Pretoria Pit disaster

Memorial to the Pretoria Pit disaster

At 7:50am on the 23rd December 1910, there was an explosion in the Plodder Mine, which was thought to have been caused by an accumulation of gas from a roof collapse the previous day.

That day 349 workers had descended the No 3 bank pit shaft to work in the Plodder, Yard and Three Quarters mines. Of those 349, only four survived to be brought to the surface. One died immediately and one the next day. The two survivors were Joseph Staveley and William Davenport

It was the second-worst mining accident in England, and the third-worst in Britain.

Many of the fatalities were from the same family. The worst affected was the Tyldesley family in which Mrs Miriam Tyldesley lost her husband, four sons and two brothers. A relief fund was established for the families and dependants and a total of £145,000 was raised. In 1911, dependants were compensated and given annuities from a number of sources (including the fund). All the victims were members of Permanent Relief Societies to which they paid contributions weekly and most had private life insurance with friendly societies and all were covered by the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1906 which brought together all (except the private insurance) the compensation to produce a lump sum and annuity for the dependants

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Every year around 27 January, UNESCO pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. It was officially proclaimed, in november 2005, International Day (link is external)of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust by the United Nations General Assembly. 

The Holocaust profoundly affected countries in which Nazi crimes were perpetrated, but also had universal implications and consequences in many other parts of the world. Member States share a collective responsibility for addressing the residual trauma, maintaining effective remembrance policies, caring for historic sites, and promoting education, documentation and research, seven decades after the genocide. This responsibility entails educating about the causes, consequences and dynamics of such crimes so as to strengthen the resilience of young people against ideologies of hatred. As genocide and atrocity crimes keep occurring across several regions, and as we are witnessing a global rise of anti-Semitism and hateful discourses, this has never been so relevant.

Enough is (NOT) Enough

After years of declining pay, council and school workers have had enough. It’s time
to take action on pay – enough is enough!

Youth workers, care workers, refuse collectors, social workers, teaching assistants, community workers, street cleaners and so many more went above and beyond during the pandemic. You kept communities safe, cared for the most vulnerable, and ensured schools remained open throughout successive lockdowns.

You went out to work, so that others could stay home.

Despite this, you have been offered 1.75%. With inflation running at over 3%, this is a real terms pay cut. 

That’s why we are asking members working for the council and in schools to vote for strike action. If this applies to you, you will receive important voting papers through the post in early December. Every member must post their ballot back by 14 January.

Chep workers in Manchester to extend strikes as pallet shortage deepens

Workers employed by pallet makers Chep UK Limited, have embarked on all out continuous strike action from this Friday (17 December) in a dispute over pay.

The workers, who belong to Unite, the UK’s leading union, have already taken four days of strike action since the strike began earlier this month. They are stepping up their action as there has been no engagement or negotiations with the company since the dispute began.

No to paltry pay

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite members employed by Chep are not going to accept a paltry pay offer which amounts to a real terms pay cut.

“Chep’s ability to make a fair pay rise is not in doubt – this is purely an attack on the union, because the company’s real fear is for our members to finally have a voice in their workplace, which has for too long been missing.

“Unite is dedicated to putting the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first. The union will back our members at Chep to the hilt until they receive a fair pay rise.”

Real term pay cut

The dispute is a result of the company refusing to improve on a two per cent pay offer. This is a substantial real terms pay cut with the retail price index (RPI) rate of inflation now standing at 7.1 per cent.

The strikes have already had a considerable effect on the business, which is based at Trafford Park in Manchester, with 80 per cent of delivery lorries refusing to cross picket lines and turning away.

Booming company

Chep is enjoying a boom time and is making substantial profits. The company supplies pallets to companies across the North West and its major customers include InBev, Heinz, Heineken, A&B Containers, Encric and TDS. 

With the all-out strikes set to begin this week it is expected that a severe shortage of pallets will quickly occur.

No negotiations 

Unite regional officer Ian McCluskey said: “It is highly disappointing that Chep has refused to enter into any discussions or negotiations with Unite since the strikes began, in order to resolve this dispute.

“Unite believes that the dispute has already cost Chep more in disrupted and unfulfilled orders then it would have cost to make its workers a fair pay offer.

“This dispute could be easily resolved by Chep making a fair pay offer to its workers and entering into talks. The ball is firmly in the company’s court.”

UK workers face worst real-terms sick pay in nearly two decades as Covid-19 cases surge – new TUC analysis

Our sick pay continues to fall behind
  • NEW ANALYSIS: Statutory sick pay worth £3 per week less now compared to start of pandemic
  • TUC warns hundreds of thousands could be without decent sick pay while self-isolating over the Christmas period, risking further unnecessary transmission
  • As Omicron rages, TUC calls on the government to come to its senses and finally deliver decent sick pay for all

The UK now has the lowest statutory sick pay in real terms in almost two decades, according to new analysis by the TUC released today (Saturday).

The last time real statutory sick pay was lower was March 2003 – almost nineteen years ago.

And statutory sick pay is already worth £3 per week less in real terms now than it was at start of pandemic in February 2020, due to increases in the already-low benefit failing to keep pace with the cost of living.

The union body has published this new analysis as it calls on ministers to come to their senses and finally deliver decent sick pay for all – which it says is a “vital public health tool” in the fight against the virus.

The call comes as the Omicron variant rages and coronavirus cases surge across the country – with the highest number of daily cases ever recorded in a day earlier this week.

As a result, some are predicting a miserable Christmas. The Times estimates that four million will have to self-isolate over the Christmas period – four times the amount of 2020.

The TUC warns that if this estimate is correct, hundreds of thousands of workers could be self-isolating without decent sick pay this Christmas, relying on “miserly” statutory sick pay or receiving nothing at all – leading to further unnecessary transmission.

TUC research shows that around a quarter of workers get just statutory sick pay, and just under one in ten get nothing at all.

Recent analysis from the union body also warned that 650,000 workers over the festive period in sectors like hospitality, the arts and retail will have no sick pay.

Decent sick pay for all

The UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth just £96.35 per week. And it is only available to employees earning £120 per week or more – meaning two million workers, mostly women, do not qualify.

TUC research has found that this leaves around a third of workers – over 10 million people – with sick pay that is too low to meet basic living costs, or with no sick pay at all.

Removing the lower earnings limit, which prevents those on low pay accessing statutory sick pay, would cost employers a maximum of £150m a year. And it would cost the government less than one per cent of the test and trace scheme to support employers with these costs.

In July this year, the government rowed back on its decision to remove the lower earnings limit – in response the TUC accused ministers of “abandoning low-paid workers at the worst possible time”.

The government introduced a temporary scheme to assist people who face hardship if required to self-isolate. However, TUC research has found that two-thirds of applications (64%) are rejected – in part because the funding is too low, and many workers are not aware of it.

The TUC is calling on the government to:

  • Extend statutory sick pay protection to every worker by removing the lower earnings limit.
  • Increase statutory sick pay to at least the value of the real Living Wage – (£346 per week)

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“No one should be forced to choose between doing the right thing and self-isolating or putting food on the table.

“But this is the reality for millions of workers up and down the country who rely on our miserly statutory sick pay, or get no sick pay at all because they don’t earn enough.

“With the cost of living ticking up, statutory sick pay is worth its lowest in almost two decades – leaving millions of workers who fall sick struggling to pay the bills and get by.

“It’s a monumental failure that nearly two years into the pandemic, this vital public health tool has been ignored time and time again by the government.

“As the Omicron variant rages and coronavirus cases sweep across the country, it’s time ministers came to their senses and finally delivered decent sick pay for all.

“That means statutory sick pay you can live on and making sure everyone has access to it.”

Winning a rise for Key workers

Day in, day out key workers take care of us. And during the pandemic – they never stopped. All of our key workers need a pay rise.

Our objectives

The people that kept this country going during the pandemic are our key workers. Those working across the private and public sector in health and social care, education, wholesale and retail, food production and transport, and in our public services.

Yet, many are underpaid, undervalued and overrepresented in insecure work. TUC analysis as part of this campaign has revealed:

Our asks of government are simple – give all key workers a pay rise. They can do this by:

  1. Ending the freeze on public service workers’ pay and giving all public service workers a decent pay rise.
  2. Raising the national minimum wage to £10 per hour immediately.
  3. Funding the public sector so that all outsourced workers are paid at least the real Living Wage and get parity with directly employed staff.