Archive | February, 2012

Meat workers to take further action over pay

29 Feb

Workers at Cambuslang meat processing giant Vion will intensify industrial action against their employer over a long-running pay dispute.

Following a day of action on 20th February, Unite members have served notice to management of their intention to take two further twenty-four hour strikes on the 8th March and 12th March respectively.  An overtime ban and work to rule provisions will also be undertaken by the workforce.

The dispute has escalated with Vion since October 2011 following the rejection of a 2% pay increase offer plus changes to holiday entitlement.  At the same time UK media outlets reported that Vion’s UK business operations had tripled its profits from 2010.

Unite Convenor at Vion, Scot Walker, said, “A 2% increase in today’s financial climate is a pay cut in real terms. This comes on the back of a similar offer in 2010 and a pay freeze in 2009. If you keep pushing workers like this they are going to push back.

We are not talking about workers on big time money here, the basic wage is less than £7 per hour, but we are talking about a global corporation with an €8.9 billion turnover – the 4th largest meat processor in the world.

The workforce has been left with no option, we have even been to ACAS to try and get a resolution but the company refused to budge.  We hope Vion will reconsider but they should know that we are prepared to dig-in for the long haul.


Notes to Editors: For further information please contact Unite Convenor at Vion Scot Walker 07985460943 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.


Rachael's Second Diary Entry – 23rd Feb

23 Feb

I hope you all enjoyed reading my first post, I was pleased when Pete Murray from Union News found my project and blog intriguing enough to ask me for an interview which I happily gave him. If you are interested follow this link.

I’ve told you a little bit about my background that lead me to approach Unite so now is the time to   fill you all in on my research process so far…

Since Unite had kindly agreed for me to delve into the issues surrounding youth unemployment I found myself thinking “where do I start!”…so the beginning seemed like a good plan. My title (of which I am proud as I have never been good at catchy titles) is ‘Uniting to Forge Community Links: Engaging with young people who are unemployed.’ That was the easy bit, “Where next?”, I found myself asking.

I have only been unemployed once in my entire (albeit short) working life.  I found myself having to leave a fashion retailer whom I will not name, as I felt the bitchiness and bullying was too much to bear.  Fortunately I obtained employment very quickly with another fashion retailer and that was the end of that!  (Maybe this is why most young people work in this sector; it was relatively easy for me to gain employment as I had no experience in doing anything else.)

There is not much I can glean from my own experience and I need to find a way to speak to young people who are experiencing unemployment.  As there are time and money constraints, I decided that the way forward for me was to first hold a focus group that addressed the key questions that Unite need answers too and also to compile a questionnaire to distribute to those aged 16-24 experiencing unemployment.  There are a plethora of questions of which I will not bore you … unless you ask me too, but to give you idea here’s a few:

‘Are you aware of Trade Unions and the support they offer in the workplace and also to those who are unemployed or retired?’

‘Where does your knowledge of trade unionism evolve from?’

‘Would you pay £2 a month for support if you were unemployed?’

I have also decided to ask ‘Does activism interest you? And Why?’.  I understand that not everyone feels the need to have a rally cry on issues that affect them but some do. I’ve always wondered what makes people be active in their choice of cause…what makes you feel the need to be an activist?

My focus group will be running this week so I’m hoping to get some interesting thoughts from my participants and perhaps some more questions that Unite and I have not thought of.  Do you have any? Again, please post below…

I will be compiling a questionnaire in the next week or so that will be made available to a number of individuals residing in Glasgow and East Ayrshire, aged 16-24 who are experiencing unemployment and hopefully then I will get a clearer idea of their experiences and what can be done to support them.  If you, or anyone you know who would be interested in taking part, send me an email.

Aside from this, I have been contacting a myriad of youth employment support organisations and am still waiting to hear back from a few. I never realised how difficult it would be to arrange to get a load of questionnaires filled out! I had grand plans for single-handedly gaining all this information from all these young people and giving Unite a fabulous piece of work with which they could expand on, and now I am realizing that I am just a little paint stroke in a bigger painting and many of these organisations may have more important things to do than helping an enthusiastic student with a research project!

Unite anger that RBS refuses to award staff “fair pay” despite massive bonus announcement for top bankers

23 Feb

Unite, the union representing staff within Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), has today (Thursday, 23rd February) confronted RBS for failing to offer its workforce a fair pay deal. Talks have broken down following the failure of the bank to make staff a decent pay offer. This comes on the day the bank tells the city it will pay investment bankers a total bonus pot of £390m.

If RBS split the massive bonus pot it is awarding its investment bankers between the 60,000 average bank workers, they would have a real opportunity to pay their household bills and change the life of their family. The bonus pot would give these low paid employees approximately £6,000, which amounts to simply loose change for a city slicker.

Unite has launched a national campaign amongst RBS staff to inform them that some 28,000 RBS workers will receive no pay rise. Unite is appalled that while RBS can afford to pay large bonuses to city bankers, it refuses to recognise the contribution of the vast majority of the staff.

