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The IR Guru NEWS Bulletin

October 1, 2020

Unions work together to fight BT’s “attack” on workers

A national day of protest against BT is taking place today (Oct 1) rallying against what the CWU union describes as the company’s “aggressive and provocative” approach to industrial relations.

The ‘Count Me In’ campaign was organised to fight BT’s programme of redundancies and threatened cuts to redundancy entitlements.

BT has launched a month-long consultation on contractual redundancy and paid leaver terms for all UK employees, saying they are complex and unfair. CWU fears the move could effectively halve maximum redundancy pay entitlements for longer-serving employees from two years to one. 

Earlier this week, CWU joined forces with Prospect union in warning BT that “enough is enough” in its treatment of workers. “The CWU and Prospect will reject any attempt to circumvent the collective process and will, wherever possible, campaign jointly to fight changes that are detrimental to members,” a joint statement said. 


Photo Credit: IndustriALL Global Union

Trade unions in India protest new anti-worker laws

Labour laws that promote fixed-term and contract work while removing welfare provisions and weakening worker rights have been strongly condemned by unions in India.

Around 10 trade union bodies took part in nationwide protests in September and have demanded social protection for informal workers and full wages and no job cuts during the period of Covid-19 lockdown. They also have also called for the withdrawal of separate laws that could affect the minimum price farmers receive for produce.

Since the new laws were passed in Parliament without debate, unions have declared them undemocratic. 

President of the Indian National Trade Union Congress, Dr G Sanjeeva Reddy said: “We strongly condemn the undemocratic way the anti-workers labour laws have been passed. The Indian central trade unions, moving beyond political affiliations, have formed a joint platform to defend workers’ interests.”


Workers need to be top priority in trade deal between UK and Australia

Trade talks between the UK and Australia should aim for a deal that ties in strong workers’ rights and prioritises decent jobs and public services, says the TUC, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), and New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU).

The three union bodies call for transparency and consultation with trade unions as negotiations progress. In a joint statement they have expressed concerns about the Comprehensive and Transpacific Partnership, which the UK government has stated an intention to join, and which, they say, doesn’t adequately protect workers’ rights or public services. 

ACTU President Michele O’Neil said: “We need to end the system that allows governments to negotiate trade deals in secret and make sure that all deals put working people first.”


Rise in teacher training applications may come to nothing, warns union

The union for school leaders NAHT has warned that a surge in the number of teacher training applications won’t be enough to make up for a shortfall in recruitment experienced over the past eight years. 

Applications are up 16 per cent this year compared with 2019. While this is good news, says Nick Brook, Deputy General Secretary of NAHT, it could be a “false dawn”.

Covid-19 has curtailed opportunities for graduates, leading to a rise in applications, he explains. “We should remember that new entrants who joined the profession as a result of the 2008 financial crisis melted away as economic conditions improved, while attrition and wastage rates grew over the following decade.”

“This year’s improved figures will not make up the shortfall resulting from eight consecutive years of missed recruitment targets,” he adds.

Pay reform and greater support for teachers are required to ensure a sustained increase in numbers entering the teacher profession, the union says.


UNISON workers hold online rally as part of pay strike

Strike action over pay taken by 30 rehab support workers in Wigan and Leigh has included socially distanced picket lines and a virtual rally.

Workers for the charity We are With You, commissioned by Wigan Council to run a drug and alcohol rehabilitation service, are demanding increased pay rates to put them on a par with staff employed in the NHS doing a similar job. UNISON says the charity has reneged on a promise to give staff full NHS rates of pay.

Earlier in September, the Central Arbitration Committee declared UNISON to be the recognised union for We Are With You workers in Wigan and Leigh, despite management’s objections.


Save print journalism to protect democracy and jobs, say global unions

A group of global unions are campaigning governments around the world to save print journalism.

With Covid-19 exacerbating the long-term decline of media advertising income, the International Federation of Journalists and UNI Global Union are urging governments to implement emergency rescue packages for the print media industry, covering journalism, publishing, printing and distribution.

The unions are also pushing for the introduction of a digital services tax on tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook, which they say have diverted advertising revenue from media outlets.

Media advertising revenue is down 20 per cent this year, says UNI. National governments need to step in to protect a print media industry that stands for “quality, ethics, solidarity, labour rights and fundamental freedoms”, it adds.


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