BMA - British Medical Association  •  GMB union  •  Industrial  •  RCN - Royal College of Nursing  •  Unite the union

Workers In Action — July-August 2023

06 July 2023

Never trust the bosses

Over 800 Unite members at First Bus Leeds began an all-out indefinite strike on Monday 19 June. By the evening of the first day, they had won their major demand, with an improved offer of 13.4% that they have now accepted. This shows the power of telling the bosses you’re not coming back till they improve their offer.

The strike — over backdating an agreed pay rise to April 2023 — should have never been necessary. But the penny-pinching bosses reneged on a deal reached to end an earlier strike. The lesson here for all workers is not to trust the bosses until they put it in writing and the money is in the bank account.

With First Bus Manchester also going into dispute, it is time for Unite to launch a coordinated strike across the whole company. Fighting the bosses city by city plays into their hands — unity is strength!

Charity begins at home

Homelessness workers at St Mungo’s have voted overwhelmingly to turn their two-week strike into an indefinite one after their bosses refused to budge on their miserly offer of 1.75% for 2022–23 and 2.25% for this year.

Their brilliant campaign has included door-stopping trustees, picketing the charity’s headquarters and going after the agency organising scabs to cover their jobs. Over 300 new members have joined Unite in order to join the strike.

But the danger is the charity, which was taken over by a corporate housing association in 2013, will try to sit out the dispute.

The best way to do this is to picket out the agency staff and stop the scabbing operation in its tracks and to call on Unite to broaden the dispute to other homeless charities, many of whom face the same low pay and bullying management tactics.

RCN falls short but BMA still on

Although the RCN re-ballot for strike action won an 84% majority, because only 43% of members returned their postal ballots they are denied the right to strike. Such is the nature of the undemocratic anti-union laws.

Despite this setback strike action in the NHS is far from over. Junior doctors in the BMA are walking out for five days between 13 and 18 July, while consultants in the same union will be on the picket line on 20 and 21 July. Unite hospital and ambulance staff will also be out on local strikes on 12, 14, 15 and 26 June as well.

This has got NHS bosses and ministers panicking, blaming the unions in advance for any excess deaths that may result. Well, they know what to do: pick up the phone and offer real pay rises!

Amazon — strikes on the way

GMB members at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse have voted by 99 percent to extend the union’s strike mandate for six more months.

Workers struck first in January and followed up with action in February March and April, as part of a campaign for union recognition and £15 an hour. The union has 800 members — but Amazon hired 1,000 more workers to stymie a recognition campaign.

Strike votes at Mansfield and Rugeley fell short of the 50 percent turnout required by the anti-union laws, but workers at Rugeley are considering a reballot.

The strikes have already won some concesssions — but company-wide recognition will require real escalation, with the backing of the entire labour movement.

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