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UNITElive’s top 10 stories of 2017
Hajera Blagg, Monday, January 8th, 2018

As we begin a new year, UNITElive takes a look back at what you were reading last year. Below are the 10 most popular UNITElive stories of 2017 in reverse order. Thanks for reading!



10. ‘I was depressed all the time’

During a long-running British Airways cabin crew dispute over pay, UNITElive spoke to an ex-cabin crew member about what it’s like to barely scrape by on meagre wages in an incredibly high-pressured job.


In total, Unite BA cabin crew members took 85 days of strike action in the year and eventually secured a pay deal that they overwhelmingly accepted in October. It was thanks to cabin crew’s determination and solidarity that they secured their settlement and won, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey noted.


9. Beware ‘cashless’ society

Joy Johnson of Unite’s political department warns of the dangers of a cashless society in this comment first published in Tribune.


“Cashless has enormous implications,” writes Johnson. “Our right to have purchasing power in paper currency is diminished.  Our shopping habits will no longer be private.”


8. ‘Shocking and disgusting’

Unite slams the hypocrisy of awarding Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd – a firm which played a key role in the construction blacklisting scandal – an ethical labour award.


The ethical labour standard was awarded in October, just as 74 MPs had signed an early day motion calling on the company to be stripped of the contracts to refurbish Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower because of its involvement in blacklisting.


Unite continues to fight in the courts for its construction members who were victims of blacklisting and is also fighting against contemporary blacklisting that still goes on to this day.


7. Independent inquiry plea

This feature highlights the first of many calls Unite has made for an inquiry into the Grenfell fire disaster. Unite – which continues to support the victims and lobby for justice – argues that only a fully independent inquiry will ensure all who were involved are held accountable so that a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again.


6. ‘Worst job ever’

In another feature profiling a former BA cabin crew member, UNITElive speaks to Tom* who said he was forced to quit over total and utter exhaustion.


“It wasn’t unusual to find yourself in a position of having a seven day block of work, working more than 60 hours,” he said.


Tom was among many ex-cabin crew who sent messages of solidarity to their sisters and brothers striking this year.


5. The power of belonging

UNITElive interviews filmmaker Morag Livingstone about her new documentary, Belonging, which shines a spotlight on three different industrial disputes over three decades, and how the media, government and big business colluded to suppress human rights and democracy.


The film has garnered several awards and is a must-see for all trade unionists. You may still be able to catch a screening locally – find out more here.


4. M&S: Happy with BA pay injustice?

Photos – courtesy of Mark Thomas – from a Unite demonstration in support of striking BA cabin crew. Protestors called on retailer M&S to demand that BA stop paying poverty wages to sell its food.


“M&S needs to ask itself whether it’s comfortable with this injustice and British Airways’ pitiful pay rates which have seen hundreds of ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew stay away from work and mount picket lines in their fight for fair pay,” said Unite national officer Oliver Richardson.


3. Bus safety now call

Unite bus drivers demanded London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) implement the findings of the London Assembly transport committee report, Driven to distraction. The report highlights long shifts, inadequate breaks and irregular shift patterns as causing high levels of stress among the capital’s bus drivers.


2. The health visitor vanishes?

UNITElive investigates the steady fall in the number of health visitors and school nurses after responsibility for community nursing was transferred from the NHS to local authorities.


Unite believes the scale of the problem of declining community nurse numbers will remain hidden because there’s no overall accounting of the number of these nurses now working for local councils.


1. ‘Appalling treatment’

UNITElive reports on HGV drivers employed by the Co-op at its West Thurrock distribution depot who had begun balloting for industrial action over the ‘appalling treatment’ of their disabled colleagues.


The workers who deliver to 600 Co-op stores in London and the south east, were angry that three of their colleagues had been dismissed or were facing dismissal due to their disabilities.



Do you have a favourite UNITElive story from last year? Share with us on Twitter @unitetheunion


*Name changed to protect privacy



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