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!

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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.

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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.

Union News 3rd of April 2023

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Welcome to Union News, the podcast giving you reports from the labour and trade union movement in the United Kingdom. Music in this podcast is by Tim Bragg. In this weeks episode: Heathrow security guards launch 10-day strike over pay, Amazon Workers in Coventry to Strike Again Over Pay, Daniel Kebede elected as new General Secretary of National Education Union, and finally, Royal Mail accused of corporate blackmail as bosses claim strikes have pushed the company to the brink of bankruptcy.

Heathrow security guards launch 10-day strike over pay

Security guards at Heathrow Airport have begun a 10-day strike over pay, affecting the busy Easter weekend. Approximately 1,400 members of Unite are involved in the walkout after last-minute talks failed. Picket lines have been mounted outside the airport and the strike has been described as “well supported” by Unite. While the airport has said its contingency plans are working well, some British Airways flights are expected to be cancelled. Unite claims that Heathrow can afford to pay a decent pay rise to its workers, many of whom are on “poverty pay”. The strikes involve security officers at Terminal Five, which is used exclusively by British Airways, and campus security guards responsible for checking airport cargo.

Amazon Workers in Coventry to Strike Again Over Pay

Workers at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Coventry are set to stage a fresh strike over pay. More than 500 members of the GMB union will walk out for three days from April 16th, followed by another strike from April 21st to 23rd. The strikes follow previous stoppages earlier this year, and the GMB is also balloting its members at five other Amazon sites across the Midlands for strikes over pay. The union’s senior organiser, Amanda Gearing, said that industrial action is growing and that Amazon needs to urgently get serious and talk pay with GMB. Amazon announced that from next week, the minimum starting pay for its employees will increase to between £11 and £12 an hour depending on location.

Daniel Kebede elected as new General Secretary of National Education Union

Daniel Kebede has won the ballot of members to become the general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), making him the first sole leader of the union. Kebede, a qualified primary school teacher, was the union’s national president between 2021 and 2022. His appointment will take effect on September 1, and he will replace joint general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney. In response to the news, Bousted and Courtney congratulated Kebede and offered their commiserations to runner-up Niamh Sweeney. Kebede has a law degree from the University of Wales.

And finally, Royal Mail accused of corporate blackmail as bosses claim strikes have pushed the company to the brink of bankruptcy

Royal Mail bosses are claiming that the strikes by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have put the company on the brink of bankruptcy, which could result in a government-appointed administrator splitting up the company and selling its profitable parcels side of the business. CWU leaders have been in talks with bosses for months, but without any success, while bosses have been making workplace cuts and victimizing workers.

Royal Mail’s claim that strikes have pushed the company to the brink of bankruptcy is being described as corporate blackmail. The company recorded a profit of £758 million in the year to March 2022, and distributed around £567 million to shareholders in dividends and share buybacks.

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British Airways image by Wael from Pixabay
Amazon image by Mustafa Keskin from Pixabay
Royal Mail logo by KollectivFuture

Union News 26th of March 2023


Welcome to Union News which reports on the labour and trade union movement in the UK. In this podcast Fire Brigades Union calls for mass campaign to resist UK government’s ‘draconian’ anti-strike legislation, Workers at London’s largest sixth form college vote for 30 days of strikes, Junior doctors in England to hold longest strike in NHS history over pay dispute, National Express bus drivers continue indefinite strike in West Midlands, while balloting on new pay offer and Join the Active Minority and Help Build Union News: Donate Today! Music in this podcast is by Tim Bragg.

Fire Brigades Union calls for mass campaign to resist UK government’s ‘draconian’ anti-strike legislation

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called for a mass campaign of resistance against the UK government’s Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, which is currently at committee stage in the House of Lords. The proposed legislation would allow bosses and ministers to sack workers who refuse to cross picket lines and provide a minimum service level during walkouts in six key sectors. The FBU’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, described the bill as the “most draconian attack on the rights of working people in decades” and called for a mass movement of non-cooperation and non-compliance to defeat it. The Trades Union Congress has also condemned the bill and is being urged to organise an emergency congress and a sustained campaign of resistance.

Workers at London’s largest sixth form college vote for 30 days of strikes

NEU union members at NewVic, the largest sixth form college in London, have unanimously voted for 30 days of strikes in a dispute over management attacks on their working conditions and students’ education. The strikes will take place three days a week for ten weeks from the beginning of the summer term in April. This is the third dispute in the past 12 months at NewVic, and workers have grown stronger and more experienced through their previous struggles. Workers have cited a lack of concern for education and a focus on money from management, and delivered a vote of no-confidence in the principal in January. The first strike day will also see a mass meeting, with NEU joint general secretaries invited to attend along with other trade unionists, local councillors, and supporters.

Junior doctors in England to hold longest strike in NHS history over pay dispute

Junior doctors in England are planning to hold a four-day strike from Tuesday, 11 April, in the longest such action so far over the health service pay dispute. The doctors, represented by the British Medical Association, are calling for their pay to be restored to 2013 levels, which would represent a 26% increase. The action is expected to force the cancellation of thousands of operations and the closure of outpatient services. The union leadership has accused the government of failing to make any credible offer in negotiations. Other health unions are recommending that their members accept a pay deal that the BMA deems inadequate.

National Express bus drivers continue indefinite strike in West Midlands, while balloting on new pay offer

Over 3,100 National Express bus drivers in the West Midlands continue their indefinite strike as they ballot on a new pay offer. The Unite union members walked out in several cities on Monday, impacting the number of buses running in the entire West Midlands area. The new offer includes a 16.2 percent increase on all current driver pay rates, formalizing existing interim overtime rates, and accident pay to be paid at 12-week average pay. However, the 16.2 percent pay offer still would not take drivers up to the £18 an hour rate. Workers have been balloting on the offer.

And finally, Join the Active Minority and Help Build Union News: Donate Today!

Union News is seeking support to build a professional multi-media operation and expand its frequency and reach. The organization is looking for individuals who are willing to contribute to this effort and not simply interested in moaning about low wages and poor working conditions. Union News is already making progress with the help of an active minority of its listeners who are building a network of local correspondents, whose reports are being featured in recent issues. To expand further, Union News needs funds, and donations of any amount are welcome. If you want to be part of the active minority that makes history, not excuses, you can donate today by emailing this address: UnionNewsServices@protonmail.com

Motions passed at the Solidarity Annual Meeting 2023


The following motions were passed at the 2023 meeting of Solidarity union.

Motion for Union Meeting in Support of Strikers

The following motion is being presented in support of the strikers who have taken action to defend their rights and livelihoods:
WHEREAS, workers across the country are facing real-terms pay cuts, with inflation
outstripping wage increases; and
WHEREAS, the recent government decision to freeze public sector pay, and the ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, means that many workers are struggling to maintain their existing living standards; and
WHEREAS, strikes are a legitimate form of industrial action that allow workers to defend their rights and working conditions; and
WHEREAS, the recent strike action taken by many unions is an example of workers exercising their right to strike in order to defend their pay and conditions;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that this union meeting expresses its full support for the striking workers and their right to take industrial action in order to defend their rights and livelihoods; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this union will take all necessary steps to support the striking workers, including providing practical and financial assistance where possible; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this union calls on the government and employers to negotiate in good faith with the striking workers, and to work towards a resolution of the current dispute that recognizes the legitimate concerns and interests of all parties.
We urge all members to support this motion and to stand in solidarity with the striking workers as they fight for fair pay and conditions.

Proposed: Patrick Harrington. Seconded: Dave Andrews

Motion: Building Union Counter-Media to Combat Mainstream Media’s Reactionary Narrative

This meeting recognises the vital importance of the media in shaping public opinion, and the significant influence of mainstream media, particularly print media, in promoting a reactionary narrative that undermines the interests of working people.
We believe that it is necessary for unions to build their own counter-media in order to challenge this narrative and promote a more positive view of unions and the work they do. We welcome the opportunities offered by new technology, which make it easier to create and distribute pro-union content to a wider audience.
We acknowledge the importance of Union News, which is supported by non-financial voluntary contributions from Solidarity union members, as an example of a successful pro-union media outlet. We believe that it is crucial for unions to support such initiatives and work to expand their reach using new technology.
Therefore, we resolve to continue to find ways to expand pro-union media, using new technology to reach a wider audience and challenge the reactionary narrative promoted by mainstream media. We urge all unions to support this effort and work together to build a media landscape that accurately reflects the interests of working people.

Proposed: John Field. Seconded: David Kerr

Motion: Opposing the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill

The proposed Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is a draconian piece of legislation that will severely limit the right of workers to take strike action. This motion condemns the bill and commits the Solidarity Union to oppose it through all available means.
The bill will allow ministers to impose regulations that will force workers to work during strikes in six sectors, including health, education, fire and rescue, border force, nuclear decommissioning, and transport. Employers will be able to issue work notices that name who must work and what they must do. Workers who refuse to comply could face dismissal and unions could be hit with huge damages.
The bill is undemocratic as it forces workers to cross picket lines even if they have voted to strike in a legal ballot. It is also counter-productive as the government’s own analysis warns that it could lead to more strikes. Moreover, it ignores the steps that workers already take to ensure that life-and-limb cover is in place during industrial action.
The proposed legislation will infringe on individuals’ freedom by allowing employers to dismiss workers who take part in a strike that has been agreed in a democratic ballot. Workers who continue to take strike action despite being required to work during the strike will lose their protection from automatic unfair dismissal.
The bill also places an unreasonable burden on unions to ensure that all their members identified in the work notice do not take part in the strike action. Failure to do so could result in the union facing an injunction or having to pay huge damages, costs that come out of members’ subscriptions.
This proposed legislation is probably against international law as it goes against normal democratic practice across Europe. The Solidarity Union, therefore, resolves to oppose the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill and urges all members to stand in solidarity with workers who will be affected by this legislation.
We believe that the government cannot legislate away workers’ dissatisfaction, and this bill will do nothing to resolve the current industrial disputes or support those using public services. The Solidarity Union will continue to work towards the protection of workers’ rights and against any measures that limit their right to strike.

Proposed: David Kerr. Seconded: Patrick Harrington

Union News, 12th of March 2023


Welcome to Union News, the weekly podcast which brings you news from the labour and trade union movement in the UK. In this episode: High cost of childcare forces over half of UK mothers to reduce working hours, Scottish teachers’ union accepts 7% pay deal after year-long dispute, Thousands March in London in Support of NHS Strikes and Urgent Action to Save the NHS, Build support for strikes and demos on the 15th of March 2023 and, Grow Union News. Music is by Tim Bragg. You can e-mail us privately with news from you industry or workplace at UnionNewsServices@protonmail.com.

High cost of childcare forces over half of UK mothers to reduce working hours

Over half of mothers with children aged 11 or younger have been forced to reduce their working hours due to the high cost of childcare, according to an online poll by charity Save the Children. Of the 2,000 parents who responded, 56% said they were impacted by the cost of childcare, while almost half reported declining job offers due to childcare responsibilities. The charity has called on the UK government to introduce a grants-based scheme to cover upfront childcare costs for the first month, expand and reform tax-free childcare offers, and ensure universally accessible, affordable childcare from the end of parental leave to the end of primary school. The government has previously acknowledged financial pressure on families and spent over £20bn in the past five years to help with childcare costs.

RMT union suspends Network Rail strikes and puts forward pay offer for ballot

RMT union leaders have decided to suspend the Network Rail strikes planned for next week and put forward an offer for ballot. Network Rail employs signallers and track maintenance workers, and their absence from the strike may make it easier for other rail bosses to organize scabbing on strike days.

The proposed deal would increase workers’ pay by either £1,750 or 5 percent for the period 1 January to 30 September 2022, whichever is higher. Additionally, there would be a 4 percent increase from 1 October 2022 to 31 December 2023. The RMT claims that for most of the affected workers, this would result in a 10.3 percent increase in basic earnings over two years. However, with inflation at 13.4 percent for a single year, this could lead to a significant real terms pay cut and is being evaluated for rejection.

The Network Rail bosses have proposed job cuts disguised as “Modernising Maintenance”, which could involve a 30 percent increase in nights and weekend work and the removal of 1,950 front-line posts. The company has promised not to make any compulsory redundancies, but only until 2025.

The RMT leaders have not recommended the deal, and the ballot will remain open until 20 March. While they have acknowledged a marginal improvement, which includes back pay being increased from January 2023 to October 2022, they have not endorsed the deal. Additionally, the rail deal includes 75 percent discounted leisure travel.

Scottish teachers’ union accepts 7% pay deal after year-long dispute

Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), has voted overwhelmingly to accept the latest pay offer from the Scottish government and local authorities group Cosla. The ballot produced a nine-to-one vote in favour of accepting the proposal, on a turnout of 82%. The pay deal means that teachers will receive a 7% pay rise backdated to April 2022, 5% next month and a further 2% in January. The year-long dispute resulted in strikes across the country and targeted action in the constituencies of SNP and Green ministers. The EIS settlement follows the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association’s agreement, but the NASUWT is still to ballot its members.

Thousands March in London in Support of NHS Strikes and Urgent Action to Save the NHS

Thousands of campaigners and workers marched in London on Saturday in support of the National Health Service (NHS) strikes. The SOS NHS coalition of 50 groups organised the demonstration, which called for emergency funding for the NHS, an end to privatisation and support for workers. Many of the protesters had been fighting for the NHS for a long time, but there were also new people who were concerned about the health crisis and inspired by the walkouts of nurses, ambulance workers, and junior doctors. The strikes were described as a way of doing something rather than feeling helpless, and Anne, an RCN nurses’ union member who recently went on strike, said that the strikes were necessary to ensure that there were enough staff to offer patients the care they deserve. The unions did not make much effort to turn out their members, which some protesters criticised, and Cat Hobbs from the We Own It anti-privatisation campaign said that the government wanted the NHS to fail so that it could be handed over to private capital. John McDonnell MP pledged his support for the NHS, stating that the government would not be allowed to destroy it. The strikes were deemed the most important way of fighting back, and the next week’s action was described as crucial.

Build support for strikes and demos on the 15th of March 2023

On March 15th, a mass strike will be joined by more than 500,000 workers. While some have already taken action, others are new to the movement and joining for the first time.
Who’s striking on 15 March?
Over 275,000 teachers in the NEU union in England and Wales
Over 125,000 civil service workers in the PCS and Prospect unions
Over 40,000 junior doctors in the BMA and HCSA
Around 70,000 university workers in the UCU union
Around 12,000 London Underground workers in the Aslef and RMT unions
Around 1,000 NUJ union members working for BBC Local
Plus workers at Amazon, Coventry in the GMB union, and others
Help build the strikes and demonstrations
Encourage other workers to join the strike in some way
Bring your own demands, such as a minimum wage increase and more rights at work
Join rallies and picket lines even if you’re not striking
Organize everyone to join demonstrations on 15 March
Donate to strike funds
Deepen participation and direction by strikers themselves
Take pictures and video of the demonstrations and pickets and share on social media
Send us pictures and video at the email address in the show notes

And finally, Grow Union News

Union News is looking to expand its coverage by building a network of local volunteer correspondents who can provide regular labour and trade union-related information. The goal is to increase both the frequency and reach of Union News, and we are calling on anyone who is willing to help. All we need is regular local news from the shop floor or office. In addition, Union News is also interested in covering wider issues that affect ordinary workers, such as housing, homelessness, health, and price inflation. If you want to be part of building a pro-worker and pro-Trade Union alternative media, we encourage you to get in touch today. It’s time to take action and make a difference! Our email address is: UnionNewsServices@protonmail.com.

Union News, 5th of March 2023


Welcome to Union News for Sunday, 5th of March 2023. In this episode:
Government agrees to resume talks on pay, suspending planned strike action by ambulance workers, Greece mourns rail disaster victims and demands safety improvements, Doubts over CWU agreement with Royal Mail and Tens of Thousands of Junior Doctors Plan Massive Strike on March 15 over Pay Dispute with UK Government. Music in this episode is by Tim Bragg.

Government agrees to resume talks on pay, suspending planned strike action by ambulance workers

The UK government has agreed to resume pay talks with ambulance workers, leading to the suspension of the planned strike action. The decision comes after Health Secretary Steve Barclay wrote to unions Unison and GMB, following the workers’ announcement that they would reduce emergency cover during strike days on March 6 and 8. GMB reported that talks will also focus on improving other terms and conditions, and will begin next week. GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison noted the government’s significant shift in attitude towards negotiations on pay, but warned that the strike would return if the talks broke down.

Greece mourns rail disaster victims and demands safety improvements

Greece is still reeling from the worst rail disaster in its history, which killed 57 people, mostly students returning to university after a holiday. Rail workers held a two-day national strike demanding swift answers and a timetable for overdue safety measures. The authorities have arrested and charged with manslaughter the station master closest to the accident, but the Greek public is aware that the disaster was a long time in the making after years of neglect and warnings. The Troika’s demand to privatise the railway in 2013 was supposed to bring modernisation, but the chronic underinvestment prior to privatisation was never reversed in either the rolling stock or the infrastructure.

Doubts over CWU agreement with Royal Mail

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) recently reached an agreement with Royal Mail bosses in an attempt to resolve ongoing disputes over jobs and pay. The agreement, which is the first outcome of talks between union leaders and management, has caused some concern among workers, who feel it could result in attacks on their working conditions.

Under the agreement, union representatives will oversee changes to working conditions that have been implemented by Royal Mail management in recent weeks. Many workers had hoped that such changes, known as “revisions,” would be halted, but instead, the CWU has agreed to continue with them, albeit with union reps’ involvement.

The agreement is designed to help Royal Mail remain profitable, with changes aimed at improving productivity and making workplaces more efficient. However, some workers fear this will mean squeezing more work out of fewer employees.

As for changes that have already been implemented, the agreement only promises to review them to ensure they meet efficiency levels and have been done within an agreed process, rather than reversing them.

The agreement has also left as many as 200 suspended CWU reps and members at the mercy of an “independent” review process. While some workers are concerned that the union has been too accommodating to Royal Mail management. Many believe that strikes are necessary.

And finally, Tens of Thousands of Junior Doctors Plan Massive Strike on March 15 over Pay Dispute with UK Government

Tens of thousands of junior doctors are planning to join the 15th March mass strike. By then they’ll be into their third day of a 72-hour walkout, bringing the NHS to a standstill. Junior doctors, who make up almost all medical staff below the grade of consultant, are crucial to the functioning of the health service. They work gruelling hours on challenging shifts, taking responsibility for the care of numerous patients.

They are responsible for most medical decision-making at night and at weekends.

NHS bosses estimate doctors’ strikes could lead to 125,000 operations needing to be rescheduled, despite there already being a backlog of about 57,000. But after more than a decade of pay cuts, Junior doctors’ patience has snapped. Last month they voted by 98 percent for strikes on a massive 76 percent turnout.

The doctors’ BMA union has spent months trying to persuade ministers to start talks over pay. Just days before the strike was due to start, health secretary Steve Barclay finally agreed to negotiate. But the government’s move was a trick. It soon became clear that the Tories were unprepared to offer junior doctors more money.

As talks ended last Friday, the union accused the health secretary of delaying tactics and said this Monday’s strike would go ahead. Following the collapse of the talks, Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, said, “We came here with a mandate, and Steve Barclay turned up without one. There was never any real prospect of any real negotiation or offer—it was just a facade.”

Other unions should take heed of the failed pay talks of junior doctors, as it serves as a warning against being lured into the health secretary’s office. The Tories’ tactic is intended to diminish the momentum of the strikes and weaken their impact. The optimal course of action is to announce more impactful, united action throughout the NHS and beyond, and to decline further discussions until a reasonable offer is presented.

Union News 26 February 2023

Union News brings you weekly reports from the Trade Union and labour movement in the UK

Welcome to Union News a podcast with reports from the labour and Trade Union movement in the UK. This week: Workers strike and protest in Ulster, London Underground drivers to join strikes on budget day, UK Workers Lost £26 Billion in Unpaid Overtime Last Year, Thousands march for peace in London, RMT members reignite trade unionism in Britain, says Mick Lynch at young members’ conference and TUC warns energy bills will eat up a tenth of UK workers’ salary from April. Music in the podcast is by Tim Bragg.

Union News 12 February 2023


Welcome to Union News. The podcast that gives news from a labour and trade union perspective. Music is by Tim Bragg.

RMT Rejects Latest Proposals from Network Rail

The RMT, a transport union, has rejected the latest proposals from Network Rail and several train operating companies in an attempt to end national rail strikes. The general secretary of the union, Mick Lynch, stated that the proposals fall short on pay, job security, and working conditions, after a consultation with the union’s 40,000 rail members. The union plans to seek further meetings with Network Rail and the Rail Delivery Group to demand an unconditional pay offer, job security agreement, and no changes to working conditions. The RMT will continue its industrial campaign until a satisfactory settlement is reached. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, “If we do not get improvements in the offers…we will put on further industrial action. We will be careful with the industrial action that we put forward.”

Meanwhile, the white-collar rail union TSSA has announced plans to give its members a vote on the RDG’s offer of a 5% wage increase and no compulsory redundancies.

Firefighter union leaders recommend members accept pay offer

Firefighter union leaders have recommended acceptance of a pay offer to prevent strikes. The revised offer includes a 7% pay increase retroactive to July 2022 and an additional 5% increase starting in July 2023. The union’s executive has advised its members to vote in favor of the offer in a ballot running from February 20th to March 6th. The FBU’s General Secretary, Matt Wrack, praised the collective bargaining and negotiation process, crediting it with the increase in pay from 2% in June 2022 to 7% plus 5% today.

University staff and ambulance workers stage fresh strikes

University and ambulance workers have continued their strikes in the UK due to a wave of industrial unrest over pay, staffing, and jobs. Tens of thousands of University and College Union (UCU) and Unison lecturers, support workers and other higher education staff are participating in intermittent walkouts across Britain. Meanwhile, 15,000 Unison ambulance workers in five trusts across England have also gone on strike, with the union threatening to escalate the action unless the government takes action. The union is currently balloting another 10,000 paramedic members for strikes, which could be its biggest yet. The government has rejected reopening talks on the below-inflation 4.75% wage deal for 2022-2023 and is waiting for the next pay round instead of trying to resolve the current dispute. Five education unions are due to meet with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) on Monday, but the planned walkouts will still go ahead if the employer body does not improve upon the 5% average pay offer for 2023-2024.

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