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The future we build: workers mark May Day

Rallies across Britain as unions laud victories but call for more employee rights

THOUSANDS of trade unionists marched and rallied across Britain today to mark International Workers’ Day, celebrating those who have fought back against bad employers.

Workers marched in London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and in dozens more towns and cities over the weekend, with more events planned Monday.

The TUC demanded more rights for employees, but said that where workers were uniting and fighting, victories are being won.

It accused the government of failing workers who had risked — and sometimes tragically lost — their lives working during the Covid-19 pandemic.

TUC deputy general secretary Paul Nowak said: “International Workers’ Day should be a time to celebrate.

“And working people can be proud of how they have brought the nation through the pandemic.

“But they are now in another crisis. The cost of living is racing ahead of their pay. And our Conservative government is doing nothing to help them.”

He demanded an emergency budget to help with “surging bills.”

Events took place against the background of more than a decade of Tory pay freezes, real-terms pay cuts, an unprecedented rise in energy prices and inflation heading for double figures.

The TUC quoted case studies of workers successfully fighting back.

“Last year Salford City Council gave care providers extra funding to help with the costs of Covid, and to help fund pay rises,” said the TUC.

It said that the employer, Anchor Hanover, refused to pass the funding on to its care workers.

Workers launched a campaign of resistance, winning the real living wage, the union body said.

Unison’s Salford city branch secretary Steve North said: “When staff took organised action together, they showed that those who deliver care can have a powerful voice.

“If Unison can win here, it can win for lots of other workers elsewhere too.”

In Eastbourne, GMB members driving waste collection HGVs won a major pay rise after they were denied the going rate for their work.

After six days of industrial action, a new agreement was reached. Their pay went up to £11.50 per hour for this year and will go up to £13.50 by April 2023.

A waste collection driver in Eastbourne said: “When your workmates are all with you in a union, you’re not a pushover.

“You have strength in numbers. So we pushed back and we won.”

They gained a 19 per cent pay rise over two years.

In Manchester, workers at CHEP pallet factory last week won a pay rise of 14 per cent after 21 weeks of strike action. They had been offered 1.8 per cent.

Charity War on Want said: “All around the world workers face exploitation and discrimination, but by organising and building power through trade unions, workers are winning increased rights and decent work for millions of people.

“Across the past year, we have seen workers and trade unions win huge victories for workers, using the strength of their collective power.”

London’s May Day march was led by sacked P&O workers campaigning to win their jobs back.

Chesterfield’s May Day march and rally assembles Monday at 10.30am at Chesterfield Town Hall.

Workers are also set to rally in Burnley, where speakers include Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner and the Morning Star’s Roger McKenzie.

Calderdale Trade Union Council in West Yorkshire are due to stage a rally and concert at Hebden Bridge Trades Club from 1pm.


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