Union News (17 September 2023)


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.

Union News (31st of August, 2023)


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.

Union News (27th of July 2023)

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Welcome to Union News, your weekly podcast from the Trade Union and labour movement in the UK. Writing is by Pat Harrington and music is by Tim Bragg.

Radiographers Strike: NHS Staff Exit Sparks Crisis

Radiographers in England initiated a 48-hour strike action on Tuesday, protesting the concerning exodus of staff from the profession. Members of the Society of Radiographers (SoR) voted against a 5% government pay award and demanded talks to reopen, citing disparities with pay increases offered to other public-sector workers, including junior doctors. The picket lines outside the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey saw therapeutic radiographer Ashley d’Aquino, 43, expressing their frustration. She stated that the government had not engaged with the SoR despite discussions about recruitment and retention issues. The worsening situation has led to burnout and prompted professionals to leave their positions. The striking radiographers are urging the government to collaborate more with different unions to address these critical problems. Members of the public expressed support for the striking radiographers, driving past the picket lines and honking their horns.

The strike involves 37 NHS trusts where members have a mandate to strike, including prominent institutions such as University College London Hospitals, Liverpool University Hospitals, Nottingham University Hospitals, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston, and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. However, the strike organizers have ensured that adequate emergency cover will be provided for patients during this period. Richard Evans, the Chief Executive of SoR, emphasized that the strike is not just about better conditions for the radiographers themselves but also about improving patient care. Radiographers have experienced stagnant pay increases and real-terms pay cuts since 2008, leading to a talent drain from the profession. Simultaneously, the NHS, as a whole, has faced neglect and insufficient funding from the government, causing enormous strain and jeopardizing services.

The public’s vocal support for the strike reflects their awareness of the immense pressure the NHS is under and the potential risks to its sustainability. Presently, a million people are on the waiting list for radiography services, indicating the urgency of addressing the concerns raised by the striking radiographers. In response to the strike action, Health Secretary Steve Barclay stated that the pay award was final and called on the union to call off the strike. The situation remains tense as both sides seek a resolution to the ongoing dispute.

Glasgow Museum Workers Launch Fortnight of Protests Against Job Cuts

Museum workers in Glasgow are gearing up for a fortnight of protests, beginning this week, as they rally against proposed job cuts in the city’s museums and collections department. The public-sector union Unison announced the protests, expressing concerns over the potential loss of 37 jobs, which Glasgow Life Museums intends to implement to address a £1.5 million financial deficit. While half of the proposed cuts are for unfilled positions, Unison argues that the removal of curators, conservators, technicians, outreach personnel, and learning assistants could seriously undermine the quality of visitors’ experiences, resulting in vacant and “stagnant” exhibition spaces. Glasgow Life, a charity wholly owned by Glasgow City Council, stated that it will collaborate with the union to handle the remaining job cuts. The council, known for its no compulsory redundancies policy, faces Unison’s challenge to reverse the cuts and protect the city’s renowned museums and collections. Unison calls upon Glasgow City councillors to defend the cultural institutions from funding attacks by the Scottish and UK governments, emphasizing the need to safeguard and cherish the world-renowned heritage. A Glasgow Life spokesperson clarified that the savings made this year amount to approximately 9% of the charity’s annual service fee received from the city council, and no venues will be closed. They asserted that over half of the affected posts are currently vacant. The charity is engaging closely with staff and unions to assess the individual implications of these measures. In response, a Scottish government spokesperson emphasized the increased resources provided to local government for 2023-24, showing a significant real-terms increase, with the aim of supporting cultural institutions. Unison’s protests are scheduled to commence at the Burrell Collection in Pollok Park on Saturday, July 29, and will continue at the Gallery of Modern Art in Queen Street on August 5 the following week. Museum workers are determined to make their voices heard and protect Glasgow’s cultural treasures for future generations.

Traffic Wardens in Camden Launch All-Out Strike Demanding £15.90 per Hour Pay

Traffic wardens in Camden, north London, have initiated an all-out strike, demanding a pay rise to £15.90 per hour. The workers, who currently receive £12.70 per hour, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strike action, with 100 percent supporting the move on a 73.11 percent turnout. On the picket line at the Car Pound Reception in Kentish Town, the strikers voiced their demands for a pay rise with spirited chants. They were joined by CCTV workers, who also showed their solidarity with loud cheers. The strike includes over 100 workers responsible for CCTV operations, street work, and car parks, all employed under a contract with Camden council by outsourcing company NSL. Unison union representatives emphasized that the pay rise is long overdue, recalling the last significant increase in 2018, which followed a 33-day strike.

The workers expressed frustration at the lack of response from the authorities despite assurances of a pay rise. With 90 percent of the workforce now participating in the strike, they believe that such action is necessary to compel the bosses to offer reasonable proposals. Unison representatives, highlighted the impact of rising living costs and inflation, stating that the wages have not kept up. The offered increase of 57p was deemed inadequate, falling below the London living wage raise. The striking traffic wardens are calling for a fair wage and expressed determination to continue the strike indefinitely, citing its effectiveness in gaining a quick response from employers.

The previous strike saw NSL attempt to replace striking workers with staff from other contracts, but this time, the union is adamant that it will prevent such measures. There are also discussions about the possibility of bringing the workers in-house, a move they believe would offer better treatment and benefits.

Record High: Number of Children in Temporary Accommodation in England

According to newly released figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the number of children in temporary accommodation in England has reached an all-time high. In March, a staggering 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation, while 131,370 children lived in these households—marking the highest figures recorded since 1998 and 2004, respectively. Over the past year, these numbers have grown by 10%, with the number of households in bed and breakfasts surging by over a third to 13,780. The situation has drawn sharp criticism, especially in light of the DLUHC recently returning £1.9 billion earmarked to tackle the housing crisis to the treasury, citing difficulties in finding suitable projects to spend it on.

Nick Ballard, ACORN Head Organiser, expressed dismay, stating, “It is a national disgrace” given the apparent lack of progress on addressing the issue. The ADLUHC, however, contends that temporary accommodation ensures families have a roof over their heads and emphasizes that the use of bed and breakfasts is always considered a last resort to prevent homelessness before it occurs. Nonetheless, the escalating numbers raise serious concerns about the welfare and stability of vulnerable families across the country.

and finally… Rail Bosses Extend Ticket Office Closure Consultation Amid Backlash and Legal Threats

In response to strong public opposition and legal threats, rail bosses have decided to extend the public consultation on mass ticket office closures by three weeks. The Rail Delivery Group’s decision comes after unions and passenger groups expressed concerns about the potential closure of over 1,000 ticket offices and the loss of 2,300 station staff.

The RMT and Aslef unions remain critical of the consultation process and are considering legal action. Five Labour metro mayors, including Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, are also preparing to challenge the “rushed” closure plan in court. The extension has been welcomed, but critics argue that a 12-week consultation is required by law. Various watchdogs and organizations, such as Transport Focus, London TravelWatch, Scope, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, have raised their own concerns about the impact of the plan on passengers, particularly disabled and older individuals. The situation remains contentious as stakeholders continue to call for transparency and accountability in shaping the future of the railways.

Union News (13th of July 2023)

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Welcome to Union News, your weekly podcast from the UK labour and Trade Union movement. In this edition: Midwife Shortages in UK Maternity Services Pose Significant Challenges, Warns Royal College of Midwives, Workers Left Jobless as Empire Cinema Chain Shuts Down Without Warning, Tube Workers to Stage Rolling Strikes Over Jobs and Conditions on London Underground, Construction Worker Deaths Surge to 45 in a Year, Exceeding Five-Year Average, Barts Health NHS Trust Workers Vote on Industrial Action Over Pay and Staffing Dispute, Junior Doctors walkout, and finally, Teachers vote for Action. Text is by Pat Harrington and music is by Tim Bragg.

Midwife Shortages in UK Maternity Services Pose Significant Challenges, Warns Royal College of Midwives

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has issued a warning about the severe impact of midwife shortages on women, emphasizing the historical lack of appropriate investment in maternity services. According to the RCM’s latest report, if the number of NHS midwives in England had increased at the same rate as the overall health service workforce since the last general election, there would be no shortage of midwives. Instead, the report reveals a shortfall of 2,500 full-time midwife staff, highlighting the need for an additional 3,100 midwives in the NHS. The report explains that the increasing complexity of needs, such as higher rates of obesity during pregnancy and a rise in older women giving birth, has placed additional demands on maternity services. Combined with a growing birthrate, the staffing levels of midwives have not kept pace with these demands, resulting in compromised quality and safety of care. Birte Harlev-Lam, the RCM’s executive director midwife, stresses the importance of addressing the challenges outlined in the report. She emphasizes that the government must demonstrate unwavering commitment to resolving this crisis by providing the necessary resources for maternity services, both in the present and the future. The RCM highlights the need for a renewed focus on staff retention, including measures such as increased flexibility in working options, improved support for learning and development, and addressing poor workplace cultures.

In response, a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care acknowledges the efforts made to enhance the quality of care for mothers and babies within the NHS. They mention an additional investment of £165 million per year aimed at expanding the maternity workforce and improving neonatal services

Workers Left Jobless as Empire Cinema Chain Shuts Down Without Warning

The bosses at the Empire Cinema chain made a calculated move to dissolve their company into administration, but they didn’t forget about their workers. Prior to the closure announcement, managers at the Walthamstow branch organized a “special meeting” under the pretext of discussing insurance matters. However, it turned out to be a trick. While the staff was gathered in one part of the building, administrators secretly brought in locksmiths to change the locks and padlock the fire exits, preventing the workers from returning to the site or taking action to save their jobs. The following morning, the employees arrived at the cinema only to find that their keys were useless. A note on the door informed them that Empire had shut down and any unpaid wages would have to be claimed from the administrators or the government.

One of the affected workers, Peter, revealed that he had been promised a role in a new cinema in Basildon, Essex, but the whole thing turned out to be a lie. The majority of the affected workers were young, aged between 18 and 25, and all the managers at the Walthamstow branch were also fired. Peter expressed his frustration, noting that the managers at the head office had received pay raises and were not facing the same hardships. He questioned the disregard for their legal right to receive at least 30 days’ notice of possible redundancy, and given that five other cinemas were closed simultaneously, argued that the notice period should be extended to 45 days, as over 100 people were affected. In addition to the Walthamstow branch, Empire Cinemas closed five other cinemas in Bishop’s Stortford, Catterick Garrison, Sunderland, Swindon, and Wigan. The already-closed cinema in Sutton Coldfield will not reopen. However, the remaining sites in Birmingham, Clydebank, High Wycombe, Ipswich, and Sutton, as well as the two Tivoli-branded venues in Bath and Cheltenham, will continue trading while the administrators search for a buyer.

Tube Workers to Stage Rolling Strikes Over Jobs and Conditions on London Underground

The RMT union has announced a week of rolling strikes on the London Underground, scheduled to take place from 23 to 28 July. This marks a significant escalation in the ongoing dispute over jobs, conditions, and pensions. Workers, represented by the RMT, are taking a stand against Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to cut positions and implement new rosters with fewer staff, despite opposition from the union. These cuts not only make work more difficult and unsafe for station staff but also result in a poorer service for passengers. Employees have shared their frustrations regarding the impact of the cuts. With stations increasingly operating at minimum staffing levels, there are instances where staff are unable to assist vulnerable passengers, as they are unable to leave their designated areas. TfL has also announced plans for significant cuts to managerial positions and changes to staff work areas, while refusing to guarantee the preservation of the existing pension scheme. Critics argue that TfL’s claim of financial constraints due to the pandemic is questionable, as its own figures demonstrate a surge in fare income. For example, in the first four weeks of the financial year, TfL generated £380 million in income, surpassing the figures of previous years. Additionally, passenger numbers have been on the rise, with record-breaking usage of the Elizabeth Line and millions of Tube and bus journeys. Despite this, TfL has granted substantial pay rises to its top-level management. Workers are infuriated by TfL’s mismanagement of funds while claiming an inability to maintain sufficient staffing levels. They argue that these cuts are unnecessary and dangerous, and that there is enough money available to prevent them.

The rolling strikes are set to commence on 23 July, with different grades of workers striking on different days. The aim is to cause maximum disruption while minimizing financial loss for the striking employees. However, the most significant impact would be achieved if all workers went on strike collectively, according to the RMT representatives.

Construction Worker Deaths Surge to 45 in a Year, Exceeding Five-Year Average

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the number of construction workers killed in accidents on construction sites rose significantly from 29 to 45 in the previous year. This figure exceeded the five-year average of 37 annual deaths. Construction accounted for one-third of the 135 workers killed in work-related accidents across all industries in the UK during the 12-month period ending in March 2023. The construction industry was followed by agriculture, forestry, and fishing, which had 21 deaths, and manufacturing with 15 deaths. The HSE noted that the most common fatal accidents at work included falls from a height (40), being struck by a moving object (29), and being struck by a moving vehicle (20), which together accounted for approximately two-thirds of fatal injuries to workers in 2022/23. In addition, official figures revealed that 2,268 individuals died from Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by past exposure to asbestos, in 2021.

Barts Health NHS Trust Workers Vote on Industrial Action Over Pay and Staffing Dispute

Over 1,000 workers at Barts Health NHS Trust have commenced voting today to decide whether to initiate industrial action in response to concerns regarding low pay and understaffing. These workers include cleaners, caterers, porters, security guards, ward hosts, and domestic staff, who were transferred from private firm Serco to NHS employment last year, following protests and strikes led by the Unite union. According to Unite, workers who transitioned to NHS terms after March 31 have been denied a £1,655 lump sum that is part of the NHS pay agreement. Additionally, a considerable number of employees are facing financial losses due to the NHS disregarding their length of service during their employment with Serco. The trust has also been attempting to pay these workers lower overtime rates, exacerbating their financial struggles. Tabusam Ahmed, regional officer for Unite, emphasized that the union will not tolerate Barts Health NHS Trust paying workers, who are no longer outsourced, less money than other NHS staff. Ahmed accused Barts of perpetuating a decade-long history of underpaying these workers and urged the trust to rectify the situation. It is crucial, according to Unite, for the trust to cease cutting corners and fulfil its obligation to pay workers what they are owed, including those in the NHS bank. The outcome of the voting will determine whether industrial action will be taken by the affected workers.

Junior Doctors Walkout

Junior doctors in England have started the longest walkout in the history of the health service. This strike is not only crucial for healthcare workers but also for those who want to save the NHS from the impact of budget cuts by the Conservative Party. On Thursday, thousands of medics across various departments, including A&E, began a five-day strike, as part of an ongoing battle for fairer health service pay. Given that junior doctors make up a significant portion of the medical workforce, this action will severely disrupt many NHS services. The Tory health secretary, Steve Barclay, has refused to engage in dialogue with the doctors’ union, BMA, while strikes are ongoing. Instead, he has presented inadequate offers, fully aware that they would be rejected by the union.

Junior doctors are fighting to have their pay restored to 2008 levels, which would equate to a 35 percent increase. This demand is the least they deserve, although there are concerns that some union leaders might settle for far less. The Scottish BMA agreed to suspend pay strikes scheduled for this week after receiving a revised offer from the Scottish government. However, the offer is disappointing and hardly an improvement over previous government stances. It amounts to a mere 17.5 percent increase over two years, with an immediate rise of 12.4 percent. Scottish BMA leaders claim they will recommend accepting the offer, as it prevents further pay erosion over the next three years. However, the deal fails to address the existing 26 percent pay decline. Additionally, the union has made troubling comments about a pay settlement for consultant doctors in England. Last week, the BMA stated that it would cancel strikes planned for the following week if the government offered a 12.4 percent increase, the same deal proposed to junior doctors in Scotland. There is a genuine risk that the Scottish offer will become the union’s benchmark and undermine the more radical leaders among the junior doctors. In light of this, activists must take a firm stance on the upcoming picket lines and support the union’s original pay demand and the strategy of longer strikes.

The announcement of a two-day strike by the Society of Radiographers (SoR) on July 25, shortly after the planned consultants’ strike, will undoubtedly inspire and energize the cause. The persistence of pay strikes as a pressing issue within the NHS, both among healthcare professionals and the general public, poses significant problems for the Tories, particularly as they face upcoming by-elections while already weakened. Furthermore, cabinet divisions are emerging, with some ministers advocating for improved offers to workers engaged in disputes. and finally,

Teachers vote for Action

Teachers in England represented by the NASUWT union have voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute over pay, meaning schools could face further strike action in autumn. Nearly nine out of 10 teacher members of the NASUWT union who voted in the ballot backed strike action. The union – which passed the 50 per cent ballot turnout required by law – has said it plans to stage continuous action short of strike action starting in September. Dates for strike action in the autumn term will also be considered and it will be coordinated with other unions where possible, the union said. Overall, 88.5 per cent of NASUWT teacher members in England who voted in the ballot backed strikes and 94.3 per cent backed action short of strikes, with a turnout of 51.9 per cent.

Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “Today our members have sent a strong message to the government and to employers that teachers demand a better deal on pay and to address excessive workload and working hours. “Our members have secured the largest mandate for industrial action by the NASUWT in over a decade, exceeding the government’s anti-trade union ballot thresholds.

“We have today written to the government and to employers confirming the prospect for industrial action in schools the length and breadth of the country from this autumn.”

Pregnant woman with child: Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/tawnynina-1041483/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=775036&#8243;>Tawny Nina Botha</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com//?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=775036&#8243;>Pixabay</a>
Empire Cinema Picture: By User:EmpireSunderland – Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57628583
Construction image: Image by bridgesward from Pixabay
London Underground Train: Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Union News 28th of June 2023


Welcome to Union News, your weekly podcast of reports from the Trade Union and labour movement in the UK. In this week’s edition: Junior Doctors Set to Launch Major Strikes, Challenging Tories and Hospital Bosses in Pay Battle, Successful Edinburgh Meeting Calls for an End to the War in Ukraine, 20,000 Rail Workers to Strike in July Amid Pay Dispute with Train Operators, Xplore Dundee bus workers resume strike action over rejected pay offer, Amazon workers in Coventry set to strike for three days during Prime week, warns GMB, North-West University Support Staff Escalate Strikes Demanding Fair Pay, and finally, Sun Editorial shows need for a pro-union Counter Media. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Junior Doctors escalate strikes

Junior doctors are preparing for a major block of strikes, aiming to challenge the government and hospital administrators. The upcoming five-day strike, scheduled for July 13, will be the longest single walkout in NHS history. The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for fair pay, demanding a 35 percent rise to bring salaries back to 2008 levels. The announcement coincided with the closing of a strike ballot by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). If the RCN members vote in favor of striking, there may be joint action with the BMA. The BMA highlights the government’s lack of commitment to resolving the dispute, with no effort made to reopen negotiations. The ongoing NHS pay battle seeks to address the workforce crisis, with millions on waiting lists for treatment and thousands of unfilled doctor positions. The escalation of the pay campaign is crucial, and the support of all trade unionists on hospital picket lines is essential. The BMA is currently balloting hospital consultants, and their strike is planned for July 20 and 21. While simultaneous strikes by junior doctors and consultants could pose a significant challenge to the government, the BMA has ruled out such action at this time. However, united NHS strikes have the potential to force the government to address the pay issue.

Successful Edinburgh Meeting Calls for an End to the War in Ukraine

On Saturday 24th of June a rally was held next to the Holyrood Parliament in Edinburgh with the object stated as addressing: “The recklessness of British policy on Ukraine is a threat to us all and to world peace. Send out a strong message and reaffirm our democratic right to assembly and free speech: End this war!”

In glorious summer sunshine the crowd heard speeches from, amongst others, Brian Gerrish of the UK Column, Lauren Wilson of the Workers Party of Britain and Peter Ford, former ambassador to Bahrain and Syria.

20,000 Rail Workers to Strike in July Amid Pay Dispute with Train Operators

Approximately 20,000 rail workers are set to go on strike in July as part of a nationwide rail dispute. The strike action comes after train operators rejected a new pay offer, backed by the Tories who support the privatised rail firms. Members of the RMT union working across 14 train operating companies will walk out on July 20, 22, and 29. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch emphasized that the strike mandate was renewed by an overwhelming majority, and the union will continue its campaign until a satisfactory agreement is reached on pay, working conditions, and job security.

The latest pay offer from the Rail Delivery Group, representing the bosses, is a mere 5 percent pay increase for the 2022-23 period, significantly below the inflation rate. Additionally, the union would have to accept company-by-company negotiations for a major restructuring of job roles and conditions before a pay rise for 2023-24 is considered. The fragmented talks and proposed changes by the rail companies, such as a single flexible station grade and closed ticket offices, have sparked concerns among union leaders. Despite some leaders possibly viewing the 5 percent offer as acceptable without the conditions attached, it is regarded as inadequate and should be rejected.

While the new strikes are welcomed, it is evident that achieving victory will require a higher level of action. The upcoming anti-union laws that the Tories plan to pass in parliament pose a threat, allowing for minimum service levels during strikes and potential repercussions for non-compliance. Rail workers will likely be among the early targets. In the negotiations, unions should demand a firm commitment from employers to refrain from utilizing these laws under any circumstances. The Scottish government has already agreed to this condition, raising the question of why rail bosses have not followed suit. Any employer resorting to these laws must be met with mass defiance and non-compliance.

In a separate development, RMT members working as ticket inspectors on Arriva Rail London (London Overground) have commenced voting on whether to strike. The vote stems from a collective grievance that has not been adequately addressed, with the employer failing to adhere to the proper procedures outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. The ballot will run until July 11.

Xplore Dundee bus workers resume strike action over rejected pay offer

Bus workers employed by Xplore Dundee went back on strike this weekend after rejecting the latest pay proposal. Members of Unite, the union representing the workers, had previously walked out in a heated dispute concerning pay, terms, and conditions at the city’s privately-owned bus operator, which is part of the McGills group. The workers were dissatisfied with a below-inflation pay increase of 7 percent, ongoing restrictions on sick pay, and the accumulation of hundreds of days in outstanding annual leave owed by the company.

The employer, known for its anti-trade union stance, further provoked workers by displaying pictures of the city’s shuttered Timex factory on noticeboards during the strike ballot. This was seen as a veiled threat, which became explicit during negotiations when the company hinted at folding the business and terminating employees to be rehired. The workers had temporarily suspended their 12-week strike to consider a new offer, but according to Unite representative Dougie Maguire, the proposed terms failed to meet their needs, particularly amidst the current cost-of-living crisis.

Maguire emphasized that for a resolution to the dispute, Xplore Dundee must present an offer that aligns with the expectations and demands of the workers.

Amazon workers in Coventry set to strike for three days during Prime week, warns GMB

The GMB union issued a warning today that the upcoming three-day pay strikes at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse will have a significant impact on one of the online retail giant’s busiest weeks of the year. The walkouts, scheduled for July 11, 12, and 13, coincide with the company’s annual Prime week event, known for offering substantial discounts on popular products to drive sales.

Nearly 900 workers in the West Midlands are expected to participate in the ongoing dispute, marking the first time that British-based Amazon staff have taken strike action. The conflict, initiated in January following a meagre 50p hourly wage increase, has already resulted in 19 days of strikes.

Rachel Fagan, senior organiser at GMB, emphasized the staggering sales figures generated during Prime week, which can reach up to £2 billion. In light of this, she criticized the company for denying low-paid workers a wage that enables them to meet their financial needs. The message from GMB members to Amazon is clear: human beings cannot be undervalued and underpaid.

North-West University Support Staff Escalate Strikes Demanding Fair Pay

Support staff at universities in north-west England are intensifying their strike action in protest of their pay. Employees such as cleaners, IT technicians, administrators, and library staff at Manchester Metropolitan University will walk out today and tomorrow, adding to the six days of strikes that began last week. They will also strike on July 5, 6, and 7. Additionally, support staff at the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University took action on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

These workers, who are members of the public-sector union Unison, are demanding fairer compensation for their vital roles in ensuring a positive university experience for students. Unison’s North West regional organiser, Kate Doyle, criticized the generous executive pay and bonuses enjoyed by senior leaders in higher education while support staff have faced years of pay cuts in real terms. Doyle called on the universities to reconsider their inadequate pay offer and improve wages. The workers have already rejected a 5 to 8 percent pay rise.

and finally, Sun Editorial shows need for a pro-union Counter Media

The need for a pro-worker counter media arises from several reasons that stem from the shortcomings and biases present in mainstream media. This is especially evident in the editorial you mentioned from The Sun newspaper, which highlights the importance of alternative sources of information that prioritize the interests and well-being of workers. Here are some key reasons why a pro-worker counter media is necessary:

Challenging biased narratives: Mainstream media outlets often have corporate interests or political affiliations that can lead to biased reporting. As a result, they may prioritize the perspectives and agendas of the elite or powerful, neglecting the concerns and struggles of the working class. A pro-worker counter media aims to challenge these biased narratives and provide a platform for alternative viewpoints.

Amplifying worker voices: Workers’ perspectives and experiences are crucial in understanding socio-economic issues, labor rights, and workplace conditions. However, these voices are often marginalized or overshadowed in mainstream media. Pro-worker media outlets prioritize amplifying the voices of workers, allowing them to share their stories, concerns, and demands, thereby fostering a more inclusive and democratic media landscape.

Raising awareness of labor rights: Many workers face challenges such as exploitation, unfair wages, unsafe working conditions, and inadequate labour protections. Mainstream media may not adequately cover these issues or provide in-depth analysis of labour rights violations. A pro-worker counter media strives to educate the public about labour rights, workplace abuses, and the need for social and economic justice.

Holding power to account: Media plays a crucial role in holding power accountable, including government institutions, corporations, and other influential entities. However, when media outlets have vested interests tied to these powerful entities, their ability to provide objective scrutiny may be compromised. Pro-worker media outlets are less likely to be influenced by these interests, allowing them to provide a more independent and critical perspective on power dynamics and abuses.

Fostering solidarity and organizing efforts: Pro-worker counter media can serve as a platform for fostering solidarity among workers, unions, and labour movements. By highlighting success stories, organizing efforts, and collective actions, these media outlets can inspire and mobilize workers, contributing to a stronger labour movement and improved working conditions.

Examples like the Morning Star, Workers magazine, and the Union News podcast that you mentioned are important alternatives that prioritize the interests of workers and provide a counter-narrative to the dominant mainstream media. Supporting such outlets can help create a more balanced media landscape, ensure the representation of workers’ concerns, and contribute to a fairer society.

If you’ve enjoyed this edition of Union News please consider sharing, liking and subscribing.

Union News (18 June 2023)


Welcome to Union News, the weekly podcast from the labour and trade union movement in the UK. In this edition: Unmasking the Cover-Up: Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign Fights for Accountability, The People Stand with Nurses: Public Support Surges as Strike Action Continues, Rising Cost of Living Hits Hard: Public Service Workers Struggle to Make Ends Meet, Rising Cost of Living Hits Hard: Public Service Workers Struggle to Make Ends Meet, Train Drivers Take a Stand: Strikes Loom as Working Agreements Come Under Fire, Strike for Change: Junior Doctors Demand Decisive Action on Pay, and finally, Pay Battle Escalates: Teachers in England Set for July Strikes. Writing is by the Solidarity team and music is by Tim Bragg.

Unmasking the Cover-Up: Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign Fights for Accountability

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) renewed its calls for an inquiry into a severe state attack on organized workers by the Conservative government at a march this week. The campaign seeks to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The campaigners argue that an inquiry would expose the government’s lies and cover-ups regarding their role in managing the pit closure program, orchestrating militaristic police operations during the miners’ strike in the 1980s, and manipulating the courts and media to create a false narrative that demonized and criminalized workers fighting for their jobs and communities.

The incident in question took place on June 18, 1984, when police confronted striking miners at the Orgreave Coking Plant in South Yorkshire. The police had previously impeded pickets and engaged in acts of violence. On that day, they corralled the miners into a field and initiated a violent charge with mounted and riot police, leading to what has been referred to as the “Battle of Orgreave.” However, eyewitnesses and campaigners contend that it was an assault rather than a battle, with the police being the only armed side.

The OTJC argues that an inquiry is essential due to several factors, including pardons granted by the Scottish government to Scottish miners arrested during the strike, ongoing resentment in former mining communities, the withholding of strike-related documents until 2066, and growing public support for the campaign. They believe that a comprehensive and authoritative review is in the public interest to uncover the truth about what transpired and why the workers were treated so harshly.

Despite the evidence compiled and submitted, the Tory government has refused to grant pardons or initiate an inquiry into the events at Orgreave. The OTJC emphasizes that no one in government or the police has been held accountable for their actions. They view the government’s attempts to bury these issues as a serious threat to democracy. Some campaigners suspect that the government fears an Orgreave inquiry would expose scandals, corruption, and attempts to suppress dissent. They argue that the right to protest and strike should not be subject to the state’s discretion but should be inherent rights in a democratic society.

The People Stand with Nurses: Public Support Surges as Strike Action Continues

Support for striking nurses has surged even higher than when the industrial action began six months ago, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). In an RCN poll, it was revealed that 62 percent of the public now backs the strikes, marking the highest level of support for any profession engaged in strike action. A majority of supporters expressed strong support for nurses. Additionally, more than eight in 10 respondents (82 percent) expressed their backing for a pay increase for nurses.

The RCN is conducting a second ballot among its 300,000 members as per government regulations, which require reballoting after a six-month period of industrial action. If nurses vote to continue their campaign, the strike will persist until December of this year, with voting concluding on June 23.

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen acknowledged the immense public support received by nursing staff during this time. The presence of patients on picket lines, some coming directly from their hospital beds, provided a significant morale boost for the nurses concerned about leaving patients unattended. Cullen emphasized that the unwavering public support should draw attention in Downing Street, calling on Rishi Sunak to recognize the significance of this backing. Cullen stressed the importance of doing right by nurses, as it ultimately benefits patients as well. Cullen noted that support for the nursing strikes cuts across party lines, and urged Sunak to regain public support this summer. The upcoming 75th anniversary of the NHS is expected to elevate this issue further in the context of elections.

