The crisis of capitalism is causing untold misery for working people everywhere … but women take the brunt. Whether they’re the first to lose the jobs in Europe as governments and councils attack the service sector, or the increased oppression faced – sometimes to horrific levels – in parts of Asia and the Middle East, women suffer disproportionately.
As the movement celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8th, the National Shop Stewards Network pledges to continue to fight the system that creates this misery.
We urge all those who too will be marking IWD through special meetings or events to join us in this struggle. Freedom from exploitation and genuine equality cannot be achieved by just an annual celebration of the past; it needs a commitment from trade unionists to battle the cause of the exploitation and inequality in the first place.
In the UK, figures for working women’s lives under austerity make bleak reading:-
- women make up two-thirds of those officially recognised as low paid;
- on average benefits make up twice as much of women’s income than men’s, largely due to their caring responsibilities;
- women make up only 1% of apprentices in the highest paid apprentice industries – electro-technical and construction, and 91% in the lowest paid sectors of hairdressing and social care;
- the gender pay gap still stands at 17.6% (21% for apprentices).
With women making up two-thirds of the public sector workforce and government and local councils (of any and all political hues) slashing jobs and services it is once again women who will take the major hit over the coming months unless we fight back on an organised basis.
Libraries, children’s centres, care homes, home care – all face further massive cuts virtually obliterating the whole service in some parts of the UK. These workplaces are predominantly staffed by women who will lose their jobs or have their hours cut to ridiculously low levels.
We have been inspired by the organised actions of working class women all over the world, from the demonstrations organised by (and for) women against the Taliban in Pakistan, to the resistance of Kurdish women against ISIS, from the struggle of Indian women against a horrific rape culture in certain areas to the Focus E15 campaigners in Newham.
But the best way of showing our admiration is not just to stand back and applaud but to take the struggle forward. Regardless of who wins the elections, the austerity measures that will continue to be taken will destroy the basis of the welfare state and lead to more poverty and an increasing wealth gap. The trade union movement needs to take stock of what is happening and propose action against it.
If it’s a choice between work and no work, hunger and starvation, life and death … then workers won’t be concerned about whether action is outside of a particular balloting law or not. The movement will suffer if it fails to respond to this all out class assault because of laws written by those making the assault.
Women will be to the forefront of the struggle; let’s step up our campaigning to build for that inevitable clash.
Midlands NSSN Conference – 12noon-4pm Saturday March 14th 2015 Unite Offices, Birmingham B15 1AY download leaflet
Speakers: Jane Nellist NUT national executive
Dave Pitt FBU Midlands regional chair
Helen Pattison Youth Fight for Jobs
Lee Cooper RMT Coventry no.1
Kevin Greenway PCS
‘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 download leaflet
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
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]
Essex firefighters and control staff strike continues (March 2) – Essex firefighters and 999 control operators have been locked out by management extending strike action by 21 hours. Despite numerous attempts from the FBU in Essex to negotiate with the service to avert the strike, including putting forward alternative plans that would meet all the savings the service says its needs, management have refused to listen and intent on keeping staff locked out read more Essex FBU Hardship fund details: ‘Essex fire brigades union hardship fund’ Account no. 086001 20292568
Firefighters shut down Westminster – Video and images from the Feb 25 Westminster rally here
Stop the Crossrail sackings! (March 3) – For the third Monday in succession, construction workers and their supporters held a protest outside a Crossrail site to demand that a worker sacked for raising safety issues be reinstated. Two weeks ago, protesters blocked the road outside the Bond Street site in London after an electrician was sacked after he had asked for a proper walkway with hand rails. During that protest, we got word that he had been out on fully paid ‘gardening leave’ while his union Unite waited for a meeting to discuss what job he would be put on job he would be put on. His ‘employer’, an agency that is subcontracting to a consortium of known blacklisters, Skanska and Costain, has now written to him saying that it is confirming what it told him originally, that he was ‘let go’ because of lack of work. Yet it told him before his one week of employment that there were three years of work! We stopped the traffic outside the site last time but this time the police were mob-handed. So workers just had an impromptu march up the middle of Oxford Street behind the National Shop Stewards Network banner to the Hanover Square site where we blocked the delivery gates! Read more from NSSN website
Amey Highway maintenance staff call-off strikes after victory on pay (3 March) – Workers who keep the UK’s roads moving have called off six planned days of consecutive strike action after winning a vastly improved two year pay deal, the country’s biggest union Unite announced today. The members working for Amey at four depots in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Buckinghamshire backed an improved pay offer from management after the first day of an unprecedented week-long strike. The company, which manages 30,000 miles of highway across the UK – gritting roads and maintaining crash barriers – was forced back to the negotiating table after members made clear their determination to win a fair pay settlement in a dispute which has already seen five days of strike action. The accepted offer is a 2.25 per cent increase in pay, backdated to 1 April 2014 and a further 1.75 per cent increase in pay as of 1 April 2015 read more
Milk supplies in the north of England could be hit over Easter in union recognition dispute (2 March) – Milk supplies to supermarkets in the north of England could be disrupted over the Easter holiday, if a group of 100 drivers don’t have their pay and conditions protected by their new employer. Unite says that the crux of the dispute is the decision of dairy company Arla Foods, based in Leeds, to TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations – the drivers to Moran Logistics, also based in Leeds. Unite and the GMB union claim that Danish-owned Arla and Morans Logistics are in cahoots to attack the pay, and terms and conditions of their members read more
Download new NSSN leaflet supporting PCS from the government’s attacks: ‘Stop the union busters!’ here
Information watchdog strike hits helpline (27 Feb) – Massive support for our second strike at the Information Commissioner’s Office has caused serious disruption to the helpline. Callers to the watchdog were waiting more than 15 minutes when usually calls are answered within seconds as almost all of our members stayed away from work. Today is the second day of a three-day strike over pay, with the walkout continuing on Monday to coincide with the ICO’s data protection conference in Manchester. This follows a two-day strike earlier this month as we campaign over pay rates lower than those for equivalent jobs in the civil service, often by several thousand pounds a year read more
For latest on National Gallery dispute against privatisation and the suspension of PCS rep Candy Udwin go to PCS Culture Group website and follow @PCSCultureGroup @NGNotForSale #NationalGallery #ReinstateCandy on Twitter
‘Future of arts and culture’ conference – PCS are co-hosting a conference aiming to explore the impact of budget cuts on arts & culture and start an inclusive campaign to propose an Alternative Vision for the sector. The event is free; and takes place on Saturday 14 March 2015 from 12:00 noon; in Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1V 8HA. The event is jointly organised by Southern & Eastern Region TUC (SERTUC)’s Creative & Leisure Industries Committee (CLIC) and the PCS union; in partnership with Equity, BECTU, the Musicians Union, TSSA, UCU, Art not Oil, Reel News, Artists Assembly Against Austerity and the Art Party read more
RMT kicks off fight across Network Rail (4 March) – RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that it will shortly begin sending referendum ballot papers to Network Rail members in Operations, Maintenance, Customer Services and associated grades over what the company says is its final pay offer. The union is recommending that members vote NO to reject the proposals which are summarised as follows.
- 2015 – A 0% increase in pay.
- 2016, 2017, 2018 – An RPI level of inflation increase in pay would be applied for each year.
- The “No Compulsory Redundancy” commitment would be extended until 31st December 2015.
- Network Rail will provide an annual National Rail Card giving a 33% reduction in off peak travel for employees, their friends and family read more
RMT fights “shocking and despicable” sacking (27 Feb) – TUBE UNION RMT pledged today to use every means at its disposal to fight for the reinstatement of London Underground member Karen Guyott after her “shocking and despicable sacking on the grounds of her epilepsy read more
Alex McGuigan Dispute: Train Drivers To Strike (27 Feb) – The General Grades Committee has considered this matter and having noted the views and wishes expressed at the meeting, has taken the decision to instruct all RMT Train Operator and Instructor Operator members NOT TO BOOK ON FOR SHIFTS THAT COMMENCE BETWEEN:- 21:30 hours on Saturday 7th March 2015 until 03:59 hours on Sunday 8th March 2015 read more
Lewisham strike this Thursday: say NO to the Prendergast academy plans (Feb 28) – On Thursday next week, NUT members at the four schools threatened with academy status in Lewisham – Sedgehill, and the 3 schools in the Prendergast Federation (Hilly Fields, Ladywell Fields and the Vale) will again be taking strike action – this time joined by members of GMB and the NASUWT. Teachers were buoyed by the excellent support given at a packed meeting of SAiL, Stop Academies in Lewisham, last week read more
Barking & Dagenham Bin Lorry Drivers To Strike (March 3) – GMB members to strike over £1,000 a year pay cut when council pay four new employees annual six figure salaries each. GMB is calling on London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Council to reconsider the need for the expensive, new posts and halt the attack on Council bin lorry drivers who deliver frontline services directly to residents read more
Milk Delivery Easter Strike Looms (March 2) – Milk supplies in North of England to be hit over Easter as GMB dispute looms over union rights and cuts in jobs and terms and conditions. Members are incredibly upset and angry as they feel that Arla is relinquishing all responsibility for a long-serving, loyal workforce read more
5 Day Strike At ISS Woolwich Hospital (March 2) – Further five days of continuous strike action from 9th march by ISS staff at Woolwich Hospital over two tier workforce. If ISS cared about patients then they wouldn’t have forced members to strike for the pay and conditions they are entitled to and which ISS is being remunerated by NHS to pay them read more
Northern Ireland March 13 Strike (March 2) – GMB members in education, transport and civil service in Northern Ireland Vote for strike action on March 13 over cuts. Under the Stormont House Agreement thousands of jobs and millions of pounds will be taken from the economy in both the public and private sectors with as many as 20,000 jobs going for good read more
Offshore strike ballot step nearer (Feb 26) – GMB Scotland consultative ballot on strike action over unilateral changes to terms and conditions in Offshore Contractors Agreement in UK waters. Several meetings have taken place with OCA member companies around the issues of rota changes, rates of pay, sick pay, holiday patterns with no progress resulting in “failures to agree” being lodged says GMB Scotland read more
Capita/O2 pay up (March 2) – Capita Telefonica O2 Members in Capita working on the outsourced O2 contract are being urged to accept an above inflation ‘final’ pay offer thrashed out by CWU negotiators following protracted negotiations with the company. The deal, which will be put out to ballot shortly, comprises 2 per cent across the board, flowing through to supplements on pay and pensions, and is fully consolidated. If accepted by members, the settlement will be backdated to January 1 and paid in April pay packets read more
South Aryshire council workers begin week-long strike (2 March) – Council workers employed by South Ayrshire Council’s Property & Maintenance department are today (Monday 2nd March) beginning a week-long strike in a case concerning bullying and intimidation. The dispute involves more than 100 workers who are members of construction union UCATT and Unite and who are employed in the council’s Property & Maintenance department read more
University of Salford redundancy dispute – A ballot for strike action at the University of Salford opens next week as a result of a dispute over the redundancy sackings of two UCU members in marketing and recruitment who were placed on gardening leave the day before a new restructure was announced and then subsequently dismissed without any due process in breach of local agreements and statutory obligations. Further dispute resolution talks with ACAS are taking place today. Please send messages of support to the branch president Bernie Maguire [email protected]
Ultimatum to producers on film pay rates (26 Feb) – Film craft branches will launch their own rate cards unless industry agreement talks make progress. BECTU has written to the film and TV producers’ association Pact, warning that from April 2015 its branches representing all the industry’s various craft workers will publish recommended pay rates higher than those in a draft BECTU/Pact agreement read more
Go to the new BFAWU website here
Watch BFAWU animation – ‘£10 per hour isn’t pie in the sky’
March for Free Education: Yorkshire regional demo – 6 March at 12:30pm in UTC Parkinson Steps, Woodhouse Lane, LS2 9JT Leeds. Regional demo for free education, organised by Leeds For Free Education. Fighting cuts, privatisation, tuition fees, for affordable housing and decent living standards for staff. We want to make this demo as big and broad as possible – so get organising, talk to students, your union, your university and let’s get as many people to this demo as possible! https://www.facebook.com/events/737611709683424
Lobby of Surrey County Council on March 10 to save care homes – Just a reminder that we have a very important protest lobby next Tuesday 10 March from 12.30pm till 2pm outside the Cabinet meeting at County Hall in Kingston. The consultation over the future of Surrey’s six remaining elderly care homes has closed and they are recommending closure of ALL SIX. This is despite the overwhelming opposition of residents, relatives, staff and the general public. You can link to the FB event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/831289273580220
Paul Couchman Secretary, Save Our Services in Surrey www.sosis.org.uk
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 – Update 2nd March 2015
- Plaque unveiled to blacklist & Shrewsbury campaigner Mick Abbott
- Blacklist Support Group AGM
Saturday 7th March (3-5pm)
All blacklisted workers welcome to attend (and vote).
All supporters welcome to attend.
- Undercover cop Mark Jenner who spied on union meetings is fully exposed in Blacklisted book.
The story appears in the Daily Mirror today: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/undercover-cop-joined-construction-union-5261174
Guardian: On the blacklist: how did the UK’s top building firms get secret information on their workers? http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/27/on-the-blacklist-building-firms-secret-information-on-workers
- ‘Blacklisted’ book
Is now available to buy in bookshops and online.
Updated webpage with video, quotes and tour dates – http://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/
‘Blacklisted’ by Dave Smith & Phil Chamberlain published by New Internationalist will be available online and from bookshops from the first week in March.
Pre-order from the New Internationalist website: http://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/
Film trailer: http://youtu.be/miAzmU5HuFU
Please support the blacklisting campaign by embedding the above Reel News video on your website or sharing with your contacts.
A third of all profits from the sale of the book will be donated to the Blacklist Support Group.
The official book launch is 6-8pm Thursday 12th March 2015
Committee Room 15
Houses of Parliament
Dave Smith, author
Phil Chamberlain, author
John McDonnell, MP
Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary, Unite
Followed by drinks and book signing at St Stevens Tavern (next to Westminster tube)
RSVP to: [email protected]
Further regional book launch events are planned throughout March, April & May. Anyone wishing to host an event should contact: [email protected]
Both UNITE London construction branch and UNITE Glasgow, Renfrewshire & Lanarkshire construction branch have placed bulk orders for 100 books each. Thank You.
Bulk order discounts available from New Internationalist: [email protected]
- Crossrail safety
- Cleveland Police have visited the homes of trade unionists campaigning against SITA SembCorp in Teesside. Keep an eye out on this one.
- Corporate spying against trade union activists by British Airways exposed in the Independent
- Spies at Work – by Mike Hughes
A book that exposed the inner working of the Economic League. A great resource.
- Blacklist Support Group challenge every General Election candidate: “Do you support a public inquiry into police collusion in blacklisting?”
The Blacklist Support Group has repeated its call for a fully independent public inquiry into the scandal of blacklisting, after the revelations that appeared in the Guardian and the Mirror proving beyond a shred of doubt that undercover police officers spied on union activists and systematically colluded with big business in the blacklisting operation.
Steve Acheson, blacklisted electrician and Blacklist Support Group chair, issued the following statement:
“The police were spying on union members whose only crime was to stand up for their fellow workers by asking for their wages to be paid on time or improved safety on building sites. The weekend press reports and the ‘Blacklisted’ book by Smith & Chamberlain have blown apart the establishment cover-up which has repeatedly denied any police involvement in blacklisting. The evidence is there for all to see.
Blacklisting is no longer an industrial relations issue. It is a national scandal: a conspiracy between big business and the police to spy on union members. And the establishment cover-up still continues to this day. The so-called police investigation, ‘Operation Herne’, which has denied any police link with blacklisting has no credibility whatsoever.
When celebrities’ telephone conversations where intercepted by News International, the Leveson Inquiry was set up almost instantly. Not one celebrity lost a single days wages because of phone hacking. Blacklisted workers suffered years of victimisation, sackings and unemployment. Families suffered and in some cases, individuals committed suicide. But decades of human rights abuse against working class union members obviously isn’t considered as important as celebrity phone hacking.
Blacklist Support Group, MPs, trade unions, lawyers, academics, investigative journalists and human rights groups have called for a public inquiry. An investigation by a senior civil servant at BIS or a QC will not suffice. Only a Leveson style fully independent public inquiry will expose the full depths of this human rights conspiracy.
Blacklist Support Group challenge every politician standing in the General Election to answer one question: “Do you support a fully independent public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal?”
International (also see Labourstart)
Ecuador: Reinstate Jimena Lopez this International Women’s Day read more
Gabon: ACT NOW! Support the Workers at Rain Forest Management! Read more
Diary (see & use false economy)
6 Yorkshire-wide Free Education March – assemble 12.30pm at Parkinson steps, Leeds University more info here
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
EMAIL mailto:[email protected]
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts
ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE