Saturday 29 May 2010

Meat industry organising successes

A very sympathetic report in the Guardian about the meat industry, one of the best success stories of UNITE's organising strategy.

Union wage premium rises to 15.3%

It's worth taking a look at the latest official statistics on union membership. These are produced annually, based on the fourth quarter Labour Force Survey, so the latest report is based on the survey in the last quarter of 2009.

The report includes the 2009 figures for the UK "union wage premium", which is defined as the percentage difference in average hourly earnings of union members with non-members.

Across the UK as a whole, the union wage premium stood at 15.3%, with union members earning an average of £13.60 per hour, compared to £11.80 for non-members, a difference of £1.80 per hour. In just over six hours, this is enough to pay UNITE subs for a whole month!

In the public sector, where 56.6% of employees are union members, union members on average earned 19% more per hour than non-members.

In the private sector, where 15.1% of employees are union members, union members on average earned 5.1% more than non-members.

The fact that the premium exists is a good indicator of the value of union membership. The fact that the premium is so much higher where the proportion of employers who are in the union is higher is a good indicator of the value of strong union organisation.

It is also good to see that the union wage premium rose sharply in both public and private sectors last year, after a fall in 2008 as the recession bit.

Thursday 27 May 2010

UNITE General Secretary election timetable


  • 1 June - Despatch of Nomination Forms by Independent Scrutineer (ERS)
  • July/August – Nominations
  • 5 September – Last date for Receipt of nominations by Independent Scrutineer
  • 15 September – Last date for Acceptance and Return of Election Address to Returning Officer
  • Week commencing 1 October (sic) – Voting papers espatched by Independent Scrutineer
  • 29 October at Noon – Last date for Voting Paper to be returned to the Independent Scrutineer
  • 30 – 31 October – Count
  • 1 November – Result
  • 1 December - Declaration

British Airways strike

We need to do more than applaud the determination of UNITE members at what is becoming known as "Brutish Airways" to stand up to their bullying management.

The media, courts, political establishment and many other employers have rallied around Willie Walsh's attempt to break union organisation at BA. They hope that a defeat for UNITE can make it easier to push through cuts and their wider agenda of making working people pay for an economic crisis that was triggered by the greed and irresponsibility of the rich and powerful.

There's a useful article about the strike on the United Left web site.

Donations to the campaign fund can be sent to:
BASSA 2000 Strike Fund c/o 29 Sunmead Road, Lower Sudbury-on Thames, Middlesex TW16 6PF

Motions for UNITE Policy Conference

The motions for next week's first UNITE Policy Conference are now available on the union web site. Note that these are the original motions, many of which will be combined into "Composite" motions to speed up the business of conference. Conference will also consider the Executive Council (EC) report and any EC statements.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Why no right to strike?

Workers' rights are noticeably absent from the debate about the General Election, with all three main parties competing over their plans to cut public spending.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats talk of plans to further restrict the right to strike, but while Labour doesn't go this far, it has in practice presided over a significant tightening of the anti-union laws.

There's an interesting article about the impact of the recent court judgments against UNITE and RMT on the Solidarity magazine web site.

Joint General Secretaries' report from the March UNITE EC meeting

The report from the March UNITE Executive Council meeting is out and I will forward it to UNITE members on request.