Boris bikes strike
WORKERS employed to maintain the “Boris bikes” scheme and make sure there are enough bikes and enough empty docking places where they are needed took strike action for 48 hours last week over wages and employment conditions.
The RMT transport union says the workers are “being kicked from pillar to post” and that they are being bullied by staff.
The strike follows a unanimous vote for action by RMT workers on the flagship bicycle rental scheme – which is operated by the services giant Serco and Barclays bank.
Serco refuses to recognise the RMT. The union says it is challenging the imposition of a two per cent pay increase for 2013, changes to shift patterns and what officials say is the “continuous bullying and harassment” of staff as well as the company’s refusal to reach a formal agreement on travelling time or on travel allowances.
Last June Serco changed shift patterns for workers after a barrage of complaints from the public over a shortage of docking spaces to park the bikes at the end of their rental period.
Union negotiators say they have been unable to make significant progress in talks with the employers.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “By voting 100 per cent for strike action RMT members sent out the clearest message to Serco Barclays, the scheme operators, that they are serious about this fight for justice on pay and working conditions on the London cycle scheme.”
London University bans protests
THE UNIVERSITY of London – the largest in Britain – has told its students they face legal action if they take part in protests at any of the university’s sites.
This follows recent student protests calling for equal working conditions for the university’s staff.
One student was arrested last month after chalking a slogan on the pavement in front of the institution's Senate House building in Bloomsbury.
The university, which consists of 19 self-governing colleges, sent a letter to the student union (ULU) warning of future prosecution if students dared protest on university property.
"The University’s management is no longer willing to tolerate demonstrations in Senate House, the cloister entrance and the East and West car-parks," the letter read. "If this policy is not followed then the University will consider protesters to be trespassing on University property and will take all the necessary legal measures to prevent and prosecute such trespass."
Michael Chessum, president of the ULU, said the decision was "outrageous", and that the letter "threatened" students.
"Will the institution really sink so low as to seek the prosecution of any more members of the University community?" he asked in a public response to the university. "If it does, it will be to its eternal disgrace.”
The City of London last week ordered an advertising company to stop using its high-tech street rubbish bins to spy on passers-by. The bins follow Wi-Fi signals and capture smartphone serial numbers. And sell the data to marketing companies.
Renew installed 200 bomb-proof bins with built-in Wi-Fi and digital screens inside London’s Square Mile during and after the 2012 Olympic Games.
The firm initially offered to place advertisements and financial information on its “pods.” But in June, the agency started testing the bins’ wireless potential, subsequently launching a smartphone-tracking campaign.
The company’s “ORB” technology scanned the streets for smartphones, identifying the manufacturer of every device through unique media access control (MAC) addresses. It also detected the owner’s “proximity, speed and duration” of stay.