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 5th of February 2023
Welcome to Union News – a podcast giving news from the trade unions and labour movement in the United Kingdom. In this edition, UK Unions Rally for Fair Pay in Widespread Demonstrations and Strikes Across Britain, Rail Strike Could Last Years Say Unions, Royal Mail Accused of Lacking Integrity as Communication Workers Union Announces Strike, New Bill to Boost Workplace Protection for Pregnant Women and New Parents Passes House of Commons, Union Leader Calls for Suspension of Deputy PM Over Bullying Claims and finally Join the Fight Against Anti-Union Bias in the Reactionary Media.
UK Unions Rally for Fair Pay in Widespread Demonstrations and Strikes Across Britain
The largest day of industrial action in decades took place on Wednesday, with around half a million workers including teachers, university workers, civil service workers, and train drivers going on strike. The marches and rallies were well-attended, with reports suggesting that new, young activists were emerging on the picket lines and rallies. Anger against the government was palpable, with workers feeling the effects of attacks on pensions, wages, and working conditions. The strikes were largely successful, with minimal signs of scabbing and public anger overwhelmingly directed not at strikers but rightly at the, culprits in our misgovernment. However, different groups of workers are at different stages in terms of strategy and escalation. The strikers must continue to push for longer and bigger strikes, demanding further united action and coordination.
There were widespread rallies and marches across Britain alongside the mass strike. Thousands of people participated in the rallies and marches in various cities, including Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds , Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow. The demonstrations were attended by various unions, including RMT, Aslef, PCS, NEU, Unison, UCU, and the GMB, as well as family and friends of union members. The rallies were aimed at demanding fair pay and were marked by speeches attacking Labour leader Keir Starmer’s lack of support for the strikes. Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of the Solidarity union, commented: “The rallies were strong and large and can be built on. Better transport arrangements to bring people to the demonstrations, better advance promotion of the demonstration assembly points and paid advertising have the potential to build really large presence on the streets”.
Rail Strike Could Last Years Say Unions
The UK National Rail strikes, organized by train drivers’ union Aslef and transport union RMT over pay, jobs, and working conditions, may continue for years. Aslef’s General Secretary, Mick Whelan, stated that his members haven’t had a wage increase since 2019. The strikes resulted in major parts of the country having no rail services as multiple operators could not run trains. The rail unions have accused Downing Street of blocking a deal to end the strikes, and the talks between the Rail Delivery Group and the unions have reportedly gone backwards since the dispute began last summer.
Royal Mail Accused of Lacking Integrity as Communication Workers Union Announces Strike
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has accused Royal Mail bosses of lacking integrity during a dispute over jobs and working conditions. The CWU announced a 24-hour strike on February 16, involving over 115,000 workers, in response to Royal Mail management forcing through changes related to work structure in direct contravention of pre-existing agreements with the union. The reforms also remove the union’s right to negotiate at a local level. The General Secretary of the CWU, Dave Ward, stated that the strike is due to the conduct of management and called for the company to take negotiations seriously. Royal Mail, however, accused the union of not being interested in resolving the dispute.
New Bill to Boost Workplace Protection for Pregnant Women and New Parents Passes House of Commons
A new bill aimed at improving workplace protection for pregnant women and new parents passed the House of Commons unopposed. The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill, sponsored by Labour MP Dan Jarvis, aims to extend employment rights for new mothers and mothers-to-be by protecting them against redundancy for a longer period. The bill would create new powers to protect women from redundancy during and after pregnancy and amend existing regulations to protect parents from redundancy on their return from maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave. The bill requires employers to prioritize soon-to-be and new parents in a redundancy situation and offer them a suitable alternative vacancy if their job is at risk. The bill will now undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords.
