Bosses are using the pretext of the pandemic to squeeze more profits out of fewer workers. Their latest tactic is to try to “fire and rehire” in order to force workers to accept new contracts under worse conditions. But this is resulting in a fightback - and it’s spreading!
After Xmas, 875 workers at British Airways Cargo, went on strike against “fire and rehire” - and were to strike again for a further 9 days in January, but their first strike was enough to force BA to back down.
This year, 7,000 British Gas workers have struck for 15 days so far, against similar “fire and rehire”, which would have cut pay by around £6,000 a year. Workers on the picket lines have been burning these abject “contracts”!
Then there’s the company which runs Heathrow Airport, HAL, which is trying to cut workers’ pay by 25% - also by imposing new contracts. So 4,000 firefighters, engineers, security guards, baggage handlers, central terminal operators, landside and air-side operators, are all out on strike this month.
After having worked through the entire pandemic, which so far, cost the lives of at least 44 bus drivers in London alone, bus workers in London and Manchester are now fighting attacks on their pay and conditions too. RATP in London wants to cut pay by £2,500/yr and Metroline wants to impose “remote sign-on” which means drivers start and end their shifts at a bus stop, rather than the depot. In Manchester, Go North West bus drivers are preparing an all-out continuous strike from 28 February, also against fire and rehire, and threats to cut 10% of jobs!
Railwayworkers, who’ve also worked through the pandemic, have been threatened with a 2-year pay-freeze - never mind that £10bn has been handed over to private train companies in compensation for “lost profits”!
Workers everywhere face similar attacks. In car plants, bosses are using the pandemic to increase their abuse of agency temps and by cutting jobs, they’re increasing the amount of work for all who remain.
It’s obviously a new offensive by the capitalists. But, as thousands of workers are already showing, fighting back can stop them in their tracks.