Support the strikers – join a picket line!

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Our graphic highlights a number of upcoming strikes by fellow British workers who are fighting for fair pay and working conditions. It is becoming increasingly clear that people cannot manage on below inflation “pay rises” that are, in reality, pay cuts. Unfortunately, this year, many workers are facing not just one but multiple years of real-terms wage cuts.

People are understandably fed up and are taking action to fight back against these unfair policies. At Solidarity, we firmly believe that it is important to support and stand with our brothers and sisters in other unions when they take action. This is why we are explaining the reasons behind these strikes and urging you to join the picket lines if possible.

It is true that times are tough, but we encourage you to consider making a small donation to the strike funds if you can. Every little bit helps and can make a big difference in supporting those who are fighting for fair pay and better working conditions.

The strikes are not just about money, they are also about dignity and respect for workers. Many of the workers who will be striking are in essential services such as healthcare, transportation, and education. They are on the front lines every day, providing vital services to our communities, and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.

We urge you to show your support for these workers and stand in solidarity with them as they fight for their rights. By doing so, we can send a message to employers and the government that we will not stand idly by while workers are treated unfairly. Together, we can make a difference and create a better future for all workers.

Why are the junior doctors in the British Medical Association striking?

The strikes are mainly over pay. The BMA said the wage for junior doctors has fallen 26% in the last 15 years, with newly qualified medics making less than a barista in a coffee shop.

It has demanded a 35% pay rise for junior doctors to bring salaries back to 2008-2009 levels, calling this “pay restoration”.

“The lack of investment in wages by the government has made it harder to recruit and retain junior doctors,” the BMA said.

“If junior doctors are forced out of the NHS because of poor pay and conditions, the services we all rely on to look after our loved ones will suffer.”

What can I do to help the workers?

You can donate to their strike fund

You can join striking staff on the picket lines.

Why are teachers in the National Education Union striking?

Experienced teachers’ pay has fallen by one fifth in real terms since 2010, and that the current cost-of-living crisis in Britain is exacerbating the problem. It is also troubling to hear that the government is suggesting only a five per cent increase in pay for experienced teachers, which is effectively a seven per cent cut when inflation is factored in.

It is not surprising that long hours and poor pay are causing many teachers to leave the profession, leading to a recruitment and retention crisis in education. This situation ultimately harms children’s education, as there are not enough teachers to provide high-quality instruction. Furthermore, when supply teachers or unqualified teachers are used, it can negatively impact students’ learning outcomes.

It is important for the government to take action to address this issue and prioritize the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers. This includes providing fair and competitive pay, reducing workload, and ensuring that teachers are supported and valued for the important work they do. It is crucial for the future of education in Britain that we invest in our teachers and provide them with the resources and support they need to succeed.

What can I do to help the workers?

You can join striking staff on the picket lines.

Why are civil and public servants in the PCS striking?

Their industrial action is in support of our claim for a 10% pay rise, pensions justice, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms. The PCS been carrying out targeted industrial action with specific groups of members, designed to cause the most disruption to the employer.

What can I do to help the workers?

You can sign their petition
You can donate to their strike fund
You can join striking staff on the picket lines.

Why are Amazon workers in the GMB at the Coventry Warehouse striking?

Workers at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse have announced six fresh strike dates, as the GMB union prepares to test support for stoppages among staff at another five of the delivery company’s sites.

Strikes at the vast Coventry centre, known as BHX4, began in January – the first industrial action ever taken against Amazon in the UK. Staff are demanding pay of £15 an hour.

The GMB claims to have signed up hundreds of new members among the workforce at Coventry and in Amazon sites further afield since the dispute began.

Amazon announced a fresh pay rise for all its UK staff earlier this month but the union said this amounted to an average of only 1.8%-2.5%, describing it as “an insult”.

More than 560 workers are now expected to join in two three-day stoppages, one from 16-18 April and another from 21-23 April. Previously fewer than 300 staff were involved. The union believes it is edging closer to the 50% membership that would allow it to apply for statutory recognition.

What can I do to help the workers?

You can donate

You can join striking staff on the picket lines.

Union News, 5th of March 2023

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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 5th of February 2023

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Labour MP Dan Jarvis is fighting for the rights of pregnant women Union News reports

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!

#VictorytotheCWU
#SuportTheStrikes
#EnoughIsEnough
#RMTstrikes
#RightToStrike
#TeacherStrike
#standbyyourpostie

Union News 29th January 2023

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Welcome to this edition of Union News. News from a labour and trade union perspective. In this edition Luton Airport Workers Secure 30% Pay Rise in Unite win, Amazon Workers in UK Go on Strike for First Time Over ‘Derisory’ 50p Pay Rise, Civil Service Union Prospect Launches Massive Industrial Action Ballot, TUC warns UK government’s proposals won’t end fire-and-rehire, Ambulance Workers Stage Strike Action Over Pay Dispute, as Largest-Ever NHS Strike Looms and Workers at Job Centres and Benefit Offices to Take 20 Days of Strike Action.

Luton Airport Workers Secure 30% Pay Rise in Unite win

Luton airport baggage handlers and check-in staff are set to receive a pay rise of nearly 30% according to the Unite union. More than 200 workers employed by Menzies will receive a 20% pay increase backdated to October and will receive an additional 8.5% pay increase next month. The deal, which was secured during annual pay negotiations without strikes, also includes an improvement in overtime rates. The General Secretary of Unite praised the “excellent deal” and urged workers to join the union to improve their wages and working conditions.

Amazon Workers in UK Go on Strike for First Time Over ‘Derisory’ 50p Pay Rise

Amazon workers in Coventry, UK, have gone on strike for the first time in the United Kingdom, protesting a “derisory” pay rise of just 50 pence an hour. Union GMB, which represents the workers, said the employees “just want a decent standard of living” as inflation tops 10%. The main problem stems from “target-led performance measures” set by an “algorithm,” said GMB senior organiser Amanda Gearing. Amazon said it already offers “competitive pay, comprehensive benefits and excellent opportunities for career growth” and that the vast majority of ambulance call-outs to its buildings are related to pre-existing conditions.

Civil Service Union Prospect Launches Massive Industrial Action Ballot

The Civil Service union Prospect has begun its largest industrial action ballot of members in the public sector in over a decade. The ballot, which will take place over the next few weeks, will ask thousands of workers in government departments and other areas, including the Met Office, Natural England, and the Health and Safety Executive, whether they want to strike in protest of a 3% cap on pay offers, potential job losses, and proposed cuts to redundancy terms. In a recent indicative ballot, members voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. Despite meeting with ministers, the union claims that there has been no progress on pay for 2022-23 and no indication that next year’s pay round will be any better.

TUC warns UK government’s proposals won’t end fire-and-rehire

The TUC (Trades Union Congress) has warned that the UK government’s “reheated” proposals to prevent another P&O-style scandal won’t deter bad bosses from treating staff like disposable labour. The charge came after Business Secretary Grant Shapps announced plans for a statutory code of practice for employers, which ministers claimed would empower employees to seek compensation from bosses engaging in fire-and-rehire tactics. The TUC says that a statutory code of practice is not going to stop another P&O-style scandal from happening and it won’t deter bad bosses from treating staff like disposable labour.

Ambulance Workers Stage Strike Action Over Pay Dispute, as Largest-Ever NHS Strike Looms

Thousands of ambulance workers across north-west England went on strike for 12 hours starting from midday on Tuesday, in a dispute over pay for overworked NHS staff. The strike was organized by the GMB union, and was followed by industrial action by thousands of GMB, Unite, and Unison ambulance employees on Monday. This strike comes ahead of what could be the largest-ever NHS strike on February 6, when all three unions are set to strike alongside nurses. The workers are demanding a proper pay offer and are accusing the Tory government of endangering patient safety and demonizing them. Labour has called on the government to clarify its commitment to free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare.

And finally,

Workers at Job Centres and Benefit Offices to Take 20 Days of Strike Action

Workers at job centres and benefit offices are set to take 20 days of strike action in an escalation of the bitter dispute over the pay, jobs and conditions of civil servants. Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will stage walkouts between February 9 and March 3 at job centres in Liverpool, a Department for Work and Pensions contact centre in Stockport and a benefit centre in Bolton. This comes ahead of a strike on February 1 by 100,000 PCS members in 123 government departments as part of the long-running dispute. PCS is demanding a 10% pay rise to help members through the cost-of-living crisis.

Strike to save the NHS!

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The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced new strike dates for February 6th and 7th, and the GMB union has announced that many of its paramedic staff will join them on the first of those two days.

Unite members across five ambulance trusts in England and Wales are also now set to go on strike on February 6th, as unions increase pressure on the government to address years of pay cuts and worsening patient safety.

The government has expressed disappointment but willingness to engage in pay talks with the unions. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has criticized the government for demonizing ambulance workers and not taking action to protect the NHS.

Here at Solidarity, as our name suggests, we believe in the value of solidarity.

Showing solidarity with striking nurses is important for several reasons.

Firstly, nurses, like other healthcare workers, are on the frontlines of the healthcare system and are essential in providing care and treatment to patients.

They have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, often putting their own health at risk, and deserve fair pay for the work that they do. Secondly, the fight for fair pay for nurses is not just about them, but about ensuring that the healthcare system as a whole is properly funded and can provide the best possible care for patients.

When nurses and other healthcare workers are underpaid and overworked, it can lead to burnout and a lack of staff, which can negatively impact patient care.

Furthermore, the struggle for fair pay for nurses is connected to the broader struggle for workers’ rights and a fair economy.

The government’s refusal to provide fair pay for nurses is part of a larger agenda of austerity and cutting public services.

By showing solidarity with striking nurses, other workers are standing up for the right to fair pay and against the erosion of workers’ rights and the public sector.

Finally, showing solidarity with striking nurses can help to build a stronger and more united workers’ movement. When workers from different sectors and industries come together to support each other, it makes it harder for the government and employers to divide and conquer. By standing in solidarity with striking nurses, other workers are sending a message that they will not be divided and will fight together for fair pay and better working conditions for all.

There are two things you can do right now:

  1. Join a picket line if you can and show you care about the NHS and fair pay for staff.
  2. Donate to the RCN Strike Fund

The RCN has launched a donation page for members of the public to contribute to our strike fund after people have got in touch to ask how they can help support strikes in a practical way.
During strikes, nursing staff forfeit a day’s wage for each day of action they take part in. To protect them from the financial impact of this fight for patient safety, they can receive £50 for each day they strike through the RCN strike fund.

Members of the public can now show their support for nursing strike action by donating to the fund.

Pat Cullen of the RCN said: “We’re all paying the price for the UK government’s failure to pay nursing staff fairly. The NHS is in crisis and nursing staff have been forced to strike to protect our profession and our patients.

“More than a decade of real-terms pay cuts have put the nursing profession and safe patient care at risk. Shifts are understaffed, tens of thousands of posts are vacant and nursing staff are struggling to keep afloat.

“Governments think if they ignore nursing staff for long enough our members will be forced to give in. But we know something they don’t. We know that the public is with us, shoulder to shoulder with nursing staff.”

Union News 21 January 2023

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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

Health workers anger on pay

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Health secretary Therese Coffey said recently that NHS workers will not get a higher pay offer than the present one of 3 percent. So for all the praise during the most deadly phase of the pandemic, health workers are now being told to take a pay cut of almost 10 percent.

It’s another reason to vote for strikes in the ballots taking place now. Sharon Graham, leader of the Unite union, said, “With RPI now up to 12.6 percent, workers and communities must not pay for a crisis they did not create. We will not stand by and watch the country take a pay cut while corporations profit and the government pours petrol on the fire.

”“Vote yes to save the NHS!” is the Unison union’s slogan as it launches a massive strike ballot over pay. Some 320,000 health workers in England and Wales are set to receive ballot papers in the coming days. It comes after the government imposed a rise of just 4 percent—less than a third of the rate of inflation. Unison is joining the nurses’ RCN, midwives’ RCM, Unite, GMB and physiotherapists’ unions in asking its members to hit back with strikes. It now looks likely that there will be action by at least some groups of NHS workers in December or early next year.

The Unison ballot is “disaggregated”, meaning the vote will take place on a trust by trust basis. Organisers hope this will allow workers in parts of the NHS where union organisation is strong to strike, even if weaker areas fail to meet the Tories’ 50 percent turnout threshold. Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented: “Our brothers and sisters in other unions will need to mount an enormous campaign to get the vote out. We have a number of members in the NHS and we will be discussing with them as to how best we can support any strikes and picket lines.”

Picture credit: KollectivFuture 2022. All rights reserved.

Edinburgh: Stand up for the bin workers

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Cleansing staff at Edinburgh City Council went out on strike on Thursday August 18, as part of the protest over pay.

The walkout, the first in a series of protests planned by trade unions, is due to go on until August 30, with bins around the city already overflowing with rubbish as a result of not being emptied.

The action comes while Edinburgh is the venue for an international Festival of arts and culture. It is a huge embarassment for the City Council and SNP government.

Local authorities this weekend increased their below-inflation pay offer from 3.5 per cent to 5 per cent.

Alison Maclean of Unite noted: “While the 5% offer is an improvement, it is important to emphasise that it comes at a time when the broader retail price index has now hit a 40-year high at 12.3%.

Unite’s local government committee will urgently consider this latest offer. At this juncture the strikes for next week continue as planned.”

Comedian Mark Thomas has joined forces with the city’s Stand venue to organise a benefit in solidarity with the strikers on Wednesday. The money raised will go straight to the GMB’s official strike fund.

Comedians and members of the public are supporting the strikers

Thomas says: “These are the workers who got us through Covid and now they are being told to take a real cut in their wages. It’s unacceptable and they deserve our support in fighting back.

GMB support worker Kirsten Muat added: “Too many local government workers across Scotland are already suffering in work poverty. The bin men in Edinburgh are striking to try and put an end to that.

“GMB are incredibly grateful to everyone supporting the striking workers, including all the comedians and members of the public coming along to the benefit gig.

The benefit will take place at The Stand’s New Town Theatre at 9pm on Wednesday. Tickets are £20, or £5 for strikers.

Also on the bill are Jason Byrne, Jo Caulfield, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Mark Nelson, Shazia Mirza, Suse McCabe, Rachel Fairburn, Vladimir McTavish and Danny Bhoy.

You can buy tickets here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/stand-up-for-the-bin-workers

Picture credit for overflowing bins: (C) Pat Harrington. All rights reserved.