GMB

Make the schools safe!

The government’s aspiration to partially open schools on 1 June is likely to be largely unrealised. While we all want children back in schools, as soon as safe enough, that is good. Success in resisting unsafe reopening is dependent on union strength on the ground. We must fight for rank-and-file school worker control over the strategy, locally and nationally.

Call for action on social care

Late May has seen significant developments in the fight around social care. After months of refusing to even address the issue of sick pay and isolation pay for care workers, the Tories have announced a £600m “infection control fund”. Guidance for the fund states that part of its purpose is to “maintain the normal wages of staff who, in order to reduce the spread of infection need to reduce the number of establishments in which they work, reduce the number of hours they work, or self-isolate”. This is potentially an enormous victory. But the announcement has been very quiet, no doubt because...

Fight the "out of work" drive

In the coming months workers face an out-of-work drive as much as a back-to-work one. Some manufacturing and construction sites are restarting, usually slowly and partially. But between 11 May and 17 May the number on the government’s furlough scheme went up from 7.5 million to 8 million. Taking an optimistic assumption that “the lockdown period starts to be eased from the middle of May and... economic activity... resume[s] safely in the second half of the year”, the National Institute of Economic Research estimated in late April that unemployment would rise to “about 10 per cent of the...

So, farewell Tim Roache

On Tuesday 28 April 2020, Tim Roache resigned suddenly as general secretary of the GMB union, citing "ill health"

Safe and equal

Government and employers are hoping to avoid further concessions on workers’ rights in the crisis: evidently their idea is that outpourings of patriotic rhetoric in the media and weekly clapping sessions will create a chorus of national unity that can drown out workers’ demands for equality and safety. The Safe and Equal campaign is trying to amplify those workers’ demands, by reporting on, lobbying around, and drawing together the many issues and fights arising among frontline workers. This week our supporters in the NHS have highlighted the duty of the Chief Nurse (and indeed all nursing...

The labour movement and easing the lockdown

Starting with Austria reopening small shops on 14 April, almost all European countries have now begun easing their pandemic lockdowns, or announced plans to do so (Italy from 4 May, France from 11 May). Iran has reopened the bazaar in Tehran. Schools have restarted in Beijing and Shanghai. The World Health Organisation, however, has declared that “the worst is yet to come”. Its worry is not so much about a second wave in Europe, as first waves elsewhere. Africa so far shows 1,428 deaths, far fewer than Europe or the USA, and concentrated in Algeria and Egypt (over half that total between them)...

Green New Deal, not airport expansion!

Existing plans for Heathrow airport to be expanded with a new third runway have been ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal, in the latest move in a battle stretching back the best part of two decades. On 27 February the court ruled that in June 2018 Chris Grayling, then the transport secretary, was acting unlawfully by not taking into account the government's commitment - under the Paris agreements - to tackle the climate crisis. The Government said it would not appeal, though Heathrow airport itself will. Air travel is extremely emissions-intensive, releasing a much higher quantity of...

Industrial news in brief

UVW at St George's Outsourced security workers in the United Voices of the World union (UVW) at St. George’s University in Tooting, south London, are continuing their campaign for equality. UVW members and supporters recently occupied the lobby of the main St. George’s building during a university open day, holding an impromptu rally addressed by St. George’s strikers, UVW reps from victorious anti-outsourcing campaigns at LSE and St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, and an RMT activist. UVW is also preparing what it describes as a “landmark legal case” to challenging outsourcing in court. The...

More rail yes, HS2 maybe not

More railway lines? Yes. HS2 in particular? Not really. There are higher priorities: electrification of the railways, many of which are still running diesel trains; increasing capacity on intercity services; improving existing connections; reinvestment in branch lines; newer trains. A well-staffed and free or cheap integrated rail and bus network is the sort of large-scale infrastructure project that should come before HS2. Some of the arguments used against HS2 are weak. But there is also good reason to question the arguments made for HS2 as a way to create good jobs, as a way to help the...

Tower Hamlets backs down

The National Education Union (NEU) in Tower Hamlets, East London, won an important success on 13 February. Under pressure from the NEU and the wider labour movement, the local council withdrew a legal challenge aimed at derailing a strike ballot. On 22 January NEU launched a formal strike ballot in opposition to plans by the council to impose detrimental changes to terms and conditions without consultation with the union. Unison are also planning to ballot. The changes would significantly reduce redundancy payments for teachers and impose new contracts on support staff. The NEU conducted an...

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