228: National Gallery strike, stop privatisation & union victimisation!

From PCS website (3 Feb):

Pickets braved the London snow on the first morning of our five-day strike over privatisation at the National Gallery. The well-supported action followed news yesterday that one of our senior reps there, and a member of our team in the talks at Acas, had been suspended by senior managers. In a “disproportionate act of unfathomable bad faith” the gallery suspended Candy Udwin, alleging a breach of commercial confidentiality.

We maintain our reps have a legitimate right to ask officials to raise these questions on what is a matter of strong public interest.

We are asking supporters to sign up to a statement calling for Candy’s suspension to be lifted and for the gallery to re-enter talks in good faith.

Gallery bosses announced plans last year to privatise almost all staff, including those who look after the paintings and help the gallery’s 6 million annual visitors. They have also reneged on a promise to introduce the London living wage, meaning the institution is the only major museum or gallery in the capital that does not pay it.

Our general secretary Mark Serwotka said today: “This dispute and the sell-off plan are putting the global reputation of the National Gallery at risk.

“Suspending one of our senior reps on the eve of our strike is a disproportionate act of unfathomable bad faith and not only should she be reinstated immediately, the gallery must commit itself to full and proper negotiations.”

Private security firm CIS has taken over the whole of the Sainsbury wing for the rest of this year without any competitive tender or consultation.

Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee has reported that the company had been given the work “to give the gallery staff a fright”.

CIS, which advertises its services as guarding empty buildings and door security, was previously used to cover the Rembrandt exhibition last autumn.

Protest this Thursday 5th February – assemble 12.30pm outside National Gallery for march to Parliament

Public meeting 6.30pm next Tuesday 10th February in House of Commons

Sign our petition against the sell-off here

Add your name to our statement here

Email the campaign group [email protected] and follow on facebook here

For photos from the picket line, including from the NSSN – #NationalGallery



‘Stop the union-busters!’ Advanced notice: this year’s NSSN conference, our 9th, will be on Saturday July 4th in Conway Hall in London. Confirmed speakers include Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary

The famous pink NSSN £10 minimum wage t-shirts are still available. Email us to order – £8 each. We have the following sizes: women – small, medium, large, XL and men – small, medium, large, XL, XXL

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

Download the new ‘Join the NSSN’ leaflet here

Midlands NSSN Conference – Saturday March 14th 2015 Unite Offices, Birmingham download leaflet

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]



Union News



Talks failure brings M25 strike closer (3 Feb) – Maintenance and emergency and incident support workers on the M25 are set to take industrial action in their battle to win a fair wage, following the failure of talks between the workers’ union, Unite, and the employer Connect Plus Services. With attempts last week to resolve the dispute by recognition not succeeding, the 170 workers, who are responsible for traffic movement along the 117 mile orbital and for maintaining its central reservation, will now take 24 hours of strike action starting on 00.01 hours, Monday 16 February. The one day strikes will be repeated every week thereafter, and the workers – who haven’t had a pay rise in four years – will also be working to rule which could lead to delays in clearing accidents, gritting the motorway and repairs read more   From NSSN website: M25 workers vote to strike for decent pay

Unite wins for Woolwich Ferry workers (29 Jan) – A strike by Woolwich Ferry workers has been averted after Unite secured a better pay deal for the workforce, and persuaded ferry operator Briggs Marine to abandon threats to tear up long-standing agreements. The 26 Unite members – who include crew, electricians and road traffic teams – had voted unanimously to take strike action earlier this month over pay disparities, the use of agency staff and the operator’s mis-interpretation of its sick pay policy. Briggs Marine has agreed to honour the existing sick pay policy and reduce the use of agency staff.  The deal will also see members receive a 2.2 per cent pay increase on basic pay and other allowances. A joint working party will also be set up to deal with the pay disparities that have arisen since the service was transferred to the private sector read more

London bus talks urged as more strike dates are announced (28 Jan) – Unite urged London’s 18 bus operators to enter into collective talks to avoid the disruption of further strike action as it announced three 24 hour London-wide bus strikes today (Wednesday 28 January). The latest stoppages running from 00:01 to 23:59 hours on Thursday 5 February, Friday 13 February and Monday 16 February follow a continued refusal by London’s bus operators to enter into collective talks over ending unfair pay disparities. A 24 hour London-wide bus strike earlier in January saw bus services across the capital brought to a standstill as over 20,000 bus workers walked out as part of a campaign to secure one collective forum to discuss agreement for pay and conditions for London’s bus workers read more



Rail workers’ protest in Glasgow over dumping of sewage (2 Feb) – Rail workers protesting over the continuing scandal of the dumping of sewage on the tracks will be out leafleting at Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queen Street Stations tomorrow, Tuesday 3rd February from 08.00 until 09.00‎. The action is part of RMT’s on-going campaign to bring forward the date when the filthy and disgusting practice will be stopped on the Scotrail franchise from December 2017 to the union target date of April 2016 – one full year after Abellio take over the franchise read more

