Radical Roundup: 10 stories that have got buried – Week 3, July 2022

The news you didn’t see this week…

Radical Roundup

1.Government has ‘made a big mistake’ on pay and missed the chance to turn the NHS around, says UNISON

Commenting on the government’s announcement on Tuesday that NHS staff in England are to receive a pay rise of £1,400 this year, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: 

“Th​e government has made a big mistake. ​This short-sighted decision risks harming the UK’s most cherished institution ​beyond repair. 

“​Ministers might have shifted their pay position a little, but nowhere near enough. This award is barely half the lowest level of inflation. The price surge shows no sign of easing and hikes to energy bills will wipe out the rise for almost everyone.

“It’s unlikely the increase will apply to the many staff working in hospitals and ambulances services but employed by private contractors. They need a wage boost too. 

“A decent pay rise isn’t a magic cure for every NHS ill. But it would show staff and patients that ministers care enough to start sorting out the workforce crisis at the heart of the health service’s many problems.

“Sadly, this award fails on every front. It doesn’t protect health workers from the growing cost of living crisis, arrest the decline in patient services or cut queues.”

2. Unite secures extra cost of living payment for three out of four Virgin Money UK staff

Unite, the union representing staff working across Virgin Money UK (VMUK) has today secured a £1,000 one-off payment for three out of four staff. All those who earn less than £50,000 annually will receive the payment.

Caren Evans, Unite national officer said: “Unite has secured the £1,000 payment following a campaign to show Virgin Money UK how the increases to the cost of living is hitting the overwhelming majority of its staff.

“The union will now continue to campaign to secure a consolidated pay increase for the whole workforce to ensure that all wages increase in line with inflation.”

3. As record breaking heatwave hits UK, we need a maximum working temperature, says GMB Union

After record breaking temperatures, workers need protection in soaring temperatures, GMB Union has warned.

With temperatures hitting a record breaking 40 degrees Celsius, employers need to make adjustments.

GMB is calling for a legal maximum temperature for work to be set at 25C. Currently there is a legal minimum, but no legal maximum, the union adds.

4. Westminster control hampers Scotland’s foreign investment

The SNP has accused the UK government of holding Scotland back from realising its full ambition on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The Scottish Government’s recent publications on independence explore ten neighbouring countries – and shows how they are all happier, fairer and wealthier than the UK.

The first paper in the series – Independence in the Modern World: Wealthier, Happier, Fairer: Why Not Scotland? – shows that the UK’s labour and product markets are among the most deregulated in the advanced world and all the comparator countries except Ireland spend more on research and development than the UK.

Kenneth Gibson MSP said: “Scotland has a highly skilled workforce and a thriving business sector – but under Westminster control, our nation is held back from realising its full potential.

“The Scottish Government’s Building A New Scotland series showed business investment tends to be higher in all the comparator countries.

“Scotland is growing eight times faster than the UK on Foreign Direct Investment projects but the UK as a whole has the lowest rate of business investment in the OECD apart from Greece. Our neighbouring European nations are all ahead of the UK – so why not Scotland?”

5. ‘Rapid review’ needed to tackle education inequality in Wales

Plaid Cymru’s Children and Young People spokesperson, Heledd Fychan MS, has today called on the Education Minister to consider launching a Rapid Review of education inequality in Wales.

Her call comes as new research published today by the Education Policy Institute shows that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are falling behind their counterparts by up to two years in some areas.

Heledd Fychan MS said that the issue must be addressed urgently given that the cost-of-living crisis is likely to exacerbate inequalities over the coming months and years.

Plaid Cymru’s Heledd Fychan MS said: “These findings give considerable cause for concern and show that there is still a long way to go in closing the attainment gap in Wales.

This is why Plaid Cymru has prioritised tackling child poverty as part of its Co-operation Agreement with Welsh Government, addressing the root causes of inequality among pupils in the first place.

This issue must be looked at by Welsh Government as a matter of urgency as the problem will only get worse with the cost-of-living crisis.

The Education Minister should consider undertaking a Rapid Review of why the situation in Wales is so disappointing and report on a set of meaningful recommendations before the start of the autumn term.

6. People of colour in the UK facing multiple environmental injustices, report finds

Environmental campaigners and racial justice experts have warned that people of colour in the UK are being disproportionately affected by issues such as air pollution, proximity to waste incinerators and lack of access to green spaces, yet these disparities are unknown to a majority of the UK public.

In a major new report published today, Confronting Injustice: Racism and the Environmental Emergency, Greenpeace UK and the Runnymede Trust argue that the climate crisis is rooted in systemic racism, and without tackling the inequalities faced by communities of colour, it won’t be possible to get to grips with the environmental emergency.

7. Underfunded adult social care will continue to lose staff unless ministers act, says UNISON

Responding to a new report by Skills for Care on the size and structure of the social care workforce, UNISON social care lead Gavin Edwards said on Wednesday:

“The scale of vacancies is alarming, and not just for those who rely on care and their families. The sorry state of social care is having a disastrous effect on the NHS, causing massive treatment waits, letting down patients and putting unbearable pressure on health staff.

“The care sector is acutely underfunded. Wages are way too low leaving staff unable to cope with the rising cost of living. 

“Supermarkets are paying better rates without the stress, so it’s no surprise that people are jumping ship.

“Nothing short of a complete overhaul of the care sector will do. The government must act or vulnerable people won’t get the care they need and deserve, and the NHS will be on its knees.”

8. College staff in England to join wave of strike action

Staff at 29 colleges in England will join the wave of industrial action sweeping the country after huge numbers voted in favour of strike action, the University and College Union (UCU) announced on Monday. The ballot result comes after the employers refused to improve a pay offer of just 2.5% in negotiations.

The result, in which 89.9% of UCU members voted YES to strike action on an overall turnout of 57.9%, is the biggest mandate for industrial action across English further education colleges since the 50% turnout threshold was brought into force in 2016.

The 29 colleges will also be joined by four others in the North West and six across London that were balloted separately, bringing the total number of colleges set to be hit by action to 39.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Today, college staff have shown that they are sick and tired of falling pay and have voted overwhelmingly for strike action after employers offered an insulting 2.5% uplift in pay.

“College workers have had their pay held down so long that the vast majority now face financial insecurity. Yet as the cost of living crisis bites employers want their staff to take a further hit with more below inflation pay rises. This is completely unacceptable and shows exactly why many staff are voting with their feet and choosing to leave the sector altogether.”

9. UNISON-supported legal victory secures new holiday rights for all workers

All workers in the UK will now receive the same minimum level of paid annual holiday leave, regardless of how many hours they work, following a landmark legal judgment by the Supreme Court this week. 

The case, Harpur Trust v Brazel & UNISON, was taken by music teacher Lesley Brazel. She argued her employer was wrong to give her fewer days of annual leave than the legal minimum because she only worked during the school term.

UNISON got involved in the Brazel case because of its implications for thousands of school staff employed on term-time only contracts. The situation had previously been confused because of the absence of any government guidance on their holiday rights, says UNISON.

Thanks to the judgment, it will no longer be possible for employers to argue staff who don’t work all year are only entitled to holiday based on the hours they work. The decision is also good news for anyone working irregular hours or on zero-hours contracts, says the union.

From now on, all workers will be due the same legal minimum of 5.6 weeks (28 days for full-time employees), even if there are months during the year when they don’t work. The Supreme Court judgment upholds a previous decision taken by the Court of Appeal in 2019.

Commenting on the judgment, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “This important decision means that anyone, no matter when or how they work, will now be due the same legal minimum of annual holiday. 

“Teaching assistants or other education employees might only be contracted to work when schools are open, but they’re also sometimes required to do their jobs at other times.”

10. TUC – nurses and paramedics will suffer real-terms pay cut of over £1,000 this year

Nurses and paramedics will suffer a real-terms pay cut of over £1,000 this year after Tuesday’s imposed pay settlement for NHS workers, the TUC has revealed.

The union body says key workers across the NHS face another year of “pay misery” after  more than a decade of having their wages held down.

TUC analysis shows that many frontline staff will see their pay packets shrink this year:

Hospital porters’ real pay will be down by £200 this year

Maternity care assistants’ real pay will be down by £600 this year

Nurses’ real pay will be down by over £1,100 this year

Paramedics’ real pay will be down by over £1,500 this year

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

Comments are closed.