Welcome to Union News, the weekly podcast which brings you news from the Trade Union and labour movement. Music is by Tim Bragg. We start this week with footage from the great May Day Parade in Belfast.
May Day parades see big turnouts
May Day 2023 saw several trade union parades taking place across the UK, with thousands of workers participating in the events. The parades were held in various cities including London, Glasgow, Manchester, and Belfast, to name a few.
The May Day parades have a rich history, with roots dating back to the late 19th century when workers’ rights were being fought for. The day is celebrated in many countries around the world as a day to recognize and honor the contributions of workers to society.
In the UK, the day has taken on additional significance in recent years as workers face ongoing challenges such as low wages, insecure employment, and job losses. The parades serve as a platform for workers to voice their concerns and to demand better working conditions and fair pay.
The trade union movement has played a crucial role in protecting workers’ rights and has been instrumental in securing improvements in pay and working conditions. The parades provide an opportunity for trade unions to showcase their strength and solidarity and to demonstrate that they will continue to fight for workers’ rights.
The events were peaceful, and there were no reports of any significant disturbances. The police were present to ensure the safety of participants and spectators. The parades were also an opportunity for workers to come together and celebrate their achievements and to show that they are a vital part of society.
Over 130,000 Civil Servants Strike Against Government’s ‘Ideological War’ on Employees
Over 130,000 civil servants went on strike in protest against the government’s treatment of its employees regarding pay, jobs, and conditions. The strike affected 132 government departments and included passport office workers, tax inspectors, and benefits staff. The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) accused the government of waging an “ideological war” on civil servants and highlighted the lowest pay offer of all public-sector workers. PCS leaders cited the government’s bullying culture and treatment of its workforce as indicative of their broader attitude towards civil servants. The strike action continues next week in several government departments, including the Department for Work and Pensions and the Care Quality Commission, with further strikes planned across the public sector.
Education Unions Announce Unprecedented National Strike Action Over Pay and Funding Cuts
Four education unions in England have announced plans to coordinate national strike action over real-terms school funding cuts, crippling workloads, and plummeting take-home pay. The National Education Union (NEU) and NASUWT, alongside school leaders’ unions NAHT and ASCL, are set to send a clear signal to the Tory Education Secretary that their dispute is not going away. Strike action by NEU members on Thursday is set to continue next Tuesday and could escalate as the other three unions have announced their intention to ballot members this summer. The NEU had no choice but to act after the government did nothing to settle the long-running dispute, with 98% of its members rejecting the Department for Education’s latest “insulting” below-inflation wage offer in a recent ballot. Strikes in Scotland and Wales have been avoided following much-improved salary deals from devolved SNP and Labour ministers.
And finally, FBU urges Scottish and Welsh ministers to resist anti-strikes Bill
Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack has called on the Scottish and Welsh governments to resist the UK government’s anti-strike bill. In a letter to the Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf and his Welsh Labour counterpart Mark Drakeford, Wrack urged both administrations to convene summits with unions to plan a “united campaign of resistance against the authoritarian legislation.” The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, which could enable bosses and ministers to dismiss employees who refuse to cross their picket lines, has suffered a series of defeats in the House of Lords. Wrack called for a “mass movement of non-compliance” against the Bill.