UNISON

Support the Tower Hamlets strikers

On 6 July, Tower Hamlets Labour council intends to implement a plan, “Tower Rewards”, to sack its entire 4,000-strong workforce — carers, caretakers, children’s centre workers, housing and homelessness workers, refuse workers, cleaners, social workers, teaching assistants and many, many others — and re-employ only those who will accept substantially worse terms and conditions. Key elements include reducing severance pay on redundancy; a longer working week; ending automatic incremental pay progression; cutting shift, premium and overtime payments; and abolishing the flexi scheme. So much for...

“The irreplaceable strategy of ‘simply keeping going’”

Ruth Cashman, who is standing for election to the Momentum National Co-ordinating Group (London region), discusses “holding the line” for militant trade unionism in local government. Part two of three articles. Part one, 'How I Became a Socialist'. Picture, Lambeth Unison's campaign to stop cuts to Local Children's Centres I came into local government, getting a job in the Lambeth Library Service, almost exactly the same time that the government was making lots of cuts (2008). My entire experience of trade union activism has been about dealing with austerity. About six months into the job, the...

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.

Organise against university cuts

Coronavirus is intensifying the fault lines in UK higher education, and huge cuts are coming to our universities. Universities are announcing job cuts and hiring freezes to mitigate the huge predicted loss of income from international students’ fees. Staff on casual, fixed-term or hourly paid contracts will be the hardest hit, and their workloads will be pushed onto permanent staff. Lots is still unclear. On Sunday 24 May, Student Strike Solidarity held a meeting to discuss how students can organise with university workers to stop these cuts. We heard from activists involved in local campaigns...

Right to protest

After a leaked Treasury paper suggested a two-year public sector pay freeze, a group of London nurses held a socially distanced protest outside Downing Street, wearing their PPE. This is one of a number of protests health workers have organised around the country. In response NHS England and NHS managers in London have issued a statement saying workers should not join protests as it would “adversely affect public confidence”. It also suggested support for police repression of demonstrations! Over two hundred health workers have died from Covid-19 in eight weeks – more than the number of...

Demand councils follow Salford

Salford City Unison has won what looks like strong policy for the right of all care workers in their borough to self-isolate on full pay. The policy agreed between the union and the council says: “All providers will be expected to ensure staff who are absent as a result of Government guidance will be paid full pay for the first 14 days, and then at 80% for a maximum total of 12 weeks period of absence. Providers are able to claim back the difference between what they would normally pay and what they are required to pay, from the NHS. “Payments should be made on the basis of typical hours...

Workers’ control of PPE!

There is alarm amongst many about the lack of PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] being provided to workers at risk of exposure to Covid-19. Rightly so. The information regarding protection has been confusing, with different recommendations initially coming from the World Health organisation (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE). Workers in the frontline are being told what to do rather than being involved in the decisions that affect them. We don’t trust our bosses to protect us. Many workers are superseding recommended protection with support of trade unions. For example in my workplace, an...

Councils: essential local services, full isolation pay for all

My union branch, Lambeth Unison, organises three main groups of workers — workers for Lambeth council, support staff in schools in Lambeth, and workers in Elis Laundry. We also have some members in smaller private sector workplaces. Our first step, and early on, was to win full pay for all workers in the council following public health advice, or staying home for childcare because of school and nursery closures, early on. For absolutely all workers in council workplaces, including agency workers and zero-hours workers. The next battle was in the libraries. On 20 March the library workers...

Industrial news in brief

CWU ballots until 17 March By Ollie Moore As Solidarity went to press on 3 March, Royal Mail workers were beginning a new ballot for industrial action, after a successful ballot last year was injuncted by the High Court. The ballot will close on 17 March. It is about action to prevent a restructure that could see the postal and parcel delivery aspects of Royal Mail’s business separated into distinct companies, a move which the Communication Workers Union (CWU) says could threaten up to 20,000 jobs. The CWU is also demanding that Royal Mail honour an agreement reached in 2018 which included a...

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...

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