The Country needs a pay rise. CPI inflation is 5.4%. RPI inflation is 7.5% . And, with energy and National Insurance hikes on the way, by April it will be worse. Inflation disproportionately affects those on low incomes. Figures as high as 18% have been calculated.
See here what Jack Munroe makes of the government’s inflation figures: –
Rising prices are eclipsing wage growth, so real pay is dropping. Real pay has fallen back below 2008 levels, with average weekly earnings £3 lower than they were before the financial crisis, according to the CPI. But, If we use the RPI measure of inflation, (which is a better measure of tracking living costs), real pay is down by £60 per week compared to its peak in 2009.
Low paid working people, (and those on low incomes), deserve a decent standard of living. But instead, following the worse pay squeeze for two centuries, real pay is falling, and workers now face a cost-of-living crisis. Many low paid workers are now slipping into the poverty pay bracket.
Sharon Graham – General Secretary, Unite the Union, takes issue with misleading percentages. “We are fed up with the Government’s jiggery-pokery on the cost-of-living index, so we will be appointing the necessary experts to produce our own working index for inflation.” “Workers can no longer afford to allow the Government to force them to take what amounts to pay cuts based on ‘gerrymandered’ government statistics.”
Some workplaces are doing something about this. There have been and are still several bin workers strikes throughout the country.
Let’s start with the good news:-
WINS FOR THE BINS! WINS FOR THE BINS! WINS FOR THE BINS!
🔸️ UNITE VICTORY – PLYMOUTH
The 46 dustcart drivers working for Plymouth council celebrated New Year which finally recognised that they are not unskilled. The regrading, won by Unite the Union, sees their pay increase from a base rate of £24,000 to £27,000 – a 12.5% increase.
Partly this was a consequence of the national shortage of HGV drivers, partly it reflected a marked rise in combativity among local authority workers tired of years of austerity (e.g., Thurrock, Bexley, Glasgow); but it is also a mark of the increased willingness of workers to resist attempts to make us pay for the cost of Covid being loaded onto the poorest.
The public commitment by Unite’s Sharon Graham, to support members fighting to maintain or improve their pay and conditions, no doubt helps to boost confidence, but the mood of resentment, and resistance, is not confined to members of Unite. It may be that the disputes in ‘the dust’ are a foretaste of a wider mood in local authorities.
🔸️LAST OCTOBER GMB refuse collectors in Brighton, won an above inflation pay rise after long-running strike action.
This win certainly got Eastbourne bin collectors thinking about their low pay and poor working conditions.
🔸️ The GMB – EASTBOURNE BIN STRIKE
The Eastbourne bin strike, which began on December 31st 2021, ended on 18th January in a ‘massive win for GMB members’. Refuse collectors in our town had already taken six days of strike action and were set for eight more walk outs. But the strikers all attended the 4th round of talks at the Town Hall and formally accepted an improved, above inflation pay offer of almost 19 per cent from the council.
The offer includes a minimum rise this year of 11 per cent and a guarantee their hourly rate will reach a minimum of £13.50 per hour in April 2023 – a 19 per cent rise in total.
Local Labour Party members and Trade Unionist show solidarity and support for the strikers. We were present on the picket line for all 6 strike days, and at the 2 demonstrations outside the Town Hall during round 3 and 4 of the talks. We had 2 supporting articles and a readers’ letter published in local press. We were also very active online to keep the local support going. This was especially necessary due to knock on effects of much of the anti-union, misinformation announcement from Eastbourne Borough Council; announcement which seemed set on stirring up local resentments.
MORE BIN ACTIONS ON THE CARDS
🔸️ ADUR AND WORTHING. Refuse, recycling, HGV drivers and loaders, working at Adur and Worthing Councils’ recycling and waste services, have been speaking to their union. A GMB *consultative* ballot closed on 19th January. 100% yes vote from a 92.5% turnout. If this is pursued, strike action might happen after 5 weeks or so.
Mark Turner, GMB Branch Secretary, said:
“GMB has tried to speak to management at Adur and Worthing Council, but the message has been received loud and clear that they are not prepared to negotiate.
“Given what has happened up the road in Brighton and Eastbourne, you would have thought the council might want to nip this dispute in the bud.
“If they don’t receive a pay offer reflecting the value of their work, our members are very clear they will go on strike.”
🔸️WALTHAM FOREST refuse workers are rallying for fair pay.
Waltham Forest Town Hall was recently the backdrop for a show of solidarity by UNITE and GMB members of the Refuse and Cleansing Team. These workers have been outsourced to private company Arbaser who pay them far less than workers doing the same jobs in neighbouring Boroughs, the drivers, loaders, and street cleaners, being the worst paid at around ten pounds an hour. The workers are demanding a pay rise, in line with their counterparts in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets and want the service to be bought back in-house.
🔸️The UNITE – COVENTRY BIN STRIKES are BACK ON
70 Unite bin collection drivers in Coventry were back on the picket lines on Wed 5 January for 48 hours of strike action over pay, with Unite announcing a further 19 days of strikes on the Thursday.
Unite says the bosses have failed in talks to table an offer that would bring the workers out of low pay. The workers are also having to work long hours, with overtime leading to many working longer than 50 hours a week.
The drivers are expected to have an HGV licence and start on a basic wage of just £22,183, which is way below the wages of similarly skilled drivers in other jobs. Unite says Coventry Council has been issuing ‘intemperate and widely inaccurate’ statements about the strikes and that the dispute is ‘increasingly bitter’.
- Strikes will take place on the following days: 11-14, 18, 21, 26 and 28 January; 2, 4, 9, 11, 16, 18, 23 and 25 February; 2, 5, 9, 11, 16, 19 and 23 March.
General Secretary Sharon Graham said (6th Jan):
“Yesterday’s ground-breaking deal in Plymouth should be a wake-up call to Coventry council that their refuse services will face long term problems if drivers continue to receive poverty pay rates. Unite will fight to defend the jobs, pay and conditions of all its HGV members.”
AND IN OTHER NEWS:-
Usdaw has won at least £10 per hour basic rate for Sainsbury’s and Argos shop workers in an unprecedented new deal. This is a staging post in the union’s New Deal for Workers campaign. This 50p-an-hour top-up could see an extra grand a year in the pocket of some workers.
Usdaw’s Dave Gill says:
“For some time, we have been in discussions with Sainsbury’s about increasing retail staff pay to at least £10 an hour, as we call for in our New Deal for Workers campaign. So, I am pleased that Sainsbury’s are able to implement this new hourly rate, a rise that achieves that goal and takes most staff beyond the real living wage”.
“It’s been a tough time for food retail staff who have worked throughout the pandemic in difficult circumstances. Most of all they deserve decent pay and this offer is a welcome boost.”
🔸️YORKSHIRE BUS DRIVERS OUT INDEFINITELY
Over 560 Unite Stagecoach bus drivers in South Yorkshire are now on indefinite strike following walkouts in November and December. The depots taking action are Barnsley, Rotherham, Dearne Valley, West Yorkshire, and Sheffield. The drivers are fighting to be paid £11.40 an hour. They are currently on just £10.52 in Sheffield and £10.80 in Barnsley and Rotherham.
🔸️The RMT cleaners employed by outsourcing company Churchill are being balloted for strike action on Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern, South Eastern, Highspeed1 and Eurostar trains.
The workers are fighting for £15 an hour, sick pay, parity with travel facilities that other rail workers and justice in their workplace. RMT says that last year Churchill made a profit of over £11 million with the directors giving themselves £3.8 million.
RMT General secretary Mick Lynch said:
“This pandemic has blown apart the argument that their work is ‘non-core’ and it’s time the industry started to treat them like the essential workers they are.”
🔸️THE SEAFARERS’ UNION NAUTILUS INTERNATIONAL
….has successfully forced an exemption for rescuing refugees from the Home Office. Priti Patel‘s NATIONALITY and BORDERS BILL is an attempt to ramp up the Tory government’s hostile environment against refugees and migrants. The Bill, using vague language, opened up the possibility that individuals helping drowning refugees in the Channel could be prosecuted.
Thanks to the campaign by Nautilus International, the Home Office has had to make an amendment to the Bill clarifying that those like the RNLI and others will not be prosecuted for abiding by their duties under international conventions to save drowning people.
Another aspect of the Bill which seeks to legalise a policy of “pushbacks” in the Channel is being challenged by a judicial review launched by the PCS and Care4Calais. PCS has said its members in the Border Force could strike if they are made to carry out this “morally reprehensible” policy.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said in clear terms:-
“Although we are hoping for a positive outcome from the legal proceedings, people should be in no doubt PCS strongly opposes this policy, on moral and humanitarian grounds, and we will not rule out industrial action to prevent it being carried out.”
🔸️THE ELECTIONS BILL will now move to the House of Lords. Over the next few months, Labour Unions will play a leading role in lobbying peers of all parties and crossbenchers to back amendments to remove the most damaging parts of the legislation – but only if we can keep the issue on the agenda.
More information 👇
🔸️ SUTR TRADE UNION CONFERENCE – Fighting for anti-racist workplaces – an organising conference
On Saturday 5 February, trade unionists and workplace activists from across Britain will come together at the Fighting for Anti-Racist Workplaces online conference – hosted by the TUC and Stand Up To Racism – to talk about how we can effectively oppose the government’s racist policies and agenda.
Registration for Conference 👇
More information here :-
🔸️HeartUnions Week 2022 – 14 – 22 February
This is a week of organising, recruiting, campaigning, championing the work of reps, celebrating union wins and cementing unions’ central role in a modern economy and society. Please put the dates in your diary and be creative in your workplace and in your community.
🔸️Stand Up to Racism national demonstration – 19 March 2022
Stand Up to Racism national demonstration, 19 March, will to mark the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is officially 21 March 2022. Read more
Thank you to TUC LESE, News from the Frontline, and other sources