GMB

Gary Smith wins GMB election

GMB Scottish Regional Secretary Gary Smith has been elected as the union’s new General Secretary. The election turnout was only 10.6%. But this marks an improvement on the 2019 election (8.5%), the 2015 election (4.2%), and earlier elections which were not even contested. Smith won a fraction more than 50% of the vote. Rehana Azam (right-wing full-timer) got 28%. Giovanna Holt (Senior Organiser, and only candidate with a proven track record of challenging GMB bullying and misogyny) got 22%. As Scottish Regional Secretary Smith has built a reputation for himself as someone prepared to take on...

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...

McVitie's factory: more strategy needed

Around 250 people turned up on 22 May for a rally protesting the proposed closure of the McVitie’s biscuit factory in the East End of Glasgow. The focus of the campaign against closure is a cross-party alliance to demand intervention by the Scottish Government to guarantee the factory’s future. Having the local Tory councillor denounce Pladis (owners of McVitie’s) for treating the workforce with contempt probably helps build confidence (“everyone is on our side”). But, for obvious reasons, it also lacks credibility. Demanding intervention by the Scottish Government also makes sense. Some 700...

Uber signs union agreement

Ride sharing and food courier app Uber has signed an agreement with the GMB union. The agreement covers Uber drivers, but excludes Uber Eats couriers. According to the GMB, the agreement allows them to discuss issues including “national earnings principles”, pensions, and discretionary benefits. The agreement does not, however, enable the GMB to collectively bargain in a formal sense, and submit claims on pay and conditions on behalf of drivers. Following a legal challenge initiated by Uber drivers, who were then members of the GMB, Uber has been forced to recognise drivers as employees...

Battling biscuit closure

Members of the GMB union will be demonstrating outside of the McVitie’s factory in Glasgow on Saturday 22 May (from 10am, at Tollcross Park: Facebook event here) in protest at an announcement that it is to close. The factory has a workforce of nearly 500, with union membership split 3:1 between the GMB and Unite. Although the protest was initiated by the GMB, Unite members will also be supporting it. McVitie’s is owned by the Pladis company, which is part of the Turkish investment firm Yildiz Holdings. According to Pladis, it needs to close the plant and shift all production to English plants...

NHS pay after Scotland

As expected, the majority of NHS union members and trade unions in Scotland have voted in consultative ballots to accept the 4% pay offer. Members of Unison, Unite, and the smaller profession-based unions such as the RCM and CSP voted to accept. 85% of those voting in Unison, the biggest union, accepted. GMB and RCN members rejected in line with their leaderships’ recommendations. The Scottish government quickly announced it would be implementing the deal with no further negotiation, and it looks unlikely that the rejecting unions will seriously oppose this. Although not quite meeting the...

GMB votes to reject 4% in NHS

Scottish NHS workers in the GMB union have rejected the 4% Scottish government pay offer. The RCN, who also recommended rejection, are expected to announce their result as Solidarity goes to press on 11 May. Unison recommended acceptance of the offer, and Unite did not make a recommendation, so it seems likely their members will vote to accept. The issue in Scotland will now be whether GMB and possibly the RCN will ballot for action, or simply use the recommendation to reject as a crude recruitment ploy, as happened in the last pay round. Members should push for a ballot for strike action...

Gains at Go North West

A nine-week long strike by bus drivers has forced Go North West to back down from a plan to impose new contracts via “fire and rehire”. Drivers who were sacked or disciplined for social media posts during the dispute will also be reinstated and have disciplinary sanctions dropped. Although the details of the settlement are yet to be finalised, this appears to be a significant victory and a testament to the resolve of the workers involved in launching determined, indefinite strike action. For now, drivers are rightly continuing their strikes until a settlement is agreed. Activists say that Go...

NHS protests set for 3 July

Ballot results on NHS pay in Scotland are due in the next few days as we go press. Unison has recommended the 4% offer to its members; RCN and GMB are advising rejection. There has been minimal campaigning during the ballot and so the turnout is likely to be low. Whichever way the vote goes, work will be needed to involve members and raise the activity levels in workplaces. In England and Wales activity on pay in health has gone into a lull as the drawn out Pay Review Board process continues. The Pay Review Board is now expected to report in mid to late June, rather than May as previously...

Regrouping in British Gas

Over 1,000 workers attended an online meeting organised by the GMB union to discuss the next steps in British Gas engineers’ fight over terms and conditions. British Gas used a “fire and rehire” process to dismiss around 500 engineers who refused to sign new contracts that will see workers work longer for less. Union activists estimate that around another 500 workers left the company voluntarily during the dispute. GMB members struck 43 times against the new contracts, which were finally imposed on 14 April. With no negotiated collective agreement in place, GMB can submit a new pay claim. A...

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