A double helping of #thought4theweek, a bumper #RadicalRoundUp and a protest song from across the water – it’s the latest UnionDues podcast, out now
Our last episode attracted probably more audience responses than ever – thank you to all those who listened and commented. You can email the show at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @DuesUnion.
The Great Post Office Scandal was so all-absorbing that we missed out on contributions from Prof Mel Simms and Basit Mahmood. But we certainly make amends this time round.
Mel devotes the first of her two #thought4theweek pieces to the phenomenon of long-Covid. Unions were amongst the first to recognise the potentially devasting nature of this condition, but employers have been slow to respond. What are the challenges and opportunities for negotiators as we find out more about what we are dealing with, and why moves like instructing civil servants back to their desks are so wrong-headed.
Whether your taste in conversation tends to Skinner and Baddiel or Glover and Garvey, we next introduce you to Basit’s #RadicalRoundUp, but reconfigured as Mahmood and Sapper reviewing important union news and putting the world to rights.
Under the microscope and dissected by discussion is the plight of care sector workers, with local authorities like Trafford, Salford and Plymouth all riding the rescue of those failed by private sector employers just as a survey by the Social Work Union and others reveal afresh the pressure both care workers and their clients are under – and why the Health and Social Care levy and social care cost cap aren’t going to even “touch the sides” of the chronic funding problems for those providing and needing care. Even Conservative think-tanks like Bright Blue, seem to agree.
We have a good look at news from the GMB that Amazon has quietly dropped a strategy of paying people to tweet rebuttals to critical comments on that social media platform. Hmm – it would probably be better to reduce the shocking number of ambulance visits to Amazon Fulfilment Centres than flailing around in the Twittersphere. (BTW, you can book a (virtual) tour of one of these places here.)
Fired by algorithm is never far away from any discussion on AI in the workplace. The campaign by Prospect and ongoing work by Christina Colclough for a right to disconnect are vitally important. The alternatives of “robo-firings” and blind faith in technology are exceptionally bad places to be, as discussed in earlier (linked) episodes of UnionDues.
We round off by looking at the “longest ever” strike by gig workers, with drivers for Stuart Deliveries in Sheffield entering a seventh week of action prompted by management proposals to cut the rate-per-delivery by 24%. Never heard of the firm? They are a major subcontractor of Just Eat and have rewarded boss Damien Bon with a whopping pay rise. With rumblings amongst other Stuart drivers in Sunderland, Chesterfield and Blackpool, support from local MPs and a healthy strike fund, it looks like Damien and his colleagues need to smell the coffee and get round the negotiating table.
The Great Resignation and a cost-of-living crisis
Mel’s second #thought4theweek is about what the Americans have coined The Great Resignation – and certainly in the UK too, lots more people than would normally be the case have left their jobs. Some are leaving the workforce, but many are just seeking better paid employment. Mel reflects on what’s happening and why, and what it means for unions and collective voice.
City Hall Workers’ Strike Song
Last up, news from overseas via the estimable Labor Radio Podcast Network – over 100 union-linked shows and podcasts through one portal. City hall workers in Portland Oregon are taking strike action over pay from 10 February. Local activist and prolific song-writer Dave Rovics plays us out with his City Workers’ Strike Song.
Access this and all episodes at bit.ly/DuesUnion Thanks for listening, sharing, rating – see you next time when we’ll be talking about union communications strategies.