Last week, the NSSN celebrated the tremendous victory by Unite bus workers in Manchester against ‘Fire and Rehire’. This week, we are able to salute three further welcome wins by Unite and the BFAWU. Binworkers in Thurrock, Essex have defeated the Tory Council’s attack on their income after an indefinite 6-week strike. Also, striking Hovis workers in Belfast have won an improved pay offer, while bus drivers in West London have forced back Metroline’s attempt to introduce remote sign-on after workers were due to start a series of strikes. As with the Manchester win, these and the other victories being won by workers taking action must be used by the while union movement to show that if a fighting lead is given, workers can defeat the brutal offensive of the bosses as they look to make us pay for the Covid crisis.
Unite: Breakthrough for Thurrock Council workers (21 May) – Unite members who provided essential services during the height of the pandemic have voted to suspend their six week strike after ongoing talks with Thurrock Council delivered a breakthrough. Around 90 workers in the waste and recycling department at Thurrock Council have been on strike since the 13 April 2021. The workers faced losing between £1200 and £3800 a year but the Council has now made positive changes to the original proposal which means members will not have a reduction to their pay. The workers will return to work on Monday 24 May. Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said: “This deal is a victory for the workers who stood firm for six weeks in a strike to defend their pay. The workers and the residents of Thurrock will be pleased that the council have amended their plans, and services can get back to normal. “These essential workers, who were applauded for their work through the pandemic, now deserve to be applauded for the solidarity and determination they showed. When workers organise, workers win.”
London bus strikes off as Unite wins Metroline campaign against remote sign-on (24 May) – Planned London bus strikes set to begin tomorrow (Tuesday 25 May) have been called off following consultation with members who agreed proposals which will halt remote sign-on at Metroline. The dispute involving more than 4,000 bus drivers was a result of Metroline’s plans to introduce the controversial system, in which drivers do not report to a depot but meet a bus along a route, such as at a bus stop. However, following the threat of industrial action, the company agreed not to proceed. Instead, Metroline has guaranteed that the measure will not be introduced on current or new routes until 31 December 2022, following which, if it does wish to consider remote sign-on again, it must consult with the union first. Unite’s members had recorded over a 95 per cent yes vote in favour of industrial action on the matter and have now voted by over 80 per cent to accept the new proposal. Unite regional officer Mary Summers said: “This is an excellent result for our members at Metroline who were rightly fearful of how remote sign-on would affect their pay, health and wellbeing. By standing together in solidarity, our members have forced Metroline to return to the negotiating table think again and drop their remote sign-on plans for now. The level of anger expressed by Metroline workers demonstrates how deeply unpopular and potentially dangerous remote sign-on is among London bus drivers.” Because bus drivers are only paid for driving time, remote sign-on amounts on average to a seven per cent cut in pay. It also means there are no checks on whether a driver is fit to drive a bus, raising severe safety fears. And there are deep concerns that with drivers needing to drive longer to make up the shortfall in wages, coupled with being denied access to toilets, canteens and rest areas, remote sign-on will greatly increase fatigue levels and result in a higher level of ill health and road traffic accidents. Unite is currently engaging in research launched by TFL into remote sign-on but has stated that if the process is recommended that it will oppose its introduction, potentially leading to London-wide bus strikes
BFAWU & Unite: Hovis workers vote with a majority of 79 percent to accept latest, improved pay offer from management and end their 11 day strike action (May 24) – Unite welcomes increased pay offer as decisive victory for workforce achieved through collective organisation and industrial militancy. Pay deal includes 8 percent increase over two years, with first increase backdated to January 2021, as well as LRA conducted industrial relations audit to address wider workforce issues of concern read more
Unfinished business – statement from the Blacklist Support Group
When the blacklisting campaign started, we concentrated our efforts on exposing the conspiracy by big business and the police. It was directors of multinational corporations that ran the notorious anti-union Economic League and Consulting Association blacklists, an operation that lasted five decades and involved a two way sharing of intelligence about union activists between company executives and the UK’s secretive political police units. Over the past 12 years, uncovering corporate and state wrongdoing has led to new legislation, a select committee investigation, record compensation and a public apology in the High Court, and a dedicated union strand in the ongoing public inquiry into undercover policing. The Blacklist Support Group acknowledge the important role played by the trade unions in our campaign for justice. But there remains unfinished business.
It was known from the very beginning that some blacklist documentation included entries where full-time union officials were recorded as the source of the information. Multiple files include the entry ‘EETPU says NO’, a fact so appalling that the select committee investigation even discussed it. Witness statements prepared by blacklisting managers for the High Court trial claim that some union officials provided them with information. In his statement, Trevor Watcham, a former chairman of the Consulting Association, claims to have shared a table at an Economic League event with “Leon Brittan of the Conservative Party (who had been the main speaker) and Eric Hammond of the electricians’ union together with some members of his union executive”. Norman Tebbit’s recent revelations about secret meetings with the EETPU General Secretary only add to the growing pile of evidence that union collusion in blacklisting took place at the highest levels. This is totally unacceptable and the union movement needs to face up to this unsavoury aspect of its past.
But this treachery did not occur in a vacuum. To understand why this happened it is necessary to appreciate the industrial relations context of the construction industry. For decades, the leadership of the construction unions adopted strategies that concentrated on winning favour with employers rather than mobilising supposedly ‘self-employed’ workers to take action. In their hunt for members, the union bureaucracy made sweetheart deals with employers that abandoned the most basic principles of trade unionism. The right wing EETPU was expelled from the TUC following their support of Rupert Murdoch during the Wapping dispute that saw over 6000 unionised print workers lose their jobs overnight. Branches that opposed the leadership were closed down and leading leftwing members were repeatedly disciplined or expelled. As an aside, the Labour MP John Spellar was the Political Officer for EETPU throughout most of this period.
But it was not just EETPU, other construction unions also adopted overtly business friendly strategies. Bulk membership agreements, where a union official strikes a deal with a manager to pay a set amount of union subs each month without ever talking to the workers, might sound like gangster style protection money to buy industrial peace; but they were common in the sector. The phenomenon of appointed convenors, where a union regional secretary and a major employer would jointly agree on who the a full time union representative on a project should be (in the vast majority of cases without any election by the workforce) has existed for decades and continues to this day. Companies guilty of blacklisting union activists were often the most vocal in their support for appointed convenors, who became incorporated into corporate industrial relations and safety structures. The lack of democracy and potential for favouritism in the opaque appointment process is obvious and has no place in any trade union that claims to be member led.
To be clear, it is not every union official in construction. Many are honest value driven trade unionists, who have stood up for workers’ rights. But it is beyond doubt that over a fifty year period, some General Secretaries, some senior union officials and some appointed convenors formed overly cosy relationships with employers. Enjoying hospitality in pubs, restaurants and hotels, or attending sporting events with industrial relations managers from blacklisting firms was viewed as acceptable behaviour. Press reports from the 1990s actually name UCATT and TGWU officials accused of taking bribes and other inducements from employers, including procurement of prostitutes. A revolving door exists where upon leaving the union, officials regularly take up positions as industrial relations consultants working for the very construction firms they previously negotiated against. It is in this context, that gossip about ‘troublesome’ left wing union activists gets discussed and appears on blacklist files. While many cases may be ‘loose talk’ encouraged by alcohol, in some cases the collusion in blacklisting appears much more premeditated.
It was documentary evidence that forced blacklisted union members to write an Open Letter in 2016 calling for a fully independent investigation into potential collusion by union officials into blacklisting their own members. The letter states that, “every union activist in construction knows who the named officials are, as does every major employer” and describes potential collusion as an ‘open sore’ within UNITE. Branches flooded the UNITE Executive Council with motions and in 2019 an independent QC led investigation to look into possible collusion was set up by Len McCluskey. Blacklist Support Group applauded the UNITE independent investigation and encouraged anyone with documents or oral testimony that may be relevant, to contact the lawyers collating the evidence.
Solicitors have travelled the UK taking witness statements from blacklisted workers who have made serious allegations, including claims that some officials gave evidence at Employment Tribunals in support of the employers, rather than in support of sacked union members. More documentary evidence has been presented to the investigation by activists, including Subject Access Request disclosures that show that a number of senior union officials were blind copying internal emails about activists to third parties, including to industrial relations consultants working for blacklisting firms. Searches of Companies House database have discovered that some construction union officials were directors of consultancies providing services to the industry, while they were employed by the union. This needs to be fully investigated at the very least.
Yet despite making good progress early on, the UNITE investigation appears to have ground to a halt during COVID. Jane McNeill QC, the independent lawyer who will write the final report has only just been formally appointed, and a full search of the UNITE ICT system and the archives of predecessor unions has yet to take place. Everyone accepts that the unions and lawyers have been exceptionally busy during the pandemic, but if courts and public inquiries are operating, then the investigation into possible collusion should also been able to continue.
The election for the next General Secretary of UNITE is now underway. Blacklist Support Group call upon every candidate to publicly pledge that the investigation into union collusion will continue under their watch, and that if any officials currently employed by the union are criticised in the final QC written report, that they will face appropriate disciplinary action. The investigation into union collusion in blacklisting is a key battle in the long term struggle over the very soul of trade unionism in construction. It begs the question: what kind of trade unionism do workers deserve?
#SPYCops Inquiry exposes state surveillance of workers movement
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VZ-QMA1FMg
Blacklist Support Group
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
Stop victimisation of union reps
Donate to the reinstatement campaign of Declan Clune RMT bus driver in Southampton (on behalf of Declan Clune and all RMT Southampton District Bus and Coach Branch members). Email message of support: [email protected]
Donate to solidarity campaign of Moe Muhsin Manir Unite bus rep Email messages of support to Moe: [email protected]
Woolwich Ferry workers overwhelmingly vote to strike over victimised rep – Workers operating the Woolwich Ferry, now run by Transport for London (TfL), will strike for eight days in May and June over the victimisation of a union rep, Unite the union announced today (Friday 30 April). Unite’s 57 members have voted by an overwhelming 97 per cent for strike action which will take place on 14, 24, 28 May and 1, 4, 7, 11, 21 June. The ferry has been so dogged by poor employment relations in recent years – leading to TfL taking over its operation from the discredited Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd – that the latest episode has been dubbed the ‘Groundhog Day’ dispute read more
Sign petition to support Redbridge NEU Rep Keiran Mahon
Victory for NEU at Leaways School in Hackney: Statement posted by NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney – “Kedleston Group and the National Education Union are pleased to announce that the industrial dispute at Leaways School has been resolved. The school has voluntarily agreed to recognise the NEU and Iain Forsyth, a NEU representative for Leaways School, has been reinstated following due process under the School’s internal procedures.” (See more under NEU in this NSSN bulletin). NSSN sends our congratulations and solidarity to the NEU and Iain his members at Leaways
NSSN Conference 2021: 11am Sunday 20th June online via Zoom Facebook event.
The Zoom details for the conference are:-
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83931358284 Meeting ID: 839 3135 8284
Fight Tory 1% NHS Pay Insult
Saturday June 5th – Scottish march for NHS fair pay: 11.30am Edinburgh Castle Esplanade
Saturday July 3rd – NHS Anniversary events read more
Fight Tory 1.5% council and school workers pay Insult
Joint statement from GMB, Unite and Unison: “Disappointing” council pay offer ignores huge Covid effort of workforce, say unions (14 May) – Employers should come back with improved offer. Unions representing 750,000 council and school support staff across England, Wales and Northern Ireland today (Friday) criticised the 1.5% pay offer made by the Local Government Association. GMB, Unite and UNISON submitted a joint pay claim to the local government employers in February for a 10% pay rise. This would be payable from 1 April 2021 read more
Support the Sparks fight against de-skilling
Rank and file construction electricians have launched a struggle against what they see as multi-skilling by bosses at the massive site Hinkley Point to build the nuclear power station, estimated to cost £22.5 billion.
It is reported that an agreement to employ about 500 electrical apprentices had been reneged on and instead a training course for ‘Electrical Support Operatives’ (ESO) is being put on. This would mean lower-paid unskilled workers being employed instead of skilled electricians.
The campaign has already seen protests in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, Scotland and Wales and recently there was the first demonstration at Hinkley. Recently, workers walked off the NG Baileys job at Whitby Hospital in North Yorkshire and Sparks blockaded a site in Cardiff. Unite now report that EDF have backed off at Hinkley and Balfours are also moving away from the ESO, which if confirmed represents a great victory. But the fight goes on, particularly targeting NG Baileys until de-skilling is totally off the agenda.
Solidarity to the Sparks!
AWE Burghfield 6am on Wed 26th May.
This will be a peaceful demonstration against contractors on site.
NG Bailey & Balfour Beatty needs to pull away from their deskilling agenda & stop targeting reps and members
For details of Sparks protests, follow NO TO ESO (UNSKILLED LABOUR) Facebook page
Support the NSSN
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]
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 and is now attacking the right to protest through its Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
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 and you can catch up on disputes at Strike Map UK
RMT calls on First Minister to end her silence on ScotRail dispute (23 May) – RMT members standing firm again today as union calls on First Minister to end her silence on ScotRail dispute over workplace justice. RAIL UNION RMT said that members are standing firm in strike action again today as the union called on the First Minister to end her silence and put pressue on Transport Scotland to demand that Abellio negotite a settlement to the long-running disputes involving Scotrail conductors and ticket examiners in a fight for equality and justice across grades over the issue of enhanced payments for restday working. With RMT members committed to an ongoing programme of action the union says that it is wholly unacceptable that leading political figures in Scotland, including the First Minister, have made no comment or intervention whatsoever, making a nonsense of their claims to support fairness and justice for the Scottish people read more
ScotRail traincare workers to strike on Monday (21 May) – ScotRail traincare workers to strike on Monday over company’s breach of dignity and respect policy. RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that ScotRail traincare workers will be striking on Monday over the company’s blatant & deliberate abuse of their dignity & respect policy. The action comes about after more than 80% of union members voted in favour of strike action in a recent ballot. The workers are incensed that a manager has been promoted just two weeks after being found guilty of breaching policy and being removed from his original post where he was the subject of a collective grievance by 16 workers. The union’s National Executive Committee has now considered the matter and has taken the decision to call on all our Abellio ScotRail Traincare Grade A1.3, A3.3, B2.2 members to take industrial action: Therefore, our affected members are instructed not to book on for any shifts that commence between 00.01 hours until 23.59 hours on Monday 24th May 2021. Additionally, our Abellio ScotRail Traincare Grade A1.3, A3.3, B2.2 members are instructed not to work any Rest Days or undertake any Higher Grade Duties from 00.01 hours on Sunday 23rd May 2021 until further notice read more
RMT on contract for three new Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships (21 May) – RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie are over forty years old, and my members working for the RFA will be relieved that the process for awarding the contract to build three new Fleet Solid Support Ships has finally begun in earnest…” read more
Privateers make £88 million in 6 months (21 May) – ‘Great British Railways?’ – Privateers make £88 million in 6 months out of emergency Covid–19 taxpayers’ funding – around of half of which will go overseas. RAIL UNION RMT warned today that private train operating companies are looking at a future of easy guaranteed profits at taxpayers’ expense while staff face pay and job cuts, after the union published research showing that rail privateers made £88 million in management fees in just 6 months during the first bailout of the railways between March and September 2020, around half of which could flow overseas to fund other countries’ rail networks read more
Britain’s main rail union RMT responds to Williams Report (20 May) – RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “This is a missed opportunity by the Government to make a clean break from the failures of the past that have left Britain’s railways in the slow lane…” read more
Williams report comes up short (19 May) – The final report of the Williams Rail Review – the government’s independent root and branch review of Britain’s railway – has finally been published, two years after its initial consultation period closed. ASLEF responded to the Williams Review’s call for evidence in May 2019. You can read our full response here
ASLEF stands with Palestine (19 May) – This morning at ASLEF’s annual conference, delegates passed an emergency motion in solidarity with the people of Palestine read more
Widespread Rail Disruption Warning Over Network Rail Jobs Threat (24 May) – TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has written to the boss of Network Rail (NR) warning of “widespread disruption” across the country’s railways unless agreement is reached on a no compulsory redundancies guarantee. Amid reports that NR is planning to slash thousands of posts the union is now demanding an undertaking that no one will be forced out of a job read more
Balfour Beatty Strike “Certainty” After TSSA Members Back Action (21 May) – TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has warned that a strike at Balfour Beatty over pay will be “a certainty” next month – delaying vital railway upgrades – unless the company increases its offer to union members. TSSA members who are part of the Central Rail System Alliance – working on railway track renewals, maintenance and upgrades – voted yes to industrial action, including strike action, in a ballot which closed yesterday. Results showed over 90 per cent of the votes in favour of both industrial action short of strike, and strike action read more
Balfour Beatty members vote in favour of strike action (20 May) – Our members at Balfour Beatty CRSA have made their votes count and sent a clear message that unless they receive just reward for their hard work throughout the pandemic, they are prepared to take strike action. Our industrial action ballot closed today (20th May 2021). Members have made their voices absolutely clear with over 90% of the returning votes been in favour of both industrial action short of strike, and strike action read more
Network Rail job cuts will lead to train disruption, warns TSSA (20 May) – Rail and transport union TSSA today warns Network Rail that any “salami slicing” of jobs before crucial rail industry talks conclude or any attempt to use compulsory redundancies will be met with an industrial action ballot. Following reports that Network Rail (NR) is set to slash up to 9,000 jobs, TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes has warned of mass disruption to train operations unless an industry-wide approach is taken with a commitment to no compulsory redundancies read more
TSSA Slams Government Rail Reforms As “Papering Over Cracks” (19 May) – TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has dismissed the Government’s new plans for the railways as “papering over the cracks” with a “back to the future” approach highlighting the failures of franchising read more
Building a culture of respect at WMT (19 May) – “People responsible for fire safety don’t set fire to the building”! Please complete our survey to share your experiences and help demand respect for members at West Midlands Trains read more
TSSA says TfL funding “short sighted short termism must end” (18 May) – Transport union TSSA today (Tuesday) says long term funding for Transport for London (TfL) is essential to get the best recovery from the capital and rest of the country. Today’s funding settlement deadline has brought confirmation only of a ten-day extension of current arrangements while talks over a long term agreement continue. Transport for London boss Andy Byford has described the negotiations with the Department for Transport as “constructive” in an email to staff today read more
National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee statement on Liberty Steel (24 May) – Responding to the news that Liberty Steel Group intends to sell Stocksbridge and its downstream plants, the narrow strip mill at Brinsworth and Performance Steels at West Bromwich, a spokesperson for the National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee, said: “Stocksbridge and its downstream plants are strategically important businesses vital to our country’s defence, energy and aerospace sectors. The future for these businesses must be secured and the trade unions will hold Sanjeev Gupta to his promise that none of our steel plants will close on his watch…” The National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee includes national representatives from the steel trade unions: Community, Unite and GMB read more
Cheshire glass-making strikes off after Encirc staff secure flexible working victory (24 May) – Strikes at glass drinks bottle firm Encirc Ltd, based in Elton, Cheshire, have been called off after workers accepted an improved offer from the company, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Monday 24 May). More than 170 workers in Encirc’s glass-making section, who are members of Unite, staged three days of strike action during May. The dispute was sparked by the introduction of flexible working practices that resulted in an insufficient pay uplift, the loss of flexibility when annual leave could be taken and a reduction in staffing levels that gave rise to health and safety concerns read more
Weetabix accused of milking profits as workers face fire and rehire at Northampton plants (24 May) – Consumers could face shortages of Weetabix this summer, if workers at the company’s Northamptonshire factories take strike action, in a dispute over plans to fire and rehire them on vastly inferior contracts resulting in their pay being slashed. The dispute involves engineers who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, at the company’s factories in Kettering and Corby. Weetabix has issued the engineers with new contracts and work patterns, which will result in major cuts in shift allowances. There will also be a move to require more day working than shift working, further contributing to the cut in pay. Some of the affected engineers will lose up to £5,000 a year. There are also major concerns about health and safety of the workers at both plants due to the low number of engineers who will now be on duty at certain times. The ballot for strike action opens on Thursday 27 May and closes on Thursday 3 June. If workers vote for strike action then stoppages will begin later next month read more
Unite local government workers reject ‘insulting’ pay offer (24 May) – Members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, employed in local government, have rejected a 1.5 per cent pay offer made by employers, which they have described as ‘insulting, derisory and shameful’. The members of Unite’s national committee for local authority workers rejected the pay offer, as it equates to yet another pay cut, following 11 years of pay freezes and below inflation pay increases. The 1.5 per cent offer is only just over half of the current Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of 2.9 per cent for April. The proposed increase is worth just £1.03 a day for the lowest paid workers in local government read more
Unite slams Capita as it imposes cuts to fire fighters at Clyde naval bases (24 May) – Unite members working for Capita at HMNB Clyde Coulport and Faslane have slammed the decision by management to move forward with cuts to fire crews alongside the lack of promised new fire vehicles and updated equipment as ‘an accident waiting to happen’. Capita management reduced the specialist fire safety crew by eight positions which represents a cut of 15% at the nation’s nuclear naval bases on the Clyde. Capita won the contract in 2020 for fire response services from the Ministry of Defence. Unite understands Capita are set to seek local authority support from nearby fire stations in an effort to ‘back fill’ the specialist safety response despite these fire crews lacking the specialist training required at the naval bases read more
Unite considering all legal options against Goodlord following ‘unfair’ dismissal of striking workers (21 May) – Unite, the UK’s leading union, is considering all legal option against London property services firm Goodlord following its ‘unfair’ dismissal of striking workers on Wednesday evening (19 May). Unite members will hold a protest on Tuesday next week outside Goodlord’s central London headquarters, calling for the workers to be reinstated.
When: Tuesday 25 May 11am; Where: Goodlord, Heneage St, E1 5LN
More than 20 members of Unite, employed in Goodlord’s referencing department, began strike action on 22 February over fire and rehire contract changes that resulted in annual pay falling from £24,000 to £18,000. The original contracts for around half of the striking workers expired during the strike action. As they refused to sign up to the radically diminished terms and conditions Goodlord was offering, the workers were dismissed read more
- Email complaints to [email protected]; tweet complaints to @sogoodlord
- Strike fund donations to Unite LE/7098L London ITC Branch, sort code 60-83-01, account 20303680, reference Goodlord
Ealing parking disruption to resume as more Serco civil enforcement strikes set (20 May) – Ealing residents are being warned to brace for parking disruption in June due to further strikes over union busting by Serco civil enforcement officers, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Thursday 20 May). Following a pledge by Ealing’s new council leader Peter Mason to intervene in the dispute, Unite said it hopes a solution can be found before the two 72-hour strikes, beginning on 1 June and 9 June, go ahead. Mr Mason’s pledge came after Unite condemned a move by Ealing Council to have a Unite Serco rep removed from his duties. A council officer has written to Serco requesting the Unite rep, who has performed his job for two decades, be removed from duties for bringing the council into ‘disrepute’. The officer justified the decision because the Unite rep stated on social media that Ealing council would lose revenue from Parking Charge Notices during the ongoing strikes by more than 40 Serco civil enforcement officers. Despite the statement being factually accurate and containing no mention of parking policy motivations, the council is wrongly claiming that the union rep ‘conveys the council as a purely revenue generating authority’. The same union rep, along with a number of his colleagues, was previously offered severance by Serco in order to undermine trade union organisation, which resulted in the ongoing strike action. Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “Serco has targeted union reps, activists and others with severance offers in order to weaken trade union organisation and undermine negotiations. The company is also using its absence policy to unfairly dismiss employees…Our members will not stand for it and have been left with no other choice but to take strike action…” read more
Questions asked whether Serco’s strike breaking tugs are ‘nuclear compliant’ in Plymouth rota row (20 May) – Serious questions are being asked if the tugs that outsourcing giant Serco is bringing in from elsewhere to break the tugboat crew strikes at Devonport are conforming to strict ‘nuclear compliant’ regulations. Unite the union understands that Serco is using ‘external towage operators’ from ports, such as Fowey in Cornwall and Portland in Dorset, when its tugboat crew members at the Plymouth naval base have taken strike action in the long running dispute over new rosters. Unite has now written to the senior Royal Navy officer at Devonport asking whether the tugs being used from other ports have the required nuclear equipment on board, including adequate pumps and underwater fenders. The union also said it understands that the staff manning the external tugs, including the master, do not have up-to-date nuclear training read more
NHS bosses waste taxpayers’ money on prolonging Lancashire biomedical scientist pay upgrade dispute, says Unite (20 May) – Wasteful bosses could spend three times as much undermining a strike by biomedical scientists at a Lancashire NHS trust in an upgrading pay row than it would cost to settle, Unite the union said. Unite said that the management at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust could spend up to £150,000 in trying to mitigate the impact of the strike by the 21 biomedical scientists when it would cost £50,000 to settle the 2019 pay upgrade deal that the management had reneged on. Unite estimates that if the industrial action went on for three months the trust would spend more than £40,000 a month in paying overtime payments for additional shifts to non-Unite biomedical scientists, as well as to managers who are being brought in to break the strike read more
JDE Banbury plant ‘loses 300 million cups of coffee’ in ‘fire and rehire’ row, says Unite (20 May) – The JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) coffee plant in Banbury, Oxfordshire has lost an estimated six million jars of coffee production – or 300 million cups of coffee – as a result of industrial action over its ‘fire and rehire plans’, Unite the union said. Unite said that production at the Ruscote Avenue site was being ground down and warned of possible coffee shortages on UK supermarket shelves of the company’s top brands, such as Tassimo, Kenco and L’OR Coffee. Unite estimates that the loss of production amounts to 600 tonnes equating to six million jars or the equivalent of 300 million cups of coffee. The union calculates the financial loss, so far, at £18 million. The dispute, which has already seen two 24 hour strikes and a continuous overtime ban since 1 May, follows the decision by the highly-profitable Dutch-owned company to issue notice of dismissal and engagement for 291 employees. A 72 hour strike is scheduled to start at 06.00 on Wednesday 26 May until 07.00 on Saturday 29 May read more
Warning for UK automotive sector as GKN rejects business plan to secure Birmingham factory’s future (19 May) – Unite, the UK’s leading union, is calling for all interested parties to work together to secure the future of the GKN Birmingham factory, following the announcement today that GKN Automotive has rejected the alternative business plan to keep the factory open read more
Norwich City Council workers set strike dates over broken promises – Workers who carry out vital services for Norwich City Council will take strike action beginning on 26 May after attempts by the unions to resolve the dispute were rejected by management. Unite members working for arms-length company Norwich City Services Ltd (NCSL) will take action from 26 May to 2 June and UNISON will take strike action on 26, 27, 28 May and 1, 2 June. In the Unite ballot 83% of the workers backed industrial action on a 90 per cent turnout and UNISON members voted 81 per cent in favour of strike action on a turnout of 84 per cent. After the workers overwhelmingly voted for action last week, the unions gave the council an opportunity to negotiate a new set of proposals but the council rejected their efforts, leaving Unite and UNISON no choice but to set strike dates. Both parties have now agreed to meet conciliation service ACAS today (Thursday 13 May) for talks read more
Engineers at Leicestershire’s Brush Electrical strike over fire and rehire cuts of up to £15,000 – Engineers employed by Brush Electrical Machines, owned by venture capitalists Melrose and based in Ashby de-la Zouch, will stage summer strikes in response to ‘fire and rehire’ pay cuts of up to £15,000, Unite said today (Tuesday 11 May 2021). Unite, the UK’s leading union, said the 30 engineers, who service generators around the world, voted overwhelmingly in favour of striking and will stage industrial action every day from 25 May to 16 August. The proposed contracts include reductions to overtime rates, allowances, holidays and other terms and conditions that would result in a pay cut of between £10,000 and £15,000 a year. The engineers’ jobs have been threatened if they do not sign the new contracts, which will leave them on pay rates ‘well below the industry standard’. The union said the strikes will ‘cause havoc to the firm’s worldwide servicing schedule and serious inconvenience to its international clients’. Parent company Melrose has a reputation for targeting workers and viable operations to boost short-term profits read more
Woolwich Ferry workers overwhelmingly vote to strike over victimised rep – Workers operating the Woolwich Ferry, now run by Transport for London (TfL), will strike for eight days in May and June over the victimisation of a union rep, Unite the union announced today (Friday 30 April). Unite’s 57 members have voted by an overwhelming 97 per cent for strike action which will take place on 14, 24, 28 May and 1, 4, 7, 11, 21 June. The ferry has been so dogged by poor employment relations in recent years – leading to TfL taking over its operation from the discredited Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd – that the latest episode has been dubbed the ‘Groundhog Day’ dispute. Besides the victimisation issue, the staff are angry at the failure to agree a new pay and reward scheme; the excessive use of agency staff; and the failure to provide adequate health and safety training to new employees. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “It is a sad indictment of the TfL bosses that they seem to be following the same course as Briggs Marine Contractors which meted out some appalling employment practices to the workforce in the recent past. Our members have returned an overwhelming mandate for strike action at the Woolwich Ferry in support of their victimised shop steward and over a myriad of other employment issues…” read more
Chivas Brothers workers across Scotland vote for strike action – Unite Scotland has today (10 May) confirmed that its membership at Chivas Brothers across Scotland have voted ‘emphatically’ for strike action by 82% on a 62% turnout. The industrial action ballot follows the rejection of an offer, equivalent to a pay freeze, by Unite’s hundreds of members at the company’s Kilmalid, Strathclyde Grain Distillery, Southern Operations and Northern Operations. Strike action is now set to begin from the end of May unless Chivas Brothers return to the negotiating table with an improved offer. Chivas Brothers employs around 1,600 workers in Scotland read more
Security guards at Reading hospital to be balloted again for strike action in ‘David and Goliath’ pay battle read more
Support striking Reading hospital security guards – Text solidarity messages via Jessica 07718668497 and donate to strike fund: Acc. No.: 20173991 Sort Code: 60-83-01. Sign petition to Mark Wallace , Kingdom Service Group Managing Director: Pay Royal Berkshire Hospital security staff a wage they can live on
St Mungo’s maintenance strikes called as concern at charity’s ‘bullying and anti-union culture’ grows – Maintenance workers at the St Mungo’s housing charity will begin indefinite strike action from Thursday 22 April in response to ‘appalling treatment’ by senior management, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Thursday 8 April). The all-out strike follows a warning in March by Unite, which has more than 500 members at St Mungo’s, that a ‘bullying and anti-union culture’ amongst the management at the London-based charity needed to be addressed. St Mungo’s staff staged walk-outs last year, in part due to the charity’s unbalanced and unfair use of disciplinary procedures. Unite pointed to the targeting of the 44 per cent of workplace reps at the charity, who are currently engaged in formal processes concerning their own employment, as evidence of an anti-union bias by management. Staff relations have become so bad within St Mungo’s property services department that 12 Unite members will begin indefinite strike action on 22 April. The strike was called after a number of staff grievances against property services senior management were dismissed read more
Hackney protest 11am Wednesday 26 June outside Hackney Town Hall
St Mungos management escalate dispute by suspending Unite rep – Orwellian move at St Mungos: management suspend Unite rep for grievance about bullying. In an Orwellian escalation of the crisis at St Mungo’s, management have suspended a union rep who had raised a grievance concerning bullying management. The grounds include that senior managers were distressed by the suggestion of a bullying management style. Astounding 44% of reps already facing formal processes regarding own employment. This twist follows a vote for strike action by this team following a failure to adequately investigate bullying management! Read more
Donate to strike hardship fund – Unite LE/1111, sort code 60-83-01, account number 204183
Read document by Unite Community Cumbria branch: ‘Covid and the Tories – a world beating catastrophe’
PCS calls for expansion of flexible working across civil service post Covid (24 May) – The call follows the announcement that HMRC has agreed staff will be able to work from home two days a week. The new flexible working policy is expected to come into operation from 1 June read more
Covid office closure highlights concerns over jobcentres reopening (20 May) – PCS members have raised serious concerns about DWP’s insistence on full reopening of jobcentres after 17 Covid cases were confirmed at the Wigan office. The site was closed for a deep clean but had reopened on Monday (17 May). But staff are still extremely concerned about the outbreak and the increasing worries of a third wave of Coronavirus following reports of the so-called Indian variant of the virus being present the North West. Following the 10-day circuit breaker the jobcentre was meant to open to vulnerable customers only, with a skeleton staff, but local reps say at least 5 non vulnerable JSA claimants attended the office on Monday for face to face interviews. PCS is conducting a group wide consultative ballot on the imposed changes by DWP in having a full reopening of job centres despite the vaccine not being fully rolled out and new Covid variants causing alarm in communities around the UK. The ballot will close on 2 June read more
Facebook Live event to commemorate murder of George Floyd – The PCS national black members’ committee is holding the event on 26 May from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. It is open to all PCS members read more
PCS postpones DVLA action for 24 May and calls further action from 2 June (19 May) – We have been in intensive negotiations with DfT and DVLA senior management with the aim of resolving our ongoing dispute over health and safety. The employer’s position has shifted this week to further delay the increase of staff numbers on DVLA sites. The PCS branch executive committee met yesterday (18 May) and agreed that this, along with some other indications of movement on the employer side, warranted the action planned for 24 May to be paused and to allow the continuation of talks. To maintain pressure on management to make concessions with a view to reaching agreement, the BEC has decided to call for further strike action from Wednesday 2 June to Saturday 5 June. Unlike previous strike days, this action will be targeted at the contact centre and will call to strike all PCS members in the contact centre, whether working on site or at home read more
New Amazon health & safety tech shows company finally admitting problem (24 May) – Imposing new technology from above isn’t enough – Amazon should get round the table with GMB Union to agree safer ways of working. GMB, the union for Amazon workers, has said Amazon has finally admitted it has a problem after introducing new health and safety technology to one of its warehouses. A site in Yorkshire has been chosen by online giant Amazon to trial technology in its UK operations which it says will support safer ways of working – including automated guided vehicles and robot sorters. GMB investigations have revealed 100s of ambulance call outs to Amazon warehouses and hundreds more serious injuries or near misses read more
“Our Factory, Our Future.” McVitie’s Tollcross Demo (May 21) – McVitie’s workers demo in fight for jobs and investment. Workers and their families from the closure threatened McVitie’s manufacturing plant in Tollcross, will demonstrate tomorrow morning (Saturday 22 May) with a loud and clear message for its owners: “Our factory. Our future.” Read more
GMB WIN: Workers protected as pressure forces Heathrow to open Terminal 3 for ‘red list’ travellers only (21 May) – GMB the union for aviation workers, has praised Heathrow Airport for ‘doing the right thing’ and provided a dedicated terminal for arrivals from ‘red list’ countries. The move comes after the union publicly called for the move yesterday, after workers claimed that the situation went ‘ballistic’ as soon as the UK opened its borders to India read more
GMB backs judges call for investigation into ‘discriminatory’ appointment system (20 May) – GMB, the union for judges, is backing calls for the equalities watchdog to investigate a ‘discriminatory, unfair and unlawful’ judicial appointment system. The union, part of the Judicial Support Network (JSN), wrote to the Lord Chief Justice in March saying judges are workers and should be allowed to join a union to protect themselves from discrimination. The JSN has today sent a request to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to expose “serious, serial and systemic” failings in the system to appoint and promote judges read more
Inflation rises but ministers press ahead with ‘cruel’ public sector pay freeze (19 May) – GMB, the union for keyworkers, has responded to this morning’s inflation figures. According to the ONS, the twelve month RPI inflation rate rose from 1.5 per cent to 2.9 percent between March and April, while the CPI rate more than doubled from 0.7 per cent to 1.5 per cent read more
Sacked British Gas engineers hit with ‘insult’ tax bill while boss scoops £2 million (18 May) – British Gas engineers sacked through the company’s fire and rehire scheme have been hit with an increased tax bill while the boss has trousered a shares bonanza worth almost £2million. Hundreds of British Gas workers were sacked last month after refusing to sign up to detrimental changes to their terms and conditions. Today they opened their final pay packet to find they have been put on a self-assessment tax code, meaning many have had more than £1,000 incorrectly deducted from their wages. Whilst this change appears to be an instruction made by HMRC, it still comes as a shock to the sacked employees who were not expecting further reductions to their final pay packet read more
Support the GMB strike against ‘fire and rehire at British Gas – send a message of support and donate to the GMB British Gas ‘Fire and Rehire’ Strike Fund
Care staff more likely to decline jab if threatened by employers, says UNISON survey (24 May) – Gavin Edwards says forced vaccination could make recruitment and retention crisis worse. Care staff more likely to decline jab if threatened by employers, says UNISON survey. Care staff are nearly twice as likely to turn down a Covid jab if they’ve been threatened or not given vaccination advice by their employer, according to a UNISON survey published today (Monday) read more
“Insulting” pay offer rejected by council and school staff, says UNISON (21 May) – Jon Richards says 1.5% shows complete disregard for all staff have done during pandemic. The 1.5% pay offer made by the Local Government Association to council and school support staff last week has been resoundingly rejected by UNISON, the union has announced today (Friday). At an earlier meeting of the union’s local government committee, representatives of council and school workers from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland dismissed the offer as ‘insulting’. The committee said the amount offered by the employers fell well short of the 10% joint claim submitted by the unions earlier in the year. The council and school workers felt the offer was derisory and showed a complete disregard for all staff had done during the pandemic to keep essential services running and communities safe read more
Local community calls for Mersey Care NHS Trust, Liverpool CCG and Liverpool City Council not to scrap “vital” mental health service (21 May) – Public service trade union UNISON, staff who work in the Supported Living Service (SLS) and families of SLS service users are calling on Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Liverpool City Council not to scrap a “vital” community mental health service. Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust has provided Supported Living Services (SLS) for people who have experienced severe mental illness for over twenty-five years but will cease providing SLS services later this year. Service users will then be expected to arrange their own care using personal care budgets read more
UNISON statement: In solidarity with Palestinian workers (18 May) – The union condemns the violence and calls for an end to attacks, and to the occupation read more
NHS pay campaign: #2daysfor2k kicks off around the UK (18 May) – Health workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are demanding an immediate wage increase of at least £2,000 for all NHS staff read more
It’s “never been clearer” that Mitie can afford to pay, as Cumberland Infirmary workers begin third round of strike action – More than 150 porters, cleaners, switchboard and catering staff employed by Mitie at Cumberland Infirmary are set to begin a further three days of strike action tomorrow (Friday) over missing payments for working unsocial hours. The hospital workers have already taken four days of strike action in recent months. While the strike action escalates, trade union UNISON says that it has “never been clearer” that Mitie can afford to pay NHS rates to the Infirmary workers it employs read more
Unison: Support the Birmingham NHS Heartlands Porters Dispute – UNSION members who are Heartlands Hospital Porters are currently taking strike action about the proposed imposition of a new rota. This will result in them working detrimental rotating 8 shifts pattern. The proposed rota impacts on our members health and well being; their caring responsibilities; their work/life balance and results in a significant cut in wages for many read more on Facebook page.
Email message of support to [email protected]
Donate to hardship fund: Unison University Hospitals Birmingham Branch 22536, Unity Trust Bank, Ac: 20403849 Sort Code: 60 83 01
Sign petition: We call upon the Chair of the Trust Jacqui Smith and the Chief Executive David Rosser to halt the imposition of the rota and to not ‘fire and rehire’ their Heartlands Hospital Porters on the 1st Feb. We urge them to ask the senior management to work with UNISON to implement a jointly agreed rota which is based upon a ‘fixed’ shift basis
Post Office Horizon Inquiry WILL be statutory (May 20) – Government responds to growing pressure and beefs up investigation into scandalous miscarriage of justice…Postmasters and their union the CWU have welcomed the statement by Paul Scully, the Government Minister with responsibility for the Post Office, confirming that those behind the wrongful prosecutions of hundreds of innocent postmasters will face the full force of the law. Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Scully began by referring to the Government’s original position which established the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry as a non-statutory inquiry read more
BT strike ballot scheduled for early June if no agreement reached – Andy Kerr gives the company three weeks’ notice to halt its attack on the workforce, or face the prospect of a nationwide strike…The first UK-wide industrial action in BT since 1987 will be on the cards unless company bosses “see sense,” warned CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr this morning, as he and CWU president Karen Rose headed into talks requested by the company in response to the groundswell of outrage from angry members across the country. Both Andy and Karen stressed their thanks and praise for the “fantastic support” from the membership for the union’s vigorous ‘Count Me In’ campaign, which has, they insisted, been the key factor in forcing the business to seek negotiations. And, in return for the company agreeing to pause its redundancy programme, the union has agreed to pause triggering the statutory industrial action ballot process. “This is a small victory,” said Andy, in a live broadcast earlier. “We’re around the table now and we will work 24/7 over the next three weeks to make sure we get the right deal for all of you.” But Andy assured the thousands of members watching that, unless sufficient progress is made in these talks, the union will “push the button” on a statutory national industrial action ballot of some 40,000 members working for BT, Openreach and EE at the beginning of June. “We want a negotiated settlement, but if that fails, we will ballot in early June for industrial action,” he vowed read more
QUB Crèche – Dispute Intensifies – On International Workers Memorial Day our members in QUB Crèche have intensified their industrial action campaign in pursuit of protection of their terms and conditions of employment. As previously advised QUB Crèche Workers commenced industrial action on 8 March 2021, International Women’s Day. Unfortunately to date the dispute has not been resolved and in an effort to bring the employers back to the negotiating table our brave QUB Crèche members have unanimously agreed to take 4 half day strikes on the following dates:-
28 April (afternoon), 6 May (morning), 14 May (afternoon), 19 May (morning). The morning strikes will run until 1pm with the afternoon strikes commencing at 1pm read more
Education Welfare Officers to Commence Industrial Action – Education Welfare Officers employed by the Education Authority will commence a period of industrial action from Tuesday 4 May 2021. This will commence with various actions short of strike action which is in furtherance of a long dispute in relation to their pay. While a lunchtime protest will be held on Tuesday 4 May 2021 this will be for Education Welfare Staff only to ensure that we comply with Covid 19 restrictions. However, I am asking that Branches consider sending solidarity messages to the 100 plus members who will be engaged in this action. The solidarity messages should be sent by email to Alan Law and Alan will arrange for these to be forwarded to the members read more
Support these NEU strikes:-
|Shrewsbury College/Shrewsbury||Wednesday 26 May||[email protected]|
|Capital City College/Islington
(Terms & Conditions)
|Tuesday 25 May
Wednesday 26 May
|Box Hill /Surrey (TPS)||Tuesday 25 May||[email protected]|
|Peacehaven Heights/East Sussex (Enforced Academisation)||Tuesday 25 May||[email protected]|
|Tendring Tech Colleges/Essex (Redundancies)||Tuesday 25 May
Wednesday 26 May
Thursday 27 May
EPI on Teacher Pay and Retention (20 May) – The EPI report rightly highlights the severe teacher recruitment and retention problems, and the significant gaps between teacher pay and the pay of other graduate professions read more
Pay system should recognise and reward teaching as a high status profession (20 May) – Commenting on the EPI’s report into teacher pay, Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “The education recovery for children and young people which depends on recruiting and retaining skilled and experienced teachers is being jeopardised by the dogmatic pursuit of a failed policy of performance related pay and the Government’s arbitrary decision to freeze teachers’ pay from this September…” read more
Prospective students should not apply to study at ‘international outcast’ University of Leicester, say staff (24 May) –
- Scores of university events cancelled because of international boycott
- Students’ education ‘not safe’ under vice-chancellor’s plans
Staff at the University of Leicester have urged prospective students across the UK not to apply to study at the university and to join an international boycott of the institution over vicious job cuts being made by vice-chancellor Nishan Canagarajah. The call comes as the huge list of events cancelled due to the boycott is revealed. Leicester staff who are members of the University College Union (UCU) say the job cuts are so destructive to teaching, learning and staff morale that students could not be guaranteed the education they deserve – and should instead consider applying elsewhere read more
Three weeks of strikes at University of Liverpool start today (24 May) – Around 1,300 staff at the University of Liverpool began three weeks of strike action today in a fight over cuts to jobs in the faculty of health and life sciences, said UCU. Last Friday UCU told the university the criteria for sacking staff are fundamentally flawed, there is evidence of age discrimination in how they have been applied, and the university is in serious breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 by using staff data for purposes staff haven’t consented to. Staff are on strike every working day over the next three weeks unless the university halts the cuts. The full strike dates are:
- Monday 24 May – Friday 28 May
- Tuesday 1 June – Friday 4 June
- Monday 7 June – Friday 11 June
The strikes are going ahead during the crucial end of year examination period, meaning disruption for the university will be especially severe. The strikes come after 84% of members who voted in a ballot last month, backed strike action to fight the university’s plans to slash teaching and research jobs in the faculty of health and life sciences. The university originally intended to sack up to 47 staff. This has since been revised down to 32 after UCU threatened industrial action read more
UCU condemns Leeds college job cuts as attack on women (20 May) – UCU has condemned a restructure plan by Luminate Education (previously Leeds City College Group) which will see 39 jobs cut across multiple sites including Leeds and Harrogate colleges, 90% of which are filled by women. The proposals would affect adult & community learning and hair and beauty staff across Leeds, as well as business and learning support staff at Harrogate College read more
UCU fighting fund: the link is here and donations to the fund are spent on supporting members involved in important disputes. As always, members are asked to contribute whatever their circumstances allow. A donation in solidarity of any amount will be gratefully received by members taking action.
Research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) POA members (14 May) – Many members will be aware that stress and anxiety amongst staff has become an ever more pressing issue for the POA. It was for this reason the union has commissioned and supported Stress and Wellbeing surveys, which produced significant Parliamentary interest in the matter. The POA have commissioned various pieces of work from a variety of professionals read more
Fire Brigades Union responds to Labour’s demands for government action to fix building safety crisis (18 May) – Fire Brigades Union responds to Labour’s demands for government action to fix building safety crisis. Commenting on Labour’s demands for action from the government to fix the building safety crisis, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We welcome Labour’s demands for a deadline to remove all combustible cladding. Developers and the government must put an end to our building safety crisis once and for all. Decades of deregulation in the building industry led to the fire at Grenfell, and urgent action needs to be taken to get to the heart of this crisis and make homes safe…” read more
NUJ statement on the Dyson report (22 May) – The general secretary responds to the report on the ethical failures which took place as part of Martin Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana for Panorama read more
NUJ welcomes £4m Reach payback to employees (21 May) – The NUJ today has welcomed the decision by Reach to pay back £4m to employees. The company had previously deducted 10 per cent of basic pay across the months of April, May and June last year saying they had to conserve cash in the face of difficult trading conditions caused by the global health pandemic. The decision cost employees approximately £4m in lost wages until pay was fully restored by the board from 1 July. The NUJ opposed the pay cut, which was imposed with no consultation on the basis that it breached contracts, and collective grievances were lodged by chapels on behalf of union members but were heard and rejected by the company at the time – along with subsequent appeals read more
NUJ salutes the spirit of Lyra McKee (20 May) – At the NUJ event tonight to remember Lyra McKee, the union pledged to support the Justice for Lyra campaign and again appealed for witness to come forward read more
Competition wording means UK shipyards may not get a large majority of Fleet Solid Support Ship work (21 May) – The government has today announced the terms of its competition to build three Fleet Solid Support Ships read more
Union demands government funding to prevent permanent loss of V&A collections (19 May) – The world’s leading art and design museum the Victoria and Albert (V&A) is embarking upon a series of redundancies which will result in the loss of over 1,000 years specialist experience. This series of redundancies are on top of those previously announced affecting employees in the visitor experience, catering, shops and other areas read more
In the face of Covid uncertainly, Equity General Secretary calls for benefit reform to protect performers and creative workers (20 May) – This week saw the hopeful reopening of performance venues and events, with workers and audiences alike delighted by the return of live acts. Yet this comes alongside concerns about the new Covid-19 variant and the prospect of rising infection rates. With there being the possibility of renewed restrictions, Equity General Secretary, Paul W Fleming, has called for “the Government to consolidate the broken benefits system” to protect the performing arts and entertainment industry and its workers read more
Usdaw members at DHL Long Eaton vote decisively for industrial action in a dispute over redundancy payments (24 May) – Usdaw members, working on a Marks & Spencer’s third party logistics contract for DHL based at Long Eaton in Derbyshire, have overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action in a formal ballot. The dispute is over the amount of redundancy pay that long serving staff will receive when the site closes at the end of July read more
Mandate Members Accept Ballot Proposals to End the Lengthy Debenhams Dispute (20 May) – Ex-Debenhams workers have voted for the second time on proposals put to them by Labour Court Chairperson Kevin Foley today (Thursday 20th May 2021) with 319 Votes in favour and 102 votes against the proposals. Speaking after the ballot count Gerry Light Mandate General Secretary said, “Today’s ballot outcome is testament to the strong will and resilience of our striking members who refused to accept defeat in the face of adversity. These brave trade unionists maintained their legal pickets no matter the weather and in the midst of a global pandemic they socially distanced on picket lines whilst facing down the government and KPMG at every opportunity. We acknowledge this is not a perfect deal as it falls short of our members original demands, however, it represents the best achievable negotiated settlement under very difficult circumstances” read more
Statement by Debenhams Shop Stewards and picket line activists on the acceptance of the settlement offer by 319 to 102 (20 May) – After over 406 days of struggle for a just redundancy settlement a majority of former Debenhams staff have voted to accept the offer of a €3 million training fund. This does not mean that the vast majority of former Debenhams workers see it as coming anywhere close to the honouring of the four weeks’ pay per year’s service redundancy (two weeks’ statutory plus two weeks’ enhanced) that we signed off with our former employer nor an adequate reward for the struggle we have waged. Rather it is a reflection that the shop stewards and workers, in the majority, concluded that they had fought as hard as was possible and the moment was right to bring the industrial fight to a conclusion. In the difficult and unprecedented context of a global pandemic we sustained a struggle that involved pickets, protests, marches, occupations, defying court injunctions, blockades and sit down protests right up until recent days. In the end it took the deployment of the Court Orders and the Gardaí to force the stock out, although not always successfully as spectacularly demonstrated in Limerick this week. We want to acknowledge the deep well of support among working class people which could not be fully expressed in an active fashion because of the Covid restrictions. In different circumstances, we know that at various points they would have come out in their thousands to support us on the protests and marches. Similarly we are grateful to the support we received, including donations, from union branches, executives and conferences and the unstinting support and advice of the left, individual trade union activists and a number of public representatives throughout. However it needs to be pointed out what more we think ought to have happened that could have increased our chances of a more successful outcome. We feel this is necessary to help other workers who will find themselves in a similar situation. Principal blame lies with the government which did not legislate after the Vita Cortex occupation in 2011 nor the Clerys redundancies in 2016 which gave rise to the still unimplemented recommendations of the Duffy Cahill report. They cynically expressed sympathy and ultimately drew us into a process whose recommendation for a training fund bore no relation to the actual discussions we had with the chairperson and the liquidator. On three separate occasions the government parties voted in the Dail against proposals which would have helped resolve our dispute or aided workers who may find themselves in a similar situation in the future. Furthermore the Taoiseach and Táinaiste had ample opportunity to confirm when it was put to them numerous times by opposition deputies that KPMG ought not to attempt to grab stock during the level 5 lockdown but they refused to do so. They were as instrumental as the Courts and the Gardaí in facilitating the scabbing operations of recent weeks. When the redundancy announcements were made it was clear that our union MANDATE were conditioned by what they saw as the normal course of events in liquidation situations, that is to say that we would have to settle for our bare statutory minimum entitlements from the state social insurance funds, which we all paid into in the first instance, and wage no fight for something better. Once MANDATE saw our willingness to fight they should have thrown their full weight behind us and pressured ICTU to do likewise and take up Debenhams as an important test case. Insofar as the Covid restrictions allowed much more could have been done to bring home the message to all MANDATE members and the wider trade union movement that the outcome of our dispute would have implications for them. On that basis various forms of action could have been taken to get these workers behind our campaign and put additional political and economic pressure on government and employers. However MANDATE at official level consistently adopted a passive minimalist approach living in fear of the threat of injunctions and the Industrial Relations Act which by design is intended to make industrial struggle weak and ineffective. Hence the officials took no part in the militant actions and protests we decided upon. We believe in trade unions and the need for a strong effective trade union movement in the tradition of its founders James Connolly and Jim Larkin. However our experience shows that the movement needs to be transformed from the bottom up with more power to the rank and file and elected shop stewards to decide the conduct of campaigns and disputes. After all the union is its members. Clearly the Industrial Relations Act needs to be challenged but we have learned that the best way to do so is to defy it. A willingness to do so across the wider trade union movement, by joining and building our pickets, would have assisted us greatly. This is historically how workers achieved their rights in the first instance and it has been forgotten at the top. Once the industrial dimension of our struggle concludes it does not spell the end of the campaigning that many of us are committed to continue in support of the legislative change required to strengthen the legal position of workers in liquidation situations. The government has kicked such a proposal into touch for a year and promised a process of their own leading to some undefined change. You can be sure that the Debenhams workers will put their stamp on this debate in the coming year.
SIPTU members employed by Aer Lingus in Cork devastated at layoff announcement (18 May) – SIPTU members in ground operations for Aer Lingus in Cork Airport were today (Tuesday, 18th May) informed that the airline intends to place them on temporary layoff, from 12th September to 22nd November, while runway reconstruction is underway read more
“This victory is a real testament to the tenacity of our members” says UVW as school cleaners win their battle for trade union recognition (21 May) – Cleaners at La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School are celebrating today after it was announced they have won their battle for trade union recognition. The outsourced cleaners, the majority of whom are Latin American migrants, went on strike for several days in March in a dispute over what they described as “wage theft”, “trade union victimisation”, “inadequate health and safety procedures” and full pay sick pay. The strike, which was set to be the longest school cleaners strike in UK history, saw the cleaners win a 24% pay rise, parity in sick pay with in-house staff, improved health and safety procedures and the near total recovery of their stolen wages. After the victory, the third for UVW in the state school sector, a battle ensued over trade union recognition with La Retraite’s contractor Ecocleen refusing to voluntarily recognise UVW. However, the ongoing organising of the cleaners saw them emerge victorious after the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) – the statutory body responsible for oversight of collective bargaining – ruled that over half of the workers were in the union and that Ecocleen could be compelled to recognise UVW as a result. The victory marks the third time UVW has won statutory recognition for its members read more
Townsend Theatre Productions
One Man Magic Lantern show of the classic book The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
Actor Neil Gore brings this humorous and absorbing book to life in his one-man magic lantern show. Based on the 1914 novel by Robert Tressell, it’s story is set in the building trades of Edwardian England where painters and decorators struggle to maintain themselves and their families, poverty and the constant fear of unemployment notwithstanding, while renovating a large townhouse for the local mayor. With projected animation & fantastic story telling there’s something for all the family here, not least the chance to become acquainted with this timeless story of socialism and political awakening read more plus tour dates June 9-12 & Nov 4
“Farewell Leicester Square” – A play written by Neil Gore based on a poem by Abe Gibson. ‘Farewell Leicester Square’ tells the story of Bedford’s own Joe Clough, Britain’s first black bus driver. Directed by Louise Townsend with original artwork by Scarlett Rickard and new music by Tayo Akinbode read more
Unison: British and Irish trade unions condemn Colombian state violence. Letter notes human rights abuses on a ‘massive scale’, with up to 37 people reported killed read more
Sunday June 20 – NSSN Conference 2021: 11am June online via Zoom Facebook event
Saturday June 26 – People’s Assembly – National Demonstration. Assemble 12 Noon – Portland Place. March to Parliament Square read more
Saturday July 3rd – NHS Anniversary events read more
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