Labour bites

LA teachers strike ends in victory

After a six day strike United Teachers Los Angeles have struck a deal which will allow a return to work in the USA’s second largest school district. The deal was announced following a mammoth 21-hour bargaining session ending before dawn.

Clashes over pay, class sizes and support staff levels in the district with 640,000 students led to its first strike in 30 years and thousands of teachers attend a union rally in downtown Los Angeles mid January, determined to build on the Red4Ed movement that began last year in West Virginia and moved to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado and Washington state.

Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said the 30,000 members would now vote and he expected approval. A union summary of the agreement called it 'historic' and urged teachers to vote yes to ratify.

The deal was broadly described by officials at the news conference as including a 6% pay hike and a commitment to reduce class sizes over four years. Specifics provided later included the addition of more than 600 nursing positions over the next three school years. Additional counsellors and librarians were also part of the increase in support staff. (Source: The Star)

Union leaders arrested

A Zimbabwean union leader who backed a nationwide strike over fuel price hikes was arrested in Harare on Monday, a lawyers’ group said, in a mounting crackdown by authorities. “ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions) Secretary General Japhet Moyo was arrested at Robert Mugabe International Airport,” Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights group, told AFP.

Moyo appeared on a video clip posted on the ZCTU’s Twitter account last week urging workers to stay away from their jobs in protest at the more than doubling of fuel prices. He is the latest of a list high profile activists arrested after the strike turned into nationwide protests with some rioting and looting.

He is in custody on charges of subverting the government and inciting violence, apparently after backing the national strike on social media.

At least 12 people were killed and 78 treated for gunshot injuries over the last week, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, which recorded more than 240 incidents of assault and torture. (Source: IOL)

Final Ausies crews return home

Workers from the last two Australian crewed iron ore ships have started arriving home after BHP ended contracts with their employer. A total of 68 from MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance are expected to return home in the coming weeks.

“Earlier this month the crew of both vessels were informed that BHP and BlueScope had decided, without consultation, to immediately axe their last remaining Australian crewed iron ore vessels,” the Maritime Union of Australia said in a statement on Thursday.

“The decision brought to an end more than 100 years of Australian seafarers carrying iron ore for BHP.” It is understood the workers will be replaced with non Australian employees.

“No decision has been made regarding the continued employment of the crew, and the company is examining whether there are redeployment opportunities,” Teekay Shipping said in a statement.

“Should any member of the crew be made redundant they will receive their entitlements under their respective enterprise agreements.” (Source: The Australian)

Equal pay deal for Scottish women

More than 8000 Glasgow City Council workers staged a 48 hour strike and march over the issue of equal pay for women last October after it was revealed some women were paid up to £4000 a year less than male counterparts.

Council bosses have now made U-turn on threat to sue union GMB over wildcat strikers during women’s equal pay protest in Glasgow and reached an in-principle agreement with the Union on fair pay and compensation.

It is understood around 14,000 equal pay claims will be settled in the group payout of around £500m.

Welcoming the news, GMB Scotland Organiser Hazel Nolan said: “This is a significant moment and is recognition of the value of women in this city, brought about by the women themselves understanding their own value and fighting for it together”.

“What is important now is that the claimants and their families can have confidence in this agreement and in the process of delivery in the coming weeks and months.” (Source: The Sun Scotland)

Compiled by John Quessy