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A 72-hour strike by London tube workers employed by Tubelines started at 4pm on 24 April. The transport union RMT members are fighting to be allowed to join Transport for London's (TfL) pension scheme and to benefit from the same travel concessions as other TfL workers.
There was a four-to-one vote for strike action by the workers, who are responsible for both maintenance and upgrade work on the Jubilee line, Northern line and Piccadilly line. They also provide a number of services across the network including the Emergency Response Unit.
More than 100 Belfast bus drivers, members of Unite, have forced their bosses to reinstate a driver after an unofficial walkout. When the workers heard over their internal radios that a fellow driver had been suspended for allegedly damaging the handle of a ramp for disabled passengers, they drove their buses to city hall in protest, where they were joined by GMB members.
After assurances from management that the driver had been removed from suspension, they resumed the service, after scoring an important and quick victory.
Unite members working in libraries in Greenwich, south east London, are striking for four days from 27 April. A further strike is planned for 11 May. The workers are protesting at plans to transfer the libraries to Greenwich Leisure Limited, with a consequent threat to the pay, jobs and working conditions of the library staff.
Two dozen teachers at Swinton Comprehensive School, near Rotherham, members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) took one day strike action on 17 April, to oppose compulsory redundancies arising from a £800,000 deficit. The new Head's "robust recovery plan" included the potential for eight teachers to lose their jobs.
Seven teachers have avoided redundancy, but the Head still wants to get rid of the Special Educational Needs Coordinator.
So the NUT members voted by 93% in favour of strike action.
The three-year pay agreement signed by BT and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) in 2010 provided for talks to be re-opened if the inflation rate in November 2011 was higher than 3.2%. BT has offered a one-off £250 unconsolidated payment which the CWU leadership couldn't accept quickly enough. There will be no membership ballot so there is no opportunity for members to register any opposition.
Industrial action was never considered. Socialist Party members and others on the left were in favour of threatening to disrupt TV coverage of the Olympic Games which can't happen without BT engineers.
A new leadership is urgently needed in the CWU telecoms section.
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Article dated 25 April 2012
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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