Here are just some of the reasons Solidarity union is urging you to shop local and Buy British this festive season.
Supporting Local Businesses: Building a Sustainable and Resilient Nation
In a world driven by globalization and expansive supply chains, it is crucial that we pause and reflect on the impact of our purchasing decisions. The Solidarity union urges the people of the UK to embrace the power of shopping locally and supporting UK-produced products. This paradigm shift not only benefits our environment but also strengthens our nation’s resilience and fosters economic growth within our communities.
Ecological Impact: Rethinking Supply Chains
By choosing locally sourced products, we take a significant step towards reducing our ecological footprint. When goods are transported across long distances, they contribute to carbon emissions and pollution. On the other hand, supporting local businesses shortens supply chains, leading to decreased transportation requirements and subsequently reducing the overall environmental impact.
Self-Sufficiency: Fostering a Nation’s Resilience
Embracing local products also plays a vital role in establishing a self-sufficient nation. By reducing our dependence on imports, we become less vulnerable to global economic fluctuations and geopolitical uncertainties. Investing in domestic industries helps to strengthen our economy, ensuring a reliable and consistent supply of essential goods.
Preserving Jobs & Encouraging Investment
Supporting local businesses is a direct investment in the prosperity of our communities. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, providing employment opportunities for local residents. By choosing to buy UK-produced goods, we can preserve existing jobs and create new ones, stimulating economic growth and fostering a sense of stability in our society.
The Power of Individual Choices
Sometimes, the impact of our choices may seem insignificant, but it’s important to recognize that small, consistent actions can lead to profound change. Let us consider the examples of the fair trade, organic, and vegetarian movements. These movements started with a few individuals making conscious choices, which gradually gained momentum and transformed into widespread societal changes. By choosing to shop locally, we can effectively demonstrate the demand for UK-produced goods and encourage others to follow suit.
In conclusion, it is essential that we recognize the power we possess as consumers. Engaging in conscious shopping and supporting UK-produced products not only benefits our environment but also strengthens our nation’s resilience and promotes economic growth. Let us join hands in building a sustainable and thriving future, one local purchase at a time.
Support your community. Shop local. Embrace the power of UK-produced products.
Welcome to Union News, your guide to the key stories from the UK Trade Union and labour movement. Writing is by Pat Harrington and music is by Tim Bragg.
Rail Workers Face Dilemma: Pay Cut Deal with Uncertain Future Conditions
Rail workers are set to vote on a proposed “memorandum of understanding” with rail bosses, offering a 5% pay rise or £1,750 (whichever is greater) to resolve the 2022 pay dispute. The deal falls significantly below inflation, amounting to a substantial real-terms pay cut. Although the proposal includes a temporary safeguard against compulsory redundancies, this guarantee expires in just over a year, with the potential for renewed attacks on jobs and working conditions. If accepted, the memorandum would suspend the union’s strike mandate until well into 2024, leaving members concerned about the long-term impact on their terms and conditions. Critics argue that the offer is inadequate, urging fellow members to vote against it. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) emphasizes plans for 2023 pay talks, hinting at a focus on profit-driven changes to meet passenger needs. The e-ballot concludes on November 30.
Billions for Union Members Amid Greed Crisis
In a remarkable display of worker power, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) reveals that workers across Scotland have successfully added over £4 billion to their wages and pensions by challenging employers over the past 18 months. The victories, including the restoration of £1.9 billion to university workers’ pension schemes after 69 days of UCU action, come despite calls for “pay restraint” from both UK and Scottish governments. STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer emphasizes the importance of collective strength but warns against complacency, urging vigilance as the movement faces challenges from the anti-trade union Strike (Minimum Service Levels) Bill proposed by the Tories.
RMT Members Overwhelmingly Vote to Extend London Underground Dispute
RMT members on the London Underground have voted overwhelmingly, with a 95% “yes” vote on a 54% turnout, to continue their ongoing dispute with Transport for London (TfL) regarding jobs, conditions, and pensions. The reballot extends the mandate for strike action for another six months. While strike action was temporarily suspended in October due to concessions securing job preservation, the RMT acknowledges persistent disagreements in the broader dispute. RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch congratulates members and states that the union will now assess the results and determine the next steps in the campaign. TfL is yet to comment on the matter.
Surge in Violent Incidents Across Scotland’s Public Sector Sparks Urgent Calls for Action
Scotland has witnessed a disturbing 31% surge in violent incidents within its public sector, as reported by Unison in its annual workplace violence analysis. The data reveals a staggering increase of 12,931 cases, reaching a total of 54,684 incidents during the 2022-23 period. Approximately two-thirds of these attacks occurred in councils, with schools and nurseries within councils experiencing between 80% and 98% of the incidents.
However, the report highlights an incomplete picture due to the non-response of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the largest health board in Scotland, to freedom of information requests regarding the number of violent incidents experienced by its 43,000 staff.
Scott Donohoe, chair of Unison Scotland’s health and safety committee, emphasizes the need for immediate action to address workplace violence, rejecting the notion that it is an inherent part of the job. He calls for employers to take responsibility, advocating for stronger legislation, regulation, and government oversight.
Despite the concerning statistics, a spokesperson for the Scottish government assures that all workers, including those in the public sector, deserve protection from abuse and violence. The government underscores the robust legal powers available to address assaults, with potential sentences extending to life imprisonment.
Unison vows to pursue further action, condemning major employers who fail to respond to requests for information as indicative of a broader issue where employers neglect to gather crucial data on assaults against their staff. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has been contacted for comment.
and finally, NHS Trust Director Threatens Prosecution Over Strike, Unite Condemns “Bullying Tactics”
A director at Barts Health NHS Trust, one of Britain’s largest NHS trusts, warned workers of potential prosecution for striking just hours before a three-day walkout, as revealed by the Morning Star. Unite criticized the “bullying tactics” employed by the trust, highlighting an email sent to members of the East and South East London Pathology Partnership (ESEL) by Charlotte Mustoe, ESEL’s operations director.
Mustoe’s email emphasized that workers could face prosecution for breaching a “safe level of service agreement” with unions, especially if they failed to attend critical shifts impacting patient safety. Unite condemned these tactics as a form of intimidation, expressing no surprise at such behavior.
Despite the threat, the strike by ESEL members and other workers at St Bart’s proceeded as planned, lasting from Monday to Wednesday. Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed warned that if Barts Health did not cease bullying tactics and start addressing members’ concerns, the dispute would escalate.
The industrial dispute centers around issues of unsafe understaffing, increased workloads, and changes to rosters eliminating night-time roles. Workers at ESEL reported inadequate facilities, including staff having to use stairwells for lunches due to limited space and exposure to health and safety risks in pathology buildings. The East and South East London Pathology Partnership, hosted by Barts Health NHS Trust, cited the need to maintain patient safety amid strike actions.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has unveiled a disturbing trend in the UK job market, indicating a substantial decline in real wages since the financial crisis, with most workers still grappling with incomes that have not recovered to pre-2008 levels. The figures show that the average worker would be approximately £125 a week better off had their earnings increased at the same rate as they did between 1997 and 2010.
Alarming as it is, these revelations don’t end there. The data also exposes the Tories’ role in overseeing a drop in real weekly pay by £4.50 from 2010 to 2023. In stark contrast, in the 13 years prior to Conservative governance, real weekly pay experienced a robust growth of £99. This stark contrast between the previous administration and the current one paints a grim picture of the Tories’ approach to workers’ well-being.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has highlighted the transformative potential of Labour’s proposed “New Deal for Working People,” which aims to make work more rewarding, secure, and equitable. Commenting on the ONS annual pay statistics, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak stressed the glaring disparity in living standards. He noted, “While living standards have nosedived for the vast majority of workers, those at the top have been largely insulated. Real pay in the City is above its 2008 level. But it’s a different story for most other workers, with pay packets still worth less than 15 years ago.”
Nowak went on to emphasize the exceptional nature of this situation in modern history and attributed it to a failure on the part of the Conservative Party. “The Conservatives are the party of pay cuts. Working people deserve better,” he declared.
Gender Pay Gap
The latest gender pay figures have also raised concerns, indicating that the gender pay gap currently stands at 14.3%, and at current rates of progress, it will persist until 2044. TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak expressed deep concern, saying, “Our economy isn’t working for women. At this rate, it will take decades to close the gender pay gap.”
He called for more robust action, including legal requirements for companies to disclose their strategies for closing the gender pay gap, with potential fines for non-compliance. Additionally, Nowak stressed the urgent need to address issues in the childcare and social care systems, as women continue to bear the brunt of caring responsibilities. He underlined the importance of flexible, affordable, and accessible childcare, as well as addressing the social care crisis through sectoral collective bargaining.
