Next Sheffield TUC Strike Solidarity meeting 7pm-8.30pm has been put back to Wednesday 8th March 2023 Central United Reform Church (upstairs back room).
Come and hear latest news on all the disputes affecting our area. Hear from the union reps the truth about why the strikes are taking place and why they need our support. Find out dates and times of picket lines and how you can show your support.
STOP PRESS: Sheffield Strike Rally Thursday 16th March
Sheffield TUC has called a demonstration and rally on Thursday 16th March in support of all the strikes currently taking place. Assemble Devonshire Green 12 noon. March sets off 1230. Rally City Hall steps 1pm.
NEU will be taking national strike action on 15th and 16th March so we expect to see a big turnout of NEU members! Other unions on strike on 16th will be UCU and RMT. Speakers from NEU and other striking unions. Further details to be confirmed
The Government can and must pay!
Trade unions reject the Government’s claim that the country cannot afford to pay cost of living increases to public sector workers. We are the 6th wealthiest country in the world but the wealth is very unevenly and unfairly divided. With the FTSE index of top companies edging towards a record 8000, shareholders have never had it so good. The same with CEO’s who had an average 39% increase last year – that’s 3 times the current CPI rate of inflation. More extreme is the level of excess profits of the very companies that have stoked inflation – the energy companies! UNITE estimates their excess profits – that’s profit above the normal level – to stand at a staggering £170 billion. Let’s not forget that sky-high energy prices were caused by speculation and profiteering on a temporary shortage of supply. It doesn’t cost 1p more to extract oil and gas today than it did 2 years ago!
Meanwhile our public services are in crisis following 12 years of Conservative Governments pursuing their “small state, low taxes” dogma. However they mean low taxes for the super-rich they represent. Shamed ex-Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi was fined and made to pay back millions of unpaid taxes but the real scandal is that wealthy people like him only pay 19% tax and their NI contributions are capped. Meanwhile well-paid professionals (not super-rich) pay 45% on incomes of £125,000 or above. The fact is £billions of tax is evaded, avoided or simply uncollected by an under-resource Treasury every year. The money is there for the asking – it’s a political choice by a Tory Government to keep things as they are.”
The threat to our right to strike is very real:
The government is attempting to rush through Parliament new laws that could undermine workers’ ability to take strike action to defend their pay and conditions.
The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is a draconian piece of legislation. It allows Ministers to write regulations in any services within six sectors (health, education, fire and rescue, border force, nuclear decommissioning and transport) that will force workers to work during strike action. Employers will then issue work notices naming who has to work and what they must do. Workers could be sacked and unions face huge damages if they fail to comply. https://www.tuc.org.uk/blogs/fighting-anti-strike-law#:~:text=The%20Strikes%20(Minimum%20Service%20Levels,to%20work%20during%20strike%20action
See more comment and news on employment law here: https://www.ier.org.uk/
Minimum service levels in event of strike action: ambulance services. Dept of Health and Social Care is seeking views on minimum service levels in England, Scotland and Wales during passage of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill:
What will new Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill mean for the rail sector?
Transport Committee launches inquiry
Anti-strike bill akin to modern slavery, legal experts tell MPs
Only Hungary – condemned for violations of democracy – has put the same restrictions on workers, lawyers say
You can get updates on the passage of the Bill here: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3396
It is currently at committee stage in the House of Lords
RCN Nurses 48-hour strikes 1st-3rd March “paused”
RCN members at 128 NHS employers with a strike mandate were going be out on strike from 1st – 3rd March, night shifts inclusive. These have bene “paused” whilst RCN leader have talks with the Government to resolve the dispute. There appears to be no promise from the Government of more money on the table, never mind how much, and other unions representing NHS workers have expressed irritation that they will be excluded from the talks. UNITE’s Onay Kasab National Officer for Health speaking at Sheffield TUC’s AGM that any proposal on pay has to be for all NHS workers.
BMA Junior doctors’ strike
The strike will begin on Monday 13 March and conclude on the morning of Thursday 16 March, the BMA has confirmed. Up to 47,600 medics will walk out of hospitals without providing emergency cover after an overwhelming majority supported industrial action. It marks a dramatic escalation in the battle between NHS staff and the Government over a better pay deal. The strike will involve a full stoppage of work, including nights, on-call shifts and non-resident work.
In smaller-scale action, junior doctors represented by the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) have also voted to strike. The union said 397 people out of the 531 who were entitled to vote took part in the ballot, with the action called for Wednesday 15 March, meaning it will overlap with the BMA walkout.
NHS Ambulance Strikes
UNISON, GMB and UNITE are now coordinating strike dates and will take joint strike action on a number of dates in March. UNISON have successfully re-balloted for strike action in a number of employers which failed to meet the threshold last time
RMT announces further national rail strikes
The union’s 40,000 members across Network Rail and 14 train operators will strike on 16 March. Train staff will walk out for three further days, on 18 and 30 March and 1 April.
The first 24-hour strike action will coincide with a strike by teachers, which is likely to close schools in England and Wales, as well as action by university staff. RMT have rejected a slightly improved offer from the employers. Staff have been offered a 9% pay increase in total, with 5% backdated to January 2022, along with discounted rail travel and higher percentage increases for the lowest paid – but with stipulations about “modernisation”. The union which represents 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operators rejected the offers from employers, as they did not meet the needs of members on pay, job security or working conditions. The union’s national executive rejected the deals after consulting with branch reps.
In a separate dispute, over 100 skilled engineering workers at Balfour Beatty will take strike action after rejecting the company’s offer of 5.5pc increase in pay from April 2022. RMT members overwhelmingly rejected this and will now take strike action in March with a series of 48-hour stoppages on the following days:
22.00hrs on Friday 3rd March and 09.59hrs on Sunday 5th March 2023
22.00hrs on Friday 10th March and 09.59hrs on Sunday 12th March 2023
22.00hrs on Friday 17th March and 09.59hrs on Sunday 19th March 2023
Balfour Beatty made over £8B in revenue in 2022 and was the third most profitable UK construction company.
NEU teachers strike 15th and 16th March
Simon Murch NEU Sheffield & District said “The regional strike on 28th February was very well-supported with more pickets than last time. Sheffield NEU coordinated coaches to collect members (and families and supporters) from strategic picket lines to go on to Leeds for a Regional Rally.
The next national action is 15th and 16th March. On the 15th we’re hoping to fill coaches for the London Budget Day demonstration and people going to the capital won’t be doing picket lines first, so there will be a reduced presence in Sheffield but hopefully still a significant number. On the 16th I’d like us to put on a march and rally for any unions that are out, which I think the NEU should pay for but any assistance from the Trades Council in organising it, booking audio equipment etc. would be much appreciated.”
Teachers have had an imposed 5% unfunded pay increase for 2022 when CPI inflation has been consistently above 10% (RPI inflation has been over 14%). This follows over 10 years of wage restraint imposed by the Government that has seen the real value of their wages already eroded by over 20%. The Government hopes that parents and society as whole will side with them but the truth is everyone understands why the teachers are striking and they have overwhelming support against an increasingly unpopular government.
UNISON NHS re-ballots
Of the ten re-ballots run in England, UNISON got a mandate for strike action in the following nine trusts:
East of England ambulance
East Midlands ambulance
South Central ambulance
West Midlands ambulance
NHS Blood and Transplant service
Liverpool Women’s hospital
Great Ormond Street hospital
Tavistock and Portman
The only one to not achieve a mandate was South East Coast Ambulance, although the turnout was improved.
CWU Royal Mail
Royal Mail CWU re-ballot results were 95.9% YES on 75.4% turnout. That’s a bigger result than last time!
ASLEF Train Drivers re-ballot
ASLEF members have voted with increase majorities for strike action in the recent re-ballots.
Northern Trains; Strike action YES 1518 (96.14%) NO 61 (3.86%). Action short of a strike YES 1548 (98.41%) NO 25 (1.59%) Turnout 1581 (84.14%).
TransPennine Express. Strike action YES 458 (97.45%) NO 12 (2.55%). Action short of a strike YES 465 (99.15%) NO 4 (0.85%) Turnout 470 (82.75%).
UCU University Staff
Jo Grady, General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) “paused” strikes planned for 21, 22, 23, 27 and 28 February, and 1 and 2 March, following inconclusive ACAS talks. She said “To allow our ongoing negotiations to continue in a constructive environment, we have agreed to pause action across our pay and working conditions and USS pensions disputes for the next two weeks and create a period of calm.”
University staff will strike again on the following dates in March:
- Thursday 16 March
- Friday 17 March
- Monday 20 March
- Tuesday 21 March
- Wednesday 22 March
The action includes academics, librarians and other university staff.
PCS Civil Servants’ strike
About 100,000 civil servants are set to strike on Wednesday 15 March – the day of the Spring Budget – the Public and Commercial Services union has announced.
The action will affect dozens of key services and government departments, including DVLA, the Cabinet Office, the Department for Education, the Home Office, the Department for Transport, National Highways and the UK Health Security Agency.
A further 30,000 PCS members have successfully reballoted for strike action after failing to meet the threshold last time. They are set to join the others in action this month.