Branch Secretary :

Message from Sharon Graham - Unite General Secretary

“We need to do more to defend our reps to breed confidence and better legal support is part of that”


As our housing reps enter pay negotiations, and in some cases face victimisation by employers – particularly the disgraceful example of St Mungo’s – this message from Sharon Graham is timely.


Key pledge


It has been two months since Unite members elected me to be their General Secretary and one of the key pledges I stood on was to deliver greater support for our Reps and Shop Stewards at the place of work. That is why I am delighted to be able to announce that, following discussions with solicitors, legal support for our industrial activists will now be easier to access.


Whereas in the past judgement on whether or not to take legal cases to defend Reps and Shop Stewards was largely based on whether cases were “in the bag” or not, from now on, victimized Reps will receive support regardless of the 50/50 rule.


Boost confidence of reps


This is a concrete example of the change that we can make to help breed confidence amongst our industrial activists. I don’t want any examples of Reps being treated differently depending upon who looks at the case or where they live.


If we are going to actually rebuild our Union rather than just talk about it, we need a confident core of activists who know that their Union will be in their corner when it matters.


Another industrial matter that is becoming an ever greater cause for concern, is the continued spread of CPI being used by employers at the bargaining table.


Erode real value of wages


As far as is practically possible, we must do everything we can to retain RPI as the basis for cost of living. Not because it is without fault, but because it is far better than the alternative.


The reality is, employers use CPI because it is generally significantly lower than RPI. They do this because they want to try and sell deals as “keeping up with inflation” when in fact a pay deal at the level of CPI is a real terms wage cut.


We will be working to put practical plans in place to stop this attempt to erode the real value of wages and I will keep you updated. Meanwhile please remain vigilant.


In solidarity


Sharon Graham.


9 November 2021


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