News from the rank and file

Anti*Capitalist Resistance provides the latest news from worker struggles up and down the country.

OUP bring to an end a long history of printing in the city of Oxford.

Unite the union blamed the OUP’s increasing use of outsourcing abroad and its failure to take up the government’s furlough scheme as greatly contributing to the closure of the Kidlington site on 27 August with the loss of 20 jobs.

For the first time in its history, none of the output of OUP, which stretches back to the 1660s, will be printed in Oxford.

 “This is the final chapter in a distinguished printing history at the OUP, but we feel that there could have been a different outcome if OUP bosses had not been hell-bent on pursuing their outsourcing agenda and the inexplicable failure to utilise the job retention scheme for the Oxuniprint workers.

“We feel that our members have been badly let down by short-sighted and disloyal decisions of the OUP management towards a dedicated workforce sold out on the altar of outsourcing.

“This decision follows the broader trend of outsourcing currently in progress at OUP. Typesetting work is now done primarily by external suppliers in India and the Philippines, and warehouse storage and distribution has been similarly almost entirely outsourced in the UK since 2019.

“And the recently announced closure of OUP’s warehouse in Cary in North Carolina is also in order to outsource this work to an external supplier.

“There is not much loyalty to the centuries-old printing heritage, and those who have given their working lives to it, in this world-renowned university city.

kevin whiffen (unite regional officer)

General Secretary race heats up as nominations in.

The nomination period closed on 7 June, and the numbers of valid nominations received by each candidate are as follows:

  • Howard Beckett 328
  • Gerard Coyne 196
  • Sharon Graham 349
  • Steve Turner 525

The final total may vary slightly from these figures as outstanding issues regarding the validity of some nominations are resolved. Ballot papers will be dispatched to more than one million Unite members from 5 July, and the result will be declared on 26 August.

Government already failing on ‘levelling up’ agenda says GMB Union

Prime Minister Boris Johnson responding to a question on ‘fire and rehire’ yesterday in Parliament said

“hire and fire should only be used in limited circumstances such as to prevent job losses…when all other options have been exhausted”.

boris johnson

GMB General Secretary Gary Smith responded in a press release with an attack on the Tories failure to level up workers’ rights!

“Thousands of workers across the UK – and their families – have had their lives ruined by fire and rehire bullying.

“The Prime Ministers pathetic responses will give bad bosses carte blanche to use this cruel and archaic practice whenever they see fit.

But the UK Government clearly supports the continued use of fire and rehire, there’s no levelling-up for workers’ rights here.”

gary smith (gmb general secretary)

Pimlico Academy in the news again

On 8 June dozens of teachers from the Pimlico Academy went on strike in anger at being ‘ignored and disrespected’ by the schools senior leadership. The secondary school in London has had a recent troubled past in which a new principle (who subsequently stood down from role) brought in sweeping changes to the culture, seeking to make it more disciplined and traditional, staff say. Students were so upset about the change to their learning environment they instigated a sit-in protest on 31 March. Negotiations between the trust and the union are ongoing, and it is understood further talks with dispute resolution agency Acas will happen on 11 June.

Sparks do it again, rank & file activism at its finest

After 15 weeks of rank & file direct action, two of the biggest contractors in the UK, Balfour Beatty and NG Baileys, have completely capitulated and “permanently withdrawn” all their proposals to deskill the electrical contracting sector. The firm’s new training course and proposed ESO grade at Hinkley have been totally taken off the table for the foreseeable future.

The significance of this dispute cannot be underestimated. Big businesses were attempting to drive through major changes that would have seen huge job losses and pay cuts. Yet despite the anti-union laws, rank and file sparks took the fight to the employers and won. They closed down the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment, occupied company offices, and blockaded major projects across the UK. This is what rank & file union militancy looks like. All credit to the electricians who organised and participated in the actions. True working-class heroes.

There are big attacks looming across the entire UK economy in the near future. The rest of the union movement should learn lessons from this historic victory.

Sparks shutting down over deskilling

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