Unite has written to staff at their home address urging them to make their opposition to the pay offer clear by voting in a pay questionnaire. Workers have expressed to the union that they simply can not afford to pay their bills, travel to work and pay their mortgages, when their employer is in effect giving them a pay cut.

David Fleming, Unite national officer, said: “It beggars belief that this 84 per cent taxpayer backed institution is imposing a pay cut on its hard working frontline staff, while continuing to pay the city bankers ridiculously large bonuses.

“This hypocrisy will infuriate the workforce, who have continued to work under the hardest of conditions. Instead of walking away from pay talks RBS should be reconsidering its derisory pay offer. Unite is now asking its members whether they can accept the deal and are seeking members views on the proposal.

“How does RBS expect staff to accept its claims of poverty and this ludicrous pay offer, when there is clearly enough money flowing into the hands of its top bankers and traders?”

In the massive communication exercise, Unite is contacting RBS staff using posted materials, emails and text messages. 

– Ends –

 For more information please contact Saba Mozakka, Unite on: 07768 693 953.

BESNA Protests – Update

21 Feb

Please find the details of our protests and demonstrations on Wednesday 22 February at the remaining companies imposing the BESNA agreement.

Assemble at John Smith House, 145 West regent Street,  at 8:30 a.m. for the bus transporting members to the following sites:

  • 9:30 a.m. -10:30 a.m. – T.Clarke PLC in Falkirk
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – N G Bailey Building Services in Bellshill
  • 1 p.m.- 2 p.m. -Portakabin in Hamilton.


There will be a demo directed at NG Bailey one of the BESNA 6  from 10 am – 11am Wednesday 22  at the Morrison’s 215 King Street, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire AB24 5DA.

Please show up and demonstrate your support.

Inflation Statistics

20 Feb

Read the historical and the latest CPI and RPI inflation statistics for your information.

Inflation Stats 2005 onwards


Unite Meatworkers To Take Strike Action At Vion Foods

17 Feb

Unite members at food giant Vion in Cambuslang will walk out on February 20th, the first in a series of planned actions in a dispute over terms and conditions.

The workforce voted massively in favour of industrial action in an official ballot where 92% of members backed strike action on a 72% turnout.  The dispute has escalated with the company since October 2011 following an offer of a 2% pay increase plus changes to holiday entitlement.  At the same time UK media outlets reported that VION’s UK business operations  had tripled its profits from 2010.

A Unite spokesman said “You can’t keep asking workers year on year to accept attacks on their terms and conditions – they are going to fight back and rightly so.

We are talking about the 4th largest meat processor in the world here.  The average wage at Cambuslang is approximately £7 per hour, it’s not intensive wages but it is intensive labour and the workers deserve to be fairly rewarded.

We had hoped the company would see sense and come up with a improved offer but they have dug their heels in.  The door remains open for VION management but if they don’t grasp this opportunity then there will be an escalation of the dispute.”

The Cambuslang site is one of approximately forty UK sites employing 12,500 workers owned by Vion NV, the Netherlands-based multinational who are the largest meat processing company in Europe and the 4th largest in the world as measured by 2010 sales.  In its 2010 accounts the company reported that it employed almost 27,000 workers worldwide and had an €8.9 billion turnover.


Notes to Editors:  For further information please contact Unite Convenor at Vion Scot Walker on 07985460943 or Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns & Communications Unit on 07810157931.

Balfour Beatty withdraws controversial contracts

17 Feb

Photo by Dennis Fallon

Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, today (Friday 17 February) welcomed the withdrawal of controversial contracts by Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES), which would have resulted in the termination of long-held agreements and the de-skilling of construction workers.

The imposition of the new contracts by BBES were at the heart of a long running dispute, which saw electricians, plumbers, heating and ventilating engineers vote overwhelmingly for strike action twice.

The withdrawal of the contracts follows talks between Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey and Balfour Beatty’s chief executive officer Mike Peasland. They will be followed by further high level talks to secure members’ livelihoods and the stability of the industry.

BBES was one of seven construction firms who sought to tear up the long-standing Joint Industry Boards agreements and impose new semi-skilled grades. The new contracts would have led to pay cuts of up to 30 per cent and poorer terms and conditions for key construction staff.

The union calls on the other six firms to follow the lead of the main player Balfour Beatty and withdraw the contracts and the threat of dismissal.

Welcoming the news, Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said: “Balfour Beatty’s decision to withdraw these contracts, the threat of dismissal and to enter high level talks is a welcome move. Not only is it a victory for common sense, but it is testament to the resolve of hard working construction workers who have stood shoulder to shoulder to defend their livelihoods.

“Continuing to impose these contracts would have resulted in a race to the bottom that would have been bad for the industry. We expect the other six construction firms to see sense and follow Balfour Beatty’s lead in talking seriously about securing livelihoods and bringing stability to the industry.”

Read the joint statement: Unite and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) in talks to end the BESNA dispute (PDF)


For further information contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665 869.

The six other contractors are: NG Bailey Building Services; Crown House Technologies; Gratte Brothers; Spie Matthew Hall; Shepherd Engineering Services (SES); and T. Clarke Plc.