Union News 7 December 2023

Advertisements

Welcome to Union News, your guide to what is happening in the UK labour and trade union movement. Reporting is by Pat Harrington and music is by Tim Bragg. In this edition we report on tough times for the disabled this Christmas, a victory for Government workers on pay, the financial struggles facing health workers and finally, the likelihood of further junior doctor strikes.

Financial Strain Forces Disabled Individuals to Cancel Christmas Plans, Urgent Call for Government Support

A recent survey by disability charity Sense reveals that one in three disabled individuals is cancelling Christmas due to financial difficulties, with over 50% falling into debt. Sense CEO Richard Kramer urges the government to provide targeted financial support for vulnerable households during the winter, emphasizing the inadequacy of the upcoming 6.7% increase in welfare benefits.

The study unveils that two-thirds of disabled individuals constantly worry about bills, and 34% will miss spending time with loved ones. Almost half won’t buy presents, and concerns about energy costs lead two in five to skip festive lights. With over half reducing or turning off heating and a third skipping meals, the survey underscores the urgent need for comprehensive assistance for disabled individuals facing dire financial challenges this holiday season.

Government Department Workers Call Off Strike After Securing Improved Pay Deal

Cleaners, security guards, and support staff at three major government departments in Whitehall have called off their 34-day strike after successfully negotiating an enhanced pay deal with their employer, outsourced company ISS. The workers, represented by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, were employed at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Department for Business and Trade, and Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology.

The new pay deal, backdated to March, includes raises ranging from 5 to 8 percent, along with additional benefits such as improved full-pay sickness absence. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka commended the members for their “great strength” in the prolonged strike, stating that they will now receive the rewards they deserve, setting a standard for statutory minimum terms and conditions in the industry.

Serwotka emphasized the PCS commitment to extending these victories throughout Whitehall, aiming to eliminate the “scourge of outsourcing.” The resolution marks a positive outcome for the workers who stood firm in their demands against what was described as a “stubborn” employer.

Financial Struggles Grip Higher Education Workers as 5% Pay Offer Sparks Controversy

A recent survey has unveiled that nearly half of higher education workers are left with less than £50 each month, raising concerns over financial well-being. The 5% pay offer, deemed “entirely inadequate” by Unite, has sparked controversy among administrative, technical, and estate staff.

The survey of over 1,000 workers in the sector revealed that in the past year, 8% have had to skip meals, and 32% cut back on heating their homes due to financial constraints. More than half expressed worries about rent and mortgage payments if their pay remains stagnant.

Unite is currently in talks with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) regarding the pay award imposed in March as part of the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff. The committee is advocating for an increase of RPI plus 2% or £4,000, whichever is greater.

Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, asserted that the 2023/24 pay deal is insufficient and must be improved, emphasizing the impact on the financial stability of higher education workers.

UCEA’s chief executive, Raj Jethwa, acknowledged the cost-of-living pressures facing staff and highlighted the early initiation of pay talks. The final pay award, ranging from 8% to 5% from August 2023, with almost half paid from February, aims to address financial concerns. Despite financial pressures in the sector, Jethwa asserts that the pay award is comparable to settlements in the wider economy. The ongoing discussions between Unite and UCEA will shape the resolution of this contentious issue.

and finally, Historic NHS Strike Looms as Junior Doctors Reject Tory Offer

Junior doctors in England are gearing up for the longest national strike in NHS history this month, following the Tory government’s initial refusal to engage with the union and an unsatisfactory response to talks. The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced strikes from 7 am on December 20 to 7 am on December 23, with another six-day walkout planned from January 3 to January 9.

The prolonged strikes are expected to disrupt planned treatments, outpatient clinics, and hospital ward care, exacerbating the already massive seven million-strong treatment waiting list. The BMA is using the strikes to protest against low pay, demand full pay restoration after a decade of cuts, and defend the NHS.

Junior doctors, with starting hourly rates at £14.09, often carry over £100,000 in student debt. The London Living Wage is £13.15. The BMA argues that low pay is driving doctors away, contributing to a severe shortage of qualified staff, jeopardizing the future of the NHS.

Despite the government’s imposition of an average 8.8% pay rise, the BMA insists this fails to address years of pay erosion. A subsequent 3% increase was unevenly distributed across different grades, leaving many doctors facing a real-terms pay cut. BMA representatives Dr. Robert Laurenson and Dr. Vivek Trevedi expressed frustration, stating, “A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors.”

New Tory health secretary Vicky Atkins faces growing opposition to a pay deal with consultants, as some, including Dr. Clive Peedell, threaten to vote against it unless junior doctors receive a better offer. Dr. Ajay M Verma also voiced support for junior doctors, emphasizing solidarity.

The BMA’s call for solidarity pickets and support from local trade unionists aims to increase pressure on the government to improve its offer and serves as encouragement for health workers grappling with low pay to prepare for further action in the new year. The prospect of a fresh wave of coordinated health strikes looms, intended to challenge the Tories and advocate for fair pay and working conditions.

Support the strikers – join a picket line!

Advertisements

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 February 2023

Advertisements

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

Strong support for strikes and protests

Advertisements

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.

Large crowds in many cities turned out to support the right to strike

The TUC’s day of action over anti-union laws was a welcome start and we look forward to co-operation with those who are fighting restrictions on the right to protest. . As Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of the Solidarity union, states, “Solidarity is a small but disciplined union. Our members are attending pickets and rallies and will never cross a picket line. They know that only united action by workers organized through unions that won’t sell them out will win. That’s why I and they say: victory to the strikers.”

#VictorytotheCWU

#SuportTheStrikes

#EnoughIsEnough

#RMTstrikes

#RightToStrike

#TeacherStrike

#standbyyourpostie

Union News 29th January 2023

Advertisements

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.

The Strikers are fighting for us all says Pat Harrington

Advertisements

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.

Rail workers

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

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.

NHS workers

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