Winning for workers

In her first 100 days new Unite general secretary Sharon Graham nets £25m worth of private sector pay deals for Unite members

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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, who has now served her first 100 days in office, has introduced radical changes to the way the union operates, focusing its entire resources on winning for workers. Sharon has been focusing on her ‘Jobs Pay Conditions’ programme.

And we’re very pleased to report that the strategy is already bearing fruit. In Sharon Graham’s first 100 days in office Unite has won pay increases worth over £25m in new pay deals. That amounts to a quarter of a million pound of wins every day she has been in office.

‘Does what it says on the tin’

“Unite is now dedicated to doing what it says on the trade union tin – fighting for jobs pay and conditions,” commented Unite general secretary Sharon Graham.

“Unite reps and officers across the UK and Ireland are busy making that a reality.”

She continued, “The pay deals won for Unite workers in my first 100 days are a cast-iron confirmation of that. We are winning better deals for Unite members and we intend to continue to do just that for the next 100 days and beyond.”

The clear commitment for Unite to defend the jobs, pay and conditions of its members has resulted in the union being involved in a record number of industrial disputes, over recent months. In Sharon Graham’s first 100 days, over 40 industrial disputes have been successfully resolved.

A dedicated disputes unit has been established to assist members, to ensure that they have all the information and support that they need to ensure that Unite always secures the best possible outcome in its disputes. This unit will triple in size in the coming months.

“From the first day of my election I said I was going to focus Unite on getting back to the workplace – that the days of the political dog wagging the union’s industrial tail were over,” explained Sharon.

“I have set up a special disputes unit within the current union structures to make sure every step is taken to win disputes for our workers. This is a new, powerful response to what needs to be done to lead the union fightback across the UK and Ireland.”

Scotland – ‘Setting the pace’

In Scotland Unite’s new drive is already winning for workers – and Sharon adds Scotland is certainly ‘setting the pace’.

In Scotland alone, pay deal hikes are worth more than £4m. According to union research the top ten pay deals won in Scotland are worth £4.3m in the pay-packets of Scottish workers. Bus drivers, warehouse workers are North Sea contractors are the biggest winners in the battle for Scotland’s better jobs pay and conditions.

“Like everywhere across the UK and Ireland the pay deals won are a cast-iron testimony to the work and dedication of our workplace reps, shop stewards and union officials,” commented Sharon.

“But I am absolutely convinced that the deals delivered in Scotland show that our members in Scotland can be real pace-setters in the battle for better jobs pay and conditions.”

Unite Scotland secretary, Pat Rafferty agreed. “Obviously we are pleased with the pay victories delivered in the time Sharon has been Unite general secretary,” he said.

“If we look at averages, pay hikes worth £43,000 a day are a considerable achievement. In Scotland Unite aims to do even better, winning for workers, in the next 100 days.”

Great challenges

Unite recognises that there are great challenges facing trade unions. It is no co-incidence that the falling share of wealth going to workers across the UK and Ireland has been matched by the decline of collective bargaining and the drop in membership of unions. The number of workers organised by unions has dropped by half since the turn of the century.

But Unite’s leader believes today’s circumstances present an opportunity to make sure workers do not pay the price of the pandemic.

“I believe this is a moment of opportunity for the trade union movement,” she said. “We must grasp it. Building a powerful union capable of winning disputes and workplace battles is the best protection that I can offer my members through the pandemic and as the country deals with its aftermath.

Sharon Graham has said that the next 100 days as Unite general secretary will see the building of the union, sector by sector, through the building of ‘combines’ as they are known.

‘We will win’

She said, “We will win in Scotland, in England, in Ireland and in Wales, by collectivising. But we also have a responsibility to understand the industry we are in and to make sure we are one step ahead of the employers.

“The union grows by winning. It is our aim to keep winning so that ‘fire and rehire’ strategies will be confounded and workers don’t pay the price of the pandemic,” she concluded.

By UNITElive team


Learn more about Sharon’s first hundred days and Jobs Pay Conditions on the Unite website

@UniteSharon @unitetheunion

Stay tuned to UNITElive for more on this developing story

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