This week in Bristol: More Bristol workers taking strike action

It’s possible that nurses could join postal workers and college staff on the picket line.

In the news this week, workers from different sectors across the city took strike action to demand better pay and conditions in the face of the cost of living crisis and increasingly worrying economic prospects.

Staff affiliated with the University and College Union (UCU) at all City of Bristol College sites have begun a strike. The union says that industrial action of this scale is unprecedented in the further education sector, and that “no acceptable offer has been made” to address staff concerns. They also noted that the college’s communications only reflect the ongoing pay disputes, rather than the wider problems staff are facing around respect and workload. The College has not yet commented.

Bristol postal workers also begin 19 days of strikes this week, which will stretch through October, November and December, including the busy annual consumer event Black Friday. Postal staff of the Communications Workers Union are demanding better salaries and a reversal of cuts to sick pay, and joining numerous other striking workforces around the country.

And in the NHS, there could be the first strike action by nurses ever. This week, a local hospital warned that a “winter of strikes” could be imminent at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW) NHS Trust. 

There is a “growing appetite for industrial action” among Bristol NHS staff, according to chief executive Eugine Yafele. The Royal College of Nurses has announced they’ll be balloting their members, while UHBW say they are “trialling new ways of supporting staff”, but to meet demands further action is needed at government level.

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Your Bristol news round-up

🚧 A burst water main near Greville Smyth Park caused significant turmoil in south Bristol on Thursday, with roads closed overnight into Friday. Homes and businesses across BS3, BS4 and BS5 were left without water, or with low water pressure or discoloured water, until Bristol Water managed to isolate the 30-inch main a few hours later.

🔊 A surprise Fatboy Slim gig at Lakota had to be shut down this week, when partygoers started climbing over the walls trying to get in. Bristolian DJ Eats Everything announced the free, joint gig on Instagram, which even though moved at the last minute from “a south Bristol underpass” to the popular Stokes Croft venue, was quickly oversubscribed.

🏘️ The Chocolate Factory housing development in Greenbank, already pushed back a year during the pandemic, has now been deferred again. The developers, Generator South West, say that the 140-home scheme is now due to be finished in mid-2023, due to “the impact the pandemic had on labour and the supply of materials”.

📣 82-year-old Reverend Sue Parfitt from Bristol was one of the people arrested in London this week, amid further action by Just Stop Oil. Glueing themselves to the road in Westminster to coincide with Liz Truss’ most recent Prime Minister’s Questions appearance, supporters of Insulate Britain joined Just Stop Oil were repeating their demand for the government to cease approving new oil and gas exploration licenses in the UK.

✏️ The council has invited renters to respond to a survey about their experience of renting in the city to inform the work of the Living Rent Commission. Cabinet Member for Housing Tom Renhard said “anyone with experience of renting in Bristol in the last 5 years” can help make a case for greater powers from central government.

🌡️ The ‘warm spaces’ scheme, in which cafes, churches and libraries across Bristol are opening their doors to those struggling to heat their homes, has begun. Several spaces are also providing advice on financial support and offering children homework help.

Solutions and Successes

🔬 Ground-breaking genetic testing for babies, which involves a service that quickly processes DNA samples, has proven successful for a child at Bristol’s Royal Hospital for Children. Baby Reuben recovered after two months of treatment thanks to the new process, which Amanda Pritchard, NHS England chief executive called “a global first”.

🟢 The Bristol Disability Equality Forum is launching an energy and waste reduction project for Disabled people. The project, funded by the National Lottery Climate Action Fund, will include retrofitting the homes of Disabled people, enabling them to access relevant energy schemes, and educating energy researchers on how they can design projects to meet Disabled peoples’ needs.

📚 BBC One’s latest episode of its factual ‘We Are England’ series, ‘The Classroom Revolution’, focuses on the Bristol-based ‘Cargo Movement’. It follows the work of local organisers Lawrence Hoo and Chaz Golding, who provide resources to help update the history curriculum so it better represents people of colour, and focuses less on either erasing or celebrating imperialism.

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