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Friday, 30 September 2011

Lambeth Unison Branch meeting motions

I am publishing the motions for the special branch meeting which is taking place on the 4th.

Branch Meeting Tuesday 4 October

The pensions dispute and the "Co-operative Council" (or "Cop-out Council") are two of the main topics for discussion at the UNISON Branch meeting at 12.30pm on Tuesday 4 October, for which both Lambeth Council and Lambeth Living have confirmed paid time off. We will have two guest speakers at the meeting, each of whom will introduce a particular debate. The first speaker will be Max Watson, a member of UNISON's National Executive Council, who will explain what is happening with the pensions dispute and why UNISON is balloting for industrial action. Max's speech will be followed by debate on two motions about the pensions dispute (see below). After the debate on pensions we will take our second guest speaker, Independent Labour Councillor Kingsley Abrams, who will speak about Lambeth's "Co-operative Council" project. Kingsley's speech will be followed by debate on a motion developing UNISON's policy in response to that project.

The text of the motions to be debated on Tuesday is set out below, for your information;

Motion One - Defend Our Pensions – Vote “YES” for action!



This branch meeting;



Condemns the Coalition government’s very serious assault on the local government and other public sector pension schemes, including dramatically increased employee contributions, a rising retirement age and abolition of ‘Fair Deal’ protection for outsourced workers.


Welcomes the decision of UNISON’s national leadership to ballot more than 1.1 million members across the local government, NHS and civil service pension schemes following the Government’s refusal to make any meaningful concessions during seven months of fruitless talks


Notes the encouraging prospect of united strike action involving more than 3 million workers covered by public sector pension schemes on 30 November.


This branch meeting resolves to:



Campaign for the largest possible ‘yes’ vote in the ballot opening on 11 October and closing on 03 November through leafleting of workplaces, face-to-face conversations, lunch-time meetings and use of social media;


Recruit a substantial number of new members on the basis of the pensions issue, encouraging members to become actively involved in the Union;


Work closely with sister unions, particularly the NUT, GMB and UNITE, in building for industrial action on Wednesday 30 November, and to co-operate with Lambeth Trades Council;


Empower the UNISON branch committee to act as a local strike committee in the first instance;


Use the local press to advance our case to the wider public, encouraging all members to assist with this.


Proposed- Ruth Cashman, Assistant Branch Secretary


Motion Two – Developing the Pensions Campaign Further



This branch meeting believes:



The pensions dispute is of fundamental importance in its own right and could well determine the fate of the Government’s more general offensive against the public sector workforce and social welfare provision.


That to win this dispute the trade unions must be prepared for further action beyond a single day.


Any negotiated settlement to the current dispute must ensure the following:


No further increases in employee contribution rates
No rise in the standard retirement age
The restoration of the link between the Retail Price Index and the annual uprating of pension payments
The safeguarding of current levels of pension payout, and
Restoration in full of ‘Fair Deal’ protection for workers on outsourced contracts.


Any proposed settlement of the dispute should be subject to the
widest possible democratic debate and that no service group within UNISON should withdraw from action until there is an acceptable framework agreement covering all of the public sector pension schemes.



This branch meeting therefore resolves;



To endorse the Branch Committee’s decision to call for a special conference of UNISON’s local government service group to enable a discussion of tactics and strategy in the dispute and democratic scrutiny of any potential basis for settlement;


To call upon all appropriate UNISON bodies to work to ensure that plans are made for future industrial action beyond 30 November, and that ideally these plans are publicised before 30 November. As a contribution to the debate in the trade union movement about the tactics for this dispute, we recommend that there should be further national all-out strike action before the end of 2011.


Proposed – Dan Jeffery, Assistant Branch Secretary



Motion Three - Defend Public Services - Say No to the Cop-out Council



This branch notes with concern the repeated pronouncements from the Council leadership that Lambeth will become the first "Co-operative Council" claiming that “the project aims to strengthen the relationship between our residents and the council”.


We further note that when this idea was first advanced, more than 18 months ago it was little more than a vague and meaningless soundbite and a "rebranding" of various existing services. However, over the past year the Council has diverted hundreds of thousands of pounds previously earmarked for "invest to save" into turning the soundbite into proposals for change and some of these are now being prepared for implementation.


In ACS, the Lambeth Resource Centre (LRC) was identified as a “pathfinder pilot” to create a public service mutual lat year. In CYPS the following services are intended to be transferred to new, as yet non-existent "Co-op Council" entities by April 2012;

4 Youth Centres
Living Space
7 Adventure Playgrounds (APGs)
12 Stay and Play One O'clock Clubs (OOCCs)
Young and Safe Service
Crown Lane Children’s Centre


UNISON believes that the proposed transfer of these services is likely to amount to nothing more than the outsourcing of service cuts to the community, as services are moved to the voluntary sector with insufficient and declining funding. We note that this is precisely what has happened to the Adventure Playgrounds (APGs), where management proposals to cut hours to achieve a 70% budget reduction forced the great majority of staff to take redundancy. The Council has now outsourced the APGs to the voluntary sector with totally inadequate funding to provide the service which local people want. We believe that this is the "Cop-out Council", accepting responsibility neither for the continued provision of important public services nor for their reduction or closure.



We endorse the ideals of the co-operative movement, which grew up as part of the labour and trade union movement in the nineteenth century. The co-operative movement was part of our movement when, in the twentieth century we created the Welfare State and the network of public services now under attack from the savage cuts of the Coalition Government. This branch reaffirms UNISON policy that public services are best provided by the public sector, under the overall control of democratically elected local Councillors. The Welfare State is the best way to ensure everyone in society has access to social, health services and other public services and no-one gets left behind.



We resolve to campaign in defence of public sector provision of public services whilst simultaneously organising to build our strength and bargaining power and negotiating to get the best for UNISON members in every situation. In particular we instruct Branch officers and the Branch Committee to implement the following specific points;



1. To promote our policy that public services delivered by the public sector provide the best and most accountable model of service delivery, by issuing regular "Cop-out Council" bulletins to update members;



2. To organise meetings of staff in all areas identified as "adopters" of the Council's "Co-op Council" and to aim for 100% trade union membership in every area;



3. To demand involvement in discussions from the earliest stage in every case in order to seek to ensure that at the "options appraisal" stage the Council gives serious consideration to retaining services in-house;

4. To demand that, whenever the Council is considering any form of outsourcing, including as part of it's "Co-op Council" project, there should be an in-house "bid";


5. To seek to negotiate a "secondment option" with the Council so that staff providing outsourced services can remain Council employees, seconded to another provider with their current pay, conditions and pension rights;


6. To demand that the Council only even consider outsourcing in future to bodies which are "admitted bodies" in the Local Government Pension Scheme, so as to protect the pension rights of staff;



7. To seek to negotiate "TUPE plus" agreements in the case of any members facing transfer from the Council, so as to build upon the limited legal protection available in these circumstances. In particular we should seek to agree that new starters are employed on comparable terms and conditions post-transfer to avoid a "two-tier workforce";



8. To demand that Lambeth Council agrees a protocol for the use of volunteers based upon TUC guidelines (as we have agreed with Lambeth Living) and insists upon the application of such a protocol by all partner organisations. Volunteers must not be used to do the work that had been done by someone in paid work and should be done by someone in paid work.;



9. To seek the support of all other Council trade unions for this policy and work with them to implement this;


10. To seek the support of Lambeth Trades Council for the policy expressed in this motion;


11. Through "UNISON Labour Link", to campaign in support of the policy and demands set out above in local Labour Parties, and to lobby Labour Councillors and Members of Parliament for support;

12. To seek the support of our allies in "Lambeth Save Our Services" and other community organisations for the policy expressed in this motion, and to publicise this policy widely to the people of Lambeth.

13. To instruct the Branch Committee to apply for funding for this campaign as necessary from the General Political Fund of UNISON.

Proposed - Jon Rogers, Branch Secretary

It is important that every member attends the meeting, time off has been granted.

Lambeth Unison mobilisation

Lambeth Unison has answered the national call to mobilise and they have increased the level of activity around meetings and gatherings to ensure that members are aware of the issues before the ballot for industrial action starts.

The Assistant Branch Sec's also report an increase in the number of new people who are applying to join the union, this is encouraging and good news as it is of vital importance that the union represents as many of those who work in the service as possible. There are some areas where recruitment has gone up by as much as 50% which must be above the regional average I would think. Well done.

Lambeth Unison

Lambeth Unison local government branch is leading the way in the London region with action and activities organised to ensure that members are aware of the importance of the national ballot that is underway.

The major buildings are being targeted this and next week with activists turning up early to inform members as they go to work of the issues. A branch meeting is also scheduled to take place on Tuesday 4 October at Lambeth Town hall around 12.30 all members should do their best to attend. I shall certainly be emailing those on my list to remind them of this important meeting.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Fiscal integration within the Euro zone?

I know I hold the very unpopular and controversial view amongst British TU left wing circles (of which I am a member) of believing and wanting a federal and United Europe ( a socialist one) but I still insist that the danger of not achiving more integration will mean more conflict and more wars on the continent. That is the view held by many in Europe and espcailly smaller and medium size states that have sufferred from successive invasions.

Good that the German parliament has voted to accept supporting states in trouble within the Euro zone. I am hoping however that the austerity measures imposed on the Greek population will be partially lifted now as it is unreasonable to expect the poor to pay for mistakes made by bankers!

Lambeth Unison mobilisation

Congratulations to the activists in Lambeth Unison for mobilising the branch to ensure that the national ballot is successful. It is of vital importance that every member makes an informed choice, they all need to know what the dangers are and they need to vote yes for industrial action.

The branch meeting on the 4 October will be a good point to start the fight back locally but I know that many activists will also be giving their time to be in front of buildings every morning to give out information.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Cameron and interantional ethics

Good that in his speech to the UN General assembly last week the PM stated that the international community must not allow more dictators to oppress their people and that regimes that do not comply with the rule of law should be dealt with. He was obviously referring to oil rich Libya and ignores other states that have been in violation and have been responsible for invading other sovereign countries.

David Cameron and others in that position would be more convincing if they acted against those who break international law more decisively and also dealt with their on friends and allies who ignore the rule of law he so much likes. Sitting on the fence will never convince real libertarians that Cameron is serious about his intentions. But he is not sitting on any fence he is simply following double standard foreign policy, divide and rule is very much in when it comes to international issues and foreign policy.

The speech

Interesting speech at conference yesterday by Ed Miliband. I think he tried to make himself sound more to the left but those in the know would point out that calling Blair a great man and saying that selling council houses was a good idea does not give him those credentials.

Apart from that I liked what he said about the need to break Britain's closed circles as I very much empathise with that and I also understand what he says when he explained the problems second generation Brits have had to face, I have been there!. The race is now on to ensure that people like my 13 year old nephew does not have to deal with the same challenges, so full marks for touching on that.

In general I think that he did impress some but needs to do more to make the floating voter feel that he is a Leader?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

World economy and chaos

It is extremely disturbing to hear a major marker trader boast how he goes to bed every night hoping that there is a recession so that he can make money out of every ones misery. This is of course how the capitalist system works, it functions on a boom and bust cycle and those very few in the know how make big money whilst the rest of us go down the toilet.

I am hoping Ed Milibands speech later on today will deal with this disturbing fact and come up with a proposal on how to challenge a system that is so fragile.

Maximum effort to ensure we get a yes

I am glad to see that Unison is putting maximum effort into making sure that our members vote yes in the ballot. My own branch, Lambeth local government, has organised a branch meeting on the 4 of October and has taken action to communicate the message out. We must get a yes vote!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Unison action on pensions fight back

Pay more, work longer, get less
It sounds simple doesn't it? We can't afford to pay for these pensions so public service workers like street sweepers, school dinner staff and healthcare assistants need to accept that and work longer, pay more and get less.
But that isn't the whole picture.

Public service workers are being asked to pay more in pension contributions by an average of over 50% - if you earn above £15,000. It's the equivalent on average of a 3% pay cut.

And this extra money isn't being used to improve pension schemes for the future, it's going straight to the Treasury to pay for the bankers' crisis.

Your pension is under attack - join Unison to defending it.

http://www.unison.org.uk/pensions/myths.asp

Euro zone and Greece

Finance Minister of Greece Venizellos gave a categorical assurance yesterday that the country would not default and would not be leaving the Euro as Ms Mirkle and Sarkozi would not allow this. The news today tells us something else and the BBC reports that Greece may be allowed to default on half its debt, can politicians be trusted when they give us categoric assurances that something is never going to happen? Something like Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson's position being firm a week before she fired him...

BBC and BC and AD

Well the BBC has done it again, the brigadier trolley types that manage it have decided that the only way to solve the Euro zone problem is to stop using BC and AD as this may offend? I don't think that is the case and if it was then the right place to debate and decide would be the UN where a mature debate can take place. So BBC stop wasting time money and effort..

Sunday, 25 September 2011

George of the Galloway

We seem to be seen a lot of George Galloway on television and that would usually irritate me but for some reason I find what he says and how he puts it interesting so lets see more of him I say?

On the other hand he should, in my humble opinion, be more careful with what political adventures he gets involved with and avoid losing credibility, maybe Ed Miliband can find him a job in the 'exciting' new shadow cabinet he is about to put together in his garage? George of the Galloway would attract more interest than someone like Mr exciting Balls...

Labour party

The 2011 conference is on its way in Liverpool with Ed Miliband having done one year but the big question would be what have we done in that one year and was it right, wise or proper for Ed to tell the unions that they were wrong to take action on the 30 June and not right to do more on the 30 of November. Is this the party that the unions created?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Greece and the Euro

Unfortunately there is very little chance for Greece to avoid defaulting on its huge debt. Debts that came from easy loans with high interest rates. The money raised gave the Greeks a reasonable standard of living and financed a very well managed public service sector.

The reality is that every country in the world with a few exceptions is facing a financial crisis and Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy are the countries in the Euro that are in great danger.

But the penalty for 'saving' Greece means that the ordinary person in the streets will have to suffer from severe poverty so that the country is able to pay back its debt. There are numerous measures being imposed on the general population which are drastic and scary with the majority of those employed facing more than 30% cut in their standard of living. There are too many new regulations imposed to be able to cover them here.

My prediction is that the current PASOK government will fall very soon and the opposition party, ND will come in with measures to reverse the cuts. And this means Greece defaulting on its debt and returning back to the old currency. The rest of Euro zone don't want to do this because if Greece goes down that road then Portugal and Spain (perhaps Ireland) will follow and that will lead to the collapse of the Euro. So watch this space...

Is one day enough?

The major TUs have taken the right decision and they will be ballotting members for industrial action on the 30 November this year. They were, in my opinion, too slow as the first step was the huge London gathering on the 26 March which was well attended but then there was very little happening apart from the NUT taking day of action on the 30 of June.

So in other words we had a big protest in March which will now be followed by another big protest on the 30 of November, in other words 8 months have gone under the bridge without doing much. Saying that I very much welcome the move but I am hoping that branches are also preparing for local action outside the 'big day' event!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Shark fin soup

A disgraceful practice in China where sharks are taken out of the sea their fins cut off then they are thrown back without them to face a slow and horrible death. I have no idea why humans should act in such a barbaric way and treat animals so appallingly, the practice is one that must be stopped. Full marks to Richard Branson for making a point to senior Chinese politicians and business people. Stop this cruel practice now!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The death penalty

It is absurd and barbaric that democratic countries like the USA continue to use the death penalty. I am well aware of how horrible it is to know and tolerate someone who has murdered an Innocent person and I totally agree that they must be punished. But it all goes horribly wrong when the justice system gets it all wrong and the state ends up murdering someone who was Innocent and as long as there is even a 0.1% chance that someone could be Innocent then taking their life is completely and totally wrong and barbaric!

TUC Events

Events
12-14 September TUC Congress, Congress House

17 October TUC poverty conference

16 November Equality deficit conference

More info on TUC events @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/events/index.cfm

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Opportunities for the young

More than one fifth of all employer who were asked in a survey conducted by the Cipd have said that the abolition of the earlier retirement age would mean that there would be less opportunities for them to hire younger staff.

Pensioners facing debt

Reports suggest that pensioners who claimed their state pension for the first time during 2010/11 may receive a surprise tax bill which could plunge many into debt. So it doesn't look like anyone is safe under the current incopetent government.

The warning came from charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS)which keeps an eye on these sort of things.

The CCCS says notices are currently being sent out by HMRC to an estimated 1.2 million people who paid too little tax last year, due to errors in the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system. It is predicted that this figure includes up to 160,000 pensioners who could face repayments of up to more than £1,000 each.

I am hoping this will get more pensioners interested in taking action locally to stop government from cutting and making us all more poor.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Telly programmes and Equalities

Many would say that it doesn't matter what programmes are shown on telly and who appears in them and its all about talent. But that isn't the case. Television has a strong influence on the minds of people and it can affect the way they see things.

Being careful with how the television companies handle their responsibilities is a major issue and one that they do not seem to take seriously so many of them go for what they think the public want to see not understanding that it also works the other way around.

So we end up with many soaps that are unreal. We have The only way is Essex which is dominated by those with blond hair and blue eyes, followed by the totally unreal 'Made in Chelsea' (only watched once must admit..) which suffers from the same problem. Then we have totally unreal soaps from Australia where people in Melbourne which is more than half non Anglo Saxon seem to live in an area where they are all blond again and then again we have Midsummer murder territory where no one with a tan ever gets a role! This is not acceptable or real at all. We live in a multicultural society and telly should reflect that.

Loose women make a point

Great gesture by those participating on the loose women programme ( I think they are on ITV) They went nude for photos to highlight the discrimination faced by older women on television.

The gesture has a point and the point is right, women are openly discriminated when it comes to dishing out roles on telly the same applies to panels where serious political discussions take place, the BBC is infamous for never getting the gender balance right with that, so one way to deal with this anomaly is to introduce rules around proportionality.

Monday, 19 September 2011

A message from General Secretary for Unison

Today, as general secretary of UNISON, I give formal notice to 9,000 employers that we are balloting for action," declared Dave Prentis when he opened the TUC debate on pensions last week.

"And in moving to industrial action, I commit UNISON to work with our sister unions the GMB and UNITE."

Keep up to date with the latest in the pensions campaign

Is Vince Cable more on the left than..?

The answer is obviously probably not but he is beginning to look like he is more on the left than most of the shadow cabinet ministers from Labour. What is the world coming to...

TUC document, Bleak prospects for non-university youngsters

The TUC used the publication of A-level results last month to highlight the plight of students missing out on higher education.

While many thousands of young people would rightly be rewarded for their hard work with excellent A-level results and a chance to go to university, others would not be so lucky, it said.

Because of the rush to avoid next year's fees hike, and the Government's refusal to fund extra university places, record numbers of students would lose out on higher education altogether. With too few apprenticeships going to young people and one in five under 25s out of work, the prospects for too many youngsters leaving school were bleak.

Further information @

TUC document, Reduce dust levels

Urgent action is required to reduce dust levels in the workplace, a hazard responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK annually, the TUC warned at the beginning of September.

In new guidance which is being sent to all union safety reps, the TUC outlines the case for stronger action and shows that current assessments of dust exposure are totally inadequate.

Summary details @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19972-f0.cfm

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Union merger

The union representing staff at the Derbyshire and Cheshire Building Societies merged with the Nationwide Group Staff Union on 1 September. This means that the NGSU now represents staff in all the divisions of the Nationwide Group, following the transfer of engagements of the Staff Union Dunfermline Building Society to the union at the start of this year.

Visit the website of the NGSU @

http://www.ngsu.org.uk/

New site for vulnerable workers

A new microsite has been launched by the TUC to help people find out more about their basic rights at work.

Basic Rights @ Work introduces vulnerable workers to information about employment rights in the UK and how to enforce these rights through statutory enforcement bodies.

Summary details @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19896-f0.cfm

Tate & Lyle not so sweet

The TUC and the GMB union have joined forces to call on Tate & Lyle to challenge the Fijian military government to end the rapidly escalating labour rights abuses in the country.

Last month Fijian union leaders were arrested on charges of holding a union meeting without a permit, while a decree was introduced banning the right of unions to represent workers in collective bargaining and effectively prohibiting industrial action. In response a demonstration was staged outside the Fiji High Commission in London on 1 September.

Tate & Lyle in the UK has significant leverage over the regime in Fiji, purchasing 100 per cent of its sugar exports.

More on this @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19906-f0.cfm

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Flexible rights at risk

Weakening the right to request flexible working risks giving employers the green light to abandon family friendly practices, the TUC warned last month in its submission to the Government's 'modern workplaces' consultation.

The submission recognised the improvements to flexible working rights over the past decade and supported the proposal to extend the right to request flexible working to all workers. The right is currently only available to parents and carers of children aged under 17 and disabled children aged under 18.

However, the proposal to remove the minimum legal standards, which ensure that flexible working requests are given a fair hearing, in the Government's new universal right to request could weaken current flexible working rights and encourage employers to reject requests without proper consideration, the TUC warns.

Find out more @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19905-f0.cfm

Bleak prospects for non-university youngsters

The TUC used the publication of A-level results last month to highlight the plight of students missing out on higher education.

While many thousands of young people would rightly be rewarded for their hard work with excellent A-level results and a chance to go to university, others would not be so lucky, it said.

Because of the rush to avoid next year's fees hike, and the Government's refusal to fund extra university places, record numbers of students would lose out on higher education altogether. With too few apprenticeships going to young people and one in five under 25s out of work, the prospects for too many youngsters leaving school were bleak.

Further information @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/social/tuc-19922-f0.cfm

Friday, 16 September 2011

Plymouth Unison, recognition agreement

Congratulations to all who took part in the fight to reverse the regressive decision to de recognise Unison in Plymouth. Well done to all involved the fight secured that the largest union was re recognised by the employer. More on the national Unison link below


http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=7215

http://www.unisonplymouth.net/

UNISON's Our NHS Our Future campaign

Despite UNISON’s best efforts, the Health and Social Care Bill was voted through the Commons. However, the campaign to save our NHS is not over. In October the Health and Social Care bill will make its way through the House of Lords where UNISON has another opportunity to influence the Bill. One way to do this is to make sure that peers know the strength of feeling there is against the legislation they will be debating. You can help raise concerns about the proposed changes to the NHS by writing to a member of the House of Lords. For more information and to find campaign materials and resources, visit:

www.unison.org.uk/ournhs/news_view.asp?did=13310.

Deadline for motions to UNISON 2012 National Black Members' Conference

The deadline for submission of motions and amendment to standing orders to the 2012 National Black Members’ Conference is noon, Wednesday 21 September. The Conference bulletin which contains the necessary forms for submitting motions and registering delegates and visitors for the Conference is available on the UNISON website.The conference will be held at the Brighton Centre, Brighton from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 February. Meetings of Black members’ groups should be arranged in good time to ensure that motions can be prepared and submitted before the deadline. Black members’ group should agree, sign appropriately and submit the motions by the closing dates. For the conference bulletin, visit:

http://www.unison.org.uk/conference/blackmembers.asp

The 30 of November and selective strike action

Good that TUC affiliated TUs are prepared to ballot members to take action on the 30 of November but this one day will not be enough to win the battle. More needs to be done at local level by branches to ensure that where appropriate selective and nationally coordinated selective action takes place as well before and after the 30 otherwise we are not serious about the fight we want to have.

There are many activists with massive experience in handling these actions and the fact that many are put off by the detail and the national procedures they have to follow should not people off. It can be done and done it must!

TUC document, Abuse victims could lose support

Victims of domestic violence will struggle to receive vital unemployment benefits as a result of spending cuts, the TUC has warned in its submission to consultation on jobseekers' allowance and domestic violence.

The TUC is concerned that charities and refuges are suffering the consequences of the spending squeeze, reducing the support and guidance they can offer to the victims of domestic abuse.

Read more on this @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19952-f0.cfm

TUC document, Reduce dust levels

Urgent action is required to reduce dust levels in the workplace, a hazard responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK annually, the TUC warned at the beginning of September.

In new guidance which is being sent to all union safety reps, the TUC outlines the case for stronger action and shows that current assessments of dust exposure are totally inadequate.

Summary details @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19972-f0.cfm

Thursday, 15 September 2011

TUC document, Workplace safety: myth and reality

The publication at the end of August of a Health & Safety Executive list citing the most 'bizarre' safety reasons that organisations have used to cancel activities or events received a critical response from the TUC.

'Health and safety law is all about preventing illness and injuries at work and controlling the workplace risks to employees', said Brendan Barber. 'Every listing in the HSE top ten relates to public safety or insurance issues and has nothing to do with health and safety as it applies to workers.'

More on this @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19930-f0.cfm

Mlathi: paid below the legal minimum wage for making Adidas shirts in Indonesia

I get paid Rp.1,121,000 (around £82) per month – which is below the legal minimum wage.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-20058-f0.cfm

Is one day enough?

Unison the GMB and Unite have announced that they will be balloting members for one day strike action, they are proposing that this takes place on the 30 November. Good that the unions are prepared to fight and great that we had a demo on the 26 March and action on the 30 of June but is one day enough to get the government to take what we are saying seriously?

I am hoping that the 30 of November will be a good and that a strong message comes out of that but I am also hoping that branches throughout the country will be doing more to take local action before and after this event, otherwise not much will change!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ed Miliband..

Well he managed to get to power using the union vote, he then managed to hide and stay out of the way most of the summer and he is now going back to the TUC telling the brave Unions that took their members out on strike on the 30 of June that they were wrong to strike in support of their fight against the destruction of their pensions! Need I say more? It looks like Ed is trying to distance himself away from the unions, perhaps he is not serious about ever becoming PM?

Adopt a Lord??

Great meeting yesterday organised by the regional office. Good updates and more information on what the government is planning to do with our pensions, some talk on nationally co-ordinated strike action which I am hoping will materialise before its too late?

Then there was information given out about how we intend to campaign to save the NHS. Cameron and Clegg came to power making statements which more or less guaranteed that the service would not be affected, but then they are politicians and now it looks obvious that the NHS is to be destroyed. We shouldn't expect anything less from them of course. But we must take them on with intelligent tactics.

The amazing thing though is that part of what Unison is proposing to do is to have us (unless I got the message wrong) adopt a Lord so that they can help us defeat the legislation when it gets to the totally out of date and in need of abolition House of Lords? Have we all gone mad? Have we not been fighting for Equality and Fairness for so many years? Doesn't the House of Lords represent that Inequality in our society? How can we now end up having to adopt a Lord to help us fight Inequality? This to many activists is a ridiculous paradox!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

TUC, Equality deficit conference

A one-day conference examining the disproportionate impact of public sector cuts on equality is to be held at Congress House on Wednesday 16 November. The event will look at campaign strategies to defend equality.

In parallel unions are being asked to provide information on the impact of spending cuts on disabled workers' staff groups or associations. This follows a motion carried at this year's Disability Conference.

Register for the event @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-19924-f0.cfm/formbuilder/135/p/1

TUC Inflation: arbitrary applications

Figures published in August showing that RPI inflation remained at 5 per cent and CPI had climbed to 4.4 per cent in July underlined the squeeze on workers' living standards, the TUC said in response.

'While rail commuters despair at the prospect of 8 per cent fare rises next January, savers will be fuming at the Government's stealth cut on pensions as a result of the switch to the lower CPI inflation measure - which could slash the value of their pension by 15 per cent over the next 20 years', said Brendan Barber.

Full TUC reaction @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19916-f0.cfm

Monday, 12 September 2011

Barnet Unison members need support

A message asking for support from Barnet Unison, please help if you can.



Barnet Council has been informing the sections covered by the ongoing
> industrial dispute that staff will be expected to sign a register at
> the gate tomorrow a.m confirming they are a available for a full day's
> work. Anyone refusing to sign will not be allowed to come into work
> and will be automatically deducted a full day's pay.
> This is a LOCK-OUT.
>
> Messages of support required: john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk
> Turn up to the lobby of the Town Hall: 5.30-6pm Tuesday 13th November,
> Hendon town Hall, The Burroughs NW4. Nearest tube Hendon Central.
> Bring your banners or union flags.
>
> Thanks,

Lambeth campaigns

Lambeth S.O.S have organised another meeting scheduled to take place tomorrow Tuesday 13 September. It is important for activists who wish to get involved and help fight the cuts in jobs and services that they attend.

http://lambethsaveourservices.org/


Tuesday 13th September – 6:30pm
Public Meeting – Why Children’s Services Matters in Lambeth
Karibu Centre, Gresham Road, near Brixton Police Station

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Proportionality at branch level

I am still amazed as to why Unison does not insist that rules of proportionality should also apply at branch level. The decision to incorporate proportionality and fair representation into the national rule book was an excellent one but more must be done to apply these same principles at branch level.

Can the left unite and offer an alternative?

I am extensively involved with community campaigning and development since I left my position as Branch Secretary and I am constantly being asked what the alternatives are to supporting Labour. Many of the diverse communities in London have been traditionally Labour party members or voters but I am finding that these same people are now asking whether the Labour party is representing their interests. I am of course arguing that Labour is still strong and credible.

But there are many who also want to know what the alternatives are and that is a difficult one. It's a hard question to answer because there are so many variations of what I would call the real or hard left and this in itself is an enormous weakness.

There are of course a number of strong candidates on the left such as the SWP and Socialist party but there are many more and the disputes they have between them are so major it dilutes the message and the work they are aspiring to do, so there is no doubt in my mind that the left should get its act together and present a more united front otherwise the only real alternative is to stay within the Labour party and try to reclaim it. A frank and honest debate needs to take place.

Alternatives to Labour?

I know of many who are increasingly feeling frustrated with the direction that New Labour is taking the party and I know of some who have opted for alternatives.

There was a time when I strongly urged members to remain within the party and fight within for internal reforms and that is of course still my position. But I am very much aware that the level of dissatisfaction is increasing. I am hoping that the next Labour party conference will allow for a frank and honest debate on how to change things?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Tension in the near and middle East

Just returned from a trip to the Greek islands where I was visiting family and friends.

There are of course severe problems with the state of the Greek economy but people are trying to deal with the issues in practical ways. There is unrest and strikes are a continous feature.

The major subject for discussion seems to be the threats made by Turkey over the right to explore natural reserves under the sea in the south of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey has issued a warning that if Cyprus goes ahead with the tests they will send the fleet in to stop them. This has of course forced Greece to warn Turkey that any act of hostility against the Republic of Cyprus would be seen as an act of war against the Greek state, so we seem to be back to square one. In addition it would appear that any action against Cyprus right to explore will also be an act of aggression against EU territory so a country that wishes to join the EU is prepared to wage war against the club that it wishes to join?

The Cyprus problem is of course complex by nature but I wish that the leaders of the two communities come to their senses and find a just solution before this unstable region is pushed back into a war situation which will be catastrophic. A solution based on numerous UN resolutions based on a bi communal federation is the only way out. Neither Turkey or Greece should have the right to interfere and both states should accept that Cyrus is an independent sovereign country capable of running their own affairs. All foreign troops should be removed from the island following a solution.

TUC Equality deficit conference

A one-day conference examining the disproportionate impact of public sector cuts on equality is to be held at Congress House on Wednesday 16 November. The event will look at campaign strategies to defend equality.

In parallel unions are being asked to provide information on the impact of spending cuts on disabled workers' staff groups or associations. This follows a motion carried at this year's Disability Conference.

Register for the event @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-19924-f0.cfm/formbuilder/135/p/1

Inflation: arbitrary applications, by the TUC

Figures published in August showing that RPI inflation remained at 5 per cent and CPI had climbed to 4.4 per cent in July underlined the squeeze on workers' living standards, the TUC said in response.

'While rail commuters despair at the prospect of 8 per cent fare rises next January, savers will be fuming at the Government's stealth cut on pensions as a result of the switch to the lower CPI inflation measure - which could slash the value of their pension by 15 per cent over the next 20 years', said Brendan Barber.

Full TUC reaction @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19916-f0.cfm

Friday, 9 September 2011

Benjamin Britain Opera

Was persuaded by an opera loving friend to go and see the 'Rape of Lucretia' by Benjamin Britain at the Peacock theatre the other night.

I have to say that I wasn't at all comfortable with the concept but was assured that this was mainstream modern English opera. Anyway the production was rather Spartan with just one Ikea type of a table used as a table for the first scene then a bed at a later stage. That apart I was not impressed with an opera sung in English it just didn't sound right, but the cast were very professional and the young opera singers had very impressive voices. I can see that they would do well in an Tosca production.

The BBC women and tv panels

I have raised this concern before and have pointed out that the BBC should at least put more effort in ensuring that they have representative panels on major programmes. So I was astonished to see, once again, that very few women were taking part in last nights Question time. Has someone told them that the majority of the population are women? When are they going to address this main problem?

London Mayor election 2012

Amazed how the 3 major political parties have again managed to select an all male candidate group to compete in the elections next year. You would have thought that all parties would know by now that the majority of the population is made up of women? Have any of them heard of proportionality?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

TUC, Mind the jobs gap

Ahead of the publication of the figures, the TUC released research showing there were now 158,000 fewer people employed than on the eve of the recession in December 2007.

The drop - equivalent to 0.5 per cent of all employment across the country - was not evenly spread with London recording a 3.3 per cent increase, but the West Midlands seeing a 2.8 per cent fall. The North East and South West also fared badly. And without the growth in London, the jobs gap would be almost twice as large.

Summary details @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19913-f0.cfm

TUC on workless households

TUC on workless households @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19966-f0.cfm

TUC highlights growth fears

Official figures released in the weeks leading up to Congress confirmed fears that recovery in the UK economy remains sluggish at best.

Figures showing growth of just 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2011 were evidence that government policies were failing, the TUC said.

Earlier in August, the TUC reacted with concern to the Bank of England's announcement that it no longer expected the economy to grow this year as quickly as was previously thought.

TUC on growth figures @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19946-f0.cfm

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

TUC highlights growth fears

Official figures released in the weeks leading up to Congress confirmed fears that recovery in the UK economy remains sluggish at best.

Figures showing growth of just 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2011 were evidence that government policies were failing, the TUC said.

Earlier in August, the TUC reacted with concern to the Bank of England's announcement that it no longer expected the economy to grow this year as quickly as was previously thought.

TUC on growth figures @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19946-f0.cfm

TUC Congress 2011

TUC website informs us that full preparations are under way for the next full congress.

The final agenda for has been published, with a wide range of issues up for debate, including cuts, public sector pensions, the economy, equality, and labour rights at home and abroad. The Congress briefing, programme of business and other documents can also be found on the TUC website.

As well as speeches from TUC general secretary Brendan Barber and TUC President Michael Leahy, the conference will be also be addressed by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

This year's Congress proceedings will for the first time be streamed live on the TUC website. Decisions will also be regularly updated on the site.

Read the full agenda @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/the_tuc/tuc-19928-f0.cfm

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Loby Lambeth Cyps scrutiny committee meeting

Unison and GMB activists will be gathering outside the town hall today at 6.00 p.m to lobby the Cyps scrutiny committee. The Council intends to introduce measures that will mean the deterioration of services and the loss of many jobs, this needs to be resisted.

Lambeth Town Hall from 6 p.m. onwards tonight!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Public service pension petition

Public & Private Pension Increases - change from RPI to CPI
Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions

Many workers in the Public and Private Sector have contributed to their pensions on the understanding that on retirement these Pensions would be increased each April by the preceding September's Retail Price Index (RPI) rate. From April 2011 the Government has transferred these increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure which in the Treasury's own words "...is designed to take account of the fact that consumers tend to shop around, switching to cheaper alternatives when prices of similar goods change." This change, which has been introduced in most cases without any prior consultation, will mean a steady reduction in spending power for pensioners as they progress into their retirement. Given the promises that have previously been made, the RPI measure should be reintroduced without delay to ensure that the spending power of these Public and Private pensioners is maintained.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/1535



Mans best friend?






would you want to kill your best friend?





I understand that not everyone likes animals and fewer people would want to put up with a dog barking. But on the other hand those of us who have dogs know how loyal, loving and good they are with their owners, they ask for very little and give back much more.

So it astonishes me that a country like Britain tolerates the abuse of these fantastic animals by allowing research companies to badly treat dogs. Reports suggest that some of the labs that use beagles allow them out of their cages once a day for 15 minutes and when the experiments are finished they kill them.



These same companies want the government to change the law to allow them to kill the young beagles by hitting them on the head, this is apparently cheaper than putting them to sleep. What a fucking disgrace I say! First use of that word on this blog shows how strongly I feel about that!



Stop this cruelty to defenceless loving animals!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

John Cleese and foreigners

I love the work that John Cleese has done in the world of comedy he has made a splendid contribution to English comedy, but I am concerned about the views he so widely express. He has every right to make statements about what he feels but needs to think a little bit and not in a Monty Python sort of way.

He is not comfortable, allegedly, with the fact that London looks like a foreign city full of people from every part of the world. But he ignores the fact that most major and successful cities on the planet that mix and diversity. There were 200 languages spoken in Rome and as many in Constantinople. That is how it all works. Those who were asked to come here in the 50s to help reconstruct the country after the war worked hard to build the post war Britain up. And of course John would know that they then had children and their children are now having other children. That's how it works.

The success of New York city has a lot to do with that diversity again. So these are not new trends and John should know this.

The most serious thing that concerns me about his views is that he does not seem to understand the fact that he is being very hypocritical. He has been living in Los Angeles since 1990 so I would assume he can see that he himself is a foreigner in another country? Or is he saying that it is OK for an English person to immigrate but not for anyone else? Should someone from Los Angeles see him as a foreigner? Where does it all end? We live in a globalised economic system so this is the trend. Get over it John and stop thinking that you are any better than anyone else, embrace the fact that you are a foreign immigrant your self and be more understanding. And what about the half a million Brits to live in Spain and the 40,000 in Cyprus etc etc...








Are speeches enough to win us the battle?

Lets face it the battle to stop the bankers government to destroy our pensions is not going to be won by making 'we will fight them on the beaches of Bognor..' type of speech. More real action is needed so that the one million people who turned up in London on the 26 of March can see that we have a strategy to continue the fight?

So no offence to Bognor activists but we won't be winning the war by making speeches...

Local government pensions and action

I now understand that the argument in favor of having a special local government conference is based on the belief that not very much has been done since the June conference in Manchester.

Now I have not been too involved with the detail of this since I left my position as Branch Sec in March 2010 but I can see that apart from getting one million people down the street of London on the 26 of June not very much has happened since then. There has been the ' we will fight them on the beaches.' type of speech made by several officials but the beaches have not been populated since 26 March? So what's going on then? Are we to give up?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Local government conference on pensions?

There is a debate going on between some who think that a special conference on local government conference should be called by Unison to consider what action to take against government decisions to impose major changes to the pension scheme.

Some on on NEC are having the discussion online and are expressing their opinions in their respective blogs. There are those with blogs on the NEC and others who aspire to be on it. Nothing wrong with that.

My take on the idea of a special conference is that a big gathering so soon after the last national conference will not have much more to say than what's been said already? Would it not be beter for Unison to do the followinig insted?

1. Have intensive talks with GMB and Unite for coordinated action;
2. Agree a programme of action;
3. Go ahead with selective action throughouot the country which would involve members from all 3 major unions;
4. Get on with it before its too late..

I feel that decisions have already been made and that the next stage is to continue the action that was taken on the 26 March and 30 June otherwise we had those two days in isolation (30 of June didn't really involve Unison) and members might think that we are not too good at following a strategy? And if members think that what would Tory boy Cameron and the others think..















Join online NHS vigil

The NHS could be facing its darkest hour as MPs debate the controversial Health
and Social Care Bill on the 6th and 7th September. Upload your photo to our NHS
vigil mosaic by Friday 2nd September. We'll be combining the pictures into a
powerful mosaic image, to use in lobbying Parliament.

http://www.goingtowork.org.uk/nhs-mosaic

Friday, 2 September 2011

Member Trustee News – Summer 2011

The latest issue of Trustee News: Does your pension fund support fair pay?,
Responsible investment and fiduciary duty, Preparing for the 2012 reforms, DC
investment strategy, European Directive Review, The Regulator's new Corporate
Plan, Hutton's proposals for public sector schemes, Ombudsman in action, Death
benefit payments – Ombudsman acts.


http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19909-f0.cfm


Thursday, 1 September 2011

TUC 2011 Congress

Its nearly here again the 2011 TUC congress is just around the corner. Here's a pdf document with all the info. Hat tip to the hat for pointing it out, or was it the tip?

http://www.tuc.org.uk/the_tuc/tuc-19928-f0.pdf




Stop bullfighting

Every year, about 250,000 bulls are killed in bullfights -- stabbed multiple times with barbed lances and banderillas (spiked wooden sticks) before suffering slow, agonizing deaths in front of an audience, including children.

Don't let France and Spain have bullfighting protected as "cultural heritage" »

Bullfights aren't "fair fights" between a bull and a matador. They're highly staged forms of animal cruelty. Attendance is at an all-time low and several countries and cities have even banned the fights. Bullfighting might be a part of some countries' past, but people don't want this outdated bloodsport to continue »

Yet France and Spain are trying to have bullfighting listed by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a form of "cultural heritage," which would give a veneer of respectability to the torture of animals for public entertainment and could financially safeguard bullfighting.

Tell UNESCO not to designate bullfighting as a cultural heritage, because bullfighting isn't culture, it's cruelty »