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UNITE’S new leader Sharon Graham has secured 43 pay deals worth more than £25 million in her first 100 days in the job.
The deals have benefited around 12,000 predominantly low-paid workers and include big, above inflation wins.
Among them are the 11 per cent rise for Bexley refuse staff and up to 30 per cent for some lorry drivers.
Speaking to the Star, Ms Graham said: “What I’m proudest of in my first 100 days is definitely disputes.
“I put in a disputes unit in 48 hours. It’s got researchers, organisers, forensic accountants, leverage — so we could really make sure that the people at the sharp end have the information they need.”
Ms Graham, who took over from Len McCluskey as general secretary, has been following through on her pledge to be personally involved in disputes.
And she vowed to have a “laser focus” on jobs, pay and conditions.
“Collective bargaining is the tried and tested method of improving pay and conditions,” she said.
“So we need to build organisation, build what I call strike-ready workplaces.
“When we sit across the table from an employer weight of argument isn’t what moves them.
“It’s what they think is going to happen when we come outside the room.
“We’ve really got to start looking at what wins, and how do we create power within the unions themselves? I think that has been forgotten.”
Ms Graham revealed plans to launch a so-called Unite bargaining index, which union officials can use when negotiating on pay, saying: “It will look at the real cost of living.”
Sixteen of the deals she has secured were worth on average an extra £1,600 extra for bus drivers.
And 14 deals were worth on average £6,000 extra for workers in the road transport, warehouse and logistics sector.
Ms Graham has met Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, and makes it clear she expects the party to be supporting workers.
She believes politicians “do not speak the same language” as workers, which she wants to change, especially for the Labour party.
The leader of Labour’s biggest donor also told the Guardian that she vowed to cut political funding for the party, which she argued would be better spent funding union campaigns.
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