Radical Roundup: 10 stories that have got buried – Week 1, May 2022

The news you didn’t seek this week…

1.Yorkshire bus workers employed by Arriva to ballot for strike action in pay dispute

Over 650 bus workers employed by Arriva in Yorkshire are being balloted for strike action in a dispute over low pay.

The dispute is a result of Arriva offering a pay increase of just 4.1 per cent, which is less than half of the real inflation rate (RPI) of nine per cent.

The strike will involve Arriva workers, including bus drivers and engineers, based at depots in Castleford, Dewsbury, Heckmondwike, Selby and Wakefield.

Many of the company’s bus drivers are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living crisis continues to bite. New starters are on just £9.78 an hour, just 28p an hour above the minimum wage.

The ballot opened this week and will close on Monday 23 May. If workers vote in favour of industrial action then strikes could begin in early June.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This offer is a pay cut and is unacceptable to Unite. Arriva has to think again and come back with an offer that fully reflects this cost of living crisis.”

2.GMB to MITIE management: Your bullying at St George’s hospital won’t work

GMB union has condemned the behaviour of Mitie management during a peaceful demonstration outside St George’s Hospital.

Union members, employed by the outsourcing giant as domestics and hostesses within the hospital, were interrupted by Mitie management who engaged in intimidating behaviour and tried to force workers to stop demonstrating.

The union was very clear that members were only to join the demonstration during their lunch break and were not due to be at work at the time.

Helen O’Connor, GMB Regional Organiser said: “It’s typical of Mitie to employ these tactics to try and stop our reps and members exercising their right to protest peacefully.

“You can see why our members are being balloted for industrial action, as this is the last resort left for them to have their voices heard.

“Our reps are being told to keep quiet in meetings, our members are being told what they can and can’t do in their own free time – where does this end?

“The strike ballot closes on Friday 13 May and given how they are treating our members, it’s looking like it’s going to be an unlucky day for Mitie.”

3. Rail cuts will compromise safety with loss of 670,000 maintenance hours – TUC report

Rail funding cuts will compromise passenger safety and could mean the loss of much needed train services, a new TUC report has warned today.

The report details the likely consequences of spending cuts planned by Network Rail and of government cuts to funding for train services.

Network Rail plans to cut annual expenditure by £100 million, mainly through the loss of 2,500 rail maintenance jobs.

Previously unpublished RMT analysis of Network Rail data finds that this will lead to 670,000 fewer hours of maintenance work annually.

The TUC says it is impossible to make those cuts without losing many safety-critical jobs.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We all want good transport links for our community, with frequent, safe, reliable and affordable trains.

“But if the Network Rail cuts go ahead it will mean the loss of safety-critical jobs and a greater risk of serious accidents like Stonehaven, Potters Bar and Hatfield.

“Ministers must not risk passenger safety through funding cuts to Network Rail.”

4. SNP call on Ross to ‘stop running away from his leadership’

The SNP has challenged Scottish Tory Leader, Douglas Ross, to condemn Rishi Sunak’s comments that it would be “silly” to provide more support to help families struggling with the Cost of Living crisis.

The Tory Chancellor made the comments last week when he confirmed that he won’t consider much needed, further support to help households with the current pressure of rising costs. 

The leader of the Scottish Tory party has been silent on the Chancellor’s remarks for the past 4 days but SNP MSP Michelle Thomson has said it’s time for Douglas Ross to “stop running away – he must make it clear if he agrees with Sunak.”

Commenting SNP MSP Michelle Thomson said: “It is insulting for Rishi Sunak to label it ‘silly’ for his Tory government to step up and take action to help families seriously struggling right now – either the Tories don’t understand or don’t care but whichever it is, it is disgraceful.”

5. Hundreds of UCL cleaners and security launch campaign to be brought in house after subcontractor neglect during COVID

Outsourced cleaners, porters and security officers at University College London (UCL) are launching a campaign to be brought in house for equal rights and fair pay, after experiencing neglect and discrimination by their subcontractors throughout the pandemic.

Outsourced workers at UCL won improved sick pay, annual leave and parental leave entitlements and pensions in 2019 after a campaign by the Independent Workers union of Great Britain (IWGB). However, their demand to end outsourcing was not met and the campaign was unable to continue in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the pandemic, outsourced workers continued to face issues both in pay and treatment. Security subcontractor Bidvest Noonan repeatedly failed to handle payroll correctly for staff each month for 6 months, resulting in repeated unlawful deductions in wages.

Martin Johnson Wogido, Chair of IWGB Universities of London Branch and a UCL security officer says, “I have been a security guard at UCL for almost 5 years now, and in that time have developed relationships with students and staff alike. We are launching this campaign to end outsourcing, to end the use of middleman subcontractors who profit off the backs of key workers such as myself.”

6. UK councils braced for summer shutdowns as pay strikes spread

Councils across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are braced for summer shutdowns as local authority worker strikes spread, Unite, the UK’s leading union, has warned.

Workers in Hackney, Rugby and across Northern Ireland are already taking strike actions over a 1.75 per cent pay offer set by the Local Government Association (LGA). Coventry council bin workers have also been striking over pay since January and Renfrewshire council workers are set to strike in May.

Thousands of local government workers in Scotland have indicated this week that they are willing to strike over the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ (COSLA) two per cent offer. Unite is now preparing to formally ballot targeted groups of Scottish local government workers in the coming weeks for strikes. 

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “What use is 1.75 or two per cent on pay after more than a decade of attacks of pay and in the face of rampant inflation?

These offers are not pay rises, they are pay cuts and Unite members are right to reject them.

“Some local authority workers are now having to turn to food banks to feed their families. This is an absolutely shameful reflection on councils as employers.”

7. Raise pay and prevent strike action during GCSEs, North West college bosses told

The University and College Union (UCU) today told the bosses of six colleges in the North West to urgently raise staff pay if they want to avoid strike action set to take place on Wednesday 18 May, the day many GCSE students are due to take a crucial English exam.

The six colleges facing a day of strike action on Wednesday 18 May are:

·        Burnley College 

·        Bury College 

·        City of Liverpool College

·        Hopwood Hall 

·        Nelson & Colne College Group 

·        Oldham College

UCU expects around 900 staff at the colleges to down tools, and over 50,000 students could be impacted. Staff have timed their strike to take place the same day that many students are due to sit GCSE English language. If the strike goes ahead exams will have to be cancelled.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: ‘We urge employers to do the right thing and give staff a pay rise so strike action can be avoided. Our members take huge pride in educating and supporting students, and striking during exams is a last resort, but staff are rightly outraged that their bosses have repeatedly held down pay. Now as inflation and energy costs soar, bosses urgently need to raise pay so we can avoid disruption to crucial GCSE English exams.’

8. Women’s pay will shrink by nearly £40 a month this year –TUC

Women’s real wages will “plummet” by nearly £40 a month this year, according to new analysis published by the TUC.

The analysis of official data shows that women’s pay packets will shrink, in real terms, by £38 a month in 2022. Public sector pay squeezes are already hitting women. The analysis also reveals how women are already bearing the brunt of falling public sector pay.

Women in the public sector are earning, on average, £90 a month less – in real terms – than a year ago.

And with women accounting for nearly two-thirds of all public sector workers they are feeling the impact of falling public sector pay disproportionately.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everyone who works for a living deserves to earn a decent living.

“Women already suffer from the punishing gender pay gap and will now see their wages fall off a cliff this year.

“The government cannot look on as women across Britain are pushed deep into the red.”

9. Moderna condemned for ‘blatant profiteering’ from publicly-funded Covid vaccine

US pharma company Moderna has made first-quarter 2022 vaccine revenues of $5.9 billion and has reaffirmed revenue forecasts for 2022 of $21 billion for its vaccine. The company has also reported a pre-tax income of $4.2 billion and overall sales of $5.9 billion, leaving it with eye-watering profit margins of 71%.

Reacting to the news of US vaccine maker Moderna’s first quarter results, Tim Bierley, pharma campaigner at Global Justice Now said: “Moderna has benefited from billions in public funding and years of painstaking research by US government scientists – yet it still demands governments around the world pay through the nose to access this vaccine. This is a model that big pharma companies have been allowed to get away with for too long. Moderna’s blatant profiteering must be the signal for change”.

10. Ministers must adopt Migration Advisory Committee recommendations to beef-up care staff numbers, says UNISON

Responding to recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) that social care workers should be paid more, UNISON head of social care Gavin Edwards said:

“The main cause of the care staffing crisis is obvious. Wages are too low to attract and keep workers. Care employers are losing people in droves to warehouses, supermarkets and online retailers able to pay significantly more for less stressful work. It’s no wonder there are shortages.

“Ministers have cynically made it difficult for high-skilled, low-paid foreign care staff to work in the UK, even though the sector is crying out for workers. This report is yet another wake-up call for a government that’s been dozing at the wheel for decades.

“No bluster, no slogans, the government must adopt the MAC’s recommendations now, so the Cinderella care sector can ​attract the new recruits it needs and retain experienced staff too.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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