‘Mickey Mouse’ scabs endanger safety at Heathrow.

Union News

Striking Heathrow firefighters are being undercut by a privatised strike-breaking outfit from Surrey County Council, the FBU has learned.

The union has slammed the “backhanded” method of strike-breaking, warning that replacement crews will not be sufficiently trained for airport or airplane fires. Unite members have currently suspended strike action after bosses made an improved pay offer.

The strike-breaking unit, South East Business Services, was set up by Surrey County Council over four years ago as a separate local authority trading company. Some firefighters initially signed up to the unit, which came with a £3,000 pay package, but pulled out upon learning that the unit was set up to provide strike cover.

Firefighters in Surrey are not generally trained to provide airport or airplane fire cover, which requires specialist skills. The FBU believes the strike breaking plan is badly thought out and could risk public safety at Heathrow Airport.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is a backhanded act of strike-breaking from Surrey County Council. Airport fire crews are specialists and, quite frankly, this Micky Mouse outfit will not be trained to deal with airplane fires to anywhere near the standard of airport firefighters. They’re playing fast and loose with public safety at an airport, one of the most high-risk locations imaginable.

“Striking Heathrow workers have the full support of the FBU. It is grossly unfair that they be treated so poorly, while executives and shareholders line their own pockets. No one, and certainly no firefighters, should be helping bosses undermine this strike under any circumstance.”

Unite suspended the strikes planned for earlier this week to allow members to vote on a new pay offer, but strike dates are still on the table for later this month.

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Weymouth and Portland – Action on Wages (WeyPAW)

WeyPAW is a community action group who want to give the people of Weymouth and Portland a pay rise. We take action on the streets, in the media and online to help people understand the various problems they have in getting paid properly, as well as the various legally required payments they are entitled to as employees of businesses in and around Weymouth and Portland. These include Statutory Sick Pay and Holiday Pay, but at the very simple, to ascertain whether they are receiving the UK legally mandated Minimum Wage.

Policy Proposals – Discussion

We need:

  • an integrated strategy to tackle poverty wages and failing services in W&P, using public resources in key areas;
  • a commitment by local councils to pay the real Living Wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation;
  • a commitment by local councils to equal pay for women, full in-work benefits, and rights at work – and an undertaking to allocate contracts on this basis;
  • a commitment by local councils to end to zero-hours contracts;
  • a commitment by local councils to publish and pursue active strategies to tackle food, fuel and funeral poverty;
  • a commitment by local councils to ban payday loan companies from council advertising spaces;
  • an audit of jobs in W&P, with the participation of local councils, to identify delinquent (“rogue”) employers who evade full payment of wages and in-work benefits, and/or who impose unnecessary charges on employees;
  • trade union organisation to protect rights at work, especially in low-paid sectors including catering, retail and leisure (holiday camps, hotels, tourism);
  • a new agenda for housing that focuses on unoccupied units, a programme of refurbishment and co-operative ownership and/or rental;
  • an urgent review of health provision with direct involvement of the public;
  • an active, high-profile public campaign for improved public transport by road and rail;
  • a collaborative strategy for public “anchor” institutions that provide full-time jobs, rights at work and a continuing contribution to local communities;
  • a working group to advance plans for a University of Dorset based on campuses at Weymouth and Dorchester.
  • Revised policy proposals will be put to MPs, councillors, and all candidates for office in the Unitary Authority and in the next general election. WeyPAW will ask all candidates for their views and intentions.

See WeyPAW policies at www.weypaw.org and on Facebook. Contact WeyPAW at weypaw@gmail.com