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health and safety

Is Your Cleaning Job Killing You?

Cleaners have a vital role in society, yet their job is poorly paid and routinely dismissed as a job carried out mainly by women to earn a bit of extra cash; cleaning is not generally seen as a particularly physically hard or dangerous job, many people see it as involving a bit of dusting, mopping and hoovering.

Train strike: It’s Not Just About Pushing Buttons

The recent strikes by conductors and train drivers - members of the RMT and ASLEF unions - have been the biggest railway strikes in decades.

As a local, Brighton SolFed has been supporting the local striking members. Our support has been through the attendance of pickets, and organising a benefit gig; to raise money for the local strike fund, and, most importantly, to show solidarity and get workers across industries together.

If you only read media reports, this would seem to be a simple dispute regarding who merely pushes a button to open the train doors.

Really, this is about our safety.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is the company that owns the privatised Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, and Thameslink railway operators.

How we win, not just what we win

I've not got much experience of organising, and I work in an industry where it's rare for people to be unionised (IT). But I did win some small victories at my last workplace (mostly thanks to SolFed's workplace organiser training) and like they say, the best way to learn is by trying! This is a report on two of those victories - blocking an attempt to give us unpaid overtime, and improving health and safety. Things were easier because we were all on permanent contracts and couldn't be replaced quickly, but harder because no-one else had much knowledge of unions or organising and because we worked in a small open-plan office where it was hard to talk without the boss overhearing.

In memory of Cameron Minshull

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre and Families Against Corporate Killers statement on the death of Cameron Minshull, 16, at an engineering company in Bury, Thursday 10th January 2013.

WE are so very sad for Cameron Minshull, who was only 16 years old when he was killed at an engineering company in Bury, where he had worked as an apprentice for only a matter of weeks. We would like to send our condolences to his family who are naturally devastated.

Blacklist Support Group statement on Crossrail

It is a disgrace that public funds are being spent on blacklisting trade unionists on the Crossrail project. 

Workers have been dismissed from the largest construction project in Europe for raising safety concerns about high voltage cables and for joining the UNITE union. For nearly 3 months there have been daily protests about blacklisting on Crossrail and the firms involved have constantly denied that it is taking place.

On Tuesday Ian Kerr, chief officer of the Consulting Association blacklisting organisation told MPs that his members had talked at length about Crossrail during meetings to discuss the list: "An awful lot of discussion took place at Consulting Association meetings about the Crossrail project.'

Workers Memorial Day in Waltham Forest

Members of SolFed who live and work in Waltham Forest attended the Workers Memorial Day rally at Walthamstow Town Hall, the council's administration centre of a borough that saw two deaths last year.

Workers Memorial Day is a day of global action held every April 28th to remember those killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. Waltham Forest Trades Council and Unison Waltham Forest organised two events to mark Workers Memorial Day this year.

UK news in briefs

Government 'war games' against the working class

The Cabinet Office has reportedly been carrying out ‘war games’ to prepare for possible strike action against sweeping cut backs. Plans have centred on ensuring there’s enough scab labour available to break strikes in key sectors. 

Ministers have already suggested they will tighten Britain’s already draconian anti-strike laws in the event significant strike action breaks out. A string of recent strike ballots have been ruled unlawful in the courts, using technicalities to annul majority votes for action. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have threated to further tighten the law “as a last resort” if union bosses don’t co-operate.

Merseyside protest at planned plant closure

Problems at work No.1: Can the boss keep ignoring us?

I work in a textile factory that employs around 30 workers. We have complained to management about low temperatures, the lack of heating and poor ventilation but they ignore us and have threatened to victimise some workers. Some of us are members of a union, but there is no recognition. What are our options?

Whether you are in a recognised union or not, the first step for dealing with a health and safety issue is to establish what the problem is and how it is affecting workers. The best way to do this is for as many workers as possible to meet together to talk about the problems. The boss may immediately try and victimise any workers involved. Decide what, where and how to meet to get organised. Consider what contact you want with the union, if any.

It's Official; poor means skint

A recent government report into poverty paints a depressing picture of inequality in Britain.

The Acheson Report on Health Inequality, set up by New Labour, found that working class people die younger, and suffer more from lung cancer, coronary heart disease, strokes, and suicides than the rich. They also suffer more house vandalism, and their children are less well-fed, despite the fact that their mothers often go without. Children are less likely to have any form of pre-school education, and have less access to child care. Not surprisingly, after this start in life, they do less well at school. The list goes on…

Killing pays

Corporate manslaughter is good for business! Balfour Beatty, who had key rail maintenance contracts which indicate responsibility for the Hatfield train crash, have been rewarded for their lax attitude towards safety by being handed a £125 million contract by Railtrack. This covers Wessex, Kent, Anglia and Great Eastern, and appears intended to make up for the £60m in contracts they have lost since Hatfield. Meanwhile, the manslaughter charges are pending... 

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