Union News, 5th of March 2023


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 12 December 2022


Tens of thousands rally outside Parliament to support strikers

• Tens of thousands of postal workers demonstrated in Parliament Square, London, on Friday over pay and conditions.

• The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) said that “17,500 CWU members came to London”—one in six of those on strike.

• The CWU members were joined by politicians and other trade union leaders in solidarity.

Royal Mail workers across the country formed picket lines and more action is planned for the rest of the week.

• CWU acting deputy general secretary Andy Furey spoke to the rally, saying that their demands are not going away and that unity will win in the end.

Christmas is cancelled for many disabled and carers

• One in five families who care for a disabled relative are planning to cancel their Christmas celebrations this year due to soaring prices, according to research by disability charity Sense.

• A survey of 1,007 families found that more than half said they were in debt and over a third were skipping meals to save money. With energy bills soaring as temperatures drop below 0 across the country, over a third (38 per cent) said they will not buy Christmas presents, and a fifth (22 per cent) said they will cancel celebrations altogether.

• The government has pledged to increase benefits in-line with inflation in April next year, but Sense warns that the delay to the uplift will leave “millions” of disabled families struggling to afford food and energy this winter. People with disabilities typically have higher living costs which makes them more vulnerable to soaring prices.

Jacob’s strike ends following settlement

• The Jacob’s cream cracker factory strike in Aintree, Liverpool has been called off after eleven weeks.

• Strikers voted in favour of a pay offer put forward by management, but over a third wanted to keep fighting.

• The deal includes a 6.5 percent pay rise this year backdated to January with a £300 one-off payment, followed by 3 percent increase next year with a £250 one-off payment – far less than the RPI rate of inflation which has soared to 14.2 percent.

• GMB union members were initially demanding a minimum pay rise of 8.5 percent but accepted 6.5% for first year and 2% for second year.

Shelter workers start two week strike

• Around 600 workers at housing charity Shelter began two weeks of strikes last Monday in the fight for a pay rise that at least matches inflation.

• Strikers are out at Shelter’s offices in Old Street and Hackney in London, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bristol, Bournemouth, Manchester, Newcastle , Norwich , Liverpool , Plymouth , and Sheffield .

• On the picket line in Old Street , strikers chanted , “ Three percent won ’ t pay the rent ” while car horns beeped in support—and at the “ Honk if you’re not paid enough ” sign .

• The strikers are using their campaigning skills to run the picket—with a book swap group , tactics meetings teach – outs. A rally took place on Friday from where the strikers marched to the CWU union rally.

Episode Notes

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.

If you have news, video footage, pictures etc that you want featured in Union News please email: UnionNewsServices@protonmail.com

Postal workers shut down the Royal Mail


Royal Mail workers shutting down nearly the whole of the postal service on Friday delivered a resounding message to their bosses: we’re not going to take your meagre pay increase lying down.

The strike, the first national one in 12 years, comes after postal workers were offered a below-inflation pay rise of just 2 percent. In other words, their real-term pay would be cut if they accepted the offer. Meanwhile, top executives have been raking in profits and awarding themselves big bonuses.

Clearly, the workers have had enough and are determined to get a fairer share of the company’s success.

The strike sends a clear message from postal workers: we’re not going to be taken for granted any longer. We deserve a fair share of the company’s profits.

Addressing a large crowd of striking workers and campaigners outside Royal Mail offices in Farringdon, central London, CWU general secretary Dave Ward warned greedy bosses at the privatised company that workers would not give in easily.

To loud cheers and the tooting horns of passing buses, he said: “When we say we’re in this for the long haul, you better believe we bloody well mean it.”

Around 115,000 workers at the firm are also set to walk out on Wednesday and on September 8-9, after the union said management imposed a 2 percent pay rise without consultation.

Royal Mail insisted the offer actually amounts to 5.5 percent, about half the lowest rate of inflation in July, but CWU categorically rejected this claim as a lie.

The union’s members at the Post Office, who first walked out in May, are also striking after the state-run company imposed a pay freeze in 2021-22 and offered 5 percent plus a £500 lump-sum for this financial year.

About 3,500 workers are involved in that dispute.

Mr. Ward called for solidarity with workers nationwide, as rail staff, dockers, criminal barristers, and exam board employees also take industrial action.

He said: “Solidarity has never been more important, solidarity with your colleagues and other unions is the way we’re going to win.

“Solidarity with workers who are not in unions, who are getting shafted up and down the UK. At CWU, we say every worker counts.

“We’ll win our disputes, but we’ve got to do more. I think it’s time that we push the boundaries further than they’ve ever been pushed.

“I think it’s time we saw collective action led by trade unions, led by community organisations and we get the whole of the working class in the UK together to fight back.”

Rail union RMT’s head Mick Lynch also addressed the lively demo, which included campaigners from the National Education Union, the University and College Union, Unison, and Equity.

Mr. Lynch, whose union has held six national strike days this summer, said: “The billionaires and the big corporations are telling working people to cough up for the problems in this society and become poorer.

“Our message to them is simple, enough is enough.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union said:

This is an inspiring show of strength by postal workers. They are up against one of the most powerful companies in the country. Postal workers have been humiliated and treated with contempt by their bosses. But they are now fighting back. Their action has caused massive disruption to postal services across Britain. It has also sent a message of hope to low-paid workers who are facing similar attacks on their pay. The postal workers’ strike is an important battle in the wider war against austerity and for decent pay for all.

Support the Postie strikes


Post Office workers are to stage fresh strikes in escalating action over pay, their union has announced.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) will walk out on August 26, 27, and 30, with some of the action coinciding with strikes by BT, Openreach, and Royal Mail employees.

It will be the fourth round of action by Post Office workers, including in larger high street “Crown” offices, administration, and across the supply chain.

Around 2,000 workers will walk out on August 26, the same day as 115,000 postmen and women from all parts of Britain go on strike in a separate row over pay.

Crown office employees will strike again on August 27, while supply chain and admin members of the union will walk out on August 30.

CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said: “We’re as determined as we have ever been to keep fighting and win a settlement that will protect our members’ standard of living through these exceptionally difficult economic times.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented:

“Postal workers are right to strike in the face of an unreasonable, below inflation, pay offer. We must give them whatever support we can. The strikers are fighting against the lie that workers must pay for the economic mismanagement of government and that they should take real-term pay cuts while firms pay dividends out.