The NSSN sends our solidarity to Unite and its members on strike at Optare in Yorkshire after the union won a legal challenge to the use of COVID rules by police to disperse legal picket lines. This demonstrates the vital importance of the labour and trade union movement retaining its ability to organise during the pandemic and giving a lead to workers in the fight for safe workplaces and against the bosses’ offensive on jobs, pay, pensions and terms and conditions.
Right to picket during lockdown secured following Unite legal challenge (13 Nov) – The government has been forced to confirm that workers taking lawful industrial action have a right to picket their workplace during the Covid-19 lockdown. In doing so they have vetoed the actions of North Yorkshire police who last week told Unite workers taking lawful industrial action to desist from picketing on the morning after new coronavirus regulations were introduced. A judicial review was due to be heard at the high court today (Friday 13 November) against the chief constable of North Yorkshire and the secretary of state for health and social care, but at the last minute the government conceded that the right to picket should be upheld. The case emerged as a result of Unite members who were on strike at Optare bus factory in Sherburn in Elmet last Friday (6 November) and who were undertaking socially distanced picketing, being moved on by the police and warned that if they returned they would be issued with penalty notices for breaking lockdown rules read more
Support the Optare workers – We encourage trade unionists and trade union branches to continue to send messages of support to [email protected] (Optare shop steward) and donations to the strike fund via bank transfer to:- Bank: Unity trust bank; Account name: NE/200/1 Optare Branch; Account number: 20327132 Sort code: 60-83-01
Sign this TUC petition: To Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education – Reverse the cuts to union learning
The NSSN is continuing to report on how workers are organising during the coronavirus pandemic
The NSSN is opening up our weekly email bulletin, website and social media platforms of Facebook and twitter to provide a public forum for workers during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis. We want to be a place where we can all share queries and experiences that workers are facing in their workplaces. These include reports of action taken by workers to defend themselves from their employers.
You can read about many of these actions in our weekly bulletin and out social media groups, especially our Facebook group: NSSN – defend workers’ rights under Coronavirus.
You can also send the NSSN your reports and queries via our website, twitter – @NSSN_AntiCuts and email – [email protected]
We welcome the information being sent to union members concerning the spread of coronavirus, including the Accord, Advance, AEP, AFA-CWA, ASLEF, BDA, BECTU Sector of Prospect, BFAWU, BOS-TU, College of Podiatry, Community, CSP, EIS, Equity, FBU, FDA, GMB, HCSA, MU, NAHT, NASUWT, National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD), Nautilus International, NEU, NGSU, NUJ, PFA, Prospect, RCM, SoR, TSSA, TUC, UCU, UNISON, Unite, URTU, USDAW, WGGB and the RCN
But it is absolutely vital that unions retain their ability to organise and act independently in defence of their members and workers generally. This includes the right of unions to take industrial action. We are already aware of workers being forced to take unofficial action on health and safety grounds. We also believe that unions should have oversight of any government bans on protests and picketing. This is the same Tory government that tabled more new anti-union laws in December’s Queens Speech last December and cannot be trusted.
We believe that it is essential that workers are protected during this worrying period and are not impacted, whether in terms of their safety as well as their pay and employment rights. The Tory government have announced measures that include some workers receiving 80% of their wages. This furlough scheme was due to end but has now been extended because of the 2nd lockdown.
However, we believe that no worker should pay the price for any spread of the virus. We say: work or full pay. Any worker who is required not to attend work or is unable to do so because of COVID, childcare or transport closures should receive full pay and not be forced to take annual leave. But unions have to remain vigilant that any government payments actually happen and also covers all workers, including those in precarious employment such as zero-hour contracts and in the gig economy.
We have drafted this model motion which we’ve made into a bulletin that can be downloaded and printed off to be distributed. Feel free to use in your union and trades council, in totality or partially to highlight the issues that need to be addressed.
Keep an eye out for other Facebook and social media groups and pages that are being created. The Coronavirus Support Group for Workers has been set up on Facebook and is a useful forum.
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. Feel free to use this affiliation letter
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]
RMT demands withdrawal of patronising and hypocritical Hi Vis cleaning vests issued to Great Western Railway cleaners (16 Nov) – RAIL UNION RMT today demanded the withdrawal of Hi Vis vests issued to Great Western Railway cleaners employed by Servest emblazoned with the words “GWR Cleaning Heroes” which the union says are both patronising and hypocritical as they imply that the staff are direct GWR employees and well looked after when in fact they are contracted out and have to fight every inch on pay and conditions read more
Calmac union RMT ramps up pressure on company to enter ACAS talks in on-going pay dispute (16 Nov) – Calmac union RMT has today ramped up the pressure on the company to enter ACAS talks over the current pay dispute and to get serious about reaching a negotiated settlement that properly recognises and rewards the staff operating the lifeline ferry services. Scotland’s biggest Ferry Union RMT were contacted by the arbitration and conciliation service ACAS following media reports of a trade dispute between the union and Calmac Ferries read more
RMT Scotrail guards to strike at Glasgow Central over abuse of disciplinary procedures (13 Nov) – RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that Scotrail guards are to strike at Glasgow Central in a series of actions from the end of this month over the abuse of disciplinary procedures. Following a ballot RMT’s Lead Officer and local Union Reps have met to discuss the appropriate form of industrial action which has been approved by the unions executive as follows; All Scotrail Conductor members located at Glasgow Central are instructed not to book on for any shifts that commence between:
- hours until 23.59 hours on Sunday 29th November 2020
- hours until 23.59 hours on Sunday 6th December 2020
- hours until 23.59 hours on Sunday 13th December 2020
- hours until 23.59 hours on Sunday 20th December 2020
- hours until 23.59 hours on Sunday 27th December 2020
- hours until 23.59 hours on Sunday 3rd January 2021
Members are also instructed not to work any Rest Days, Higher Grade Duty or Overtime from 00.01 hours on Monday 30th November 2020 until 23.59 hours on Saturday 2nd January 2021 read more
RMT response to RAIB report into tragedy at Margam, Neath Port Talbot in July 2019 published today (12 Nov) – General Secretary Mick Cash said; “Our first thoughts are with the families and friends of our members who lost their lives and our members who witnessed this tragic incident. The RAIB report is comprehensive and raises many issues of concern relating to industry standards, processes and arrangements and supports many of the concerns on track worker safety that RMT has been raising for many years. All parties in the industry need to reflect on the implications of the report and strive to put track safety as a top priority and make the necessary changes with the aim of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries read more
Video: How RMT will defend jobs and conditions (11 Nov) – Jared Wood, RMT National Executive member for London Transport region, outlines the union’s policy and strategy to defend transport workers from the attacks coming in the wake of the Covid crisis read more
Unions thank public and rail workers for overwhelming support for Stonehaven tragedy appeal fund (11 Nov) – Following the tragic events at Stonehaven, the rail unions ASLEF and RMT set up a joint fund for the families of those who died. The fund has raised an incredible £142,200 to date. Both RMT and ASLEF are overwhelmed by the response from rail union members, branches, fellow trade unionists, and the public. The fund will be split equally between the families of Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie, and Christopher Stuchbury. ASLEF and RMT wish to express our gratitude to Alan Rodgers, of Thompsons Scotland, who has independently verified the accounts read more
Support RMT strike on SERCO Caledonian Sleeper – Email messages of support via [email protected] and send donations to RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD read more Sign RMT petition demanding Transport Scotland takes action over worker fatigue on the Serco Caledonian Sleeper
Sign petition: to The Mayor of London and the London Assembly – End the privatisation of cleaning at Transport for London
Please Support RMT Members With No Wages! – RMT London Transport Region Zero Hours & Self-Employed members need our Solidarity Now! Many of our regions self-employed members and those on zero hours have not any had wages for 2 months since March. They have been abandoned by London Underground, TfL, the London Mayor and their agency employers. They MUST NOT be abandoned by us too; their RMT sisters and brothers! The RMT London Transport Regional Council and LU Engineering RMT branch are calling out to all branches, members and friends to dig deep and give meaningful solidarity to our hard pressed members facing poverty and possibly eviction from their homes. To help support by donating to the fund or to ask after support for yourself, please email: [email protected] read more
Margam Report underlines need for Network Rail to work with unions says TSSA (12 Nov) – TSSA today welcomes the accident investigation report into the Margam rail tragedy and calls on Network Rail to work jointly with rail unions on implementing the report’s lessons and recommendations. The Rail Accident Investigation branch (RAIB) has today published its report into the tragic events of Margam, near Port Talbot in South Wales, where two Network Rail workers lost their lives. On 3 July 2019, Network Rail (NR) maintenance workers Gareth Delbridge (who was 64) and Michael “Spike” Lewis (aged 58), were hit by the train travelling from Swansea to London Paddington. They were both killed. TSSA is calling on Network Rail to work with the unions on implementing the 11 recommendations and two learning points contained in the RAIB report read more
TSSA challenges Network Rail to protect jobs (12 Nov) – Over the past two days, our Union’s National Management Council Representatives have been locked in talks with the Company to ensure that our members displaced through PPF and other reorganisations are allowed fair access to vacant positions. Network Rail’s imposition of a recruitment freeze restricts the redeployment of our members displaced through organisational change. The business is failing to utilise the Redeployment Policy as it was designed – to allow displaced individuals to access suitable alternative roles across the company read more
Bosses must have zero tolerance for covid, says TSSA re Manchester Piccadilly (11 Nov) – Commenting on reports that dozens of rail staff from Manchester Piccadilly are self-isolating, transport union TSSA said “bosses must have zero tolerance for covid.” Reports emerged today (Wednesday) of a Covid-19 outbreak at Manchester Piccadilly train station, with 11 staff testing positive and dozens of their colleagues now self-isolating. Avanti and Network Rail are the main employers for the station and rail staff affected read more
TSSA slams ScotRail “Covid profiteering” (10 Nov) – TSSA today condemned Abellio and Serco for “Covid profiteering” as research revealed private rail companies in Scotland are set to make over £28 million profit under Covid-19 Emergency Measures Agreements. Research released today by the RMT shows that under the Emergency Measures Agreements which end in January 2021, private Train Operating Companies Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper are set to share nearly £13million in profits, whilst Rolling Stock Companies may have made more than £15m profit. This is equivalent to a 7.4% cut in ticket prices read more
Unions thank the public for overwhelming support for Stonehaven tragedy appeal fund (10 Nov) – Following the tragic events at Stonehaven, the rail unions ASLEF and RMT set up a joint fund for the families of those who died. The fund has raised and incredible £142,000 to date. Both RMT and ASLEF are overwhelmed by the response from rail union members, branches, fellow trade unionists, and the public. The fund will be split equally between the families of Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie, and Christopher Sutchbury. ASLEF and RMT wish to express our gratitude to Alan Rodgers, of Thompsons Scotland, who has independently verified the accounts read more
Call for West Yorkshire bus company to restore drivers’ terms and conditions, as passenger numbers rise to ‘near normal’ levels (16 Nov) – The travelling public in West Yorkshire would greatly benefit with the restoration of a full pre-Covid-19 bus schedules agreement and normal timetables, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union, said today (Monday 16 November). Nearly 400 bus drivers in Bradford, employed by First West Yorkshire, will be balloted for strike action from Monday 23 November in a dispute over the company’s refusal to restore the bus schedule to pre-pandemic levels as, the union says, traffic and passenger movements have returned to ‘near normal- but members are still working on ‘lock down’ conditions. Unite said that it hoped that the company’s reluctance to restore the full terms and conditions and timetable, unlike other operators in West Yorkshire, was not down to ‘old fashioned penny-pinching’ and called for immediate and constructive talks. Unite said that its 389 members at the Bowling Back Lane site were under a great deal of stress as they are made to work long shifts, covering for absent colleagues. Retention and recruitment problems, the restoration of the normal terms and conditions, and timetable would require a new look at workforce requirement read more
Heathrow airport set to grind to halt as strikes announced (16 Nov) – Workers at Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) are set to take targeted strike action in the dispute over plans to fire and rehire its 4,000 workers on vastly reduced pay. The strike action by members of Unite, the UK’s principal aviation union, will involve firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, operational and airside workers and will effectively close the airport. The workforce at HAL recorded an 85 per cent vote in favour of industrial action. The first 24 hour strike will take place on Tuesday 1 December, with a further one day stoppage on Monday 14 December. A 48 hour stoppage will take place on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 December read more
More Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick strikes announced as company set to be quizzed by MPs over offshoring plans (16 Nov) – Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick in Lancashire will be hit with a second and third wave of targeted strikes over plans to offshore the production of Trent jet engine blades to Singapore with the loss of 350 jobs, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Monday 16 November). The daily strikes will now continue until 24 December as the company prepares to meet with ministers and cross-party MPs this week to discuss the plans to end blade production at the factory, which Rolls-Royce has owned since 1943. The strike action originally started on 6 November. Finishing inspectors, machinists, electricians and instrumentation workers will stage a series of November and December walk outs over the proposals, which would have a devastating impact on the local economy and could potentially sound the ‘death knell’ for Rolls-Royce’s operations in the town. Unite has consistently made clear that Rolls-Royce could avoid industrial action by either cancelling its plans to offshore the work to Singapore or by ensuring the viability of Barnoldswick by introducing similar work and guaranteeing comparable employment levels. The company has failed to do this, so far read more Please send messages of support to: [email protected] #BattleforBarnoldswick #SaveOurSite. Sign this petition to Rolls Royce and the UK Government: Save Our Site – Battle for Barnoldswick (Rolls Royce)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission guarantees needed over Brexit contract changes for staff (13 Nov) – Guarantees that Brexit-related contract changes will not hurt staff are needed from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Friday 13 November 2020). CWGC staff who are British citizens but work in countries such as France and Belgium will no longer be entitled to UK contracts after December 31 2020, when the Brexit transition period ends. Instead the CWGC, where Unite has more than 50 members, has told staff they have the choice of switching to contracts based in the country they are working in or be repatriated back to the UK read more
Unite reaction to Tata Steel sale of Netherlands business (13 Nov) – Unite is calling for urgent action from the UK government to support the UK steel industry following news that Tata is working towards the sale of Tata Steel Netherlands to Swedish Steelmaker SSAB. The deal excludes Tata’s UK steel plants which it will retain meaning that Port Talbot will now be the only steel making plant left within Tata’s European business read more
Carillion’s reckless path to destruction should result in guilty being properly punished, says Unite (13 Nov) – The announcement today (Friday 13 November) by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) watchdog that senior executives of Carillion ‘mislead’ the markets and acted ‘recklessly’ should result in the guilty being sent to prison, Unite the union has said. Construction and outsourcing company, Carillion, collapsed in January 2018 owing billions, resulting in thousands of workers either directly employed by the company or in its supply chain losing their jobs. It was one of the largest corporate failures in UK history and nearly three years later the FCA has not yet completed its investigation into Carillion’s collapse read more
Drivers and assistants, who take disabled children to school in Hackney, vote to strike over Covid-19 payment (13 Nov) – Drivers and passenger assistants, who take disabled children to and from school in Hackney, have voted unanimously to strike over the failure of the council to make a one-off £500 Covid-19 payment and other health & safety issues. Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, called today (Friday 13 November) on Hackney council in east London to negotiate a fair settlement before strike days are announced shortly. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This is a very clear message from our members that we will take strike action to defend our members’ safety…” read more
Vaccine success needs a second ‘call to arms’ and a manufacturing minister to avert PPE fiasco repeat (13 Nov) – The country’s leading manufacturing union, Unite, has today (Friday 13 November) urged the prime minister to appoint a cabinet minister to bring urgently needed coordination to the production and supply of vaccines in the battle to defeat Covid-19. The union is also urging the government to issue a second ‘call to arms’ to UK manufacturing to rally to produce the vaccine, but fears that without senior ministerial leadership put in place urgently the UK will see a repeat of the PPE ‘fiasco’, when the country was forced to compete with other nations to purchase core equipment once manufactured domestically. Unite is also calling on the government to place medicine manufacturing on a par with energy, water supply and defence as a matter of national security read more
Workers vote overwhelmingly for industrial action to defend pay and conditions in Newry, Mourne and Down (Nov 13) – Unions call for council management to address workers’ grievances and avoid unnecessary and serious disruption to vital council services including cleansing and bin collections. UNITE, GMB, NIPSA and SIPTU to agree plan for escalation and potential strike dates on Tuesday 17th November. Unions representing workers in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, issued a joint statement confirming that strong majorities were recorded for industrial action in ballots run concurrently read more
Workers must not be scapegoats for Croydon council financial crisis (12 Nov) – Unite, the UK’s leading union, has warned today (Thursday 12 November) that workers at Croydon council must not be used as scapegoats following the announcement that the local authority is facing a major financial crisis and has been forced to issue a section 114 notice. Unite represents hundreds of members at the council including in parks, social services and CCTV. The union represents hundreds more members operating for Croydon’s sub-contractors including: waste services, leisure, education and housing, who are also potentially affected by the council’s financial crisis. Earlier this year the council made 15 per cent of its staff redundant, with some departments losing a quarter of their job roles. At the time Unite raised serious concerns that frontline staff were not significantly protected. Unite is alarmed at suggestions that the council could move to a four day week service and reduce the terms and conditions of staff. Not only will this adversely affect workers but it will result in local residents receiving far poorer services, with the most vulnerable being the worst affected read more
Massive increase in food bank usage during pandemic underscores necessity for welfare reform (12 Nov) – Commenting on figures released today (Thursday 12 November) by the Trussell Trust charity showing demand at its food banks increased by 47 per cent between April and September, Unite assistant general secretary responsible for the union’s army of community activists, Steve Turner, said: “Even before the pandemic, food bank usage under the Tories’ merciless attacks on the social safety net had rocketed. For years, Unite Community activists across the UK have been witness to desperate families being punished by a welfare system that left them unable to feed their children or pay for even the most basic of necessities…” read more
British Airways braced for large-scale disruption as cargo workers ballot for strike action in fire and rehire dispute (12 Nov) – British Airways is facing significant disruption in its cargo handling business in the run up to Christmas as members of Unite, the UK’s principal aviation union, prepare to ballot for industrial action. The dispute is a result of British Airways’ highly controversial plans to fire and rehire its entire workforce on vastly reduced pay. While Unite has finally been able to secure agreements to mitigate the company’s plans for most of its workers, this has currently proved impossible in the case of the cargo workers based at Heathrow Airport, where Unite has in excess of 850 members. The workforce has been forced to sign new contracts resulting in pay cuts of between 20-25 per cent. To make a difficult situation worse, British Airways is also threatening to outsource the workforce and appoint a sub-contractor to operate this part of the business. British Airways is also trying to renegotiate and weaken the collective bargaining agreement with Unite read more
London City Airport accused of poor treatment of its workforce (12 Nov) – Management at City airport has been accused of failing to treat its workers fairly, after a litany of decidedly dubious employment practices were uncovered by Unite, the UK’s principal aviation union. The workforce has been experiencing issues with the way airport managers have been applying and using the government’s job retention scheme (JRS) since the beginning of the pandemic in March. First, they did not apply the scheme correctly and it was only as a result of workers issuing a collective grievance and the threat of legal action by Unite that the matter was resolved read more
Hospitality Workers’ safety and livelihoods must not be used as a bargaining chip or political football by bosses or politicians (Nov 12) – Union condemns attempts by bosses to reopen illegally and against medical advice. Unite Hospitality organiser, Neil Moore, issued a warning to hospitality bosses who had publicly announced that they would open their doors regardless of any decision by Stormont on Coronavirus infection control read more
Driving test backlog: RSA must engage with instructors to clear bottleneck post-lockdown (12 Nov) – Driving Instructors have been seeking engagement since June. With over 90,000 applicants awaiting driving tests, trade union Unite – which represents driving instructors throughout Ireland – has called on the Road Safety Authority to engage collectively with instructors in order to clear the backlog once Level 5 restrictions are over. Pointing out that instructors have been seeking engagement with the RSA since June, Unite Regional Officer Jean O’Dowd called on the authority to “recognise that driving instructors are central to road safety” read more
Unite Wales tribute to NHS worker Mark Simons (11 Nov) – Unite Wales is deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Mark Simons, a Health Care Assistant and Unite representative who worked at Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Mark unfortunately contracted Covid-19 and died on 10 November 2020. Mark was a senior health and safety representative of Unite and sat on several important committees within Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board. He was the lead rep within the Unite branch for all matters relating to Health and safety. Within the organisation Mark was the vice chair of the staff side H&S committee read more
Unite and Greenwich Leisure Limited agree union recognition (11 Nov) – Unite the union and Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) have signed a union recognition agreement. The agreement specifically relates to the leisure contract in the London Borough of Lewisham and follows the awarding of the contract by the council to GLL, after the council ended the contract with Fusion Lifestyle. The union had made clear to the Labour council that it expected to make union recognition a condition of awarding the contract. Prior to this agreement, GLL has not formally recognised any trade union. Therefore, this is the first such agreement with the company. Industrial relations between the company and the union have at times been poor – including eight months of industrial action in Bromley. The agreement in Lewisham will put in place a dispute process to ensure attempts at dispute resolution before industrial action. Recognition in Lewisham will include provisions for negotiation, consultation, trade union organisation and access for the trade unions to staff to encourage recruitment into the union and union organisation. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Local authority leisure services, whoever the providers, face dire financial circumstances. It is a matter of public record that we want services in-sourced. But where services are outsourced, the minimum requirement must be that trade unions are recognised. That is why we have worked so hard to come to this agreement with GLL…” read more
The Law Society ‘in dock’ over failure to use furlough scheme to safeguard 44 jobs (11 Nov) – The Law Society is in the dock over its failure to utilise the government’s furlough scheme which runs until the end of March as it plans to make 44 staff redundant. Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, today (Wednesday 11 November) called on The Law Society, the organisation that represents and governs solicitors in England and Wales, to have an urgent rethink, otherwise ‘it will suffer reputational damage in the court of public opinion’. The consultation into the proposed redundancies ends tomorrow (Thursday 12 November). The society has proposed to create 47 jobs, but Unite says they are different roles, on lower grades, and include a temporary contract. Unite regional officer Carolyn Simpson said: “The Law Society is in the dock over the way it has handled these proposed job cuts and, as a result, risks reputational damage in the court of public opinion read more
Unite hails victory as Hackney parking wardens come back ‘in- house’ (11 Nov) – Unite the union said the decision by Hackney council to bring its more than 130 parking wardens back ‘in-house’ is ‘the way to go’ for those London boroughs still wedded to the outsourced, privatisation model. The borough council decided this week that the wardens, also known as civil enforcement officers (CEOs), employed by Apcoa Parking (UK) Ltd, should come back under the local authority when the contract ends in March 2022. Work on this process will begin now. Unite said that its long-running campaign to bring back under council control the troubled Apoca contract, which has been dogged by industrial disputes over pay and personal safety issues, is ‘a sign post’ for other London boroughs to shed their outsourced CEO contracts. According to council documents, ditching the Apoca contract would result in ‘certain savings’, including no longer paying performance payments under the existing contract. It would also tackle inequality by creating better job opportunities and improve staff morale, as well leading to a ‘well run’ and ‘high quality’ service. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This is tremendous news. Unite has campaigned, lobbied and taken strike action to win exactly the points now agreed by Hackney council. It has been a tough campaign, but it has resulted in a great win that should send a clear message to other councils in London that the days of the flawed outsourcing business model are numbered…” read more
Menzies urged to preserve jobs at Luton airport (11 Nov) – Baggage and airport logistics company Menzies is being urged to halt planned redundancies at Luton airport. In September, Menzies announced it would make 176 workers redundant as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of sector specific support from the government. Following extensive negotiations with Unite, the UK’s principal aviation union, and the government’s belated announcement that it was extending the job retention scheme until March next year, the number of redundancies has been reduced to 45 job losses. However Unite is hopeful that with the positive news that pharmaceutical company Pfizer has developed a vaccine that is 90 per cent effective against Covid-19, that the aviation industry can recover more quickly than anticipated and these redundancies should be avoided read more
Stop the BA Betrayal! – This groundswell has been mobilised by reps and the campaign #BAbetrayal – a ‘crisis leverage campaign, which is part of Unite’s Leverage strategy. ‘Crisis leverage’ applies many of the same principles and takes a similarly robust, muscular approach but in a much more streamlined, nimble way. In a crisis like the current coronavirus pandemic, with a company behaving like British Airways, we have to move fast and to scale. Find out more and support the #BAbetrayal campaign by Joining the #BAbetrayal Facebook campaign and follow the @BAbetrayal campaign on Twitter. Sign the petition today
Sign this petition: Extend furlough scheme for the UK Aviation sector to help stop redundancies
Sign this petition: Reinstatement of Blue Handling employees laid off due to COVID-19 and placed on Furlough
Sign this petition: Please sign and share: Extend the bereaved family payment to UK bus workers now
MTVHA – Stop the Sackings! Sign petition: To: Geeta Nanda, Chief Executive Officer, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association – Please cease all compulsory redundancies during the recruitment freeze caused by Coronavirus restrictions which would make it impossible for anyone to find alternative employment read more from Unite Housing Workers branch
Public Zoom Meeting: Support Cultural workers & fight back for the Culture sector – Against the backdrop of significant redundancies and failing finances against the culture sector, the PCS Culture group is hosting an online rally to support those workers at risk, and to begin the fightback to defend our sector. Join us on Wednesday 25th November at 18:00-20:00 for the Culture Group online rally Facebook event
Changes to civil service nationality rules (13 Nov) – PCS has met officials from the Cabinet Office to discuss proposed changes to civil service nationality rules. These changes come into existence when the UK fully exits the European Union, as expected on 31 December. However, the changes provide challenges to trade unions representing EU nationals who are currently working in the civil service read more
PCS calls for Commonwealth War Graves Commission guarantees as Brexit approaches (13 Nov) – PCS which represents staff working at the historical sites across Europe are concerned that when the transition period ends on 31 December, their members will lose out as they will no longer be on UK contracts. PCS members are working for CWGC on UK contracts in countries such as Belgium and France read more
PCS calls for greater detail on government comms plans (13 Nov) – PCS has called for greater detail on the restructuring of government communications and we hope the project will become more civil service-centred following the resignation of its chief proponent Lee Cain, the head of Government Communications, and the apparent imminent departure of the prime minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings read more
PCS condemns government for contracting out Covid vaccine communications work (12 Nov) – The union which represents government communications staff has called for an explanation from ministers as to why £640k of public money was spent on a private commercial firm to promote the Covid vaccine, when the work could have been done in-house. The decision took place in the context of ongoing negotiations between PCS and other unions with the government over the future of thousands of communications staff in civil service departments following a shakeup led by Dominic Cummings back in July. During a media storm this week, it was revealed that Dominic Cummings father-in-law was a personal friend of the director of the private PR firm, Admiral read more
PCS launch petition and pledge to fight redundancies at National Museums in Liverpool – We have launched a public campaign and petition to fight redundancies at National Museums in Liverpool. Management at the museums warned that there might be compulsory redundancies next year but not before negotiations took place. However, the commercial arm of the museums, National Museums Liverpool Trading immediately moved to make workers in the cafés, shops and events, redundant with just 4 weeks’ notice. These employees have been working and supporting the running of museums as “essential staff” since July. The union understands that over 20 employees are being made redundant but the company which doesn’t recognise trades unions is refusing to engage with PCS read more
Keep supporting ISS HMRC strikers – PCS members who clean HMRC’s Merseyside offices for multinational company ISS returned to work following a solidly supported four weeks of strike action through August. The strike is part of the members’ long-running fight for the living wage, improved working conditions and job security. Because of the demand for full occupational sick pay from day one, it is also directly linked to PCS’s Dying for Sick Pay campaign, which aims to secure occupational sick pay for all workers across the government estate…The members are meeting this week to discuss their next steps. Under the Tories’ 2016 Trade Union Act, a further postal ballot is required before they can take any more strike action, and members will need to discuss where the campaign goes next. In the meantime, you can continue to support the campaign by signing the e-action to Jim Harra on the TUC’s Megaphone site and donating to the strike fund: account name: PCS Liverpool/Bootle Campaign Account, sort code: 60-83-01, account number: 20415772
Calling all petitioners – The PCS petition calling for fair pay for UK government workers has now reached the 70,000 signatories mark. With 30,000 more signatures to go to guarantee a full debate on the issue in Parliament we are asking members who have already signed the petition to ask their friends and colleagues to also sign it read more
Please sign this PCS petition to Save Ealing Tax Office – we ask that you sign this eaction to the Chancellor calling on him to intervene urgently, to halt the office closures and redundancies, and consult fully with the union and work to retain the experience and vital knowledge contained within Ealing Tax Office. Support our call to SAVE JOBS, SAVE SERVICES and STOP THE CLOSURES
Support Interserve strikers – Interserve workers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, were on strike for the whole of February. You can support the workers in the following ways:
- Sign and publicise the E-action
- Donate to the PCS fighting fund
- Send messages of support to [email protected]
- Visit the picket line at Whitehall/King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH. Read more
500 British Airways catering jobs reprieved (13 Nov) – Members who were facing redundancy but can now look forward to a merrier Christmas. GMB, the union for aviation workers, has praised Baxter Storey after the catering company put plans to cut 500 jobs on hold. The company – chief caterer for British Airways (BA) business lounges including Heathrow’s flagship terminal five and BA’s engineering base – has told staff redundancy consultations at the airport will be paused. Workers will now be on the extended furlough scheme until the company have a clearer idea of the future plan from BA read more
We cannot tolerate women workers still being chronically underpaid (12 Nov) – GMB responds to Higher Education Policy report on graduate gender pay gap. GMB, Britain’s General Union, has responded to the Higher Education Policy’s new report on gender pay gap between graduates read more
UNISON welcomes better health and safety protection for zero-hours workers (16 Nov) – High Court rules that zero-hours workers should have the same protection as others. UNISON has welcomed a High Court ruling that zero-hours contract workers should enjoy better protection at work. The union’s national health and safety officer Robert Baughan commented: “We are pleased that the courts have ruled that zero-hours workers must enjoy the same health and safety protection as any other workers, and we look forward to the government providing the health and safety regulators with the resources to enforce this judgement” read more
Woodchurch Road Primary School support staff to take strike action over cuts to hours (16 Nov) – Twenty-one Wirral school workers have announced that they will take strike action on Thursday 3 December over Woodchurch Primary School’s proposal to cut their hours and pay by up to 20%. The school support staff- who stand to lose out as much as £3,885 in pay every year- voted 100% in favour of the strike. The teaching assistants and play workers- who had previously received the backing of local MP Mick Whitley- are supported by parents of schoolchildren and the local community. The school staff held an online meeting which has now been watched by almost 2000 people. The school staff’s trade union UNISON says that the meeting showed the “overwhelming support” for the Woodchurch workers and the opposition to the proposed cuts read more
Politics can‘t interfere in the approval of PPE, warns UNISON (13 Nov) – Political pressure to approve substandard PPE does not bode well for HSE independence once the UK finally leaves the safety of the EU, says the union. UNISON has reacted with dismay to reports that the government applied ‘political pressure’ to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to approve personal protective equipment (PPE) that did not meet safety standards read more
Government must urgently tackle funding problems for struggling councils, says UNISON (12 Nov) – Council workers should not pay the price for budget problem read more
‘Disgraceful’ Catering company Dolce cuts pay of school meals staff pay and informs key workers of their fate by text message (11 Nov) – School caterer Dolce- which provides catering services to schools across the North West including in Blackpool, Bury, Cumbria, Manchester, Rochdale, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan and the Wirral – has cut the hours and pay of hundreds of kitchen staff in schools throughout the region. On Monday, the catering company texted its staff to inform them that their hours and pay would be cut by 20% with immediate effect- a cut which will leave some more than £300 per month worse off. UNISON North West warns that this will leave hundreds of key workers struggling to make ends meet in the run up to Christmas. The school caterers were warned last month that their pay may be cut and hundreds came together in their union to oppose the decision, holding meetings online to discuss the issue. UNISON voiced its concerns about the lack of consultation in October and called on Dolce School Catering to work with the union to find a resolution. In the absence of progress, hundreds of school catering staff had submitted grievances to Dolce but the company has this week imposed the pay cuts without hearing its employees’ grievances. Appalled by the imposition of the pay cuts and the notification by text message, many of the school meals staff have since submitted letters of protest to their employer read more
Support striking Addiction support workers – We Are With You continues to refuse to pay promised wage increase, after Central Arbitration Committee rules it has to recognise UNISON. Drug and alcohol support workers in the North West recently took 10 days of strike action as they continue their fight to force their employer, national charity We Are With You (formerly Addaction), to give them a promised pay rise. The industrial action involved 30 rehabilitation staff from Wigan and Leigh in Greater Manchester read more
The Wigan Branch and North West Region are asking for donations from branches to the hardship fund. Please donate via bank transfer to:
Unity Bank Sort Code: 60 83 01 Account Number: 20244354
Or send a cheque payable to ‘UNISON Wigan Metropolitan Branch hardship fund’ to – UNISON Branch Office, Wigan Life Centre, The Wiend, Wigan WN1 1NH
DHL must take “responsibility” during pandemic and adopt real sick and self-isolation pay scheme for workers, says CWU (Nov 16) – DHL must take “responsibility” during pandemic and adopt real sick and self-isolation pay scheme for workers, says CWU. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has urged DHL Parcel UK to adopt a “culture of responsibility” for key workers, as they launch a petition calling for a proper pay plan for people who are sick with coronavirus or have been forced to self-isolate read more
Chorley post office closure scandal sparks union anger (Nov 13) – Shocking news that a franchised Post Office is to be shut down by WH Smith less than two years after the retailer took it over has provoked widespread condemnation from political leaders, business owners and members of the affected community. Residents of Chorley in Lancashire are now facing the complete loss of vital services, in a shocking betrayal of the promises made to them when their former Crown Post Office was franchised to the town’s WH Smith in February 2019. But while WH Smith plans to shut up shop, the former Crown Post Office building in the town’s Cleveland Street remains empty read more
Spotlight shone on BT’s job security and Ts&Cs bonfire as national consultative ballot is announced (Nov 5) – Thousands of BT members across the country are participating in a national day of action against compulsory redundancies, imposed change and the company’s flagrant disregard for longstanding agreements. Despite Covid restrictions banning mass gatherings, branches and regional Count Me In campaign committees across the country are finding innovative new ways to highlight and harness an unprecedented wave of workforce fury at the shoddy treatment of ‘key workers’ by a new generation of senior management. Kicking off the CWU’s second UK-wide day of protest against the belligerent new management approach sweeping across the whole of BT Group, the union has today (Thursday) announced the timetable for a national consultative ballot in which members will be able to register their opposition at management’s current trajectory. In a significant upping of the ante in the union’s Count Me In campaign – revealed this morning in a special Facebook Live session – members across all recognised parts of BT, Openreach and EE will be asked the direct question as to whether the would support a future vote for industrial action read more
Thousands lobby MPs to fund the frontline (13 Nov) – More than 4,000 people have contacted their MP demanding funding for frontline firefighters and control staff, as the Chancellor plans to publish his spending review on 25 November. 92% of MPs representing every party in Parliament have been contacted in the FBU’s campaign spanning all four countries in the UK. A number of high profile MPs have back the FBU’s #FundTheFrontline campaign on social media including Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner, former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Shadow Housing Minister Mike Amesbury, and former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas. The FBU has heard from constituents with Labour, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Sinn Fein MPs that representations have been made to the Chancellor. FBU members have raised concerns that Conservative MPs, including Cabinet Ministers Michael Gove and Dominic Raab, have either ignored requests for meetings or responded with a stock reply claiming that fire and rescue services have the funding they need, despite their constituents’ warnings about the dangers ahead for firefighters read more
Justice for Greencore Northampton Workers
Sign petition – To: Guy Dullage, Chief People Officer, Greencore
Greencore: Guarantee full pay for your self-isolating workers!
