The struggle against austerity
“As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: “Bread and roses! Bread and roses!”
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for – but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler – ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!”
Throughout Europe, austerity measures are wreaking havoc with the lives of working class people but especially women. It doesn’t need the many scholarly reports from academics for trade unionists to realise the disproportionate burden being placed on women by spending cuts. But the figures are indisputable.
Women, particularly single parents and single pensioners, have lost much more than men from cuts to benefits and public services imposed by the UK government since it came to power in May 2010. These 2 categories – both dominated by women – face cuts during the period 2010-15 of more than 10% of their disposable income, with single mothers losing 15.6%. Couples with children were shown to be losing 9.7%, while couples without children are losing 4.1%. Women pensioners are losing 12.5% compared with men, who lose 9.5%, and couples, who lose 8.6%.
Women workers in the UK make up the majority of those forced into low-paid jobs, zero-hour contracts and unwanted part-time working. Almost all of the nearly half a million local government workers earning less than the so-called Living Wage are women.
The magnificent movement of the Fords’ sewing machinists in 1968, wonderfully portrayed in Made in Dagenham, paved the way for the Equal Pay Act in 1970 …. but just this week, almost half a century later, women workers in South Lanarkshire were celebrating ‘victory’ in achieving equal pay with male employees. Many would argue that the achievement is to receive the same equal, low pay!
Those last 50 years have seen trade unions take great strides to put their own houses in order; involvement of women in struggle has helped to break down much of the old sexist attitudes and discriminatory prejudices experienced by previous generations of women trade unionists. Only a fool would believe that equality has been reached, or could be reached, within a capitalist and profit-driven society, but women activists know that the days of them supposedly being content with a few ‘reserved seats’ on executives or a female being elected to a senior position, are long gone.
As the whole movement celebrates International Women’s Day this coming Saturday, women activists in the National Shop Stewards Network will continue their struggle; the struggle against austerity which – under capitalism – sees them bear the brunt of big business attacks.
Latest! Bob Crow RMT and Ronnie Draper BFAWU bakers’ union general secretaries to speak at NSSN conference!! Read more
Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate to the NSSN – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSNC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE. Affiliation letter here
And if you can, come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on [email protected]
The 8th Annual NSSN Conference will be on Saturday 5th July in Conway Hall – 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL – delegate/visitor fee £6
Tube Lines depot staff to be balloted for strike action (4 March) – Tube union RMT confirmed today that it will begin balloting Tube Lines members at Northfields Depot for both strike action and action short of a strike later this week in a dispute over the wholesale abuse of agreements and procedures read more
RMT backs calls for full inquiry into miners’ strike (3 March) – RMT today threw its full support behind calls from Ian Lavery MP for an open and public inquiry into the state involvement in the miners’ strike 30 years ago which fitted up and framed individual mineworkers and their supporters in a top level campaign to break entire working class communities read more
RMT Enters Dispute Jointly With ASLEF Following Driverless Train Staff Bulletin (March 2) – This General Grades Committee is outraged at London Underground’s ‘employee bulletin’, dated 19 February 2014, announcing the imminent commissioning of driverless/cabless trains for the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City Lines. Not only has there been no consultation at any level with this trade union on the matter, but this announcement, outside normal negotiation channels, also goes against the written commitment from LU Director of Employee Relations, Mr Gerry Duffy on 29 October 2013 to hold a meeting with RMT representatives to discuss this issue. We reaffirm our position that every train must have a driver to ensure the safe and effective running of the Underground read more from RMT London Calling
Merseyrail Cleaning and Maintenance Contract Staff Strike (28 Feb) – Merseyrail (Lorne Stewart) Cleaning and Maintenance Contract Staff to strike again in fight for pay justice. RMT members working for Merseyrail contractors’ Lorne Stewart will be taking a second phase of strike action on Monday after the company refused to engage in serious talks aimed at resolving the dispute despite the best efforts of RMT’s negotiators read more
Northern Rail staff in solid 48 hour strike over regarding (27 Feb) – A 48 hour strike involving RMT Northern Rail maintenance driver members at Heaton (Newcastle) and Neville Hill (Leeds) Traincare Depots, which started yesterday evening, is rock solid this morning in a dispute over a re-grading exercise which has failed to recognise the complex and demanding role of this key group of staff and which has ignored the skills and hard work that they bring to the company read more
Action for Rail
Join Action for Rail on 7 March (Feb 24) – Action for Rail and coalition partners are planning campaign actions along the East Coast Mainline on 7 March 2014, to coincide with the start of the Lib Dem Spring Conference in York read more
Yorkshire ambulance staff prepare for two more strikes in patient safety (4 March) – The refusal of an intransigent management to negotiate on patient and staff safety issues in Yorkshire has prompted two more strikes in the coming week by paramedics and ambulance staff – members of Unite, the country’s largest union. Unite’s 375 members will hold two five-hour strikes on Friday (7 March) and Monday (10 March) over the introduction of elongated shift patterns that could mean staff working 10 hours without a meal break. The strikes will be held between 15:00 and 20:00 on both days read more
Industrial action to hit Clyde nuclear bases as bosses share £7 million bonus pot (3 March) – A prolonged campaign of industrial action at the Faslane and Coulport nuclear and naval armament bases – the first four decades – is back on after furious workers kicked-out a derisory pay offer from the employer Babcock Marine this morning read more
Dispute over ‘£3,000 loss of wages’ at Halifax McVities plant (28 Feb) – Workers at the McVities Cake Company in Halifax are being consulted on the next steps in a dispute which could see them losing up to £3,000 a year in wages. The 40 staff are angry at management plans to radically change their shift patterns and also the threat of 10 job losses at the West Yorkshire plant which makes cakes, cake bars and the like read more
Visteon/Ex-Ford Pensioners (VPAG) 5th Anniversary Demo April 2nd – This will be the biggest and best so far, and it is the last opportunity to demonstrate your support for the continuing fight for pensions justice prior to the court case in November /December! If you have not been before, then come along and see your colleagues – all are welcome
Coaches will leave Basildon Sports club, Gardiners Close, Basildon, Essex SS14 3AN at 08.00 am, so please be early – free parking available.
Pickup at Enfield A10, old Homebase carpark, at approx., 09.00 am.
Coach will leave Swansea at 06.00 am from the bottom of Wynd street (just down from the Railwaymans club).
Final destination will be Unite the Union HQ 128, Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN at 10.30 am latest for addresses from Senior Unite officials and the now customary ‘slow’ march to Westminster for speeches from our supportive MP’s and VPAG members. Coaches will pick up at Westminster area approx., 15.00 to 16.00 hours for return to Basildon.
To reserve your seats, please contact the following: Andy Belch – 01702 299005 – 07821 196777 – [email protected] . Linda Bartle – 01255 222812 – 07727 113923 – [email protected] Mike Gard – 01792 426527 – 07775 943130 – [email protected] Don’t forget your banners/hats/T.shirts/hi vis vests etc., etc! See VPAG website
MPs support our campaign to stop Land Registry sell-off (27 Feb) – Changes to the Land Registry could undermine faith in the housing market, politicians in Westminster have been told by PCS. Our campaign to stop the privatisation of the Land Registry was backed by a range of MPs during a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the department led on Tuesday afternoon by Labour’s Swansea East MP Sian James read more
Strike Ballot on Council pay a step closer (Feb 27) – Trade Union Side Of The NJC for Local Government says 1% is not acceptable and industrial action inevitable. We have no choice but to begin preparations for consulting our members on industrial action. GMB, UNISON, UNITE, the trade unions representing 1.6 million local government workers, have met to discuss the NJC pay claim for 2014-2015 and the employers’ response read more
LAMBETH COLLEGE – at a packed out branch meeting yesterday, members of UCU and Unison voted to ballot for indefinite strike action over proposed new contracts. Management have announced they want to introduce the new contracts on 1st April for new staff, promoted staff or fraction changes, with the following degrading of conditions:
- increased working hours (all staff)
- an extended working week (all staff)
- reduced annual leave by 10 days (teaching staff)
- increased contact hours (teaching staff)
- additional duties for no remuneration (all staff)
- a link between pay increments and capability (all staff)
- reduced notice of redundancy (teaching staff)
- drastically reduced sick pay (all staff)
UCU Head Office have declared the dispute to be of national significance and will be meeting local reps next week to discuss the campaign strategy and support for the branch.
Please send messages of support to Branch Secretary, Mandy Brown, at [email protected]
UCU Branch Secretary
Strike dates announced at University of Central Lancashire (27 Feb) – Members of UCU will be on strike next week at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). The union announced today that UCLan staff will take strike action on Thursday and Friday (6 and 7 March) as part of a row in which hundreds of them are at risk of losing their jobs read more
Staff at SOAS begin two-day strike (March 4) – UNISON cleaners and maintenance staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS) have begun a two-day strike today in a long-running dispute over terms and conditions. The 50-plus workers, who are employed by ISS Facility Services, receive only statutory sick pay and the statutory minimum annual leave, yet colleagues who are employed directly by SOAS receive contractual sick pay, 30 days annual leave and a defined benefits pension scheme read more Photo of NSSN supporting strike
SOAS UNISON branch has set up a hardship fund for the cleaners.
You can either contribute at http://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=RECG3WBP8R33L
or you can drop us a cheque (made payable to SOAS UNISON, c/o Peter Baran, SOAS UNISON Branch Treasurer, SOAS Students’ Union, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG),
or pay into the account directly; Unity Trust Bank, Account Name; SOAS UNISON, Sort Code: 08-60-01 – Account Number 49022162.
For further information see the SOAS Justice for Cleaners facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-For-Cleaners-SOAS/487787121252241
Doncaster strike: Unison says profiteers Care UK are axing sick pay, holiday time and weekend and night work bonuses (Feb 27) – More than 150 Yorkshire care workers are to begin a week-long strike today over savage attacks on their pay read more in Morning Star
Mayor of London Boris Johnson stands accused after fire brigade cuts claim first victim (March 3) – Firefighters have accused the Mayor of London of having “blood on his hands” after a Woolwich pensioner lost his life following a fire in his home less than two months after his local fire station closed read more
Update on pensions and letter from Minister (Feb 28) – FBU executive council met on 27 February to hear reports on the latest discussions on firefighter pensions read more
POA Rally and Lobby of Parliament on 19th March 2014
Members will be aware by now that the Union is holding a Rally at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London on the 19th March 2014. This Circular is to let members know that we have now received permission from the City of Westminster Police and Westminster Council to hold a march on the day.
The march will form up from 9:30am at the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall. The march itself will move off at 10:00am along Whitehall, past Downing Street towards the Houses of Parliament, round Parliament Square and on to the Methodist Central Hall, where the rally will start at 11:00am.
At 2.30pm those who wish to lobby their Members of Parliament will be taken to the House of Commons to do so. A standard letter is available to download from our website to send in advance by POA members to their MPs.
The National Executive Committee looks forward to seeing as many POA members with their friends and family as possible.
Further information, including flyers announcing speakers and a briefing will be promulgated in due course.
Please bring this circular to the attention of all members
General Secretary read more
Save Legal Aid 7 March demonstration and rally
“GRAYLING DAY” Demonstration to SAVE LEGAL AID –
Friday 7th March 10am Old Palace Yard SW1
Followed by march to Ministry of Justice Follow @justallianceuk #just4justice Speakers include: Paddy Hill (Birmingham 6) Shami Chakrabarti (Liberty) Ian Lawrence (NAPO) Sign the petition for legal aid www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-uk-government-save-legal-aid-to-protect-tojustice-for-all
International Workers Memorial Day – April 28th
REMEMBER THE DEAD FIGHT FOR THE LIVING
Fight the attacks by this coalition on Workers Health and Safety
After decades of Blacklisting thousands of workers many for speaking out over Safety not a single apology has been issued !
Just to let people know that the last organising meeting for IWMD took place on the day of torrential rains and the Tube strike and many people couldn’t get there.
So far confirmed speakers Steve Murphy Gen/Sec UCATT . Gail Cartmel Ass/Gen/Sec UNITE. speaker from London Hazards and Tony O’Brian . Construction Safety Campaign. A Piper will play a Lament to those Workers who have lost there lives at work.
The follow up meeting is planned for this Thursday 6pm. Leigh Day offices 76-86 Turnmill Street EC1.
This is 3 minutes from Farringdon road tube stn.
If people are attending could they let Paul know at the London Hazards centre so we know numbers please.
Paul 02075275107 or Email – LHCMail<[email protected]>.
Hope to see you there Pete Farrell Chair CSC / London Hazards.
Blacklisting & Victimisation
Mick Abbott R.I.P. – Shrewsbury, blacklist and workers’ rights campaigner (28 Feb) – Statement from Dave Smith, Blacklist Support Group
It is with great sadness that we have heard the news that Mick Abbott has passed away.
Mick Abbott (pictured with Ricky Tomlinson) was a left-wing trade union activist in the building industry who fought for workers’ rights all his working life. The scaffolder from Wigan was a TGWU shop steward on many construction sites throughout the 1970s leading a number of disputes over safety and pay including during the construction of Fiddlers Ferry Power station in Warrington. While based at Sullom Voe in the Shetlands n 1979, Mick was part of the strike committee which organised 7000 offshore workers demanding better conditions.
Mick Abbott was a key campaigner for the release of the Shrewsbury Pickets at a time when the official leadership of the trade unions were looking the other way and was a co-signatory of an article in Workers Press that argued that “All unions with members in the building and construction industries must be forced to call indefinite strike action until Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson are released.”. He raised money for the families of the jailed union activists and in 1975 led a march by building workers from Wigan to London to protest against the miscarriage of justice. Following the release of Des Warren from prison, the pair became close friends at the time when Des was writing his iconic book, Key to my Cell about the Shrewsbury conspiracy.
Because he stood up for workers’ rights, Mick Abbott was blacklisted by the big building firms using the services of both the Economic League and the Consulting Association. Mick’s blacklist file starts fifty years ago in 1964 and an entry at the top of his file actually reads “On building industry blacklist”. His blacklist file records how he was repeatedly refused work by firms such as Tarmac, Bovis, Sir Robert Mcalpine and Fergus & Haynes. The Guardian newspaper ran a story on Mick in 2013 in which he is quoted as saying, “this nearly ruined my marriage and it meant my children were on free meals at school. My file goes back to 1964 and the last entry says that I rekindled the campaign for justice for the Shrewsbury pickets in 2006. They have been watching me all these years and passing this information around, blighting my life over four decades.”
Mick Abbott was an active member of the Blacklist Support Group, running stalls at our AGMs, attending early morning protests and court cases. In 2012, Mick had private discussions with MPs on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee about the impact that blacklisting had on his working life and family. Despite serious illness, Mick continued to campaign against the blacklisting of trade union members and for the Shrewsbury pickets until his death.
It is an honour to have known the man. Our thoughts go out to his brother Terry and his family at this sad time.
International (also see Labourstart)
Egypt: Cargill attacks workers’ rights in Egypt – Transnational agro-food giant Cargill is following in the footsteps of its fellow US-based food company Mondelez in seeking to destroy a democratic union of workers at their factory in Egypt read more
Argentina: NSSN support jailed Argentine oil workers of Las Eras outside Argentine Embassy see photo
Spain: Stop jobs massacre at Coca-Cola Spain! Coca-Cola Iberian Partners (CCIP) is imposing a restructuring plan that will affect nearly 1,200 workers and result in the closure of four of 11 Coca-Cola bottling plants in Spain read more
Diary (see & use false economy)
6 New play about the Tolpuddle Martyrs to premiere at Hull Truck Theatre
Fresh from an acclaimed run at this Edinburgh Fringe, Townsend Productions are set to return at Hull Truck Theatre after last year’s Sold-out show with The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, with their latest production We Will Be Free on Thursday 6th March at 7.30 pm
Set in 1834 We Will Be Free follows the extraordinary true story of George and Betsy Loveless. He was a Methodist preacher and the leader of the six Dorsetshire farm labourers who were tried, convicted and condemned to harsh transportation by an oppressive Government for having the temerity to swear a secret oath and form a union to fight against a succession of wage cuts inflicted by the local landowner.
This vitally important story is told using the entertaining theatrical style developed through our production of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists; through Andy Vine’s powerful political cartoons and animation; through puppetry and the exquisite musical arrangements by revered folk singer and squeezebox player John Kirkpatrick, of the songs and rallying hymns of the Dorset labouring classes that resound down the years.
‘We Will Be Free’s’ excellent cast features former Sheffield university student Neil Gore (Song of Singapore, West End & Chichester Festival Theatre, Little Britain Live & The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists) and Charlotte Powell (The Tempest Orange Tree Theatre) ). At this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, we were nominated at The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence. The play is directed by Louise Townsend and Sheffield’s Richard Stone
The production will also feature songs from the highly acclaimed folk singer and squeezebox player, John Kirkpatrick. During his distinguished career John has worked with artists like Roy Bailey, John Tams, Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy and Steeleye Span. He is also a regular session musician and has played on numerous film sound tracks most recently the Oscar nominated Pirates – Adventures with Scientists, as well as in The Royal National Theatre Production of ‘Lark Rise To Candleford’.
The play has had the backing of the unions ACCORD, NASUWT, UNITE, SWTUC and SW Unison
Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office: Box Office – 01482 323638/www.hulltruck.co.uk
For more information visit www.townsendproductions.co.uk
Interviews are available with Neil Gore & Charlotte Powell call Louise Townsend (Producer/Director) 07949635910
6 RMT will be holding a joint meeting with the Merton and Sutton TUC in Carshalton at 8pm at the Carshalton Ex-services Club, West Street, Carshalton as both organisations step up the fight against savage fare increases and attacks on jobs and safety on the Thameslink and Southern rail services which ferry thousands of passengers through the area every day of the week
8 International Women’s Day
March & rally outside Lib Dem spring conference in York
Brighton Miners’ Strike 30 Year Anniversary Meeting – Friends Meeting House 1:30pm. An afternoon of music, politics, memories & laughs to mark 30 years since the Miners’ strike – Speakers include Bob Crow (RMT), Manuel Cortes (TSSA), Simon Weller (ASLEF) Terry Harrison from NUM and Liz French from Betteshanger Women Against Pit Closures as well as music and comedy
Tickets £5 waged £3 unwaged email [email protected] to get advanced tickets
12 Brighton Trades Union Council Annual General Meeting – 7:30pm King and Queen. All Trade Union members are welcome to attend the Brighton Trades Council AGM.
13 5.30pm celebrate this year’s international women’s day – Unite L&E Women’s Committee & the National Pensioners’ Conventioninvite you to meet women leaders of trade union and community struggles – national and international
CONGRESS HOUSE GREAT RUSSELL STREET, WC1 – “WOMEN ARE WARRIORS”
Doreen McNally – Women of the Waterfront & Unite Community Merseyside
Dot Gibson – National Pensioners’ Convention
Evapanduleni Beukes – Namibian Homeowners Association
Selvi Ozdemir, Day-Mer Turkish & Kurdish Cultural Centre
Nicky Marcus – Unite shop steward in the forefront of the British Airways dispute
Chair – Bronwen Handyside – Unite L&E Women’s Committee
15 Fair Funding for Public Services – Join our march and rally: Liverpool City Centre. Called by Northwest Unison. For more info go to www.unisonnw.org
18 Waltham Forest Trades Council public meeting – ‘Fords – fighting to win’ – Last month Unite starting balloting over 5,000 Ford workers for strike action in a dispute over job security and pensions. The union is balloting Ford’s hourly paid workforce, who work mainly on the production line, across the company’s six UK sites including two site in Dagenham7.30 pm-9.30pm William Morris Community Centre, Greenleaf Road (off Hoe Street) Walthamstow, London E17 – http://community-languages.org.uk/waltham-forest-trades-council/
Speakers: Sheila Cohen author Notoriously Militant; John Cryer MP. As MP for Hornchurch from 1997 to 2005, John campaigned successfully to save the Ford plant at Dagenham, which employed many of his constituents. He is now MP for Leyton and Wanstead: and Rob Williams, former convenor at Visteon Swansea (a spin off from Fords), who also campaigned to keep the plant open. He is now involved in the fight for the Visteon pensions
29 Uniform Day
2 Visteon/Ford pensioners 5th anniversary march – 10.45 Assemble outside Unite House, Theobalds Road, Holborn, 11.00 Speeches, 11.30 March to Parliament Square, 12.30 Speeches and meet MP’s
5 8th Annual NSSN Conference – Conway Hall – 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
12 Durham Miners Gala 2014 visit Durham Miners’ Association official website
18-20 Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival – Tolpuddle, near Dorchester, Dorset visit Tolpuddle Martyrs museum
18 TUC demonstration in London – ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise’. It will begin with a march through central London, culminating in a rally in Hyde Park read more
PHONE 07952 283 558
EMAIL mailto:[email protected]
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts
ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE