News from the rank and file

Simon Pearson reports on the latest news from the trade union movement.

Dockers expectations met

In a warning to other port operators around the country, Liverpool dockers are today celebrating a pay increase of 4.5% alongside improvements to conditions in other areas.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

“This is a noteworthy deal which not only addresses pay issues but also improves conditions for Unite’s members.

 “Unite is totally committed to defending the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and other port operators need to take note that attempts to undermine the pay of our members will be totally opposed.”

The deal that has been won by the Liverpool dockers with the support of their union Unite will be a shock to other port operators, who have been looking to impose pay freezes or trying to force workers to accept very low pay increases. Port workers up and down the country have seen a significant increase in activity as the supply chain has struggled to keep up with demand.

Other port operators will now be on notice, and must recognise that wage freezes or forcing workers to accept derisory pay increases will not be tolerated.

Unite and Labour activists in Oxford keep up the pressure on Weetabix

Oxford says no to fire and rehire!


Cortes calls for Johnson to follow the lead of Sturgeon and Drakeford

The TSSA which represents thousands of people in the transport and travel sector today called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to look to the actions of the Scottish and Welsh governments if he wants to protect the populace in the run-up to Christmas.

TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said:

“If 2020 taught us anything it is that when Johnson chickens out of taking tough action quickly on Coronavirus, we all suffer.

“I’m glad to see Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford take the decision now to isolate travellers from overseas for eight days in order to identify people with the Omicron variant before it can further spread into the community. Now they need to follow it up with a funding package for travel trade businesses which are only just starting to return to ‘business as usual’.

“There’s much we still don’t know about the Omicron variant, but we do know how to reduce transmission. That’s why we need a return to homeworking where possible across the UK along with much greater vigilance on face coverings, hygiene and social distancing.

“Johnson’s big announcement was a return to mask-wearing in shops and public transport, but a one-line policy isn’t enough. We need details and plans for enforcement. Sound-bites won’t beat coronavirus!”

Johnson was wrong to water down safety in stores

Usdaw the union for retail workers on Saturday (27 November) was highly critical of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government. Usdaw has demanded that the government make absolutely clear it will be a legal requirement in England for all shoppers to wear face coverings again.

The union asserts that the Government was wrong to lift safety measures in stores on 19 July. This is an important point as the country now faces the threat of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. You only have to take a trip by train to see the effect that zero enforcement has on the travelling public. Yes, the train guard asks for face coverings to be worn, but in reality, most choose not to. Asking for face coverings to be worn out of politeness just doesn’t work.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: 

“There is no reason why, when lifting other covid restrictions in England, the Government could not have kept the requirement to wear a face-covering in busy public places, like shops and public transport. This flip-flopping on basic and sensible covid measures and the different rules across the UK create confusion, reduce compliance and can lead to conflict.

“Many shopworkers are at a greater risk of catching the virus and taking it home to their families. Yet they have worked throughout the pandemic to keep the country supplied with essentials. These key workers must be valued, respected and protected.”

Enough is enough

Every vote will count as council and school workers are balloted on a pay offer that falls well below what they need and deserve. As the campaign slogan says enough is enough.

Did you know that the value of your pay is 25% lower than it was in 2010? This important group of workers who worked through the pandemic have seen a decade of falling wages. Enough is enough.

The offer this time around of 1.75% may seem reasonable, but remember inflation is rising and we are now facing a cost of living crisis. You deserve more. Enough is enough.

The anti-trade union legislation put in place by the Tories and left unchallenged by new Labour means getting that important YES vote is going to be difficult. Every single UNISON member who returns their ballot paper with a YES vote by 14 January 2022 will be a step closer to getting the pay award they deserve. Enough is enough.

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Simon Pearson is on the Editorial Board of the Anti*Capitalist Resistance and is a Midlands-based political activist.

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