Statement from BFAWU bakers’ union:-
On 15 April 2015, thousands of fast food workers will lead a mass movement of around 60,000 low waged workers striking across the United States to raise the issue of poor wages and the lack of trade union rights within their industry. At the same time, fast food workers and activists in 33 other countries around the world will also be taking action against low pay. Here in the UK, the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union’s Fast Food Rights campaign, which works in conjunction with the US workers’ movement, is calling for an end to the use of zero hours contracts and demanding an increase in the minimum wage to £10 per hour.
Protests have been organised across the country against employers who are wilfully exploiting their workforce in order to boost their already significant profits. Fast Food Rights actions will take place in London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester, Darlington, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester, Cardiff and Southampton (For details: fastfoodrights.wordpress.com)
One fast food worker on a zero hours contract said, “I’m joining the 15 April global day of action because zero hours contracts and low pay are no way to live. What the American fast food workers have done shows we can fight for better. It is great that the bakers’ union has taken up the fight for £10 an hour and union rights for fast food workers here, and that’s why me and my workmates have joined the union.”
Research recently carried out says that most employers have used the economic crisis to reduce pay and workers’ benefits, with profitable companies decimating the terms and conditions of their employees as a means to further boost profits.
In the UK, we are witnessing a huge rise of in work poverty, with vast swathes of the country’s labour force having to rely on benefits to top up paltry wages. The knock-on effect of this is that an increasingly high number of working people have no disposable income which in turn, has a negative effect on the economy. Indeed, research also suggests that people are often having to use more than 50 percent of their wages just to pay rent, leaving very little for food or other items.
Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union said, “It is a scandal that a number of people who are working full-time are having to suffer the indignity of visiting a food bank in order to feed their families. What a savage, damning indictment of austerity Britain and its government, which has clearly turned a blind eye to this shameful inequality and brazen exploitation.
“15 April will prove to be a massive day of action which, in addition to raising the plight of workers in the fast food industry, will also expose the government’s failure to properly deal with tax dodging companies. If that’s not enough, we will be joining together with other workers to stop the privatisation of the National Art Gallery and fight to secure affordable housing. This entire event will unite a number of issues to bring about a collective demand to end the total injustice caused by greedy employers, poverty wages and vulnerable employment contracts.”
Join the April 15 Fast Food Rights global day of action – for more details of protests: follow the following twitter hashtags: #fastfoodglobal #April15 #10Now #joinaunion #strikefastfood – download campaign materials here read more from BFAWU website
A short animation including some researched facts can be found here
BFAWU bakers’ union General Secretary Ronnie Draper to speak at NSSN conference on July 4th
‘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 and Ronnie Draper BFAWU 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
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]
Scotland Unite & Unison
Steel unions set date for strike ballot (13 April) – Steel unions Community, Unite, GMB and UCATT have announced that Wednesday 6 May is the date they intend to open an industrial action ballot over Tata Steel’s proposal to close the British Steel pension scheme (BSPS). The ballot is expected to end on Friday 29 May. The unions are continuing to take legal advice and make preparations to ensure that the ballot meets all legal requirements and cannot be challenged by Tata read more from Unite website GMB website Community website UCATT website
Four day strike over two sacked shop stewards at Northampton packaging firm (10 April) – A four day strike at corrugated packaging company Smurfit Kappa in Northampton will start next Friday (17 April) over the sacking of two senior stewards, members of Unite. The four day stoppage will start at 05.50 on Friday and ends at 06.00 on Tuesday, 21 April. Unite’s 108 members have already taken two days of strike action on 1 and 2 April in support of their two dismissed colleagues who stood up to the company over ‘race to the bottom’ contracts and alleged incorrect bonus payments. Unite said that it is ready to hold talks with the company at any time, under the auspices of the conciliation service, ACAS – but, so far, the management has maintained its hard line read more
Canadian beer can dispute to make waves at cruise company AGM (10 April) – The 19-month dispute at packaging company Crown Packaging in Canada is set to rock the boat at the annual meeting of Carnival Cruise Lines in London on Tuesday (14 April). The United Steelworkers (USW) union is campaigning on behalf of 120 workers at the Toronto site of Crown Packaging who have been on strike since September 2013 over cuts to their pensions, elimination of the cost of living allowance and a drastic wage cut for new starters that will create an unacceptable two tiered wage system. The link between the two companies is that Carnival CEO Arnold Donald is also on the board of directors of Crown, pocketing an annual $200,000 for attending a few meetings a year. A delegation of Crown workers will protest at the Carnival AGM on Tuesday (14 April) at 13.00 at Church House Conference Centre, Dean’s Yard, Westminster, SW1P 3NZ and outside the Carnival headquarters at 100 Harbour Parade in Southampton SO15 1ST at 07.45 on Wednesday (15 April) read more
Download NSSN leaflet supporting PCS from the government’s attacks: ‘Stop the union busters!’ here
UNISON to ballot probation members on action over pay (April 10) – UNISON probation members in England and Wales are to be balloted on industrial action after management failed to substantially improve their 0% pay ‘offer’. The ballot timetable is still to be finalised, but will be announced shortly, for members working for both the National Probation Service and the new, outsourced “community rehabilitation companies”. Earlier this year, 96% of members taking part in a consultation over the employers’ 2014 pay offer of 0% voted to reject it read more
May Day rally and festival in heart of Kent coal field (10 April) – Transport union RMT is supporting a major rally and festival in the heart of the Kent coal fields over the coming May Day bank holiday weekend. On May the fourth the trades councils of Kent have called for a rally of trade union members in what is the heart of the former Kent Coal mines at Aylesham. The event is aimed at families and will seek to build on the heritage of trade union struggles in Kent, including the miners, seafarers and rail workers and just days away from the general election will remind those who seek to represent our communities in Government that the trade union movement shall be holding them accountable read more
Reinstate Clara Osagiede: join the lobby on April 15 – Clara Osagiede, RMT cleaners’ secretary on London Underground, has been dismissed from her job for the crime of fighting for workplace justice for London’s transport cleaners. Bosses at Interserve – a private contractor that LU use for cleaning – concocted a series of spurious charges in order to get rid of an activist who is a thorn in their side read more
£9.15 per hour for Woolwich patient transport (April 9) – GMB secures £9.15 per hour living wage for patient transport staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich. Members are very pleased that lengthy negotiations have resulted in an up to 40% pay rise for G4S staff from 1st June 2015 read more
Tiny Tim plays Pinocchio in union busting row (13 April) – Cold comfort for taxpayers paying £7 billion to upgrade First Great Western. The American boss of First Group was accused today of “telling porky pies” in a union busting battle at First Great Western, one of the largest franchises in the UK. Tim O’Toole, the £1.99 million a year chief executive, was depicted on TSSA banners and leaflets as Pinocchio, the puppet who could never tell the truth. He has threatened to derecognise the union for managerial grades in a row over jobs and services over the axing of buffet cars on the new Hitachi trains coming into service between London and Swansea in 2017 read more
April edition of Firefighter now online here
Essex FBU Hardship fund details: ‘Essex fire brigades union hardship fund’ Account no. 086001 20292568
A letter to Sodexo (April 10) – A frantic week. One truncated by a bank holiday and some leave which I have been trying to take for ages, during which I did a few radio interviews about the job cut announcements in the Sodexo owned CRC’s. I am posting this straight after an excellent meeting today of Napo Sodexo reps organised by Ranjit Singh, where the scale of the planned reductions, the handling of communications by Sodexo and Napo’s response to the situation were given some very serious consideration read more from blog of Ian Lawrence NAPO general secretary
Scottish airport staff begin “work to rule” as first 48-hour strike ends (9 April) – A 48-hour strike by Prospect members working in airport group HIAL’s security company AMSL ended at lunchtime today, but industrial action in pursuit of equal treatment will continue with a “work to rule”. This action will see an indefinite ban on over-time and rest day working as well as covering for senior staff read more
Pay, hours and contracts top list of concerns for UK Theatre workers (April11) – This week theatre industry weekly, The Stage, reported on BECTU’s survey of workers employed at UK Theatre venues. Here are the union’s headline findings. As employers who are part of the UK Theatre association consider BECTU’s pay claim for 2015-16, workers covered by the agreement – which takes in some 200 venues in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England – have spoken with clarity about their terms and conditions in the first ever UK Theatre workers’ pay survey read more
The Levellers’ Association is celebrating the 400th anniversary of John Lilburne’s birth, his achievements and his Leveller legacy.
There are two upcoming events:-
Friday May 15th 7.30pm – ‘Lilburne Night’ at the CWU training centre Alvescot Lodge, Alvescot, Bampton, Oxfordshire OX18 2PY
Saturday May 16th 10.30am-3.30pm – ‘Levellers Day 2015’ in Burford, Oxfordshire
Blacklisting & Victimisation
Buy the book ‘Blacklisted: The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists’ Author: Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain. Blacklisted tells the controversial story of the illegal strategies that transnational construction companies used to keep union activists away from work. See the official trailer from ReelNews
Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work in 2015 we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils. Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)
Blacklisting in the Election Manifestos – update 14 April 2015
- Blacklisting makes the General Election manifestos
“Some sectors and occupations have particular issues of concern that need to be addressed, such as the problems of false self-employment and blacklisting uncovered by recent investigations. Self-employment is a vital part of our economy, but there is evidence that in some cases it is being wrongly used to avoid tax and employment rights, notably in the construction industry. Labour will tackle bogus self employment in construction and a set up a full inquiry that is transparent and public to examine the issue of blacklisting. Recognising historic cases, we will release all papers concerning the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ trials”.
“End Blacklisting – We will set up a full investigation into blacklisting in the construction industry and consider the creation of a new criminal offence”
“Plaid Cymru will legislate against blacklisting”
“Fully independent public inquiry into police collusion in the scandal of blacklisting”
Blacklisting firms fund the Tories
- Public Inquiry
Blacklisted workers continue to campaign for a fully independent public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal and for a public inquiry into the role of undercover police spying on trade unions and other peaceful democratic campaigners. Teresa May has announced a public inquiry into police spying. Labour & Greens have pledged some kind of inquiry / investigation into the blacklisting scandal. Professor Keith Ewing (long time friend & supporter of the Blacklist Support Group) asks whether the proposed inquires will go far enough and actually uncover the full story of police spying on trade unions.
- Blacklisted Book reviews and tour dates
Reviews by blacklisted workers Brian Higgins and Pete Shaw in the UK and others around the world
Blacklisted Book Tour Dates
Tues 21st – London – Bookmarks (6:30pm) https://bookmarksbookshop.co.uk/events
Sat 25th – SWTUC – Devon
Sun 26th – CWU conference Bournemouth with Billy Hayes (12:30)
Tues 28th – Liverpool – Jack Jones House, Unite offices (6pm)
Wed 29th – Liverpool – News from Nowhere (am)
Wed 29th – Leeds Trades Council public meeting Swathmore Centre (7pm)
Fri 1st – Manchester, Kings Arms Salford (6pm)
Mon 4th – Kent Workers Festival, Aylesham
Wed 13th – FBU conference Blackpool with Matt Wrack (5:30pm)
Thur 14th – Bristol – Tony Benn House, Unite office (6pm)
Fri 15th – Bristol – UWE CESR seminar (2pm) www1.uwe.ac.uk/bl/bbs/bbsresearch/cesr/cesrseminars.aspx
Sat 16th – London – Bishopsgate Institute
Wed 20th – Nottingham – Fine Leaves Books (7pm)
Wed 10th – GMB conference Dublin
Thur 25th – Glastonbury Festival
Fri 10th – Durham Miners Gala – NUM office Redhills, pre-festival events(5pm)
Sat 18th – Tolpuddle Festival
Any other trades councils, festival stages or conferences else wanting a speaker please feel free to contact us.
Please keep posting your photos of people reading the book to facebook and twitter with the hashtag #blacklistedbook
- United We Stand
The brilliant play about the Shrewsbury Pickets continues its UK tour in the run up to the General Election. If you haven’t seen this play yet – book your ticket asap.
- Blacklisting in the airline sector
AN aircraft engineer who claims he was sacked after raising safety concerns over procedures at British Airways is suing the airline for unfair dismissal.
John Higgins, who worked as an aircraft maintenance supervisor for the firm, claims he made protected disclosures to BA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over who was allowed to sign off on work carried out on aircraft.
Mr Higgins, from High Blantyre in South Lanarkshire, had a 27-year unblemished career with the airline. He was dismissed when he installed the wrong part on a plane at British Airways Maintenance Glasgow (BAMG) in March last year.
He claims he made the mistake because he was under extreme pressure due to staffing problems, an excessive workload and unreasonable timescales and said the error “did not compromise the safe operation of the aircraft”.
However, BA found that it did and dismissed him before offering him a demoted post on appeal – a proposal which Mr Higgins rejected, leaving him to resign.
In a written statement submitted to an employment tribunal in Glasgow, Mr Higgins – who now works for Monarch Airlines – said: “I raised concerns during 2006 and 2007 that BA was not complying with full safety requirements in carrying out their aircraft maintenance.
“The disclosure I made was that at my workplace of British Airways, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the aircraft maintenance work was not being performed in strict compliance with CAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) safety provisions.
“It was my belief that this was a serious safety lapse which could potentially result in fatalities.”
Mr Higgins claimed he met with CAA officials to discuss his concerns, resulting in them issuing seven findings of failure against BA and an EASA working group being set up to look at the issue.
However lawyer Samantha Cooper, acting for BA, suggested that neither were directly linked to Mr Higgins’s alleged disclosure.
Miss Cooper also suggested there was no basis for him to allege that the approach taken by BA was contrary to regulations.
Mr Higgins replied: “I saw flaws with it.”
BA manager Stuart McMahon said he had checked with the CAA and they had no record of Mr Higgins’s disclosures, however he accepted under cross-examination that this did not mean they had not been made.
The tribunal was told that BAMG was seriously short-staffed on March 1 and 2 last year when Mr Higgins was overseeing contractors working on an Airbus A321.
One of the contractors damaged a wire and Mr Higgins repaired it with a splice which turned out to be the wrong one.
When he returned to work later that week he was suspended and claims he was told by a manager: “I am so sorry. I can’t have another Air Malaysian situation here and need to send you home.”
BA argue that the repair Mr Higgins carried out was important to the safety of the plane. They also claim he did not properly record the repair and failed to pick up on poor wiring by a contractor.
Miss Cooper put it to the engineer that supervisors had told him to just do what he could on the days in question. He said he had tried to do that.
She accused Mr Higgins of being reckless and he replied: “I don’t agree with that.”
He added: “I did the best I could under the circumstances.”
The tribunal also heard from BA manager Brian Queally who took the decision to dismiss Mr Higgins.
In a written statement, he said staff are never expected to “cut corners” due to time pressures, adding: “The potential impact of the claimant’s use of the incorrect splice was huge. If the splice failed it could have affected the correct functioning of the landing gear, resulting in a potential catastrophic incident.”
The manager also said he had no knowledge of Mr Higgins’s disclosures about safety concerns prior to dismissing him.
The tribunal, before Employment Judge Susan Walker, continues.
International (also see Labourstart)
Sri Lanka: Affiliate to Tamil Solidarity read here
Workers urged to sign petition to Show FIFA The Red Card over Qatar worker abuses read more on UCATT website
Diary (see & use false economy)
13 Campaign for Trade Union Freedom evening rally Cardiff Unite office from 6pm
15 Global Fast Food workers day of action
18 1pm Wakefield Socialist History Group meeting on DEMOCRACY AND THE MEDIA: STRUGGLES FOR MEDIA PLURALISM PAST AND PRESENT – speakers: Don Mort, NUJ “Chapel Rep” for the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group and Granville Williams, member of the National Council of the Campaign for Broadcasting Freedom. We will also be showing Lindsay Anderson’s great 1952 documentary “Wakefield Express.” Admission is free and there is a free light buffet.
28 International Workers Memorial Day
1 May day
20 People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration in London details here
4 ‘Stop the union-busters!’ 9th annual NSSN conference – Conway Hall in London
11 Durham Miners’ Gala details here
17-19 Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival details here
PHONE 07952 283 558
EMAIL mailto:[email protected]
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/NSSN_AntiCuts
ADDRESS NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE