Solidarity: winning for members

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Solidarity Reps work to win cases for members on all kinds of workplace issues. Here is a sample of our recent cases.

Getting a reasonable adjustment


A member who suffers from a medical condition was running into trouble with her manager for repeated sickness absences. Using the Company’s absence procedures, it looked like the member would be forced out on medical grounds or simply on a failure to work.Solidarity asked the member to contact her GP to see if her condition was in reality a disability. Her GP confirmed that. The Union pointed out that the Equalities Act expects disabled employees to be offered a ‘Reasonable Adjustment’ i.e., allowing or offering a way of working or specific equipment that will allow the employee to perform to the best of their ability. In this case the equipment as set up was aggravating a medical condition leading to sickness absence.

Adjustments (which were reasonable for both the individual and company) resolved the problem.

Assault allegation kicked out

A Solidarity member in the NHS was accused of assault. She was told it could amount to gross misconduct and he could lose his job. It became clear at the disciplinary that the hearing Chair had inappropriately spoken to witness. Our Rep pointed out this procedural flaw which resulted in the sanction being downgraded to a warning. On appeal our Rep was able to get the warning thrown out.

Accused of sexual harassment but mitigating factors put forward

In another NHS case a member was accused of sexual harassment of a patient. He was told he could lose his job. Our Rep, however, was able to point out mitigating circumstances and the insight practiced by the member with the result that the member received only a warning.Half pay on sickness restored to full payA member was moved onto half pay during a sickness absence caused by the inaction of management in dealing with work stress. Solidarity was able to persuade the company to pay full pay in back pay for the period in question.

Attempts to kick out a discrimination case foiled


An attempt to kick out a discrimination claim on behalf of a member at a Preliminary hearing was foiled by our General Secretary. An attempt to say that the wrong company had been named as the employer was abandoned by the Barrister representing the employer as a result of evidence of the links between the various companies involved. The Barrister had to clarify which company was the employer and to accept the substitution of their name on the paperwork. The case will now go forward to a five-day tribunal hearing unless a settlement can be agreed.

Inflation up again – pay battles must continue

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Union leaders should co-ordinate strike action and organise big demonstrations against the return of austerity and under inflation pay rises (wage cuts) say Solidarity union.

Price rises surged again in September. New official statistics released on Wednesday showed the RPI inflation rate had bit 12.6 percent, a rise of 0.3 percent.

The main driver was higher food prices, which went up by almost 15 percent. The figure means that if wages “rise” by, say, 4 percent, that is actually a cut of 8.6 percent.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the government’s preferred CPI measure of inflation rose 0.5 percent in the month compared with August to 10.1 percent.

Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said, “After last month’s small fall, headline inflation returned to its high seen earlier in the summer. The rise was driven by further increases across food, which saw its largest annual rise in over 40 years.”

Price rises have not yet peaked, despite the energy price guarantee limiting gas and electricity bills this winter. The ONS said electricity prices rose by 54 percent and gas prices almost doubled in the year to September.

The September figure is also the number normally used for the uprating of benefits, including the state pension. Last Tuesday, new chancellor Jeremy Hunt could not guarantee the government would stick to its “triple lock” commitment on pensions. That would increase them by earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent—whichever is highest.

Cutting pensions and benefits as inflation keeps rising means an assault on millions of ordinary people. It will mean deep poverty, malnutrition, illness and death.

Patrick Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity said: All unions must fight for wage increases that at least match inflation. Workers are already being hit hard. We must also oppose any attempt to cut public services. Only co-ordinated strikes and street demonstrations will help us to win. Let’s start with the small things we can do to back the strikers.”

Small steps you can take to support the strikers

Go to your local picket line

Display a poster in your window backing the strikers

I support my postie
I support my postal worker

Make a small contribution to a strike fund

Wear a badge or T-shirt backing the strikers

Two TV programmes for Trade Unionists next week

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Crisis, What Crisis? Will Truss face the same fate as Callaghan?

Next week, Channel 5 will be airing two programmes that are of interest to Trade Unionists. The first, 1978: Winter of Discontent, tells the story of the seven months of strikes by British workers that led to the downfall of then – prime minister James Callaghan. Featuring interviews with key players on both sides of the dispute, the programme provides a fascinating insight into one of the most momentous periods in British industrial history. With the worst weather for a decade, 13 million days were lost to strikes, with thousands of schools closed, hospitals only admitting emergency patients and the dead remaining unburied. The second, Britain On Strike: The Debate, is a live discussion featuring a panel of experts discussing the reasons for and the impact of the recent wave of strikes on British society. Are the strikes justified? Are they the best way to bring about change? Who is to blame for the disruption?

Sunday 2 October is 1978: Winter of Discontent (Channel 5 at 9pm) and on Monday 3 October Britain On Strike: The Debate (Channel 5 at 9pm). Thanks to our friends over at Counter Culture for the heads-up.

Picture credit: See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons