Anglican vicars Anglican vicars. Photo: Public Domain

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2,000 members of Unite’s Faith branch who are in the C of E Clergy and Advocates section have lodged a pay claim for the first time in their history. They are asking for a minimum 9.4% increase in the annual ‘stipend’ (effectively, salary). They point out that although their parishioners are experiencing the same cost of living crisis as themselves (and 1 in 5 clergy had to seek charitable aid last year) the Church has an Investment Fund worth £10.3bn, which is raking in an average 10.2% rate of return.

Unite’s General Secretary, Sharon Graham, said:

“The clergy deliver a clear message for the Church of faith in the hereafter. Unite is fighting for a better deal for them in the here and now.”

The thunderclap of the cost-of-living crisis is still hitting all sorts of workers. This present strike wave is far from over. More unity, more action, more coordination: that’s the News from the Frontline message.

School’s out: NEU add strike dates

The fight for teacher pay and education funding will continue with two further strike days, on Wednesday 5 July and Friday 7 July, both covered by the NEU’s January ballot.

This comes after 6 months in which teacher resistance has grown significantly in response to repeated insulting pay offers for teacher and support staff which fall well below inflation and are not fully funded.

This means schools have to pick up the bill, which will only threaten staffing levels, increase workload, undermine quality education for our children and exacerbate the recruitment and retention shortage gripping the profession.

This, like other public sector pay cuts, is a political choice. The money is there. Teaching for 6 years in Scotland puts you on £8,000 more than the same teacher in England. In Wales, it is £4,000 more.

The NEU is re-balloting it’s members for renewed strike action in the autumn. The other education unions, ASCL, NAHT and NASUWT are also balloting their members over pay, raising the prospect of escalating the fight towards coordinated action across the sector.

Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint secretaries of the NEU, said:

“It is within Gillian Keegan’s grasp for this action to be halted. Time and again the National Education Union, alongside its sister unions, have called for the Education Secretary to get around the negotiation table to settle this dispute for a fully-funded teacher pay increase. Time and again our calls have fallen on stony ground.”

The NEU has also called a national demonstration when they’re out on strike on 5 July, assembling at 11am on Belvedere Road, London SE1 (next to the London Eye) and marching to Parliament Square via the Department of Education.

Bristol: university workers unite

Strikes have occurred all around the University of Bristol again, with Unison on strike for 5 sunny days from Thursday 15 June to Monday 19 June over their pay offer. They were joined by UCU on Friday 16 June – on strike in part due to the punitive 50% pay-docking for staff participating in the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB). This was well coordinated due to it being an Open Day at the university.

Over 40,000 prospective students and their families visited the institution to find numerous picket lines full of angry staff members disrupting the open day activities. This can’t have helped encourage students to join an institution who treat staff as such. The day culminated in a large joint-union rally and march across the campus.

Photo: Unison University of Bristol

Doctors escalate to save the NHS

Junior doctors with the BMA were out on strike for three continuous days last week. They have now announced a five day continuous strike from 13 – 18 July. The BMA has also begun reballoting its members to extend its strike mandate further.

As the government continues to dig its heels, the doctors are showing they mean business. Their messaging has rightfully made the case that what they are asking for isn’t even a pay rise but pay restoration. As new figures show that MPs and CEOs salaries have been inflation proofed and risen by over 20%, and bankers bonuses have risen by a staggering 101% since 2008, junior doctors have seen their pay cut by 26% in real terms.

Polls have shown a majority of the public support the junior doctors and blame the government. The Tories’ attempts to demonise the doctors for cancelled appointments have clearly backfired as people can see that it is Tory austerity that is destroying the NHS and that the strikes are the only way we can save it.

Building the rank-and-file movement

The recent How We Fight, How We Win Rank-and-File Organising Conference was a step forward in building cross-union, national organising networks among grassroots trade unionists. The conference voted to endorse a statement assessing the situation and laying out principles to organise around. They are asking all trade unionists to propose the statement at your next branch meeting and be part of rank-and-file organising at this critical moment.

The Strike Solidarity Benefit that followed the conference raised £1,106 for striking junior doctors and Amazon workers. An incredible show of practical solidarity which should be replicated across the country! If you’d like help organising a solidarity benefit where you are contact [email protected].

Unite in the Home Counties: all-out strike gets results

Urbaser workers have accepted a 13.5 per cent pay increase after starting an all-out continuous strike on Monday 19 June. The refuge and street cleaning team at Welwyn & Hatfield council are outsourced to Urbaser and voted for strike action over a below-inflation pay offer.

Their union, Unite, also stated that Urbaser was paying these workers well below the average for these roles. While the local Tory MP Grant Shapps is blaming the Labour and Lib Dem coalition running the council, neither offered any real solutions. But by sticking together and taking on the bosses the workers showed what can be achieved.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

“This is a tremendous result, which was made possible by the absolute unity of our members, By standing together and taking industrial action, they ensured the employer made a vastly improved offer. This result demonstrates yet again how Unite’s relentless focus on jobs, pay and conditions is achieving direct financial benefits for its members.”

Another great local result from Unite: when is this big-hitting union going to step up to the national plate?

Special needs strikers get special support

Teaching assistants (Tas), admin workers and residential support workers at the Ashfield Academy special needs school in Leicester struck this week, as part of 14 days strike action over June and July.  The workers, members of Unison, are protesting a proposed pay ‘rise’ that doesn’t even meet inflation. One striker told the local press, “My wages barely cover my rent. We are massively underpaid … [and] experienced staff are leaving because of it.”

The strikers are getting vocal support from parents. Claudia Cockburn said,

“We want support staff that are well supported and respected. We need to do this (support the strikers) because if we don’t support and respect our TAs we won’t have any. They are the biggest part of my daughter’s daily life. Her happiness, her safety, her health, her learning, her everything is based on the work they do.”

War-footing for Ministry of Defence workers

Logistics workers for the British armed forces’ are set to take historic strike action. The GMB members in a North Ayrshire ammunition depot return a 93% yes vote, over a dispute about lower grade workers being consistently denied bonus payments that are made to management.

The staff are not soldiers, and can therefore legally strike, though no such action has taken place in British military infrastructure for many decades.

Posties Say No to the Deal – campaigning heats up

The CWU have put their deal with Royal Mail back on the table for members to vote on. They had previously pulled the ballot after widespread anger from members over the deal and because Royal Mail managers were already breaking commitments set out before the agreement was reached. The deal now has an extra £900 one-off non-consolidated lump sum attached to it, which is being called a bribe by union activists.

When launching the Enough is Enough campaign back in August last year, CWU GS Dave Ward said,

“There’s always another crisis, and it’s always workers who pay the price. We’ve suffered the biggest pay squeeze in history, and work has become all about working harder and faster for less. And now they want you to pay for it all again. Well it’s time somebody else paid the price. It’s about time we all stood together and said enough is enough!”

But this deal won’t solve any of those problems for workers at Royal Mail and CWU members are saying enough is enough to bad deals.

The ballot runs from 22 June to 11 July. If you are a CWU member at Royal Mail make sure you make the Posties Say No Zoom call on Monday 26 June at 7pm.

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