Construction workers were celebrating this morning (Monday February 16) after a worker on the huge London Crossrail project was reinstated after being sacked on Friday for the crime of raising health and safety issues.
His employer, Costain, tried to argue that he had been laid off because of lack of work, yet he had only been employed four days earlier on a job that has three years left!
These underhand methods are the insecure reality for construction workers and a massive obstacle for trade union members and activists who try to ensure that sites are safe and workers aren’t ripped off by the bosses.
To show why union rights are so important for the welfare of workers, there will be a vigil next Monday at 9.15am outside St Pancras coroners court (details below) where there will be an investigation into the death of a Crossrail worker last year.
The sacking came on the very day that blacklisted workers were at the High Court in the long running battle that has exposed how the building companies kept union members out of the industry for years.
Today’s protest was organised by rank and file Unite members in the building industry and by 8am had stopped Oxford Street with traffic backed up either side of the Bond Street site.
Soon after, we got word that the sacked worker had been put on full pay with a promise that he will get his job back.
We all left the road but warned that we will be back, with more protesters, if the promise isn’t kept.
Today’s victory shows that workers can win, providing they and their union are prepared to fight. Many of those workers who gave solidarity today are veterans of the successful struggle against the BESNA contract that the electrical companies wanted to impose in 2011 that would have cut wages by 35%.
The last few years have also seen victimisation fought and won at Crossrail, Ratcliffe, Runcorn and Romford to name but a few sites.
Hopefully this victory will inspire more construction workers to join a union and get the sites organised.
Watch ReelNews video of protest here
The inquest into Rene Tkacik’s death who was killed on Crossrail is taking place at St Pancras Coroners court, Camley Street, Camden NC1 4PP, on Monday 23rd February. The vigil is at 9.15am.
‘Stop the union-busters!’ Advanced notice: this year’s NSSN conference, our 9th, will be on Saturday July 4th in Conway Hall in London. Confirmed speakers include Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary download leaflet
The famous pink NSSN £10 minimum wage t-shirts are still available. Email us to order – £8 each. We have the following sizes: women – small, medium, large, XL and men – small, medium, large, XL, XXL
Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate to the NSSN – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSBC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE. Affiliation letter here
Download the new ‘Join the NSSN’ leaflet here
Midlands NSSN Conference – Saturday March 14th 2015 Unite Offices, Birmingham download leaflet
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]
Police workers back improved pay deal (13 Feb) – Members of the country’s largest union, Unite, working for police forces in England and Wales have backed an improved pay offer in a ballot it was announced today (Friday 13 February). Civilian staff, including 999 call handlers, scene of crime officers, police community support officers and custody officers, accepted the revised pay offer of 2.2 per cent, or £400, whichever is greater, by 92 per cent. The workers who have borne the brunt of the coalition’s police cuts had been offered a one per cent pay rise, but received an improved offer after a threatened strike in January read more
Unite joins week of action to save council housing from London’s mayor (13 Feb) – Unite, is backing a week of action across the capital designed to stop the further destruction of London’s council housing stock. With housing now the third most important issue for voters in London, yet housing insecurity growing, Unite will help roll out events across the city, beginning this Saturday (14 Feb), with the aim of blocking Boris Johnson’s budget. City Hall will vote on the London mayor’s budget on Monday 23 February, but Unite believes ‘Boris’ budget’ will mean further rent-hikes and more sell-offs of council housing and vast tracts of public land read more
Defence workers end dispute after accepting ‘significantly’ improved pay deal (13 Feb) – Workers at the Defence Support Group (DSG) have overwhelmingly accepted a ‘significantly’ improved pay offer drawing to a close a long running dispute at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) facility. The members of Unite backed the revised pay offer of 1 per cent plus a £1,250 bonus by 91 per cent in a ballot, the union announced today (Friday 13 February). The pay deal, representing a 66 per cent increase on what was on the table before the dispute, followed 16 days of strike action read more
Amey highway maintenance staff to strike over pay and contracts (12 Feb) – Workers who keep the UK’s roads moving are being backed by Britain’s biggest union, Unite, in their bid to win a fair deal on pay. Employees with Amey at four depots in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Buckinghamshire plan to take the first in a series of planned 24 hours of strike action tomorrow (Friday 13 February). The dispute is over what Unite believes is a paltry pay offer from Amey of just 1.75 per cent and the company’s clear attempts to dismantle long established collective bargaining agreements read more
Download new NSSN leaflet supporting PCS from the government’s attacks: ‘Stop the union busters!’ here
100,000th PCS member signs up to direct debit (16 Feb) – More than 100,000 PCS members have now signed up to pay their union subscriptions by direct debit read more
Join the call to #ReinstateCandy (Feb 12) – In a cynical attempt to intimidate PCS members working in the National Gallery, management have suspended Candy Udwin, a key local PCS representative. The unjustifiable suspension of Candy has already attracted widespread public and media attention, and the group office has received both messages of support and financial donations from members of the public, as well as from PCS members; which has been passed to the campaign’s hardship fund. PCS are urging people to sign a statement to reinstate Candy which has already been signed by thousands of supporters. As part of the campaign we are also asking people to upload photographs to Twitter, holding #ReinstateCandy posters, which you can download and use. These are then being added to a photostream on Facebook more details here
RMT to begin balloting for strike action on East Coast (17 Feb) – RMT confirmed today that it is to begin balloting all on-board East Coast members at Edinburgh Waverley for both strike action and action short of a strike over the sacking of a colleague for telling passengers the truth read more
RMT First Great Western cuts protest (Feb 16) – RMT protesters fighting cuts to buffet cars and staffing on new FGW fleet at Reading Station Saturday 14th February read more
Cameron Plays Fagin – Pickpocketing Railway Staff Pensions (13 Feb) – RMT, TSSA, ASLEF, Unite: David Cameron has been accused of playing Fagin with an underhand raid on rail staff pensions, the four rail unions said today. ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite issued a combined warning that more than 100,000 staff and pensioners will suffer losses under the proposals from the Tory-Lib Dem coalition read more
RMT ballot opens today on London Midland (12 Feb) – RMT has begun balloting members on London Midland from Euston to Tring from today for both strike action and action short of a strike over the victimisation of union member Steve Caldwell – a valued and senior member of platform staff at Watford with over 32 years unblemished service and a string of commendations for delivering top quality support to the travelling public and for saving lives. The ballot will close on Thursday 26th February read more
Firefighters confirm 24 hour strike on 25 February after sham pensions’ guarantee. Firefighters and Parliament have been misled, says union (Feb 16) – Firefighters in England will strike for 24 hours from 7am on 25 February in a long running dispute with the government over its unworkable pension plans read more Video | ‘False claims’ by fire minister sparks strike
No More Lies | Protest in London Feb 25 over sham pensions ‘guarantee’ – The FBU confirmed today firefighters will protest over a false ‘guarantee’ given to firefighters in a House of Commons debate on firefighters’ pensions by Westminster fire minister Penny Mordaunt. The minister told MP’s if a firefighter fails a fitness test through no fault of their own, and do not qualify for ill health retirement, they will get a redeployed role or a full, unreduced pension. However after the FBU wrote to all fire authorities asking them if they intended to implement the Parliamentary guarantee those who responded confirmed that after taking legal advice that they would not. The protest will take place from midday on Wednesday 25 February 2015 in Central London read more
Lincoln protest against fire service cuts (Feb 16) – Campaigners against proposed cuts to Lincolnshire’s fire services have called for firefighters and members of the public to join a protest outside the County Council this Friday morning at 9am outside County Hall on Newland in Lincoln read more
Support locked-out Essex firefighters & hardship fund (Jan 16) – Essex Firefighters took strike action from 9am on Wednesday 14 Jan. The three days of planned partial actions have been escalated as the employers effectively chose to temporarily lock firefighters out rather than accept three days of more limited strikes read more from NSSN website
Essex FBU Hardship fund details: ‘Essex fire brigades union hardship fund’ Account no. 086001 20292568.
