Click on the image to hear podcast
In this edition of Union News we look at predictions about the UK cost-of-living crisis, the first national rail strike by rail cleaners, the restoration of the whip by the Scottish National Party to the disgraced MP ‘Groper Grady’, a big win for Merseyside bin workers and firefighters pay.
UK cost-of-living crisis predicted to continue despite end of double-digit inflation
According to the Resolution Foundation, in 2023, the UK can expect to see an end to double-digit inflation, but many families’ incomes are predicted to fall by as much as they did in 2022 due to rising energy bills, tax bills, and mortgage payments. Low-income families are three times more likely to lack confidence in their financial situation over the next three months, according to a YouGov survey. The Foundation attributes this to the precarious employment conditions that exist in sectors that have been privatized or deregulated, leading to a general reduction in wages. To address this, the Foundation suggests that the government regulate energy prices, raise benefits and pensions, end pay constraints in the public sector, and impose windfall taxes on profits. However, it is uncertain whether these measures would be implemented by the current Tory government or a potential Labour administration.
UK railway cleaners to launch first national strike on New Year’s Eve
Railway cleaners in the UK will go on strike for the first time on New Year’s Eve, demanding a wage of £15 per hour, sick pay, decent holidays, and pensions. The industrial action, led by transport union RMT, will involve more than 1,000 contracted-out cleaners at private contractors for several rail operators, including Avanti West Coast, GWR, LNER, and TransPennine Express. ISS cleaners on London’s Dockland Light Railway will also strike over pay, rosters, and working conditions. The strikes follow the suspension of planned action last week and come amid a lack of progress in the dispute.
SNP restores party whip to MP found to have sexually harassed teenage employee
The SNP has restored the party whip at Westminster to Patrick Grady, a former chief whip who was found to have sexually harassed a teenage party employee. Grady had resigned from the party last summer following the ruling by the Commons authorities, but the SNP’s member conduct committee only imposed a six-month suspension of his party membership, which has now expired. Grady has therefore had his membership of the SNP reinstated and regained the SNP Westminster group whip. This move has prompted criticism of the party’s handling of the issue and its commitment to taking such issues seriously. Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, said: “The SNP are ‘woke’ in their speeches but act tribally to protect their own. Mr Grady was given, in effect, a slap on the wrist. What kind of message does this send out to others? It’s amazing that this is still happening after MeToo.”
Merseyside refuse workers win pay increase following strike action
Refuse workers in Merseyside, England, have won a pay increase of 15% after going on strike earlier this month. The deal, which covers more than 200 workers employed by Biffa on an outsourced contract for Wirral Council, will be backdated to April and includes a commitment to boost pay again in April 2023 by between 7% and 9% depending on inflation rates. The pay increase was secured through the efforts of the workers’ trade union, Unite.
Firefighters in UK paid up to six times less than their bosses, says union
Firefighters in the UK are paid up to six times less than their bosses, according to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). Freedom of Information requests revealed that chief fire officers earned an average of £148,000 per year, with the highest salary being £206,000. This is significantly more than the salary of an ordinary firefighter. The FBU also reported that after a decade of below- or at-inflation pay settlements, many firefighters and control staff are relying on foodbanks and taking on additional jobs to make ends meet. The union is currently holding a ballot on whether to go on strike over pay, after rejecting a 5% pay offer. The result of the ballot will be announced on today.
Union News brings you news of the UK union and labour movement. We can’t rely on the UK media to give unbiased accounts on these issues. Please support Union News by sharing links and following us on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Amazon Music and YouTube. Thanks for your support in building the counter media. If you have news to share please get in touch.
Our music is provided by Tim Bragg. Tim is a multi-instrumentalist & singer-songwriter. You can hear his songs here: – or any streaming service or on YouTube.
If you have news, video footage, pictures etc that you want featured in Union News please email: UnionNewsServices@protonmail.com