Oil and gas workers at state giant Equinor are on strike in Norway, the largest producer of oil and gas in Western Europe. The strike is escalating Europe’s natural-gas crisis a week before a key pipeline with Russia shuts for maintenance. Benchmark Dutch natural gas futures surged 10% on Monday on news of the strike in Norway.
Operator Equinor has initiated a shutdown of three fields in the North Sea as a result of the strike, the company said on Tuesday.
The striking workers are demanding wage increases to deal with rising inflation, which hit 5.7% in May — the highest since 1988, according to Norway’s statistics agency.
The strike that has started on Tuesday is expected to cut Norway’s gas production by 13% from Wednesday. Norway supplies 20% to 25% of EU and UK’s natural-gas demand, according to Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.
Over 10,000 John Deere union employees are going on strike after failing to conclude a collective bargaining agreement. UAW is stating the the company would not come to an agreement over pay, retirement benefits, and improvements in working conditions for the workers.
“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, Vice President of UAW Agricultural Implement Department.
Kellogg workers across the United States are striking in response to a reduction of benefits and cost-of-living wage increases. The company has also proposed moving production lines from the U.S. to Mexico and implementing a two-tiered employment system.
According to the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America representing the workers, the proposed system would have new hires making less in wages and would not have the ability to receive a pension. Also, 30% of the current workforce would pay higher costs for healthcare and would lose access to retirement benefits.
As Striketober continues to grow, unions are taking up the fight against the two-tier wage system. To put an end to the divisions between generations of workers and ensure equal pay for equal work, it is essential that unions continue this fight until they win.
At the picket lines of striking Kellogg’s workers, sign after sign read the same slogan: “equal pay for equal work.” It is a sentiment a number of workers described to us when we asked them what they’re fighting for. They stressed that they’re fighting against a two-tier system that has divided workers since their last contract was implemented six years ago. They spoke of how unfair it is that more recently hired workers doing the same work alongside older workers on the production line make significantly less in wages and benefits. While senior Tier 1 workers get to choose whether or not they do overtime, overtime hours are forced upon Tier 2 workers in chronically understaffed facilities, many of whom are forced to work 16-hour days, seven days a week. At a rally at the Lancaster ticket in Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 9, a worker, Andrew Johnson, described how Kellogg’s hired new workers with the promise of higher pay and the same benefits that Tier 1 workers get. Yet, after joining, they soon saw how empty those promises were, as there were little to no opportunities for Tier 2 workers to advance. Now, faced with new contract negotiations, Kellogg’s workers are emphatically declaring their solidarity with their more junior coworkers and their right to earn equal pay for equal work. It is a fight they all see as their own.
In a recent opinion piece for the Guardian, economist and former secretary of labor Robert Reich posits that the United States is in the midst of an “unofficial strike.” Responding to the bourgeois media and economists’ panic over the U.S. Department of Labor’s September jobs report — which showed the lowest number of jobs added for all of 2021 and an increasing number of workers dropping out of the workforce — Reich explains that the hiring challenges facing many industries results from the fact that more and more workers are “reluctant to return to or remain in their old jobs mostly because they’re burned out” and are holding out for better prospects.
While conservatives wring their hands over how big government spending on benefits is incentivizing people not to return to work now that the bosses and politicians decided the pandemic is over, Reich offers another explanation for the “labor shortage.” Pointing to high numbers of workers quitting their jobs each month, and to the numbers of people “in their prime working years” leaving the workforce entirely, Reich sees these trends as a sign that after a year and a half of pandemic lockdowns, layoffs, lack of childcare, and increased precarity, workers are less willing to accept the low wages, inadequate or nonexistent “benefits,” and long hours their employers offer. This is particularly evident in the tourism and logistics sectors, such as hotel work and trucking, both of which report hiring difficulties and are not rebounding as fast as economists predicted. He writes:
Over 1,100 workers have been on strike since April 1 at Warrior Met Coal plant in Brookwood, Alabama. They are demanding that the company respect workers and reverse some of the anti-worker measures imposed by the company’s new owners in the name of bankruptcy, such as wage cuts, loss of paid sick leave, loss of holidays, increased health care costs and more. Despite intimidation, the workers continue their their brave struggle for dignity.
IN PICTURES: Tens of millions of workers shut down the country in what is believed to be the largest labor action the world has seen.
The working class of India struck back hard on Friday in a nationally coordinated labor action led by the Center of Indian Trade Unions. The historic work stoppage is by far the largest strike the country—and possibly the world—has ever seen, and reflects a high degree of class-conscious militancy on the subcontinent.
Central and local unions across the country kicked off the mass demonstration 6 a.m. on Friday local time.Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)