NSSN 272: Weekend of action for NSSN, BFAWU & Unite in the North East

NSSN 272: Weekend of action for NSSN, BFAWU & Unite in North East

The ten trade union officers of the National Shop Stewards Network’s North East section organised two days of fighting action on the 4th and 5th of December, in Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead.

Operating in conjunction with a full-time organiser from NSSN constituent union the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, Friday afternoon was spent in Gateshead, at the Metro Centre. This is massive shopping mall containing a number of fast food outlets. Staff were highly receptive to the call for a £10 per hour minimum wage an end to zero-hours contracts. In at least one instance the managers of a southern fried chicken chain expressed an interest in joining the union. This was unfortunately not the case at another global restaurant train, where NSSN shop steward John Hoare had to inform the managers that it was workers who decided whether or not to join a union, and not bosses deciding on their behalf.

After an evening of socialising in Newcastle, BFAWU and NSSN were back in action again early Saturday morning in Newcastle city centre. One sandwich chain employee was so enthused that he agreed sign up to BFAWU on the spot, declaring his admiration for Seattle socialist councillor Kshama Sawant, and insisting that the Fight for 15 movement would work in the UK.


The main attraction of the weekend was members and organisers of the NSSN, BFAWU, and Unite converging on Mike Ashley’s Newcastle branch of Sports Direct. The horrors of employment in the retail chain’s Shirebrook warehouse operation are have been a matter of extensive national press coverage a national Unite campaign. Ashley’s grip on Newcastle United Football Club is also a sticking point for many here in the north east. At its peak, the demonstration against the Ashley’s corporate tyranny drew 27 trade unionists. With megaphones and a public announcement system never taking a pause, Unite petitions were quickly filled and leaflets calling for an end to Ashley’s reign of employment terror were enthusiastically accepted by passersby voicing their support for workers.

The weekend of action concluded with a public NSSN meeting. Speakers from constituent unions the CWU, BFAWU, RMT, gave rousing calls to action. An area UNISON branch chair bemoaned the fact that the union’s logo does not enjoy a place on the NSSN’s banner, and insisted that more efforts could be expected in the New Year to change this. Fran Heathcoate, DWP President of PCS, received a rapturous applause when she announced that PCS had achieved a 90%+ success rate in converting subscriptions to direct debit after the Tory regime eliminated the union’s check-off facility, and thanked Unite the Union for the solidarity its demonstrated by rehousing PCS offices. At the conclusion of the meeting a brief film about the BFAWU’s Stand Up For Change campaign was shown, featuring youth from Glasgow battling for £10-per-hour and against zero-hours contracts. A collection at the end of the meeting raised £69.72.

The Network has ambitious plans for the New Year and has cemented lasting relationships with national trade union organisers. You can follow NSSN North East on Facebook and Twitter, @NSSN_NE.

William Jarrett – North East NSSN


Generations United! Pensioners and Youth fight together (Dec 8) – I was recently elected as the delegate representing the Thames Valley on the National Pensioners Convention Executive Committee. The NPC represents 1.5 million pensioners, many of them members of trade unions who mostly finance the organisation. We are a campaigning body that fights for pensioners throughout the country not only for their pensions but also issues ranging from social care to public transport and dignity in old age. We campaign against cuts to services, hospital closures and austerity. We took our banner on the recent TUC lobby of Tory Conference and we lobby Parliament on a regular basis. Our members were among the Freedom Riders in Sheffield who broke the law in defence of their free train passes. Whilst we are non-party political we are an integral part of the labour movement and work closely with trade unions in struggle.

One aspect of our work is to build unity between pensioners and young people through our Generations United campaign. The Tories try to divide youth and pensioners although there is so much more that unites us than divides us, we firmly believe that unity is strength. Many pensioners are in the forefront of the anti-cuts movement many of them following a lifetime of trade union and socialist struggle. I would urge all retired activists to join us in the NPC we are militant, active and organised. Following the Tories Autumn Statement we can expect more attacks on local services, welfare and the NHS, the NPC will stand shoulder to shoulder with all those resisting these attacks. Tories out!

Terry Pearce

NPC EC Member for the Thames Valley (in a personal capacity) and NSSN steering committee

See NPC website here



Support the #CWU2 – reinstate Clive Walder & John Vasey!

Clive Walder, a longstanding leading rep in the CWU had an appeal against unfair dismissal rejected by British Telecom on 9 November, confirming his sacking after 38 years of service. Clive is chair of the CWU Birmingham, Black Country & Worcester branch.

Clive Walder
Clive Walder

Clive worked in a BT call centre and was dismissed after an aggressive customer reported him to management just 33 seconds into a phone call. The decision was made without taking stress into account despite the local CWU branch reporting that 7% of staff at the call centre leave their jobs each month, some walking out mid shift. Management took the decision without consulting any medical advice or taking into account any mitigation.

Clive is a NSSN steering committee member and we will be supporting the campaign protesting the sacking and campaigning for his reinstatement.

Contact Clive to send messages of support and invite him to your union branch, shop stewards committee, trades council etc – [email protected] 07771931185


John Vasey, a CWU postal rep in Wakefield, West Yorkshire has also been sacked on what his work colleagues recognise as stitched up charges. John is waiting for the outcome of his appeal that took place earlier this week. The NSSN calls on all our supporters and affiliates to support John’s campaign for reinstatement and his union the CWU:-

Messages of protest to Jon Millidge, Royal Mail Group HR Director, c/o Tallents House, South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.

(Copies to Paul Clays, CWU Regional Secretary, 6 Concept Court, Kettlestring Lane, Clifton Moor, YORK, YO30 4XF – e-mail: [email protected])

John Vasey, sacked Royal Mail rep
John Vasey, sacked Royal Mail rep

Please sign the petition and like Reinstate John Vasey  on Facebook

People’s Post campaign takes to the streets (Dec 4) – Dave Ward Croydon The People’s Post campaign took to the streets of Croydon when general secretary Dave Ward joined local reps and activists to increase support to protect and improve the future of postal services and oppose the undemocratic Trade Union Bill read more



NSSN / Kill the Bill news

As expected, the Tory Trade Union Bill passed its 3rd reading on November 10th. It now goes to the Lords. But we must keep up the pressure and prepare for resisting it if it becomes law.

See videos of John McDonnell, PCS Vice-President John McInally John McInally and  NSSN chair Rob Williams speaking at TUCG protest outside Parliament that night

TUCG statement on the Trade Union Bill here


Rob Williams NSSN chair was interviewed live on BBC’s Daily Politics at TUC Congress watch here at about 30 minutes

Report from NSSN North East day of action and public meeting Saturday December 5th: https://www.facebook.com/groups/25779472129/?fref=ts

Early notice – the 10th annual NSSN conference will on Saturday July 2nd 2016 in Conway Hall, London. Please put in your new diaries!!

Yorkshire NSSN Conference: Stop the Union Busters / Organise the Unorganised – Saturday, 27 February 2016 at 10am Cosmopolitan Hotel 2 Lower Briggate, LS1 4AE Leeds https://www.facebook.com/events/514766158692960/

Xmas present!! The last two pink NSSN ‘£10 Now’ t-shirts are available for £8. Both are women’s large sizes. First come first served! Order by emailing [email protected]

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 ‘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]



Union News


Rail Workers to Strike in Chester (8 Dec) – Workers at rail engineering company Alstom in Chester, who maintain and service the Class 175 stock on the Arriva Trains Wales franchise at this purpose built depot, are to strike for 24 hours from 07.00 hours on Thursday 10th December in a fight over pay and conditions. Additionally, from 07:00 hours on Friday 11th December 2015 until further notice, members will not work any overtime and will not work any rest days read more

RMT demands moratorium on station job cuts (7 Dec) – RMT demands moratorium on station job cuts as union reveals that Leytonstone will lose half its rush hour staff in February. TUBE UNION RMT today demanded that London Underground halt its station job cuts programme as the union revealed that Leytonstone station, scene of Saturdays horrific knife attack, will lose half its rush hour staff from February under proposed new rosters. The Leytonstone cuts are part of an overall package from early next year which would strip 838 front-line, uniformed station staff out of the tube system. Leytonstone currently has four station staff on duty during rush hour and London Underground plan to cut that to just two as part of their drive to reduce staff numbers read more

RMT confirms series of New Year strikes on DLR (4 Dec) – RMT confirms series of strikes next year in dispute on Docklands Light Railway. RAIL UNION RMT said today that staff across all grades on Keolis Amey Docklands Light Railway will strike on four occasions next year in a dispute over a range of serious unresolved issues that are wrecking industrial relations. The action follows a 48 hour strike on DLR last month which completely shut down the service for the duration. The announcement of action comes after continuing talks have so far failed to make any serious progress. RMT members voted by 92% for action back in October read more

Defend Glen Hart – Wednesday, 9 December, 2015 – 08:00 to 11:30. Demo at Clapham Common station to kick off the camapign to stop London Underground targeting Glen because of his Trade Union activities – Meet outside Clapham Common Station at 0800 on Wednesday December 9. London Underground bosses could face a London-wide Tube strike by RMT union members if they proceed with disciplinary action against union activist Glen Hart. Bosses tried to sack Glen last year during strikes over cuts to stations. He followed union instructions not to work overtime and closed his station because there was no relief. But bosses could not sack Glen because there was no evidence he did anything wrong. Now, bosses have laid new trumped up charges against Glen for allegedly being rude to a manager. There are no witnesses and no evidence. Glen has fought tirelessly to oppose Tube bosses’ attacks. The RMT says if the charges are not dropped it will ballot all grades for industrial action. DEFEND GLEN HART – SOLIDARITY WINS read more

Demonstrate for dignity and respect for cleaners 3pm Tuesday 15 December, 2015 – London Underground cleaners say: pay us the money we earn! We are not the dirt we clean! Demonstrate for dignity and respect for cleaners. Interserve HQ 1-3 College Hill, London EC4R 2RA (nearest Tube: Cannon Street) read more



BFAWU Press Release On Hovis, Wigan Job Losses – On 25/11/15, Hovis made a company announcement, stating that they are to cease making bread at their Wigan site, with the proposed closure of the thirty sack bread plant. The BFAWU has entered in to a forty-five day consultation period, which began on 26/11/15. The company have put forward a business case which states that the current downturn in the bread market and a long term forecast of ‘no change’ has led to this decision. However, the site will continue to manufacture crumpets and be a distribution point for bread products made at other sites around the country read more.   Please send solidarity messages to Hovis Wigan branch – [email protected]



Strikes called in dispute at Thirteen Group: “Notice has been served on the employer of a strike on Friday 18th December and a 2nd day’s strike on Monday 11th of January both starting at 8am. We will also be returning our company owned transport to the care of the owner at the end of the working day on the 17th December. Advice from the union is that this will not constitute a breach of “normal” Work to rule as you cannot be forced to take a van home. We remain available for negotiations and Unite will be in attendance on a meeting which management has set up for the 16th.” That is from an internal communication btw so not for sharing directly on social media. Some background to the dispute is given here

Medway bus drivers strike over ‘unachievable’ and ‘unsafe’ timetable changes (3 Dec) – Over 200 Arriva bus drivers in the Medway towns, Kent will be on strike tomorrow (Friday 4 December) and Monday 7 December over the introduction of unachievable timetables, which their union Unite warns is making it impossible to deliver a safe reliable service read more

STOP taking the PEE with BUS DRIVERS! Unite protest Tuesday December 15 outside Wandsworth Town Hall 6.30pm https://www.facebook.com/events/198392190494429/

Stockport demonstration against cuts – assemble at Stockport Council starting at 2.15pm and going on until 5.30pm on the 16th December



Fourth day of DVSA strike best day yet (4 Dec) – Great turnout as PCS DVSA members in England, Wales and Scotland all walked out today, following three days of rolling regional action. PCS members working for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have taken action across the whole country this week in staged regional strikes, culminating in a day of national action today (Friday 4 December), in their dispute over an extension to the working day read more