Rising Cost of Living Hits Hard: Public Service Workers Struggle to Make Ends Meet

During a debate on the rising cost of living, Unison delegates highlighted the difficult choices faced by public service workers, including having to sacrifice meals to provide for their children. The cost-of-living crisis disproportionately affects already disadvantaged workers, including women, black, disabled, LGBT, and young members.

Yvonne Green from the Greater London region expressed concern over members struggling to meet their financial obligations and being priced out of living near their workplaces due to escalating housing costs. She emphasized the importance of supporting and holding employers accountable to address these issues.

Tina Roach from the Northern region highlighted the insecurity faced by many individuals, with some members even relying on charitable donations as current benefits prove inadequate. She lamented that instead of making progress in eradicating poverty, the country is witnessing the opposite trend.

The conference resolved to advocate for a well-funded public sector that prioritizes its workers and to raise awareness of the mounting financial pressures faced by public service workers.

Train Drivers Take a Stand: Strikes Loom as Working Agreements Come Under Fire

Train drivers from the union Aslef have initiated two new disputes against private rail operators to protect their working agreements. Avanti West Coast is being accused of attacking the workers’ sick pay agreement, leading to a vote in favour of strike action. The drivers will stage a 24-hour walkout on Sunday, July 2. In a separate dispute, drivers at London North Eastern Railways (LNER) will enforce an overtime ban starting from Saturday, July 1. These conflicts add to Aslef’s ongoing national dispute over pay.

Mick Whelan, the general secretary of Aslef, expressed regret that their members had to resort to such actions but emphasized that they would not tolerate violations of their agreed terms and conditions by the train operating companies. Whelan stated that they have been actively seeking resolutions to these disputes for several months, but unless the operators honor their agreements, further action will be necessary.

Strike for Change: Junior Doctors Demand Decisive Action on Pay

Junior doctors in England, following their 72-hour walkout, are being encouraged to escalate their strikes to demand proper negotiations and a substantial pay offer. Tens of thousands of doctors, supported by the BMA union, took part in a march from Tavistock Square to Parliament Square last week, calling for fair pay and the preservation of the NHS. The government’s current offer of a mere 5 percent pay increase has been deemed inadequate, leading to calls for more decisive action. Junior doctors express concerns about the strain on waiting lists and the shortage of staff, emphasizing the importance of unity and continued strikes. They are also considering collaborating with other unions, such as the RCN nurses’ union, to strengthen their cause. The ultimate goal is to bring about meaningful negotiations for a significant pay offer and rejuvenate the fight to protect the NHS.

And finally, Pay Battle Escalates: Teachers in England Set for July Strikes

Teachers in England, represented by the National Education Union (NEU), are planning to strike over pay in July. The strikes are scheduled for two dates, 5th and 7th July, and are likely to result in the closure of many schools, either fully or partially. The NEU considers strike action as a last resort and is calling for renewed negotiations with the government. The Department for Education has expressed concerns that further strikes would negatively impact student learning.

The NEU has previously organized five national and three regional strike days since February, making it the largest education union in the UK. The most recent strike on 2nd May affected a significant number of schools, with less than half fully operational.

The joint general secretaries of the NEU, Dr. Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, accuse Education Secretary Gillian Keegan of abandoning teachers in England. They demand that Keegan engage in negotiations, as their previous appeals have been disregarded. Bousted and Courtney emphasize that Keegan possesses the authority to prevent the strikes.

State school teachers in England received a 5% pay increase for the 2022-23 academic year. The government also proposed a one-time cash payment of £1,000, which was forfeited when negotiations failed. The unions argue that the offer should be higher to account for inflation, and they insist that any pay rise should be funded by additional government funds rather than schools’ existing budgets.

The government has offered a 4.3% pay rise for most teachers in the 2023-24 academic year, with starting salaries reaching £30,000. The Department for Education regards this offer as fair and reasonable, noting that schools will receive an additional £2.3 billion over the next two years. It claims that, on average across England, the offer is fully funded, although individual schools will be affected differently.

Negotiations stalled when all four unions rejected the government’s offer, arguing that most schools would need to make cuts elsewhere to accommodate it. The unions are urging the government to disclose the recommendations of the independent pay review body, which advises on appropriate pay rises for teachers in the coming year.

Picture credits

Cops with riot shields: West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom – Day 150 – West Midlands Police – Handsworth riots (1985), CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84332454
Teacher image 14995841 from Pixabay

Union News 10th of May 2023


Welcome to Union News, the podcast that brings you news from the Trade Union and labour movement in the UK. In this week’s episode: Amazon warehouse cleaners in Kent set to make history with union recognition deal, Glasgow airport staff to vote on strike action over below-inflation pay offer, and finally, Rail Workers in the UK Prepare for More Strikes Over Pay, Conditions and Job Security. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Amazon warehouse cleaners in Kent set to make history with union recognition deal

Cleaners at an Amazon warehouse in Kent, who are outsourced through contractor Phosters, are set to become the first British workers at an Amazon site to win union recognition, according to United Voices of the World (UVW). The staff have secured a concession from their bosses to negotiate a voluntary recognition deal, after they began balloting for strikes over pay. The UVW is demanding a minimum wage of £11.95 per hour. The news follows calls for Amazon to officially recognise the GMB union amid industrial action at its Coventry site, which could spread to other locations.

Glasgow airport staff to vote on strike action over below-inflation pay offer

Staff at Glasgow airport, employed by five different firms, are set to be balloted for strike action after rejecting below-inflation pay offers. Unite workers have refused pay awards that would leave hourly rates between £12.61 and £10.82 per hour. Unite industrial officer Pat McIlvogue warned that a “summer of travel chaos” could be on the horizon if the companies do not return with “fair and decent offers”. Glasgow airport is owned by AGS Airports, which is in ongoing dialogue with the union on pay discussions for this year.

and finally, Rail Workers in the UK Prepare for More Strikes Over Pay, Conditions and Job Security

Rail workers in the UK are preparing for strikes on Friday and Saturday as part of their ongoing struggle for better pay, working conditions and job security. Aslef train drivers’ union members will strike at 16 train operating companies on Friday, with more planned on 31 May and 3 June. Meanwhile, 20,000 RMT union members at 14 train companies will strike on Saturday. Train drivers have not had a pay increase since 2019 despite inflation running at 13.5%.

Union News (23rd of April 2023)


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Welcome to Union News the podcast that brings you news of the UK labour and trade union movement. In this edition: NHS workers in Wales to vote on pay offer, Firefighters donate engine to Palestinians, University workers begin marking boycott, and, Posties to vote on pay offfer. Music is by Tim Bragg.

NHS workers in Wales to vote on pay offer

Health workers in Wales are being balloted on an improved pay offer from the Welsh government, aimed at ending a long-running dispute over salaries. Unite is not recommending acceptance of the offer, but strike action will be paused while voting is held over the next month. Unison, however, is recommending that its members accept the offer, which includes commitments to reductions in the qualifying period for unsocial hours and enhancements on sick pay.

For 2022-23, a collective agreement was reached earlier this year which provided 3 per cent, half of which was a non-consolidated cash payment, on top of the average 4.7 per cent increase already made following the Pay Review Body recommendations.

The offer for 2022-23 is a one-off NHS Recovery Payment of an average 3 per cent non-consolidated payment.

For 2023-24, the offer is for a consolidated across-the-board increase of 5 per cent with effect from April 1 2023 to Agenda for Change pay scales.

If the offer is accepted, this means that NHS staff in Wales will have received an average award of over 15.7 per cent, of which 11.2 per cent is consolidated into pay permanently, said the Welsh government.

Firefighters donate engine to Palestinians

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has donated a fire engine to Palestinian firefighters for the third time in a year as part of its ongoing solidarity efforts. The FBU has also trained hundreds of Palestinian firefighters in Scotland and sent firefighting equipment to several cities in Palestine. Ian Morris of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said surplus or reusable assets and equipment should be shared to support firefighters around the world. Jim Malone of the FBU said the latest donation would help Palestinian firefighters provide better coverage in communities under “illegal apartheid occupation”.

University workers begin marking boycott

Workers at 145 universities in the UK have started a marking and assessment boycott in their ongoing fight over pay, equalities, and pensions. Despite attempts by the general secretary of UCU union, Jo Grady, to delay the boycott, members voted to keep up and escalate action at a higher education special sector conference. The conference also passed a motion calling for greater democracy and organisation among rank and file members, including fortnightly branch delegates’ meetings or national strike committees.

Posties to vote on pay offer

Postal workers are being recommended to accept a new pay deal that would end the long-running dispute with the Royal Mail. CWU members will be balloted on the offer in the coming weeks. Leaders of the Communications Workers Union are supporting a ‘Yes’ vote.

The deal includes a real-terms pay cut over three years.

There would be no improvement on the 2 percent that was forced on workers last year—and which they voted to strike against. Starting from April this year, there would be a 6 percent increment, along with a lump-sum payment of £500 that would not be included in workers’ regular wages. However, the following year, they would have to settle for a paltry 2 percent rise.

On a more positive note the deal includes a profit-sharing scheme dependent on profits, where the first 20 percent of profits are shared out among workers as an annual bonus. Of course, this is dependent on the business making profits and cannot be relied on in the same way as a wage increase. Nonetheless offering profit sharing as part of a bundle of incentives and rewards is something to be generally welcomed.

But make no mistake this is a deal which even leaving aside the low pay offer has parts which should worry workers.

The deal assures that there will be no mandatory layoffs, but only until April 2025. Beyond that date, there will be a reassessment where the management will likely push for more job cuts. Some positions, particularly in airport locations, are already at risk as the management plans to decrease mail flights. Affected workers will need to either take up positions in other areas or opt for voluntary redundancy.

Another disturbing aspect of the proposed agreement leaves suspended or sacked reps at the mercy of a right-wing Labour lord, Lord Falconera. He is a personal friend of Tony Blair and advised the coal bosses against the NUM union during the 1984-5 strike.

There are also concerns that the deal pushes workers’ conditions closer to a gig-economy model, with seasonal hours, late shifts, and potential rewards schemes for parcel deliveries. The deal also creates a two-tier workforce, with new workers on worse terms and conditions, and incentivizes bosses to replace existing workers with them.

Postal workers need to take a long hard look at the proposed deal before voting.

And finally, Help build Union News – join active minority that gets things done!

We have discussed the need for an alternative mass media that supports trade unions and workers multiple times. Our current efforts include producing Union News in audio and print formats on a weekly basis. However, our goal is to establish a professional multimedia operation in the future. This requires attracting a disciplined and active minority that can take action.

Our aim is to challenge the capitalist media’s lies and hypocrisy and fight for the hearts and minds of working families in the UK. We have taken a few small steps in the right direction. For example, we are developing a network of local volunteer correspondents who provide us with regular labor and trade union-related news and content, including articles, photos, videos, and interviews.

We appeal to more people to join us and contribute to this essential task. Even sending in one news story per week would be highly appreciated. Please give it some thought and become part of our growing network of local volunteer correspondents.

Apart from local correspondents, we also need volunteers to report on news specific to their trade and profession, including both blue and white-collar workers. We welcome news from both the office and shop floor.

Help us build a disciplined and active minority that gets things done. Contact us today by emailing UnionNewsService@protonmail.com.

Union News 16th April 2023


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Welcome to Union News, the podcast that brings you news of the labour and union movement in the United Kingdom. In this edition, Nurses vote to continue strikes, Unison win equal pay campaign, Cleaners strike for fair pay, and Environment Agency workers start strikes. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Nurses vote to continue strikes

Nurses in England are planning to go on a 48-hour strike from the evening of April 30 after rejecting a pay offer from Tory ministers. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) reported that 54% of its members voted to reject the offer, and a grassroots revolt led by cross-union group NHS Workers Say No played a decisive role in the decision. The walkouts will also involve nursing staff working in emergency departments, intensive care units, cancer care and other services that were previously exempt. The crisis in the healthcare sector cannot be addressed without significant action that addresses urgent recruitment and retention issues and nursing pay.

Unison win equal pay campaign

After a decade-long campaign by the union Unison, hundreds of women council workers in Brighton and Hove will receive pay equal to their male colleagues. The workers will also receive a settlement of up to £2,000 each as part of the landmark deal. The pay disparity began in 2013 when a special bank holiday payment was negotiated for refuse and recycling workers, which benefited male employees, while low-paid women staff, many in the care sector, continued working on bank holidays without extra pay. The deal brings “historic inequality to an end,” Unison said, and should put pressure on other local authorities to address gender pay disparities.

Cleaners strike for fair pay

RMT union members, who clean trains on Avanti West Coast, GWR, Northern, GTR and Southeastern, rounded off a 48-hour strike on Saturday.Train cleaners working for outsourcers Churchill, Bidvest Noonan and Atalian Servest, and employed by Avanti West Coast, GWR, Northern, GTR and Southeastern, have gone on strike more than 20 times since February 2022 to demand a pay increase to at least £15 an hour, sick pay, free travel and better pensions and holidays. The cleaners are calling for the contracts to be ripped up to bring them back in house. The strikes are having an impact on the train operating companies, and union campaigning has led to free travel being granted to outsourced workers at Transport for London. Bella Fashola, a picketer in Hastings, is confident of workers winning a reballot at the end of May to renew their strike mandate.

and finally, Environment Agency workers start strikes

Members of Unison at the Environment Agency began a weekend of strikes on Friday in protest against what they described as “woeful” pay. The action, which will continue until 7 am on Monday, is an escalation of last year’s industrial action over a “terrible deal” of a 2% increase and a one-off lump sum of £345, according to the union. UNISON has now written to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt requesting that he intervene to provide additional funds for the public body to pay its employees fairly. UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea warned that “uncompetitive pay” is causing a worker exodus at a time when environmental damage and rising pollution levels are in the spotlight.

Union News 10th of April 2023

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Welcome to Union News the podcast reporting on the labour and trade union movement in the UK. In this week’s episode: British Teachers Work an Average of 54 Hours per Week, Unite Warns of 12-Week Strike at Kaefer, Junior Doctors to strike for a further four days, Teachers debate calls for key worker home discounts, and finally, Protests and strikes continue in France. Music in this podcast is by Tim Bragg.

British Teachers Work an Average of 54 Hours per Week

A survey by the NASUWT teaching union has found that teachers in Britain work an average of 54 hours per week, with 13 of those hours falling outside of normal school hours. 87% of the 8,464 NASUWT members surveyed said their workload had increased over the past year, and 83% said their job had adversely affected their mental health. The union is calling for a contractual limit on working hours to ensure staff can enjoy a life outside of work. The government has committed to forming a taskforce to reduce teacher worload by five hours per week.

Unite Warns of 12-Week Strike at Kaefer

Defence contractor Kaefer may face a 12-week, all-out strike by Unite members including painters, scaffolders, cleaners and support service workers. The union has warned that work on the £1.25bn type-31 frigate contract at the Rosyth yard in Fife could be “significantly delayed” due to the strike, after rejecting a 7.2% pay offer from the employer. Unite regional industrial officer Bob MacGregor has criticised Kaefer and Babcock, which owns the yard, for their handling of industrial relations at Rosyth. A Babcock spokesman said it was aware of the situation and would work to mitigate any impacts to Rosyth operations.

Junior Doctors to strike for a further four days

Health officials have expressed deep concern about patient care provision during the four-day strike planned by junior doctors next week. The British Medical Association (BMA) has called its members to strike from tomorrow to Saturday next week. NHS managers are concerned about emergency cover and the impact on operating lists, as many consultants who stepped in during previous strikes will be on holiday over Easter week.

But Dr Latifa Patel, BMA workforce lead officer, said: “No-one understands better than us, the doctors who care for them, that patients are getting a substandard experience 365 days a year from an overstretched and understaffed NHS.

“In this brutal work environment, patient care is at risk every day due to chronic staff shortages and years of underinvestment in equipment and services.

“We have a jointly agreed system with NHS England in place to ensure patient safety in the event of extreme and unforeseen circumstances.

“We met with NHS England four times per day during the last strikes to monitor the situation, but there were no requests for a derogation – a temporary stoppage of the industrial action – to be made.

“The same proven arrangements will be in place this time.

“Junior doctors have no desire to strike, they been pushed into this action by long-term government inaction and now want to bring this dispute to an end as quickly as possible.

“We hope the Health Secretary will come to the table immediately with a meaningful pay offer so doctors can avoid more strike action and instead return to doing what they want to be doing: caring for their patients.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has refused BMA’s demand for a 35% pay rise to make up for years of pay cuts, claiming it is unreasonable and unaffordable.

Teachers debate calls for key worker home discounts

At the NASUWT conference this weekend, a motion to campaign for rental and first-time buyer discount schemes of at least 30% below market prices in high-cost areas was debated. The motion highlights that increased housing costs have made it difficult to recruit and retain teachers, particularly younger teachers. A recent survey of NASUWT members under 30 showed that 71% consider housing to be a major factor in their decision to remain in the profession. Two-thirds have experienced a rise in rent or mortgage over the past year, with 31% experiencing a rise between £100 and £200. The general secretary of NASUWT, Dr Patrick Roach, has called for the government to prioritize teachers’ access to affordable housing and to extend discount schemes for rental and first-time buyers.

and finally, Protests and strikes continue in France

France is currently experiencing widespread demonstrations and strikes in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the age of pension entitlement. The protests have grown to address issues such as democracy, police violence, and social organisation. The 11th day of protests on Thursday saw over 370 planned gatherings, with huge numbers of people marching in Paris, Marseille and Nantes. In a move showing international solidarity, Belgian trade unionists blockaded a major oil depot set to supply French petrol stations with fuel. Protesters also blocked roads and roundabouts and invaded the headquarters of the multinational BlackRock in Paris. Sophie Binet, the new CGT general secretary, says it’s urgent for workers and students to find a way to win on pensions and push out Macron. She noted that the mobilisation will continue in one form or another after this week, despite the forthcoming ruling by the Constitutional Council on whether the pension measure was passed legally.