New Deal for Working People
The TUC’s advocacy for government intervention to tackle the gender pay gap aligns with Labour’s commitment to deliver a “New Deal for Working People.” Labour’s proposal includes significant changes to the employment landscape, such as banning zero-hours contracts, providing day one rights for all workers, introducing pay gap reporting for ethnicity and disability, strengthening collective bargaining, and bolstering flexible working rights.
In summary, the ONS ASHE figures reveal a concerning decline in workers’ real wages since the financial crash, with the Tories presiding over a drop in real weekly pay. Labour’s New Deal for Working People offers a vision for a more equitable and secure future, aimed at addressing the gender pay gap and making work fairer for all.
In a remarkable turn of events, a united front of trade unions, disabled people’s organizations, passenger groups, and countless other campaigners has succeeded in compelling the UK government to perform a humiliating U-turn on their plans to shutter hundreds of rail ticket offices in England. The Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, announced on Tuesday that the government had urged train operators to withdraw their controversial proposals, citing their failure to meet the high passenger standards expected.
This significant reversal of the Conservative Party’s position is a testament to the power of mass campaigning and the fear of electoral annihilation that has gripped the Tories. This victory showcases the importance of collective action and sends a clear message that the public will not accept the deterioration of essential services.
The objections raised against the proposals were widespread and impactful. Passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London Travelwatch reported that they received a staggering 750,000 responses from individuals and organizations during a public consultation. These responses were characterized by “powerful and passionate concerns,” as stated by Transport Focus.
Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT union, hailed this victory as a resounding one for passengers, community groups, and rail workers alike. He has called for an urgent summit involving the government, train operating companies, disabled and community organizations, and passenger groups to devise an alternative path for the rail network. Their goal is to ensure the preservation of ticket offices and station staff jobs while delivering a safe, secure, and accessible service that prioritizes passengers over profit.
The government is trying to distance itself from the proposed closures, arguing that they were not directly responsible for the plans. However, the fingerprints of the Conservative Party are all over this scheme, as they had originally approved it. Essentially, the Tories have rejected proposals that they themselves had endorsed.
The BBC reported that rail executives were “furious” over the government’s decision to backtrack, given that the original plans had been approved by the Department for Transport (DFT). A source from one of the rail companies expressed their frustration, revealing that they had been compelled to promote and defend the plans despite widespread criticism.
The victory to save ticket offices is a significant step forward, but it should not overshadow the ongoing struggle for fair wages, job security, and passenger safety within the rail industry. This achievement underscores the importance of continued action, including strikes, to push for these essential reforms.
In September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had asserted that closing ticket offices was in the public interest, citing that only one in ten tickets was currently sold through ticket offices. The initial plans aimed to close ticket offices at 974 stations in England, but none in Scotland or Wales. However, with the overwhelming public response to the consultation, watchdogs such as Transport Focus and London Travelwatch unanimously opposed every planned closure, citing issues related to accessibility and operational concerns.
Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, highlighted that the consultation process demonstrated that almost no one, except for train companies and the Conservative Party, believed station ticket offices should be closed. The resounding support for the Save Our Ticket Offices campaign has been a victory not only for unions and campaigners but for all rail travelers.
The consensus from passengers, staff, and rail providers for the future of rail travel, as called for by National Pensioners’ Convention general secretary Jan Shortt, is now more attainable. Disabled People Against Cuts founder Linda Burnip emphasized the positive impact of this victory on disabled people, who would have been disproportionately affected by the proposed closures.
Katie Pennick, campaigns manager at accessibility charity Transport for All, aptly described this outcome as bittersweet. The proposals were indeed disastrous and discriminatory, and they should never have been put forward in the first place.
The U-turn on the ticket office closures reflects the triumph of people power, where collective action and a united front of campaigners and unions have successfully pushed back against regressive policies. It underscores the importance of vigilance and continued activism in protecting essential services and workers’ rights. Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh MP’s call for a publicly owned and unified rail network resonates strongly, offering an alternative vision that prioritizes passengers and quality service.
Welcome to Union News giving you reports from the trade union and labour movement in the UK. Reporting is by the Solidarity union news team and music is by Tim Bragg.
RMT Union Chief Warns of “Great Betrayal” as Ticket Office Closures Looms
Mick Lynch, the RMT union chief, has expressed concern about plans to close nearly every station ticket office in England. Travel Focus and London TravelWatch are set to present their viewpoints on this matter by October 31. Lynch highlighted that around 750,000 passengers responded to the consultation, with 98% opposing the closures. He urged watchdogs and ministers to heed passengers’ concerns and abandon job-cut plans for the sake of passenger advice, accessibility, and safety.
RMT Accuses Trainline App of Prioritizing Profit Over Affordable Train Fares
The RMT union has accused the Trainline ticketing app of prioritizing profit over offering the cheapest train fares for journeys. The app is expected to generate £200 million from British ticket sales this year and has expressed support for government plans to close ticket offices, which the union views as a profit-driven approach. RMT’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, criticizes private companies in the rail industry for profiting while the government advocates for ticket office closures. The union believes that a portion of Trainline’s revenue could be better used to properly fund the railways instead of supporting cost-cutting measures associated with ticket office closures. The Trainline app defends its approach, claiming that its search rankings are based on departure times, fastest journeys with minimal changes, and affordability. The app charges a 5% commission on ticket sales, and its CEO’s remuneration increased nearly 9% in 2023. A Trainline spokesman asserts that the app balances price and convenience when suggesting journeys to customers, and all retailers receive the same flat commission rate for online ticket sales within the industry.
Firefighter Leaders Demand Restoration of Fire Service Funding to 2010 Levels
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is urging the government to restore fire and rescue service funding to 2010 levels in order to better address increasing floods and disasters. The FBU, affiliated with the Labour Party, calls for a reversal of 13 years of Tory austerity, which has led to the closure of fire stations, reduction in appliances, and a 20% cut in firefighter jobs. The FBU recently reported a situation in which delayed response due to cost-cutting measures resulted in the loss of homes. The FBU is set to launch a firefighters’ manifesto outlining their vision for the future of fire and rescue services. General Secretary Matt Wrack stressed the need for Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, to restore funding to prevent communities from being “failed by another generation of politicians.” Wrack also emphasized the importance of addressing the damage caused by austerity and the urgent need to improve response times and firefighter resources. He called for funding restoration to be a priority in Labour’s first term in office, as signalled by recent by-election results.
Second Cost of Living Payment 2023/24
The government is helping a little with the cost of living for 2023/24. The Cost of Living payment is £900 paid in three instalments across the year: First payment of £301 was paid during Spring 2023 Second instalment of £300 will be paid during Autumn 2023 Third instalment of £299 will be paid by Spring 2024 The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced the dates for the second instalment of £300. This amount will be paid to households entitled to certain benefits during qualifying periods.
Most qualified people will be paid between 31 October and 19 November 2023. Payments will be made automatically.
and finally, UK Government’s Plan for Minimum Service Levels in Schools Sparks Union Criticism
The UK government is poised to implement minimum service levels (MSLs) in schools and colleges, a move criticized by education unions as an attack on the democratic freedoms of school leaders and teachers. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has invited union leaders to discuss the MSL proposals voluntarily, but she has made it clear that the government will utilize powers granted through the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act if no voluntary agreement is reached. This would trigger a consultation involving various MSL models for education, allowing input from parents, teachers, and other stakeholders.
Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, voiced his concerns, saying, “The introduction of Minimum Service Levels is a worrying development that threatens the fundamental right to strike. It is essential that democratic freedoms are upheld in any regulations governing MSLs. The government must prioritize constructive dialogue and engagement with unions to address the root causes of industrial action.”
The proposed measures have drawn strong opposition from education unions, who argue that MSLs infringe on the right to strike. The government’s history of dealing with issues related to education, such as pay, workload, and recruitment and retention, has raised concerns among unions. The unions contend that a focus on improving working conditions and addressing longstanding issues in education is crucial.
Welcome to Union News your weekly podcast from the labour and trade union movement in the UK. In this edition: Railway Ticket Office Closures: Union Leader Slams ‘Sham’ Consultation; Scottish Water Workers Warn of Strikes Over Pay and CEO’s Soaring Salary; Councils Under Fire as Workers Reject ‘Pathetic’ Pay Offer; and finally, Train Drivers Announce Strikes During Tory Conference Over Long-Standing Pay Dispute. Writing is by Pat Harrington and music is by Tim Bragg.
