Pay, hours, conditions

Back NHS workers to win 15%

Nursing Times reports that the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendation on NHS workers, is due “sometime this month” (June), despite delay. The PRB was originally supposed to report in May. The Tory government has already said in its evidence to the PRB that 1% is all that is “affordable” — it uses the word 16 times in its submission — and it is the government that makes the final decision. The system of supposedly independent pay review bodies in the public sector — replacing actual collective bargaining between unions and employers — is a farce, designed to shift power further from workers to...

Sleeper battle continues with ban

The 11-day strike by RMT rail union members on the Caledonian Sleeper service finishes on 26 June. One of the strikers on the picket line in Glasgow spoke to Solidarity. Support for the strike in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland is excellent. It is a dispute which we did not seek. All we want is a level of fairness from the employer, Serco, which runs the sleeper service. Serco’s Chief Executive had his pay increased to £4.9 million last year. Serco has paid out £17 million to its shareholders. But then Serco turns round to us and tell us we’re not getting a penny. This shows contempt for a...

DVLA out again 5 July (John Moloney's column)

Our campaign at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea increasingly looks like becoming a long and bitter dispute. The union is in it for the long haul and it’s certainly necessary here. The next selective action strikes will be on Monday 5 July, Wednesday 7 July and Friday 9 July We still don’t know who pulled the plug on the deal that was on the table a few weeks ago and which could have settled the dispute. All the signs suggest it was Grant Shapps, the transport minister. MPs have asked questions in Parliament about who withdrew the deal, and he’s simply refused...

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...

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