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Workplace news in brief
Higher education pay
Socialist Party members in UCU are recommending the rejection of employers' latest offer in the bitter, months-long higher education pay dispute.
Employers have made the offer as a face-saving exercise in order to avoid a marking boycott which would cause major disruption to universities as the exam period looms.
UCU leadership has made the mistake of holding off the boycott while balloting members on the offer.
The offer of a 2% pay rise across the board, with 2.2% for lowest-paid full-time workers, is an improvement on the previous 1% offer, but still falls short of inflation - running at 2.5% this year - and doesn't make up any past ground for the 13% in real-term pay lost since 2009.
Strike action and the threat of the boycott have won some successes. Coordinated industrial action in universities has, importantly, broken through the 1% public sector pay freeze, and shown employers' claims that their old offer was all they could afford to be lies.
Instead of pausing, UCU and other higher education unions should press on and call additional strike days in order to fight a threatened lockout, and coordinate with other trade unions such as NUT in order to build a 24-hour general strike against austerity and attacks on the public sector.
£10 an hour for all!
400 workers, members of the GMB union, have launched a court case for equal pay against the Asda supermarket chain.
GMB has the recognition agreement with Asda in Britain, though not in Northern Ireland. Shop floor workers are paid significantly less than those at the distribution centres.
If successful, the supermarket could be forced to increase the pay of their shop workers.
This pay rise should be an immediate step towards a living wage of £10 an hour for all workers. This should include higher pay for unsociable and overtime hours (which Asda workers do not get), and enough guaranteed contract hours to avoid the endless desperate scramble for overtime.
This case has massive implications to those working in other major retailers, who mostly recognise the shop workers' union Usdaw - namely Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer and John Lewis.
The pay separations are very similar across the sector, and would allow other retail workers to follow by making their own claims for better pay on these same grounds.
An Asda shop worker
In The Socialist 23 April 2014:
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