By Chas Berry, Kent Branch NAPO Chair (personal capacity)
As probation workers in NAPO prepare for a second national strike against privatisation from 31st March to 1st April, pressure is piling up on Secretary of State Chris Grayling from across the justice sector. On 1st April, lawyers in the Justice Alliance will take protest action and join us in rallies across the country as part of their campaign against Legal Aid cuts. At the same time prison officers in the POA, already at boiling point over staff cuts and pension changes, have been urged to support us and prepare for a coordinated response to Grayling’s disastrous plans for Resettlement Prisons.
If further confirmation were needed of how out of touch Grayling is, it came with recent news that prisoners are now banned from receiving books sent in by relatives! This is because of new rules introduced to encourage compliance with a ‘tougher’ prison regime, but is yet another example of how his headline grabbing measures will ultimately work against his declared aim of a ‘rehabilitation revolution’.
NAPO members have now been involved in a year-long battle against Transforming Rehabilitation (TR/privatisation) and some are asking what this strike will achieve and whether we can win. Living with the stress and anxiety of TR has not been easy but I say this:
• It’s not too late. Staff assignments are complete and Trusts are being wound up but NO jobs have yet gone to the private sector. We cannot stop the ‘split’ but we can keep the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in the public sector by delaying and preventing share sale.
• We’re winning. TR is in meltdown. There has already been a two month delay and there are serious concerns about whether it can be delivered before the General Election. Striking will put further pressure on TR delivery.
• Private providers are nervous. Companies that thought they could make quick money are now questioning whether they will be able to make rehabilitation pay. If they were expecting a compliant workforce that they could cut easily, we need to press home the message that we will not roll over.
• It works. Talks broke down last year over the Staff Transfer Scheme and our action on 5th November brought Grayling back to the negotiating table. We won a National Framework Agreement that gives most staff seven years protection of service continuity.
• We’re right. We’ve said all along that TR places the public at risk and we are being proved right. As the bureaucratic TR processes begin to take hold we cannot allow chaos and disintegration to undermine and demoralise the workforce. Striking will unite us once again and show the public we are determined to put their safety first.
Joint demonstration by Napo and the Justice Alliance – ‘Saving Probation and Legal Aid’ Tuesday 1 April 2014
Assemble from 2:15pm together with and other supportive organisations and Trade Unions – Old Palace Yard, SW1 (Opposite Parliament next to Westminster Abbey) 3:00pm followed by a march through Westminster to MoJ Headquarters to wish Chris Grayling Happy Birthday! Download campaign leaflet
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 and Janice Godrich PCS President here
NUT March 26 strike ‘Standing UP’ – Teachers, parents and pupils stood up for education across England and Wales. Thank you. Be proud of your stand, now press on with the campaign strike reports and photos from NUT website
Unite HCA Strike (March 25) – London Maple House Picket Line. A warm and friendly picket line today despite the damp weather – thanks to all the members and others who visited the picket line strike report including picket line photos
‘I’m Bryan Kennedy’: consultative ballot against victimisation of Unite lead rep in One Housing – In 2013, One Housing Group (OHG) hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Unite members there fought a long battle with management over sickening reductions in the salaries of frontline workers (some up to 30%) despite record surpluses at the association and an 11% pay rise for the Chief Executive of around £30k. As lead convenor, Bryan Kennedy led the struggles to mitigate the suffering that the association was inflicting on its hardworking staff
Bombardier workers take action over night working (25 March) – Production workers at Bombardier will begin strike action tomorrow (26 March) over management attempts to force them to work 70 per cent of their shifts at night time which will cause massive disruption to the workers’ family lives read more
Visteon pensioners’ 5th anniversary protest – Tuesday April 2nd, assemble outside Unite HQ in Holborn London at 10.30am see VPAG website for more details
RMT NEWS MARCH 2014 EDITION NOW AVAILABLE ‘Don’t Mourn – Organise!’ download now
RMT condemns charges brought against Brother Harding (27 March) – From RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary Mick Cash: The following resolution has been received from London Transport Regional Council: “This Regional Council condemns the arrest by BTP of Mark Harding, the RMT Branch Secretary of Hammersmith & City Branch. Mark was arrested despite only carrying out legitimate trade union activities whilst on the picket line outside his place of work. This Regional Council further condemns the detention of Mark for nearly 13 hours, an extraordinary length of time in light of the minor nature of the allegation (name calling) that led to the police being called…(there be more). Mark strenuously denies all allegations…” read more
Welfare cap is cruel and unnecessary (26 March) – The government’s cruel and unnecessary cap on social security spending has sailed through a vote in the House of Commons. Ahead of the debate, we set out five reasons why the cap is wrong. Only 13 Labour MPs voted against it, including the chair of our parliamentary group John McDonnell and other group members. Ian Lavery had to attend a funeral but also publicly voiced his opposition read full report on PCS website
GREAT NEWS! Carmarthenshire County Council has suspended – for 6 months – its decision to withdraw facility time. You know it makes sense. Thank you everyone for your magnificent support! read more
Sign the on-line petition to support the Ealing Hospital workers who were have just been on a 7-day strike here
Pay Dispute at 3 Timber Yards (March 25) – GMB dispute looms over pay at timber plants in Lincolnshire, Cheshire and Scotland. Metsa Wood has treated members with contempt and has no desire to settle claim so the next stage is a ballot for industrial action read more
Successful National Fast Food Rights Day of Action on March 29th to coincide with Youth Fight for Jobs campaign against zero-hour contracts. There were protests in 31 towns and cities around the UK – International Fast Food Day of Action on May 15. See reports on: BFAWU Details of protests on Youth Fight for Jobs Fast Food Rights
Strike date announced in Lambeth College dispute (25 March) – Members of UCU at Lambeth College will be on strike next Tuesday (1 April) in a row over proposed changes to terms and conditions. Yesterday the union revealed that a massive 95% of staff who voted backed the call for industrial action. UCU said it still hoped a resolution to the dispute could be found before the strike. However, it added that the strong mandate for strike action demonstrated just how bad things had got at the college read more
UCU Fighting Funding Cuts: lobby of parliament, Wednesday 2 April 2014 – There is still time to get involved in the Westminster lobby of parliament on Wednesday, 2 April. It will run from 2-4pm and full details are available on the lobby webpage. We need as many members to meet their MP as possible so if you can attend haven’t already done so, please email [email protected] to register
Concern as TNT Post starts delivering in Liverpool (26th March) – The CWU voiced concern over the pay and conditions of employees working for TNT Post, as the company announced today (Wednesday) that they have begun delivering mail in Liverpool every other day (Monday to Saturday) read more
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 Cartmail 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
International (also see Labourstart)
Bangladesh: Rana Plaza brands must pay compensation now – We cannot allow the one-year anniversary of one of the worst industrial accidents, Rana Plaza, to pass on 24 April without compensation being paid to the injured and victims’ families read more
Spain: A million march for dignity in Madrid (26 March) – “De Norte a Sur, de Este a Oeste, la lucha sigue, cueste lo que cueste” (From North to South, East to West, the struggle continues no matter what the cost). The above chant rang through the streets of Madrid as a deafening roar last Saturday. On 22 March, Madrid was shut down by an unprecedented human sea in the “marches for dignity”. The marches were a stunning success, a crucial turning point in the situation, and mark the opening of a new phase in the struggle against the government and policies of the Troika read more
Diary (see & use false economy)
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
Veteran campaigner for peace and social justice, Ray Davies, will be launching his new book in the OXFAM shop in Castle Street, Swansea.
The book, “A Miner’s Life” has been published to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike. He will be talking about the book, and his eventful life so far. Now in his eighties, Ray Davies has a long life to talk about! From Boy Miner to steel worker and trade unionist, member of Cor Cochion, The Red Choir, and Chair of CND Cymru. He has also been a councillor for over fifty years!
Copies of the book will be on sale on the night, with all profits going to CISWO, an organisation helping ex miners and their families affected by illness or injury. The event starts at 7pm. Admission Free. All welcome!
5 MAY DAY MAY DAY Save Sunbury and Staines fire stations benefit – from 12noon The Magpie – 64, Thames Street, Sunbury on Thames TW16 6AF
21 Hurrah for the Luddites: challenging the myths about Luddism – 2-4pm at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1.
The event is about seeing the Luddites in their proper historical context. Contrary to myth, they weren’t a bunch of head bangers. Luddism was a genuine social movement made up of normal working people fighting for justice. They had immense support, were well organised and for a time were immensely successful. Come along and hear more about the true Luddites!
Ken Rowley: Ken is a former Vice President of the National Union of Mineworkers. He is a member of the Wakefield Socialist History Group. He has spoken widely on the Luddites and their West Yorkshire connections to both the University of the Third Age and to local history groups.
Shaun Cohen: Shaun is a member of the Ford-Maguire Society. The Society is named after two notable Leeds socialist pioneers Isabella Ford and Tom Maguire. Shaun’s particular interest is the radical history of Leeds. He has researched widely into the Luddite revolutionary tradition.
Admission to the event is free and there will be a free buffet.
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group
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
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