Defend Workers’ Rights


Liz Truss has been urged to “come clean” over her plans to attack workers’ rights.

Earlier this week, The Times reported that Truss was considering a review of workers’ protections.

Among the protections to be reviewed by the Truss will be the laws covering the 48-hour working week, adopted as part of the EU working time directive. The strike ballot support threshold may also be raised to 50% of all eligible voters and the strike notice may be extended from two to four weeks.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said Ms. Truss should “come clean” about any such plans.

“Liz Truss’s number one priority should be to help families pay their bills this winter,” Ms. O’Grady said.

“Threatening hard-won workers’ rights is the last thing the country and working people need.”

Petros Elia, general secretary for United Voices of the World, said:

“These measures are designed to try to shut us up and shut us down. But we won’t be intimidated. Britain already has the most stringent anti-union laws in Europe and here workers’ rights are regularly violated according to The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global ranking. We will resist and defeat these attempts to shackle us and turn this country into a worker’s gulag. We urge every single worker out there who is not yet unionised to join us so we can fight as one and win.”

Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, commented:

Unions exist to defend the rights of workers. Attacks on these rights will be defeated by the union movement and our small union will play its part.”

Unions cancel strikes as a mark of respect to the late Queen


Postal and rail strikes were canceled in an announcement last Thursday after the death of the Queen.

Planned strikes by Royal Mail workers on Friday were called off following the Queen’s death. Members of the Communication Workers Union were due to continue a 48-hour walkout in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Rail strikes that were being prepared for September have been canceled. Train drivers union Aslef had set a strike date for Thursday, September 15. The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) had planned a walkout on Monday, September 26.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has postponed its annual conference that was due to be held in Brighton from Sunday for four days.

The cancellation of the rail and postal strikes can only be a temporary mark of respect. The issues which underly them remain unresolved. The unions would have faced much criticism if they had continued with their plans. The leaders of the unions involved have made a difficult but likely wise decision. The Morning Star was right to point out, however: 

“Nobody will say that the Queen’s death means company bosses should drop their vicious attacks on workers’ rights as a gesture of respect.

Newspaper pundits won’t ask how the Tories have the effrontery to wage class war at such a time.

That’s never the narrative: it is workers who cause disruption by fighting back when attacked, never bosses who cause it by picking our pockets.

That this is exactly what bosses are doing has been demonstrated in detail in reports like Unite Investigates’ Corporate Profiteering and the Cost-of-Living Crisis.”

Bakers’ union BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley said: “The decision to postpone TUC Congress is completely understandable after the news of the Queen dying on Thursday.

“[But] the cost-of-living crisis, though, hasn’t and will not go away — and we have a lot of work to do over the coming months as a movement to support working people through it.

“When the TUC does meet, we will have a clearer idea of the political landscape with [Liz] Truss as Prime Minister and this will inform our strategy.”

Support the rail strikes: here’s how


Several rail trade unions are planning walkouts in protest at unfair below-inflation pay offers (effectively pay cuts).

The strikes will involve members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, as well as the Aslef and TSSA unions.

Alef says members will walk out at 12 train operating firms on Thursday, September 15 and the RMT is also striking that day. Affected operators will be Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, and Great Western Others will be Hull, LNER, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine, and West Midlands.

RMT is also striking on Saturday, 17 September 2022.

TSSA members at nine train operators and Network Rail will walk out from midday on Monday, September 26. Avanti West Coast, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, and Great Western Railway will all be affected. Also hit by the TSSA action will be LNER, Southeastern, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains

This marks the fourth month of action on the railways. There is little sign of an agreement being reached anytime soon. It comes at a time when unions across many sectors are stepping up to defend their member’s pay and conditions. Some union leaders have called for coordinated strikes alongside union and community-led campaigning. Solidarity is among the unions that supported those calls.

We need to defend our jobs, pay, conditions, and pensions from the government’s attacks. This is an important battle that we need to win if we want to protect our living standards.

This fight is important because it can help us find a better way to live. This will involve having less money going to the people who have a lot of money, and more money going to the people who have less money. You can show your support by:

Donating to the RMT’s national strike fund. This can be done by individuals, groups, or organisations.

Attending picketing of major stations. It’s important that different striking groups get to know each other and for pickets to be well attended and peaceful.

Reading about the facts of the strike from the RMT, Solidarity, and other unions and sharing their information – there’s a lot of deliberate confusion being sown by the government and many media outlets.

It goes without saying but never cross a picket line!

Postal workers shut down the Royal Mail


Royal Mail workers shutting down nearly the whole of the postal service on Friday delivered a resounding message to their bosses: we’re not going to take your meagre pay increase lying down.

The strike, the first national one in 12 years, comes after postal workers were offered a below-inflation pay rise of just 2 percent. In other words, their real-term pay would be cut if they accepted the offer. Meanwhile, top executives have been raking in profits and awarding themselves big bonuses.

Clearly, the workers have had enough and are determined to get a fairer share of the company’s success.

The strike sends a clear message from postal workers: we’re not going to be taken for granted any longer. We deserve a fair share of the company’s profits.

Addressing a large crowd of striking workers and campaigners outside Royal Mail offices in Farringdon, central London, CWU general secretary Dave Ward warned greedy bosses at the privatised company that workers would not give in easily.

To loud cheers and the tooting horns of passing buses, he said: “When we say we’re in this for the long haul, you better believe we bloody well mean it.”

Around 115,000 workers at the firm are also set to walk out on Wednesday and on September 8-9, after the union said management imposed a 2 percent pay rise without consultation.

Royal Mail insisted the offer actually amounts to 5.5 percent, about half the lowest rate of inflation in July, but CWU categorically rejected this claim as a lie.

The union’s members at the Post Office, who first walked out in May, are also striking after the state-run company imposed a pay freeze in 2021-22 and offered 5 percent plus a £500 lump-sum for this financial year.

About 3,500 workers are involved in that dispute.

Mr. Ward called for solidarity with workers nationwide, as rail staff, dockers, criminal barristers, and exam board employees also take industrial action.

He said: “Solidarity has never been more important, solidarity with your colleagues and other unions is the way we’re going to win.

“Solidarity with workers who are not in unions, who are getting shafted up and down the UK. At CWU, we say every worker counts.

“We’ll win our disputes, but we’ve got to do more. I think it’s time that we push the boundaries further than they’ve ever been pushed.

“I think it’s time we saw collective action led by trade unions, led by community organisations and we get the whole of the working class in the UK together to fight back.”

Rail union RMT’s head Mick Lynch also addressed the lively demo, which included campaigners from the National Education Union, the University and College Union, Unison, and Equity.

Mr. Lynch, whose union has held six national strike days this summer, said: “The billionaires and the big corporations are telling working people to cough up for the problems in this society and become poorer.

“Our message to them is simple, enough is enough.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union said:

This is an inspiring show of strength by postal workers. They are up against one of the most powerful companies in the country. Postal workers have been humiliated and treated with contempt by their bosses. But they are now fighting back. Their action has caused massive disruption to postal services across Britain. It has also sent a message of hope to low-paid workers who are facing similar attacks on their pay. The postal workers’ strike is an important battle in the wider war against austerity and for decent pay for all.

Bin Strikes in Scotland spread


Bin strikes in Scotland have spread as workers walked out in more areas.

GMB Scotland members in 16 council areas started four days of action from Friday until Monday, coinciding with existing action in Edinburgh.

Unison members in waste and recycling also joined the strike action, walking out in eight council areas for four days from August 26.

It comes after Unite members working in waste services at 13 councils walked out on Wednesday, joining workers in Edinburgh who began strike action on August 18.

Kirsten Muat, GMB Scotland organiser, said:

“Our members are not prepared for services to be delivered on the backs of the working poor.

“Our key workers deserved to be valued properly and ahead of a grim winter with forecasts of double-digit inflation and eye-watering energy bills, they urgently need pay that confronts this cost of living crisis.”

GMB Scotland senior organiser for public services, Keir Greenaway, said: “GMB members are clear that they are not prepared to accept working poverty as an inevitability and their strike actions are a direct response to the failure of political leaders to realise this.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, commented: “I attended Stand-up for the bin workers – the show to support the bin workers strike fund. The mood was passionately in favour of the strike. As an Edinburgh resident the bin strike affects me. I’m 100 percent behind the strikers as are the vast majority of people here. It’s because we realise that the strikes are Just and necessary.”

Picture credit: KollectivFuture 2022. All rights reserved.

British workers reject pay cuts


British workers are striking in vast numbers as decades-high inflation erodes the value of wages. Workers understand that a pay rise below the rate of inflation is a real-term pay cut.

Official data released on Wednesday showed UK inflation at a 40-year-high – above 10 percent, as soaring food and energy prices hurt millions of Britons.

UK unions are fighting to defend their member’s wages and working conditions.

“We will continue to do whatever is necessary to defend jobs, pay and conditions during this cost-of-living crisis,” Sharon Graham, head of major British union, Unite, said this week.

The Bank of England has forecast inflation to top 13 percent this year, tipping the British economy into a deep and long-lasting recession.

“This record fall in real wages demonstrates the vital need for unions like Unite to defend the value of workers’ pay,” Graham said, while hitting out at suggestions, including from BoE governor Andrew Bailey, that pay rises were fuelling inflation.

“Wages are not driving inflation,” she insisted ahead of the latest UK inflation data that showed rocketing food prices were the main factor behind July’s spike.

Inflation has soared worldwide this year largely because of surging energy prices, fuelled by the invasion of Ukraine by major oil and gas producer Russia.

More than 115,000 British postal workers employed by former state-run Royal Mail plan a four-day strike from the end of August.

Telecoms giant BT will face its first stoppage in 35 years and walkouts have recently taken place or are soon to occur by Amazon warehouse staff, criminal lawyers and refuse collectors.

In a new development a campaign group, Enough is Enough, has been launched.

Trade unions, community organisations and MPs have joined forces in the hopes of “winning back dignity for working-class people” as Britain braces for the biggest economic crisis in a decade.

Rail, Maritime and Transport Union Secretary General Mick Lynch is among those heading up the Enough Is Enough campaign that is calling for pay rises, energy bills to be slashed, an end to food poverty, affordable housing, and a tax on the richest in society.

Speaking in a campaign video shared on social media, Mr. Lynch said: “People are fed up with the way they’re treated at work. We need to turn that mood into real organisation on behalf of the working class.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, has joined calls from other union leaders and activists for strikes to be coordinated and for protests to take place alongside them. He said:

“I welcome the formation of the campaign group Enough is Enough as a positive step to organise protests. Unions cannot rely on the Labour Party to fight back politically (though there are many good people in that Party). Unions must campaign on both an economic and political level directly and encourage other community groups and campaigners to join them. The demands of Enough is Enough are ones that will resonate with ordinary people. At heart they are about fairness and respect. Don’t British workers deserve that? I urge all right-thinking people whatever their views on other issues might be to support Enough is Enough.

Unions must also plan for aggression from the Tory government. Tory transport minister Grant Shapps wrote in the Daily Mail, ‘Margaret Thatcher knew Luddite trade unions were a barrier. She delivered prosperity by taking them on – and so will we.’

It’s a threat to every union and to every worker who wants to defend their pay, job and conditions.

Unions will be attacked by the Tories politically with new bans and anti-union laws. They will seek to prevent unions from organising strikes to protect their member’s wages and conditions. They will seek to gag and restrict unions. That political attack must be defended using all weapons available, political, legal, and economic. Unions cannot accept real-term wage cuts to their member’s wages or see their conditions worsen. Though our union is small we must play our part in supporting all actions to protect the interests of workers and the rights of trade unions.”

Get involved with Enough is Enough:

Edinburgh: Stand up for the bin workers


Cleansing staff at Edinburgh City Council went out on strike on Thursday August 18, as part of the protest over pay.

The walkout, the first in a series of protests planned by trade unions, is due to go on until August 30, with bins around the city already overflowing with rubbish as a result of not being emptied.

The action comes while Edinburgh is the venue for an international Festival of arts and culture. It is a huge embarassment for the City Council and SNP government.

Local authorities this weekend increased their below-inflation pay offer from 3.5 per cent to 5 per cent.

Alison Maclean of Unite noted: “While the 5% offer is an improvement, it is important to emphasise that it comes at a time when the broader retail price index has now hit a 40-year high at 12.3%.

Unite’s local government committee will urgently consider this latest offer. At this juncture the strikes for next week continue as planned.”

Comedian Mark Thomas has joined forces with the city’s Stand venue to organise a benefit in solidarity with the strikers on Wednesday. The money raised will go straight to the GMB’s official strike fund.

Comedians and members of the public are supporting the strikers

Thomas says: “These are the workers who got us through Covid and now they are being told to take a real cut in their wages. It’s unacceptable and they deserve our support in fighting back.

GMB support worker Kirsten Muat added: “Too many local government workers across Scotland are already suffering in work poverty. The bin men in Edinburgh are striking to try and put an end to that.

“GMB are incredibly grateful to everyone supporting the striking workers, including all the comedians and members of the public coming along to the benefit gig.

The benefit will take place at The Stand’s New Town Theatre at 9pm on Wednesday. Tickets are £20, or £5 for strikers.

Also on the bill are Jason Byrne, Jo Caulfield, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Mark Nelson, Shazia Mirza, Suse McCabe, Rachel Fairburn, Vladimir McTavish and Danny Bhoy.

You can buy tickets here:

Picture credit for overflowing bins: (C) Pat Harrington. All rights reserved.


The CWU ASLEF and other unions are staging strikes over lower-than-inflation pay rises in the UK. Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, is one of many union leaders and activists to call for greater coordination of strikes by unions combined with street protests.

He said:
“The pay rises offered by the government and bosses are below the current rate of inflation, which is putting a real squeeze on the living standards of workers.This is not good enough, and the unions must coordinate their strikes in order to put maximum pressure on the government and bosses to offer a better pay rise. The government and bosses must learn that they cannot get away with offering workers such a poor deal and that they will face significant and escalating industrial action if they do not improve pay offers.Union leaders must work together to coordinate their strikes and show the government that they are united and will not back down until they get a fair pay rise. This is the only way to ensure that workers in the UK are treated fairly and that their living standards are protected.Unions should work together to organise joint protests and demonstrations and invite other groups and the wider public to join us. Unions must take the lead directly as the Labour Party is not effectively opposing the economic and social attack on workers. This would send a clear message to the government and bosses that the unions are united and are not going to take any more abuse.”

 Image by Flore W Pixabay


Train drivers at nine operating companies went on strike last week. Members of the train drivers’ union Aslef walked out for 24 hours in a pay dispute at Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern, West Midlands Trains, and London Overground. Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, said that train companies claim to be barred from awarding a pay rise in line with inflation by “dodgy deals” imposed by the government when their franchises were turned into management contracts, but the government says the dispute is nothing to do with it and must be dealt with by the companies.

The bosses say the decision now is down to the government and the government says it’s down to the operating companies.

“So we are caught in a Catch-22 situation where each side blames the other,” Mick explained.

“The drivers at these companies have not had an increase for three years. With inflation running at 9, 10, or even 11 percent, we are being told to take a real-terms pay cut. Strike action is now the only option available, but we are always open for talks if the companies, or government, want to come to the table.”

The strike has the potential to escalate with strike ballots closing at Chiltern Railways, Northern Trains, and TransPennine Express on 25 August. Workers in sector after sector are taking strike action to defend their living standards. Union leaders must build the individual sets of strikes but also to come together and to lay the basis for greater action.

 Picture credit: Image by Tim Bigger from Pixabay

Thousands of health workers in Scotland vote in favour of industrial action over pay


Health workers in Scotland have voted to take industrial action in protest against what they describe as a “real terms pay cut.”

NHS staff from four unions have announced plans to strike after rejecting a 5 percent pay offer from the Scottish government.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Unison, Unite Scotland, and GMB have condemned the offer.

RCN members, who voted to reject the pay offer by 90 percent, say it is “the clearest sign yet that industrial action could take place across the UK later this year.”

Midwives and maternity support workers have also threatened to strike over the pay offer, the Royal College of Midwives has said.

Unite Scotland and the GMB have announced that NHS staff are “prepared to strike” with GMB members rejecting the pay offer by 97 percent.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the union’s NHS Scotland members had rejected the pay offer as it represented a “substantial real terms pay cut” amid an inflation increase of 11.8 percent.

Picture credit: Image by James Henderson from Pixabay