PCS members share fears over HMRC closure plans (3 Dec) – Fears for the future and concerns over massive increases in commuter journeys are among issues PCS members raised following HMRC’s mass office closure announcement. Last month HMRC announced devastating plans to close all but a handful of HM Revenue and Customs’ 160 remaining UK offices read more



Scottish firefighters call for end to cuts as Storm Desmond causes major disruption (Dec 6) – As Storm Desmond batters the UK, firefighters have raised concern at the chronic underfunding of fire and rescue services as they respond to flooding. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) reports that every service responding to the floods have seen unprecedented cuts in funding over the past five years read more



UNISON to ballot further education workers over pay row (Dec 4) – UNISON is to ballot further education (FE) workers in England in a row over pay, the union says today (Friday). The ballot – which will open in the New Year – is in response to the national employers’ zero percent pay offer. Workers involved include technicians, managers, library, catering, cleaning, security and other support staff read more


BMA / Junior Doctors

At the last minute, facing a strike that had already seen over 3,000 operations and 17,500 appointments cancelled, the Tories stepped back from the brink and withdrew the immediate threat of the imposition of new contracts for junior doctors. As a result, the BMA suspended the three days of industrial action on December 1, 8 and 16. Negotiations will now continue but if junior doctors don’t get what they want by January 13th, action can be put back on. The NSSN sends solidarity to the junior doctors and the BMA. We appeal to all our supporters to support any action that they take if needed – strikes, demonstrations or protests. Scandalously, Tory Health Minister Jeremy Hunt had called for striking doctors to be ‘struck off’. Email messages of support to [email protected]

For latest news and protests follow #JuniorContract and #NotFairNotSafe on twitter. Latest updates on BMA website



Open University strike – UCU members at the Open University staged a one-day walk-out on November 25 following the university’s decision to push ahead with controversial plans to close seven regional centres, putting 502 jobs at risk. Further rolling one-day strikes at the different sites to begin on 30 November*. The strikes will be the first time staff have taken action over a local dispute in the university’s history

Wednesday 2 December: Oxford

Thursday 3 December: Leeds

Friday 4 December: Gateshead

Monday 7 December: Cambridge

Tuesday 8 December: Bristol

Wednesday 9 December: Nottingham

Thursday 10 December: Manchester

Friday 11 December: Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Milton Keynes national offices read more



A message to Tech City students from your teachers – Why we are going on strike. You may have heard by now that your teachers at Tech City have voted unanimously to strike for a number of days before the Xmas holidays. (Next Tuesday and Wednesday and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the following week.) We are sorry we have to do this – because we want to do our best for you, our students – but we feel we have been given no choice.

Our National Union of Teachers representatives have met with the Principal and with Aspirations a number of times to express our concerns and ask for changes to be made at Tech City to address them but got nowhere. So, reluctantly, we feel we have no other way to put pressure on Aspirations to take us seriously but to go on strike. Read more on www.islingtonteachers.org.uk/home  Please send message of support to: [email protected]

Teacher’s strike battles headteacher sacking (Dec 3) – Seven members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Listerdale Primary School in Rotherham have taken two days of strike action (2-3 December) against the unjustified suspension of their headteacher.

The head was suspended by the Academy Trust in September at 8am one morning without union representation. The reasons for the suspension still haven’t been made clear, even the head himself doesn’t know! Read more on NSSN website



Job losses loom as huge operating cuts are announced (Dec 4) – If further proof were needed of the total shambles that Transforming Rehabilitation has caused, than look no further than the news revealed over the last day that the Community Rehabilitation Companies owned by Working Links are about to put forward plans for swingeing cuts in the region of 40%. This has rightly caused anger amongst members in the three CRC’s concerned covering Wales, Avon, Bristol  and Devon, Dorset, and Cornwall who having gone through the trauma of the TR assignment process now find themselves in a potential redundancy situation. Urgent talks are being convened between the national probation unions, local reps, senior CRC management and their owners about the extent of the intended cuts and their impact on staff numbers, but it is not hard to see how disastrous these will be to people’s future employment prospects in areas already blighted by the austerity agenda. As always Napo will issue more detailed news once it is available but during my visit to South Western Branch members in Exeter recently I made it clear that Napo stands ready to assist them in negotiations with management, local campaigns against cuts of this order that can only pose a serious risk to public safety and ultimately industrial action if members decide that this is what they want read more from NAPO General Secretary Ian Lawrence’s blog



USDAW calls on Shop Direct customers to support soon to be redundant call centre workers (4 Dec) – USDAW members have today issued a plea to Shop Direct customers, who use the popular Very and Littlewoods brands, to let the company know that they oppose UK jobs being exported to South Africa read more



University of London cleaners take UK Government to European Court of Human Rights over collective bargaining rights (Dec 3) read more


Other News

Support the Save Southwark Youth and Play Services Campaign, Tuesday 8th December at 4pm at the Council Offices at 160 Tooley Street, SE1 and add your voice to the campaign!

You can also send a message of support to Henry Mott at [email protected]

Thursday 10th December – Battersea

Eighteen months ago, Wandsworth Council closed Battersea Park Adventure Playground and sacked the workers despite fierce opposition from local parents, children and local residents.

The playground re-opens on Thursday as a Go Ape adventure playground which has replaced the free playground, meaning that children and young people will have to pay £30 per hour to use the facilities.

A protest has been organised to coincide with the opening of the Go Ape on Thursday 10th December, starting at 8.45am. Please join the protest at the privatisation of public space and play areas for children and young people.

Children’s play should be a right and not a privilege, and privatised profiteering companies should not be the future for play spaces in London.

For more information see https://www.facebook.com/events/1520065561645856

Thanks so much for your support

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe

National Officer Unite the Union

Community,  Youth,  Play and Youth workers in Not for Profit Sector

Invitation to the “No Human is Illegal” meeting on 9 December 2015 at 18:30 at the Houses of Parliament

As Day-Mer Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre we believe that refugees from around the world should be treated with dignity and respect. We recently visited the refugees at the Calais “jungle” and were saddened by the atrocious conditions we observed. What we saw has strengthened our resolve to work with community groups, trade unions and charities as well as our elected representatives in councils and in Parliament to raise awareness of the plight of the refugees and seek a resolution to the crisis. We understand that the resolution of the refugee crisis requires a collective effort, and we are grateful for the support of Kate Osamor MP, who will be hosting a meeting at the Houses of Parliament to discuss how we can work together better to alleviate the inhumane conditions in Calais and seek a sustainable long term solution to the issue.

The meeting will take place on 9 December 2015 at 18:30 at room Conference Room 6 at the Houses of Parliament, and we would be honoured if you were available to join us. I would be grateful if you could please let us know your availability to attend by either emailing me or by registering on Eventbrite using the link here

If you have any questions or would like to have a chat please contact me

Best wishes

Oktay Sahbaz Day-mer [email protected]


Trade Union rep courses at The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London

We are happy to release the new dates of the rep courses starting in January 2016. Please use the attached documents for yourself or anyone who will be interested in starting a course.

Thank you for your continual support.

Kind regards

Trade Union Education

The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London

020 8442 3075

[email protected]


Blacklisting & Victimisation

Buy the book ‘Blacklisted: The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists’ Author: Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain. Blacklisted tells the controversial story of the illegal strategies that transnational construction companies used to keep union activists away from work. See the official trailer from ReelNews  

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 protest outside Royal Courts of Justice on 7th December
Blacklist Support Group protest outside Royal Courts of Justice on 7th December

Blacklisted book http://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/

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

Blog: www.hazards.org/blacklistblog

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



International (also see Labourstart)

Israel/China: Stop governments’ deal to import bonded workers read more


Diary (see & use false economy)






27 Yorkshire NSSN Conference: Stop the Union Busters / Organise the Unorganised – 10am Cosmopolitan Hotel 2 Lower Briggate, LS1 4AE Leeds https://www.facebook.com/events/514766158692960/



2 10th annual NSSN conference in Conway Hall, London




PHONE 07952 283 558

EMAIL mailto:[email protected]


TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts


ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE