#HeartUnions Week: Want a pay rise? Join Unite!

During #HeartUnions Week, Unite shows how it's winning for members every single day

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It’s the conclusion of #HeartUnions week this week, and what a week it was! The theme of this year’s #HeartUnions week is ‘Want a pay rise? Join a union!” — and no other union has embodied this theme more than Unite.

In the last year, Unite has secured hundreds of millions of pounds in pay deals for its members, winning 8 out of 10 disputes. We’re only half-way through the month of February, and already Unite has notched up many wins. Below is a selection of our latest victories.

We start with a number of recognition agreements secured this month – such agreements are often the first step in winning significant pay rises:

Mondelez Sheffield managers recognition agreement

 Unite negotiated a recognition agreement for more than 50 Mondelez Sheffield manager this month.

 The agreement ensures the workers, who are in the extended leadership team, have collective trade union bargaining rights when it comes to pay and employment conditions.

 Unite already has recognition for the engineers at Mondelez Sheffield, where Liquorice Allsorts, Jelly Beans, and Trebor Mints are produced.

 Members of the extended leadership team were inspired to seek recognition after seeing how effective collective bargaining has been for the engineers.

 Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This is a significant step, with Mondelez’s extended leadership team in Sheffield now having Unite firmly in their corner to deal with workplace issues and to negotiate on pay.”

Walking and cycling charity Sustrans recognition agreement

Following months of constructive talks, Unite reached an agreement to establish trade union recognition and representation at walking and cycling charity, Sustrans.

The charity’s 800 staff voted for Unite to recognise them in a ballot last year. The recognition agreement means that Unite is now fully recognised to negotiate with Sustrans on employment matters including pay, hours of work and annual leave.

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said, “Union representation is imperative in workplaces. It’s about building a stronger, more collective organisation. Unite is totally committed to improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and the recognition deal at Sustrans demonstrates how that commitment is delivering for workers.”

Equinor offshore recognition agreement

Unite signed a recognition deal in February with the offshore operator Equinor Production UK Limited. The voluntary agreement negotiated with the company covers around 70 workers on Equinor’s Mariner A and B platforms.

The recognition agreement covers various jobs roles on the platforms including controllers along with electrical, mechanical, instrument and production technicians.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Offshore workers are increasingly turning to Unite for representation because they know we deliver the goods. The deal with Equinor is the latest example that demonstrates why Unite is the UK’s leading offshore union because we are winning the fight to improve jobs, pay and conditions.”

Now on to Unite’s February pay wins:

Southampton Airport strikes off as Unite secure 10% pay increase

Planned industrial action by crew commanders, firefighters and multi-skilled technicians at Southampton Airport were called off after an improved pay offer of ten per cent was secured by Unite this month.

Following successful negotiations, Unite resolved the dispute without the need for strikes. It secured the double digit increase of 10 per cent for 2023/24, with the increase backdated to 1 January 2023. The pay deal also included an additional £1,500 one off payment.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “The unity of our members at Southampton Airport was critical in ensuring the company returned to the negotiating table with an improved offer.

Unite is undeniably committed to improving the jobs, pay and conditions of our members and we continue to showcase that when workers stand together in a union, they win.”

Cornwall Imerys clay mine strikes off after Unite’s 8% pay victory

Planned strikes by more than 400 Imerys staff, predominantly based at clay mines in Cornwall, have been called off after an improved eight per cent pay deal was secured by Unite.

 The workforce had voted to strike over the refusal of the company to offer a pay rise that covered the whole of 2023. The issue has since been resolved without the need for industrial action and the workers will receive an eight per cent pay rise backdated to January 2023.

Unite regional officer Dave Smith said, “This result shows the power workers have in a union. Cornwall workers wanting better wages and working lives should join Unite and get their colleagues to join as well.”

Church of England ‘wage’ increase after first ever clergy pay claim

 Unite has hailed a seven per cent increase in the Church of England’s stipend after its clergy members submitted a pay claim for the first time in history.

 Church leaders originally proposed a rise of five per cent. Following campaigning by Unite’s Church of England Clergy & Employee Advocates (CEECA), a distinct part of Unite’s wider faith workers branch, the stipend has now been increased to a seven per cent uplift.

 Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “The dedication and commitment of Unite’s CEECA activists on behalf of their members has moved the church into providing this much needed increase to the stipend.

 “However, financial hardship and a lack of support in ministry remain a real concern for CEECA members. Unite’s fight to improve financial wellbeing and working conditions for Church of England clergy will continue.”

Unite members at 2Gether in East Kent NHS win COVID lump-sum payment

Unite secured a crucial victory in the industrial dispute with NHS outsourcing company 2Gether Support Solutions.

 Due to the actions of Unite members, 2Gether (a wholly owned subsidiary of the East Kent NHS Trust) will now pay hundreds of staff the lump sum payment – over £1,600 – for working during the pandemic. Unlike most NHS workers who received the Covid payment last year, the workers at 2Gether had previously been denied the payment as they aren’t officially direct employees of the NHS.

 Unite members at 2Gether had been taking industrial action since before Christmas due to the failure of their employer to pay the lump sum payment. Staff at 2Gether are responsible for the Estates, Facilities, Domestics, Housekeepers, and Catering departments. Many of these staff are among the lowest paid in the NHS earning as little as £11.45 per hour.

 During the dispute, Unite recruited hundreds of more members who were determined to use the power of a union to help overcome an intransigent employer.

 Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This has been a prolonged dispute for our members to secure the payment they were rightfully owed. This shows the power of a union and should be a wake-up call for other trusts and providers in the NHS who are refusing to make similar payments. We will fight you and we will win.”

Unite secures new pay deal for GXO Iceland workers in Swindon

Unite secured a hugely improved pay offer from GXO for its workers after a campaign of industrial action.

Workers at cold food storage facilities in Swindon working on behalf of the Iceland supermarket chain have secured both backdated and ongoing pay increases to help address their pay concerns and tackle the cost of living crisis.

Employees will receive a 6 per cent pay increase on basic pay, and associated rises in overtime and unsocial pay backdated to 1 March 2023. They are also receiving a further increase of 5.3 per cent on basic pay, overtime and unsocial shift pay backdated to 1 Jan 2024. 

There are also increases in incentives for working in the freezer section of the warehouse, chiller section and ambient sections. In addition, workers willing to work flexibly at the different storage sites in Swindon, will receive higher pay rates. Unite has also ensured backdated pay will be paid at the earliest opportunity.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This is a great win for GXO’s workers and for Unite. It shows the power of the trade union movement and the strength of Unite’s bargaining.  I congratulate all our members at GXO on the grit and determination in their fight for better pay.”

The award comes after strike action both before and after Christmas and pressure applied to Iceland to bring GXO back to the negotiating table.

Hartlepool TMD brake pad strikes off after Unite secures 11% pay deal

Strike action by more than 180 Hartlepool workers employed at TMD Friction, which supplies car makers with brake products, ended after Unite secured a two-year 11 per cent pay deal.

 Around 150 workers began industrial action in early January with that number swelling to over 180 by the end of the month.

The workers have now voted to accept the deal of 7.5 per cent backdated to June 2023 and 3.5 per cent from June this year. 

 Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Our members at TMD Friction would not be moved and their determination on the picket line secured a vastly improved pay offer. Unite is totally committed to improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and the victory at TMD shows it is a commitment that is winning for workers.”

Sandwell council building worker strikes off after Unite secures pay deal

 Pay strikes by around 100 Sandwell council building workers have been suspended after Unite, the UK’s leading union, secured a pay deal.

 The carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers. roofers, glaziers, plumbers and painters and decorators were scheduled to begin 14 days strike action over February and March next week.

Following negotiations between Unite and Sandwell council’s leader, Kerrie Carmicheal, and chief executive, Shokat Lal, an offer was put forward to pay the workers a market supplement of £2,703.

 The workers subsequently voted in favour of the offer.

 Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Congratulations to Sandwell council’s building workers, who used their collective power to achieve this deal. Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and secures better jobs, pay and conditions for our members.”

 Sandwell council has agreed to pay the supplement on 26 February. If the supplement is not paid on that date, industrial action will resume.

Compiled by Hajera Blagg