YESTERDAY striking Serco workers from Bart’s NHS Trust, striking BA mixed fleet cabin crew, and striking Bank of England workers marched and picketed the Serco shareholders meeting at 8am, the Civil Aviation Authority at 11am and finally the Bank of England at 1pm.
Their struggles are for wage rises and express the real interests of the whole UK working class which has seen its wages and standard of living slashed since the 2008 banking crash, while the rich have proceeded to get very much richer.
Serco workers are fighting for 30p an hour more, and are also demanding that Serco be sacked by the NHS and that they be employed in-house by the NHS, and enjoy the same conditions of service as all NHS workers do under the Agenda for Change agreement.
They are experiencing massive support from the working class, despite the fact that Unison members are currently breaking their strike. The BA mixed fleet cabin crew are literally cheap labour slaves, the product of a dirty deal by the Unite leadership to end the previous BA cabin crew strike action in 2010.
This established that after 2010 all British Airways new cabin crew employees join what is called a ‘mixed fleet’, where despite promises that pay would be 10 per cent above the market rate, basic pay starts at just £12,192 with £3-an-hour flying pay. Unite estimates that on average ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew earn £16,000, including allowances, a year.
The Civil Aviation Authority was the next port of call for the three groups of strikers to protest at the ‘wet lease’ of nine Qatar Airways’ aircraft to scab on the striking British Airways’ mixed fleet cabin crew!
The cabin crew are not just fighting BA they are also battling against the allies of BA, the Qatari feudalists who do not recognise any kind of trade unionism. The mixed fleet cabin crew are determined to win their struggle for a wage that they can live on and yesterday announced, on their 58th strike day, a further two weeks of strike action from Wednesday 16th August to Wednesday 30th August, including the August Bank Holiday.
Meanwhile, Unite is pursuing legal action on behalf of mixed fleet cabin crew who have been sanctioned for taking strike action in the long-running dispute. Sanctions have included the removal of bonuses worth hundreds of pounds in addition to travel concessions.
Also as part of the dispute Unite has launched legal action against the government’s decision to give the go-ahead to the Qatari strikebreakers. The third call, at 1pm was at the Bank of England where a rally was held to support workers who have been forced to strike for the first time for 50 years!
The dispute centres on the imposition of a derisory below-inflation pay offer and the refusal of management to engage in meaningful negotiations with Unite over the pay deal for the second year running. Today sees the final day of a three-day strike by workers in maintenance, parlours and security departments.
The Bank of England which provided £1.3 trillion during the banking crash to save the UK big banks from going bust, and has been pursuing a policy of Quantitative Easing to provide further billions of loans, cannot afford a puny amount of cash to provide their employees with a wage that they stand a chance of living on.
It is clear that these three strike actions are only the beginning of a major strike wave as the working class battles to keep the wolf from the door. These strikers have the support of the whole of the working class. The union support cannot be limited to strike days and a few legal actions. The whole of the working class must be brought into the fight.
First of all the Unison trade union must be told that its members cannot act as strike breakers at Serco and that such strike breaking must stop. Then Unite must support its members’ call that Serco be sacked and all of its worforce be brought in-house into the NHS on the conditions laid down by Agenda for Change.
It must then call a national day of action in support of the three strike actions and mount a million-strong demonstration to parliament on that day. With masses of workers on the move the TUC can be made to call a general strike to beat the bosses by bringing down the Tories and bringing in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies and expropriate the bosses.