GMB

Reject the NHS pay award

The trade union consultations on the NHS pay award are coming to an end. The Unison ballot runs until 10 September, the RCN finishes on 13th, GMB on 17th, and Unite on 24th. The next days and weeks are the last chance for members to vote and for activists to get out and encourage them to reject. The award doesn’t get anywhere near the claims of the unions. All have stated that it is not good enough. RCN, GMB and Unite have recommended rejection. It is likely that all the results will be to reject the deal. It’s obvious to all NHS workers that a lower than inflation pay award of 3% is...

Letter: British Gas outcome still a defeat

The report on the settlement in British Gas in Solidarity 602 was right to acknowledge that the concessions in the new deal are real. However, this is not some last-minute victory, nor even a score-draw, but an outcome that blunts some of the employer’s worst attacks within an overall context that is still very much a defeat for the workers. The new settlement does not return engineers to the terms they were on before new contracts were imposed. British Gas has ultimately succeeded in imposing worse conditions. Hundreds of engineers remain sacked for refusing to accept the new contracts, and...

The case for a critical vote for Gary Smith

Dale Street (Solidarity 601) is right to take issue with the entirely uncritical hagiography to newly-elected GMB union general secretary Gary Smith offered by a group of “GMB comrades” in their article of the previous week (Solidarity 600). Reading the comrades’ paean would give readers the impression that Smith was a radical class fighter, if not quite a revolutionary socialist then very near to one, and someone who has dedicated himself to an unambiguous one-man mission to turn the GMB into a militant, class-struggle union. Smith is exactly what Dale Street has, in previous articles...

New settlement in British Gas

The GMB union’s dispute with British Gas formally ended on 20 July, when the union accepted a new settlement on pay, terms, and conditions. Engineers in GMB had struck for 44 days, but then new contracts were imposed via fire and rehire, with 500 workers leaving the company. The GMB says the company has made concessions on overtime rates, increasing them to “time-and-a-half”, and on unsocial hours payments, as well as agreeing limits on unsocial hours working. The new deal also strengthens the criteria for emergency call-outs, which potentially gives workers greater grounds to refuse being...

GMB: more to the big picture

Solidarity 600 carried a eulogy, by “a group of GMB activists and officers”, for newly elected GMB General Secretary Gary Smith. According to the article: “Dale Street describes Giovanna Holt as the only candidate (in the election contest) with a proven track record of taking on bullying and misogyny in the GMB. Unfortunately, he provides no evidence for this claim, which is a problem as we don’t know of any evidence for it either. So until Dale puts his evidence on the table, we’re just left with an assertion.” The evidence already on the table was the first online hustings in the recent...

Understanding what was at stake in the GMB election

This discussion article has been sent to us by a group of GMB activists and officers who have worked with Workers’ Liberty. Dale Street’s article on the GMB General Secretary election (Solidarity 596) is testament to the author’s outstanding talent for missing the wood for the trees. To paraphrase Eric Morecambe: “He has all the right knowledge, but not necessarily in the right order”. To help Solidarity readers make sense of the GMB election we want to take a step back from the matters Dale focuses on and instead look at the big picture. The first point to grasp, is that for anyone in the GMB...

Gary Smith and Eleanor Marx: why calls for union disengagement from politics are not left-wing

New GMB General Secretary Gary Smith’s 7 June article in the Morning Star suggest he is part of the trend towards union leaders disparaging labour movement political engagement. Sharon Graham, backed by much of the radical left for Unite General Secretary [and, shortly after this, by Workers' Liberty in fact], is also an example of this trend, strongly suggesting that Unite is too engaged with the Labour Party and with politics as such: more on her politics and campaign here. “Over the last five years”, Gary Smith writes, “the GMB’s membership has been allowed to decline as we paid more...

Gary Smith wins GMB election

GMB Scottish Regional Secretary Gary Smith has been elected as the union’s new General Secretary. The election turnout was only 10.6%. But this marks an improvement on the 2019 election (8.5%), the 2015 election (4.2%), and earlier elections which were not even contested. Smith won a fraction more than 50% of the vote. Rehana Azam (right-wing full-timer) got 28%. Giovanna Holt (Senior Organiser, and only candidate with a proven track record of challenging GMB bullying and misogyny) got 22%. As Scottish Regional Secretary Smith has built a reputation for himself as someone prepared to take on...

NHS pay: on the streets, 3 July

Within the next few weeks, the issue of NHS pay will be sharply back on the agenda. The NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) is due to make their recommendation on pay for England and Wales in “mid-June”. That will be followed by an offer from the government. After 18 months of the Covid response which has stretched NHS workers to their limits, proved fatal for over 800, and left many more physically and mentally scarred, the offer will certainly bring disappointment and anger. The immediate focus of campaigning is the well-timed day of action called by Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, NHS...

McVitie's factory: more strategy needed

Around 250 people turned up on 22 May for a rally protesting the proposed closure of the McVitie’s biscuit factory in the East End of Glasgow. The focus of the campaign against closure is a cross-party alliance to demand intervention by the Scottish Government to guarantee the factory’s future. Having the local Tory councillor denounce Pladis (owners of McVitie’s) for treating the workforce with contempt probably helps build confidence (“everyone is on our side”). But, for obvious reasons, it also lacks credibility. Demanding intervention by the Scottish Government also makes sense. Some 700...

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