Prospect of NHS strikes grows - Strikes in 20 Scottish councils - Hundreds of journalists vote for industrial action
8 - 14 August 2022
This might be the longest newsletter I have written to date, with more than two-dozen dispute updates, not to mention stories on pay, health and safety, and discrimination.
What’s clear from this is that the strike wave does not seem to be losing steam, if anything it is intensifying and potentially reaching new sectors, such as journalism, healthcare and even coffin makers.
Read on for this, but also for details on the growing prospects of strikes among nurses and doctors, refuse workers at 20 local authorities announcing strike days and walkouts among energy workers.
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.
Scottish local authorities strike: Refuse workers at twenty Scottish local authorities will be striking in late August and early September, GMB, Unite and Unison say. This follows an announcement of strike action by Edinburgh refuse workers.
Northern Ireland council strikes: Over 1,000 staff at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) Borough Council will strike for four weeks, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
Newham refuse workers strike: 130 Newham refuse workers will also take strike action from 27 August to 3 September, demanding a significant pay increase, Unite says. The union says that workers in Newham earn less than colleagues in neighbouring councils.
Strike action by Elmbridge and Surrey Heath refuse workers has been called off after contractor Amey put forward an improved offer, GMB says, without providing details of the deal.
Junior doctors could take action: The British Medical Association (BMA) will ballot junior doctor members in England for industrial action if the Government does not commit to full restoration of junior doctors’ pay to levels equivalent to 2008/09 by the end of September 2022, the union says.
NHS Scotland workers prepare for ballot: More than 90% of Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members voted to reject the Scottish government’s pay offer, and now Scottish members will be balloted for industrial action, alongside members in England and Wales, from 15 September, the RCN says.
Unison will ballot its 50,000 members in NHS Scotland for strike action over pay from 3 October, following a 5% pay offer, the union says. 83% of members said they supported strike action in a consultative ballot.
GMB members in Scotland have voted against the 5% pay offer, the union says, adding that it will prepare plans for statutory industrial action ballots.
Consultative NHS ballot: Unite is balloting its 100,000 health members across NHS England and Wales over the 4% pay offer and whether they support industrial action. The consultative ballot closes on 11 September in England and 15 September in Wales.
Mirror & Express journalists vote to strike: Hundreds of Reach Plc workers at newspapers including the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Manchester Evening News have voted to strike in a dispute over pay, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) says. The NUJ balloted a total of 1093 members, and secured 79% vote in favour of strike action, and 88% for action short of a strike.
Scottish newspapers strike: Journalists at the Scotsman, The Edinburgh Evening News, Scotland on Sunday, The Falkirk Herald, and Milngavie and Bearsden Herald have voted for strike action, the NUJ says.
Energy walkouts: Workers are protesting over pay in energy sites across the UK, including Drax, Grangemouth refinery, Pembroke refinery and Humber refinery, OpenDemocracy reports. The demonstrations are targeted at the Engineering Construction Industry Association, the main employers’ association for the UK’s engineering and construction industry, and are in response over a pay offer of just 2.5%. STV has a video of the walkout at Grangemouth.
Amazon actions escalate: Hundreds of Amazon workers on social media and private messaging groups have been calling for further protests and work stoppages at multiple sites, demanding an increase in their wages to £15 an hour, Bloomberg reports.
“We only planned to go on strike two hours before it actually happened,” recounts an Amazon worker in the latest Notes From Below bulletin.
More workers join underground strikes: More than 1,000 Unite members at TfL and London Underground will be joining strike action on 19 August, the union says.
Arriva dispute grows: Around 900 Arriva workers in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have voted for strike action, Unite says. Unite is currently involved in a continuous all out strike of Arriva members in the North West. The union’s Arriva members in Kent and Essex, as well as North London, are also being balloted for strike action.
Bar strike: Lawyers will be balloted for uninterrupted strike action, in an escalation of their current industrial action, the Criminal Bar says.
More strikes at Royal Mail: CWU has announced four strike days for Royal Mail workers in late August and early September.
…and among Post Office workers: CWU has announced further strike days for Crown Post Office staff, and supply chain and admin workers.
…and at BT Group: CWU has announced two additional strike days for BT workers.
A-level exam board strike: 180 workers at exam board AQA are planning to strike over pay later this month on the days students receive their GCSE and A-level grades, Unison says.
Harrods strike breaking: Harrods has threatened to use new law on agency workers to break a potential upcoming strike, Unite says. The union is balloting 150 workers for strike action following a below-inflation pay offer.
Spirit Aerosystems strikes: DHL workers on the Spirit Aerosystems contract will strike for one-week from 15 August at sites across Northern Ireland, following a 4% pay offer, Unite says.
Construction strike suspended: Workers at construction supply companies Birtley Group and Bowater Doors have suspended their strike as they vote on a new pay offer, Unite says.
Further education consultation: Unison is recommending members in further education vote against the Association of Colleges pay offer in a consultation that is running from 5 to 30 September.
Platform doctors ballot: Medics who work on Shell’sl offshore platforms will be balloted for strike action following the rejection of a real terms cut pay, Unite says.
Teacher pay: NASUWT members have rejected the latest pay offer for teachers in England and the union says in a press release it remains committed to balloting members in the autumn. The Government has proposed a 5% pay award for the majority of teachers from September, with early career teachers receiving between 5% and 8.9%.
Court workers strike: 180 legal advisers and court associates in magistrates’ courts in England and Wales have voted for strike action over using the controversial Common Platform system, PCS says.
South Western ballot: Workers on South Western Railway will be balloted for strike action from 18 August to 8 September, TSSA says. TSSA is demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies for 2022, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, and a pay increase which reflects the rising cost of living.
Dundee uni strike: Workers at the University of Dundee will take part in continuous strike action from 25 August over the closure of the defined benefit pension scheme, Unite says. The proposals would see some workers in the proposed scheme pensions drop from £20,100 to £14,400 per annum, the union says.
Coffin makers take action: Workers employed in the manufacture of coffins for Cooperative Funeral Care will strike from 22 to 29 August in a dispute over pay, Unite says.
Biggest drop in pay in a century: Workers are facing the biggest decline in pay in exactly a century, with real pay expected to fall by almost 8% by the end of the year, according to a TUC report.
Tale of two labour markets: The highest earners have experienced annual pay growth of 10%, while lowest earners have seen just a 1% rise, according to research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Workers skip meals: One in three civil servants and one in four retail workers have skipped meals because of mounting costs, according to a poll of more than 12,000 PCS members and a poll of 5,500 Usdaw members.
POLITICS AND POLICY
Enough is Enough campaign launch: Enough is Enough, a new campaign led by the CWU, RMT, ACORN and others which brings together several demands around the cost of living, amassed 150,000 sign-ups in the first 24 hours, according to a press release from the group. Its launch video on Twitter has been viewed 4.4 million times.
Strip club ban challenge: United Sex Workers has applied to be part of the judicial review of City of Edinburgh Council’s decision to shut down all of Edinburgh’s strip clubs from April 2023, United Voices of the World says. The union is raising funds to support the legal challenge.
Furlough fraud reports: HMRC has received 13,775 whistleblower reports regarding fraud against the furlough scheme, according to law firm Pinsent Masons, Personnel Today reports.
Modern slavery referrals hit record levels: Some 4,171 potential victims of trafficking, slavery and forced labour were referred to the Home Office between April and June, the highest quarterly level on record, the Independent reports.
UK farm debt bondage risk: Indonesian labourers picking berries on a farm that supplies Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco say they have been saddled with debts of up to £5,000 by unlicensed foreign brokers to work in Britain for a single season, the Guardian reports.
Russophobia: Cancer research facility, The Beatson institute, has apologised to a Russian applicant after it withdrew a job offer because of her nationality, the Guardian reports. The institute put the decision down to a “misunderstanding” over visa restrictions and has now offered the candidate a role.
Unsettling status: A spanish-born 46-year old woman, who arrived in Britain as an 11-month-old baby is fighting to secure her right to work in the UK, a year after she was sacked by her employers, the Guardian reports.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
400 overdue repair orders: The Health and Safety Executive has found more than 400 overdue repair orders, over 200 of which were safety and safety-critical items, during an inspection of energy company Perenco’s onshore headquarters, Energy Voice reports.
Farming accident death: A man has died in Larne in a suspected farming accident, ITV reports.
Fined for refusing entry: A man who was in control of a construction site in Scotland has been fined £1,500 for refusing two HSE inspectors access to deal with unsafe work activity, Construction News reports.
The Oxleas NHS Foundation trust has become a living wage employer, according to a tweet from a Unison organiser.
WHAT’S COMING UP
Ongoing: Bosch Rexroth Glenrothes strike every Monday and Tuesday and overtime ban every day
Ongoing: Arriva North West workers on strike
Ongoing: Foinaven Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) workers on strike
15 August - 21 August: Mid Ulster District Council refuse workers on strike
15 August - 11 September: Cleansing workers strike at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
15, 17, 19, 23, 26 and 29 August: Red Funnel ferry workers on strike in the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth
15 - 22 August, 4 - 19 September: Birtley Group and Bowater Doors workers on strike
15, 18 - 20 August: Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust outsourced workers on strike
13 August - 20 August: East Kilbride DHL warehouse workers on Sainsbury’s contract go on strike
15 August - 21 August: Disclosure and Barring Service workers on strike in Liverpool
15 August - 21 August: DHL workers strike at Spirit Aerosystems in Northern Ireland
12 - 15, 17 - 21, 24 - 28 August: AQA workers on strike
17 August: Enough is Enough London launch rally
18 - 30 August: Edinburgh Waste & Recycling workers on strike
19 August: London underground workers on strike
19 - 20 August: West London bus drivers on strike
19 August: Close of Unison higher education strike ballot in Scotland
21 - 29 August: 1,900 Felixstowe port workers on strike
22 August: Deadline for Scottish government consultation on the extension of Transparency in Supply Chain legislation for Scottish public bodies
22 – 26 August, 30 August - 2 September, 5 September - 9 September: Richmond upon Thames College workers on strike
22 - 29 August: Coop Funeral Care workers on strike
25 August: Dundee university workers start continuous strike action.
26 - 29 August, 7 - 10 September: refuse worker strikes across several Scottish local authorities
26, 27 & 30 August: Post office workers on strike
26 August: Close of Unison higher education strike ballot across the UK, except Scotland
26, 31 August, 8, 9 September: Royal Mail workers on strike
27 August - 3 September: Newham refuse workers on strike
30 - 31 August: BT Group workers on strike
6 - 7 September: Burnley College, The Manchester College, City of Liverpool College, and Oldham College staff on strike
Did I miss anything? Email me on theweekinwork [at] gmail [dot] com.