Autumn of anger - 44% pay rise for hospitality workers - Inflation to keep rising
22 - 28 August 2022
The August bank holiday might be marking the end of the summer, but it is certainly not marking the end of hot strikes. With national ballots across higher education, the civil service and the NHS, as well as continued action in transport, local government, telecoms and mail, it seems we are entering an even hotter autumn of
angst agitation anger.
The Observer reports that unions are tabling motions ahead of TUC congress in September calling for coordinated action to maximise impact. It’s not clear what that will look like - the article is light on details and confuses some aspects of the GMB local government pay ballot. What is clear is that this month’s transport strikes already showed some level of coordination, with not only the three rail unions striking together, but also some London bus drivers coordinating their actions around rail and underground strikes.
Read on for more seasonal anger, including a group of hospitality workers winning a whopping 44% pay rise, inflation reaching 18% by this winter and how higher energy bills are fuelled in part by energy company profits.
As always, if you have something coming up that I should include in the newsletter let me know here, or send me an email to theweekinwork [at] gmail [dot] com.
University strike ballots: UCU will ballot university workers as part of their disputes over pay and conditions, and pension cuts from 6 September to 21 October, the union says. The ballots will be aggregated and cover 151 universities.
The union is demanding a pay uplift of 12% or RPI plus 2%, an agreed framework to eliminate insecure work practices and action to address dangerously high workloads.
Workers at Falmouth University have already voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over management’s plans to create a two-tier workforce, the union says.
Unison Scotland members have also voted in favour of strike action at several universities, following the latest pay offer, the public sector union says. Workers at Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Robert Gordon and Glasgow Caledonian have secured a strike mandate, while members Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Heriot Watt did not reach the 50% turnout threshold. A ballot of its members at universities in the rest of the UK has also concluded and the results should be announced shortly.
Schools join Scotland council strikes: Workers at schools and early years services across several Scottish councils will be taking strike action in September, Unison, Unite and GMB say. They are joining refuse workers from all three unions that started strike action last week. Following the announcement of strikes, COSLA, the body representing Scottish councils, increased its pay offer from 2% to 5%.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) will also seek authorisation from its national executive to conduct a consultative strike ballot, the union says.
Stansted strike ballot: More than 1000 Stansted workers are being balloted for strike action after they rejected a 7.5% pay plus a one-off £250 payment, Unite says.
London bus strikes: 1600 bus drivers in West and South London on the RATP contract were on strike this weekend, after the company offered a pay rise of just 3.6%, Unite says.
Arriva drivers strike in the South East: Around 900 Arriva bus workers in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire will strike in September, Unite says. Arriva drivers in Kent and Essex have also voted to strike, while a ballot of North London Arriva drivers concluded on Friday, the results of which have yet to be announced.
Felixstowe dispute to escalate: Unite will escalate the Felixstowe dispute unless the company comes back with a revised offer, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham says. She adds that she will contact the company’s shareholders and clients to take them through the forensic accounts that show the employer “should be giving” the 10% pay rise.
PCS getting strike ready: PCS is preparing for its strike ballot in September by organising “strike schools” for branches and activists and an online activist forum for 8 September, the union says.
Oil & Gas workers ballot: Around 110 workers at US oil and gas multinational Baker Hughes are starting strike action today in Angus, Scotland, following contractual changes which Unite says could wipe-off up to 29% from the workers’ wages.
Offshore workers ballot: Over 300 offshore drilling and contract maintenance workers covered by the United Kingdom Drilling Contractors Association are voting on strike action after they rejected a 5% pay offer, Unite says.
Local government pay ballot: The GMB is balloting more than 100,000 members, including carers, school staff, social workers and refuse collectors, over the local government pay offer of a £1,925 flat pay rise across the board, the union says. Unite’s national industrial sector committee has already rejected the offer.
JCB strike ballot: DHL drivers working on JCB World Logistics will be balloted for industrial action, the GMB says.
