A rally has been arranged in Lincoln for trade unions and the general public to join forces in calling for better deals for workers – following an outbreak of strike action across the country.
Industrial action is often a last resort, a bellowing message that everyday workers feel unfairly treated by their employers – whether that be a result of wages, conditions or job security.
2022 has seen some of the biggest strikes in a generation, whether it be the the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport bringing train lines to a halt in June and July, or the Communication Workers Union walking out of BT and Openreach offices after a claim that wages were so low, some staff had to set up food banks for their colleagues.
The RMT’s strike action was the largest rail dispute since the 1980s, and the CWU has orchestrated the walkout of over 150,000 people across multiple sectors in the UK – with picket lines outside BT call centres and Royal Mail offices in recent weeks.
Further action will now be taken in the form of a rally calling for “a better deal for workers”. It will be held on Saturday, September 10, starting outside the Cardinal’s Hat in Lincoln at 10.30am.
The rally will involve multiple trade unions, such as Unison, NASUWT (The Teachers’ Union), the GMB and Unite the Union, while the public are also invited to take part.
Protestors will march down to Grafton House between 12pm and 4pm, and hope to raise awareness of the struggles facing everyday workers during the cost of living crisis.
Bradley Wall, organiser of the event and member of the Teachers’ Union (NASUWT), told The Lincolnite that real terms pay cuts have become synonymous with the “austerity programme” of the government, and is calling for more to be done.
He said: “Like many other parts of the public sector over the last decade, real terms pay has taken a significant cut under the Conservatives’ austerity programme.
“Teachers’ real terms pay has depreciated by 20%. This isn’t sustainable – not least due to hikes in energy and food bills – and Enough is Enough.
“The NASUWT is calling on the government to offer a significant restorative pay increase for teachers. If not the recruitment and retention crisis that has now hit the profession will only exacerbate.”
There is an ongoing feeling that the general public can no longer stand for what they call an unfair pay gap, as billion-pound corporations continue to turn over large profits and bonuses for shareholders.
For instance, the CWU claims that Royal Mail Group announced a £758 million profit earlier this year – but will not offer a pay rise in line with inflation for its staff.
This is echoed by staff at BT and Openreach, who say BT announced £1.3 billion in profits last year, with £700 million going to shareholders and the CEO receiving a 32% pay rise to £3.5 million a year. However, the union claims the pay rise offered to workers equates to a real terms pay cut.
A spokesperson for the GMB Union, one of those attending the rally, said: “It’s imperative that trade unions work together in highlighting the needs of the workforce in the varying job sectors across the UK.
For so long the Dickensian ethos that has been allowed to flourish in the UK government is now proving harmful to the working person.
“Many are having to work longer hours to afford an ever-rapidly increasing cost of living, working families’ constant reliance on food banks to eat, the imbalance of work/ home life status and the constant abuse of a workforce by employers, whose rights should be legally protected.
“The rights of the trade unions should be protected, not abolished, like the current government want it to be, to enable us to continue to be the ‘voice’ of our membership, to stand up for the rights of the workforce, that those that went before us, fought hard to establish.”
Another union taking part is Unison, the largest trade union in the United Kingdom, covering members predominantly in the public service.
A Unison spokesperson said: “Lincolnshire county branch of Unison are supporting the rally to raise awareness of the issues facing our members in the current economic crisis.
“We are looking forward to a great day our with all of our sister trade union colleagues and members and making it a fun day for all of our members and activists and the people of Lincoln and surrounding areas.”