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Thursday, 31 March 2011

LGBT Equality at Work

New 2011 edition covering changes in the law for LGBT people, advice for union negotiators on good practice, how to use the public sector equality duty, how to monitor sexual orientation, and how to be inclusive of all sections of the LGBT communities.http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-19413-f0.cfm

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

What's happening in Wisconsin breaches international human rights law

What's happening in Wisconsin breaches international human rights lawLance Compa of Cornell University wrote this legal memorandum as background for Human Rights Watch's 25 February statement in support of public employees' trade union rights.http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19401-f0.cfm

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Which Way America: War at Work or Working Together to Solve our Problems?

Thomas A. Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management and Co-Director, MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research, writes: 'maybe this is just the wake-up call America needs to address the steady decline in labor policy that got us to this point. We have allowed worker rights to quietly and slowly erode in the private sector for a long time without recognizing its consequences or getting irate about it. Now we see it happening in bald and sudden form in the public sector. The 100,000 people who hit the streets of Madison may be the shock needed to see this problem clearly and to take action.'http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19359-f0.cfm

Monday, 28 March 2011

BBC Unfair reporting

The subject of conversation today with a number of people I met was around the media coverage of the big march. I was of course there with many friends and commrades from Lambeth and elsewhere and I know that there must have been at least half a million on the march. Yet the news later on in the evening spend 90% of the time dealing with the very few disturbunces in Oxford street and Piccadilly circus. The BBC kept saying that the unions estimated that there were 100,000 on the march. I can't see how they can refer to union estimates when they had so many of their own people on the ground? Could they not see what I saw?? Obviously not. Maybe they are worried that Cameron might cut their grant... Its not on!!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lambeth Unison on the march...



The great march, March 26 2011 and more pictures...


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Half a million on the march...


































What can I say, other than it was a great day on the long march. Here some of the pictures of the Lambeth and South London alliance march which fed into the mainstream demonstration...
The Lambeth banner was held by Gary Whitting, Chair and Reg Morrison, Vice chair with many others marching near them. United we will defeat them...












Friday, 25 March 2011

London march for jobs

Make it a day to remember..








All eyes will be on London tomorrow Saturday 26 March 2011 where a massive crowd of protesters are expected to walk down the streets and demonstrate their opposition to government policy of destroying growth and damaging the economy and the future prosperity of the country. Most union branches would have had meetings to discuss their plans for the big day. My own branch, Lambeth, are holding a meeting today at 12.30

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Libya. Selective morality?

Watched an excellent programme this morning on BBC I player where George Galloway and Ken Livingstone, plus a few others, were debating with an audience of under 25s, the 'merits' of going to war in Libya. Richard Bacon was the unlikely chair who, as expected , was totally incapable of managing the robust Mr Galloway. Some would say that this was the GG show with our Ken also making a positive contribution to the discussions. George did, of course, dominate the entire show...

Cut a short story long the others argued that the Intervention was justified for moral reasons at which point our 'gorgeous' George (he is beginning to grow on me) put them in their place.

It of course amazes me to think that those managing and controlling what goes in the news don't understand that ordinary people can make their own minds up. Why didn't we interfere in Rwanda or Cyprus in 1974 for example where more than 2000 civilians were killed by the Turkish military? And this was around the corner from here with Britain being a guarantor power?? Where was the bloody morality with that example?? George am sure can tell us! Worth mentioning how worthless Brian Sewals input was, makes me wonder why the BBC chooses pointless panelists like him? My neighbours friend Sharon would have done a better job!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

English National Ballet

The final episode of Agony and Ecstasy was shown on BBC4 last night justifying the fact that I have to pay my television licence fee. Good work from auntie BBC.

The 3 part series followed the English National Ballet company and looked at what happens behind the scenes as major productions are being prepared. Last nights final episode was about the production of Nutcracker by Wayne Eagling a disorganised perfectionist who became obsessed with small detail. Perhaps that is the secret of his genius?

The episode showed us how intensive preparations can be and how hard it is to keep in good physical order to achieve what the dancers have delivered. Inspires me to make sure I increase my visits to the gym! The company is also the victim of government cut backs. Hoping that there will be some representation of the ENB at the march on Saturday?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

English National Ballet

Last chance to watch the final episode of Agony and Ecstacy a documentary shown on BBC4 which follows the English National Ballet over a one year period. The show is on tonight at 9.00 p.m. and it is essential viewing for lovers of art and cutting edge documentary.

ACT NOW: prevent deportation of union leader in South Korean

The TUC and Amnesty International UK have launched an urgent online action to prevent the imminent deportation of the President of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants' Trade Union (MTU) Michel Catuira from South Korea.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Egyptian trade union leader Kamal Abou Aita

Kamal Abou Aita is President of the Real Estate Tax Authority Union (RETA), the first independent union established under the Mubarak regime, in 2009. He has lived through many years of fierce repression against free trade unionism. Having been arrested 21 times under Sadat and Mubarak, he told the ITUC about his action with the workers at the heart of the revolution. As new trade unions emerge across the country in all sectors, he outlines the needs and challenges facing this newly emerging independent trade union movement, the driving force for a new Egypt focused on social justice.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19360-f0.cfm

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Lambeth Unison branch meeting 25 March

A Lambeth Unison branch meeting has been scheduled to take place on Friday 25 2011 at BRG from 12.30 onwards. Motions will be debated and discussion around preparations for the big march on the 26 will be taking place. Members of the Lambeth Unsion RM section can and are encouraged to attend.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

In a Forest dark and deep

Went to see this play, In a forest dark and deep, with a friend the other day at the Vaudeville theatre in the strand with Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams.

I was expecting to be bored half way through the play mainly because I am not too keen on spending 2 hours listening to two people talking to each other (sounds like a Convenors committee meeting..) but I was surprised that my interest was retained throughout.

The play is about the dysfunctional relationship between two people in the middle of a forest one rainy night who are related. The brother is what I understand to be a typical American 'I know it all guy' with firm beliefs in the nonsense he subscribes to. He thinks he is morally justified to hold racists and homophobic ideas and is basically someone who hates women even though he tries to play the big brother part. The sister on the other hand is a confused middle age woman who is obviously oppressed by the entire social system and has resorted to using her good looks to get attention from men that are basically using her? The brother is a nasty piece of work and has that typical problem of thinking that he can use his physical powers over those less powerful than himself. I hate that type of a person.

Anyway worth going to see the play if you have two hours to spare down the Strand or if you prefer to do this rather than a trip down Sainsburys?


http://www.inaforestdarkanddeep.com/

Lybia in crisis

The situation in Lybia must be appalling for the people who live there. They have been under the control of a dictator who does not have any intention of surrendering power.

But the western powers have, in the past, flirted and courted the friendship of this same man so questions must and have been asked about how policies change from one day to the next. Why do we not get involved, for example, with situations in countries that are not oil rich? And should we be doing something with states that repeatedly ignore UN resolutions? I can think of two such examples not very far from us??

Saying all of that it remains important to ensure that ordinary people who are simply the victims in all of this do not suffer any more so I welcome the UN resolution as long as Tony Blair is kept well away from any projects to resolve this...

Friday, 18 March 2011

Red nose day Comic Relief

Respect to those who got involved, helped and supported the events around Red Nose day organised by comic relief. At the end more than 70 million pounds has been raised. We can all be cynical and say that the government should do more and use our taxes wisely so that others less fortunate can get more help but it is also good to have events like Red Nose to remind us that we all share the same planet and need to do more to help.

Call 03557 910 910 to donate or better still support one of the many charities that can do with the help.

Are Tu activists on the ball when it comes to issues around discrimination?

Are trade union activists on the ball when it comes to dealing with serious issues around discimination at the workplace and elsewhere?

That is of course a question that some of us often ask. The answer of course is not a simple one. Trade Union activists at the workplace and in the real world are people who give up their spare time and take a risk with their own personal lifes and their careers. There are many who will often criticise a rep for not doing one thing or another but these same people do not very often think about the amount of time and energy it requires for someone in that position to defend a member.

On the other hand I am aware of stories where organised TU outfits (lets call them branches) have taken their eye off the ball and have allowed (indirectly by remaining inactive) for a transgretion to develop and for a wrong not to be challenged. So whilst it is true to say that there isnt enough time in one day for say a branch to take on all the challenges and deal with them I am of the opinion that more has to be done to encourage the development and support of Self Organised Groups at the workplace.

I am aware of very large branches in London that do not, for example, have an established BWG or LGBT group. I was a member of one such branch recently (not Lambeth..) with more than 3,500 members which did not have SOG groups?? That to me is an astonishing ommission and a spectacular failure!!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Welfare Benefits: A necessity not a lifestyle

This paper makes the case in defence of the benefits system and addresses the counter arguments by drawing on the latest research.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19174-f0.cfm

TUC Statement on Bahrain

Security forces have launched a brutal attack on demonstrators in Manama, Bahrain's capital, just two days after the national union called a general strike. The TUC condemns the government's actions.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19333-f0.cfm

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Midsummer murder something

I am given to understand from reliable sources ( a newspaper article I have just seen) that Brian True-May has been suspended by production company All3Media pending an internal investigation (strange that he can be suspended as he is the owner?) because of comments he 'allegedly' made concerning the so called appeal of the programme ( is it a programme?) Midsummer murdering something.

He allegedly said that the 'show' is popular because there are no ethnic minority characters shown in it. A bit, if you prefer, like the Australian soap operas based in Melbourne with a 50% ethnic minority population and a 98% White, blue eyed blond cast!!

Well I don't know how true these allegations are but if true then Brian True something should get out more and mix with real people?

On a very serious note major television companies should not be allowing untrue and unrepresentative shows on our screens. The Australian soaps I referred to before are a good example of what I mean. Lets have a bit of fantasy but lets not keep undermining people from minority backgrounds with constant reminders of how wonderful it is not to have them around??

The English National Ballet

Agony and Ecstacy is a superb if not brilliant and above average in terms of content and general interest documentary produced by and shown on BBC4 following the English National Ballet company over a one year period.

There are 3 episodes, called Agony and Ecstasy (nothing to do with recreational activities..) in the series which is shown over a 3 week period. Remarkable to see how hard the ballet dancers and those in supporting roles work to produce what is perhaps the most interesting and fascinating of all arts (matter of taste and opinion of course) Lenin was a keen follower after all...

Vadim Muntagirov, a 20-year-old Russian dancer started the first episode. He ends up saving the company by doing a good job in his first major role with 38-year-old Daria Klimentov√°, supposedly past her best. Enter director Derek Deane, the commander in Chief and disciplinarian director who manages to terrify everyone but also produces the results.

The second episode, which was shown last night, focuses amongst other things, on how the company is affected by the coalition government decision to cut the ENB grant by 10% with the dancers and the reps attending several meetings to negotiate the avoidance of redundancies. Lets hope the wreck less government does not manage to destroy what must be a example of excellence and creativity with their obsession to reduce costs. Who the beggar voted the Libs in?? I would like to see Vince Cable in a ballerina dress, see how he manages! (or maybe not..)

Monday, 14 March 2011

Join Ken on the big march on the 26th





Preparations are on the way with many people deciding at what point they should be joining the big march on Saturday the 26. Many of us will be joining starting points at various locations in London with our branch delegations but some may chose to join the Ken Livingstone initiative (details on the left) What is important is that we are all physically there on the day.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

TUC on Arab TU's

There is a lot of material on the web about trade union developments in the Middle East/North Africa region. As part of the TUC Aid MENA Appeal, the TUC wishes to share information with international colleagues. Find out more.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19313-f0.cfm

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Urgent appeal from the TUC

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has launched an International Urgency Solidarity Fund to support independent trade unions in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, where democracy is spreading like wild fire, and unions are playing a key role. Donate directly online to the TUC Aid MENA appeal, or get your union to send a cheque (made out to TUC Aid MENA appeal) to the TUC.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19308-f0.cfm

Friday, 11 March 2011

Stop crackdown on Iraqi protestors says TUC

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has today written to the Iraqi Charge D'Affaires in London expressing alarm at the recent violent crackdown against demonstrators by the Government of Iraq, and the disappearance and likely detention of four media workers.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19305-f0.cfm

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Hutton report on pensions

As expected the Hutton report which looked at pension schemes covering civil servants, the NHS, teachers, local government staff, the police, armed forces and the fire service recommends that public sector workers lose their final salary pension schemes and they move to average salary schemes by 2015, they work longer before they retire, get less and contribute more.

This is at the same time as the government has imposed a pay freeze and has instructed public sector bodies to cut budgets and jobs drastically. Worth remembering that, in the meantime, bankers bonuses have not been reduced. There is something wrong in the state of Denmark I think. Time to fight back! Welcome the press release from Dave Prentis warning the government for strike action. The scheme was already negotiated in 2005 with public sector employees making significant concessions, they can't keep coming back for more!

http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease.asp

http://m.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/mar/09/private-sector-final-salary-pensions-closing?cat=money&type=article

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Women and the global economic crisis

On the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, the TUC is highlighting the disproportionate effect that the global economic crisis has had on women all over the world. It has affected women in the developed world very differently to how it has affected women in developing countries, but in the north and the south it is women who are bearing the brunt.http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19279-f0.cfm

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

International Women's day 100 years

Press release from Unison coinciding with international women's day

Councils could face legal challenges over job cuts says UNISON
- 78% did not complete equality impact assessments over job cuts On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector union, is warning that councils could face legal challenges over job cuts on equality grounds. An FOI request by the union reveals that 72% of councils did not complete equality impact assessments (EIA) over their initial redundancy proposals*, 78% of councils did not complete EIAs on their final job loss plans. Under public sector equality duties, councils must give ‘due regard’ to equality when making decisions. Completing equality impact assessments is one of the key ways for councils to do this. The union is calling on local authorities to put the brakes on, and properly assess the impact of job cuts. Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government, said: “Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, but evidence is mounting that it could be a backward, not forward step for equality in 2011. Councils are duty bound to make sure job cuts do not have a disproportionate impact on women, on workers with disabilities or ethnic minority staff. But this survey shows they are flouting the rules and ploughing ahead with heavy job cuts regardless. “Councils should put the brakes on and take a closer look at the effect of job cuts. Women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities are well represented in the local government workforce, so there’s a real chance that heavy job losses will fall disproportionately onto these groups. This could leave the door wide open to costly and time-consuming legal challenges.“There’s growing proof that the Tory-led government’s actions are bad for women and bad for equality, but it’s easy street for the party’s beloved bankers. In the 100 years since the first international women’s day, great strides towards fairness have been taken, but this hard-won progress must not be sacrificed to pay for the recession.” *A full regional breakdown of the 235 local authorities that responded to the UNISON survey is attached. UNISON asked - In the financial year 2009/10, where proposals that resulted in early retirements, voluntary or compulsory redundancies have been made has an Equality Impact assessment been undertaken of a) the initial proposals and/or b) the final outcome?Initial proposal –28% (64) councils did complete EIAs, 72% (167) did not complete EIAs in 2009/10 Final outcome – 22% (51) councils did complete EIAs, and 78% (179) did not complete EIAs in 2009/10

http://www.strongerunions.org/2011/03/08/phil-maxwell-celebrates-international-womens-day-in-photographs/


http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

Deadline for Branch Returns

Unison Branches are reminded that the annual returns have to be submitted by the 15 March. If the returns do not go in (they are done online now) then the branch failing to present could be disqualified from sending a delegation to NDC in June a fine is also imposed (one month's subs..) Its important that branches comply with the regulations relating to this as the union nationally is liable under the TULR (C) Act 1992 section 188.

Glad to say that we managed to complete the Lambeth Unison returns on time as per usual and I was glad to help do this.

Monday, 7 March 2011

National conference deadline

All branches that have not yet registered online should do so as soon as possible so they do not miss the deadline of 5.0pm on Friday 1 April 2011.Deadline for requesting childcare and reasonable adjustmentsThe deadline for childcare, reasonable adjustments and facilitators for both ational delegate conference and local government conference is 5.0pm on Friday 1 April 2011Branches must make sure that their members input their requests onto the online conference system (OCS) as soon as possible to ensure that their requests are met. Applications made after 1 April cannot be guaranteed.

Protect our May day holiday!

Plans to move the May Day bank holiday to April or October have been severely criticised by the TUC, which said there was strong support for an additional public holiday but no appetite to mess around with established bank holidays.

Getting rid of the May Day holiday - which traces its origins back to the fourth century - was 'all about satisfying Tory backwoodsmen' who did not like its more recent association with international labour, the TUC said.

March 26

With just three weeks to go before the massive national demonstration against the cuts on 26 March, the TUC has been finalising travel and logistical arrangements for the day.
All the details are available on the March for the Alternative website, which is being updated regularly. The site includes travel information from the regions, information on the route of the march and details of the rally which will take place in Hyde Park.
The site also includes a section on how to apply to be a route steward on the 26 March. The TUC is keen to recruit more route stewards to ensure the event runs smoothly and safely.
All you need to know @
http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/

Everyone needs to be there!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

26 March for jobs and services


March for an alternative approach and defend jobs and services...

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Ethnic minorities and separate organisation

I have been involved with front line trade union organisation and community campaigns for the last 25 years and I am now very much part of a community based campaign to improve the organisational effectiveness of the Greek community in London which numbers something around 300,000.

The one question I have been frequently asked, mainly by those on the left, is whether there is a need for separate organisation and it has been suggested, on some occasions, that by going down that road we create division.

My answer to that is the answer that some in my community have given me many times. They feel that they are not listed to and that they are often ignored. My own view is that we must organise within existing structures and compliment what is already there. No one should be going down the road of trying to replace effective organisations like the existing TUs or the main political parties. So the need to encourage members of the community to participate fully in the democratic process of this country is a good one. The aims, for example, of Operation Greek Vote are clearly defined and the objective there is to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote registers and does so. This is a project that should be supported by the TUs and the Labour party.

Telly watch

The thousands, if not millions of regular readers who don't read this splendid blog would know that I have been rather busy lately with advising Nick Clegg on how to send the Lib Dem party to oblivion avenue but I am taking a break now as it is obvious that the man does not need that much help, he is doing well on his own! We of course share the same name and we both have a passion for Flamingo dancing (got mine from exposure to Andalusia from my Spanish ex)

So I have a little window of opportunity now to deal with my other interest which revolves around criticising telly programmes and of course there are so many to chose now what with having 238.5 channels.

The first thing to say about the telly what we been subjected to is that most of it is inflicted on us by the commercial world meaning that there is a bloody break every few minutes. I know that most of the people I know get angry when their remote control lands them on a commercial break. Thank God there are a few BBC stations with no such breaks so the advise is to switch over to them. I shall return to my armchair critics role soon when I manage to sit down and watch a documentary or something.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Letter from General Secretary of Unison D Prentis





I have reproduced a letter from Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Unison, urging all members to particiapate in the big march on the 26 March.


.....Join us on 26 March On 26 March 2011, thousands of people will march for public services in London, to tell the government that savage spending cuts are unnecessary and unfair. I'd like to invite you to join us on the TUC march. When the Tory-led government was elected, it promised us that it would protect front line services, that it would protect the NHS and that it would protect the most vulnerable in our society. But now 140,000 local government jobs are to go in England and Wales alone this year, 50,000 jobs will go in our NHS; police staff roles are being cut and across the UK vital local services are being axed. Inevitably those who lose out will be the vulnerable that the government vowed to protect. The impact on our communities could be devastating. Research shows that cuts to public services hit the poorest the hardest: services such as SureStart, giving our very youngest children a fair start in life; the education maintenance allowance that enabled hundreds of thousands of young people to stay on in education; pensions for low-paid workers that are now coming under attack. Meanwhile, the bankers keep their bonuses, their massive profits and their tax loopholes. UNISON is speaking up for a fairer way, to protect your schools, your hospitals, your communities, your jobs and your pensions. On 26 March we'll be marching for the public services that we hold dear. Join us with your friends, your family and your colleagues. If you've never been on a march before then this is the one to come on. Secretary

Barnsley victory for Labour




Everyone of course predicted that Labour would win Barnsley but what is significant is that the Liberal Democrats who are now in bed with the Tories came 6th.


This should be a signal to an unpopular and undesirable in many ways coalition government that the electorate is not happy with the regressive policies they are serving on our tables every day. Any sensible Liberal should now take time to think as to whether their 'flirt' with power is worth total defeat at the next general election? Time to remove Nick?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Women Educating Women in Zimbabwe

I have been empowered and I will educate other women”“I am no longer afraid, I have been empowered and I will educate other women, both formal and informal workers, to participate actively in the ZCTU and also in the community so that they are involved in decisions that affect their rights” Lucia Masekesa, ZCTU and ZICEA.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19239-f0.cfm

Act now for a fair EU investment policy

The European Parliament is about to vote on a new set of rules for investors when operating abroad. Please sign this petition to let Brussels know that we want a balanced EU investment policy for decent work and sustainable development.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19244-f0.cfm

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Hands off our pensions campaign

I am reproducing an email I received today from Barbara an activist leading the campaign against the attack on our pensions. This is perhaps one of the bigest priorities we should all be concentrating on as the Con the Libs government is so determined to make us all pay for mistakes by those who are now getting huge bonuses in the city!!

Hi -
Just 3 weeks ago, I started the ‘hands off our pensions’ petition because I was so frustrated and angry when I found out I will have to wait an extra 2 years before I get my State Pension.
I knew that lots of other women about my age would be in the same boat - but the response we’ve had has been incredible. Over 7,500 people have already added their voices to our campaign.
And today I’m asking you to email your MP to ask them to support our campaign too:
http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/handsoff-email
Thousands of women have got in touch to tell us how worried they are. The more stories I hear about other women who, like me, are suddenly faced with the prospect of up to 2 more years at work, the more I want to make sure I do everything I can to get this government to drop their unfair plans.
We’ve worked hard for our pensions, and it’s wrong to move the goalposts so close to retirement.
Together we’ve run a great campaign so far – but now it’s time to ask our Members of Parliament to say ‘hands off our pensions’ too. Emailing your MP is really easy. If you enter your postcode it will set it all up for you – and you can personalise your email with your own story if you like.
http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/handsoff-email
These pension changes are unnecessary and unfair – let’s keep the pressure up so the government knows we won’t accept them without a fight.
Thanks,
Barbara

Two weeks left – Hyde Park Calling – get creative




The TUC invites you to make an awareness raising TV-style advert about the impact of the spending cuts. You have 60 seconds to get your message across.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/union/tuc-19236-f0.cfm

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Unison retired members

There are around 17,000 retired Unison members in the London region and around 140,000 in the whole country. Put it in another way the RM division in the whole of London could be one of the largest branches in the capital or the national collective would have the same numerical strength as the London region!

We are talking about people who spend anything from 20 to 45 years working in the public sector with vast knowledge and experience who are still physically active but not working, people who could be helping branches with all sorts of TU related activities so there is a clear need for a more defined role and more involvement. I know that the London region has started working on increasing the role of RM's and I also know that my own branch, Lambeth local government, is dedicated to helping out the branch in its current struggles in fighting cuts in jobs and services.