North Sea Strike Ballot (Feb 16) – GMB Scotland seek permission to ballot for strike action over unilateral cuts to pay and conditions for North Sea Offshore Contractors. There is a ‘blatant opportunism’ to fundamentally attack the terms and conditions of our members employed in the offshore industry read more
Further Sodexo Brighton Dispute (Feb 13) – GMB dispute looms at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals over Sodexo failure to deal with staff concerns on lack of equipment with implications for patient safety read more
Royal Parks Possible Dispute (Feb 13) – dispute looms at Royal Parks as contractor OCS seeks to move from weekly to monthly pay in St James Park without consultation. Some members in the other parks not receiving their pay slips on time and there is little faith in the monthly pay system at Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens read more
Save Prendergast – this battle has only just begun! (Feb 12) – The energy and determination shown by the Lewisham teachers, parents and students striking and protesting today against the threat to turn their schools into academies will have been an inspiration to everyone determined to halt the privatisation of education read more from blog of Martin Powell Davies NUT NEC & Lewisham NUT
Building a presence at Firstsource (Feb 13) – CWU stepped up its work with Firstsource call centre workers in both Derry and Belfast this week with a further leafleting and recruitment drive at both sites. Workers affected by the mass suspensions in Derry have now all returned to work and CWU hopes that the company will forge a positive relationship with union as the dust settles on this turbulent period read more
Northern Ireland members to vote on strike action (Feb 11) – UNISON members across health and education services in Northern Ireland are being balloted on strike action. UNISON is calling on all members across health, social services and the education service to vote ‘yes’ for strike action in the ballot, which runs until Tuesday 24 February. Any strike action is currently scheduled for 13 March 2015. Similar ballots are being conducted by other unions across the civil service, transport and other key public services read more
6 Reasons why…to vote Yes (Feb 16) – In an effort to maximise the turnout and the numbers voting “yes” in the ballot, we have produced the following leaflet which branch reps in the Health Sector can use for engaging with members here
Defend Magna Carta: Save Access To Justice! – An alternative Justice Day – 2015 sees the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and Chris Grayling, is planning to celebrate this with a Global Law Summit due to be held in London 23 – 25 February at The Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster read more
Barbican Centre strike ballot (Feb 13) – IWGB members at the Barbican Centre working as Security Officers, Inspectors, Receptionists and Controllers are balloting for strike action over their demand for a pay increase to £12 per hour. Venceremos! read more
Bloomberg Cleaners prepare to strike (Feb 13) – The struggle of the cleaners at Bloomberg continues! Although they have secured the London Living Wage, there was a 100% YES vote for strike action for 3 days: 23rd, 24th and 25th of February. Their remaining demands are sick pay and RESPECT – please come to the picket line! read more
Newcastle launch of the BFAWU £10now minimum wage animation:
Animation film show launch – Thursday February 19th TUC Commercial Union House – 5th floor, 39 Pilgrim Street Newcastle NE1 6QE details here
Manchester Hungry for Justice day of action – Saturday 21 February 1.30pm Piccadilly Gardens
VIDEO!! Watch Claire Laker Mansfield Youth Fight for Jobs on Sky News on why the Government needs to do more to create jobs to let young people live a “dignified existence”.
Housing and the Class Struggle
This year sees the centenary of the great Glasgow Rent Strikes of 1915. In more recent decades we have had the Normanton Rent Strikes (the 60s) the struggle of the Clay Cross Councillors (the 70s) and the fight by the 47 Liverpool councillors in Liverpool (the 80s). Plus at present we have the campaign against the bedroom tax and the agitation for proper social housing. So housing is still a focus for class struggle.
Wakefield Socialist Housing Group are holding an event “Housing and the Class Struggle” at the Red Shed, 1-4pm on Saturday 28 February 2015.
The speakers include Felicity Dowling ( a national speaker with “Left Unity”), Liz Kitching (campaigner with “Defend our Council Housing”), Karen Fletcher (Secretary, “Barnsley Against the Bedroom Tax”), Kevin Feintuck and Ian Brooke (Housing Workers) and Cllr Hilary Mitchell.
All are welcome. Admission is free and there is a free light buffet.
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group
Blacklisting & Victimisation
Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work in 2015 we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils . Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)
Blacklist Support Group: Nearly 6 years since the blacklist was discovered – IMPORTANT IMPLICATIONS FOR HIGH COURT
- Time-limit for applying to the High Court
There is a deadline for the last date that anyone can join the High Court group litigation. The law requires that all legal claims are presented within 6 years – as the Consulting Association blacklist was exposed by the ICO on 6th March 2009 – that means the 6 years is very nearly up.
If anyone misses that time-limit it is very likely that they will not be able to be added to the litigation and therefore would not be entitled to any compensation due as a result of the legal case. It is therefore vitally important that anyone with a blacklist file who has not so far joined the litigation does it as soon as physically possible. Delay could make the world of difference. Most the Employment Tribunals taken in 2009 when the files were first discovered were thrown out because of missed “time-limits”. At the next High Court hearing in May, lawyers acting on behalf of the blacklisting firms will be arguing that some of the High Court claims should also be dismissed because of time-limitation.
Now is the time to double check that your claim has been submitted and if it has not to join one of the claims ASAP.
- Blockade of Oxford Street wins reinstatement of Crossrail worker sacked for raising concerns about safety
- Blacklisted – book – flyer here
Blacklist Support Group Update – 14th Feb 2015
- Blacklist Support Group statement:
It is six years since the construction industry blacklist was discovered. Since then there have been new laws introduced, Select Committee investigations and a historic 12 months industrial dispute on Crossrail to reinstate a blacklisted union activist. The involvement of the police and security services in blacklisting of union activists is now proven beyond doubt and has been raised in parliament by John McDonnell MP.
The High Court (Fri 13 Feb) and the Court of Appeal (4-5 Feb) hearings on blacklisting in the past week have seen the glacially slow British legal system inching nearer to a conclusion.
Yet in this week has also seen the release of a report about victimisation and blacklisting of whistleblowers in the NHS and the sacking of another union activist on Crossrail who dared to raise concerns about safety issues on the site. The coroners hearing into the death of Rene Tkacik, killed on the Crossrail project starts next week.
Far from being a thing of the past, blacklisting is endemic across British industry, from the NHS, banking, hotels, offshore oil & gas and of course construction. The fight is ongoing wherever working people are prepared to take a stand against corporate greed. Yet David Cameron, Teresa May and Vince Cable have refused to take actio. The need for a fully independent public inquiry into the national scandal has never been greater.
- Very positive outcome in High Court blacklisting group litigation on Friday 13th Feb.
Lord Justice Supperstone told the hearing that the full trial will take place around Easter 2016.
Currently 385 claimants against 37 companies. There are another 187 claims waiting to be submitted – this number is likely to rise even more. The final cut off date for anyone blacklisted to be added to the litigation is 2nd November 2015. The average claim for loss of earnings is currently £110,000 per claimant. This is without any potential damages for defamation, hurt to feelings or compensation for human rights violations that claimants may receive.
The lawyers are now drawing up a list of 25 potential test cases. If both sides cannot agree the names, the judge will determine which cases will be heard.
The judge commented that the lawyers representing the claimants have been speaking with one voice but the employers were divided (and should sort their act out).
The judge made a number of orders about the dates that paperwork needed to be submitted to the court.
The legal costs in the case by December 2014 had already reached in excess of £10 million.
The next hearing will be 14th May.
The Blacklist Support Group wish to put on record our admiration for the colossal amount of work being carried out by the lawyers involved in this groundbreaking legal case.
- Another worker sacked on Crossrail for raising safety concerns. Message from Construction Rank & File:
Rank & File Protest
7:30am Monday 16th February
meet: Oxford Street tube
A unite activist was sacked from the crossrail project at Bond Street today. The electrician was sacked for raising legimate health and safety concerns. The contractor is Skanska / Costain joint venture and he was working for VGC through an agency. VGC are non JIB company and non compliant (JIB is the national agreement for electrical contracting which is supposed to apply on the Crossrail project).
Our demands are simple – reinstate the sacked worker and for VGC to be removed fron the project. Yet again Crossrail management seem to be oblivious to the workers health and safety concerns this has to stop. The inquest into the death of Rene Tkacik who was killed on Crossrail starts at St Pancras Coroners Court on Monady 23rd February.
Unite were in negotiations today but nothing came off it. We must support our sacked brother.
Please support – spread the word on social media and to all your contacts. This will be the first of many actions if the dispute is not resolved quickly.
- Report published about victimisation and blacklisting of NHS whistleblowers by Sir Robert Francis.
- Blacklisted: the secret war between big business and union activists – by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberalin published by New Internationalist in March.
- Blacklist Support Group AGM
Saturday 7th March 2015
International (also see Labourstart)
Ireland: Protest against arrests of Anti-Water charge campaigners, including TD and councillors – assemble 6.30pm Tuesday Feb 17 Irish Embassy 17 Grosvenor Pl, London SW1X 7HR read more
Greece: Leading figures in the German trade union movement have issued an appeal for solidarity with Greece following the resounding election victory of the leftist Syriza party more
New Zealand fast food workers strike over theft of holidays read more
Sri Lanka: affiliate to the Tamil Solidarity Campaign here
Turkey: Dear Friends, I am writing to ask for your support for the freedom of women by joining our demonstration and struggle on Wednesday, 18th February at 12.00 pm. With the International Working Women’s Day celebrations fast approaching, we are faced with the sad news of the murder of a young woman in Southern Turkey a few days ago. 20 year old psychology student Ozgecan Aslan was travelling home in a local minibus when the driver diverted from his scheduled route and attempted to rape Ozgecan and stabbed her to death after she resisted with pepper spray. He then sought the help of his father and a friend to get rid of the body, which they burnt. Ozgecan’s body was later discovered in a riverbed.
We will be meeting in front of the Turkish Embassy (43 Belgrave Square London SW1X 8PA United Kingdom) on Wednesday, 18th February at 12.00 pm to protest against the brutal killing of Ozgecan Aslan. Please show your support for the freedom of women by joining our demonstration and support the struggle of the Turkish speaking women by sending letters of protest to the cabinet offices below.
In solidarity, Oktay Sahbaz 07961 708 014. Solidarity with People of Turkey
Diary (see & use false economy)
6 Yorkshire-wide Free Education March – assemble 12.30pm at Parkinson steps, Leeds University more info here
14 Midlands NSSN Conference – Unite Offices, Birmingham
28 International Workers Memorial Day
4 ‘Stop the union-busters!’ 9th annual NSSN conference – Conway Hall in London
PHONE 07952 283 558
EMAIL mailto:[email protected]
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts
ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE