NSSN 183 – Bob Crow: A fighter for the working class

Bob Crow’s profoundly shocking death on Tuesday 11 March at the young age of 52 deprives RMT members of the most inspirational and effective leader in the trade union movement at a time when workers across the world face economic attacks and imperialist aggression to an extent not seen since the 1930s.

Perhaps this partly explains why his friends, colleagues and comrades have been deluged by messages expressing solidarity, condolence and almost inconsolable sadness from workers’ representatives from Cuba to Iraq and all points in between.

This is no media-concocted emotional frenzy. Bob’s brilliance as a media performer, whether as a panellist on BBC’s ‘Question Time’ or his mercurial press conferences before each TUC Conference (the only events that hardened Conference hacks wouldn’t miss), was based on his instinctive razor-sharp intellect and a direct honesty that got straight to the point.

He had no airs and graces. Not a trace of pomposity attached to him, yet his powers of communication were exceptional. I have not heard any trade union or political leader since Arthur Scargill at the peak of his powers, who could speak to an audience with the power of Bob Crow. On several occasions I have seen him reduce audiences to tears of anger and uproarious laughter at the same time.

The vast expression of grief and loss by class conscious workers and politically progressive people around the world are an acknowledgement that we have lost a true comrade of rare talent and power.

One of Bob’s greatest friends, John Samuelson, President of the Transport Workers’ Union Local 100, which organises New York public transport workers wrote:

“Bob’s death is a crushing blow to Britain’s and the world’s labor movements. He was without question the most important and profound voice for industrial unionism and the working class in the world.” This is a measured assessment.

The RMT he leaves behind is so much stronger than the one he took over in 2002 when we elected him our General Secretary. Although Bob Crow’s legacy will be felt around the world wherever workers organise, it finds its concrete expression in the pride, combativity and solidarity of his RMT members in the transport and offshore energy industries, which will go on from strength to strength.

As Bob told audiences on many occasions when embarking on struggles against job losses or pay cuts: “They say that fear is contagious. But there is something more contagious than fear. And I’ll tell you what that is. It’s courage!”

Our task is to show the same courage he did. We will pick ourselves up from the shock of his death and inconsolable grief at our loss. His wife Nicky and family have the support of all of us and we will make them as proud of the living legacy he leaves behind as they are of the immense achievements of his life.

By Alex Gordon, RMT President 2010-12

(And NSSN officer & steering committee member)

Book of condolence on RMT website

NSSN pays tribute to Bob Crow

Whipps Cross staff send message of condolence to RMT 


Stop Press! John Reid – RMT London Transport President (and NSSN steering committee member) – has been suspended by London Underground for complaints made against him when he was carrying out his lawful duties on the picket line during the tube strike. Send messages of support to [email protected]



The POA will be holding a march and rally on the 19th March 2014 to coincide with budget day in order to demonstrate at the budget cuts, pay freeze, pension age, assaults on POA members and privatisation….. The POA are adamant that it should not be our members picking up the pieces as they did not wreck the economy this wreckage of the global economy was caused by bankers’ greed and the spivs and speculators gambling with casino style recklessness with our money. The POA will be using the march and demonstration on the 19th March 2014 as a foundation for an ongoing campaign up to the next general election. Details of the march are leading off from Trafalgar Square at 10.00am past Whitehall to the Central Methodist Hall where a rally will commence at 11.00am with Members of Parliament, and trade unionists speaking. Join the POA in a march and rally against the cuts. Read full statement on NSSN website

Steve Gillan General Secretary POA

Bob Crow: Tribute by Steve Gillan POA General Secretary here



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’, HSBC – 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. Speakers include Ronnie Draper BFAWU bakers’ union general secretary here



Union News


This week is the 30th anniversary of the start of the Miners’ Strike – see NUM website

Bob Crow: Tribute to Bob Crow from the NUM read more



Rail Gourmet staff at Euston balloted for action (March 5) – RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that staff working for Rail Gourmet at Euston, servicing the Virgin West Coast trains, are to be balloted for both strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over a culture of bullying and aggression within the company which has led to a complete breakdown in industrial relations read more



Further strike action over Probation privatisation announced at Napo SGM in Birmingham (March 5) – At Napo’s  Special General Meeting, held in Birmingham Town Hall, today General Secretary Ian Lawrence  announced further strike action across 31st March and 1st April against plans to privatise 70% of the services work read more



National Fast Food Rights Day of Action announced for March 29th to coincide with Youth Fight for Jobs campaign against zero-hour contracts BFAWU   Youth Fight for Jobs      Fast Food Rights  

Bob Crow: Tribute by Ronnie Draper BFAWU General Secretary here



New car deliveries at risk (March 13) – Unite has warned that deliveries of the best known car brands from Minis to Range Rovers to showrooms across the country face serious disruption. Unite is urging Stobart Automotive to make genuine progress in talks with Unite this Friday (14 March) over the future of the business read more

NHS staff consider industrial action over ‘divide and rule’ pay decision (13 March) – Unite will be consulting its health service members on possible industrial action, following Jeremy Hunt’s  ‘divide and rule’ refusal to sanction the recommended one per cent pay rise for all NHS staff read more

‘Brazen’ Babcock accused of pay ‘con’ as action starts at Clyde nuclear bases (12 March) – Unite accused Babcock Marine of a ‘con trick’ and being ‘brazen’ in its defence of a multi-year pay offer which sparked a walkout by hundreds of workers at the Faslane and Coulport nuclear naval and armament bases on Tuesday 11 March read more

Tribunal rules Ineos ‘likely’ to have unfairly sacked Grangemouth convenor (7 March) – Ineos needs to start treating its workforce with respect and ensure no trade union officials are victimised said Unite, as an interim employment tribunal ruled today (Friday 7 March) in favour of the Grangemouth convenor Mark Lyon. In a blow to the petro-chemical company, the tribunal ruled that it was ‘likely’ that Mr Lyon will win his case for unfair dismissal when it goes to a full tribunal and ordered Ineos to pay his wages until the full hearing in a number of months read more

Unite demands answers following tragic Crossrail fatality (7 March) – Unite has expressed its deepest condolences to the family of the worker tragically killed at the Crossrail construction site in Holborn, central London today read more

Lewisham’s truancy team to strike over cuts on 12 March (5 March) – Lewisham’s school truancy team that helps the life chances of many the borough’s young people will hold a 24 hour strike on 12 March over plans to nearly halve the workforce read more

Visteon/Ex-Ford Pensioners (VPAG) 5th Anniversary Demo April 2ndThis 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 Wind street (just down from the Railwaymen’s 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

Bob Crow: Tribute by Len McCluskey Unite General Secretary here



Maude on the ropes over union subs (12 March) – Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude looked rattled as he answered questions from MPs over his plans to end check-off. Quizzed today by PCS parliamentary group member Ian Murray, Maude was forced to concede the issue is a matter for departments. He also faced questions about the cost of ending the system that allows union members to pay their subscriptions through their salaries read more

Hands off our unions (7 March) – The attack on check-off is part of the government’s wider agenda to undermine the trade union movement read more

Ofqual members walk out for sacked rep (7 March) – Dozens of PCS members working at Ofqual in Coventry staged a walkout in protest at the sacking of their rep Sofia Azam read more

Bob Crow: Tribute by Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary & Janice Godrich PCS President here



Further 7 days strike at Ealing Hospital (March 10) – GMB give notice of further seven days of strike action from 14th March by 150 Members at Ealing Hospital over two tier workforce. Members on £6.31 are 44% below the lowest comparable NHS rate in London of £9.09 per hour and if talks today do not make progress seven days of strike action will go ahead read more

Bob Crow: Tribute by Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary here



“Historic” strike by Doncaster Care UK workers (March 6) – “Historic is an over-used word” said Jim Bell, Unison full-time officer, “but it really is historic that Doncaster Care UK workers are striking 30 years on from the beginning of the miners’ strike from NSSN website

Defend union rights in Carmarthenshire, sign the petition – We have started the petition “Carmarthenshire Council Labour Leader Kevin Madge: Reinstate Trade Union secondments” and need your help to get it off the ground – sign here  Here’s why it’s important: Carmarthenshire Labour led County Council is in the process of ending trade union secondments which release trade union officers from their day to day jobs to represent members. Employers are legally obliged to pay trade union officers for the time they spend representing members, but secondments take away a great deal of the paperwork of arranging time off and cover. By ending secondments Carmarthenshire council will not save any money and the admin, paperwork and cost of arranging release of officers will end up costing the council more in the long run. By signing this petition you can show your support for trade unions and their members and help us fight a political attack by the Labour led council.


Mark Evans

Branch Secretary Carmarthenshire County UNISON Branch

Tel:          01267 224942 E-mail: [email protected]

From NSSN website

Bob Crow: Tribute by Dave Prentis General Secretary here



Victory for Fire Brigades Union over pensions for retained firefighters in England but industrial dispute continues (March 13) – Fire Brigades Union has this week heralded victory in the fight for access to fairer pensions for retained firefighters in England — but warned the campaign against government attacks continues. Retained or part-time firefighters who worked between 1 July 2000 to 5 April 2006 will from 1 April be able retrospectively to access a similar pension to whole-time colleagues read more

Official document proves London Fire Brigade misled public on danger of Dagenham fire during strike, say firefighters (March 10) – An official document reveals how London Fire Brigade managers misled the public over the seriousness of a fire in Dagenham during a strike by firefighters, the Fire Brigades Union in London has said read more

Humberside firefighters to march against “dangerous” fire cuts (March 7) – Grimsby firefighters and their supporters will next week hold a march against cuts to local fire services that they say will endanger lives read more

Bob Crow: Tribute by Matt Wrack FBU General Secretary here





Stand up for Education – NUT strike on March 26 read more


Bob Crow: Tribute by Christine Blower NUT General Secretary here



Other News

Unprecedented response to legal aid cuts (March 7) – Over two thousand legal professionals rallied at Parliament this morning as part of strike action against cuts to legal aid. Barristers, solicitors, paralegals and other professionals crammed into Old Palace Yard to hear speaker after speaker condemn the governments attack on access to legal aid. The loudest cheers were reserved for the speeches of Janis Sharp, mother of Gary McKinnon and Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham Six. They had both suffered at the hands of the British Criminal Justice system. Legal aid was essential in both cases in overturning miscarriages of justice. Ian Lawrence, General Secretary of Probation Officers union NAPO brought the solidarity of his union to the protest. He urged all present to consider coordinating future strike with NAPO who are also facing huge cuts to their service read more from NSSN website


International Workers Memorial Day – April 28th


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

GMB: EU Parliament Vote On Blacklisting (March 12) – GMB Welcome Vote By European Parliament To Ban Blacklisting In EU Law read more


Blacklist Support Group update:-

1. Mick Abbott R.I.P.

John McDonnell MP on Mick Abbott R.I.P.

“Mick Abbott was a shining example of what trade unionism is all about – solidarity, dedication to the wellbeing of others and a selfless commitment to a just and fair society. Over the years he was a stalwart campaigner who will be greatly missed but his contribution will always be remembered”.

Obituary of the blacklisted scaffolder and Shrewsbury campaigner in the Independent


Mick Abbott speaking in support of the Shrewsbury Pickets in 2010 (alongside Bob Crow)



2. Bob Crow R.I.P.

Bow Crow was a genuine working class hero. A socialist who wasn’t ashamed of his political beliefs and a towering figure in the trade union movement. The RMT union has gone from strength to strength under his leadership when many other unions are in almost terminal decline. Activists from the RMT were blacklisted by the Consulting Association and Bob Crow turned up on our early morning protests in support of blacklisted workers during the BESNA dispute. Bob Crow was a fighter. He was a warm hearted funny bloke. He will be sorely missed by the entire movement. Our thoughts are with his family.

Bob Crow speaking in support of the Shrewsbury Pickets in 2010 (alongside Mick Abbott)



3. Safety

Mourn the dead – Fight for the living




A construction worker was killed by falling concrete while working underground on the Crossrail project at Fisher St in Holborn. Another worker, Kevin Campbell, 46 from Poplar was killed on a construction site in the Warton Rd area of Stratford . He was struck by equipment on an excavator. Another 35 year old crane driver suffered serious head injuries when a crane jib collapsed on Balfour Beatty’s 43-storey Providence Tower site in London ’s Docklands.


Peter Farrell, Chair of the Construction Safety Campaign, said: “There must be no return to the killing fields of old on London’s construction sites. We demand urgent action by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) telling all construction employers they will not tolerate any increase in construction worker deaths. There must also be more HSE construction inspectors working pro-actively to prevent any increase in deaths in the construction industry.

“Construction employers must also stop banning trade union activity on site as they are currently on some major projects in London . They must be reminded of the positive influence of unions as happened on the Olympics site where happily no-one was killed.”


Blacklisted electrician Stewart Hume writes about the true cost of an industrial accident: http://siteworker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/the-true-cost-of-industrial-accident.html


4. Public Inquiry into undercover policing

The Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a public inquiry into undercover policing. Her statement to the House of Commons follows the publication of 2 reports earlier this week – one from Mark Ellison QC into the police spying on the Lawrence family and another from Operation Herne (the police) about undercover police in general. The Ellison report condemns the undercover policing, whereas the Herne Report is a complete whitewash and contradicts evidence already in the public domain.


The Blacklist Support Group has consistently argued that there was active police involvement with blacklisting. The BSG alone have submitted a complaint to the IPCC and we have already had confirmation that senior officers from an undercover police unit actually attended Consulting Association blacklist meetings. Reports in the Guardian have already identified four undercover police officers who spied on individuals who appear on the blacklist. BSG have therefore repeatedly called for a fully independent public inquiry into blacklisting – the police collusion is part of that.


BSG is working alongside the Lawrence family, the women who were deceived into sexual relationships by the police, environmental activists, anti-racists and socialist political groups in the campign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) which was launched last week. All the groups involved in COPS are boycotting Operation Herne.


As yet there is no confirmed remit for the public inquiry and it is unlikely that it will start this year. BSG are arguing that the public inquiry announced by Theresa May should not just look into the Lawrence case but should be given a wide enough remit to  encompass all the different undercover police units and all the different aspects of undercover policing including blacklisting.


5. Islington Council take a strong stand on banning blacklisting firms from public contracts






6. High Court and Compensation Scheme update

The next date for the blacklisting High Court trial due to take place in April has been postponed due to the retirement of the judge hearing the case. Further information will follow when we have the details.

In the meantime, lawyers for the blacklisting firms are in the process of drawing up a compensation scheme. To date, they have not offered a single penny to anyone. The firms are still insisting that the majority of blacklisted workers would only be entitled to £1000 compensation. The BSG walked out of the first talks because of this insulting offer. BSG are not prepared to sign up to any compensation scheme that does not offer:

•           jobs to blacklisted workers

•           significant financial compensation to take account of the years of suffering caused by the human rights conspiracy

•           no gagging clause & full disclosure of all documents

•           every single person on the blacklist to receive compensation

7. Secret video of blacklisting meetings discovered (warning the blacklisting firms use strong language)


Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlCa8yQmZ70

Blog: www.hazards.org/blacklistblog

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/




International (also see Labourstart)

Turkey: Solidarity with People of Turkey (SPOT) – We are delighted to be able to launch the Solidarity with People of Turkey (SPOT) Network, a network promoting the democratic struggle of people in Turkey. Our aim is to build a bridge between the Turkish Speaking Community, and support individuals and organisations within Britain read press release

For further information please contact:

Day-Mer (Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre);

Tel: 0207 275 84 40, Email: [email protected]

Turkey: Solidarity Appeal – Justice for Berkin Elvan – The AKP government in Turkey has continued its violence against trade unions political parties and social groups. This was graphically demonstrated in the attacks against mourners at the funeral of Berkin Elvan. Solidarity with the People of Turkey (SPOT), an organisation supported by the NSSN has issued an appeal for solidarity with those facing state violence and intimidation. Please take the time to read the covering letter and leaflet below. Messages of protest can be sent to the email addresses listed on the leaflet details here

Tunisia: The global campaign in support of the UGTT union at Latelec-Fouchana is growing (Brazil, USA, Spain, France…).

A strike called by the UGTT began on Wednesday 5 March in all of Fouchana’s private-sector and public service workplaces, demanding the reinstatement of all the union activists and workers who have been made redundant.

Radio France Inter gave over a special broadcast on the struggle. You can listen to it: http://www.la-bas.org/

Don’t forget to sign and distribute the petition available on the following website: http://petition-latelec.cslpt.org/

For more information, and to read the strike call from the UGTT region in Ben Arous: https://www.facebook.com/CSLPT

Peru: water privatisation – stop robbing workers and citizens of their rights read more

Morocco: Stop union-busting at Total Call read more


Diary (see & use false economy)


13 5.30pm celebrate this year’s international women’s day – Unite L&E Women’s Committee & the National Pensioners’ Convention invite you to meet women leaders of trade union and community struggles – national and  international



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

22 Stand Up Against Racism and Fascism demonstration – Assemble 11.00 am @ Parliament Square. Parade from parliament Square to the rally in Trafalgar Square

26 Battersea & Wandsworth TUC organized Action for Rail public meeting @ 19:30 in the PCS HQ (160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN)

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

28 Workers’ Memorial Day visit TUC website for info about events    Hazards magazine


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]


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ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE