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Monday, 28 February 2011

London resisting the cuts

I have reproduced a list of meetings and marches in London published in Jon's blog, as you can see there is a lot going on and the resistance is being stepped up. The big event will of course be on the 26 March when we should all be marching in London.

Newham Stop the Cuts campaign march (hat tip MJ)Monday 28th February 20115:00pm to 7:30pm

No to ConDem Cuts in CamdenMonday 28th February 20115:30pm to 7:30pm

Lobby Croydon Council - Stop the CutsMonday 28th February 20115:30pm to 7:30pm

Brent Fightback! Lobby Brent CouncilMonday 28th February 20116:00pm to 8:00pm

A hat tip to the Labour Representation Committee for collating and disseminating this information – the LRC leaflet on what Councillors should do is available online -

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Operation Greek vote

The work has started on the project to ensure that those who are eligible to vote in the Greek community do so. Operation Greek vote will concentrate on encouraging and supporting those who live in the Greater London area first to get their details on the register. The estimate is that there are 300,000 people/citizens in the London area who consider themselves to be members of the community. Most are to be found in 10 Boroughs and 27 constituencies. Barnet has the highest concentration followed by Enfield and then Harringey.

I recently wrote about the need and the importance of registering to vote at elections and explained what the system is. Akis from Barnet has contacted me saying that whilst the information I gave out was correct I did not clarify that there is a distinction between citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and Greece. The difference is that all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus can register and vote at all elections whereas Greek citizens may only vote at local government elections. I publish the government guidance below for the sake of clarification. My thanks to Akis....

'.. British, Irish and qualifying citizens of Commonwealth countries (including Cyprus and Malta) can vote at all elections. Citizens of other EU member states resident in the UK can vote in local government elections but cannot vote in UK Parliamentary elections.Those resident in Scotland or Wales may also vote in Scottish Parliamentary or National Assembly for Wales elections.

Ελληνική μετάφραση, τα άτομα με διαβατήρια Βρετανικά, ιρλανδικά και τυγχάνουν va eivai πολίτες των χωρών μελών της Κοινοπολιτείας (συμπεριλαμβανομένων Κύπρος και Μάλτα), μπορούν να ψηφίσουν σε όλες τις εκλογές. Οι πολίτες των άλλων κρατών-μελών της ΕΕ που κατοικούν στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο, μπορούν να ψηφίσουν στις δημοτικές εκλογές, αλλά δεν μπορούν να ψηφίσουν στις βρετανικές βουλευτικές εκλογές. Εκείνοι που κατοικούν στη Σκωτία ή την Ουαλία μπορούν επίσης να

Time for the Iraqi Government to listen

Massive demonstrations will take place across Iraq tomorrow calling for jobs, basic services, an end to corruption and respect for workers' rights. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber sent his message of solidarity to the General Federation of Iraq Workers who are backing the protests

Saturday, 26 February 2011

News release from Lambeth Unison

Yesterday's lobby of the CouncilUNISON members yesterday participated in a peaceful and orderly occupation of the Council chamber which made an effective statement of the level of local opposition to the cuts being imposed upon the borough by the Tory-led Coalition Government. Here are some links to media reports about the event;Coverage in Guardian Coverage Coverage from the Save Our Services website

Stop the slaughter in Libya, says TUC

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has today written to Foreign Secretary William Hague urging him to step up the pressure on the Libyan regime to immediately end the atrocities against demonstrators, and bring those responsible to justice.

Climate Week: 21 - 27 March 2011; Guidance from Green Workplaces Network

A new national occasion is set to enter the annual calendar this year with the launch of the first ever UK climate week from 21 - 27 March. Union branches can join thousands of organisations across the public and private sector showing what can be done to combat climate change. The week long campaign offers the chance for reps to offer powerful examples of union green activity and has the potential to encourage thousands more to follow in their footsteps.

Labour Market Report: Number 12 February 2011

Twelfth edition of the TUC's brief report on the state of the labour market, using the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Gender Impact of the Cuts

This is an A4 leaflet aimed at reps, giving the key facts and arguments about why women are bearing the brunt of the government's cuts programme.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Libya the peoples uprising

The uprising against the non democratic regime in Libya shows that the people will tolerate oppression for sometime but not for ever and that there is no place for dictatorships in the modern world. It's all to do with evolution and progress means that ordinary citizens are now more aware than ever before of what rights they have and what freedoms they should demand. The hope is that all the non democratic regimes that are being replaced slowly in the Arab world will be followed with progressive democracies.

We saw the fall of 3 dictatorships in Southern Europe in the 70s with Greece removing the colonels in August 1974 followed by Portugal and then later on Spain. We then witnessed the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 80s and we are now entering a new chapter where others will follow. We are witnessing the power and affect modern communication systems can have with mobilising general opinion. Systems used and understood by young people who will not tolerate oppression.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Big society or big problems?

The Tories have of course embarked on a PR mission with the aim of diverting attention from big unemployment, big problems and big financial trouble and have come up with the idea that the concept of big society is going to get people to forget that we are all paying for the mistakes made by the big banks. Well its not going to work and I know that the next election that comes up will show how disatisfied people are with empty promises and non sense policies. Lets show them what we mean when we all gather in central London on the 26 March.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Robin (Hood) all over the world!

Thursday 17 February 2011 was the second global day of action for Financial Transaction Taxes, and there was a lot more activity than the first day in May 2010. Action was taken in 25 countries around the world, including more than half of the G20 countries whose Finance Ministers are meeting in Paris on Friday and Saturday.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

TUC statement on Bahrain TUs

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has sent a message of support to his opposite number in Bahrain, Salman Jaffar Al Mahfoodh, General Secretary of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU). The statement expresses solidarity with Bahraini unions and the general strike called by the GFBTU for Sunday 20 February, in support of the protests for democracy. The TUC has also written to the Bahraini Ambassador in London urging him to register concerns with his government over the violent repression of demonstrators over the past few days, and calling for the right to peaceful protest to be respected.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

At Regional RM AGM with Rodney Bickerstaffe

The always interesting and inevitably witty Rodney Bickerstaffe addressing the AGM yesterday

It was great to attend the regional Retired Members Agm yesterday Friday 18 February at ULU. The event was well organised with around 130 delegates attending from all over London..

The day was interesting and a lot was said about the big march organised for the 26 March 2011 everyone was urged to do their best to be there.

There were a number of speakers including Linda Perks and Bob Abberley who made very positive contributions. Bob informed the meeting that he would soon be joining them as he was to be retired soon.
Then came Rodney Bickerstaffe who, as expected, gave a great speech on pensions and the campaign to stop the government from attacking pensioners even further. He spoke about the affect the switch from using the RPI to the CPI would have on the value of pensions and invited all to become more active in the campaigns. He reminded the meeting that there were around 17,000 members of the RM section in London alone and around 150,000 throughout the country. The AGM was chaired by Rob Beeston who was reelected for another year and then the new committee members were confirmed in post.

Stewards for March for the Alternative, London, March 26th, 2011

The TUC organisers of the march are saying the March for the Alternative is going to be huge! That means we are going to need lots of volunteer stewards to help make the day a well-run, family-friendly event. Good events need about one steward for every 50 people attending, so that tells you how many we will need.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Solidarity with Mexican unions

Global unions have started a week of action from 14 February until and as close as possible to the fifth anniversary of the Pasta de Conchos mine tragedy on 19 February. Support the campaign now by writing to the Mexican government through the LabourStart campaign, and joining the UK demonstration on Thursday 17 February outside the Mexican embassy.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

TUC on the IoD

Proposals to encourage economic growth set out by the Institute of Directors early in February received a scathing response from the TUC.
Reducing training, restricting flexible working rights and ending national collective bargaining in the NHS would all lead to a race to the bottom and hinder prosperity, the TUC said.
More on this @

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

TUC short film competition

An invite from the TUC to produce a short film which will be shown on the 26 March in Hyde Park.

So if you got a great idea for a short film about the cuts? You have 4 weeks left to send in your entries the TUC invites you to make a 60 second awareness-raising advert about the Impact of the spending cuts…The best ads will be shown on the big screen at Hyde Park as part of the TUC rally March for the Alternative on the 26th March 2011, as well as showings at the Washington DC Labour Film Festival and the Geneva Labour Film Festival.There are some great prizes to be won, including a £500 cash prize, plus the winner gets to make a documentary with our favourite troubadour Billy Bragg.

David Beckham

It appears that the freedom to say whatever you like even if you lie about what you have said is far more important in the USA than the integrity of the person you are accusing of doing something they have never done.

It would seem that a sex worker in America alleged that she spend time showing David Beckham her stamp collection the only problem with her 'claim' is that David Beckham was at the time at the other end of the continent. When DB took the case to court the court through the case out on the basis (I think) that the sex worker had the right to exercise her freedom of expression?

So it would appear that anyone can say anything they like and put the stuff on the Internet and there is nothing anyone can do to defend themselves? This can't be right or fair. The US system on libel law is ridiculous and out of date and more should be done to defend those who have a reputation to defend. I am with David Beckham on this one!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Against animal testing

In 2009, the European Union pledged to ban the sale of all new animal-tested cosmetics by 2013. But cosmetic industry officials want the deadline delayed further, possibly another ten years. Tell the EU not to delay the 2013 ban by writing to your MP.

Currently, animal tests for cosmetics are banned in the EU except for three types, including the repeat dose toxicity test, in which rabbits or rats eat, inhale or are rubbed with a substance every 28 or 90 days. After every one of the animal tests conducted, the animals are killed. Help save these innocent animals. If the 2013 deadline is kept, the sale of ALL new animal-tested cosmetics will be eradicated from the EU -- hopefully starting a world-wide revolution in cosmetic testing. I can understand that some form of testing on animals may be needed for medical reasons but it is totally unacceptable and unethical to subject innocent animals to torture for cosmetic reasons!! Not right!

Egyptian workers strike as independent unions clash with state-run rival

As the Egyptian revolution plays out, independent unions are calling for the dissolution of the state-run Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) as workers continue to protest for better rights and conditions. This is further evidence that Egyptians are keen on root and branch democratisation of their country, not just replacing one elite with another.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The big society

Well what can I say about the big society idea given birth by Cameron's PR team? At best its just an attempt to distract our attention from the serious problems facing the country and to make some of us think that by cooking from recipes found in the big society menu things will get better over night. Its like what John (can't even remember what he looks like) Major did when he came up with the Return to basics non sense. PR experts often employ the use of phrases with catchy key words only on this occasion the problems are so serious we need more than keywords to get us out of the mess the Tories are creating!

Posh boy Cameron should go and live in a normal street in a deprived inner city location for a week before he starts dishing out big ideas out of his heals furnished semi in some leafy suburb of plenty land.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Egypt. Will the military keep their promise?

Pictures from Trafalgar square on Sat 12 Feb 2011 with friends of Egypt... celebrating hope...
There was a lot of energy and jubilation at yesterdays Trafalgar square event organised by Egyptians and friends of Egypt living in the capital. Most of the people I met there were cautiously optimistic about the future and one or two were wondering as to whether the army would keep its promise and return the country to full democracy or indeed facilitate true elections. There is concern that those who have taken over from ex President Mubarak are too close to him and his regime. The people I spoke to who were under 30 and therefore never experienced anything else other than the Mubarak years were hoping that things would be changing.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

TUC Warnings

Last month's unemployment figures were 'grim' and showed that the rise in joblessness was 'more than an autumn blip', the TUC said in response.
Employment was falling at its fastest rate since the recession, while many people finding work were settling for temporary, insecure jobs. As cuts took hold, the outlook was likely to deteriorate further, the TUC said.
With more than a fifth of young people out of work, there was a 'real danger' of losing another generation of under-25s to unemployment and wasted ambition. The unemployment rate for new graduates had also reached the highest rate in more than a decade.
TUC on jobs figures @

Egypt the rebirth of a nation

The people of Egypt have won their fight against corruption and tyranny by turning up on the streets of major cities and protesting confronting the corrupt system and saying that they will not go back home until their demands were met so they have managed, through peaceful (mainly) demonstrations to force the 30 year old regime out of office. All democrats will now hope that the transition to democracy will be a smooth one and that the elections that have been promised will be fair.

Friday, 11 February 2011


A significant change as far as state pensions is concerned comes from The Pensions Act 2007 this raises the state pension age from 65 to 66 years the reason given for the need to do this is the increase in the aging population.The change in the state pension age to 66 for men and women begins gradually from December 2018 until April 2020. The Pensions Act 2007 also raises the state pension age to 67 and 68.

Join “Trafalgar to Tahrir” live cross this Saturday

Saturday's demonstration in Trafalgar square (12 noon to 2pm) will feature a live video cross with protestors in Cairo's Tahrir Square, in a pioneering act of real time solidarity with the Egyptian people.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

International womens day

The TUC will be marking the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day with a celebration of sisterhood and solidarity at Congress House on March 7. Leading trade unionists from Peru, Ireland and Nepal will join Frances O'Grady and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Yvette Cooper as speakers at the event.
Details @

NHS founding principles at risk

The Health and Social Care Bill published in January could be the Government's ticking time bomb, the TUC warned.
Noting that the Tory party said before the election that there would be no cuts to the NHS, no top-down reorganisations, and no departure from the founding principles of the health service, the TUC said the Bill broke each of those pledges.
Read the full TUC reaction @

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

National Insurance contribution changes

The changes to NI contributions mean that the primary employee threshold for national insurance contributions increases by £570.

At the same time National insurance contributions increase by 1% for employees. The personal allowance for income tax for basic rate tax payers under the age of 65 is increased by £1,000.

The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases from £79.15 to £81.60 per week. Information on the new rates (PDF format, 232K) can be viewed on the Department for Work and Pensions website.

London Unison Regional Council AGM

We have the regional Council AGM elections today between the United Left and those on the other side describing themselves as the forces of light and reason.

I hope the AGM goes well and hope that people understand the need for unity buT I note that the UL has not been actively campaigning this year? Not on the usual blogs anyway..?

Those standing that I know of are:

Marsha Jane Thompson for publicity officer position
Andrew Berry for Finance Convenor for UL
John Gray for Finance Convenor for the other side
Gloria Hanson for Convenor
Conroy Lawrence for deputy

ITUC Day of Action on Egypt: Speech by Kay Carberry at the London Egyptian embassy

This page documents the ITUC day of action on Egypt, including a video of the TUC attempting to delivery a letter to the the ambassador and the transcript of the speech by Kay Carberry, TUC Assistant General Secretary.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Pledge to March for the Alternative

On 26 March 2011, tens of thousands will march in Central London, calling for an alternative to the coalition government's plans for fast, deep cuts to public spending. Join us and pledge to come on the march.

Minimum wage levels

The minimum wage means that employers are obliged to remunerate their employees at or above the rate set.For periods starting on or after 1 October 2010, the main rate of the national minimum wage for workers aged 21 and over rose to £5.93 The development rate for workers aged 18 to 20 went up to £4.92, and for those employed and under the age of 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age rose to £3.64. A rate of £2.50 per hour was brought in for apprentices who are aged 19 or under.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Lambeth Unison against the cuts

Marsha Jane Thompson in the centre addressing protesters...

Protesters are determined to stop the cuts...

Just left a demonstration outside Lambeth Town Hall attended by around 300 protesters, a mixture of Lambeth union activists, service users and local residents who were there to remind the Labour administration and especially its Leader Steve Reed that they did not vote for them so that they can impose Tory Lib cuts.

Amongst the speakers were Marsha Jane Thompson, prospective Unison NEC candidate, Jon Rogers, Branch Secretary of Lambeth Unison, Dan Jeffrey, Assistant BS and Andrew Tullis, Convenor for Cyps. The demonstration signals the start of a determined campaign to stop the savage cuts.

Urgent appeal for people from Black communities with a link to organ donation

leading UK charity dedicated to finding life-saving donors from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other minority ethnic communities in the UK would like to hear from you about an exciting new initiative, if you or a family member has ever donated an organ, received an organ donation or are on the organ transplant waiting list. They would like to speak to you or someone from your family in confidence. As the initiative is due to start later in February, they would like you to contact them as soon as possible. To find out more and for their contact details, visit:

Elgin Marbels?

No they are not Elgin's marbles they were taken away, lifted, from where they were created and they have been kept by the British museum for more than 200 years. I used to think that they were 'borrowed' but it looks like the curators of the British museum do not accept that the marbles are part of the Parthenon? But they should do the right thing and return the statutes to the Acropolis of Athens. Trade unions should be involved with the campaign for their return.

Please Sign the petition

Retirement difficulties

A bleak picture of retirement has emerged , with a study revealing that millions of people will have to work in retirement, or struggle with barely enough income to survive. And while it is worrying enough that over 50% of those over 55 do not have savings, even more alarming is the level of debts older people are carrying.So just how bad have things become?Among the most shocking findings of the report is that one in ten people over the age of 75 are still paying the mortgage, with an average outstanding debt of £72,500. Some 20% of those over 55 still have a mortgage, with an average of £64,511 left to pay on it.This is of course of great concern to those members who have retired with average pensions falling and with government proposals to changing the way pay increases are awarded. More should be done for those in retirement to link with 'parent branches' and join the fight that we will all have to be involved with soon.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

London Olympics

There is a lot of talk in the press about the advice given to the organisers of the London Olympics by those who developed the Athens 2004 event. They have warned the London committee to avoid creating venues that can't be used after the games finish.

I am in two minds about the whole thing here. On the one hand I think we should all celebrate their arrival as it will give London a break and would at the very least create a mini economic boom.

There is no question that the games would bring in many tourists who will spend money in the capital and that in itself will help job creation. On the other hand I can see what the organisers of Athens 2004 (I was there after it all ended) mean. You have a situation where all the new buildings you have put up are sitting there doing nothing. I think that the Athenians are still worried about the fact that it cost more than 9 billion pounds to put it all together and about 30 million a year to keep the white elephants (or pink if you prefer) sitting there doing nothing.

In general I think that we should be looking forward to the event as it will bring our city together and it will inspire younger people at least. Congratulations to those who made it all happen. Lets celebrate the event and look forward to a big party!

Tribunal warning

As the government plans to launch a major review of employment tribunals, the TUC has warned that any reforms to the system could stop employees who have been wronged at work from seeking justice and give rogue employers the green light to break the law.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 @

Saturday, 5 February 2011

London Unison AGM

The London Unison AGM will be held on the 9th this month. The event promises to be colourful and interesting, looks like people are now more united than ever before given the attacks we face in the public sector. I am hoping it will be a good one.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Louis Theroux on Arab Israeli conflict

I watched the documentary this week on BBC2 made by Louis Theroux on the Palestinian Israeli conflict. I find his programme making very interesting I like the way he approaches some subjects. But he covered the issues quite well last night.

The documentary was about the longest running conflict on earth and the way the cycle of hate between Palestinians and Israelis continues without any interruption and any hope of resolution.

It was ridiculous to see settlers taking over land in what the international community recognises to be Palestinian territory perhaps the Israeli government should be more forceful when imposing the rule of law?

I know for a fact that the great majority of those on both sides would like to live in peace and harmony and have no doubt that the average 20 year old on either side would prefer to do normal things that an average (whatever that means) 20 year old does rather than be drafted in the army for years but the constant recycling of violence and hatred prevents everyone, especially the Palestinian population, from ever getting fair treatment or justice. The meaningful recognition of a workable Palestinian state by Israel is a must and a priority with the international community helping to develop the new state.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Tunisian unions call for wide-ranging reforms

The Tunisian trade union movement, the UGTT, released a statement on 27 January 2011, calling for the end of repression and violence and for wide-reaching political and economic reforms.

Assassination of Manuel Esteban Tejada

The TUC General Secretary has written to the Colombian Ambassador in London to protest at the killing of Manuel Esteban Tejada. Manuel is the 25 teacher to be killed in Colombia over the last 12 months.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Equality Act 2010

Under the new amended version of the Equality Act 2010, employers will be able to treat applicants with a 'protected characteristic' differently (i.e. more favourably) during the recruitment and promotion stages when dealing with a number of candidates of equal merit. This distinct treatment will only be lawful if the different process applied is intended to address under-representation in the workforce. The single public sector equality duty will also come in and both provisions will become the law as from 6 April 2011. Unions have been consulted and I would expect to see a detailed response to how this will work soon from Unison and the TUC.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Equal treatment for agency workers

Another interesting change coming in from 1 October 2011, concerns the way employers deal with agency workers they will now be entitled to equal treatment on basic employment conditions, such as pay and holidays, after they have worked in a role for 12 weeks.

Trades Unions have of course been arguing that all staff should be permanent but the area and the way in which some employers use agency workers has become very complicated. I remember many difficulties we had on the ground when we were dealing with permanent staff being made redundant and the employer replacing them almost immediately with agency staff that they would just bring in. There was then a conflict of interest between the two. Agency staff now will have to be treated the same way but isn't the agency the employer?

Egypt. Dictatorships will fall !

I have been Watching the news on television, like many others and the huge demonstrations of people who have flooded the streets of Cairo and other major cities in Egypt.

This reminds me so much of the scenes on the streets of Athens in August 1974 when the military junta was just about to collapse following the invasion of Cyprus and the 7 years of repression. And it was younger people and students again who took to the streets and said enough is enough and that dictatorships have no place in modern society. It was also the students at the Athens polytechnic who occupied the college the year before and refused to surrender to the tanks who started the movement that would eventually bring down the regime, many of them were killed by troops loyal to the colonels but this gave rise to an unstoppable movement. There was more than a million demonstrators on the streets of Athens in August 1974 for a whole week which then led to the collapse of the colonels regime and their immediate arrest, the army there refused to fire on its people a situation very reminiscent to the events today in Cairo.

So the same is now happening in Egypt a country ready for change and a state that rejects dictatorship, people demand more.