UNISON

Strike to beat low pay

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Editorial

Several big unions will strike over public sector pay on 13-14-15 October, but as yet are discussing no follow-up.

At present inter-union communication happens only between general secretaries, or not at all. There should be a joint meeting of the unions' elected executive committees to discuss further action.

Widely-spaced national one day strikes, by themselves, will not win on pay. Unions should use creative tactics to maximise impact, maximise member involvement, and minimise impact on their members' pay.

Strike in October; build connections across unions; press for a strategy to win!

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Strikes on 13, 14, 15 October

Author: 

Gemma Short

The ballot over NHS pay in Unison returned a yes vote with 68% in favour of strike action and 88% of action short of strike action.

Unison has called a four hour strike in all NHS services, from 7-11am on October 13. This is a different day to local government workers, who will be called out on October 14, and PCS (civil servants), who will be out on the 15th.

Both Unison and PCS now have a concrete demand for pay. In local government Unison is demanding whichever is higher out of a £1 per hour increase or the living wage. In the civil service PCS is demanding a £1200 or 5% pay increase.

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Industrial news in brief

Staff at Your Choice Barnet (YCB), who work with a variety of vulnerable adults, were on strike for two days last week.

The strike was in addition to two days the previous week, where they held a joint rally with visiting Doncaster Care UK workers.

The dispute is over a 9.5% pay cut being imposed by YCB management — an arms length organisation devolved from the council. As well as defending their pay, strikers are also demanding to be taken back in house.

The strike is very well supported amongst staff, and picket lines are lively and well attended.

Barnet care workers strike; Brighton refuse dispute; Tube cleaners vote to strike; Tube victimisation; Tube cuts fight.

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14 October: organise on the ground

Author: 

Gemma Short

Between 2008 and 2013 real wages fell by 8.2%, on average. The median worker lost £2000 a year, for many that will have been much worse.

The wage squeeze is worse for younger workers, a 14% drop for those aged 18-25, 12% for 25-29 year olds. Each decade since the 1980s real wages growth has been lower than the previous decade.

In the public sector wages have fallen by 15%, many face a pay freeze.

14 October will be a display of the potential power of the labour movement, and will raise hopes for all workers feeling the squeeze on wages. The labour movement should bolster that hope with a strategy to win.

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Four hour strike in NHS not enough

Author: 

A South London health worker

Last week’s Solidarity carried an article that argued “a four hour walk out [on 14 October] is a good tactic in the NHS [as a starting point]” and “It is vital that discussions on strike tactics are held at workplace level where union members know what action can be most effective”. I disagree.

Unison’s leadership are worried about low turnout and unnecessary deaths on a strike day. They have attempted to solve these problem by proposing a four-hour stoppage. They hope healthworkers will be more likely to strike for half a day and it will be less risky for patients.

Many nurses still believe that it is illegal for nurses to strike and the Unison leadership has done nothing to dispel this myth. It has failed to set out a clear strategy for safe but effective strike action in the NHS.

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14 October can be big!

Author: 

Gemma Short

On October 14, local government workers in Unison, Unite and GMB unions will strike over pay. They may be joined by health workers in Unison, Unite and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) who all have ballots under way. If civil servants in PCS union join the strike this will be a very large and important action against the huge cuts in pay public sector workers have endured since 2009.

On October 14, local government workers in Unison, Unite and GMB unions will strike over pay.

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Good turnouts needed in health union ballots

Strike ballots in the health unions runs up to the end of September, with Unison's closing date on the 18 September and Unite on the 26th. 

A pay offer of 1% for 2 years, with no rise at all for those who receive an incremental rise, has angered workers, but a good turn out in the ballot would be very significant. 

The government has stopped the Health Pay Review Body from even going through the motions of reporting on annual pay this year. Instead it has been asked to propose cuts in unsocial hours pay, should further galvanise the vote. 

Strike ballots in the health unions runs up to the end of September, with Unison's closing date on the 18 September and Unite on the 26th. 

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Industrial news in brief

The Hands Off London Transport coalition plans a day of action for 16 September, involving leafleting, petitioning, and demonstrations at Tube stations.

The action will coincide with the introduction of contactless payment technology on the Tube which unions say will lead to problems for both passengers and staff.

The HOLT coalition want to raise the profile of cuts as a political issue, mobilise community direct action against them, and pressure GLAs and London MPs to take a stand on the issue.

Hands Off London Transport day of action; BBC workers to strike; Heathrow Airport strike; Doncaster care workers' dispute; NUT secretary suspended.

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Industrial news in brief

Unison members in Doncaster are now on their 57th day of strike action as part of action against Care UK who cut wages by up to 35%.

They will be on strike until 14 September, and have pickets every day at 7am outside Care UK’s Doncaster office, as well as trips to picket offices in other cities and to speak at meetings.

The strikers are also currently having weekly members’ meetings to discuss the dispute.

Ritzy workers reject offer

Doncaster care workers strike; Ritzy workers reject offer; Tube jobs fight; Tube cleaners ballot; Living Wage dayschool.

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