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!
Nurses stand strong on picket lines
Thousands of nurses in England went on strike for a second time yesterday , with picket lines reported to be large and lively and receiving massive public support. The nurses, who are members of the RCN union, are fighting for a larger pay rise than the £1,400 a year below inflation payment that was imposed on them by the government last year. The strikes are part of an effort to defend the NHS, which is currently facing a daily struggle. Activists from other unions such as NEU, Unite, RMT and UCU also came to show their support for the striking nurses.
Our video shows a lively picket braving freezing weather at UCU in London.
Video credit: RovingReporter
Union News 7th January 2023
Union News is a source for news and information about the UK union and labour movement. It is dedicated to providing accurate and unbiased coverage of these issues, which are often overlooked or misrepresented in mainstream media. By sharing links and following Union News on platforms like Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube, you can help to support this alternative source of information and build a counter media that accurately represents the experiences and concerns of working people. If you have news to share, Union News welcomes submissions and encourages you to get in touch. You can contact Union News here: UnionNewsServices@protonmail.com
The music featured in Union News is created by Tim Bragg, a talented multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. You can listen to his songs on YouTube and other streaming services.
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
Union News 18/12/2022
Here’s a round up of the latest trade union and labour related news from around the UK. In this programme: Rail strikes stay solid, A quarter of Britons to enter the new year in debt, a union launches a Buy British at Xmas campaign and Scottish female footballers demand equal pay.
Resist anti-union laws
Rishi Sunak has confirmed the government is ready to ram through new anti-strike laws.
The government has already started the process to pass a new law implementing minimum service levels during transport strikes, which would gut the right to strike.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said on Wednesday that work was “ongoing” on other options for mitigating future industrial action, including a ban on walkouts by ambulance staff and other emergency workers, and extension of proposed minimum service level legislation to cover the whole public sector.
Unions, including Solidarity, have condemned the proposals.
“[The government] changes the law every time it loses an argument,” Mr Lynch of the RMT union told reporters.
“If people want to protest against them, they say you’re not allowed to do that anymore. If people want to take industrial action, they say it’s illegal.
“All of the opinion polls show it. They are losing the argument [on wages]. So, they are trying to get rid of the argument by suppressing trade union rights.”
Mr Lynch said that the trade union movement needs a co-ordinated and robust response to the attacks.
He said: “I fully expect [the government] to press ahead because they need a diversion for all their incompetence, so it’s a handy thing for them.
“Trade unions have no choice. When your members are being impoverished, you have to respond.”
Other union leaders have also spoken out against the plans.
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity said:
“Attacks on the right to strike are assaults on democracy. Strikes, or the threat of strikes, are a way for ordinary workers to bring about change in their pay and conditions. Sometimes a strike is the only way to get bad bosses to listen to their workers. No one wants to go on strike but sometimes it’s necessary. If passed this legislation will be fiercely resisted and will further divide our society.”
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said any attempt to ban workers from taking strike action would be an “outrage to so-called democracy.
“To further restrict the right to take industrial action would be a highly authoritarian move, and more in keeping with the actions of a dictatorial regime,” he said.
“The Tories are badly misjudging the public mood with these attacks.
“Any attempt to limit the right to strike will be fiercely resisted by the FBU.”
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said that the government should instead be concentrating efforts to meeting with unions to solve the disputes.
“This threatens to backfire spectacularly on the government,” she said.
“The public has immense sympathy for ambulance workers and their NHS colleagues.
“Ministers could do well to remember that union members are voters too.”
When asked what action they would take on strike laws, a Labour spokesperson said only that they would repeal the “archaic” 2016 laws brought in under previous Tory administration, but offered no specifics beyond that.
Union News 24/11/22
- Long Covid sufferers face stigma
A new study has found that the majority of people living with long Covid have experienced some form of stigma associated with their condition.
The research, which was based on a survey of 1,100 people, found that 95% of those suffering from long Covid have experienced some form of stigma while 76% reported experiencing it “often” or “always”.
As of October 1 it is estimated that 2.1 million people are living with long Covid in Britain — around 3.3% of the population, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Dr Marija Pantelic, a lecturer in public health at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “The stigma attached to long Covid is likely to leave a devastating mark on our society and health service provision.”
- RMT announce further strike action
RMT union members at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies plan strikes on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and 3, 4, 6 and 7 January, in addition to an overtime ban between December 18 and January 2.
This is the latest development in an increasingly bitter six-month dispute over potential job cuts and plummeting take-home pay.
RMT assistant general secretary John Leach has called on Mark Harper—the third Tory transport secretary since July—to meet with RMT general secretary Mick Lynch and come to a resolution.
- Strikes close Scottish schools
The Education Institute of Scotland has launched their first national strike over wages in 40 years, with the action expected to close most schools north of the border.
This comes after the union rejected a last-minute offer which would have seen most staff pocket a 5 per cent rise – less than half of soaring double-digit inflation.
General secretary Andrea Bradley has branded the proposal an “inept rehash” of the offer made to teachers earlier this year and accused ministers and local authority umbrella group Cosla of “not trying hard enough.”
She has repeated her demands for a 10 per cent salary boost, a figure described by Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville as “unaffordable due to extreme budget pressures.”
- Strikes called off after pay deal
Outsourced workers at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy called off strike action today after winning a 12 per cent pay boost.
The caterers and hospitality staff, employed by Aramark at the government department, had been set for five days of walkouts into next month after public services union PCS warned of plummeting take-home pay.
But they are now set to pocket a rise above last month’s 11.1 per cent consumer prices index inflation rate.
Meanwhile, PCS members employed in the same central London offices by fellow contractor ISS as security guards, postal staff, porterage workers, cleaners and receptionists have suspended a planned four-day strike after receiving an improved offer on health and safety issues from bosses.
Take to the streets in solidarity with the strikers
This Saturday is shaping up to be a big day of resistance, with 175,000 workers set to strike across the country. The strikes come in response to the Tories’ declaration of intensified class war in their mini-budget last week, which included plans to break unions and push for wage cuts.
Marches and rallies are planned in around 30 cities and towns, there will be plenty of opportunities for solidarity on the picket lines.
Patrick Harrington, the general secretary of Solidarity union said: “In response to the Tories’ declaration of intensified war on ordinary workers in their mini-budget last week and the below inflation pay offers (pay cuts), 175,000 workers across the country are set to strike this Saturday. With marches and rallies planned in around 30 cities and towns, this could be one of the biggest showings of the power of ordinary workers strength in recent years. I urge every decent person to stand with the strikers by attending the demonstrations and picket lines.”
If we want to win, we need more strikes, escalating strikes, and united strikes that fight to win. This is just the beginning – let’s make it a day to remember! Only then can we hope to put an end to this declaration of war on workers. Saturday promises to be a big day – let’s make it a step forward in the fight for our collective future.
It’s time to take to the streets.
On October 1st, get out to the following locations to support the strikes and the five demands of Enough is Enough.
12pm, Kings Cross station, N1 9AL
12pm, Piccadilly Gardens, M1 1RN
12pm, St. George’s Plateau, L1 1JJ
10am, Leeds Train Station, LS1 4DY
12pm, buchanan street steps, G1 2NG
12pm, Birmingham New Street Station, B2 4QA
12pm, Square in front of Knights Templar, BS1 6DG
11am, Cardiff Central Library, CF10 1FL
11am, King Street near Last Pub Standing, nr1 1pd
11am, Nottingham train station, NG2 3AQ
12pm, Grey’s Monument, NE1 7AN
12pm, Queens Garden, HU1 3FA
10am, Guildhall square, PO1 9ST
12pm, Plymouth Guildhall, PL1 2BJ
10.30am, Royal Mail, Short street, SS1 1AA
11am, HASTINGS STATION, TN34 1BA
12pm, Stanney Grange Community Centre, CH65 9HE
1pm, St. George’s Square, HD1 1LA
11am, Royal Mail, Fenton Street, LA1 1AA
12.30pm, The Orange Grove, BA1 1EE
11.30am, Devonshire Green, S1 4GT
2pm, War Memorial, ME7 1HL
1pm, high row opposite post house wynd, DL3 7LP
12pm, Flag Market, PR1 2AP
12pm, 110 Blackness Road, DD1 5PB
11am, Marischal college, AB10 1AB
10am, Network Rail Depot, Stoke Road, ST4 2QH
12pm, Royal Mail, Hatherton Street, WS1 1AA
1pm, Canterbury Baptist Church, CT1 1UT
12pm, Town Hall, George Street Luton LU1 2BQ
BLACKPOOL (FRIDAY SEPT 30)
7PM, Bootleg Social, 30 Topping St, FY1 3AQ
11am, Brighton Train Station, BN1 3XP
11AM, The Obelisk, Broad Walk, CM20 1HA
11am, King’s Statue, DT4 7AN
12pm, Eastbourne Library, BN21 4TL
11am, Shentall Gardens, S40 1LW
10.30AM, Waverley Bridge, EH1 1BQ
More cities and towns to come. Non-listed locations by Friday are asked to assemble at their local picket line at 12pm.
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.”