Here’s a round-up of some of our latest great wins – your union on your side

And check out Unite's latest historic legal win here:


HGV fight victory for pay and conditions

At the end of October Unite chalked up another pay victory in its nationwide campaign to ensure that the UK’s HGV lorry drivers receive substantial pay rises and improved conditions. This time 39 XPO drivers working on the Wavin contract in Chippenham have received a 20 per cent increase in a one-year deal. This news follows hard on the heels of a number of substantial pay wins in the sector by Unite. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “This latest pay victory for the XPO drivers at Chippenham, along with other inflation-busting deals, shows that Unite’s nationwide campaign for decent pay and conditions for our HGV drivers is winning. “After years of employers dragging their feet and continued government complacency union victories are forging real change across the industry.”


Bumper pay deal of 17.5 per cent – ‘excellent result’

Tanker drivers employed by Turners (Soham) Ltd, on the Cargill contract in Liverpool have secured a bumper 17.5 per cent pay deal, to be backdated from this April 2021, Unite announced in October. The 24 tanker drivers, who deliver bulk liquid food products to food manufacturers across the UK, have also received a 4.55 per cent increase for paid meal breaks. “This is an excellent result for our driver members on the Cargill contract in Liverpool,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. “It demonstrates what can be achieved when workers are organised in Unite and take a stand. “But fair play to Turners, the employers, they changed their minds and made a dramatically-improved new offer. That is an example to the rest of the haulage industry about how to go about offering decent wages.”


Co-op HGV drivers win inflation-busting pay rise

Unite secured an inflation busting pay increase in October, for HGV drivers employed by the Co-op on its delivery contract. 1,000 drivers, who are predominantly Unite members, will receive a five per cent pay increase backdated from February 1, 2021 and a further five per cent increase payable from November 1, 2021. “This is an excellent result for our driver members at the Co-op and demonstrates what can be achieved through negotiation when workers are organised,” said Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. This pay increase follows Unite bumper pay successes including DHL workers on the Dartford Sainsbury’s contract, North West Argos drivers and the Heinz distribution contract.


From worst pay to great pay for refuse workers

Bin collection strikes in Bexley, London, ended in September following a Unite pay deal between refuse collectors and Serco – and then a further deal with Countrystyle Recycling, who took over the contract in October. The new deals mean the lowest paid workers receive an 11 per cent rise with rates increasing to £11.50 an hour, as well as pay rises for staff on other grades. Around 140 workers are affected. “The fact that Bexley refuse staff are now moving from the worst comparable pay rates in London to some of the best is a prime example of why workers looking to improve their wages and conditions should join Unite,” said Unite regional officer Tabusam Ahmed.


New recognition deal at TWI

In October Unite negotiated a recognition agreement for its members working at the Cambridge headquarters of TWI, a global leader in technology engineering. The agreement will allow the union’s growing membership amongst the 400 employees at the Granta Park site to have collective trade union bargaining rights when it comes to pay and employment conditions. “Employers everywhere would do well to match TWI’s forward thinking in recognising the importance of workforce union recognition as a significant element in company development,” commented Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. “Unite will work constructively with the TWI management to build on this foundation.”


‘Benchmark’ wage rise for Kaefer workers

At the end of August Unite welcomed a ‘benchmark’ wage rise for workers at naval bases’ major contractor Kaefer, based at the Coulport, Faslane and Rosyth dockyards and naval bases. The pay award of 5.5 per cent alongside an increased holiday entitlement of two days within six months will cover over a hundred workers. The pay award is understood to be in excess of other pay agreements awarded across the industry. “The deal not only comes with a 5.5 per cent pay rise but also improvements to other areas such as increased holiday entitlement,” said Bob MacGregor, Unite industrial officer. “We are pleased to have secured such a positive outcome for our members in negotiation with Kaefer, and we hope it sends a signal across the industry as a whole.”


GXO draymen hail pay win

The pay dispute by 1,000 GXO draymen, which had threatened a late summer ‘beer drought’ following a vote for strike action, was successfully settled in September, after members voted overwhelmingly to accept an improved pay offer of 4 per cent. The draymen deliver about 40 per cent of the country’s beer to pubs and other hospitality outlets across the UK from 26 sites. They had voted for two days of strike action, which were suspended, while they voted on the deal. Unite members are working normally. “It demonstrates what can be achieved when Unite members show determination and solidarity, backed up with a strong mandate for industrial action,” said Joe Clarke, Unite national officer.


Wheel workers vote for better deal

Unite members at GKN Wheels and Auto Structures in Telford voted for strike action in June over the company’s refusal to implement a pay rise. But following talks, the workers voted to accept an improved two year pay deal, benefitting around 200 staff. The historic factory, which is over 100 years’ old and produced Spitfire planes during the Second World War, was bought by private equity firm Aurelius in 2020. “This dispute is a reminder that workers who want to improve their wages and T&Cs should join Unite,” said Unite regional officer Jason Richards. “Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.”


Pay deal sees off tram chaos

Strike action planned for the Manchester Metrolink tram system, which would have resulted in severe disruption to travel throughout Greater Manchester in October was called off following Unite members’ acceptance of a vastly improved pay offer.

Over 300 tram drivers and supervisors, have accepted a two year pay deal worth three per cent backdated to January 2021 and a further three per cent or the RPI inflation rate, whichever is the higher, from January 2022. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unite’s members at Metrolink have secured a resounding victory in their fight for a decent pay rise. Metrolink’s management have been forced to think again and have revised their original derisory pay offer.”


MINI production disruption threat over – ‘an exceptional result’

The threat of severe disruption to production at the BMW MINI plant in Oxford ended in November, after lorry drivers employed by Imperial Logistics to deliver components to the factory secured a bumper pay rise. Planned strike action was called off. The dispute centred on the workers being paid over £3 an hour less than agency workers, recruited by the company to work on the same contract. But following talks, members accepted an improved pay offer worth 27 per cent over two years, while they have also secured pay parity on the contract, the continuation of unsocial hours’ payments, and a lump sum payment of £3,500 in lieu of back pay. “This is an exceptional result. It is an excellent example of how Unite now intends to focus all its energy and power on fighting for the jobs, pay and conditions of our members,” said Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham. “That is the future. When I became general secretary I established a special unit within the union to deal with disputes. It is early days of course but that is already beginning to bear fruit.”

By Amanda Campbell and Ryan Fletcher