The Tory Trade Union Bill has completed its journey through the parliamentary process to become law.
Disgracefully, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has not organised a single national demonstration against the bill. It’s one lobby of Parliament last November saw hundreds of union members refused access to the venue in Westminster because the TUC had only booked half the seats, such was their pessimism about how many would turn up!
Fortunately, because the FBU had their fire engine outside, I was able to speak to what became an open-air rally. It was the only way the NSSN was going to get on a platform that day! I raised the necessity for the TUC and the unions to connect together the fight against Tory austerity with the fight against Cameron’s anti-union plans.
This would show the whole union movement and the wider working class that the Tories recognise the potential power of the unions – still with over six million members – as the major barrier to their cuts, if they are mobilised in mass demonstrations and coordinated strike action. The heroic struggle of the junior doctors only emphasises how broad layers in society could be united in a movement against this weak, divided and damaged government.
Instead of such a mass campaign, the TUC’s opposition has been reduced to lobbying the House of Lords. They celebrate the pruning of some aspects of the bill. But the utterly undemocratic voting thresholds (which, if applied to local elections would mean that hardly a councillor would have been elected last week) are still enshrined in it, as are measures to victimise lead pickets.
The NSSN calls for an emergency TUC congress to discuss how the Act can be resisted. This is what happened when previous Tory prime minister Heath brought in the Industrial Relations Act in 1971 and was subsequently defeated after a whole series of strikes. Such a congress, which should be opened to thousands of shop stewards and union reps, should be a ‘council of war’ that takes inspiration from the junior doctors, as well as teachers and many others.
It’s a disgrace that on the very day that marked the 90th anniversary of the 1926 general strike, the Tories have been able to bring in the most serious attack on unions for three decades with hardly a squeak form the TUC or most union leaders.
But we should take inspiration from the incredible victories over the last few days. The teachers have forced a U-turn on forced academies while Jeremy Hunt has agreed to talks with the BMA Junior Doctors. He initially said that the new contract would still be imposed but then retreated. We also salute the heroic victory of the blacklisted workers in winning a massive settlement from the construction companies. But their struggle will continue until these workers get jobs on the sites.
The NSSN, along with thousands of union activists, will be fighting for mass action to defeat the Tories – their cuts and their anti-union law. This will be a major theme of the annual NSSN conference – our tenth – on 2 July. Join our fight
Rob Williams NSSN National Chair
This year’s annual NSSN conference – our 10th – will be on Saturday July 2nd in Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL – 11am-4.30pm. Conference fee is £6 each www.facebook.com/events/1361018323924300/ – confirmed speakers: Ronnie Draper BFAWU General Secretary, Janice Godrich PCS President, Chris Baugh PCS Assistant General Secretary, Sean Hoyle RMT President, Steve Gillan POA General Secretary and Yannis Gourtsoyannis BMA junior doctors committee national executive
DfE u-turn on forced academies (6 May) – Commenting on the Government’s climb-down over forced academies in England, Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“This is a huge Government climb-down and is a testament to the campaigning of teachers and parents. Within a week of the White Paper being published demonstrations occurred across the country organised by NUT members. Two petitions calling for a halt to the proposal to force all schools to become academies reached 150,000 signatures each, and 200 parents met at the NUT headquarters. This was an unprecedented outcry” read more
Support Simon O’Hara — Teachers at Small Heath School in Birmingham are continuing to take action to support Simon who remains suspended. You are encouraged to send messages of support to David Room at [email protected] https://www.facebook.com/Reinstate-Simon-OHara-1090494714318024/
BMA Junior Doctors dispute – after initially ruling out talks over the Saturday part of the new contract, the Government backtracked opening up the way for new talks with the BMA this week
The NSSN has produced a model motion that can be used in unions at all levels and trades council here
BURSARY OR BUST MARCH: Continuing the fight to save NHS bursaries – Saturday June 4 1pm from St Thomas’ Hospital Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7 London https://www.facebook.com/events/1020899857963987/
Blacklisted workers win massive pay-out from construction bosses but fight for justice goes on – read more here or see Blacklist Support Group report below
Nationalise Tata – support the Steelworkers
For latest developments, follow Facebook group
Back striking Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales staff (26 April) – PCS members at Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales are escalating their 2-year dispute over removal of extra payments for weekend working with further action this week and all-out action from bank holiday Monday, as well as a strike rally read more Make a contribution to the hardship fund:
Bank: Unity Trust Bank
Account name: PCS Amgueddfa Cymru 107006 Branch Hardship Fund
Account number: 20364700
Sort code: 60-83-01
Or via PayPal: http://bit.ly/26eNhvq
London Solidarity Meeting – For people based in the London area, the SERTUC Creative & Leisure Industries Committee (CLIC) and the Show Culture Some Love campaign have helped arrange a solidarity meeting with the PCS strikers. It is being held on Thursday 12 May from 6.30pm onwards in the Quaker Meeting House, St Martins Lane, London WC2N 4EA, (nearest tube: Leicester Square). Full details of the meeting can be found on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/223956481307824/
United Voices of the World
Reinstate ‘The Topshop 2’ & demand a Living Wage – National day of action May 14 outside Topshop for living wage and trade union rights and against Philip Green with centrepiece demo outside flagship store in Oxford Street https://www.facebook.com/events/1322096334470799/ See video of last Saturday’s Barbican demo here United Voices of the World Facebook group
Stop the sackings of union reps at London Met – #savelondonmet #saveourreps Yesterday (April 30) our branch chair Mark Campbell and secretary David Hardman were made redundant in what is an outrageous attack on their strenuous and tireless trade union activities defending jobs and education at London Met read more Sign petition
Reinstate Clive Walder
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 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
NSSN / Kill the Bill news
This year’s annual NSSN conference – our 10th – will be on Saturday July 2nd in Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL – 11am-4.30pm. Conference fee is £6 each. Please put in your diaries!! www.facebook.com/events/1361018323924300/ – confirmed speakers: Ronnie Draper BFAWU General Secretary, Janice Godrich PCS President, Chris Baugh PCS Assistant General Secretary, Sean Hoyle RMT President, Steve Gillan POA General Secretary and Yannis Gourtsoyannis BMA junior doctors committee national executive
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 attached and 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]
More Union News
RMT switches Southern guards strike action and prepares for prolonged dispute over jobs and safety (4 May) – RAIL UNION RMT confirmed this morning that it has switched the next strike date for action involving guards on GTR Southern as the union’s executive prepares for a prolonged campaign over the threat to the role of the guards and the undermining of rail safety. The union executive has agreed to pull back the strike action called for Tuesday 10th May to Wednesday 11th May and for Thursday 12th May to Friday 13th May and instead instruct guards members to take strike action by not working any shifts that book on between 0001 and 2359 on Friday 20th May read more
Thomas Cook cabin crew in strike vote over 20 minute rest breaks (6 May) – Over 1,000 Thomas Cook airlines cabin crew began voting in a ballot for industrial action today (Friday 6 May) in a dispute over health and safety concerns and ‘dangerous’ changes to rest breaks which sees cabin crew allowed just a 20 minute break during an 11 hour 59 minute duty period read more
No library closures in Greenwich – Unite the Union is leading the fight to defend public services in Greenwich. If the Council gets its way, this will be a library closure, impacting not just on library workers but the much wider community. It will also signal an intensification of cuts in Greenwich. Over the next couple of months, the Council will make a decision about the future of the library. That is why we now need to step up the pressure. We have organised 3 lobbies. All will take place at the Town Hall:-
20th April – Lobby of Council Cabinet 6pm
18th May – Lobby of Annual Council Meeting 6pm
19th May – Lobby of Council Cabinet 6pm (Unite will be addressing this meeting which will make the decision on the future of the Mobile Library)
Unite Construction Rank & File National Meeting: Saturday 14th May 2016, Methodist Central Hall Manchester 12 – 3pm
Staff walk out after health and safety concerns at Wormwood Scrubs (May 6) – POA members at Wormwood Scrubs have individually chosen not to enter in to the Prison today as they have fears for their Health and Safety.A recent Chief Inspectors report highlighted that the prison was unsafe and that drugs and alcohol were easily accessible.Steve Gillan General Secretary stated: “POA members have reluctantly withdrawn to a safe place under Health and Safety legislation. It is essential that staff and prisoners are safe in the prison read more Report in Daily Mirror
STOP PRESS!! There has been a walkout at Holme House prison in Stockton-on-Tees this morning as well
BFAWU / Fast Food Rights
Sign the petition: Raise the minimum wage to £10 for all workers details on BFAWU website
‘How we defeated zero hours contracts’: Forum with New Zealand & UK fast food workers – 3pm, SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG London https://www.facebook.com/events/496421810566280/
Mandate / SIPTU (Ireland)
Support the Luas workers. Support Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/533923853456339/
Tamil Solidarity – Solidarity Day: Saturday June 4th in Unite HQ, Holborn, London https://www.facebook.com/events/1724072431169931/
Job Advert for Greater Manchester Hazards Centre – Coordinator job available at Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC)
GMHC, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester, M16 7WD
GMHC was established in 1987 as a not for profit Ltd Company and currently employs 6 people and is part of the Hazards Campaign. GMHC provides information and advice, campaigns on all issues around workplace health and safety, runs the annual Hazards Conference and promotes and supports International Workers Memorial Day for the Hazards Campaign.
Two staff members are retire in the next 18 months. We want a new worker to work alongside them for the first year in order to take on their responsibilities when they retire. We are currently taking stock, reviewing the strategy and work programme for GMHC and the Hazards Campaign, and looking at how we might work in the future .
We are looking for someone with knowledge and experience of the issues around workers’ health and safety, and hazards more broadly, of the ways in which trade unions work, and with new ideas around new ways of organising.
The job is based in Manchester and is a permanent full-time (35 hours per week) job, subject to funding continuing to be available.
Deadline for applications: 10th May Interviews: 20th May.
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 High Court group litigation ends in multi-million pound payouts but fight for justice continues
The group litigation blacklist High Court trial originally scheduled to start today (Monday 9th May) has settled following last minute increased compensation offers by the 8 major construction companies at the heart of the scandal. Additional offers were made to blacklisted workers represented by Unite the Union late on Friday. A hastily called hearing will now take place on Wednesday 11th May at which a public apology and admissions about the firms involvement in the Consulting Association secret conspiracy will be read out in open court.
The total figure for compensation paid out by the blacklisting firms is estimated at £50million with an additional £200 million worth of legal costs for the different legal teams involved. The defendants are: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI – No doubt shareholders and non-executive directors will be asking questions about those responsible for this big hit to the bottom line.
Dave Smith – secretary Blacklist Support Group commented
“Despite all of the denials and attempts to cover up their secret conspiracy, the largest multinationals in the construction sector have been forced to to pay out millions in compensation. Make no mistake, the High Court action is a historic victory for the trade union movement against the vicious face of free market capitalism.
The blacklist firms might have hoped that by buying their way out of a show trial, that the scandal that has disgraced an entire industry will go away: it won’t. Blacklisting is a human rights conspiracy against trade unionism by big business and shady anti-democratic political policing units within the British state.
These fat cats and their friends in the police took food off of our children’s table, causing years of family hardship. We take this personally. A few quid and a mealy mouthed apology is a long way from justice. We intend to continue our fight to expose those who orchestrated and colluded with blacklisting. In any civilized society, the wretches would be in jail by now.
Blacklist Support Group would like to pay tribute to all the legal teams who have taken us this far, especially Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors who have been working with us since the blacklist was discovered in 2009. Without the ground breaking work by GCR, there would never have been any High Court litigation at all”.
High Court Photo-Opportunity
Blacklist Support Group
9:15am Wednesday 11th May
UNITE the Union press release:
Construction ‘blacklisting’ victory sees £10 million pay-out to 256 workers
The biggest ‘blacklisting’ scandal in UK construction industry history has seen the court case end in victory as 256 workers are set to receive more than £10 million in compensation.
Unite, the country’s biggest union, said today (Monday 9 May) that the pay-outs could range from £25,000 up to £200,000 per claimant, depending on such factors as the loss of income and the seriousness of the defamation.
Unite’s determined legal stance last week resulted in a further £4 million for 97 of the 256 claimants, whose original compensation offers the union deemed inadequate. This brought the total compensation package to £10,435,000.
Unite waged a five-year fight, following the election of Len McCluskey as general secretary of Unite, against household names, such as Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services as well as more than 30 other firms, which were part of a blacklisting conspiracy that saw hundreds of workers lose those jobs and have their lives ruined for carrying out legitimate trade union activities, such as health and safety.
At the centre of the scandal were the machinations of the secretive Consulting Association which was raided by the Information Commissioner in 2009.
Today (Monday 9 May) Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:
“The massive scale of the agreed damages – more than £10 million – shows the gravity of the misdeeds of these major construction companies which created and used the Consulting Group as a vehicle to enable them to blacklist trade unionists on behalf of more than 30 construction companies.
“The sums to be paid out go a considerable way to acknowledge the hurt, suffering and loss of income our members and their families have been through over many years.
“Under the agreement they can once more apply for jobs in the construction industry without fear of discrimination.
‘This settlement is a clear statement on behalf of the trade union movement that never again can such nefarious activities be allowed to happen against decent working people trying to earn an honest living in a tough industry.
“The message is clear that there can never be any hiding place for bosses in the construction and any other industry thinking of reverting to shameful blacklisting practices against committed trade unionists.”
Unite director of legal services Howard Beckett said:
“Unite is proud to have fought right to the end to get the maximum we believed was possible against companies that had to be dragged kicking and screaming to make unprecedented admissions of guilt last October.
“In addition to financial compensation, admissions of guilt and formal apologies, the companies have agreed, as a result of this litigation, to issue guidance to site managers to ensure blacklisting is not occurring on a local level and to ensure that Unite members receive no less favourable treatment for job applications, as a result of this litigation.
“However, what remains outstanding from the agreement is the legislative definition of blacklisting, as outlined in the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklisting) Regulations 2010.
“We view the secret vetting operation carried out by the Consulting Association as a blacklist, and hence in contravention of the Act. This is the core reason as to why these companies should be answerable to a public inquiry and why the Westminster and the devolved governments should continue to ask serious questions of these companies before they are engaged for public contracts.
“Finally, Unite would like to thank its legal team – Anthony Hudson QC at Matrix; Ben Cooper, counsel at Old Square and Richard Arthur and his team at Thompsons Solicitors – who stood should to shoulder with the trade union movement during this lengthy – and ultimately victorious – landmark case.”
The Unite case centred on a number of key legal issues, including defamation, breaches of the 1988 Data Protection Act, conspiracy and misuse of private information.
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USA: Verizon strike – see video about women strikers here
Diary (see & use false economy)
2 10th annual NSSN Conference in Conway Hall, London https://www.facebook.com/events/1361018323924300/
9 Durham Miners’ Gala http://www.durhamminers.org/gala
15-17 Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/
PHONE 07952 283 558
EMAIL mailto:[email protected]
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts
ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE