nick venedi

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Lambeth anit cuts march 30 October

Excellent pictures from the anti cuts march as presented in the local urban75 blog , which took place yesterday in Britxon. The campaign organisers meet every first and 3rd Thursday of each month. You can read all about the detail on fellow bloggers blog Jon Rogers.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

300 billion pensions gap

A study conducted by the insurance company Aviva and professional services firm Deloitte, has shown that UK adult workers would need to put away an average of £10,300 every year in order to close what they say is a 300 + billion gap.

The pensions gap is defined as the difference between the income needed to live comfortably in retirement and the actual income that individuals can currently expect to receive.

The figures and the stats on which the survey is conducted is based on the assumption that the UK gap of £10,300 per person per year is an average based on the 31 million UK adults who are due to retire between 2011 and 2051. The interesting thing about this study is that it quntifies the gap and it puts the figure for the shortfall at £318 billion annually. So more bad news for all of us then...

NUS Student questionnaire

This is a questionnaire open to students at Roehampton University, where the NUS and TUC is currently running a project to find out more about students experiences at work.

NUS Student questionnaire

This is a questionnaire open to students at Roehampton University, where the NUS and TUC is currently running a project to find out more about students experiences at work.

Friday, 29 October 2010

G20 and jobs crisis

Globally more people are out of work today than ever before, and this looks set to worsen as deep budget cuts threaten fragile economic recovery. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has today written to Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the G20 Leader's Summit in Seoul Korea (11-12 November 2010), asking him to take up global union demands to instead put quality employment at the heart of G20 recovery strategies.

World Aids day seminar

This gives details of a seminar on the ILO recommendation on HIV-AIDS and the world of work taking place on 1 December 2010 at Congress House.

Issues around sentencing

The question as to what a life sentence means has come back and is being thrown around in debating rooms all over the place.

I don't believe that punishing people severely for minor offences by throwing them in jail is a good idea and I don't think it works either. I am totally against the death penalty mainly because there is a 0.1% chance that the person the state executes may not be the right one and that is a very high risk to take with any ones life.

But on the other hand I do believe that those convicted for crimes of hate or premeditated murders should be in jail for at least 25 years. But this is a complicated area of the law and I also agree that each case should be looked at and the specific detail studied carefully before sentence is handed. A murderer however who simply goes out and kills someone for pleasure should not be allowed to think that he or she could come because they 'behave well' when inside a prison cell.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

SERTUC Public Services Open Meeting

SERTUC Public Services Open Meeting: Fire Brigades Union SolidarityThis gives information about an event that aims to explain the background to the London Fire Authority dispute and to discuss how London trade unionists and members of the public can support the union's campaign.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Changing time

Yes the debate has started again and our glorious legislators who have very little else to do will be debating shortly whether the time should be changed.

If the time is changed then there won't be much light in Scotland until 9.30 in the morning but it would mean that the day will look longer as there would be more light at the end of the day? I think this debate is pointless and it will be better if every Council in the country decided to have their own time zone so you could park your car in Camden (which has different parking restrictions than Westminster) and go out for a drink or six in Soho (which is not in Camden) this will also delight members of the United Left who are avid followers of the English pub tradition...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Infant deaths investigation

THE British government has finally launched an investigation into why more than 200 infants died at a hospital on the military base at Dhekelia in the early to mid-1960s.
The probe – long demanded by their now elderly parents – follows an investigation into the mystery by the Sunday Mail last year.
The absence of any official explanation for nearly half a century has led to intense speculation, ranging from sub-standard hygiene at Dheklia hospital to exposure at the base of military personnel to radio-active material.
Claims of a cover-up have been rife.
More than 56 babies, aged between one day and one month died during 1964 alone, some on the same date, and are buried in one small section of the dusty cemetery at Dhekelia.

United front

I have just read John Grays blog which covers the SERTUC gathering on Saturday. According to what John says there was an alternative rally at the same time as the main TUC event which, in his opinion (and I wasn't able to be there so I didn't see this) took away some of the crowd. If this is correct (and I am sure it is) then this is not the right time to be dividing our effort into two. We often criticise our leadership for not organising events and when they do some of us set up alternatives? This cannot be right and if we don't sort our divisions out we will be setting ourselves up to fail. I believe in strict discipline within the TU movement which will, on the one hand allow for complete freedom of expression, but will also, on the other hand ensure that we present a common front and present ourselves as one.

I also note with interest that Bob Crow made his usual 'lets give them what they want to hear speech' I always found people who engaged in such populist gestures as lazy and devoid of imagination. I find Bob highly entertaining but doubt as to whether he has a concrete strategy that can be measurable and could guarantee long term results. I would however go and listen to a speech he makes as I will find it enjoyable! He is certainly not boring!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

One Union per Sector an Urgent Need!

It was Sally Hunt at the TUC conference this year who suggested what many of us have been saying for years. We need to organise and focus on centralising our resources so that we can become a more effective fighting machine or we will never achieve total competence by having different Unions that are often competing against each other in the same sections of industry. So we should, for example, have one major union representing those who work in local government. The same will apply for different parts of the private sector.

It is ridiculous right now that we have the GMB, Unison and Unite organising in the same branch. I remember when I was branch Secretary for Lambeth Unison how I would turn up at a consultation meeting with management and sit around a table with the GMB Secretary. I also know of cases where unions would approach members of another union that did not take their members on strike and try to convert them. This is a very divisive situation and the case for merging has never been greater than now. We should be talking about unifying what we have and not allow factors that can divide to continue.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

More tribunals than ever before..

Recent statistics published by the Tribunal Service office show an increase of 56% in claims during the year up to 31 March 2010. The number of claims in 2008/09 was 151,000, compared with 236,100 claims in 2009-10. The stats show a massive rise in the number of claims made under breach of contract and redundancy pay claims this perhaps reflects the fact that people are fighting back because of the pressures on jobs from the recession. At the same time religion and belief claims have reached 1,000 in the past year. There will be more pressure on trades unions to offer quality representation to those who are members, at the same time there should (in theory) be a higher demand to join an established trade union so I just hope that we are ready to be taking people on and give them real support.

Love Music hate Racism event 6 November 2010

UAF and Love Music Hate Racism, supported by the TUC and Muslim Council of Britain have called a national march and carnival This demonstration has been called to make a public stand againstthe rise of racism and fascism across Europe, Organisations like the English Defence League terrorising communities across Britain, and the dramatic rise of IslamophobiaMake a stand against racism fascism and islamophobia, support the demo on 6th November 2010Organised by UAF and Love Music Hate racism, Supported by the TUC, MCB, JCORE

Friday, 22 October 2010

Fredy Geovani Lopez campaign

The TUC General Secretary has written to the Guatemalan ambassador in London calling for action to find and prosecute the murderer of hospital workers union leader Fredy Geovani Lopez Caal.

Mr Lopez Caal, disputes secretary of the hospital workers union Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Salud de Guatemala del Hospital Nacional de Melchor de Mencos Peten, was shot by unknown assailants as he left a farewell party for a doctor at his hospital on 27 September.
His murder follows closely on attacks against and killings of many other trade unionists in Guatemala.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Hate crime vigil 23 October 7.00 p.m.

Hate Crime Vigil - 23rd October 7pm - 9pm Trafalgar Square (with 2 minute silence at 8pm)

Ian Baynham aged 62 died in hospital on October 13th 2009, several weeks after he was punched and kicked while on a night out near Trafalgar Square in a vicious homophobic attack by two teenage girls.After his death, last year up to 10,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square to enforce the message that hate crime is unacceptable. Those who attended the vigil in the centre of London were also joined by others around the world online.This Saturday, 23rd October between 7pm and 9pm, the vigil will take place once again in Trafalgar Square with a 2 minute silence at 8pm. A number of musicians and speakers will be attending the event including Stuart Milk – nephew to Harvey Milk who is making the journey from the USA to represent the Harvey Milk Foundation. It is hoped that once again thousands of supporters including the world’s media will join in and support the event in central London online.If you would like to show your support in person, head down to Trafalgar Square this Saturday evening and join thousands of individuals all united to share one common theme "Uniting all communities against all forms of Hate Crime through hope and remembrance".

Europe in crisis or united in strife

I have just returned back from a trip to Greece and Cyprus where I was visiting friends and relatives so apologies to the thousands of readers who do not read my blog and the millions who would love to but don't know it exists. Apologies also for a few spelling problems I could not figure out how to tell google in Greek space to turn itself into English spell check mode and the spell check found every word wrong as I was writing in English and my cousins computer was of course turned into Greek mode.. if that makes sense!! Anyway the lord google works in mysterious ways and I will go back correct any errors now, am sure there is a simple way to have resolved this problem but didn't want to fight with my young cousins fire wall as he is younger and bigger than me!!

The news from Greek space is that the fight goes on. There is a multitude of proposals on how to resist ranging from all out general strike action to marching on the streets of every large city. No one I met under 30 was even remotely interested in petitions or leafleting outside buildings and when I told the guys I know there that's what we do over here they were puzzled they were even amazed that we schedule events like gatherings so late. But its obvious that those I met under 35 want to fight and will not tolerate drastic cuts.... I wonder if our great leaders will be linking up with the Euroland action, did we send anyone in France the day before yesterday?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

TUC Day of Action

Huge strike action throughout France and Britain today. Workers all over Europe will be protesting against the drastic cuts imposed by governments, in addition delegations will be meeting their local MPs and asking them what position they are taking on this issue. Good luck to all who will be marching in the centre of London.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Sweet and bitter island

My thanks to the anonymous reader who shared his ideas with me on the Cyprus problem. Shame you don't identify yourself, unfortunately I have a policy of not publishing anonymous comments even thought these are constructive and, in my view, progressive.

It is true that many foreign correspondence have written books on Cyprus but Tabitah lives in Cyprus and has first hand knowledge of the current situation and has been good (most of the time) in reporting events.

I like most of what she says in her book but feel that her assessment of the Greek Cypriot mentality is based on weak observations and some of the conclusions are derived from on face value judgements. This is after all a country that has produced Stelions (Mr Easy Jet) and at the other extreme George Michael. So stereotyping a nation and putting people in boxes does not always work.

The problem they have in Cyprus is very much associated with imperialist interests so the USA, Britain, Greece and Turkey have all turned what is a beutiful island into a battle ship and have ignored, to a very high degree, the interests of those who have lived there for thousands of years.

There are no simple solutions to the current stagnation but those of us with progressive minds would want to work together, on both sides of the island, for a just and federal solution that ensures the intergity of the Republic of Cyprus and allows all its people to live in peace.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sweet and bitter island

I met Tabitha Morgan at a recent conference. She is a well read scholar with in depth knowledge of Cyprus. Her new book, Sweet and bitter island, is rather interesting in many ways but ignores some fundamental factors that influence the Greek Cypriot mentality. It maybe unfair to say that she ignores these factors but it appears to be the case that she has not been able to penetrate that shield behind the soul that would be necessary to understand the sometimes complex character of the people (to outsiders anyway) The book is well written however and worth reading. I shall certainly do a more detailed review when I get more time...

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Is discipline within the Union necessary?

I was recently having an argument, lets just call it a heated debate, with a 'friend' who had complained about the heavy handed, as he puts it, approach of the national union towards some of his 'ideas'. He was also concerned that he could never progress any concepts within the union structure as there were always obstacles put in his way. It is true that this individual has some good ideas but he also subscribes to a method (lets call it an ideology) that would not be supported by the majority of members on the ground. So it is important in my mind to be clear as to where the boundries are and I trully believe that once a decision is taken by National Conference we simply have to go out and implement that decision or policy. So a Regional Secretary stopping any attempts to avert this is, in my opinion, doing her job

Friday, 15 October 2010

International links

Fellow bloggerss have spoken recently of the need to unite and campaign against the cuts in Britain. The proposal is of course a great one but I also think that the whole of Europe is up in arms right now with action taken in France, Greece, Spain and may of our partner countries. Unions throughout Europe should do more to coordinate the action. We can learn lessons on how the French or the Greeks have organised their resisdence locally.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Camp Hope

Today my thoughts are with the 33 miners in Chile, Camp Hope, rescued after being trapped under ground for more than 60 days. Their ordeal is nearly over. Workers all over the world will be celebrating and remembering the huge difficulties workers with jobs like that are facing every day of their lives...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Unison fighting fund

Excellent news from the Unison NEC the decision has been made to start a campaign fund to fight the cuts. I have added the link explaining this at the bottom of this page. In addition I would suggest that branches with more than £100,000 in reserve ring fence 20% of their reserves to fight this. I know branches with more than 100k in reserve in London and I feel that this is the time to put our money where our mouth is if we are serious. Branches can also achieve savings by managing their budgets locally more effectively, like I did in Lambeth Unison.

The need for a single sector union

The idea was well explained at the recent TUC conference. It is a simple concept yet we have not been able to understand or accept that a single sector union situation will help the trade union movement. Either that or there should be more mergers with sister unions where it is obvious that we could be ending up competing with each other and this at a time when we should all be more united.

I was astonished, for example, with the situation in my old branch, Lambeth, where the 'friendly' competition between Unison and the GMB was rife at times. There were members who would switch from one union to the next mainly because of the cost associated with being a member of Unison and although Unison had 2300 members as opposed to the 700 of the GMB the constant 'rivalry' was not at all helpful and was exploited by management.

We were lucky in that the GMB Secretary, Bill Modlock, was a hard working descent and competent trade unionist who worked with myself and Jon as Unison Secretaries, but I can see how this division could be a destruction in other branches where the arguments are more pronounced. It is time that we discussed more mergers and single sector union agreements otherwise the difference between the Peoples Judea Front and the Front of the Peoples of Judea will dilute our efforts!

Well done Christopher Pissarides

A British Greek Cypriot economist has been named as one of three laureates sharing the 2010 economics Nobel for work helping to explain unemployment and the jobs market.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said yesterday the 10 million Swedish crown (around €1 million) prize recognised Christopher Pissarides and US professors Peter Diamond and Dale Mortensen for their work analysing the process of buying and selling, and how job vacancies and wages are affected by regulation and policy.

So congratulations to Christopher for achieving this distinction he joins a number of other prominent British born citizens of Greek or G Cypriot origin who have done well despite the difficulties faced by those from ethnic minority groups. He honors the community with his achievement.

The Lambeth days diary...

I started writing the diaries of my experience and those who were close to me from 1988 to 2010. My original idea was to have an online version of what I experienced. But the task proved to be more difficult than I thought and this is because the diaries I kept are not totally complete so there is a brief gap between 1989 to 1990. I have spoken to friends who were involved with the struggles on a number of occasions about this and whilst they all think it is a good idea to record the events some of them may not want their names published online.

So I am taking a brief break from this glorious project because I feel that any historical record of the best branch in London (it was when I was there.. lol) should be written carefully. I am also grateful to a few people who text me to point me to the right direction but I will not lift my ban on anonymous comments and will continue the practice of not publishing these. There is no need for people to make comments without putting their name on what they say. The policy of no name no comment continues on this blog! I wish that other fellow bloggers would follow this policy.

I am meeting a friend who was key to the fight in 1989 next week and I will see whether my recollection of what happened coincides with that of mine, I will then start writing again. Shame I can't start with 2009 to 2010 as this would be so easy! But I will be getting there...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Regressive moves

A Bill to cap Whitehall redundancy payouts at one year's pay is intended to bring Whitehall severance packages in line with standard practice in the private sector according to a government spokes person.

This move if implemented will create a difficult employee relations climate in the Civil Service and very low morale as well and the unions will of course fight this additional attack on members terms and conditions of service. The civil service unions will be starting a campaign to oppose these regressive moves as will other unions in the public sector.

The introduction of the Bill comes after the government tried to impose reductions to civil service conditions in April but a High court judicial review ruled these changes were unlawful

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Turning against the Leader..

A lot has been said recently in the press about how bad previous Leaders have been. So you have Blair stating in his book that Gordon Brown was impossible to put up with and now we see that Gordon resented Tony Blair and probably hated him. Many in the Labour party are now openly hostile towards Tony Blair and many think that Gordon was a nasty piece of work.

Most of these critics ignore the immense pressure that people in leadership positions are placed in and how difficult it is to keep the political equilibrium. I am personally not happy with Tony Blairs decision to force us into an illegal war but he made some serious changes to the way the party functioned and achieved electoral success. Gordon Brown on the other hand took the country through a difficult financial crisis and took decisive action which ensured we did not fall into a massive depression. So we should always be careful to remember what an incredibly difficult job and not get personal when critical.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Allmighty U turns...

Looks like George Osborne is about to take the Labour approach to managing the economy and not impose drastic cuts, which will devastate growth, in one go. Instead he might be spreading the action over a 4 year period. In other words he will be doing what the previous Labour government stated they were proposing to do. In addition he will be encouraging the Bank of England to print money something that he seemed to be against when in opposition. Add this to the guarantee prior to the election of not touching child benefit made by the Tories and you have one all mighty unreliable collective of opportunist politicians. What would Margaret Thacher say about all theses U turns?

Friday, 8 October 2010

Another 24 hour strike in Athens

Students and workers united in the centre of Athens yesterday protesting against the severe austerity measures imposed by the recently elected PASOK (Socialist) government of George Papandreou a well know friend of Tony Blair.

The austerity measures are being resisted fiercely by the general population and specifically those who work in the public sector (around 10% of the population) Thousands marched and gathered around the House of Parliament (Syntagma square) and more around Omonia square. Some of the measures imposed by the government include a reduction in 25% of pay, increase of the retirement age and a reduction on state pensions. There have been more protests in the summer and more are being organised. The main television stations, NET, Mega and others are constantly reporting on the 'resistance and mass mobilisation'.

Cabinet fever

Furniture fever in the two Miliband households as the younger of the Miliband brothers comes to terms with having to place D Milliband followers in his new shadow cabinet. This of course can be a good thing and I am delighted that my own favorite, Tessa Jowell, has been elected by the other MPs to serve. Shame that the same collection of people could not see the benefit of having the 'outspoken' Diane Abbott in the same collective, am sure that D Milliban is happy with the election result.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Time off to look after sick dependants

Interesting decision by the Employment Tribunal regarding time off to look after a sick dependant. The tribunal, made a decision after looking at the evidence over the dismissal of Alison Balch, who took time off seven times during her six-month trial period at Royal Mail and was as a result dismissed. The tribunal decided that the applicant had been unfairly dismissed as she received no formal warning about her attendance before she was fired. She was awarded £8,000 compensation as she was unfairly dismissed.

The tribunal heard that, as a new employee, Balch should have been given a performance review after three months and the employer, the Royal Mail, should have implemented a firm and clear plan monitoring and supporting the employee in question.

It would also appear that although her line manager had written up a performance review plan, she did not see this until she met him for her six-month assessment. She was dismissed shortly after this meeting and given one week's notice, despite explaining that her five-year-old son suffered from intense health problems.

The tribunal ruled that both Balch's contract of employment and Royal Mail's attendance procedures failed to mention time off for dependants and so failed to embrace the provisions set out in the Employment Rights Act. In addition the new Equality Act of 2010 (brought in by Harriot Harman) makes it clear that time off to care for dependants is something that an employer should consider carefully and decide on making reasonable judgment. TU reps should therefore study the new Equalities Act carefully when presented with similar cases as I am sure there will be a few flying around.

Campaign action: Where does your MP stand on cuts?

Let's make sure that every MP watching the Chancellor outline his plans on the 20th October will already know the strength of feeling in their own constituency about them. Please take a moment to email your MP now, letting them know your thoughts.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Minister for Europe: “Cyprus will not be forgotten”

I have been asked to publish the following news release on Cyprus. I welcome any attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute and glad of any initiatives...

Minister for Europe, David Lidington MP, last night reassured British Cypriot delegates at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham that Cyprus remains a priority for the new Coalition Government.

A fringe event organised jointly by Conservatives for Cyprus and Federation members DESY UK and the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, under the auspices of the Federation, was hosted by Theresa Villiers MP (Minister for Transport) and Charles Tannock MEP and attended by a number of other politicians, delegates and visitors to the Conservative conference. Ms Villiers welcomed guests and spoke of her pride in her party’s record on supporting Cyprus, saying:

“Support for Cyprus is unstinting in the Conservative party. The two communities in Cyprus have the capacity and the will to live harmoniously together in a reunited Cyprus if they’re given the opportunity to make their own decisions about their own country and our Government will give all the support to Cypriots to reach a lasting and just solution.”

She then introduced David Lidington MP who told guests that Cyprus remains high on the Foreign Office’s list of priorities:

“The cause of Cyprus is not going to be forgotten. The Government, William Hague and I personally, are committed to do whatever lies within our power to help sustain and support the Cypriot-led process under the auspices of the United Nations, which we hope will lead to the reunification of the island which ordinary families on both communities wish to see. And when we talk to the governments of Greece and Turkey we also make sure that they are aware of the importance that we attach to the issue of Cyprus and make sure they are aware of our wish for them to do all that they can to bring about a settlement and to do so soon.”

Co-host Charles Tannock MEP spoke of how he works with his counterparts in the European Parliament, adding that “there is a narrow opportunity in the next few months for a breakthrough. It is essential that Mr Eroglu and President Christofias realise that the situation cannot go on forever and that they must seize the opportunity and come to a solution where Cyprus is united together, while respecting each other’s cultures.”

Andreas Papaevripides, Federation Vice-President and Chairman of DESY UK, representing the Conservative Party’s sister party, DESY, thanked Conservatives for their interest and support for Cyprus over many years, and went on to remind the guests that while we mourn the division of the island, we can nevertheless celebrate the recent 50th anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus.

The National Federation of Cypriots in the UK was represented at the event by its President, Mr Peter Droussiotis, who earlier in the evening had met with Foreign Secretary Rt Hon William Hague MP at the Conservative Party’s International reception. He thanked guests and the hosts of the event for their continued support on the Cyprus problem, reassuring them that the Cypriot community in the UK would not give up the “just struggle to reunite the island on the basis of democratic values” and asking for their help to turn the vision of a reunited island into reality. He added:

“We, British Cypriots, are fully supportive of President Christofias’s really strenuous efforts and the principled flexibility ha has shown in the direct negotiations and we call upon the new Turkish Cypriot leader to reciprocate so that a negotiated settlement can be reached as soon as possible, but we have no doubt that Turkey’s role is absolutely crucial to the outcome of these negotiations. There can be no solution in Cyprus without Turkey’s positive contribution and active engagement.”

David Burrowes MP, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group the Friends of Cyprus, echoed the words and sentiments of his fellow Parliamentarians and went on to urge guests to lobby their own MPs to join the Friends of Cyprus group.

Other notable guests included Nick de Bois MP, Andrew Rosindell MP, Tony Yerolemou (Chairman of Conservatives for Cyprus and Vice President of the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood), Ian Twinn, former MP and longstanding friend of Cyprus, and the Cyprus High Commissioner HE Mr Alexandros Zenon.

W Hague and Euro Federalism

I am not expecting William Hague to be making a speech later on today at the Tory conference embracing the virtues of European integration and federalism. I would imagine he will use the opportunity to divert attention from the child benefits cut fiasco and focus on the popular anti Europe band wagon.

The reality is that we have to learn to live with other European states and see the move towards more real integration as a necessary stage in international development. All we have to do is take a real look at the real world and see that we are dominated by countries that are federations of different people. The USA, Russia, China, India and Brazil are the examples of how the world will look like very soon. There is no point burying our heads in the sand and living in the past. A truly united Europe will guarantee our safety and it will mean that the prospect of another catastrophic war is avoid.

Euro Federalism is the way forward but I do not expect Tory boy Hague to be preaching this today!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Trouble at Tory Mill...

Looks like Tory boy Osborn and his Lib Dem follower Cable haven't done their maths right. They are both in the toilet for having announced the decision to cut child support benefit without doing the figures. It looks like a couple with a joint income of £80,000 will keep the benefit whereas a couple with just one income of above £44,000 will be losing out?

This is ludicrous of course and whilst I am not a great sympathiser of anything the Tories do I am amazed that they came up with this banana idea without getting their Thacher engraved calculator out to work the arithmetic? Unfortunately there is more of this to come...

European anti-austerity campaign

Trade unionists from the UK joined union members from across Europe in Brussels on 29 September to take part in a No to Austerity march and rally organised by the European TUC to protest at the huge cuts in public spending taking place across the continent.
An estimated hundred thousand marchers sent a strong message to European heads of government that jobs and growth - not cuts and austerity - had to be the priority. To coincide with the ETUC march, Spanish unions went on strike in protest at cuts introduced by their government, and there were anti-cuts demonstrations in Portugal, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Serbia, Romania, Poland, Ireland and France.

The ETUC march and rally was one of the first events to take place after the launch of the TUC's All Together for Public Services campaign at Congress. Unions in towns and cities across the UK - including Nottingham, Newcastle, Leeds and Belfast ­- used the occasion to raise awareness of the impact the cuts will have on their communities.
On Tuesday 19 October - the eve of the Comprehensive Spending Review - the TUC will be holding a rally in Central Hall, Westminster followed by a mass lobby of Parliament in protest at the scale of the cuts planned. The rally will start at 12.30pm and will be opened by TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Not Greece, Italy or Spain...

Well its now official. George Osborn, the Tory Chancellor, has spotted that Britain is not Greece, Italy, Spain or Ireland for that matter. So it would seem that trade union activists around the country have got it all wrong and the Chancellor has a canning degree of perception. Anyone of course could have told the one who never smiles that Britain hasn't got the weather to look like Spain or Greece.

He delivered his speech to the angry brigade of Tory delegates in Birmigham without smiling and blamed everything under the sun on to the Labour party, he some how forgot that it was his best mates in the city and the Bankers of the world that placed us in this mess, not many of them, I believe, subscribe or read Labour Briefing. So it looks like although the Chancellor knows a bit of geography he had a sudden lapse of memory, ah well there's always Boris the Johnson to sort him out later on I suppose!

Regulating strike action

Boris the plonker Johnson, otherwise known as the Mayor of London, has told the Tory gathering today that the legislators should amend the already tough anti trade union laws to ensure that strike action is not legal unless 50% of the membership votes in a ballot. The sisters of indulgence and purity (not..) otherwise known as the CBI decided to out smart Boris and stated that it should be 40 % of the membership.

I do not of course agree with either views but I do believe that more should be done to ensure that when we have ballots the majority of members take part and we must do more to encourage members to exercise their democratic right otherwise we leave a gap for the forces of regression to attack us. It is important irrespective of what Boris or the CBI think!!

Internal Unison reforms

I have advocated for changes in the past for the system that Unison operates at branch level. At present key branch officers are elected at annual AGM's and those standing are allowed, in most instances to make a brief speech that lasts for 2 to 3 minutes, so if someone from an ultra group delivers a populist speech telling those in the hall what they want to hear they get elected!

AGM's are usually attended by the minority of those in membership so in my last branch, Lambeth Unison for example, 100 people, which is around 5% of the total membership, would turn up and vote. This, of course meant that so called 'popular names' like myself or Jon of the Rogers, always got elected but the method is surely wrong.

It is undoubtedly incorrect for a democratic organisation to be saying to its members that unless you can physically turn up at a meeting you cannot exercise your democratic right to elect your own officers? NEC and other elections are done by the ballot so why can't we import the same principle and apply this to branches? Every member must have a vote!!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Celbrating Eleftheria Arvanitaki and George Dallaras

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act of 2010 has at last come into force and has been implemented since yesterday.

The Equality Act 2010 provides a new cross-cutting legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all; to update, simplify and strengthen the previous legislation; and to deliver a simple, modern and accessible framework of discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Clapham Pub rebellion

I have to report more discontent amongst 'ordinary' voters (mainly floaters..) who frequent the trendy bars of Clapham. I was having another conversation with a group of 'non political' friends and some of their friends started the discussion around the recession, most of them are obviously worried about the safety of their jobs and they were anxious about the recession. The non political younger people amongst the group said that they were impressed of what they have seen of David Milliband but were not at all sure as to whether they would be voting for a party led by Ed. I think they meant they didn't know much about who Ed was and what he did? So its obvious that Ed needs to hire a better team of PR people to sort his image out, an election will not be won if we just depend on Labour party members to vote for the party.

I was also impressed by 3 people in that same group who said that they liked Diane Abbots rebellious mood and the fact that she does not hold back when on television. This is good news and I hope that she is offerred a position in the shadow cabinet. It looks like the Rogerites were right about her having some impact on the electorate.

We will of course have reasonable policies to fight the next election but we also have to have the right team in a Shadow cabinet capable of winning the confidence of the floating voters. I would very much prefer for David Miliband to lead the party and I think we have made an error but Ed is the Leader and we must all do our bit (The Rogerites as well) to support him. Maybe the Jon of the Rogers ( a fellow blogger..) should issue a statement urging the 'United Everyone on the left' to work for this objective? Otherwise the Clapham Pub rebellion will spread around and our destiny will go down the loo, we don't want another Michael Foot era!

TUC Night of politics and comedy, 7 October

Join the TUC on 7 October for a night of politics, comedy, music and poetry to celebrate World Day for Decent Work. Featuring the brilliant comedy of Shappi Khorsandi, and with contributions from Kat Banyard, author of the equality illusion, and Andrew Simms, Policy Director of the New Economics Foundation. Special guest speaker is Z.M. Kamrul Anam, leader of the Bangladeshi textile workers movement, at the forefront of the national campaign to give garment workers – some of the worst paid in the world - a living wage. Performance poetry from Luke Wright and soulful music from Fanfara