Union News 17 December 2022


Sunak under pressure to start talking to nurses union

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing pressure from the Labour movement and his own backbenchers to negotiate with nurses and prevent further NHS strikes.

The Tory leader insists that this year’s 4.75 per cent pay deal — less than half 40-year high inflation — is “appropriate and fair,” but four Conservative former ministers have urged him to back down ahead of a second 24-hour walkout in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Mr Sunak and Health Secretary Steve Barclay reiterated their praise for July’s offer, recommended by the “independent” NHS pay review body, despite its remit being set by Downing Street.

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen warned that industrial action would only grow without a change of approach from ministers.

Unions given green light for legal challenge

The High Court has granted permission for the legal challenge – brought by eleven trade unions, coordinated by the TUC and represented by Thompsons Solicitors LLP – to protect the right to strike.

The unions come from a wide range of sectors and represent millions of workers in the UK.

With industrial action taking place across the economy after years of declining real pay and attacks on working conditions, reports suggest the government is considering new ways to restrict workers’ right to strike.

Unions argue that the regulations are unlawful because they violate fundamental trade union rights protected by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady says that “the right to strike is a fundamental British liberty” but “the government seems hellbent on attacking it at every opportunity.”

Unite announce big pay win at Rolls Royce

The Unite union has announced that the workers at Goodwood’s Rolls Royce factory have won the “largest single pay deal in the history of the plant.”

The inflation-busting package, worth 17.6 per cent, will see staff at the site in West Sussex pocket an extra £3,205 a year alongside a one-off payment of £2,000.

Unite General secretary Sharon Graham praised the “top notch pay deal,” saying that it is a testament to the organising efforts of Unite reps at Goodwood and proof that their union’s focus on jobs, pay and conditions is winning for workers.

Staff at the plant build some of world’s most expensive luxury cars and had voted to go on strike during dispute. The Rolls Royce brand is owned by BMW who reported total sales of £13.5 billion in first half of this year.

People with heart and lung problems suffer more from cold homes

1.3 million people living in poverty in private rented homes suffer from a cardiovascular or respiratory condition, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

People with such conditions are more likely to need hospital treatment and to die from the cold, with this risk increasing for people who are too poor to afford to keep warm.

About a fifth of people with such conditions live in poverty, with coastal areas of north-west England worst affected.

Blackpool was found to have the highest proportion of people with cardiovascular or respiratory problems living in poverty (4.6 per cent), while Richmond upon Thames had the least (1.6 per cent).

Commenting on the figures, Asthma and Lung UK director of external affairs Henry Gregg said: “For years, our lungs have been a clear victim of inequality and poverty.”

UK government fails to set-up promised workers’ rights body

The UK government has reportedly shelved plans to introduce an independent body to oversee workers’ rights in the country.

Announced in June 2021, the watchdog was intended to combine the work done by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HM Revenue & Customs’ national minimum wage enforcement team.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, told the House of Commons business committee: “We’ve spent two years plus of this parliament fighting Covid. It may well be with two years left to go that we’re still able to address some of that. But what we’re more interested in is making sure that the bodies that are already there are operating effectively.”

The proposed group formed part of the Conservative manifesto and was a component of proposed revisions to the Employment Bill, which has also fallen by the wayside in 2022.

Episode Notes

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