Monday, 31 January 2011
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Now despite the fact that I am no expert on Egyptian affairs one thing I know for sure is that the will of the people is supreme and when the people take up arms on their own streets then the message is loud and clear.
It is estimated that more than 60% of Egypt's population is under the age of 25 these young people are coming into a world where there are no prospects, vast unemployment and poverty. The Mubarak regime has been in place for 30 years and has done very little to deal with these endemic problems so the people want a change and the dictator should do the right thing and leave.
Saturday, 29 January 2011
Dick Serabjis reign was short and I did not get to know him that well as I had just become Convenor for the centre and too busy dealing with the dismantling of DMS.
Joan Twelves was perhaps the most socialist of all the Leaders of Lambeth Council (not mentioning Ted Knight who was there before my time) Gregg Tucker was appointed Chair of central services so most of my dealings had to do with him. Joan Twelves decided to bring in a consultant (an ex Labour MP) Reg Race to 'rationalise' the centre, we therefore had the famous 'Reg Race' report the affect of which was the reduction of some 200 jobs in the centre so we started the battle to save jobs and services and managed to get an agreement which ensured that every displaced person had the right to alternative job offers plus 3 appeals. I thought this was a major concession, it meant that no one who wanted to stay in employment was thrown out. I think this marked my style for years to come which was based on fighting to win a battle but also being realistic with what outcome we could deliver.
The Government is also intending to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees and will start consultation on these proposals in January 2011. T process will end and will be reviewed by December 2011.
Friday, 28 January 2011
Fathers of children with an expected week of birth beginning on or after 3 April 2011 will be allowed up to 26 weeks' additional paternity leave if the mother returns to work before using her full entitlement to statutory maternity leave.
On the same date, the rates for statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase from £124.88 to £128.73 per week.
Thursday, 27 January 2011
But that is now changing and one of the biggest legal changes employers will have to deal with in 2011 is the abolition of the default retirement age (DRA). The DRA will not, however, be completely abolished until 1 October 2011. In addition transitional arrangements will come into force from 6 April 2011.
There will be a six-month transitional period when employers will be unable to issue new notifications of retirement.
The default retirement age will be completely removed on 1 October and employers will be prohibited from retiring employees by means of the default retirement age from this date.
The affect of this change will be that those who wish to remain in employment for a longer period can do so without fear of being forced out the door. The concern with this change comes from fears that jobs will not be freed by older workers for those who have just entered the job market but the change is also seen as a positive move to deal with discriminatory practices at work against older workers.
Make no mistake, these changes are driven by ideology not by a desire to make life better for patients. The real winners will be the private health companies who stand ready to move in and take over NHS services.
It takes just two minutes to make a difference
This Bill will make our NHS profit-centred rather than patient-centred. Contact your MP and ask them to reject the Tory-led plans that will bring about the dismantling of the NHS as we know it.
If you receive a response from your MP please let us know what they said by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about the Health Bill and UNISON’s campaign against it: unison.org.uk/ournhs
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Name: Paul Holmes
Branch Code: 13325
RMS Number: 1787781
I am seeking nomination from your branch for the NEC for the Local Government Service Group (General Seat). I am currently the NEC member for this seat which I first won in 2007 and won again in 2009 (with a 450% increase in my majority). As an NEC member I have a proud record of continuously campaigning for the policies on which I was elected.
I have been a member of the union for 37 years, a steward for 36 years and Branch Secretary of Kirklees UNISON for 21 years (I am also a former member of the NALGO NEC). I am currently a member of the NJC for Local Government and the Local Government Service Group Executive. I am proud to be a socialist and a trade unionist.
I regularly contact local government branches in dispute to see if I can be of assistance. I have visited over 40 branches this year. One of the proudest moments of my life was to be involved in the Leeds Refuse Workers' Strike. The members' problems are the same wherever I go. So are the solutions - leadership, organisation, solidarity, resources, hard work and planning. Local Government branches felt isolated about Single Status and they feel the same about cuts. The main purpose of an NEC member is to give leadership. That is what I try to do. An NEC member should also listen.
No-one doubted the Coalition Governments' desire to cut, but no-one should doubt that it is a weak government. Our future is in our hands. The debate over student fees has shown that young people are not apathetic - they have been lied to as we all have. Together the unions, sympathetic councils, community groups and service users can come together and win.
There is no doubt that further attacks will come. Bankers are greedily looking at the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). We will need the full force of the union to defend the LPGS. All the forthcoming battles can be won - but to win them we have to return to our roots. Union organisation, recruitment and planning are vital. We have to re-introduce basic trade union principles to our movement.
I ask your branch to support my nomination for the NEC Local Government Service Group General Seat. If your branch do nominate me you should complete the nomination form and return it to UNISON HQ. I hope that your branch does support my nomination. I have kept my campaign promises. I have spoken at many UNISON branches across Britain since becoming an NEC member and have always had a good reception among the members. I will continue to help to fight to build this union. We have to build - we have no choice. The enemies of the labour movement did not go away and they have returned with a vengeance. United we can beat them.
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Monday, 24 January 2011
The TUC said that there would be cuts and privatisation by stealth as private companies increasingly run parts of the NHS. At a time when health spending is being cut in real terms, these so-called reforms would likely cost between £2 and £3 billion.
Read the full story @
Sunday, 23 January 2011
Saturday, 22 January 2011
Friday, 21 January 2011
It described the report by independent pensions consultant John Ralfe as 'a maverick take on the local government scheme,' adding that figures for scheme deficits could easily be presented as 'big scary numbers'. Commitments that stretched for decades were being presented 'as if they all had to paid tomorrow'.
A National Audit Office report published earlier in December destroyed the Government's case for savage cuts to public service pensions, the TUC said. The NAO research showed that pension costs were under control, and questioned whether provision was sufficient to recruit and retain staff.
TUC reaction to Ralfe report @
Thursday, 20 January 2011
With banks able to get away with paying as little as 19 per cent corporation tax in 2011 - thanks to their exploitation of numerous loopholes, plus a cut in the headline rate this April - high street shoppers will end up paying more tax on their purchases.
Read the full story @
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Disappointed with Helena Bonham Carter's part so I am crossing her off my Christmas list and don't bother writing in asking me to reconsider my decision. I thought she probably 'over acted' and did not portray the character of Queen mum ( who I did not know at all) as accurately as she could have.
Colin Firth, on the other hand, was superb as he always is. No point telling you the story as you can easily go to your local library (before the Tories close them all down) and find out what its all about. So ignoring the class issues involved with the plot the film was interesting and you should all go and see it before the cultural revolution starts (well the UL revised version..!)
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Monday, 17 January 2011
There is of course the question of what we mean when we refer to the 'hard left' so for the benefit of those reading this 'hard left' refers to small groups on the left that consider themselves to be independent formations or parties and of course there are many versions of these. I have personally, for example, worked with SWP activists in my own branch and have found them to be progressive, adaptable and helpful in most instances, no one can ever doubt their dedication to helping and supporting members. But there are smaller groups that have their own independent agendas and ideologies that prevent them from understanding the reasons for having Self Organised Groups as they believe that all struggle relates to class, in other words they may reject the notion that race, for example, is a significant factor affecting inequality and oppression. I think this may be a temporary thing and that they may finally understand the reasons for having to work with SOG's when they reach a higher state of development.
So you have two opposing groups. On the one hand there are those of us (many in the London region) who are active within the SOG union structures and then there are those on the left who simply contain us. They are not sure why we are here but they can see that we are growing larger in numbers and have therefore adapted and have 'made' themselves work with us. But of course this is very noticeable in many cases and the scramble to get people on election tickets to make it look like they are inclusive does not do justice to the cause. So more must be done to ensure that the two sides work better with each other. Those of us who come from SOG's would probably have to do more to get our people to see the left with less suspicion and the left (mostly hard left) has to get their act together to ensure that SOG's trust them more.
I am pleased that there is a movement within the London region for SOGs and mainly Black Activists to get together next week to look at the real problem and see how we can change things. I am personally against forming separate organisations and in favor of forcing existing outfits that we are very much part of to deal with the issues we have and if the hard left wants to work with us then they should start examining their own methods and way of approach. It is simply not good enough to be contained or for organisations like the United Left (not necessarily hard left) to be wanting to talk to us whenever there is an election coming up. I shall be very vocal on this and make my views known at the meeting next week. I see the meeting as the starting point for something much bigger where all community groups with a link to Black activism unite and put their energy towards achieving real change.
Sunday, 16 January 2011
With the UK in the grip of a bleak midwinter, Brendan Barber told David Cameron that 2011 threatened to be 'even bleaker' for millions of families and their communities as the spending cuts hit hard on jobs and services.
Saturday, 15 January 2011
The Lambeth Unison diaries, a real time account of events from 1988...
Friday, 14 January 2011
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
As part of the build up to the 26 March event, the TUC, NUS and UCU are holding a rally to highlight the impact of the cuts on young people, especially the abolition of Education Maintenance Allowances and the increase in university tuition fees. This will take place in Manchester on 29 January.
Continuing the theme of building a coalition against the cuts, a conference is being held at Congress House on 8 February with the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action. This will look at the impact of spending cuts and public service reform on civil society organisations and the communities they serve.
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
While employer groups have been lobbying for ministers to make fundamental changes, the TUC says that rather than complaining about the cost of cases, employers should improve practices and ensure they stay within the law.
Full story available @
Monday, 10 January 2011
There are those who say that one million protesters marching on the streets of London will not make the coalition government change their course and that a similar gathering did not persuade Tony Blair to change his plans on the war but I disagree with this. Tony Blair had a firm majority in the commons this lot do not!
The Con the Libs coalition are not as united as they may appear to look and there is evidence that the Tories are worried about how the Lib part of the amalgamation may collapse so more pressure from angry voters could shift the balance. Nervous Lib Democrats could easily turn against their own leadership and create a situation where the the country goes to the ballot box. No one I know actively voted for a coalition between the Tories and the Libs that is just not true and at the very worst some people may have felt comfortable with a Labour Lib version but not what we have today. The Libs can't help have a Tory in disguise as their leader!
Saturday, 8 January 2011
The Greek community in Cyprus will not accept a defacto imposition of a UDI in the north of the Republic where Turkish troops are in occupation against numerous UN resolutions and the Turkish Cypriot community have not, so far, accepted a system that removes the power and influence of Turkish mainland troops on the island. The solution will only come once the two communities stop being so suspicious of one another and of course once the US and the others stop using the island as an aircraft carrier to police their interests in the region (unfortunately Cyprus strategic position makes her a pawn in a larger military game) Chancellor Merkels visit carries some significance though next Tuesday.
Lets hope that 2011 brings a solution.
Its becoming difficult deciding what to include and what not to cover. This is because there has been so many people actively involved over a period of 22 years and I am not sure that I should be mentioning them by name. Friends I have spoken to have suggested that I need to contact them and get their permission before but this will slow the whole process down. The alternative is to simply cover the history and avoid using names as many of those involved have moved on. A compromise is that if anyone I mention has a different recollection of the events described here and contacts me then I shall edit what I have written or remove the content.
I shall be returning to the diaries next week as I have a busy weekend socialising.
Friday, 7 January 2011
Thursday, 6 January 2011
'.. I didn't do it gov..'
Now I know that the majority of lefties do not admit to watching soaps on television and would rather be out there storming the Bastille ( a pub in Convent garden..) but for those of us who occasionally bother to watch pathetic soaps like East Enders (I do some times when I finish my knitting) would find the latest storyline dished out by the pathetic producers of this opera rather distasteful.
I am all for freedom of expression and of course the statement on top of this blog confirms my commitment to this. But the BBC has come up with a story line that is too disturbing and should not, in my opinion, be shown on telly. Its about two women on the square who give birth to babies at the same time. One of the babies dies on Xmas night (East Enders is famous for miserable stories) so the other one goes up the Queen Vic and swaps the babies around so she ends up having the baby that isn't hers and leaves the one that's brown bread behind.
Around 4, 000 viewers have so far written in complaining about the story and the actress playing Rony has resigned (according to the standard) because she finds the story disturbing. There is a line the BBC should not be crossing, this is an unnecessary and disturbing story and its not like there are thousands of these incidents happening every day. What would they come up with next? Maybe Prince Philip will be abducted by Nana Mouskouri and Pat Butcher and returned to Greece instead of the Parthenon Marbles (Elgin if you are a vile BM trustee)
Sort yourself out Mr BBC or the licence fee gets it!
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
''I think what Vicky Easton was saying this morning on national television, is that the vast majority of those who want to demonstrate their opposition to the savage public sector cuts would want to do so without the need to resort to violent confrontation? I don’t think this is unreasonable somehow? We must all oppose what is being proposed by do so peacefully otherwise we will lose public support and as we are taking to the streets to support the affect of cuts on the public we need to have them on our side?''
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
I covered this subject before on this blog and argued against the tax payers alliance who argue that TUs get too much time off http://www.strongerunions.org/2010/07/01/facility-time-here-we-go-again/ . This is a nonsense argument one that I was very much familiar with when employed in the public sector. One of the ways I dealt with arguments from management side about taking time off was to present my line manager, in my early days from 1988 to 1991 with a weekly schedule of meetings and casework it was he who pointed out after a while that it was better for someone so extensively involved with TU work to be recognised as being on TU duties. The thing here is to force the employer to see that a situation where a rep has to present a weekly schedule is unmanageable.
But it is true that the majority of those in membership join up because they know they may need help and support at some stage during their employment, so it is bad that we, as union reps, do some times fail in our duty and more should be done to support those who take up the role of representing to enable them to do their duty correctly. It is also not true that the majority of members join because they wish to bring about change so unions should be more realistic and become more responsive to the needs of their members.
DMS was divided between those who worked for the IT department, a large section dealing with reorganisations and job evaluations and the rest of us who were providing support services. My own section, Finance, monitored and managed the finances of the Directorate but the overall responsibility for what we did rested with the powerful Director of Finance. Officers in Personnel were also part of my shop. It was a fact that most of the staff in the central services division were from Black or Ethnic minority backgrounds whereas the reverse was the case with the other two large sections.
In the meantime and in the rest of Lambeth the Levithan was struggling with many different problems and another Directorate, DHCS where Jon of the Rogers was working in was also about to be abolished. The government was getting heavy with Boroughs and our budget was rate caped which meant more money had to be found from cutting down jobs and services. Linda Bellos was having great difficulty surviving as she had to fend off challenges from within the Labour group and attacks from the community who were not happy to see the reduction in service provision. At the end Dick Serabji won the vote and became the Leader of Lambeth Council for a brief period. It became eveident that we were going to have another fight to defend jobs and services. We started having weekly meetings of the shop stewards committee and the shop had more frequent gatherings to determine policy and strategy.
Its obvious that 2011 will be a difficult year for everyone and the biggest challenge will be to coordinate and intelligent overall strategy to defend the attack on pensions and deletion of hundreds of thousands of public service jobs. More unity is needed to fight back a government determined to make us all pay for mistakes and stupid deregulated policies by their mates in the city.
Monday, 3 January 2011
It was 1988 a period following the Ted Knight era with Linda Bellos, the first openly Lesbian Black politician, taking control of the leadership of the Council. I worked with Linda before and I knew that she was a capable, principled figure who was, never the less, criticised for sometimes being harsh but the opposite was the case she was simply assertive and the establishment did not like a Black Lesbian coming to power. That was my view anyway.
So whilst the Labour group were fighting each other we were floating from one reorganisation to another. I got a job in DMS (Directorate of Management Services) that employed around 400 staff. This was a division that existed to police other Directorates, John Mawle was the Director. Other Directors did not, of course, like the idea that another division existed to keep an eye on what they did and resnted having someone in the centre telling them what to do.
It came as no surprise to me that 2 months after my arrival the division was to be abolished and we were all facing redundancy and whilst I had promised myself not to get involved with the union again my reputation preceded me and colleagues who knew where I came from (I was a rep with LSPU) urged me to take up the role and help them, so of course I did but I made it clear that my involvement would be temporary as I wanted to concentrate on developing my career, I was 28 and wanted to make sure that I got qualified as an accountant. But of course this wish of mine never came to anything and my role with the union did not end until 30 March 2010 (well it still continues but in a different way) so it was not a brief intervention at all.
I would imagine that the most striking impression I got after arriving in Lambeth was how divided people were and how left out Black members felt within the union. This was a shock to me as I specifically asked to move to Lambeth thinking that the reverse was the case and I rejected an offer to work in Islington (Andrew Berry would be happy! loll) because I thought that Lambeth would be more sorted out. But I was very wrong and soon realised that Lambeth NALGO was divided. I got involved to change that and worked closely with Tony Jules who was the first Black Assistant Branch Secretary to change that, so the challenge and the struggle had just started!