strikes

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Workers up for a fight against ‘progressive’ council

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/05/2022 - 2:56pm in

Tags 

unions, strikes, unions

Council workers and community supporters rallied outside Brunswick Town Hall in Melbourne on Wednesday to demand workers employed by Moreland City Council get a fair pay rise.

The protest was part of united campaign of industrial action from blue and white-collar council workers including librarians, cleaners, garbos, childcare workers, community support workers and home-care workers—members of the Australian Services Union (ASU).

Starting at 3am, garbage workers launched the one-day strike, which followed two weeks of bans, with effective picketing at their depot in Hadfield. They reportedly blocked every gate, preventing scab contractors from entering. Library workers also walked out of work to join the rally.

The rally was addressed by ASU state secretary Lisa Darmanin, workplace delegates and other workers, as well as socialist councillor Sue Bolton and Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary and local resident Luke Hilakari.

Moreland Council workers have not received a wage rise in more than two years. Management’s original offer in enterprise agreement negotiations was 1 per cent a year, since raised to 2 per cent, even though inflation is running at 5.1 per cent. Management also wants to lock workers into a four-year deal.

The ASU claim is for a pay rise of at least 3 per cent but rank-and-file workers who addressed the rally called for a pay rise that, at minimum, would maintain their living standards against inflation. 

Value

Darmanin highlighted that Moreland was “one of the most progressive councils in metropolitan Melbourne” (out of 11 councillors, four are Greens and two are socialists) yet it didn’t value its workers.

The rally chair said Greens councillors had refused to back the council workers publicly, stating that the decision to grant them a pay rise was an “administrative matter” for the CEO.

The Greens issued a statement supporting union rights and the right to strike but noting “the Local Government Act prohibits councillors from directly engaging in council enterprise bargaining negotiations”. Yet both socialist councillors attended the stopwork rally.

The Greens’ abstention is a missed opportunity. Public support from Greens, Labor and socialist councillors could put pressure on the Moreland CEO—and by extension could challenge the chronic underfunding of council services.

Darmanin criticised the Andrews state Labor government for imposing a rate cap on councils that limit their ability to raise funds. But ratepayers don’t need to be played off against council workers.

Federal grants to councils have declined from 1.2 per cent of Commonwealth revenue in 1993-94 to 0.61 per cent in 2015-16. 

In 1975, public libraries were funded 50:50 by state and local government. Victorian government library funding is now down to just 17 per cent.

Council workers and ratepayers are both feeling the squeeze in low wages and underfunded services.

Essential

A library delegate who addressed the rally highlighted the council’s hypocrisy, saying: “How quickly we went from essential to expendable.”

Several other library workers spoke. One said: “We risked our health and our safety to come in and deliver for the community” during the pandemic, revealing that she’d caught COVID at work.

“We care about our community. We don’t want to strike. We asked nicely for the conditions that are completely reasonable and the council said ‘No’ without an explanation, blaming this rate cap when they have millions of dollars in surplus.”

Another rank-and-file worker highlighted the power of workers taking industrial action. “What we are doing today is working! At the very start of negotiations, we were told ‘We would not budge’. Our actions made management budge.”

She added: “We are not just here as librarians, who have seen immense support from all of our patrons, we are here for our peers in cleansing, in aged care, child care, kindergarten, community care. We are here for all council staff across the state and all workers everywhere.”

A long-time Moreland garbage depot worker called on the council to live up to its previous statements that its workers were “their best asset”.

Struggle

Councillor Bolton expressed solidarity with the workers’ struggle and highlighted how important every instance of workers taking action was, in the face of severe anti-union laws.

She argued that workers’ living standards had declined, not just because of the pandemic or the more recent ongoing war in Ukraine, but as the longer-term result of anti-union, anti-strike laws.

Meanwhile, the council had accumulated millions in surplus. This should be spent on giving workers the pay rise they deserve.

This sentiment was echoed by Luke Hilakari, who pledged Trades Hall’s full support for the struggle.  

The ASU is encouraging members and community supporters to attend the next Moreland Council meeting on Wednesday 11 May at Coburg.

If the claim is not met, members will walk out again the following day.

By Tom Fiebig

The post Workers up for a fight against ‘progressive’ council appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Turkey: The Trade Unions Are An Obstacle To All Workers' Struggles

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 20/02/2022 - 4:10am in

image/jpeg icondisk-protest.jpg

In our last article we mentioned the strikes that sprang up in many sectors. Workers in the Alpin Socks factory, BBC Turkey and Trendyol have already gained from their strikes; other strikes are still ongoing.

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Turkey: Workers are Trying to Find Their Own Voice All Over the World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 04/02/2022 - 11:03pm in

image/jpeg iconyemeksepeti-strike.jpg

As in the rest of the world, the deepening crisis of capitalism plus the pandemic continue to affect the working class in Turkey. In recent months out-of-control inflation has brought endless exorbitant price rises which have deepened the financial difficulties of the working class. With the pandemic came extremely high rent rises. In this situation where basic nutrients double their price every day, the effects of the 125% rise in electricity bills have also been a heavy blow. In Turkey, people pay one quarter of the minimum wage on electricity bills alone.

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USA: Two Years of Strikes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/02/2022 - 11:54pm in

Tags 

USA, strikes

image/jpeg iconjohn-deere-strike.jpg

The past two years in the US have seen an increase in the numbers of strikes.

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No strike wave in 2021

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/01/2022 - 8:06am in

There was a lot of enthusiastic talk about a wave of labor militancy last year—remember “Striketober”? With the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary data for December out—it will be slightly revised next month, but not by much—we can now look at the full year in historical perspective. It was a quiet year, even by recent standards.

First, the number of “stoppages” involving 1,000 workers or more.*

Stoppages yearly through 2021

There were about half as many major strikes in 2021 as there were in 2018 (the year of the teachers’ strikes) and 2019 (which included a five-week strike against GM), and nothing compared to the pre-Reagan decades.

Comparing the number of workers involved in strikes to the labor force yields even less impressive results: 0.02% of total employment, a sixteenth as much as in 2018 and less than a hundredth the average of the 1950s. Even the 1990s, hardly a decade known for class struggle, saw eleven times the share of the workforce walking out.

Share of workers on strike

Yet another view: what the BLS calls, with a touch of moralism, “days of idleness” expressed as a percent of total hours worked. Again, the line is almost indistinguishable from the x-axis, so close it is to 0—0.002%, to be precise.

Idleness yearly through 2021

Here’s a closeup of the idleness measure since 2000 using monthly data. That blip on the right is what was called “Striketober,” even by bourgeois outlets like NPR. Hours of “idleness” during October 2021 were a quarter as many as in October 2019, the month of the strike against GM.

Idleness monthly 2000-2021

I’d love nothing more than a strike wave and an upsurge of militancy. It’s just not here yet.

* Two data notes: First, the BLS combines strikes and employer lockouts because exact causes can be hard to tell apart. And second, whenever I write these up, people say there are lots of smaller strikes that fall under the 1,000-worker limit. There aren’t really. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) used to publish data on smaller strikes, in an extremely user-unfriendly form. I wrote about that data in 2018 and they followed the same pattern as the larger strikes. The FMCS stopped updating the data in the early Trump years and the historical data has disappeared from their website.

Cartoon: Kellogg's corp. flacks

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/12/2021 - 9:50am in

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Striking Kellogg's Workers: Don't Settle for Crumbs!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/12/2021 - 3:03am in

image/jpeg iconkellogg-placard-2.jpg

Leaflet distributed by the IWG during the Kellogg's strike in Lancaster, PA.

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USA: "Striketober", An Unprecedented Wave of Strikes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/12/2021 - 2:55am in

image/jpeg iconstrike.jpg

The United States has experienced a wave of strikes on a scale rarely seen since 1968. All over the country, workers, exhausted by the Covid-19 pandemic, are demanding improvements in their working conditions. Driven by the rise in the cost of living, these thousands of workers are putting pressure on their bosses to grant them wage increases. This encompasses every sector of the economy.

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