Campaign created by
Read the report published by Doctors in Unite: https://doctorsinunite.com/2020/09/02/the-role-of-airborne-spread-in-factory-outbreaks-of-covid-19/
Post-Qualification University Admissions (13 Nov) – Government proposal to use real rather than predicted A level grades for higher education places. Commenting on Gavin Williamson’s announcement of a review of the university admissions system, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The proposal to move to using real, rather than predicted A level grades to allocate higher education places is overdue and welcome. It has the potential to eradicate some of the weaknesses in the current system, in particular the under-estimation of predicted grades for disadvantaged students. It should also eliminate any bad practice of unconditional offers which can tie students into courses which are not most suited to their interests and to their future career prospects. However, whilst offers rely so heavily on grades – even when made after results are received – admissions will only ever be as fair as the system which awards these grades. To truly have ‘fair’ admissions we need a fairer qualification system in England – one which is fit for purpose for the 21st century…” read more
ONS data finds infection rates highest amongst secondary aged pupils (13 Nov) – The Office for National Statistics’ latest infection survey shows that secondary-age pupils now have the highest rate of infection of any age group and, whilst it has fallen a little as a result of the half-term holiday, it is likely to carry on increasing read more
Overcrowded Little Ilford School strikes against more expansion (12 Nov) – A huge picket line, 50 strong, launched the strike against forced expansion of Little Ilford School on Thursday 12 November. The enormous comprehensive in Manor Park, east London, already teaches 1,470 students. Labour-run Newham Council wants it to take 1,800. Any more would overwhelm students and staff. Ebullient pickets chanted “stop the expansion” and sang protest lyrics set to the Sister Sledge hit ‘We Are Family’ as smiling Year 11 students filed past. Staff voted overwhelmingly against the expansion. One picket told the rally that the council’s ‘consultation’ spoke to just 12 parents! Louise Cuffaro, secretary of the borough’s National Education Union branch, told the strike rally: “We will strike until they listen!” Newham NEU has accepted the offer of talks – it’s the council which has refused to engage – but plans to keep the strike on until there is an acceptable proposal. The council has known about the need for more secondary places for six years. It’s a consequence of Labour’s gentrification projects in surrounding areas, combined with Labour’s compliant execution of Tory austerity. Now the council wants to cram working-class kids into an already under-resourced school at the eleventh hour. Of course, the local authority is making promises of more facilities and staff to sweeten the deal. But as another striker told the rally: “We need those things now, even without hundreds more students. We need family liaison now. We need more TAs now. We need vocational subjects now.” This kind of action across the country is what is necessary if we want schools to be safe. Little Ilford’s next planned strike days are Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 November (from a report by local NSSN supporter)
Latest school attendance figures – November (10 Nov) – Attendance data from England and Wales confirm the significant role that schools play in virus transmission read more
Instructions to disable Test and Trace app risk lives (16 Nov) – Responding to reports that teachers are being told to disable to the NHS Test and Trace app in schools, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “The Government rightly states that the NHS Test and Trace app is a key part of the UK’s Covid-19 response. Instructions for the use of the app clearly state it should switched on at all times in schools unless the phone is in a locker. It beggars belief that some schools are disregarding such clear instructions and it is deeply worrying that local public health teams appear to be giving similar advice. Even more concerning is that some teachers are being told to disregard app notifications to self-isolate, apparently in order to reduce the numbers of staff and pupils self-isolating…” read more
Plan to keep schools safe during pandemic (13 Nov) – The NASUWT has submitted a ten-point plan to the Education ministers in the four nations of the United Kingdom to secure safe schools during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Teachers cannot teach and children cannot learn effectively where their health or safety is at risk. The coronavirus pandemic has delivered an unprecedented impact on children’s education, highlighting the need for safe conditions for teaching and learning, without which there will be fewer teachers teaching and more pupils forced to spend time out of school whilst they self-isolate. Governments and employers have a duty at all times, especially during this crisis, to do whatever it takes to ensure that, where they remain open to pupils, schools/colleges are, above all, safe places for teaching and learning read more
Covid-19 pressures risk damaging education (11 Nov) – Two thirds (66%) of teachers in England are reporting they have colleagues who have displayed symptoms of Covid-19 in their school or college, an NASUWT survey has found. The responses indicate that the education of tens of thousands of children is being disrupted by the pandemic, with almost six in ten (59%) teachers reporting that classes/year groups or ‘bubbles’ had been sent home because of suspected or positive Covid-19 cases. While nearly half of teachers (47%) said they were confident about the way their school or college was dealing with suspected and actual cases, a third (33%) were not read more
NASUWT responds to Welsh Government’s plans for 2021 qualifications (10 Nov) – Commenting on the Welsh Government’s plans for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications in 2021, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union said: “We welcome the Government’s decision that there will be no end of year examinations for learners taking GCSEs, AS levels or A levels. We are also pleased that there is a commitment to include assessments that will be externally set and marked which will go some way to addressing our concerns over teacher workload. However, this new system will be developed by a new Design and Delivery Advisory Group, involving school and college leaders rather than classroom teachers. This misses a vital opportunity of factoring in the classroom experience which shows us that the pandemic has detrimentally affected children’s learning in different ways from school to school…” read more
Rising COVID infection levels highlight concerns over school safety (13 Nov) – The EIS has today highlighted that the growing number of pupils and teachers infected with COVID-19 is creating increased concern over the effectiveness of COVID mitigations in schools and the safety of pupils, staff and the wider community. Figures published on a regular basis by the Scottish Government have highlighted week-on-week increases in both the number of pupils and teachers infected with COVID-19 and, also, the number of pupils and teachers absent from school due to being required to self-isolate. The latest updated figures, published on the Scottish Government website today, indicate that 29,486 pupils were absent from school on 10th November for COVID-related reasons – an increase of 28% on the previous week’s figure of 23,034. For teachers, the figure of 1,559 teachers absent for COVID-related reasons represents an 18% increase on the previous week’s figure of 1,326 read more
EIS consults members for views on COVID action in schools (11 Nov) – The EIS has launched a consultation on the response to COVID in Scotland’s schools. The EIS has today (Tuesday) issued a survey to its teacher members across Scotland, seeking their views on the effectiveness of COVID safety measures in schools. The survey will close next week and will inform the next steps to be taken by the EIS to protect teachers and pupils from the potential risk of COVID-19 infection. Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “Teachers across Scotland have continued to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver a sound educational experience for young people across the country. This has brought significant challenges in terms of seeking to meet the educational needs of all young people while also ensuring that any risk of potential COVID-19 infection is reduced. With COVID infections on the rise across the country, we are again consulting with our members to seek their views on the effectiveness of COVID safety measures and on their willingness or otherwise to support ‘safety strikes’ should they be necessary” read more
Forth Valley College staff commence industrial action (10 Nov) – This week, EIS members at Forth Valley College have commenced industrial action short of strike over cuts to 30 lecturers’ jobs. The action includes ‘working to rule’, where members will do no more than the minimum required by their contract, escalating to a refusal to take an accurate student register, a marking boycott, and refusing to cover for absent colleagues. Members are taking action from 10th November until 29th January 2021, unless and until a resolution is found. 80% of participating members voted for action short of strike, with turnout of 53%, in a ballot last month. The members involved are spread across sites in Falkirk, Alloa, and Stirling read more
Over 770 academics condemn UKRI treatment of PhD students (16 Nov) – In an open letter over 770 researchers have slammed UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) over its treatment of students during the Covid pandemic. The letter comes after UKRI decided to prevent further extensions of time or funding to PhD students whose research has been impacted by the public health crisis. Instead it told students to complete their PhD qualification within its funded period. Signatories include members of UKRI’s research councils, staff responsible for doctoral research programmes, key research partners, and supervisors on UKRI funded research projects read more
UCU response to Westminster government university admissions system review (13 Nov) – UCU welcomed an announcement from education secretary Gavin Williamson for a post-qualification university admissions system. UCU was responding to government proposals to review the current system in England after years of campaigning by the union. UCU has been at the forefront of calls for admissions reform having proposed a post-qualification application system that is student centred. The union released a poll earlier in the year that showed school, college and university leaders want to reform university admissions. It also published a report detailing how the admissions system could be overhauled, and highlighted that the UK is the only country to use predicted grades for university admissions read more
UCU response to Universities UK admissions review (13 Nov) – UCU welcomed the call by Universities UK (UUK) for a post-qualification admissions system after years of campaigning by the union. It was responding to UUK’s ‘Fair Admissions Review’, which includes recommendations to end the current unfair admissions system. UCU has been at the forefront of calls for reform having released a poll earlier in the year that showed school, college and university leaders want to reform university admissions. It has also published a report detailing how the admissions system could be overhauled, and highlighted that the UK is the only country to use predicted grades for university admissions read more
UKRI must provide more support to PhD students hit hard by Covid (12 Nov) – UCU said it was not good enough for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to respond to Covid-19 difficulties by telling PhD students to complete their research within their funded period when it has a budget of £6bn. The union was responding to UKRI’s advice to PhD students that they should speak to their supervisor about adjusting projects to complete their PhD qualification within their funded period read more
UCU response to Hepi report on graduate gender pay gap (12 Nov) – UCU said universities need to make addressing the gender pay gap a priority in higher education. The union was responding to a new report, ‘Mind the (graduate gender) pay gap’, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute read more
UCU comment on Scottish ministerial statement on student returns at Christmas (11 Nov) – Commenting on the statement by Richard Lochhead, minister for further and higher education and science, on students returning home at Christmas, Mary Senior, UCU Scotland official said: ‘Students who wish to must be able to travel home safely at Christmas, and asymptomatic testing can play a key role in this read more
Strike action on the cards at University of East London in row over job cuts (10 Nov) – UCU has warned the University of East London (UEL) of potential industrial action over the university’s decision to push ahead with compulsory job cuts. UCU will ballot members at UEL for industrial action, starting on 17 November and finishing on 16 December. The row centres on 10 compulsory job cuts, including seven to academic posts, and the knock-on additional workload that staff would face. In July UEL said it needed to make 134 people redundant due to an expected decline in student numbers due to Covid-19, but the university is forecasting higher student enrolments than last year. The cuts would mean 92 jobs would go in total, after 82 staff agreed to take voluntary redundancy earlier this year. The latest round of cuts are aimed at senior academics with decades of experience in social sciences and architecture. The union said it sent a worrying message to students that the university was cutting almost 100 jobs despite the university forecasting an increase in student enrolments, and with staff workloads already at unbearable levels read more
Agreement reached in dispute between Heriot-Watt University and UCU (9 Nov) – Agreement has been reached to fully resolve the dispute between Heriot-Watt University and UCU in relation to potential compulsory redundancies. The parties have been in detailed consultation since early August regarding the university’s proposal to cut over 100 jobs, a process both parties consider to have been positive and constructive throughout. Early in the consultation process agreement was reached to open a Voluntary Redundancy Programme and to explore other ways to avoid potential compulsory redundancies read more
Belarusian Association of Journalists given Media Freedom Award (16 Nov) – The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland joins with the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) to welcome the Canada-UK Media Freedom Award that has been given to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ). BAJ was nominated for the award by the EFJ read more
Report finds no evidence of unlawful pay discrimination at BBC but improvements still needed (12 Nov) – An investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found the BBC was not guilty of unlawful discrimination but has put in place a set of recommendations including carrying out equal pay audits every five years. The commission (EHRC) said in its report, Investigation into unlawful pay discrimination at the BBC, while it did not find evidence of systemic pay discrimination by the BBC, it acknowledged there were individual cases and said the complaints it looked at in detail “highlighted some poor pay practices and recommended that the BBC should adopt more rigorous and transparent pay systems to remove any unfairness and potential pay discrimination” read more
UK government under fire over #ForgottenFreelances (11 Nov) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson was taken to task during Prime Minister’s Question Time in Parliament over the millions of freelances who have fallen through the cracks of the government’s Covid-19 aid packages read more
HIAL Air Traffic staff still overwhelmingly opposed to remote towers project (13 Nov) – Prospect has conducted a survey of Air Traffic members in Highland and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL). This survey follows a similar survey conducted in 2018. A summary of the results of the new survey can be read here. The results show that two years on from our first survey HIAL staff are still overwhelmingly opposed to the remote towers project. They are still supportive of modernising HIAL’s air traffic control infrastructure but believe that this should be delivered at each airport rather than centralised in Inverness. This option, as well as protecting highly skilled jobs in rural communities, remains cheaper and easier to deliver than HIAL’s centralised solution read more
BT off-shoring is ‘short-sighted’, says Prospect (10 Nov) – BT has announced its intention to transfer the majority of its procurement function to its newly created company, ProcureCo, based in Dublin. BT is claiming that moving to Dublin is a “clear statement” for a post-Brexit European footprint read more
Prospect launches second State of Natural England report (10 Nov) – A decade of austerity with pay cuts, budget cuts, cuts to grants and a decline in staff numbers is putting England’s natural heritage at risk. That is the finding of the second report by Prospect into the State of Natural England which shows that the agency does not have the resources it needs to continue to adequately fulfil its responsibilities. The first report was published in 2019. Over the past two years Prospect, the main union for workers in Natural England, has spoken to its members about their experiences at work, analysed budgets and grants, and assessed programmes. What we have found is an agency getting beyond crisis point read more
Three-quarters of retail staff say abuse has been worse during the pandemic – Usdaw launches Respect for Shopworkers Week (16 Nov) – Retail trade union Usdaw has today launched Respect for Shopworkers Week with shocking statistics from their annual survey. Interim results from over 2,000 retail staff show that so far this year:
- 76% say abuse has been worse than normal during the Covid-19 pandemic,
- 85% of shopworkers have experienced verbal abuse,
- 57% were threatened by a customer,
- 9% were assaulted.
The annual Respect for Shopworkers Week runs from 16-22 November 2020. During the week, Usdaw will be raising awareness of the year-round Freedom from Fear Campaign and promoting the parliamentary petition calling on the Government to legislate to protect shopworkers. The petition currently has over 70,000 signatures and can be signed at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621 read more
BCM Fareva dispute: Usdaw to ballot on industrial action at the Nottinghamshire based manufacturer of Boots products (11 Nov) – Usdaw, the trade union for staff at BCM Ltd is to ballot members on industrial action in a year-long pay dispute with BCM Ltd, which is part of the Fareva group and is based at the Boots site in Beeston, Nottinghamshire. Usdaw has expressed frustration at the company’s continued refusal to make a pay offer for staff who have worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic and urges the manufacturer to end their pay freeze before the union is forced into the last resort of industrial action read more
Stop union victimisation: Reinstate Richie Venton Glasgow USDAW – IKEA workers need YOUR support. This is a campaign page set up by workers furious at the victimisation and sacking of the elected USDAW shop steward and convener in IKEA Glasgow, RICHIE VENTON, and IKEA’s attacks on workers’ rights and conditions, including removal of wages from workers off sick with COVID-19. Richie has been singled out and sacked for standing up for the health, safety and lives of workers he represents, demanding safety measures and full average pay for all workers sick or self-isolating with the killer virus. He is the first trade unionist in Scotland to be sacked by employers in disputes over workers’ safety from the Coronavirus. Since sacking him, IKEA have imposed even worse cutbacks, including on company sick benefit, putting far more workers on just £95 Statutory Sick Pay, which could force some to continue working because of hardship, spreading the virus, endangering lives. This campaign is to reinstate Richie to his job and his elected union position; to win full average wages for all COVID-sick workers, in IKEA and every other workplace; and to stop employers making £billions in profit but endangering workers’ lives by expecting them to survive on £95-a-week Statutory Sick Pay. Sign the Petition – Add your voice and support to the demand that Ikea reinstate Richie Venton and reinstate sick workers’ wages by signing the secure petition read more on Reinstate Richie Venton website
Taoiseach commits to meeting Mandate and Debenhams workers (13 Nov) – Mandate has today (Friday, 13th November) welcomed the commitment from An Taoiseach Micheál Martin to meet with the Union. The meeting will be an opportunity to resolve the protracted dispute involving 1,000 ex-Debenhams workers and the Union is looking forward to productive engagement between the parties. Debenhams workers have been on strike for 218 days after their employer filed for liquidation during the Covid lockdown. The workers are seeking their agreed collective redundancy package of four weeks pay per year of service read more
SIPTU seeks redeployment by Rehab Enterprises of Smiles Newsagents workers (16 Nov) – SIPTU representatives are seeking the redeployment by Rehab Enterprises of workers employed by Smiles Newsagents who have been informed that they will lose their jobs by the end of the year read more
SIPTU seeks urgent meeting to discuss threat of redundancies at Valeo Vision Systems (13 Nov) – SIPTU representatives are seeking an urgent meeting with management at Valeo Vision Systems in Tuam, county Galway, following a decision by the company to make 60 staff redundant read more
Security guard & union activist suspended by outsourcing firm Wilson James because of his and his union’s belief that ‘outsourcing is discriminatory’ (13 Nov) – Trade union United Voices of the World (UVW) has vowed to apply for a high court injunction to stop the dismissal of Mr Cetin Avsar, a security guard employed by security, aviation and construction company Wilson James to work at the Francis Crick Institute in Kings Cross, London, in what UVW has described as “a blatant and egregious breach of Mr Avsar’s human rights.” Wilson James has suspended Mr Avsar and invited him to a disciplinary hearing after only 3 weeks on the job following the company’s discovery that he led a strike in his previous job “to be taken in-house and given the same terms as all in house employees” and because he is a member of UVW union who supported him and “believe that outsourcing is antiquated and discriminatory” read more
Major London law firm Vardags loses High Court battle to ‘gag’ former employee in ‘tacky or tarty’ dress code row (12 Nov) – Trade union United Voices of the World (UVW) has declared victory following its member’s successful “High Court showdown” over an attempt by one of the country’s top divorce law firms to “gag” a former employee accused of leaking a memo in which female staff were reminded that they could dress ‘discreetly sexy’, but ‘never tarty’. The High Court battle saw the firm Vardags apply for an interim injunction and costs of £68,000, along with an order requiring the ex-employee to provide certain information within 24 hours. Vardags even sought to have the application heard in secret but on all these points their position was rejected by the Court read more
IWGB wins groundbreaking health and safety legal challenge against the Government (13 Nov) – The High Court has ruled in favour of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) that the UK Government has failed to transpose important EU health and safety protections into UK law. In a detailed judgment handed down today, Mr Justice Chamberlain found that the UK has failed to grant workers in the ‘gig economy’ the rights they are entitled to under EU Health and Safety law read more
Security Officers at University of Greenwich demand an end to racial discrimination (11 Nov) – The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has served notice of dispute on Sodexo on behalf of security officers working for the contractor at the University of Greenwich demanding an end to racial discrimination. Security officers, the vast majority of whom are BAME, have been required to take on additional responsibilities during the pandemic, but have not received hazard pay or a bonus. Meanwhile porters, also subcontracted to Sodexo and a majority of whom are White British, have received a £300.00 per month bonus for working during the pandemic read more
Public Zoom Meeting (hosted by Caerphilly Trades Council): ‘A how-to guide to fighting to defend jobs, pay, pensions and conditions!’ Friday, 27 November 7.30pm Facebook event
NEW FILM ‘More To Building Ships’ based on our R & D interviewing former shipyard workers. Thank you to Findlay Napier for the use of his song and all the interviewees & artists involved in this film about the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ (UCS) ‘Work-in’ of 1971/2 Townsend Theatre Productions www.townsendproductions.org.uk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-17NnPJ-Pdw&t=1s
Support the NHS pay protests – On Saturday September 12th there were demonstrations and rallies in many towns and cities. Workers in the NHS and care sector workers demand an immediate 15% pay rise that starts to close the income gap caused by a decade of pay freezes. Please join the protests that are taking place. Details of some of these events can be found here in the Nurses and Midwives say NO! to Public Sector pay inequality Facebook group and on the Keep Our NHS Public website. Also visit the website of Health Campaigns Together. We support the call of many health workers for industrial action ballots, co-ordinated across all the health unions and linking up with all other workers in public services. We are confident that this would be supported by workers in the private sector and all those who benefit from health and social care, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic where so many staff put their lives on the line. Sign the petition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak – ‘We demand a pay rise for key workers’
Fight blacklisting and victimisation of union reps
#SPYCops Inquiry exposes state surveillance of workers movement
The NSSN sends our solidarity and support to all those taking part in the Undercover Policing Inquiry who have suffered from state surveillance into the labour and trade union movement and a whole number of campaigns from anti-racism to environmentalism.
The Blacklist Support Group opening statement at the public inquiry will take place at 10am Tuesday 17th November. The statement will be live streamed and can be viewed via this link
Builders Crack: The Movie
In the current situation, this long lost film from the 1990s about rank and file union organising in the construction industry is intended to lift the spirits, but also to spark a debate in our movement. Hope the youngsters in this film put a smile on your face.
Watch – Share – Discuss
Blacklist Support Group
Defend Judith Katera Unite rep on London buses – Judith is a longstanding union rep and activist in Battersea garage in Abellio in South London. Last week, she was facing a disciplinary meeting and possible dismissal. Judith is adamant that false claims are being alleged against her. Judith and Moe Muhsin Manir, the rep at Walworth garage in the same company feel that they are both being targeted. Thanks for your support for Judith, including those who were intending to come to the solidarity protest. It is on hold because the disciplinary process has not been completed. We are calling on Abellio to drop the false charges against Judith so she can return to work and represent her members. But if Abellio still move to sack Judith, a solidarity rally will be organised. Stop union busting!
Reinstate Richie Venton Glasgow USDAW – IKEA workers need YOUR support. This is a campaign page set up by workers furious at the victimisation and sacking of the elected USDAW shop steward and convener in IKEA Glasgow, RICHIE VENTON, and IKEA’s attacks on workers’ rights and conditions, including removal of wages from workers off sick with COVID-19. Richie has been singled out and sacked for standing up for the health, safety and lives of workers he represents, demanding safety measures and full average pay for all workers sick or self-isolating with the killer virus. He is the first trade unionist in Scotland to be sacked by employers in disputes over workers’ safety from the Coronavirus. Since sacking him, IKEA have imposed even worse cutbacks, including on company sick benefit, putting far more workers on just £95 Statutory Sick Pay, which could force some to continue working because of hardship, spreading the virus, endangering lives. This campaign is to reinstate Richie to his job and his elected union position; to win full average wages for all COVID-sick workers, in IKEA and every other workplace; and to stop employers making £billions in profit but endangering workers’ lives by expecting them to survive on £95-a-week Statutory Sick Pay. Sign the Petition – Add your voice and support to the demand that Ikea reinstate Richie Venton and reinstate sick workers’ wages by signing the secure petition read more on Reinstate Richie Venton website
Manchester bus workers to hold consultative ballot on industrial action, as rep suspended for carrying out trade union duties Colin Hayden – About 500 Manchester bus drivers will hold a consultative ballot on whether they want to take industrial action after a senior Unite rep at bus company Go North West Limited was suspended for carrying out legitimate trade union activities. Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union, said that the ballot follows the suspension of the rep, who is also a Unite branch chair, as the union highlighted plans to reduce the wages of 500 Manchester bus drivers by an estimated £2,000-a-year. The company has attempted to railroad changes to the terms and conditions of the bus drivers – while 80 per cent of the drivers, including all of the Unite reps except for the senior rep, were furloughed – via the offer of a one-off payment of £5,000. Unite, however, says that within three years its members would be worse off, if the plan were allowed to go-ahead…Unite said that the working practices at the Queens Road depot which the company wants to buy-out have since been replaced by additional cleaning and cash collection duties which mean the bus drivers are working just as hard. The consultative ballot will be held by the end of August. Whether Unite proceeds to a full-scale industrial action ballot, including the option for strike action, depends on the outcome of the consultative vote read more
Unite launches campaign to stop Go Ahead Group using COVID 19 as cover to slash pay and conditions (9 Sept) – Unite, Britain’s biggest union, has launched an international campaign to stop the owners of the Manchester bus company Go North West from using Covid 19 as cover for making savage cuts to bus drivers’ pay and conditions, while victimising and gagging a Unite union representative. Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey has written to Go Ahead Group’s CEO David Brown to warn him that Unite will be using all available resources to provide “immediate assistance to our members”. “In addition to industrial action this will mean exposing your company’s behaviour to all of your stakeholders, partners and associates. This will include mobilising all of our allies and contacting our significant political network in the Nordic countries, Germany and Australasia” read more
FCC dismiss Tony Smith Hull Unison Activist
Trade Unionists and activists will be outraged to hear that Unison activist Tony Smith’s dismissal has been upheld by FCC. As previously reported, Tony’s dismissal on trumped up charges was because of his trade union activities. It took nearly five weeks from the appeal to the outcome for FCC to confirm the sacking. Tony has faced the mental torture of not knowing whether he has a job or not, but the time taken reflected that dismissing him was not a simple issue because of the high profile that Tony has in the local Labour movement. Unison will be seeking compensation and the campaign focuses on Hull City Council to end its contract with FCC. Mick Whale Chair Hull Trades Council
PCS: Trade unionists asked to send solidarity to PCS rep dismissed after blowing the whistle (25 July) – Trade unionists are being urged to send solidarity messages to a PCS rep dismissed after whistleblowing at the Department of Work and Pensions. Enrico La Rocca, who had worked for the DWP for more than 27 years, lost his job in May after highlighting serious concerns with management over a number of years. His complaints resulted in questions being asked about the department’s handling of Carer’s Allowance overpayments by the National Audit Office (NAO) and raised by in a Work and Pensions Select Committee report read more from Union News
RMT: SUSPENSION OF RMT REPRESENTATIVES, FRATTON – SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY – Following my previous Circular (IR/171/20) dated 14th May 2020, as you are aware, two of our representatives, Mark Gamble and Brian Perren, were suspended from duty using unscrupulous charges. South Western Railway’s actions throughout this dispute have been appalling. The company have clearly targeted our members as they are hardworking and effective representatives. The callous action of South Western Railway has been abhorrent from the very start of this dispute. Our members recently had their disciplinary hearings and after successful representation Brother Brian Perren has been reinstated to his substantive role. However, Mark has been left in limbo by the company and still faces these ridiculous charges. This means that the ballot that was due to close today (4th June) has been cancelled. As one of our members has been reinstated, this changes the basis of the original ballot. Unfortunately, because of the anti-trade union laws we would not have been able to use any mandate we received from this ballot. Therefore, we have to run a fresh ballot and this will be to continue to defend our suspended Brother Mark Gamble. The National Executive Committee has considered this matter and has congratulated our members and all those who assisted Brian in proving his innocence and ensuring he is reinstated to his substantive role. The NEC has also instructed me to run a fresh ballot in defence of our Brother Mark Gamble who still remains suspended. It is incredibly disappointing that the company has failed to see sense and instead have chosen to drag on an unnecessary dispute. It is disgraceful that Mark remains suspended and we have no choice but to stand shoulder to shoulder and defy SWR’s callous and distasteful decision. I have written to the company today to advise them of this union’s position and they have been left in no doubt that we will not allow them to pursue outrageous charges against our from democratically elected representatives (from RMT general secretary Mick Cash)
Clara Paillard PCS victory – We are delighted to announce that the threat of dismissal has been lifted and Clara, PCS president in the Culture sector, is ‘back at work’ (although from home during the current pandemic).
Reinstate Percy Yunganina UVW union – Percy is a cleaner at King’s college with 5 years on the job, and a UVW executive committee member, who’s just been sacked after a disciplinary hearing he refused to attend due to observing the government’s social distancing guidelines but which King’s College proceeded with anyway in his absence without even letting him know or inviting him to attend via phone. The hearing would have had 8 people cramped together in a small room in complete disregard of the government’s instructions about social distancing. Percy has explained the reaons for not attending and asked for the decision to be overturned and the hearing to be reconvened via phone or in person after Lockdown. However, King’s have scandalously refused this request and have insisted on upholding his dismissal which now leaves Percy out of work and out of pocket in the middle of a pandemic! He will formally appeal but it could take months to hear and deliver an outcome. We will also take King’s to tribunal but that could take over a year. This is utterly shameless conduct by King’s HR team, led by Nigel Smith, the Head of People Services. They need to be held to account. Everyone deserves the right to a fair hearing and should not have that right denied them for respecting the government’s public health guidelines about social distancing. Please repost this and write to Nigel Smith at the following address telling him to reinstate Percy – [email protected]
Sign the petition: Reinstate Ezra Christian RMT – We, the undersigned, are appalled at the treatment and summary dismissal of our Bakerloo Line colleague Ezra Christian. Ezra has been treated very harshly and does not deserve to be sacked. We call on London Underground to do the right thing in this case and Reinstate Ezra back into London Underground Employment immediately
Reinstate Clive Walder Unite: the campaign continues – Unfortunately, we have to inform you that the appeal by Unite against Clive’s dismissal by National Express in Birmingham was unsuccessful. In the hearing on 5 March, the company downgraded his offence from gross misconduct to misconduct and altered the penalty from summary dismissal to dismissal with four weeks’ notice. We believe dismissal is totally disproportionate and Clive should be reinstated. Clive and his union Unite the union will shortly decide the next steps in his campaign against his sacking. Clive would like to thank all those who have expressed solidarity with him, including supporters of the National Shop Stewards Network who took part in the protest leafleting of his workplace before the appeal hearing. It was successful enough for National Express to report it to the Unite full time official. Please continue to send protest emails to [email protected]. The NSSN has produced a flyer which can be downloaded and printed off to give to National Express employees and customers in support of Clive. We are appealing to our supporters to take photos of any solidarity protests and post on social media
Support Danyal Aziz Unite – Daniel was a Unite rep at London City Airport, who was recently sacked. Labour MP Sam Tarry has tabled a Parliamentary Early Day Motion in support of Danyal. Email your local MP to get them to sign the EDM
Defend Paul Williams PCS – Stop the victimisation of senior PCS rep Paul Williams – Paul Williams has a long and proud history of defending his colleagues at the Department for Transport, and predecessor departments, for nearly 40 years but as a result of his union activities is facing compulsory redundancy even though there are vacancies at his grade read more
Sign the petition: Reinstate UNISON rep Peter Moorhead and stop victimising trade unionists at Alternative Futures Group (AFG)
Support the ASDA workers and reinstate Michael Hunnum – 12,000 workers faced being sacked before Christmas by scrooge bosses ASDA, who are now owned by US superstore giant Walmart. This threat hanging over them was unless they agree to the new ‘Contract 6’ which will see them lose all their paid breaks and forced to work bank holidays. The same employer is sacking North East GMB member Michael Hunnam. Michael’s fight is part of the same struggle to resist the offensive of the ASDA bosses. Michael’s supporters believe that his determined opposition to Contract 6 is what has put him in the ASDA firing line. Support the ASDA workers and reinstate Michael!
Guardian: Ricky Tomlinson’s criminal convictions to be re-examined
Appeal court to look again at case of Royle Family actor after claims he may have been unjustly jailed
The criminal convictions of actor Ricky Tomlinson, who starred in the TV comedy the Royle Family, are to be re-examined by appeal court judges after an official body suggested he may have been unjustly jailed. Tomlinson and other trade unionists have been campaigning for years to clear their names after they were jailed during a strike in the 1970s. On Tuesday, the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the public body that scrutinises alleged miscarriages of justice, announced it had asked the court of appeal to review the cases of Tomlinson and others. Tomlinson, 80, said it was “good news” and an opportunity to prove that he and 23 other men were prosecuted in what amounted to a politically motivated attack on the trade union movement by the government, police and managers read more in Guardian
Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work 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)
Blacklisted t-shirts available at: https://shop.hopenothate.org.uk/component/hikashop/product/78-blacklisted-t-shirt
Tonight Tuesday 17 November 6pm: Online Webinar – Women’s Rights and the Struggle in Turkey (streamed on the Solidarity with the People of Turkey SPOT website in Turkish with English subtitles) details here
GMB: Turkey – Action on Erdoğan, GMB and international solidarity read more
Support the protests against Nigerian government – All workers in the UK who have seen the video footage of soldiers firing live ammunition into fleeing peaceful protesters in Lagos in October will have been horrified at this brutal demonstration of state violence. Those of Nigerian descent will, of course, be worried for the safety of relatives in the country.
Trade unionists everywhere must condemn this atrocity – and others perpetrated by the Nigerian security forces – and lend assistance to those fighting the corrupt government, still desperately clinging to their incredible claims about the resultant deaths being fake news. President Muhammadu Buhari has blood on his hands and must go!
Demonstrations over the recent period, aimed originally at disbanding the hated Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – a police unit which became synonymous with corruption and extrajudicial murders – have involved workers but also newer layers of younger people, moving into political activity for the first time.
Years of frustration, disappointment, poverty and anger have exploded into a mighty mass movement putting into question the future of not just the current government system, but the very country itself.
The violence which has swept the country since is not linked to the original peaceful AntiSARS protests but to the response of the state forces to them. These have been planting agent provocateurs aimed at causing confusion, provoking a response and giving them an excuse for further brutality. Even the BBC reported that “video evidence suggests that they were encouraged by police officers to target the demonstrators”.
In a country where two-thirds of young people are either unemployed or underemployed, and where 100 million people (half the population) live in extreme poverty, there are those who can be hired to carry out such deeds.
But even the violence highlights the endemic corruption, with attacks in a third of Nigeria’s 36 states on warehouses storing Covid-19 ‘food palliatives’ – aid meant for distribution, but which has not been distributed over the past months. The fact that some of this aid has rotted or been found in politicians’ homes, has not helped the government’s claims it was being stored in preparation for a second wave of Covid-19. The government has used the attacks on the warehouses to denounce many protesters as looters and frozen personal bank accounts of AntiSARS organisers, ignoring the fact that Nigeria’s biggest looters are at the top.
Understandably, amid such political corruption, there is a deep hostility to ‘politics’ and calls for the movement, even amongst some of the bravest anti-SARS and anti-SWAT (the replacement unit after the original government climbdown over SARS) protestors, to be initially anti-political. Now a discussion has started on how to build a political alternative to the corrupt political system.
As Nigerian workers in their millions know too well from the struggles of the past, separating politics from the actions of the state is impossible. The NSSN lends its support in any way we can to the workers’ movement opposition to state repression, austerity and poverty.
Kevin Pattison NSSN Steering Committee Yorkshire rep
#EndSARS: Send solidarity messages to YRC read more
PHONE 07952 283 558
EMAIL mailto:[email protected]
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ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE