said to him? He pauses, and thinks hard. “The most offensive thing to me,” he says finally, “is when people say that I don’t care about workers.”

Tags: UK ASLEFRail safetyunion busting
Categories: Labor News

NYC TWU 100 Transit workers negotiate for higher wages with contract set to expire yet no union rallies or mobilization for a strong contract

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 14:10

NYC TWU 100 Transit workers negotiate for higher wages with contract set to expire yet no union rallies or mobilization for a strong contract

The 44,000-member workforce of subway and bus employees now earn an average of $76,000 a year, according to an independent report.

TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen, right, speaks with former MTA chief John Lhota, center, prior to 2012 contract negotiations. MTA/FlickrPhoto:
The contract for thousands of New York City transit workers expires in a few days, and union officials negotiating a new deal with the MTA are seeking salaries on par with other divisions the agency operates.

The 44,000 transit workers affected by the collective bargaining agreement that expires Jan. 15 are hoping to receive more than the existing 2 percent pay increase, Transit Workers Union spokesman Jim Gannon told Metro. The TWU represents most of those unionized workers. Another 6,000 workers are not union members.

Negotiations will continue over the next week and a spokesman for the MTA said the agency could not comment on ongoing talks.

“In general, the [MTA] has ‘budgeted’ a 2 percent labor cost increase in their projected budget," Gannon said. "That’s not necessarily what they’ve offered, but it might be a clue of where they are willing to go.”

The average compensation for a New York City Transit employee — whose ranks include subway operators, maintenance crews and managers — was $75,891 in 2015, according to figures published by the New York City Independent Budget Office. Their counterparts at the Long Island Rail Road make an average salary of $95,652.

Average gross pay for the MTA police was $132,803 in 2015, the IBO report shows. The police force, however, accounts for less than 1 percent of the MTA’s entire labor force.

Meanwhile, more than 15 percent of Metro-North employees earned over $150,000 a year, the IBO said.

MTA workers across all divisions make an average of $80,158.

The only divisions earning less than NYC Transit are workers from the MTA Bridges & Tunnel, who earn an average of $71,570, and MTA bus employees, who earn approximately $72,800 a year.

“We don’t want to just keep pace with inflation but get ahead,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said last week. “We don’t want to just tread water but gain ground.”

In addition to salary, the union’s other demands include improved dental care coverage, increases in longevity pay, an ironclad no-layoff clause and more comfortable boots.

“We’d like to get this thing wrapped up at least before the end of the current collective bargaining agreement,” which was a five-year contract that wasn’t fully stipulated until two years into the term, Gannon said.

Tags: TWU 100solidarityContractMTA
Categories: Labor News

UK Tube strike brings manic Monday to commuters in gridlocked London London Underground and rail unions say they are prepared to resume talks after 24-hour walkout closed stations across capital

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 20:52

UK Tube strike brings manic Monday to commuters in gridlocked London
“The truth is that London is on an almost total shutdown,” he said, adding that TfL should come up with “serious and urgent plans”
London Underground and rail unions say they are prepared to resume talks after 24-hour walkout closed stations across capital
London tube strike causes commuter chaos
Gwyn TophamTransport correspondent
Monday 9 January 2017 21.03 GMTFirst published on Monday 9 January 2017 10.50 GMT

London Underground and the rail unions said they were prepared to resume talks later this week over safe staffing levels on the tube, after a day in which millions of commuters were affected by a strike across the network.

Representatives from the TSSA union, who represent station staff, will meet on Wednesday and talks could resume afterwards. The unions have an ongoing mandate from a ballot in the autumn that allows them to call further strikes in the coming weeks, but sources indicated that further industrial action was not expected.

Analysis London Underground strike knocks confidence in capital's new mayor
With TfL’s funding slashed and the promise of a fares freeze to deliver, Sadiq Khan finds himself in a tricky position
Read more
Full tube services will be restored on Tuesday morning, but commuters in London’s suburbs and the south-east are braced for more disruption as train drivers, mainly in the Aslef union, along with some RMTmembers, strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and virtually no trains operating on the Southern network.

Tube stations throughout the centre of the capital were closed by the 24-hour walkout by staff in the TSSA and RMT unions which began at 6pm on Sunday night, leaving commuters to crowd onto trains or attempt to board busy buses slowed by gridlocked roads.

Limited tube services ran in outer zones on the London Underground network that normally carries 4 million passengers a day. Transport for London laid on additional buses, but they did little to alleviate many journeys, with heavy traffic delaying their progress. Many turned to walking or cycling, with almost twice as many bikes from the capital’s cycle scheme hired than normal.

Most national rail services were running into the capital, although Southern remained disrupted by the effects of an overtime ban by train drivers. At one point, Clapham Junction, the country’s busiest interchange on a normal day, was evacuated because of overcrowding.

Blackfriars tube station was closed by the 24-hour strike. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA
TfL said it had run some trains on eight of its 11 tube lines on Monday and opened more than 60% of the stations across the network, but unions accused it of “dangerously exaggerating” the level of service available, leading people to expect to travel and causing overcrowding at stations.

The strike came as a blow to London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, whom Conservatives accused of breaking his campaign pledge to prevent such action. Khan said: “I share the deep frustration of millions of commuters whose journeys have been disrupted, all because of a completely unnecessary strike.

“We’ve made huge progress on addressing this dispute, which began under Boris Johnson, and we are committed to resolving it amicably.

“A good deal, that will ensure station safety and staffing levels across the tube network, remains on offer, and I urge the unions to continue talks. Londoners deserve a resolution to this issue without any further industrial action.”

About 3,700 station staff went on strike, mostly RMT members employed as customer service assistants or supervisors, working in the ticket hall and manning gates and platforms. The strike was part of a continuing row over the impact of ticket office closures and the loss of 900 jobs as part of TfL’s “modernisation” plans brought in by London’s previous mayor, Boris Johnson.

An independent review in the autumn by watchdog London TravelWatch, commissioned by Khan, found that many tube passengers had been adversely affected by the changes, but it did not call for ticket offices to be reopened.

The unions said there were safety fears about the running of the tube, including concerns over overcrowding, monitoring of stations and trains, and the personal safety of staff working alone.

Steve Griffiths, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said: “We had always intended to review staffing levels and have had constructive discussions with the unions. We agree that we need more staff in our stations and have already started to recruit 200 extra staff and this is likely to increase further as we work through the other areas that need to be addressed.

“All of this will ensure that our customers feel safe, fully supported and able to access the right assistance in our stations at all times. We encourage the unions to continue working with us on this process and the only way to resolve this dispute is to keep talking about how to improve our stations.”

Commuters take a shortcut through a construction site during the 24-hour tube strike. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
Manuel Cortes, the TSSA’s general secretary, said that while hiring more staff was a step in the right direction, “200 jobs cannot plug the gaping hole that’s been left in the system by devastating Tory attacks on TfL’s budget”.

In his 2015 spending review, George Osborne, the then chancellor, cut about £700m from TfL’s central government grant until 2020.

Cortes said: “Put quite simply, these levels of cuts are not compatible with a safely run, properly staffed tube and my members are highly anxious about the impact this is having and will continue to have on their ability to keep you safe.”

The RMT leader, Mick Cash, turned his fire on tube bosses for talking up the number of services in operation. “The truth is that London is on an almost total shutdown,” he said, adding that TfL should come up with “serious and urgent plans”, including a schedule for restoring staffing to a safe and sustainable level. The union would remain available for talks to do so, he said.

Tags: UK Tube StrikeRMTTSSA
Categories: Labor News