Today's top stories...shock rise in construction bogus self-employment
Unite’s findings reveal huge increase in Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) working
A Freedom of Information (FoI) request by Unite has revealed that 1,206 million construction workers were paid via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) during 2022/23. This was a 15 per cent increase on the figure for 2021/21 when 1,047 workers were paid via the scheme, a 7.5 per cent increase on the previous year.
CIS is a standalone self-employed taxation scheme, unique to the construction industry, unlike other forms of self-employment, workers are taxed at source. The big advantage for employers is that as workers are officially self-employed, they are not required to pay employers’ national insurance contributions of 13.8 per cent.
A very large percentage of the workers operating under CIS are bogusly self-employed, which means that they should in reality be directly employed. These workers are denied basic employment rights, meaning that they can be fired at a moment’s notice and do not receive holiday or sick pay.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “The huge growth in CIS working is bad news for workers. Increasing numbers are operating via a bogus self-employment relationship, resulting in them being stripped of their rights and can be sacked without warning. Meanwhile, employers are laughing all the way to the bank, they don’t have to pay national insurance contributions, nor holiday and sick pay to workers.”
Greggs packaging crisis deepens as Cepac printers in Darlington extend strike action in pay dispute
The packaging crisis affecting many of the UK’s most popular food and drink companies, including bakers Greggs and sandwich chain, Pret A Manger is set to deepen after workers announced a further two weeks of strike action.
The 90 plus workers, who are members of Unite and employed by Cepac in Darlington, began four weeks of strike action last week (August 14). Due to the company’s failure to engage in any meaningful negotiations, Unite has given notice of a further two weeks of strike action, meaning industrial action will now run continuously until Monday 25 September
The dispute is a result of Cepac only being prepared to offer an eight per cent pay increase, which is below the true inflation rate (RPI) of nine per cent. Additionally, the offer is subject to the workers accepting substantially worse conditions including longer hours, lower overtime rates and a change in shift patterns. The offer is in effect, a significant pay cut.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said,“Cepac’s actions are all about greed, not need. This is a company that can make a fair pay offer but is attempting to boost its profits by making its employees work longer and under worse conditions.”
Drivers at Greater Manchester Accessible Transport forced to strike over ‘poverty pay’
Bus drivers in Greater Manchester who transport the elderly and disabled have been forced to take strike action over the low pay by Greater Manchester Accessible Transport (GMAT).
Members of Unite are paid just minimum wage to do a physically and mentally demanding job. They provide an invaluable service, transporting the elderly, infirm or disabled from their homes across Greater Manchester to vital medical appointments, for essential shopping or for leisure and entertainment.
GMAT pays the lowest wages of all bus companies in the region and the registered charity has not signed up to the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, despite being run by Transport for Greater Manchester and owned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), both of whom are members of the charter. The charter aims to raise employment standards across Greater Manchester through factors like security of work and fair pay  – including a commitment to the real living wage.
Around 7000 users depend on the service and Unite has encouraged the employer to come back to the negotiating table with improved terms above the below-inflation offer made to-date. Currently drivers receive just £10.42 per hour.
Following a successful industrial ballot, members will be taking strike action in the coming months with dates to be announced in due course.
Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said, “GMAT should be ashamed of themselves – a charity paying poverty wages to drivers performing a vital service to vulnerable residents across Greater Manchester.”
“Unite’s unrelenting focus on jobs, pay and conditions means our members at GMAT will have the full backing of the union in their fight for a fair wage.”
Cumbria refuse strike ends as workers secure improved pay deal
The long running strike action involving refuse workers employed by Allerdale Waste Services, affecting Workington and the surrounding area, has ended after workers voted to accept an improved pay offer.
The strike involving members of Unite began in April and the workers have been on all-out continuous strike since May.
Following negotiations, brokered by the conciliation service Acas, the loaders were offered an increase in pay from £10.90 an hour to £11.81 (8.3 per cent) while the drivers who are legally required to hold a HGV licence will see their pay increase from £11.99 an hour to £13.62 an hour (13.6 per cent) The members were balloted on the offer and it was accepted.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This was a hard fought and well-earned victory by our members who were determined to secure a decent pay increase. Once the employer understood that our members were not prepared to budge on their just demands, a settlement that met their expectations was agreed.”
“This result is further evidence of how Unite’s relentless focus on jobs, pay and conditions, and its total support for workers prepared to take industrial action, is delivering direct financial benefits.”
Solent bank holiday bus strikes off as First South workers secure cost of living payment
Planned strike action by bus drivers employed at First South have been called off after the company agreed to make a cost-of-living payment to its workers, following negotiations led by Unite on behalf of its members.
Strikes involving 185 members of Unite were due to begin on Friday (August 25) ending in the early hours of Tuesday (August 29).
However, following talks this week First South agreed to make a one-off lump sum payment of £600 to the workers, (separate from ongoing pay talks) and as a result the industrial action has been called off.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This deal underlines the power of worker solidarity. Our members took a stand and First South returned to the negotiating table and made an offer that workers were prepared to accept.”
“This deal is further evidence of how Unite’s focus on jobs, pay and conditions is delivering financial benefits for its members.”
“Unite will build on this deal in further pay negotiations at First South.”
Compiled by UniteLive team