As Sharon Graham marks her first year in office, she warns of more strikes if employers keep offering pay cuts

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The two words that unite all the individual strikes taking place are ‘pay cuts’. Workers are simply no longer prepared to accept poverty wages, especially when they know employer after employer is guilty of rampant profiteering. Since I was elected, 76,000 Unite members have taken industrial action in pay disputes. That’s put £150 million more in their pay packets. 

There could be hundreds of disputes involving tens of thousands of workers over the coming months if employers continue to offer real terms wage cuts presented as pay increases. Summer of discontent? We’ve had the spring, summer, autumn and winter of discontent with austerity every single season.” 

In Sharon Graham’s first year as general secretary of Unite, the unions members have fought for better pay in more than 450 disputes. Eight out of ten have been won, securing £150 million in new wages and benefits for union members. 76,000 members took industrial action to secure the wins.

Her new leadership has focused entirely on turning back to what it says on the ‘trade union tin’; fighting for jobs, pay and conditions. 

There has also been a decisive departure from gazing on Westminster for salvation - the political tail is no longer wagging Unite’s industrial dog. 

Tens of thousands of workers have won double digit pay rises to keep up with rapidly rising prices. 

These include 12 per cent for Coventry bin workers, 14 per cent for Chep pallet workers in Manchester, 13 per cent for BA workers across the country, 20 per cent for McPherson HGV drivers in Glasgow and 17.5 per cent for Cadbury workers in the South West and West Midlands. A full breakdown of Unites industrial disputes over the last year is available here

As Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham has deployed forensic accountants and economists to expose employers refusing cost of living pay rises while they make bonanza profits. 

Recent Unite analysis of the FTSE 350 revealed that profit margins for the UKs biggest listed companies were 73 per cent higher in 2021 than the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. Even though sales were down in 2021, profits still rocketed. 

Unite’s analysis showed that in the first half of 2022, company profits were responsible for 60 per cent of the rise in inflation. 

Sharon Graham said: Calls for wage restraint by companies who are fuelling soaring prices are contemptible. Its time to stop telling workers to pay the price for inflation and instead do something to tackle excessive profiteering. 

“Unite makes no apologies for backing workers fighting for a better deal. If employers can pay, they should pay. If they won’t pay, eventually they will pay when Unite organises the fightback.”


For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: [email protected] 

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.