UNISON

AWL bulletin for the UCU strikes, 1-3 December 2021

AWL Higher Education workers fraction have produced this bulletin for the UCU strikes on 1-3 December 2021. Please download and read - and distribute if you agree! Let us know what you think - email awl@workersliberty.org. We have members in UCU and Unison and hold regular meetings to discuss building a democratic, fighting rank and file across campus unions.

Votes on pay action in health and local government

The health unions are carrying out their second round of membership votes on the 2021 NHS pay award of 3%. GMB is holding a formal industrial action ballot which closes on 15 December, Unison’s second informal consultation closes on 5 December, and the RCN’s on 30 November. Across the unions the proportions of members voting in the first rounds were not high enough to meet the legal threshold for industrial action, and so the main objective of the current ballots is to increase the turnout. In some areas the campaign has had more energy this time, and in these last weeks activists should...

Unison battle heats up

On 2 November the left narrowly won the Labour Link National Committee elections in the public services union Unison. With union President Paul Holmes suspended, we expected a dead heat in votes between left and right at the first Labour Link Committee meeting on 16 November. In fact, the right narrowly won all contested votes, because the Labour Party had expelled (for links to Socialist Appeal) Lilly Boulby, who was elected to the Labour Link Committee from the union’s National Executive (NEC). The right won Chair and Vice Chair of the Committee, and the casting vote where votes are tied...

Time to turn round Unison

Almost five months after the left, under the banner Time for Real Change, won a clear majority on the National Executive (NEC) of the public services union Unison, on 2 November the left won a one-seat majority on the Labour Link National Committee. Unlike other affiliated unions, Unison has a parallel (though very opaque) structure for its political activity related to the Labour Party, with its own national committee and conference. Perhaps a quarter of Unison’s members pay into the affiliated political fund and can take part in that structure. For years this part of the union has been in...

NHS workers move against bullying

In Nottingham City Hospitals, 44 Unison members are being asked if they want to take industrial action because of the culture of bullying by management. The workers were told to move from urology to gynaecology theatres randomly to plug gaps. That is unsafe for patients and unfair to workers, but the same sort of thing is happening all over the NHS. Last year, a similar number of different members took out a grievance after being bullied to deal unsafely with the huge numbers dying from Covid. Local MPs both Tory and Labour local MPs have met with management after a report by the Care and...

Local government and health pay: build the campaigns!

Members of GMB and Unite have voted to reject the local government pay offer, with similar percentages to Unison members, who voted by 79% to reject a 1.75% pay increase (2.75% for those on pay point 1). Ballot papers are scheduled to go out to Unison members in early December, asking whether they want to strike to secure an improved pay offer. The union will be asking members to vote yes. Meanwhile, the Joint Trade Union Side have written to the Employers’ Side, asking them to return to the negotiations and make an improved pay offer. Since 2010 the value of local government pay has fallen by...

Trade union struggle and political struggle - an interview with John McDonnell

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and former Shadow Chancellor, spoke to Sacha Ismail. After Labour Party conference, what do you think will happen with Starmer’s leadership? Do you think he’ll be around for a long time? It’s impossible to tell at the moment. At the conference he used the traditional Blairite, Mandelson playbook. Attack your own party to demonstrate you’re a strong leader; do a big personal speech to try to demonstrate you’re a normal human being; make banal statements instead of policy commitments. It didn’t work: the bounce in the polls didn’t happen. The...

Unison: fight for democracy to fight for pay

The victory of the left in the national executive council (NEC) elections of the public services union Unison in June was a major opportunity to transform the country’s largest union. Unison has been politically and industrially timid with little fight against privatisation, losses of jobs and services or real-term pay cuts. Democratising the union is essential so members can debate and decide a new strategy for the union. The union’s largest service groups, Health and Local Government, have both rejected pay offers but there has been no forum to discuss how to win ballots under constraints of...

NHS and council pay: organising to win

The big public services union Unison has a live dispute on pay in both its major sectors — Local Government and Health. Consultative ballots in both areas have returned high percentages for rejection of the employers’ offer and award — 79% in local government, 80% in health. In the context of rapidly rising costs of living, including food, fuel, national insurance, and council tax, the stage should be set for a huge confrontation with the government on pay. However, both sectors have had relatively low turnouts in their ballots. On the basis of the consultative ballots, neither sector would...

Unison activists protest against stitch-up

From the Time for Real Change in Unison campaign We are angry and dismayed that Unison has voted for the Labour Party rule changes it did... particularly the increase to 20% of the threshold of MPs by which leadership candidates are nominated. The Unison vote was key to it passing. This vote contradicted formal Unison Labour Link policy set in 2018 to reduce the nominating threshold to 10%. The Unison Conference delegation had no mandate or rulebook right to overturn National Labour Link Committee policy in this area and has chosen to set a dangerous precedent. Unison also opposed the original...

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