RMT Official Picket – Appleby in Westmorland (29 Jan) – A snow swept Appleby-in-Westmorland where RMT Members employed by the Settle and Carlisle Development Company – providing catering services on Northern Rail trains – have a third day of rock solid strike action against the compulsory‎ redundancy of a work colleague. RMT has also ascertained that over 80 Northern trains – that usually have a catering trolley service – since October 30th 2014 have gone out with NO catering facilities due to the company failing to cover the jobs on non-strike days – rosters being in utter chaos and staff not being utilised properly read more



Firefighters accuse fire minister Penny Mordaunt of misleading Parliament with worthless pension guarantee (Feb 2) – Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU firefighters union, says that the actions of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) fire minister Penny Mordaunt is one of the main causes of the growing anger among firefighters in the long running dispute over pensions read more     see Matt Wrack video

Support locked-out Essex firefighters & hardship fund (Jan 16) – Essex Firefighters took strike action from 9am on Wednesday 14 Jan. The three days of planned partial actions have been escalated as the employers effectively chose to temporarily lock firefighters out rather than accept three days of more limited strikes read more from NSSN website

Essex FBU Hardship fund details: ‘Essex fire brigades union hardship fund’ Account no. 086001 20292568.



Northern Ireland NHS Strike (Jan 28) – GMB strike in NHS in Northern Ireland on 29th January after Health Dept fails to put new pay offer for NHS Staff in England on the table. There is no confirmation that the pay offer for NHS staff in England will be applied in full as has been the practice for over 60 years says GMB read more



Rally for Education 10 February – Join us and help ensure that support for the NUT education manifesto continues to grow as we near the General Election. The rally is a chance to hear from a number of high-profile speakers, including NUT General Secretary Christine Blower and children’s author Michael Rosen.

Date: Tuesday 10 February 2015

Time: 6pm

Venue: NUT Headquarters, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9BD

Please confirm your attendance by emailing [email protected]



FT chapel wins proper wage for interns (3 Feb) – Interns who work for the Financial Times will soon be paid the national minimum wage, thanks to a deal negotiated by the NUJ. The deal was brokered as part of the overall pay settlement of an above-inflation rise for all FT staff from April read more



Industrial Action Ballot: Info for NICS Members (2 Feb) – In an effort to maximise the turnout and the number voting “Yes” in the above ballot we have produced the following leaflets which branches should utilise for engaging with members read more



Defend Magna Carta: Save Access To Justice! –  An alternative Justice Day – 2015 sees the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and Chris Grayling, is planning to celebrate this with a Global Law Summit due to be held in London 23 – 25 February at The Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster read more


BFAWU / Fast Food Rights

Newcastle launch of the £10now minimum wage animation:

Day of action – Saturday February 14th in Newcastle City Centre

Animation film show launch – Thursday February 19th TUC Commercial Union House – 5th floor, 39 Pilgrim Street Newcastle NE1 6QE details


Protest in Manchester – Saturday 21February details tbc

Open Organising Meeting-Wednesday 4th Feb

5.30-6.30 pm,Mechanics Institute,103 Princess St, Manchester M1 6DD

In Solidarity

Ian Hodson, President BakersFood&Allied Workers Union(BFAWU)

Apryl Walcott, Young members executive member, BFAWU

Reports of Fast Food Rights protests on Youth Fight for Jobs website and Fast Food Rights website

Please send details of any local actions to [email protected] / [email protected] see BFAWU video



Other news

Up to 5,000 people marched on the ‘March for Homes’ demonstrations last Saturday, from East and South London to City Hall – hear speech by Suzanne Muna Unite LE1111 housing branch secretary here


Save Surry Care Homes council lobby March 10

Dear friends

Partly due to the impact of the campaign, Surrey County Council extended the deadline for consultation on the six care homes BY SIX WEEKS to 31st January. Their report to cabinet will be published on 27th February and go to a Special Cabinet meeting FOR DECISION on 10th March. Our petition will also be tabled at this meeting and Paul Couchman, secretary of SOSiS, will speak to the cabinet.

We have therefore decided to cancel the lobby originally planned for 24th February and to go for a mass lobby of this special cabinet meeting on 10th March. A flyer will be available for this soon. Please make arrangements now to attend this vital event. If you want to help please get in touch.



12.30PM TILL 2PM (cabinet meeting starts at 2pm)





There will still be a Save Our Services in Surrey meeting on the evening of 23rd February – specifically to discuss the care homes campaign and the lobby. Please try to come along, particularly if you have been involved in your local campaign. It is at 7pm at the Maybury Centre, Board School Road, Woking.

Kind regards

Paul Couchman

Secretary, Save Our Services in Surrey www.sosis.org.uk

London Hazards Magazine latest NOW OUT!

Featuring High Court Win for Mesothelioma suffers, Blacklisting the most cowardly practice by Employers that has gone on for decades. Fight for Non Carcinogenic Workplaces with London Hazards support !

Stop deregulation of Health & Safety laws like the Crane reg’s. Women’s right to Cancer free work, Care Workers health at risk billions cut to social care. Stress at work big problem today more and more pressure at work.

Health & Safety training courses for Londoners by London Hazards. Transatlantic trade stitch up huge threat to everything NHS / Schools / you name it !

Please feel free to contact us and order your copy / copies of London Hazards Magazine: Office 0207 5275107 or email     [email protected]

We are holding regular Safety Activists meetings. Get involved Unite with others fight back.

International Workers Memorial Day organising meeting Tuesday 10th  February 5.45pm.

Leigh Day Solicitors Priory House. 25 St John’s Lane EC1M 4LB

Blacklisted Workers book Launch Thursday 26th March 6.30pm Hosted by Leigh Day / London Hazards / CSC / WEA.

Get your TU branch, Trades Council, Tenants Association, Campaign group to Affiliate to London Hazards Centre has large archive materials on all issues, we offer free advice and help to all Londoners. On issues at Work and Home.



Blacklisting & Victimisation

Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work in 2015 we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils . Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)


Blacklist Support Group Update – 2nd Feb 2015

  1. Smith v Carillion

Wed 4th Feb 10am start (hearing is expected to last 2 days)

Court of Appeal, Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand


The UK government has joined themselves to a blacklisting legal case being heard this week. The Court of Appeal is being asked to decide whether blacklisting breaches the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of engineer Dave Smith. John Hendy QC and David Renton are arguing that blacklisting is a breach of Article 8 & 11 of the ECHR and that if Smith is not protected by UK employment law, then the law itself cannot be compatible with the European Convention Rights. They are asking the Court of Appeal to agree a ” Declaration of Non-compatibility”.  The UK government has taken the extremely rare decsion to joined the case as an “Intervener”. Legal submission on behalf of the UK government concedes that Article 8 & 11 have been breached but argues that UK law does comply with the ECHR.


  1. High Court continues

The next hearing in the High Court Group Litigation involving around 300 claimants is Friday 13th Feb (1 day hearing).

BSG will assemble outside the court at 9:30am for photo-opportunity.


  1. Blacklist Support Group AGM

Saturday 7th March (3pm)

Jury’s Inn, Jamaica Street, Glasgow


Agenda items

1 apologies for absence

2 Report – treasurer

3 Report – secretary

4 Q&A

5 Election of officers



The AGM is being held in conjunction with the construction rank & file national meeting.

1pm – RnF national meeting

3pm – BSG AGM

All blacklisted workers welcome to attend and vote. All supporters welcome to attend.


  1. Blacklisted – the book

The book by Phil Chamberlain & Dave Smith on the blacklisting scandal will be available to buy from the first week in March. Pre-orders are available via the New Internationalist website: http://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/

In order to maximise the impact in the General Election period (we are still campaigning for a full public inquiry) it would be very useful if people visited their local library & bookshops and asked them to get copies in. BSG is asking for supporters to arrange speaking dates at union meetings, universities, bookshops, festivals throughout March, April and May. Contact [email protected] to arrange.


  1. Frank Morris victory

Frank Morris – blacklisted from the Olympics and Crossrail – has been elected to the UNITE executive representing construction. Another victory for the rank & file. Blacklist Support Group issued an official statement: “well chuffed”

Rank and file activist wins Unite election


  1. No Public Contracts for Blacklisters

Blacklisting is shameful – so is the cover up. So why are the guilty firms still awarded public contracts?

Richard Leonard (GMB) in Morning Star about Dundee:


BSG supporters have also been discussing the issue with councilors in Liverpool

Michael Newman solicitor for Leigh Day has compiled a legal brief for public authorities wishing to deny work to firms involved in the blacklisting scandal (attached).


  1. Mexican migrant workers blacklisted for joining trade unions in Canada:


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: Urgent appeal for international solidarity with Turkish metal workers read more from NSSN website

Australia: IFF Dandenong occupation brings strong new agreement for NUW read more

Finland’s unions push for law to ban zero-hours contracts read more

US oil workers on largest national strike since 1980 from BBC


Diary (see & use false economy)


7 South East Region TUC is hosting a conference with the Anti-Academies Alliance at Congress House, London.  The theme is equity, equality and education: securing the future of a better state education for all.  Confirmed speakers include ATL leader Mary Bousted, Kevin Coutney of the NUT,  Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, Professor Gus John, Bill Esterson MP, Zoe Williams of the Guardian and Jonathan Simons who leads on education for the right wing think tank Policy Exchange.  All welcome, but please register by phone 020 7467 1220



14 Midlands NSSN Conference – Unite Offices, Birmingham



28 International Workers Memorial Day



4 ‘Stop the union-busters!’ 9th annual NSSN conference – Conway Hall in London




PHONE 07952 283 558

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ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE