CREW Seminar: The public sector pay crisis 2022/23

11 October 2023

Hamilton House, University of Greenwich

Years of austerity, rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis have led to a wide range of pay disputes across the public sector. Workers have sought to regain the real value of earnings eroded by low pay increases and tight pay controls over a number of years. Strikes have taken place across the NHS, in schools and universities, in the civil service and many other sectors.

This seminar will examine what has happened to pay in the public and private sectors. Speakers will address the role of the Government and the trade unions in the disputes, the importance of the balloting process and the tactics deployed by different unions. It will address the contentious role of the Pay Review Bodies and reflect on future pay prospects.


Ken Mulkearn, Director, Incomes Data Research: Real pay development across the private and public sectors

Joseph Evans, IPPR, Pay, inflation and real earnings,

Nicola Allison, Remuneration advisor, Office for Manpower Economics: Public sector pay and the role of the Pay Review Bodies

Helga Pile, Deputy Head of Health, Unison: Pay developments and industrial relations in the NHS

Amy Leversidge, Assistant General secretary, FDA union, The challenges of civil service pay.

Panel discussion: Pay determination and the Pay Review Bodies.

CREW Seminar: The Public sector pay crisis 2022/2023 Tickets, Wed 11 Oct 2023 at 11:00 | Eventbrite

Call for blogs/contact with unions

Unions 21 is currently undertaking a range of content for unions in the UK and beyond to think more widely about the future of collective bargaining, looking for best practice, new shifts in policy etc which deal with current labour markets and those of tomorrow.
This is a call out to members if they are working on any research that they’d like to talk to Unions21 about. Contact Becky Wright:

Two Research Associate posts available at the Centre for Decent Work

Sheffield University Management School is currently advertising two Research Associate posts. to support research being undertaken by the Centre for Decent Work. Both positions are for a two-year period.
One RA will support research on (i) underemployment and (ii) the informalisation of formal jobs. The other will support research on work and employment in the logistics sector, specifically (i) work in parcel delivery services and (ii) work and employment in UK Freeports.
The closing date for both posts is 5th Oct 2023.
Information about the first post is available at:
Informal enquiries can be made to Jason Heyes (
Information about the second post is available at:
Informal enquiry can be made to Kirsty Newsome (

The Real Living Wage: Civil Regulation and the Employment Relationship

A new book by BUIRA members has been published – The Real Living Wage: Civil Regulation and the Employment Relationship, published in August 2023 by Oxford University Press.
The authors are Edmund Heery, Deborah Hann and David Nash – all of Cardiff Business School.
The book examines the nature of the Real Living Wage as a body of civil regulation, the organizations behind the campaign and the methods they have used, the response of employers, including the motives and characteristics of businesses that have adopted the Living Wage. It also examines the responses of trade unions, which have included both cooperation and conflict, the role of public authorities, which have used a variety of non-statutory policy levers to encourage employers to adopt the Living Wage, and the outcomes of the campaign in terms of redistributive benefits for employees, economic benefits for adopting businesses, and wider social and institutional impacts. The book concludes by considering what the campaign tells us about the evolution of the employment system in the UK, noting that civil regulation and the institutions which create it have become important new system-elements.

Lectureship position available on HRM (Employment Relations focused) at Newcastle University Business School

Lectureship position available on HRM (Employment Relations focused) at Newcastle University Business School. Please see the details below

International Industrial Relations Conference on the theme of “the changing world of work and labour in the global south”

XLRI Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur, India’s oldest business school and one of India’s leading centres for industrial relations research and education is celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2024 by holding an International Industrial Relations Conference on the theme of “the changing world of work and labour in the global south”. The conference takes place at the XLRI Jamshedpur campus on January 8th & 9th 2024. BUIRA members are warmly invited to participate. Details of how to submit papers can be found at the conference website: website

The Ella Baker School of Organising is convening a New Organising Conference over the weekend of 8 – 10 September.

The Ella Baker School of Organising is convening a New Organising Conference over the weekend of 8 – 10 September.

Details of the event are available here:

And the application for a place is available here. 

Tickets can include two nights’ accommodation, and all meals, and are on a ‘pay what you can afford’ basis.

Confirmed highlights include: 

Film show: Everything must change ––an environmental film from the ever-fabulous Reel News Collective. 

Saturday sessions 

Workplace leadership: where to find it/how to nurture it. 
Convened by Jane Holgate, Ian Allinson, and Kevin Courtney are the first speakers to be confirmed (more to be announced) in a session which will explore: 
What does it mean for unions to be ‘member-led’ 
What’s the role of paid officials in nurturing workplace organising? 
Who are ‘organic leaders’ and how do we find them? 
What is rank-and-file organisation (and how can we build it)?

Liberation movements and workplace organising 
Convened by David Braniff Herbert, this session will aim to: 
Collectively agree a definition of Liberation Organising
Analyse different approaches of Equality Organising 
Develop strategies of liberation organising in multiple contexts

Geography based organising  and Unions (e.g. city-wide campaigns) 
Amarjite Singh will be coordinating this look into how unions are organising beyond the narrow confines of individual workplaces and individual union perspectives, and the extent to which trades council can develop strategies to make our towns and cities, union towns.

Community Organising 
One of the country’s most experienced and versatile community organisers, Mahmooda Qureshi, will be inviting speakers from some of the most effective community organising initiatives and asking, what can trade unions learn, and how can we work together. 

Assessing the power dynamic in the current strike wave AND evaluating industrial action over the last 12 months. 
Unions are back in the headlines, and more and more workers are being drawn into disputes aimed at reversing years of decline in our real wages. But there is a big difference between striking and winning, and Jane Holgate will lead a session looking at how we assess both the power and the wins achieved in the growing strike wave

Industrial Action and strategy (timing etc), including action short of strike – marking and assessment boycott etc. 
Miguel Martinez Lucio, will be looking at strategic choices within industrial disputes, what can we effectively use ‘action short’ for, and how important is timing when mounting a campaign to win? 



SSA a case study in what can go wrong (and how to start to put it right) 
Following the shocking revelations of not only sexual harassment, but also the use of gagging clauses to silence women at the TSSA, we are delighted to invite Helena Kennedy KC (who undertook the independent investigation into allegations) Claire Laycock(whose heroic whistleblowing video finally exposed the problem) to discuss what went wrong (this is not just a problem for the TSSA) and Mary Sitole, the newly elected union Treasurer on how they are recovering, and rebuilding. Session will be chaired by Shav Taj

Power that isn’t industrial action 
When we speak about trade union power, we rarely explore beyond industrial action as a means of effecting change, but what other levers are available, and how can we use them? Wilf Sullivan will be convening a panel including Abigail Hunt (TUC), Tarek Islam, and Fatimah Li (Highfields centre), Ravi Subramanian and others on how we can use a diverse range of tactics to reach our goals.

Just Transition in a global context. 
Asad Rehmanand Hilary Wainwright will be convening a panel to explore what transition to a green economy looks like in the context of global inequality. Some of the ‘quick fix’ solutions for the global north are simply not the answers needed by the global south, meanwhile unions are sometimes seen as more vocal in their defence of fossil fuel jobs than they are in advocating for green energy.

Working with government 
As the prospect of a Labour win at the next general election grows, what does it mean for organising? Nisreen Mansour from the Welsh TUC will be exploring how trade unions have worked with (and at times against) administrations in Scotland and Wales, and consider (with Martin Smith) the presidents from the first months of Blair’s 1997 administration. We will be joined by local MP Kim Johnson, and a speaker from the Institute of Employment Rights. In short, a Labour government is not the answer to all our problems, but a new government creates real possibilities to effect change. What should we be doing to prepare?

We got to move: self-care for activists 
Becca Kirkpatrick from the fabulous team at We Got To Move will be leading a session on how we address the issue of self-care, and in particular physical fitness, within our movement.

Race equality at work and in our trade unions.
Wilf Sullivan, until recently the race equality officer at the TUC, will be convening a panel to explore in a particularly interactive session, how we organise against racism, and how we move our unions to be more effective in their challenges, we will be joined by Riz Hussain, the current TUC race Equality Officer, as well as a range of rank and file trade unionists from racialised minority backgrounds.

Organising Migrant Workers
Kasia Figiel of the Workers Rights Centre, will be convening a session looking at organising migrant workers. Already confirmed we have Sara Mendes from Nanny Solidarity, and Unison rep, Barbara Tanyanyiwa. We will be looking at both the challenges of organising migrant workers, and the opportunities, including the sense of identity (the story of Us) that unions can tap into. 
And Kaenat Issufo from Labour behind the Label

How do we develop political literacy across our movement? 
Keith Venables from the Independent Working Class Education Network is bringing together a range of people active in developing training that helps us to understand the world we face. This is not about teaching people a ‘party line’, but rather how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different interpretations of the world and the forces at work within it.

Reps training 
Ian Manborde and Dawn Livingston will explore the extent to which current reps training is meeting the needs of workplace representatives, and what else could and should be done.

Employment Law what’s it good for? [Rights without remedies?] 
Camilla Palmer KC, mediator and founder of Your Employment Settlement Service (YESS) and long-term advocate of equality rights at work, will explore how workers’ representatives (eg trade unions, advice sector, lawyers) can best help workers use legal rights. Or are they rights without remedies? And is there a danger of placing too much faith in the law providing ‘justice’? Are there (better) alternatives to litigation eg early resolution, conciliation, mediation which can provide solutions that legal remedies cannot?

Trade unions internationally 
The conference will benefit both from international visitors and form migrant workers with experience of trade unions within their country of origin. This session will be an opportunity to learn from their experiences and ask ourselves what can we take from them, that we can use, perhaps with some modification, here in our struggles for social justice.

Diaspora Workers Organising 
We will be joined by members of the African Diaspora Workers’ Union, Students’ Federation of India – UK. and Caribbean Labour Solidarity, to explore the concepts of diaspora organising

Sunday morning 

Challenging narrative of division within our communities 
As the government promotes dehumanising policies that were once the preserve of the far-right, in an attempt to make Britain an even more hostile environment for migrants, we ask: how do we stop this narrative influencing people within our movement? and how can we make it counterproductive for politicians to ‘play the race card’ for political advantage? The Ella Baker School of Organising will be presenting their latest ‘defeating narratives of division’ project and seeking help to take this message into our movement.

Getting your workplace strike ready 
The Ella Baker School of Organising will be showcasing the training they delivered to the junior doctors in England in preparation for their national ballot earlier this year. A ballot that saw a turnout of 77% (370,000 junior doctors) voting 98% in favour of strike action. The training, heavily influenced by Jane McAlevey’s Strike School, but adapted to the specifics of the British employment relationship explores organic leaders, whole worker organising, and transformative conversations.

Organising and Faith 
With over half of the people registered to attend this conference identifying with one faith or another, Mahmooda Qureshi will be convening a session in which we celebrate the way that faith can motivate people to participate in social justice campaigns, and ask: what is best practice for trade unions in tackling faith based discrimination, why is faith based discrimination so often not treated with the same seriousness as other forms of discrimination?

Researching/finding out information about your employer 
Simon Vessey of Corporate Watch and Maia Kirby of Violation Tracker will be showing how Violation Tracker can help you dig the dirt on your employer. The session will also include how to read an annual report and understand the causes of your employer’s gender pay gap and true nature of profits.

The role of art, film and music in our movement 
Holly Carter, and Shaun Featherstone (and more to be announced) will be discussing the role of art, film and music in our movement and exploring how creative thinking approaches can be used by everyone. We will take a closer look at ‘creativity’ as an inherent skill everyone can learn and apply to organising and campaigning activities. This will be an interactive session.

Sign up and be part of it:

Legitimacy and employment relations research – special issue call for papers

Call for contributions which utilise, extend and theorise the concept of legitimacy to employment relations (ER). The below call is for a workshop to be held at ILERA in June 2024 (New York), as well as a special issue of Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society.

All the details here: