TWO HUNDRED Sheffield refuse workers voted unanimously on Monday to go on indefinite strike from Monday 22nd November.
The vote took place at a mass rally outside Sheffield Town Hall on Monday morning at the end of a noisy ‘End Rubbish Pay!’ march from the workers’ Lumley St depot.
The GMB union members, who were on half-a-day strike on Monday, are fighting for a 6% pay rise and against continuous non-negotiated changes to their conditions being made by the public services privateer Veolia.
Chief GMB Convenor Lee Parkinson told the mass meeting at the end of the march: ‘We find it highly unfair that the company, Veolia, are willing to see industrial action rather than pay their workforce.
‘All we want is a pay rise to reflect the rise in the cost of living.’
He pointed out: ‘The council pay Veolia £35 million a year to get the bins emptied. It’s time for the council to show that the dog wags the tail, not the tail the dog.’
The Sheffield workers are the latest in a massive strike wave of public sector workers fighting against privateers seeking to increase their profits by imposing pay freezes and/or pay cuts and by stepping up attacks on conditions of employment.
But workers across the country are fighting against the privateers.
Unison announced on Tuesday that IT staff at two Warwickshire hospitals are to go on strike against plans to transfer their jobs to a new private health company.
Based at Warwick and George Eliot hospitals, they are being forced to join Innovate Healthcare Services from December.
The new firm is jointly owned by the two hospital trusts, but Unison said the move would make the staff almost private contractors.
The IT staff went on strike on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and are to strike again on 23-24 November.
Mike Wilson, regional organiser for Unison, said it is not too late for the trusts to reconsider their decision.
‘Like many of their colleagues in healthcare, these staff actively chose to work for the NHS to serve the public.
‘And they’ve done so through the toughest of times during the past few months of the pandemic,.
‘Now their employers have turned round to say they don’t want them and are forcing them to become a kind of private contractor.’
Strike action by Arriva Wales bus drivers will begin next week.
Bus services across North Wales face severe disruption after nearly 400 Arriva bus drivers from six depots including Hawarden, Wrexham and Rhyl voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.
Drivers in the region will be holding the first round of strike action from Sunday 14th November until Sunday 19th December.
Unite said: ‘Arriva can avoid strike action if they just step up and pay their drivers the fair wage that they deserve.’
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘It is time that Arriva Cymru’s management woke up and smelled the coffee.
‘The 95 per cent vote in favour of industrial action shows how determined our members are to fight for a better pay deal.
‘And make no mistake, they will have the full backing of Unite during their five week strike.
‘They were local heroes in the pandemic, so surely now is the time for that dedication and hard work to be rewarded with a substantial pay rise.’
And the strike wave is not just in the public sector, with workers in industry also voting overwhelmingly to strike to defend pay and conditions.
Staff at Panasonic’s depot in Pontprennau are to walk out on strike after the company withdrew from pay talks last month.
The GMB union has announced strike dates for workers at Panasonic’s Pontprennau plant after staff overwhelmingly voted for strike action following the company’s withdrawal of its 1% offer.
The offer would have seen a pay freeze for workers for the second year running.
Staff will strike next Monday (15th November 2021) and Monday 22nd November.
Nicola Savage, GMB regional organiser, said: ‘We’ve told Panasonic that we’re ready to come back to the table at any point, and they’ve responded by trying to tie us up in legal loopholes.
‘Let’s be clear, for our members this issue will not go away, so we’re not going away.
‘Dark autumnal mornings are a lot easier for our members to brave than the impact of a further pay freeze.’
The dispute arose after the company failed to offer a substantial pay increase for 2021, in return for staff taking a pay freeze last year to combat the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Staff overwhelmingly rejected the company’s initial 1% offer, which with inflation soaring equated to a real terms pay cut.
Panasonic then responded by withdrawing the 1% and closed pay negotiations, in effect implementing a pay freeze.
Nicola Savage said: ‘Staff feel that they’ve had the rug pulled from under them after doing their bit last year by taking a hit in their pay packet for the greater good.
‘Members are frustrated and feel the only move left is to vote with their feet.
‘After the last two years it’s hardly unreasonable for staff to expect a real pay rise.
‘However, it is unreasonable to throw your toys out of the pram and close negotiations when you don’t like what your colleagues are saying.
‘Panasonic need to come back to the table, recognise they’ve got it wrong and stick their hands in their pocket and offer a real pay rise that recognises our members’ hard work and sacrifice over the last year.’
- The TUC’s Labour Force Survey of the Disability Pay Gap has found that non-disabled workers earn 16.5% more per hour than those that meet the definition of disabled under the Equality Act.
It found the median hourly pay for a worker with a disability was £11.55, compared with £13.45 for those without a disability.
When sex was taken into consideration, the TUC’s analysis of statistics from Q3 and Q4 2020 and Q1 and Q2 2021 found that the median hourly wage for disabled women (£11.10) was almost a third less than that of non-disabled men (£14.60).
The pay gap data was published alongside the results of a survey which found 40% of disabled workers have faced financial difficulty during the pandemic, compared to 27% of those without a disability.
Disabled workers (22%) were twice as likely to say they were concerned about losing their jobs than non-disabled workers (11%).
‘Disabled workers have been hit hardest by Covid-19. Many have been pushed into financial hardship and left without a safety net,’ said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
Tuesday was ‘Disability Pay Gap Day’.
Commenting on the TUC’s new data showing the impact of the pandemic on disabled workers, on the day they stop getting paid for the year compared to non-disabled employees – ‘Disability Pay Gap Day’ – Natalie Arnett, Senior Equalities Officer for school leaders’ union NAHT, said: ‘These figures are a clear reminder that when it comes to equality, we still have a long way to go.
‘It is completely unacceptable that in 2021, analysis from the TUC finds that non-disabled workers are paid 16.5 per cent more a year than disabled workers.
‘And it’s not just pay that’s an issue, but also engagement in the job market itself.
‘It is important that children and young people do not experience unfair barriers to achieving future aspirations.
‘We know, from the limited data we have, that there is significant underrepresentation of individuals with a disability working in education; the latest workforce data suggests only about 2% of the teaching profession have a disability compared to around 20% of people in the UK.
‘There needs to be far better recognition of disabled people’s employment needs in order to effectively support them in the workplace. However, this must be underpinned by ensuring that those with disabilities are valued appropriately and equitably for the work that they do.
‘In reality, the cultural shift required to properly support individuals with disabilities must start right from the beginning and that means starting with children and young people.
‘If the government are serious about addressing the issues of inequality, they must urgently publish the findings of their SEND review and commit the money needed to address the SEND crisis in schools.
‘It is unacceptable that two years on from starting the review, the government has still not taken any action.’