Industrial Reports

Socialist Voice June 2002

Here are five reports of disputes and/or trade union issues dealt with in the June 2002 issue of Socialist Voice. Anyone who can help in supporting the workers in these disputes should do so. If you've trade union issues/workplace issues ranging from conditions, pay, union recognition, etc. feel free to contact the Socialist Party offices for help and advice.

Airport Security Staff dispute

SOME OF the security staff at Belfast International airport have been suspended and now face the sack - for the crime of striking for a decent wage and proper conditions.

By Terry McDonagh

One worker was suspended following action earlier in the year. Now a further 23 have been suspended following strike action in May. These include the two T&GWU shop stewards who have been leading the dispute.

The workers now earn 5.20 an hour. They get no overtime and no sickness pay. The result - as with all security firms - is that they have to work inhuman hours to make a living. They are demanding an immediate increase to 6 with time and a half for overtime and with a sickness scheme.

The employer is a company called ICTS, a firm that specialises in airport security and has 9,000 employees in 90 locations around the world. It was formed in 1982 by, as its web site boasts: "a select group of Israeli business people, former commanding officers and veterans of government intelligence and security agencies." These people are now using the ruthless approach they learned from the Israeli military into their dealings with their staff.

They boast of the sophisticated techniques and up to the minute technology they use to counter the threat of terror attacks against airlines. Yet all this sophistication is based on poverty wages and nineteenth century conditions for their workers.

The T&GWU must now put its full weight behind these workers. Other workers must also show solidarity. Employers must be shown that they will not get away with sacking workers for exercising their democratic right to go on strike.

And a victory in the airport should be followed with a campaign targeting Securicor, Group 4 and other security

Social Workers dispute

FOR THE first time in its history every NIPSA Branch in Northern Ireland that represents Social Workers is currently being balloted for industrial action over the demand for adequate resources to deal with child care.

By Kevin Lawrenson

The consultation exercise that was undertaken some weeks ago indicated overwhelming support for strike action. Two years ago two branches of NIPSA - North and West Belfast and Foyle - won major victories when they took industrial action and secured significant extra resources for children services in those areas.

The extra injection of funds and extra jobs that were secured only temporarily provided a sticking plaster solution to an every increasing crisis. Despite numerous pleas for a comprehensive package of extra resources the Department has again used the argument of financial constraints as the barrier to proper funding.

The mood of anger however among social workers struggling to provide essential services to both families and children has reached breaking point. Social Workers throughout Northern Ireland have agreed, in the event of the ballot being successful, to strike and stage a major rally and demonstration at Stormont on 19th June. This rally will coincide with a meeting of the Health Committee of the Assembly.

NIPSA members are determined to put pressure on the elected politicians to deliver the claim.

Firefighters pay claim

Firefighters in Northern Ireland are fully behind their union's claim for a rise in basic pay to 30,000 by November 2002 and for equal pay for all staff including those on Retained and Voluntary schemes.

Firefighters work long hours - the basic week is 42 hours. The basic wage is just over 21,000 although many get much less. All this for a hazardous and stressful job that requires four years basic training as well as ongoing training throughout their career. And in Northern Ireland there is the added burden of having to work in riot situations and in areas where both vehicles and personnel are under almost constant attack.

While the FBU have made clear that they would like to "avoid confrontation" if possible the mood of firefighters is that if action is necessary to achieve proper pay for the work they do they will reluctantly have to take it.

AEEU/Amicus and May Day

Over 3000 took part in this year's May Day parade in Belfast. The Socialist Party and Socialist Youth took part, as did most unions. However, there was one exception. For the fourth year running the AEEU (now Amicus) stayed away. In fact the local AEEU officials even went to lengths of placing an ad in local newspapers during the run up to the march calling of members NOT to take part. The reasons for this scandalous decision? First, the memory of the Montupet dispute and the fear that the Montupet workers they sold down the river might once again turn up to embarrass them and, second, the shift of this union even further to the right since then. It is time for AEEU/Amicus members to reclaim their union.

Shimna Integrated College dispute

The dispute over term time working lingers on. As we go to press Classroom Assistants employed by Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle are to be balloted for strike action because the College are trying to renege on the deal that ended term time only working and allowed all staff to choose to go onto 52 week contracts.

Shimna have "shredded" the term time deal because they claim to have a shortfall in their overall annual budget. These Classroom Assistants must be given what all other Classroom Assistants in Northern Ireland have - and anything less is a breach of contract. The local NIPSA branch is discussing intensifying the action against them and a protest may be held at the College during the NIPSA conference.

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