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Security staff are to ballot for industrial action that could see parliamentary business face disruption, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has said.

Members of the union are angry at changes to break times, increased workloads and management's refusal to reinstate a member of staff.

The union also wants the employer to settle two cases involving PCS reps and to end the "culture of fear" that has been created by "overzealous" management.

If members vote in favour, it could see industrial action - including the option of going on strike - as early as March 20th.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The Palace of Westminster needs to pay serious attention to the demands of a key part of the parliamentary workforce.

"Hardworking staff are only asking for what is fair and just. They are not prepared to put up with a culture of fear.

"We urge management to meet with our representatives as a matter of urgency and settle this dispute."

Maritime union RMT will be taking the demands for a fair deal for British workers on Government Brexit ferry contracts direct to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on Friday morning.

RMT will be holding a protest outside the DfT at 10am on Friday 11th January (Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR) setting out the following three core demands on the Government contracts:

1.     All ferries to be fully crewed up with UK ratings‎

2.     Recognition of UK trade unions

3.     UK employment laws to be fully complied with

The RMT protest comes after a slew of publicity around the Seaborne Freight contract awarded at public expense by Chris Grayling and the ongoing dredging of Ramsgate Harbour.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said:

“There has been a barrage of publicity around the Government’s Brexit ferry contracts, and the union has written to both Chris Grayling, who is in control of the arrangements, and the companies involved demanding basic assurances on UK ratings jobs, union recognition and full compliance with UK employment laws.

“RMT has no intention of allowing any backsliding or any stitch-ups of UK seafarers, and that is why we are making our position public with the protest at the Department for Transport on Friday morning. We will not allow the scandal of the Ships of Shame in British waters, where poverty pay below the minimum wage and shocking working conditions are endemic, to roll over to these contracts.

“Under RMT’s SOS2020 campaign banner, we have been fighting for a fair deal and increased employment opportunities across the UK maritime sector. We will taking that message direct to Chris Grayling in the wake of his Brexit contracts on Friday. We expect him, and the companies he has contracted, to meet our demands in full as a matter of urgency.”

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has won a landmark ruling in its dispute with the government over changes made to firefighters’ pensions in 2015. The long and bitter industrial dispute, which included strike action, means that firefighters on the new scheme will have to be put back on the previous pension scheme.

The firefighters’ pension scheme was substantially worsened in 2015, and the FBU argued that the protection imposed on younger members was unlawful on age discrimination grounds. The 2015 changes meant that older members could stay in the existing and better pension scheme, while younger members had to transfer to a new and worse scheme, causing huge financial losses. The FBU initiated over 6,000 Employment Tribunal claims alleging that the changes amounted to unlawful age discrimination.

Under the new scheme, firefighters would not be able to retire before reaching the age of 60. A review commissioned by the coalition government agreed, that in the best case, 23% of current firefighters won’t be able to maintain the required level of fitness until 60, while in the worst case, 92% will not be able to do so. If members chose to retire early, at the former pension age of 55, firefighters in England would see their pension reduced by 21.8%.

Matt Wrack, general secretary, said:

“We are delighted that we have won and our arguments have been vindicated by the Court of Appeal. This result is thanks to the resilience and fortitude of our members – it’s a great Christmas present to thousands of firefighters.

“The attacks were a disgraceful robbery from hardworking firefighters. The Tory/Lib Dem government took no notice of the detailed evidence we provided about the specific nature of firefighters’ work.

“An occupational pension should be based on the realities of that occupation. The government ignored this. They then introduced transitional protection arrangements which were not agreed with firefighters. We have fought a long and arduous legal battle to show that these transitional arrangements were unfair and discriminatory.

“The government has wasted taxpayers’ money on this legal case. The government must now take swift and tangible action to address this unlawful policy.”

THE FIREFIGHTERS' DILEMMA

TUCG: MARK SERWOTKA ON THE FIGHT AGAINST AUSTERITY

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