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.
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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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!