Nurses stand strong on picket lines

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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

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Union News 21 December 2022

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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.

Episode Notes

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

Resist anti-union laws

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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

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  • 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

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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.

Protests:

LONDON

12pm, Kings Cross station, N1 9AL

MANCHESTER

12pm, Piccadilly Gardens, M1 1RN

LIVERPOOL

12pm, St. George’s Plateau, L1 1JJ

LEEDS

10am, Leeds Train Station, LS1 4DY

GLASGOW

12pm, buchanan street steps, G1 2NG

BIRMINGHAM

12pm, Birmingham New Street Station, B2 4QA

BRISTOL

12pm, Square in front of Knights Templar, BS1 6DG

CARDIFF

11am, Cardiff Central Library, CF10 1FL

NORWICH

11am, King Street near Last Pub Standing, nr1 1pd

NOTTINGHAM

11am, Nottingham train station, NG2 3AQ

NEWCASTLE

12pm, Grey’s Monument, NE1 7AN

HULL

12pm, Queens Garden, HU1 3FA

PORTSMOUTH

10am, Guildhall square, PO1 9ST

PLYMOUTH

12pm, Plymouth Guildhall, PL1 2BJ

SOUTHEND

10.30am, Royal Mail, Short street, SS1 1AA

HASTINGS

11am, HASTINGS STATION, TN34 1BA

ELLESMERE PORT

12pm, Stanney Grange Community Centre, CH65 9HE

HUDDERSFIELD

1pm, St. George’s Square,  HD1 1LA

LANCASTER

11am, Royal Mail, Fenton Street, LA1 1AA

BATH

12.30pm, The Orange Grove, BA1 1EE

SHEFFIELD

11.30am, Devonshire Green, S1 4GT

COLCHESTER

2pm, War Memorial, ME7 1HL

DARLINGTON

1pm, high row opposite post house wynd, DL3 7LP

PRESTON

12pm, Flag Market, PR1 2AP

DUNDEE

12pm, 110 Blackness Road, DD1 5PB

ABERDEEN

11am, Marischal college, AB10 1AB

STOKE-ON-TRENT

10am, Network Rail Depot, Stoke Road,  ST4 2QH

WALSALL

12pm, Royal Mail, Hatherton Street, WS1 1AA

CANTERBURY

1pm, Canterbury Baptist Church, CT1 1UT

LUTON

12pm, Town Hall, George Street Luton LU1 2BQ

BLACKPOOL (FRIDAY SEPT 30)

7PM, Bootleg Social, 30 Topping St, FY1 3AQ

BRIGHTON

11am, Brighton Train Station, BN1 3XP

HARLOW

11AM, The Obelisk, Broad Walk, CM20 1HA

WEYMOUTH

11am, King’s Statue, DT4 7AN

EASTBOURNE

12pm, Eastbourne Library, BN21 4TL

CHESTERFIELD

11am, Shentall Gardens, S40 1LW

EDINBURGH

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

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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.”

Harrington continued:

“There is a lot of anger out there. And it needs to be harnessed in a constructive way so that workers get the pay rise that they deserve. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to get involved in the protests on 1 October, and to support the strikers.”

Unions cancel strikes as a mark of respect to the late Queen

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Postal and rail strikes were canceled in an announcement last Thursday after the death of the Queen.

Planned strikes by Royal Mail workers on Friday were called off following the Queen’s death. Members of the Communication Workers Union were due to continue a 48-hour walkout in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Rail strikes that were being prepared for September have been canceled. Train drivers union Aslef had set a strike date for Thursday, September 15. The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) had planned a walkout on Monday, September 26.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has postponed its annual conference that was due to be held in Brighton from Sunday for four days.

The cancellation of the rail and postal strikes can only be a temporary mark of respect. The issues which underly them remain unresolved. The unions would have faced much criticism if they had continued with their plans. The leaders of the unions involved have made a difficult but likely wise decision. The Morning Star was right to point out, however: 

“Nobody will say that the Queen’s death means company bosses should drop their vicious attacks on workers’ rights as a gesture of respect.

Newspaper pundits won’t ask how the Tories have the effrontery to wage class war at such a time.

That’s never the narrative: it is workers who cause disruption by fighting back when attacked, never bosses who cause it by picking our pockets.

That this is exactly what bosses are doing has been demonstrated in detail in reports like Unite Investigates’ Corporate Profiteering and the Cost-of-Living Crisis.”

Bakers’ union BFAWU general secretary Sarah Woolley said: “The decision to postpone TUC Congress is completely understandable after the news of the Queen dying on Thursday.

“[But] the cost-of-living crisis, though, hasn’t and will not go away — and we have a lot of work to do over the coming months as a movement to support working people through it.

“When the TUC does meet, we will have a clearer idea of the political landscape with [Liz] Truss as Prime Minister and this will inform our strategy.”

Support the rail strikes: here’s how

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Several rail trade unions are planning walkouts in protest at unfair below-inflation pay offers (effectively pay cuts).

The strikes will involve members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, as well as the Aslef and TSSA unions.

Alef says members will walk out at 12 train operating firms on Thursday, September 15 and the RMT is also striking that day. Affected operators will be Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, and Great Western Others will be Hull, LNER, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine, and West Midlands.

RMT is also striking on Saturday, 17 September 2022.

TSSA members at nine train operators and Network Rail will walk out from midday on Monday, September 26. Avanti West Coast, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, and Great Western Railway will all be affected. Also hit by the TSSA action will be LNER, Southeastern, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains

This marks the fourth month of action on the railways. There is little sign of an agreement being reached anytime soon. It comes at a time when unions across many sectors are stepping up to defend their member’s pay and conditions. Some union leaders have called for coordinated strikes alongside union and community-led campaigning. Solidarity is among the unions that supported those calls.

We need to defend our jobs, pay, conditions, and pensions from the government’s attacks. This is an important battle that we need to win if we want to protect our living standards.

This fight is important because it can help us find a better way to live. This will involve having less money going to the people who have a lot of money, and more money going to the people who have less money. You can show your support by:

Donating to the RMT’s national strike fund. This can be done by individuals, groups, or organisations. https://www.rmt.org.uk/about/national-dispute-fund/

Attending picketing of major stations. It’s important that different striking groups get to know each other and for pickets to be well attended and peaceful.

Reading about the facts of the strike from the RMT, Solidarity, and other unions and sharing their information – there’s a lot of deliberate confusion being sown by the government and many media outlets.

It goes without saying but never cross a picket line!