Train drivers in the Aslef union took their 6th day of strike action today against attacks to their pensions by employer East Midlands Trains. In Nottingham, the strike has been 100% solid meaning that trains have been cancelled, with the few that are running been driven by managers!
East Midlands Trains are planning to lower both the employer and employee contributions to the pension scheme, meaning that it will be worth less. Aslef estimates that this will give the company a £2.1m windfall until the next valuation in 2013.
This short term view of the pension scheme by East Midlands Trains is because they may not be running the franchise in a couple of years. Aslef members are striking to protect the current pensions scheme.
Aslef have been trying to resolve this with the employer for nearly a year but East Midlands Trains are refusing to listen.
RMT (the rail workers union) have today started balloting for strike action by their members on East Midlands Trains. There is the possibility of co-ordinated action between these two unions, and possibly UNITE, in the near future.
I spoke to local Aslef rep at Nottingham station, Andy, who said:
“We’ve had a lot of support from both the public and the RMT members in the station. I think people understand that we are just trying to defend the pensions we’ve worked hard for. Our conference raised £1200 for our fighting fund and we also received a donation from the RMT.
“East Midlands Trains are trying to divide us but it won’t work. We’re hoping for co-ordinated action to push them back and defend everybody’s pensions.”
On 25 April, NUT staff at Bilborough College Nottingham took strike action against cuts to frontline teaching services.
This is the latest in a string of strikes by teachers in Nottingham because the city council wants to move to a five-term year. Teachers have been striking for one day each week for the last three weeks, with large protests in the city centre.
Socialist Party member Helen Pattison interviewed local NUT rep Diane Fletcher. She said that last year the teachers had agreed to a temporary increase of 10% in workload. This was the equivalent of half an A-Level group extra. This took time away from supporting students and one-to-one contact time.
Now the 10% increase in workload is being made permanent and management are refusing to negotiate.
Diane hoped they wouldn’t have to take more strike action in the future but also said that they needed to win the fight against these cuts which would be damaging to both teachers and students.
They will be escalating their action to two days. Parents meetings are also being planned across the city to support the teachers.
Over 200 striking teachers protested in Nottingham city centre on Thursday against the city council’s plans to impose a 5-term year. This is despite a consultation which resulted in the majority of school staff, governors and pupils opposing the changes. And now teachers are being told to accept new contracts or face being sacked!
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is against the proposal because it will mean longer terms and shorter holidays which will be worse for staff and children.
The strike was voted for by nearly 90% of NUT members on a turnout of over 50% and meant that two-thirds of the city schools were closed or partially closed.
The Labour council is arguing that children have nothing to do during the long summer holiday. But, as Jean Thorpe from the city council Unison branch pointed out when she spoke at the rally, if they care about this so much, why are they cutting youth and play services this year?
This is just another in a long line of attacks being made on public sector workers and ordinary people in Nottingham. The Socialist Party supports action to stop these attacks. We do not accept that cuts are necessary and demand that the Labour councillors in Nottingham stand up to the Tories and refuse to pass them on!
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, also spoke at the rally giving support nationally for the dispute.
There are two days of strike action planned for next month if the council don’t back down. The other teacher unions ATL and NASUWT are also undertaking ballots for action on this issue. Given the success of the first day of action, teachers in Nottinghamare determined to fight until they win.