In this weeks programme: NHS Staff Show Solidarity and Determined Mood in Strikes for Fair Pay, Trade unionists gather to oppose war, Wales First Minister Warns Anti-Strike Laws Will “Inflame” Public Sector Disputes, Rail Workers Should Reject Insulting Pay Offer from Employers and Education Unions in Scotland Demand “Substantially Improved” Pay Offers.
NHS Staff Show Solidarity and Determined Mood in Strikes for Fair Pay
NHS staff are in a determined mood, as seen by the nurses’ strikes on Wednesday and Thursday, ambulance strikes in Wales on Thursday, and more ambulance action set for England next week. There is a lot of public support for the strikes, with passing vehicles honking in support of the strikers. The RCN union has responded to the nurses’ anger by naming new dates for strike action, with 12-hour strikes planned for both 6 and 7 February. The GMB union for ambulance workers will also be striking on 6 February, potentially leading to a major NHS strike that day. There is also a feeling of solidarity among the strikers, with many saying that NHS workers “simply have to be part of” the TUC day of action on 1 February to defend the right to strike.
Trade unionists gather to oppose war
Trade unionists have gathered in London for a conference on strengthening voices for peace in the labour movement. The World at War – a Trade Union Issue has been called by the Stop the War Coalition in response to efforts to silence peace campaigners in the Labour Party and a narrow vote to support increased arms spending by the Trades Union Congress. Speakers included National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan, RMT president Alex Gordon, Fire Brigades Union officer Riccardo la Torre and Warren Smith of the Maritime Union of Australia, among others. The conference focused on reaffirming that war is a trade union issue, making opposition to war more central to trade union activity and reversing TUC policy on increasing arms expenditure.
Wales First Minister Warns Anti-Strike Laws Will “Inflame” Public Sector Disputes
Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford, who is also the leader of the Labour party in Wales, has warned that new anti-strike laws proposed by the UK government will “inflame disputes across the public sector”. This statement comes as workers and their trade unions across Britain prepare for a day of action against the new laws on February 1st. Drakeford criticized the proposed laws, saying that they will restrict workers’ right to take industrial action and further inflame current disputes in the public sector. Unison, a public sector union, has also spoken out against the laws, with more than 90% of health worker members in Wales voting for industrial action in a pay dispute.
Rail Workers Should Reject Insulting Pay Offer from Employers
Rail workers across 13 train operating companies in the UK have been offered a pay rise of 5% or a £1,750 increase for last year and 4% for this year by the Rail Delivery Group, the employers’ representative. The offer also includes the closure or “repurposing” of all station ticket offices, mandatory Sunday working, a two-tier pay structure for new hires and “flexible working” for all employees. The offer also includes worse holidays and sick pay. The previous offer was rejected by the RMT union as it was below inflation and included attacks on working conditions. The RMT leaders are considering the new offer and have not yet made a decision. Many rail workers are calling for the RMT leaders to reject the offer and to prepare for escalation of strikes.
Education Unions in Scotland Demand “Substantially Improved” Pay Offers
Education unions in Scotland have warned that only “substantially improved” pay offers will end the ongoing teaching strikes. The Scottish negotiating committee for teachers, which is made up of SNP ministers, local authority leaders, and trade unions, met again today to discuss the issue. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the largest union for educators in Scotland, welcomed further discussions but emphasized that a failure to improve on last year’s below-inflation 5% wage increase for most workers would result in continued strikes. The EIS launched 16 days of rolling strikes earlier this week, with staff in two council areas striking each day. Teachers who walked out in Angus and East Dunbartonshire today are demanding a 10% wage increase to match inflation.
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Video credit: Roving Reporter