Railway Ticket Office Closures: Union Leader Slams ‘Sham’ Consultation
Mick Lynch, the leader of the RMT union, has strongly criticized the consultation on the closure of railway ticket offices in England, labeling it as a “sham.” He expressed concerns that shutting down most of these offices would make the railway system unattractive for evening travel. Lynch argued that the government’s claim of redeploying ticket office staff was unrealistic and accused them of trying to push through job cuts.
Disability campaigners highlighted the inaccessibility of the consultation for disabled and vulnerable travelers and warned that the proposed staffing levels could threaten their right to travel. The consultation, which closed on September 1 after extensions due to protests, received over 680,000 responses. Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are currently reviewing the responses, and they can refer the decision to the transport secretary if public objections are upheld.
Lynch criticized the government for aiming to save £95 million by cutting 2,800 jobs and emphasized the importance of ticket offices as community centers in many towns and villages. He called for a proposal to create an accessible and friendly railway for all travelers.
Disability advocates pointed out issues with accessibility in the consultation process, including difficulties for those with visual and hearing impairments. They also raised concerns about the lack of comprehensive assessments for disabled travelers and the unavailability of details in the proposals.
The proposals would leave many stations unstaffed for extended periods, relying on weekly visits from mobile teams, which disability advocates argued would be impractical for disabled individuals.
Train operators defended the proposals, stating that the majority of customers now use online and contactless payment methods rather than ticket offices. However, there were questions about whether the government or train operators initiated these changes.
Asked twice if the proposals came from the government or train operators, Simon Moorhead’ the chief information officer of the industry body the Rail Delivery Group. did not directly answer but said there was “consensus that there is need for reform”, adding: “We’re always asked to manage costs to the industry tightly.”
In a separate debate, MPs, including some from the Conservative party, urged ministers to reconsider the closure program, with many expressing strong opposition to the plans.
Scottish Water Workers Warn of Strikes Over Pay and CEO’s Soaring Salary
Katy Clark, an MSP with socialist leanings, has issued a warning to the Scottish government regarding Scottish Water workers’ concerns. She has called upon Cabinet Secretary Mairi McAllan to step in as workers have rejected Scottish Water’s controversial pay and grading proposals. Unite, Unison, and GMB unions have conducted strike ballots, receiving strong support for potential strike action unless the situation changes. These unions argue that Scottish Water has violated fair-work principles by not properly consulting with employees regarding changes that could negatively affect the lowest-paid workers while executive pay increases significantly. They highlight the substantial salary of Scottish Water’s CEO, Alex Plant, which exceeds that of his predecessor by more than 20%. Stephen Deans from Unite accused management of trying to implement new pay structures while increasing the CEO’s pay, contradicting the Scottish government’s public-sector pay policy. Clark emphasized the importance of the government listening to Scottish Water workers and ensuring adherence to fair-work principles, protecting the lowest-paid staff and addressing the issue of unfair executive pay raises. The Scottish government has been contacted for comment.
Councils Under Fire as Workers Reject ‘Pathetic’ Pay Offer
Employees represented by Unite, GMB, and Unison have expressed their dissatisfaction with the latest pay proposal put forth by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), stating that it would only equate to £1,929 for an average worker by January 2024. Strike ballots are already underway in various Scottish local government sectors, and unions have warned of potential strike action if improvements are not made. GMB Scotland’s Keir Greenaway criticized the offer as inadequate compared to England’s and urged Scottish government intervention to protect the wages of essential workers. Unite Scotland’s Eddie Cassidy described the offer as a pay cut, setting a deadline for a better proposal from Cosla, and threatened extended strikes if necessary. Cosla’s Katie Hagmann emphasized their willingness to engage positively with trade unions, as strike action is undesirable for all parties.
and finally, Train Drivers Announce Strikes During Tory Conference Over Long-Standing Pay Dispute
Train drivers represented by the union Aslef have declared a series of strikes in their ongoing battle for improved pay, affecting services at 16 private rail companies. The strikes are scheduled for Saturday, September 30 (the day before the Tory conference) and Wednesday, October 4 (the final day of the event). In addition to these strikes, an overtime ban will be in effect across the UK rail network from Friday, September 29, to Friday, October 5. Aslef’s General Secretary, Mick Whelan, criticized rail operators for proposing pay terms they knew would be rejected. Whelan called on Transport Secretary Mark Harper and Transport Minister Huw Merriman to engage in negotiations to end the dispute, citing the lack of a pay raise for train drivers since 2019 despite rising living costs. Aslef has reached agreements with 14 operators outside of Westminster’s control in the past year, but Whelan emphasized that this dispute pertains to England and has been influenced by the Tory government. In response, the Rail Delivery Group emphasized the linkage between pay increases and ‘necessary’ service ‘enhancements’. The Department for Transport obstinately reiterated its commitment to what it termed ‘workplace reforms’ despite the strikes.
Welcome to Union News for the 30th of August 2023. Union News is your weekly guide to what’s happening in the trade union and labour movement in the UK. We’re back from our holidays with an edition including, Education Workers Unite for Strikes Over Pay Cuts and Redundancies in Scottish Colleges, Railway Supply Company Hit by Four-Day Strike Over Pay Dispute, Browns Food Group Workers Begin Strike for Fair Pay, Glasgow Museum Workers Balloted for Strike Over Job Cuts and Strike Vote Initiated at 89 English Colleges over Pay and More. Writing is by Pat Harrington and music is by Tim Bragg.
Education Workers Unite for Strikes Over Pay Cuts and Redundancies in Scottish Colleges
Thousands of education workers and three trade unions are set to strike next week, demanding an end to pay cuts and redundancies within Scotland’s struggling college sector. Over 2,000 members of Unison and 100 members of Unite, including a diverse range of roles from librarians to IT specialists, administrative staff to cleaners, will join picket lines. The strike will coincide with a national day of action by teaching union EIS-Fela and is expected to significantly disrupt college operations. The unions are protesting against a pay proposal that includes a flat cash offer over two years, with potential compulsory redundancies attached. The workers are seeking assurances similar to those provided to other public sector employees that there will be no compulsory layoffs. Additionally, the following week, 1,000 Unite members at various universities will initiate a five-day strike over pay, citing below-inflation raises and challenging working conditions.
Railway Supply Company Hit by Four-Day Strike Over Pay Dispute
Engineers, clerical staff, and production workers at Unipart Rail, based in Crewe, have commenced a four-day strike due to an ongoing disagreement over pay. The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) revealed that the company’s 4.75% pay offer has been rejected by its members, sparking frustration and prompting the strike action. RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch expressed dissatisfaction with Unipart’s management approach, citing the cancellation of a critical meeting as evidence of their disregard for resolving the issue. Unipart Rail, however, emphasized its commitment to dialogue and minimizing customer disruption, attributing the pay offer to affordability pressures in the rail sector.
Browns Food Group Workers Begin Strike for Fair Pay
Around 180 employees at Browns Food Group in Sanquhar, Scotland, have initiated a three-day strike demanding improved wages. Despite the company’s post-tax profit of £5.2 million in 2021 and substantial payments to its top director and owners, maintenance and distribution workers were offered a wage of £10.90 an hour in pay negotiations—a rate deemed the bare minimum for living by the Living Wage Foundation. The Unite union, representing the workers, resoundingly rejected this proposal, resulting in the current strike action. Unite’s industrial officer Paul Bennett emphasized that the strike is driven by the necessity for better wages to meet living expenses. Browns Food Group offered to match the living wage, resulting in an 11.8% increase, but this was voted down by the majority of members. The company acknowledged the disruption caused by the strike and its potential consequences on business, employees, and customers.
Glasgow Museum Workers Balloted for Strike Over Job Cuts
Museum workers in Glasgow are considering strike action as they resist substantial job cuts proposed by Glasgow Life, the entity responsible for museums in the city. The controversial cuts, amounting to a 30% reduction in jobs within the museums and collections sector, have prompted visible protests, including demonstrations outside renowned institutions like the Burrell Collection and the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma). These actions have garnered extensive support from both fellow trade union members and the general public, with even street artist Banksy expressing solidarity during his Goma exhibition. The workers, joined by Unison Glasgow, are fighting to protect both the quality of collections and community outreach programs that enrich the city’s cultural landscape. Protests are set to continue at the Riverside Museum on Saturday and September 16.
and finally, Strike Vote Initiated at 89 English Colleges over Pay and More
Workers at 89 further education (FE) colleges across England are gearing up for a strike vote as the UCU union members prepare to cast their ballots, starting next Tuesday and running until October 10. The union’s demands include a significant 15.4% pay increase for workers, addressing excessive workloads, initiating binding national negotiations, and establishing a fair transition commission for FE. Despite education secretary Gillian Keegan’s promise of £470 million funding, equivalent to a 6.5% pay rise, the union asserts that this falls short, especially considering the 35% drop in pay for most college workers over the past 12 years. Activists are rallying for a robust strike vote that surmounts the anti-trade union legal threshold, and the disaggregated ballot will send a strong message of determination.
The world is changed by the women you pushed too far
Sara Wesker was a worker in the rag trade in the London’s East End a century ago. Women did the same job as men but were paid considerably less. Sara was determined to change this, leading her largely Jewish workforce out on strike for better pay and the same conditions as the men. She hated being called ‘fiery’ – “you never hear a man called ‘fiery’”. She was a ‘bloody, difficult woman’ to the employers and ‘bloody useless’ male union officials alike.
Lottie Walker, accompanied on a keyboard by James Hall, plays Sara in this one-woman play. Sara recounts with wry humour occasionally breaking into song with pro- labour parodies of hymns and popular songs of the day, her battles with employers, her struggle to persuade her fellow workers to take strike action and win, and the personal toll the struggle put on her own family life.At a time when workers’ hard-won gains from the last century are under attack, this play is a constant reminder to us all that collective action – solidarity – is the source of workers’ strength and that only collective united action prevents workers from being picked off one-by-one by ruthless underhand employers. In the words of one of Sara’s songs; the union makes us strong.
Reviewed by David Kerr and reprinted with kind permission of our brothers and sisters at Counter Culture.
Welcome to Union News, the weekly podcast for the labour and trade union movement. In this edition: Outrage as NHS Funds Flow to Private Companies Amidst Record Waiting Lists, Camden Traffic Wardens Brave the Rain to Demand Fair Pay in Lively Protest, Amazon Workers Rally for Fair Wages: One Year Since Historic Walkout, Bus Drivers in Manchester Stage Powerful Strikes for Better Pay and Working Conditions, Rank and File Construction Workers Fight for Rights and Fair Pay on Major Projects and UNITE Demands Scottish Government to Step Up on Local Government Pay Amidst Looming Strikes. Writing is by Pat Harrington and music is from Tim Bragg.
Outrage as NHS Funds Flow to Private Companies Amidst Record Waiting Lists
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced plans to establish 13 new community-based centres to diagnose patients and tackle the record waiting lists of 7.47 million patients. However, eight of these centres will be run by private companies, raising concerns among health campaigners. Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) warned that funnelling £19 billion to the private sector is draining vital resources from the NHS. Critics argue that long-term solutions are needed, including adequate investment in the NHS and addressing chronic underfunding, as opposed to temporary fixes through private involvement. The NHS faces staff shortages and struggles to retain workers due to real-terms pay cuts, making the move towards private-sector involvement controversial and potentially detrimental to the NHS’s overall resources. Camden
Traffic Wardens Brave the Rain to Demand Fair Pay in Lively Protest
Traffic wardens in Camden, employed by outsourcer NSL, took to the streets in an all-out strike demanding a pay rise. Around 60 strikers marched through the north London borough, joined by Unison union members, St Mungo’s homelessness charity strikers, and UCU union members from across London. The workers are resolute in their fight for better pay, with bosses offering a disappointing raise to £15 an hour in three years, while the strikers demand £15.90 on a one-year deal. They are also highlighting the unequal treatment faced by black and Asian workers and are determined to achieve their main aims. The spirited protest has garnered support from the public, and the strikers are unwavering in their fight against low pay and racist outsourcing practices.
Amazon Workers Rally for Fair Wages: One Year Since Historic Walkout
Hundreds of Amazon workers in Coventry and Rugeley marked the one-year anniversary of their biggest walkout in Britain with defiant rallies. Shouting “Freedom, we will not stop,” the workers demanded fair wages and better working conditions. Despite facing heavy private security and newly erected metal barriers, they stood strong in their calls for a cost-of-living pay rise to £15 per hour. Strikers shared their struggles of working long hours, barely having time for family, and resorting to second jobs just to make ends meet. Amazon’s attempts to deter the rallies with metal fences backfired, only igniting the workers’ determination to be heard. With one year of striking under their belt, the workers continue to fight for their rights and fair treatment in the face of corporate resistance.
Bus Drivers in Manchester Stage Powerful Strikes for Better Pay and Working Conditions
Around 350 bus drivers employed by First Manchester launched strike action for improved pay in July and continued their picket lines on Friday. They will be joined by more than 1,000 Stagecoach bus drivers next week, escalating the pay dispute. The drivers, members of Unite, rejected the offered pay increase of 7.4% backdated to April with an additional 3.4% in October, deeming it insufficient to address their high living costs and chronic staff shortages. Both First Manchester and Stagecoach have reported significant revenues and profits, yet the drivers’ wages remain the lowest in the region. The ongoing strikes demonstrate the drivers’ determination to secure fair pay and better working conditions as they make their voices heard in the pursuit of a resolution.
Rank and File Construction Workers Fight for Rights and Fair Pay on Major Projects
Construction workers at Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset and Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port are taking significant stands to secure their rights and fair pay. At Hinkley Point C, mechanical and electrical workers walked out to oppose travel allowance cuts, while scaffolders stopped work to resist changes in shift patterns. Both groups of workers are determined to win their battles, with the support of rank and file movements. At Stanlow oil refinery, workers successfully cabined up to force through a bonus payment, highlighting the potential for rank and file organization in the construction sector. These ongoing disputes demonstrate the power of collective action among workers and their determination to secure better working conditions and fair treatment. and finally,
UNITE Demands Scottish Government to Step Up on Local Government Pay Amidst Looming Strikes
UNITE, the powerful workers’ union, has issued a strong call to the Scottish government, urging them to “get involved and get real” concerning local government pay. This stern warning comes in the wake of an announcement by the union that its members in schools and early years positions across 10 councils have voted in favour of striking. UNITE’s regional officer, Graham McNab, revealed to BBC radio’s Good Morning Scotland that a potential strike could commence as early as September. However, McNab emphasized that the timing decision hinges on the outcome of the ongoing Unison ballot. This allows both UNITE and the GMB to collaboratively “discuss our plan of attack and our action.” The strike ballots were prompted by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) offer, which falls considerably short of expectations. The offer claims to provide an average pay increase of 5.5%, a stark contrast to the current inflation rate of 10.7%. UNITE Executive Committee member Eddie Cassidy condemned this offer as derisory and demanded that the Scottish government face the reality of the situation. Cassidy expressed his frustration, stating, “Year after year we have to threaten strike action just to get them to match the Tory settlements down south. A 5% offer with real inflation still well over 10% is a pay cut pure and simple — and we’ve had enough. It’s time the Scottish government got involved and got real.” The Scottish government responded by stating that local government pay negotiations are a matter for local authorities and unions. Despite UK government cuts, the Scottish government has allocated an additional £155 million to support substantial pay raises for local government workers. This allocation has already been factored into the pay offer put forth by Cosla. As the potential strike looms and tensions escalate, the call from UNITE to the Scottish government to “get involved and get real” reverberates as a rallying cry for fair treatment and just compensation in the local government sector.
In a world that often seems fast-paced and disconnected, where individualism prevails, there’s a beacon of hope shining bright – Solidarity Union. With a resounding commitment to the theme “Strong Enough to Care,” this union stands as a testament to the power of unity and compassion. If you’re seeking a community that values both strength and empathy, look no further – Solidarity Union is your answer.
Unity in Diversity: Solidarity Union is not just a union; it’s a diverse family of individuals who believe in the strength that comes from supporting one another. Here, differences are celebrated, and a spirit of inclusivity thrives. Whether you’re a skilled worker, a professional, or a student, Solidarity Union welcomes you with open arms. By embracing our collective uniqueness, we forge connections that are both enriching and empowering.
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Empathy in Action: “Strong Enough to Care” isn’t just a catchphrase – it’s the essence of Solidarity Union’s values. In a world where empathy can sometimes seem scarce, our union stands as a bastion of compassion. We believe that caring for each other extends beyond our immediate circles. Through community outreach programs, support initiatives, and charitable endeavours, we prove that strength and compassion go hand in hand.
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Together, We Thrive: Solidarity Union embodies the idea that a community can be strong, vibrant, and caring all at once. It’s a union that believes in the power of collective action to create positive change. By joining hands with like-minded individuals, you become a part of something greater – a movement that embodies strength, empathy, and progress.So, are you ready to be “Strong Enough to Care”? Join Solidarity Union today and be a driving force for positive transformation. Together, we’ll build a world where strength and compassion are inseparable, and where our actions inspire a brighter future for all.