Rail strike mandates grow: Drivers at three more train operators, Chiltern, Northern Trains and TransPennine Express, have voted in favour of strike action, ASLEF says. TSSA members at TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains have also voted for strike action, the union says.
West Midlands Metro ballot: More than 170 workers at West Midland Metro are being balloted for strike action in a dispute over pay, Unite says.
Ticket office campaign: TSSA, RMT and We Own It have teamed up with We Own it to campaign against government and industry plans to close almost 1,000 ticket offices, the unions say.
DBS action extended: Strikes at the Disclosure and Barring Service have been extended into September, PCS says.
Sour rota changes: HGV drivers and shunters at Mullers’ Stonehouse factory in Gloucestershire will strike over imposed rota changes, which contravene an agreement signed with Unite earlier this year, the union says. The strikes will disrupt the supply of milk products to M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
SQA strike: Scottish Qualification Authority workers have announced strike action and an overtime ban over a pay offer of between 1.7% and 4%, Unite says.
London ferry ballot: Woolwich Ferry workers will be balloted for strike action after Transport for London management refused to discuss a pay deal for 2022, Unite says.
Northern Ireland housing workers dispute: Northern Ireland Housing Executive workers will start a four-week strike on 5 September after management failed to make an offer to improve pay, Unite says.
Calderdale council strike threat: Workers will be balloted if Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift refuses to enter talks on an equal pay review, fire and re-hire and an anti-trade union facilities agreement, the GMB says.
Mirror strikes postponed: Strikes at Reach Plc, which publishes the Mirror, the Daily Express and several local papers, have been postponed to allow for ACAS negotiations, the NUJ says.
The Bristol Cable reports on the difficulties faced by Reach journalists, many of whom are paid less than £20,000. In 2021, Reach management shut all but 15 of its newsrooms, telling the majority of its journalists they would be permanently working from home, but without offering compensation for the increased burden on energy bills that caused, the Cable reports.
Richmond upon Thames strikes suspended: Strikes at Richmond upon Thames College have been suspended to allow for ACAS talks, FE Week reports.
Red Funnel Ferry strikes suspended: Strike action on all Southampton to Cowes ferry services, run by Red Funnel, has been suspended to allow workers to vote on an improved pay offer, Unite says.
18% inflation in 2023: UK Consumer price inflation is set to peak at 18% in early 2023 according to an economist at US bank Citi, Reuters reports. The economist added that this rate of inflation would require the Bank of England to set interest rates at 6 - 7%.
£15 minimum wage: The TUC is calling for a £15 minimum wage and the increasing of the minimum wage target to 75% of median hourly pay, up from the current 66% by 2024 target set by the government. The Low Pay Commission recently concluded its consultation on next year’s minimum wage increase, expected to be between £10.14 and £10.50
Warehouse underpayment: Mach Recruitment, which supplies warehouse workers for PrettyLittleThing, Boohoo, The Very Group, Sainsbury’s and Currys, repeatedly underpaid staff and deprived them of holiday pay, the Observer reports.
POLITICS AND POLICY
Cabinet office harassment: A leaked review into the Cabinet Office has found that one-in-ten members of staff have experienced bullying or harassment, and there is a perception that those accused of bad behaviour are not being disciplined, the BBC reports. Ethnic minority staff said they had to change their behaviour to fit in and those from socioeconomic backgrounds that were not “posh” said they felt like outsiders.
Energy bills pay for profits: At least 30% of the Ofgem price cap increase is made up of profit for energy companies, according to a new analysis by Unite. The union says the major energy suppliers, distributors and generators have made £15.8 billion in profits in the last year, with profits by the Big 4 energy suppliers increasing by 84% from pre-pandemic levels.
NEETs peak post-pandemic: The number of young adults outside of education, employment or training (NEET) and not seeking jobs rose to 711,000 in the last quarter, the highest number since the start of the pandemic, according to ONS figures.
Trade union victimisation settlement: Sage Nursing Home has reached a settlement with 14 United Voices of the World members who had filed a case for trade union victimisation at the Employment Tribunal, the union says.
Met discrimination payout: The Metropolitan Police has paid out £1.2 million as a result of discrimination claims brought by staff, Open Democracy reports.
Insurer discrimination claim: Swiss Re, one of the world’s biggest reinsurers, has lost an employment tribunal after one of its senior managers told a female underwriter: “If I had breasts like yours, I would be demanding too”, the Financial Times reports.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Sickness among nurses remains high: The number of days lost to sickness among nursing staff remains at similar levels to the height of the pandemic, with the workforce crisis putting a huge strain on nursing, the Royal College of Nursing says. NHS data shows that 120,933 nurse and health visitor days were lost to sickness, whereas prior to the pandemic, in April 2019, that figure was 95,947.
Death at concrete factory: An investigation has begun into an incident at West Country Concrete Products in North Devon, which resulted in the death of a worker, Devon Live reports.
44% pay rise: Workers at Sheffield’s Cutlery Works have won a 44% pay rise after months of organising with the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, according to a tweet by UnionTowns.
12% pay offer at building merchants: Workers at timber and building merchants Haldane Fisher have won a 12% pay increase, after workers voted in favour of strike action in response to the company's 6% offer, Unite says.
Ketchup on pay: Around 700 Heinz workers have secured a 5.5% increase on their base rates, two one-off payments totalling £1,200, and an additional three days off during the Christmas period, Unite says.
Metal Improvement improves pay: Metal Improvement Company workers have agreed a pay offer including a 9% increase for 2022, a £1,000 bonus and an additional day of annual leave for 2023, Unite says.
Another Bexley win: Bexley refuse workers have called off their strikes after agreeing an eight per cent pay rise backdated to April, as well as a £450 one-off payment. The deal also protects a long-standing job and finish clause in the workers’ contracts, which the company was trying to scrap, and ends set debrief times, the union says. The workers won an earlier dispute almost a year ago, which saw the lowest paid workers get an 11% increase.
WHAT’S COMING UP
Ongoing: Bosch Rexroth Glenrothes strike every Monday and Tuesday and overtime ban every day
Ongoing: Foinaven Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) workers on strike
Dundee university workers start continuous strike action.
29 August: Budweiser workers at Samlesbury site on strike
29 August - 11 September: Cleansing workers strike at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
29 August - 16 November (not continuous): Baker Hughes workers on strike
4 - 19 September: Birtley Group and Bowater Doors workers on strike
29 - 30 August: Edinburgh Waste & Recycling workers on strike
29 August: 1,900 Felixstowe port workers on strike
29 August: Coop Funeral Care workers on strike
31 August, 14 - 15 September: Reach Plc journalists on strike
29 August, 7 - 10 September: GMB and Unison refuse worker strikes across several Scottish local authorities
29 - 31 August, 6 - 13 September: Unite refuse workers strike across several Scottish local authorities
30 August: Enough is Enough Manchester rally
30 August: Post Office workers on strike
31 August, 8, 9 September: Royal Mail workers on strike
28 August - 3 September: Newham refuse workers on strike
30 - 31 August: BT Group workers on strike
31 August: Start of refuse workers strike in Windsor and Maidenhead.
5 - 10 September: HGS workers on strike at the Disclosure and Barring Service
5 - 7 September: Arriva drivers strike in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire
6 - 7 September: Burnley College, The Manchester College, City of Liverpool College, and Oldham College staff on strike
6 - 8 September: Workers at Scottish schools and early years services on strike
9, 12, 23, 26 September: Wandsworth parking attendants on strike
11 - 14 September: TUC Congress
15 September - 13 October: RCN strike ballot
26 September - 7 November: PCS national strike ballot
27 October - 25 November: Unison NHS strike ballot
Did I miss anything? Email me on theweekinwork [at] gmail [dot] com.