Pay, hours, conditions

We need a pay rise to rebuild the NHS

Holly Johnson, a staff nurse at Sheffield’s cancer hospital, talked to Alison Brown from Solidarity. Why has the issue of pay, in particular, mobilised nurses, more than privatisation, cuts and safety in the NHS? Pay freezes, pay cuts and expanding roles for all NHS workers are part of the dismantling of the NHS. Inequality of our pay affects well-being. This has a direct effect on patient safety. If pay is low, it does not attract people into the workforce, does not make them feel valued. That, combined with poor working conditions, makes it hard to retain staff, thus affecting safe staffing...

Shift in Tower Hamlets

John Biggs, mayor of the Labour council in Tower Hamlets, east London, has at last agreed to talk directly with the public services union Unison about his “Tower Rewards” plan to cut terms and conditions. He will meet Unison Regional Secretary Maggie Ferncombe, other officials, and branch representatives. This move follows nine days of strikes by Tower Hamlets Unison in July and August in response to the imposition of “Tower Rewards”. Unison branch secretary John McLoughlin says: “If management were genuine in their claim that Tower Rewards was not in part about making it easier to make staff...

Drivers hit Wagamama

On Thursday 10 September Deliveroo drivers in Sheffield took action against Deliveroo, by hitting one of their biggest clients, Wagamama, with an all-night boycott, wiping out that evening’s sales. They were striking over falling pay and unfair sackings. The drivers of Sheffield, despite the hardship many face as wages fall, and despite a recent influx of new drivers to the app, threw themselves into the strike in a show of wonderful solidarity. Picket line conversations were conducted in many different languages, as drivers made a point of rejecting orders from the targeted restaurant on the...

Deliveroo: against sackings

Deliveroo drivers in Sheffield are set to take further action against large national partners of Deliveroo in the week starting 7 September. Despite the risks that drivers have taken during the pandemic to keep the service rolling, and in spite of the fact that Deliveroo expects its hyper-exploited workers to themselves bear the costs of running and insuring their vehicles, the fees paid to the drivers continue to fall. Worse, a whole series of drivers in Sheffield find themselves being terminated with no reason, no warning, and no right of appeal. On the evidence of anonymous complaints (made...

Next steps on NHS pay

The cross-union campaign “NHS Workers Say No!” is organising a day of demonstrations on 12 September. (London: 11 a.m. from the BBC, Portland Place. Details for other cities here). Article and video. This follows a round of protests in many cities on 8 August, when NHS workers across the country came onto the streets to demand a pay rise, an earlier London street protest on 29 July, and workplace actions across the country. The demand is that all NHS workers (including those contracted out) get a 15% pay rise. That does not fully make up for the loss in pay NHS workers have had over the last decade due to pay freezes. When taking inflation into account, NHS workers have lost 20% in real terms.

Back the health workers! 15% pay rise!

We must throw ourselves into helping the health workers win. Video and article. On 12 September, and in Glasgow on 5 September, health workers will be on the streets again demanding a pay rise. The movement started with a London demonstration on 29 July, spread through protests across the country on 8 August and workplace rallies on 26 August, and is continuing through “wear a badge days” every Wednesday.

Unison: break from "plan to lose"!

Local government members in the big public-services union Unison have voted two to one (66%) in favour of the 2020-21 pay award, in a ballot closing 11 August. The union’s national joint council committee accepted the offer from employers of 2.75%, though, it said, “it fell far short of the 10% claim and did not properly reward key workers for their exceptional contributions throughout the pandemic”. The pay award fell even further short of the 22% our union had explained we have lost over the last ten years. We are one of the unions representing care workers, school support staff, early years...

Deliveroo: more action

On Wednesday 26 August, Deliveroo couriers continued their organising drive in Sheffield by organising a boycott of the Mr Miyagi sushi restaurant. Mr Miyagi had become a byword for disrespect among drivers in Sheffield. They would use the Deliveroo app to oblige drivers to turn up at the restaurant long before the food was prepared. Drivers had to wait a long time for food orders — time for which they were not paid — and run the risk of getting parking tickets, or be subject to complaints from impatient customers. Mr Miyagi’s owner received a letter from the union outlining these concerns...

NHS mobilisation can break low-pay trend

It seems unlikely that health workers will get a pay rise without strikes or at least the threat of strikes. Other public sector workers have got small pay rises, but no public sector workers have got good pay rises. Millions of key workers - our colleagues who risked their health and lives working alongside us through the lockdown - still survive on poverty pay, without sick pay, annual leave, pensions or in many cases without even guaranteed hours. The pandemic has revealed a division within the working class between unionised workers with fairly decent pay, terms and conditions, and largely...

Deliveroo workers strike for decent wages and sick pay

On Wednesday 19 August couriers working for Deliveroo struck in Sheffield, demanding a pay increase, sick pay, and an end to sackings from the platform without hearings or appeals. Their action almost completely shut down all delivery business for local restaurants selling food via the Deliveroo app. The strike drew support from Labour MP Olivia Blake, who sent a message to the rally: “I fully support Deliveroo workers, and all precarious workers, organising for better conditions and the right to a guaranteed living wage. For too long Deliveroo, Uber, and other employers of the platform...

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