No 109

September 20, 2012 in Bulletins, Reports

An opinion poll by YouGov last week showed that most people think the Lib Dems have made no difference to the government. Of course! The Lib Dems are wedded to the free-market system destroying workers’ lives. We need to get rid of this big business government right away.

Confirmation of how the NSSN caught the mood of workers and others with its lobby of the TUC conference and the subsequent decision to explore the possibilities of a general strike was given by the Guardian online poll which recorded 82% of respondents in favour of the TUC’s decision! While Guardian Online readers won’t decide the date of a general strike, this is an indication of the mood in Britain against the ConDem government.

But the Guardian will not call the general strike – and is probably against it! So the NSSN is urging its supporters to put the suggestions below into action:

WHAT NEXT?

1. We need to demand that the TUC general council urgently discusses the naming of a day for the strike. Distribute our letter to trade union branches/trades councils with this Leaflet which includes a Motion and local meetings and encourage discussions and debates.

2. We also need to help make sure that the 20 October TUC demonstrations in London, Belfast and Glasgow against the government’s agenda are huge, and use those events as an opportunity to develop further support for a 24-hour general strike and for concrete preparations for it by the trade union leaders.

3. We would also encourage you to get involved in your union, trades council and anti-cuts groups, if you are not already.

4. Lastly, but by no means the least important, join, support and donate to the NSSN! Standing orders are most welcome – Just a £2/£1 a month would make a massive difference.

Full Bulletin this week has been Edited by Kevin Parslow

News, strikes, ballots

Sparks

Protests continue at Crossrail sites in London following the sacking of 30 electricians, including two Unite reps, on Friday 14 September at the Westbourne Park site in West London. This is part of the attempt to drive down wages and worsen conditions on this major project. Protests and blockades have taken place at Westbourne Park since Monday 17 September:

Union-initiated talks have not yet forced Crossrail or contractors to back down so the sparks and their supporters will continue the fight. On Wednesday evening 19 September, 50 sparks and their supporters blockaded Charing Cross Road in London outside the gates of contractor BFK’s site at Tottenham Court Road station for over half an hour; this would have disrupted concrete production on the site! The NSSN gives full support to reinstatement and will send out details of action when we receive it.

Doncaster Tesco drivers vote to strike over Stobart’s termination of employment notice

More than 150 drivers at the Tesco distribution centre in Doncaster have voted for strike action, following the 90-day notice of termination of employment by their new employers, Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL).

The drivers, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, voted by more than 90 per cent to take strike action and also industrial action short of a strike.

Refuse collectors in Doncaster set to strike for fair pay

WHEN: 6am, Friday, 21 September and 6am, Monday, 24 September WHERE: Holmes Depot and the Denaby Depot (see notes for address)

Over 100 refuse collectors will be taking strike action and there will be picket lines outside both the Holmes Depot and the Denaby Depot from 6am tomorrow (Friday, 21 September) and 6am, Monday, 24 September. The workers will also continue a ban on overtime, which began on Friday, 14 September. The action will cause massive disruption for the collection of household waste and recycling.

Strike Ballot on Higher Education Pay

GMB, the union for support staff in higher education, is to conduct an official strike ballot following the unanimous rejection by members earlier this year of the university employers’ final pay offer of 1% for 2012/2013 pay round. A continued process of talks since then to resolve the dispute failed to deliver a better outcome for staff. A postal ballot to members’ home addresses will commence on 1st October 2012 and close at midday on 15 October 2012.

Sharon Holder GMB National Officer said “GMB is recommending that members vote yes for strike action for three reasons.

First the offer goes nowhere to meet the claim for a 7% increase. Second whilst university employers enjoy the benefits of a windfall increase in student fees they expect staff to deliver better services with no pay rise. Third, due to inflation higher education staff continue to endure a real terms cut in living standards. This is just not fair.”

Attacks on national pay bargaining continue

The bosses go on with their assault on national public-sector pay bargaining with ‘research’ calling for pay tobe set locally

However, Medway council have shelved proposals to withdraw from national pay agreements:

RMT demands full renationalisation of the West Coast route as Government puts public sector team in place to takeover

RAIL UNION RMT today [18 September] demanded full renationalisation of the vital West Coast mainline route as it emerged today that the Government have a public sector team on standby to take over from the 9th December in the wake of the Virgin/First Group fiasco. The public sector team, called the West Coast Main Line Mobilisation Team, had been drawn from the already nationalised East Cost route. The confirmation that they are now in place and ready to take over staffing, finance and operations as Virgin and First slug it out in the courts contradicts earlier Department of Transport denials when RMT first blew the whistle on the renationalisation plan last week. With little more than ten weeks to go until the Virgin franchise expires there is still a mass of work to do on transferring the staffing and operations and RMT is warning that it would be yet another expensive waste of time and money to go through the whole charade again as and when Virgin and First reach a court judgment – a judgment which could demand that the whole franchise be re-tendered from scratch.

RMT demands assurances on redundancies at emergency meeting [18 September] as Government hands London Midland green light for ticket office carve-up

RMT representatives will meet with London Midland at an emergency Company Council at 1pm today to demand assurances on jobs after the Government defied mass public opposition yesterday and gave the train operator the green light to plough on with a mass carve-up of ticket offices across the franchise

Argos Distribution Centres strike over pensions

The NSSN received this message from an Argos shop steward, who wishes to remain anonymous. The strike continues until 22 September.

“I am a Unite union shop steward that works at one of the 5 Argos DCs around the country (they are Magna Park, Bridgewater, Heywood, Castleford and Basildon). This Wednesday (19th September) we will be entering into a 4-day national strike over the closing of the company’s final salary pension scheme, which it is seeking to do without compensating the affected staff. We would be grateful if you could have someone in attendance to cover the story and bring the issue to a wider audience.”

RMT calls for urgent talks with Government rescue team as 3200 jobs on the West Coast route are left dangling by franchise chaos

 RAIL UNION RMT [19 September] called for urgent talks with the public sector rescue team drafted in by the Government to prevent a total collapse of the West Coast Main Line as the TUPE transfer of 3200 staff to a new operator, scheduled for the end of the current franchise on the 9th December, has been thrown into disarray by the current Virgin legal challenge.

“Today RMT is calling for urgent and direct talks with the West Coast Main Line Mobilisation Team to move this urgent situation forwards. RMT is also making it clear that we will take whatever action is required to protect the legally acquired rights of our members and we also remain geared up for a ballot if there is any threat to jobs. It is little wonder that 70% of the public now support RMT’s call for renationalisation of the railways in the wake of the West Coast debacle.”RMT General Secretary Bob Crow

London Met University
London Met UCU, London Met Unison, and London Met SU have called a  London-wide mobilisation and march from ULU (Malet Street) to the Home  Office (Marsham Street, Victoria) for Friday 28th Sept. Assembling at Malet  Street for 1pm. Under the banner: ‘Amnesty Now – Save London Met – No to  Privatisation’. This initiative is supported by London Region UCU. See  Facebook Event:

Last week’s TUC Congress in Brighton unanimously supported the call for an immediate amnesty for our students.This Friday (21/9) the High Court will consider granting an immediate  injunction (an effective ‘stay’) in favour of London Met Uni and against the  UK Border Agency (UKBA). Such an injunction should allow for a full Judicial  Review of the UKBA’s decision to revoke London Met’s Highly Trusted Sponsor  (HTS) Tier-4 licence – an action that has condemned over 2,500 of our  students to either forced university transfer or deportation. as others shape it. We are therefore fighting as hard as we can for our  students, our university, and for real justice. We will have much more  chance of winning that fight with your support and solidarity – as  wonderfully expressed during last Friday’s UK-wide solidarity events.

 

Parents unite against ‘bizarre’ HMRC nursery closures

The eight affected workplaces are in Blackburn, Cardiff, East Kilbride, Leeds, Leicester, Nottingham, Salford and Wolverhampton.Parents across the UK are stepping up their campaign against HM Revenue and Customs’ “bizarre” decision to close eight workplace nurseries. Protests and public meetings have been held in under-threat locations, an online petition has been set up, and the union is now planning a national day of campaigning for Thursday 27 September.

NHS

Anger is beginning to translate into protests at the attacks on the NHS. Below we give some news, reports of demonstrations and details of further action.

A rally is taking place in Hull on Saturday 22nd September against the proposal to cut £99m from local NHS spending. The rally is assembling at 12 noon in Victoria Square. Please publicise this event, let see if we can help the organisers get a great turn out.

Who benefits from NHS privatization? Find out here:

NHS managers in south west accused of intimidation, as they attempt to drive down pay NHS managers, desperate to push through cuts to pay and conditions for staff in the south west, were accused of bullying union reps by Unite, the largest union in the country.

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that it had evidence that about a dozen reps had been intimated and threatened by managers in some of the trusts that form the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium.

The 20-trust strong consortium, which covers Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, wants to tear up national agreements governing pay and conditions and impose local deals, aimed at cutting the incomes and holidays of NHS staff.

Unite’s head of health Rachael Maskell said: “We have evidence that up to a dozen Unite reps have been threatened in their roles as legitimate trade union representatives.

“They have been threatened with disciplinary action and told they can’t speak to staff about the proposed changes, and refused permission to distribute leaflets and other information material.

The Save Our Local Hospitals campaign was launched last Saturday September 15th with a 350-strong march from Woolwich town centre to Charlton comprising of local trade unionists – PCS, GMB, UCU, RMT, NUT, Unite and Unison, health campaigners from “Keep Our NHS Public” and “We Love the NHS”, the local Labour Party, Greenwich & Bexley Trades Union Council, the Bromley pensioners group and members of residents associations. Lynne Windeatt of Greenwich & Bexley Trades Union Council writes: Speakers included Eltham Labour MP Clive Efford, Candy Udwin from “Keep Our NHS Public” and Andy Prendergast, a local GMB Official, all demanding that the government back down from any privatisation and/or closure plans for the three hospitals under threat: Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich, Queen Mary in Sidcup and Princess Royal in Bromley. The march was loud and lively with constant chants to save the NHS.  The day was summed up by a local young female health worker at the Charlton Park rally who pledged that “we are not going to take this lying down”.Massive Protests also took place in Brent and Ealing against the proposals to ‘rationalise’ A&E provision in the area by closing wards.

Trade unionists will Lobby of Labour Party Conference on the NHS Sunday 30 September

New support for the lobby of Labour Party conference includes the national Fire Brigades Union; Unite the Union North West Region; Unite Women’s Committee; Merseyside Trades Council; Wirral Trades Council; Midlands RMT; Lambeth Keep Our NHS Public; London Keep Our NHS Public; Newcastle Keep Our NHS Public; Leeds Keep Our NHS Public; Sheffield Save Our NHS; Unite Manchester Community Branch; Unite Leeds Community Branch; Kentish Town CLP; Hull North CLP; Liverpool Wavertree CLP; Wirral South CLP; Broxtowe CLP; Labour Representation Committee; Drypool and Holderness ward Labour Parties (East Hull CLP); Micklegate Ward Labour Party (York); Camden No 3 and Stratford No 1 RMT branches (London Underground); Cambridgeshire Trades Council and Stroud Against the Cuts.

Our contemporary resolution has now been sent to Labour Party conference by two CLPs, Hull North and Kentish Town, and may be sent by more.

If you want leaflet, posters, Richard Branson masks or balloons email [email protected]comN DOESN’T LIKE CRITICISM – SO LET’S GIVE HIM MORE!TELL RICHARD BRANSON: KEEP VIRGIN PROFITEERING OUT OF OUR NHS! POSTERS / LEAFLETS/ BALOONS/ MASKS

Called by London Keep Our NHS Public [email protected]com  More information from www.keepournhspublic.com

Richard Branson tried to stop the publication by the Telegraph of Max Pemberton’s article critical of Virgin’s takeover of community services. It is reported Branson is demanding a half page reply. A high court injunction was served to try to prevent the article being published.

As Southampton rebel councillors Don Thomas & Keith Morrell refuse to vote for cuts and newly elected Labour council face a financial crisis, the issue of how councils can stand up to the ConDem cuts is raised yet again.How can councils fight the cuts? Thursday 20 September 2012, 7.30pmSir James Matthews Building, Above Bar Street, Southampton. 

The guest speaker for the meeting is Clive Heemskerk, a national officer of the Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition, who was also the election agent for the Lewisham Socialist Party councillors Ian Page and Chris Flood. The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss what measures councils can take to stand up to the ConDem cuts and how a successful campaign can be built in Southampton to develop the fight of the rebel councillors. Invitations have been sent to the leader of the Southampton Labour Group, Richard Williams and Southampton trade union Branch Secretaries, Mark Wood, UNITE and Mike Tucker, UNISON to take part in the discussion.

Leicestershire Against the Cuts public meeting The Red Tent in Leicester, United Kingdom. Janice Godrich, PCS national president, speaking on the fight against cuts in services. Build for the 20 October TUC Demo, build for a 24 hour general strike!

Super rich evade tax on hidden £13 trillion; Tory austerity scam to cost every UK family £7,000-plus; NHS, pensions, education, benefits and pay under attack! They make the gain. We take the pain…

ISLINGTON Rally Against Austerity 7pm, Thursday 20th September, Islington Town Hall, Upper St N1.Speakers to include: Kevin Courtney (Assistant General Secretary, NUT); Catherine West (Leader, Islington Council); Sean Venell (UCU national Executive); Jane Doolan (Islington UNISON); Vaughan West (Islington GMB). Chair: Rob Murthwaite (Disabled People Against Cuts). Meeting supported by Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS), Islington Trades Union Council, GMB, NUT, UCU and UNISON


GLATUC. Speak OUT Against Austerity, 27 September 2012, 6:30 pm, UNITE House, 128 Theobald’s Rd London WC1 (station – Holborn).Protest against at the LibDem conference Brighton – No to Austerity! Noon @The Level (Stop the Cuts & Brighton Trades Council)                                12: noon, Saturday 22 September Assemble at the Level, March to the Conference CentreThis government has embarked on an unprecedented programme of cuts and privatisation. Schools, Hospitals, Councils, Benefits. Across the board those that rely on the welfare state suffer while jobs are lost and pay is cut. Debt reduction through austerity in Britain and across Europe has now been proved not to reduce deficits, but it is part of a massive transfer of wealthy from the poorest to the very richest. This event is public so anyone can be invited to it – the original only allowed members of Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition group to join (…Facebook…) – please also join the BSTCC group.

The Lib-Dems prop up a government that has seen the wealth of the richest 1000 people increase by £78bn since they took office. Join your local trade union and anti-cuts movement Midday Saturday 22nd September at the Level to say no to this government and show the Lib-Dems they will not be forgiven for their support for it.Bristol BADACA supporters & other campaigners present Bristol City Council with the first 3,000+ signatures on our petition to save Bristol’s care homes and day centres for the elderly & vulnerable. We also submitted various statements & questions to the council although shamefully the Liberal Democrats voted against extending the time allowed for public questions before backing down. — Lobby of Full Council Against Care Home & Day Centre Closures.Bristol protestWhat social care cuts really mean: introducing the sidebar of shame Everything you wanted to know about care and benefit cuts… | False Economy’s at-a-glance guide to cuts and changes to care services, Disability Living Allowance, and Employment and Support Allowance

Universal Credit Welfare Reform Spells Disaster for Birmingham Residents

INTERNATIONAL

Marikana miners accept 22% pay deal but some strikes continue and battles go on.

Two articles on protests in Spain and Portugal:

Benefit to riase money for trade unionists in Kazakhstan fighting the oppressive Nazarbeyev regime. Tickets available here:

DIARY

September

22 Protest against at the LibDem conference Brighton – No to Austerity! Noon @The Level (Stop the Cuts & Brighton Trades Council)

24 Bromley trades council “Crisis in South London Health Trust & Cuts to Public Services” public meeting with John McDonnell MP 7pm HG Wells Centre [email protected]

26 Battle of Orgreave: Film & Discussion 7-9.30pm TUC, London. FREE. Book [email protected] / 020 7467 1220

30 Rally against McNulty and Lobby of Labour Party conference for a clear commitment to repeal the Health and Social Care Bill and rebuild our health service. Both at Manchester Central Convention Centre

October

7 March on Tory party Conference

20 TUC Mass demonstration, ‘A Future That Works’ TUC demos in Belfast, London & Glasgow. Transport details can be seen at, and should be uploaded to False Economy.

24 London NSSN public meeting – 7pm ULU, Malet Street WC1E 7HY

27 Scotland NSSN conference – Glasgow Details to be confirmed

South West NSSN public meeting – Swindon. Details to be confirmed.

November

17 MIDLANDS NSSN Conference Unite offices, 211 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1AY. 12.00-16.00. Speakers include Joe Simpson, Assistant General Secretary POA

24 YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE NSSN Conference 10am-4pm. Leeds, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 2 Lower Briggate, LS1 4AE. Contact Kevin Pattison 07962867034.

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Phone: 07952 283 558

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