UNISON

NHS and council pay: organising to win

The big public services union Unison has a live dispute on pay in both its major sectors — Local Government and Health. Consultative ballots in both areas have returned high percentages for rejection of the employers’ offer and award — 79% in local government, 80% in health. In the context of rapidly rising costs of living, including food, fuel, national insurance, and council tax, the stage should be set for a huge confrontation with the government on pay. However, both sectors have had relatively low turnouts in their ballots. On the basis of the consultative ballots, neither sector would...

Trade union struggle and political struggle - an interview with John McDonnell

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and former Shadow Chancellor, spoke to Sacha Ismail. After Labour Party conference, what do you think will happen with Starmer’s leadership? Do you think he’ll be around for a long time? It’s impossible to tell at the moment. At the conference he used the traditional Blairite, Mandelson playbook. Attack your own party to demonstrate you’re a strong leader; do a big personal speech to try to demonstrate you’re a normal human being; make banal statements instead of policy commitments. It didn’t work: the bounce in the polls didn’t happen. The...

Unison activists protest against stitch-up

From the Time for Real Change in Unison campaign We are angry and dismayed that Unison has voted for the Labour Party rule changes it did... particularly the increase to 20% of the threshold of MPs by which leadership candidates are nominated. The Unison vote was key to it passing. This vote contradicted formal Unison Labour Link policy set in 2018 to reduce the nominating threshold to 10%. The Unison Conference delegation had no mandate or rulebook right to overturn National Labour Link Committee policy in this area and has chosen to set a dangerous precedent. Unison also opposed the original...

Silence at Labour conference on NHS pay

Trade unions, the Labour left and Labour NHS campaigners failed to raise the issue of NHS pay at Labour Party conference – or, more exactly, did not try. Rank-and-file NHS workers, organised through NHS Workers Say No, Nurses United and other networks as well as their various unions, are focusing on a difficult struggle to get industrial action off the ground. Some of them were invited to speak at various fringe meetings at the conference. But beyond that minimal gesture there was little attempt by unions and Labour activists present at the conference to use it to boost NHS workers’ campaign...

NHS pay: move to formal ballots!

As the backpay for the 3% pay award, due from April, arrived in the pockets of NHS workers this month, the simultaneous rise in cost of living reinforced how worthless it was. For many health workers the miserly 3% has also tipped us into the next pension bracket, meaning that our take-home pay each month is actually less than it was, and we owe our Trusts pension payments from April. Many of us are being told this will be taken out in one chunk next month, just before Christmas. This is the latest background to the ongoing dispute on NHS pay. A decade of pay restraint, ever-increasing...

Council pay: campaign for strikes

Unison members in local government have voted by 79% to reject a 1.75% pay offer. On 1 October the union’s Local Government Committee voted to ballot members on industrial action. Members will start to receive ballot papers in November or early December. The National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) covers the largest group of employees for collective bargaining purposes in the UK economy. Over 1.4 million workers have their pay and conditions determined within the national framework negotiated in the NJC. The claim submitted by the unions...

Push for action on NHS pay!

Members of the main health unions have overwhelmingly rejected the government’s 3% NHS pay award. RCN rejected by 91.7% (in Wales 93.9%), Unison by 80%, and GMB by 93%. Unison and GMB included willingness to take industrial action in their informal ballot. These votes show the activist base of the unions is ready to take action. The decisive figure for action, under the anti-trade union laws, was always going to be the turnout. There, the news is not positive. RCN turnout was 25.4% (29.3% in Wales), and Unison, 29%. GMB have not released their turnout figures, presumably meaning they did not...

NHS pay: debate the options!

As I write on 14 September, neither Unison or the RCN has issued the results of their NHS pay consultations, which closed on 10 and 13 September respectively. The other unions are still in process. The votes are likely to indicate rejection. Very few workers give positive endorsement to the award, although there is a lack of confidence that anything can be done. There are rumours of relatively low turnouts, unsurprising given generally poor workplace organisation and limited campaigning by the unions nationally. Even if this is the case, participation will vary between workplaces and sectors...

BDS policy blocks strike solidarity

At the National Executive Committee of the public services union Unison on 14 July, a full time official blocked a message of support to striking hospital workers in Israel on grounds of the union’s “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) policy. The official declared the motion invalid because the workers are organised by the Histadrut (the Israeli TUC), and Unison takes its BDS policy to rule out links with it. The Socialist Party, whose members moved the motion, points out that the lack of formal links should not have prevented a message. But the official got away with it, showing how BDS...

Solidarity with Paul Holmes

Around 100 people joined a solidarity rally for Unison Branch Secretary and national President Paul Holmes on Monday 6 September as his disciplinary hearing began. Holmes was suspended by Kirklees Council in November 2019. The council is not holding the hearing at council offices as would be usual, instead paying for a four-star hotel on the outskirts of Huddersfield. Though supported by his local branch, Holmes is not receiving support from the national union. Along with other Kirklees Unison activists, Holmes has also been suspended by Unison, with no hearings yet. It is unclear whether the...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.