Pay, hours, conditions

Support a 15% rise for NHS workers!

The major front in the war for the NHS over the coming months may be health workers’ fight for a decent pay rise (more accurately, a significant restoration of losses from real-terms pay cuts). Some time in the second half of June the government’s stitched-up NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) will respond to the Tories’ proposal of a 1% increase, i.e. another pay cut. Then, in turn, the government will say whether it will pay the PRB recommendation or not. The Labour Party’s failure to commit to rank-and-file NHS workers’ demand of 15% or £3,000, whichever is higher — or to anything like it: the...

Pimlico Academy: near a tipping point

On 8 June, National Education Union (NEU) members at Pimlico Academy (London) held their first strike day. A sunny Tuesday morning saw a strong turnout from members, with the picket line stretching all the way down the road. Workers carried placards with slogans including: “kick racism out of school”; “kick islamophobia out of school” and “hold the Nashes accountable”. Lord John Nash, Tory peer and former Academies and Free Schools Minister, and Lady Caroline Nash are Future Academies Trustees and the main force behind the Trust. Lady Nash, for instance, is the leading figure in the Trust’s in...

Electricians win deskilling fight

A campaign of direct action by electricians in the construction industry has scored a major victory. Contractors Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey are “permanently withdrawing” plans to introduce a new grade of electrician with lower training standards at the major Hinckley Point C (HPC) development. A letter announcing the bosses’ climbdown said the plans were scrapped “after Unite [union] raised concerns.” Those “concerns” were expressed in a campaign, taking place over several months, in which workers and their supporters mounted protests, including demonstrations and sit-ins, at sites connected...

Making some ground (John Moloney's column)

PCS annual delegate conference took place digitally on 13-14 June. Workers’ Liberty activists, as part of the Independent Left network, supported various motions to the conference. A motion on full-time officials’ pay, which talked about exploring ways to bring officers’ pay more closely in line with the average pay of members, was defeated, but by a margin which suggests some ground has been made in this debate since last discussed. Similarly, a proposal for the election of all officials was also defeated, but the motion on union structure that was passed included language about exploring...

The strange case of Malcolm Bidali

Last summer, the international trade union movement was celebrating the news from Qatar. The country which is slated to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup had come under enormous pressure to respect the rights of workers, especially migrant workers, who were getting the country ready for such a high profile event. The headline on the website of the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) could not have been more gushing: “A new dawn for migrant workers in Qatar”. The article went on to say that “new laws adopted today by the State of Qatar are a game changer in the protection...

Winning decent jobs for all

Café and restaurant bosses in Britain, the USA, and elsewhere complain that a shortage of workers may now push them into raising wages. About time. A pay survey estimates the average wage in fast food in the UK at £6.50 an hour. (The legal minimum wage is £8.91. But only if you’re 23 or over. For under-18s it’s £4.62, for apprentices £4.30). In the USA the estimate is $11 average (£7.75), and the common workers’ demand is $15 (£10.57). But the bosses are puzzled because they’d expected huge unemployment by now and a “buyer’s market” for labour. Thanks to public pressure making the Tories...

DVLA bosses pull back from deal

Our members in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea struck again on 2-6 June, in their ongoing dispute to win improved workplace safety, and a greater say for workers in determining those measures. Immediately prior to the last strike, the local branch felt that an acceptable deal had been on the table. But at the eleventh hour, two elements of that deal — additional cash payments and additional annual leave compensation for workers who’ve been compelled to work at the physical workplace during the pandemic — were unilaterally withdrawn. We don’t know where the...

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...

"This is about the kind of world we want to live in"

Ali Treacher is a care worker, Unite the Union activist and workplace rep, and Secretary of the Care and Support Workers Organise! network (CaSWO!) She is also a supporter of Anti-Capitalist Resistance. She spoke to us about care workers' fight. CaSWO! has been meeting throughout the last year, since the start of the pandemic, after a Unison-organised call which brought together care workers around issues like workplace health and safety and PPE. The initial focus was basically offering each other solidarity and advice and sharing information. Government guidelines were so vague that we had to...

Go North West: gains and concessions

As we reported in Solidarity 591 (5 May 2021), sustained strikes by bus drivers at Manchester’s Go North West succeeded in forcing bosses to back down from their plans to use “fire and rehire” tactics to impose new contracts. The dispute has now been formally settled, with drivers voting by a 79% majority to accept a deal that sees the “fire and rehire” plan scrapped. The strike ran to 12 weeks in total, the longest bus workers’ strike in British history. Two workers sacked during the course of the dispute have been reinstated, with disciplinary charges against 37 more dropped. An above...

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