Union Leader Calls for Suspension of Deputy PM Over Bullying Claims
The leader of a union representing senior Whitehall officials has stated that civil servants who were allegedly bullied by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab have experienced “mental health crises” and lost their careers. Dave Penman, general secretary of FDA, denied allegations that the complaints against Raab were politically motivated. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has appointed lawyer Adam Tolley to investigate the bullying claims against Raab, with around 50 civil servants involved in 8 formal complaints. Penman has called for Raab to be suspended during the probe.
Penman also expressed surprise at senior Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s warning against being “too snowflakey” about bullying allegations. The union leader emphasized that bullying behaviour can have serious consequences on an individual’s mental health and life, and it is unacceptable for such behaviour to be belittled.
and finally Join the Fight Against Anti-Union Bias in the Reactionary Media
Union News is calling on all workers and union members to join the fight against the negative portrayal of the labour community by Mainstream Media. The recent attack on teachers by the Daily Mail serves as a clear example of the anti-union bias in reactionary media.
We’re building a network of correspondents who can provide regular local labour and trade union news. This includes shop floor and office news, news related to your trade and profession, and news from the picket line.
Union News believes in positive action and the only way to challenge Mainstream Media’s negative portrayal of the labour community is by building an alternative media source.
If you have local labour & trade union news, send it via the comments section on your preferred social media platform or e-mail us privately at UnionNewsServices@protonmail.com. Let’s create a more accurate representation of the labour community together!
Union News 21 January 2023
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.
We hope you have enjoyed this edition of Union News. Please consider subscribing. Music in this broadcast is by Tim Bragg.
Tim is a multi-instrumentalist & singer-songwriter. You can hear his songs here:
Video credit: Roving Reporter
Union News 21 December 2022
Trade Union News. Here’s a round up of the latest trade union and labour related news from around the UK. In this programme: NHS Staff March on Downing Street, Train Drivers to Strike, Christmas Post Truce Rejected By Management, Ambulance Workers Pledge To Maintain Essential cover and Union Leaders Meet To Discuss a unified day of strikes.
NHS Staff March on Downing Street
NHS staff and campaigners marched on Downing Street yesterday as picketing nurses were greeted with outpourings of public support in towns and cities across the country.
The march was organised jointly by campaign groups NHS Workers Say No! and NHS Staff Voices which are part of the Keep Our NHS Public campaign.
Spirits were high on nurses’ picket lines nationwide, with many people honking their horns in encouragement as they passed by.
Train Drivers to Strike
Train drivers represented by their Union, Aslef, will go on strike on Thursday January 5, joining RMT members who are scheduled to walk out on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.
This is a result of a new ballot that was forced on them by government anti-strike laws. The mandate was even stronger than in the original ballot six months ago – 93 per cent for strike action on an 85 per cent turnout.
The drivers’ strike will halt services at 15 train companies including Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia and GTR Great Northern Thameslink.
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “We don’t want to go on strike but the companies have pushed us into this place.”
Christmas Post Truce Rejected By Management
The Communication Workers Union has announced that postal workers will be striking on December 23 and 24, after Royal Mail rejected their offer of a Christmas truce.
The union had sought to get Royal Mail to sign a joint agreement incorporating the company’s latest promise of no compulsory redundancies, but the offer was rejected almost immediately.
This will be the 17th and 18th day of action in the dispute over pay, and is likely to cause significant delays in mail delivery during the festive period.
Ambulance Workers Pledge To Maintain Essential cover
GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said that unions representing ambulance workers had been working “round the clock” to ensure there were enough strike exemptions to keep critical services running.
Tens of thousands of ambulance staff including paramedics and call handlers are expected to walk out today in a dispute over pay.
Speaking to MPs on the Commons health and social care select committee, Ms Harrison said strike action would go ahead unless Health Secretary Steve Barclay is willing to talk about pay.
The GMB leader said that “essential” parts of the service will still be covered today, including responses for the most life-threatening conditions, like cardiac arrest.
Ms Harrison told MPs that ambulance workers have been forced to take strike action after raising concerns for years about ambulance delays and unsafe conditions for patients as well as pay.
And finally, Union Leaders Meet To Discuss a unified day of strikes
According to a report in Socialist Worker Trade union leaders are planning to call a unified day of strikes on Wednesday 1 February, which could involve over a million workers. Union leaders met last week to discuss whether some sort of joint action was possible, and agreed to reconvene on 10 January when a final decision could be made.
This plan is a sign of the potential for powerful struggles to transform British politics says the report.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Union News. Don’t forget to like & share to spread news of the labour and trade union movement in the UK. You can also send us news, soundclips, photos and video footage by email. Our email is given in the show notes. Please email: UnionNewsServices@protonmail.com
Our music is provided by Tim Bragg. Tim is a multi-instrumentalist & singer-songwriter. You can hear his songs here: – or any streaming service or on YouTube.
Ambulance picture credit: Florian, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
, via Wikimedia Commons
United protests and actions on October 1
Saturday 1 October is set to be a major day of united strikes by over 170,000 workers. Rail workers, workers at Royal Mail and dock workers at Felixstowe will all strike. The media has dubbed the day of action a ‘perfect storm’.
On Friday the RMT emailed its 40,000 members on Network Rail and 14 train operating companies about a new strike date of 1 October. General secretary Mick Lynch added: “Due to the period of national mourning, the RMT will be making no press or public statements regarding the action.” The union may announce another day, probably 5 October, later.
The Aslef union, although it has also made no public statement, is also calling for more strikes by around 9,000 drivers at 12 companies. The managing director of rail operator LNER, David Horne, tweeted that the union had notified it of strikes on 1 October and 5 October.
The TSSA rail union has also called strikes for 1 October.
Over 115,000 Royal Mail workers in the CWU union were already set to strike on 1 October. And there are also scheduled strikes by more than 560 dockworkers at the Port of Liverpool, and 1,900 workers at the port of Felixstowe that cover that day. Together they move 60 percent of Britain’s container traffic.
The Liverpool strike is from Monday until 3 October and the Felixstowe one is from 27 September to 5 October. Unity is a big step forward. Pressure from below has helped to push the union leaders to call strikes on the same day.
On 1 October the Enough is Enough campaign needs to mobilise the 600,000 people who have signed up to its campaign. It calls for real pay rises, taxing the rich, an end to food poverty, decent homes for all and slashed energy bills.
It has now announced protests for 1 October in 13 cities — London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Hull, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Norwich and Bristol. These can unite the picket lines and wider groups. Everyone should build them.
Don’t Pay UK have also called protests on the day.
Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, commented:
“The value of wages, having been stagnant for 12 years, is now falling. Offers of wage increases which are less than the rate of inflation is, in effect, wage cuts. That’s the stark reality for workers and that’s the main reason for strikes and protests. You can’t take money from people’s pockets without them getting angry.
“The other factor is that after a decade of austerity, people have had enough. They’ve seen public services privatised and being run for profit, not for need or the public good . That’s why the Labour Party’s pledge under Corbyn to renationalise the railways and water companies, as well as bring energy back into public ownership, was so popular.”
“It’s good to see unions striking on the same day and that protests are being organised by Enough is Enough. If workers are to protect their living standards, then this action must spread and escalate. Workers must not be made to pay for bad government decisions and policy. We need to see more days of action, and co-ordinated action, until we get a decent pay rise for all.”
“There is a lot of anger out there. And it needs to be harnessed in a constructive way so that workers get the pay rise that they deserve. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to get involved in the protests on 1 October, and to support the strikers.”
Unions cancel strikes as a mark of respect to the late Queen
Postal and rail strikes were canceled in an announcement last Thursday after the death of the Queen.
Planned strikes by Royal Mail workers on Friday were called off following the Queen’s death. Members of the Communication Workers Union were due to continue a 48-hour walkout in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Rail strikes that were being prepared for September have been canceled. Train drivers union Aslef had set a strike date for Thursday, September 15. The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) had planned a walkout on Monday, September 26.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has postponed its annual conference that was due to be held in Brighton from Sunday for four days.
The cancellation of the rail and postal strikes can only be a temporary mark of respect. The issues which underly them remain unresolved. The unions would have faced much criticism if they had continued with their plans. The leaders of the unions involved have made a difficult but likely wise decision. The Morning Star was right to point out, however:
“Nobody will say that the Queen’s death means company bosses should drop their vicious attacks on workers’ rights as a gesture of respect.
Newspaper pundits won’t ask how the Tories have the effrontery to wage class war at such a time.
That’s never the narrative: it is workers who cause disruption by fighting back when attacked, never bosses who cause it by picking our pockets.
That this is exactly what bosses are doing has been demonstrated in detail in reports like Unite Investigates’ Corporate Profiteering and the Cost-of-Living Crisis.”
Bakers’ union BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley said: “The decision to postpone TUC Congress is completely understandable after the news of the Queen dying on Thursday.
“[But] the cost-of-living crisis, though, hasn’t and will not go away — and we have a lot of work to do over the coming months as a movement to support working people through it.
“When the TUC does meet, we will have a clearer idea of the political landscape with [Liz] Truss as Prime Minister and this will inform our strategy.”
Support the rail strikes: here’s how
Several rail trade unions are planning walkouts in protest at unfair below-inflation pay offers (effectively pay cuts).
The strikes will involve members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, as well as the Aslef and TSSA unions.
Alef says members will walk out at 12 train operating firms on Thursday, September 15 and the RMT is also striking that day. Affected operators will be Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, and Great Western Others will be Hull, LNER, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine, and West Midlands.
RMT is also striking on Saturday, 17 September 2022.
TSSA members at nine train operators and Network Rail will walk out from midday on Monday, September 26. Avanti West Coast, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, and Great Western Railway will all be affected. Also hit by the TSSA action will be LNER, Southeastern, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains
This marks the fourth month of action on the railways. There is little sign of an agreement being reached anytime soon. It comes at a time when unions across many sectors are stepping up to defend their member’s pay and conditions. Some union leaders have called for coordinated strikes alongside union and community-led campaigning. Solidarity is among the unions that supported those calls.
We need to defend our jobs, pay, conditions, and pensions from the government’s attacks. This is an important battle that we need to win if we want to protect our living standards.
This fight is important because it can help us find a better way to live. This will involve having less money going to the people who have a lot of money, and more money going to the people who have less money. You can show your support by:
Donating to the RMT’s national strike fund. This can be done by individuals, groups, or organisations. https://www.rmt.org.uk/about/national-dispute-fund/
Attending picketing of major stations. It’s important that different striking groups get to know each other and for pickets to be well attended and peaceful.
Reading about the facts of the strike from the RMT, Solidarity, and other unions and sharing their information – there’s a lot of deliberate confusion being sown by the government and many media outlets.
It goes without saying but never cross a picket line!
TRAIN DRIVERS AT NINE COMPANIES GO ON STRIKE
|Train drivers at nine operating companies went on strike last week. Members of the train drivers’ union Aslef walked out for 24 hours in a pay dispute at Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern, West Midlands Trains, and London Overground. Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, said that train companies claim to be barred from awarding a pay rise in line with inflation by “dodgy deals” imposed by the government when their franchises were turned into management contracts, but the government says the dispute is nothing to do with it and must be dealt with by the companies.|
The bosses say the decision now is down to the government and the government says it’s down to the operating companies.
“So we are caught in a Catch-22 situation where each side blames the other,” Mick explained.
“The drivers at these companies have not had an increase for three years. With inflation running at 9, 10, or even 11 percent, we are being told to take a real-terms pay cut. Strike action is now the only option available, but we are always open for talks if the companies, or government, want to come to the table.”
The strike has the potential to escalate with strike ballots closing at Chiltern Railways, Northern Trains, and TransPennine Express on 25 August. Workers in sector after sector are taking strike action to defend their living standards. Union leaders must build the individual sets of strikes but also to come together and to lay the basis for greater action.
Picture credit: Image by Tim Bigger from Pixabay
The Strikers are fighting for us all says Pat Harrington
In the UK, workers are striking for a number of reasons. They’re fighting for better pay and working conditions, They are seeking higher wages in order to keep up with the rising cost of living. The average UK worker has seen their real wages fall by 10% since 2008, while the cost of living has risen by more than 20%. This means that workers are struggling to make ends meet and many are increasingly reliant on food banks and other forms of charity. The strikers are also calling for an end to zero-hours contracts, which leave workers unable to predict their income from one month to the next. These contracts can make it very difficult to budget and save for unexpected expenses. The strike action is unprecedented in recent years and is a sign of the growing frustration of workers who feel that they are being made to pay the cost of inept political leadership and economic management.
The prices of essentials like food and housing have been rising faster than wages for years, and people are struggling to make ends meet. The strikers believe that the only way to address the cost of living crisis is to fight for higher wages and better working conditions. By doing so, they hope to make life better for all those affected by the crisis.
Battle lines are being drawn
Unions are prepared to fight against real-term wage cuts for their members. There are some big battles on the way and everyone will have to decide which side they are on. For us it’s simple – we are on the side of the workers and against those who’ve caused the cost of living crisis and now expect ordinary people to pay for their mistakes. Here is a breakdown of some of the battles to come.
Around 50,000 rail workers in the RMT, Aslef, and TSSA unions are fighting over below-inflation pay offers, job cuts, and working conditions. RMT members are planning three 24-hour strikes on Wednesday 27 July, Wednesday 18 August, and Saturday 20 August. The union is also in dispute with Network Rail over plans to cut 1,500 jobs and close ticket offices. Aslef members are planning a 24-hour strike on Saturday 30 July. The union is in dispute with eight train operating companies over pay, rostering arrangements, and the introduction of driver-only operated trains. TSSA members are balloting for industrial action. The union is in dispute with Network Rail over pay and working conditions. All three unions are also in dispute with London Underground over the closure of ticket offices and the introduction of all-night Tube services. Industrial action is likely to cause widespread disruption to rail services across the country.
Posties and communication workers
Nearly all Royal Mail workers who voted supported going on strike in a huge 97.6 percent landslide, making it clear they are ready to battle their bosses. The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) members backed strikes by an overwhelming margin on a turnout of 77 percent in their fight against the imposition of a 2 percent pay increase by management. No strike days have been announced yet by the CWU. This follows other recent high-profile industrial disputes such as British Airways. Given the government’s attacks on workers’ rights, union membership has been growing recently as people look to emulate the success of French workers in fighting back against austerity. With such a massive show of support from CWU members, management at Royal Mail will be under pressure to start negotiating seriously or face the possibility of widespread disruption to mail services across the country.
Public service workers
PCS union members are demanding a 10 percent pay increase and a minimum wage of at least £15 an hour. The ballot is set to begin on 26 September and run for six weeks until 7 November. If the workers vote in favour of strike action, it could mean serious disruption for government departments across the UK. The union has already taken industrial action this year, with walkouts happening in May and June. Talks between the PCS and the government have so far failed to reach an agreement, with the union accusing the government of offering “derisory” pay rises. The workers are also angry about job losses and cuts to workplace benefits, such as pensions. With no end to the dispute in sight, it looks like we could see more industrial action from the PCS in the near future.
Teachers across schools in England will be consulted on strikes in the autumn. The Tory government wants to impose a 5 percent increase on teachers after recommendations from the School Teachers’ Review Body. When? NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said the union would consult members on strikes in the autumn with “the largest ballot of teachers for a generation”. Meanwhile, the NASUWT said its executive would meet on September 14 to consider ballots for action. What’s the problem? Teachers say they have faced a real-terms pay cut since 2010 and that their pay has fallen behind other graduate professions. They also argue that increased workload and mounting pressure are making the profession unsustainable. The government says it has increased funding for schools and that teachers’ pay is a matter for individual headteachers. However, headteachers say they are being forced to make cuts because of reductions in funding. Low morale among teachers is having an impact on pupils, with around two-thirds of teachers saying they are considering leaving the profession, according to a recent survey.
The Tories are at it again! This time, they’re trying to push through a real-terms pay cut for NHS workers in England. With over one million NHS staff affected, including nurses, paramedics, and midwives, this is sure to be a controversial move.
Under the Tories’ plans, NHS workers would receive a pay increase of £1,400 a year. However, when inflation is taken into account, this actually amounts to a real-term pay cut of £200 a year for porters, £1,100 for nurses, and £1,500 for paramedics. The main health unions are understandably up in arms about this proposal.
It’s yet another example of the Tories’ complete disregard for the vital role that NHS staff play in our society. We all rely on the NHS when we’re sick or injured, and these dedicated workers deserve to be fairly compensated for their hard work. Imposing a pay cut on them is nothing short of disgraceful.
Fire and Rescue
The FBU union’s executive council has unanimously rejected a 2 percent pay offer from fire and rescue employers. The council says the offer is “insulting” and that plans are being prepared to develop a campaign for decent pay, including the possibility of strike action. With firefighters already among the lowest-paid workers in the public sector, the union is adamant that its members deserve a fair deal. It remains to be seen whether the employers will budge on their offer, but one thing is clear – the FBU is ready to fight for a better deal for its members.
Solidarity union backs our brothers and sisters 100 percent. We must back the strikes however we can. We must encourage other workers outside traditional union structures to organise and take action and co-ordinate our efforts. The strikers are fighting for us all by making it clear that ordinary people will not suffer impoverishment and cuts to their wages to pay for the mistakes of those who misgovern us. Political leaders haven’t fought for the people. The unions must.
By Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union
RMT & ASLEF UNIONS ANNOUNCE NEW RAIL STRIKE DATES
The Aslef train drivers’ union announced that 6,000 of its members at eight companies will strike on Saturday 30 July. And shortly afterward the RMT union announced a further two strikes on 18 and 20 August by 40,000 workers at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies.
It came a day after the RMT said they would walk out on 27 July—when they’ll also be joined by TSSA union members on the Avanti West Coast line.
Bosses at Network Rail offered a 4 percent increase backdated to January and 2 percent next year, a real terms pay cut when inflation soars to near 12 percent. Workers would also be made to achieve “modernisation milestones”.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, “The offer from Network Rail represents a real terms pay cut for our members. The paltry sum is conditional on RMT members agreeing to drastic changes in their working lives.
“We have made progress on compulsory redundancies. But Network Rail is still seeking to make our members poorer when we have won in some cases double what they are offering, with other rail operators.
“The train operating companies remain stubborn and are refusing to make any new offer which deals with job security and pay.”
Everyone who is concerned about and affected by the cost of living crisis will cheer the RMT, ASLEF, and TSSA announcing strike actions.
For the unions to win and ensure that workers don’t pay for the mess that the government has made of the economy it will take a program of sustained, coordinated, and escalating strikes. The government has underestimated the resolve of ordinary workers to protect their incomes and working conditions.
The three days of rail strikes last month gained widespread support—and struck fear into the government and bosses.
Patrick Harrington, our General Secretary, and a former RMT Company Council Rep commented:
“All of us should work to build the biggest possible expression of solidarity on 27 July. During the last round, solidarity protests and rallies were a powerful show of support and would be again. Make sure that you donate to the RMT strike fund, sign the petition against agency workers, and attend your local picket lines where able.”