Housing workers fight for ‘Sector standards’

October 26, 2012 in Bulletins

We all have an important role to play building the idea of the need for a general strike. We also support the call for a Day of Action and Solidarity across Europe on 14 November, as the ETUC strongly opposes the austerity measures, which are plunging Europe into economic stagnation, & recession. This Day of Action and Solidarity will include strikes, demonstrations, rallies and other actions. Consider what you could do in your workplace or outside it that day.

Sometimes it can feel a long way from what we are doing in our day-to-day trade union work. However, from reports and experiences of reps and members, the idea of co-ordinated action is less and less abstract but a necessity given the volume and depth of the cuts.

We thought it would be worth looking at how one branch, which is supporting the call for a 24-hour general strike, is fighting for that and so much more!

Some of you will have read that over the last three years there has been an 86% rise in housing benefit (HB) claims by working families – that’s up by 417,830. This is due to a combination of wage and job cuts, continuing price rises, whilst rents rise in many places. The housing crisis is growing and is a disaster for everyone. Housing workers will be central to campaigns around cuts and how to begin to propose real alternatives.

No doubt about it, the challenges are also huge, and some of us are a bit knackered but at the same time there are opportunities. Members of Unite Housing workers and Unison at ‘One Housing’ have overwhelmingly rejected management’s final offer to mitigate salary cuts of up to £8,000 per employee, by offering a one off payment of an average of just £300 each and delaying the implementation date of the salary cuts by three months! Despite management’s claim of declining revenues in the last financial year, recently released financial statements have disclosed an increase in surplus revenue as compared to the previous year. ‘One Housing’ has also boasted that it can cut the cost of contracts previously run by the NHS by 80 per cent.

Sadly, this situation is being or has been replicated across many organizations. Some sneaked in huge cuts in previous years and have, in many ways, negatively infected many members and reps’ confidence in fighting cuts. This is part of the race to the bottom as many providers battle it out for contracts, which ultimately bring down the standards of the services and increase the workloads for less pay.

This is precisely why Unite Housing workers have initiated a ‘Sector Standards Campaign’ (a sort of ‘housing workers JIB’), which is now being rolled out nationally by Unite for Society to build the ground for decent pay, hours, training and more.

This is an example of just one branch that is campaigning on several levels and has chosen to prioritize recruiting & developing reps as a multi-organisational branch, with members in Equinox, St Mungo’s, HCA, One Housing, Circle, Sanctuary, Peabody, Centrepoint and more! The branch is developing a better understanding of what a rep is (where’s the job description?!) what facilities we can have, how to organize and mobilize as opposed to just servicing members.

It also raised the idea of rent caps not benefit caps in its mini-manifesto almost two years ago to challenge the idea of whether a housing crisis is inevitable or a premeditated ideological assault on our class. Landlords keep coining in the private rents and we pay even more!

With all these attacks and more being plotted, it’s hardly any wonder the branch has also supported the NSSN over the years to lobby for co-coordinated action and now a general strike. The workers involved are seeing the consequences of cuts as more and more people try to access limited and stretched services and housing (those that have not been closed down!) and at the same time trying to challenge workplace cuts which could see them becoming the clients they support if implemented!

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Building for a general strike: We would continue to encourage everyone to have discussions on what that might look like, when it would be, pushing for your unions and groups to support it. We want it built through discussions so it is an effective next step, which involves, inspires and engages as many workers, as possible.

Great to hear more another NHS branch in Nottingham pass the 24-hour strike motion unanimously as well as Haringey Unison. Ensure you let those reps and members who were not there of the decision and keep the item on all agendas for formal and informal meet ups.

NSSN Affiliations & Donations

Thanks to the following unions for affiliations and donations:

  • ·       GMB Lincoln Tec. General and Apex branch
  • ·       UCATT York 1st branch
  • ·       Unison Glasgow City branch
  • ·       CWU West Yorkshire Telecoms branch

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As the media and even some trade unions are keeping a lid on the 20th October and the fact that three general secretaries argued for a 24-hour strike, here is a link worth sharing on the demo and what next: RMT General strike video & NSSN short

UNITE

URGENT! Unite has accused Ford of betraying its loyal workforce in Southampton and Dagenham as well as its loyal UK customer base and has vowed to fight the closures announce. Ford has announced the end of production of the renowned transit van at its plant in Southampton by 2013 and the closure of its stamping and tooling facility in Dagenham with a total loss of around1, 500 jobs and more in the supply chain. More from Unite & NSSN strategy to fight the job cuts.

The new employer of Tesco drivers in Doncaster was accused of ‘walking away’ from negotiations by Unite, as the drivers geared up for a 72-hour stoppage next week. Unite said its 180 driver members would be striking for three days, Wednesday 31 October to Friday, 2 November – causing disruption to deliveries to Tesco stores across the region. More

Warehouse staff working for the DHL Supply Chain at Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire staged a further 24-hour strike on Monday 22 October in pursuit of a decent pay rise and assurances about the long-term future of the site, after rejecting the management’s pay offer of two per cent over the next two years.

Bus drivers on the Isle of Man will be holding a ballot for strike action as the Manx government tries to slash drivers’ wages by up to £3,000-a-year. More

Unite has called on Jersey transport to end its attack on bus drivers’ pay if it wants to resolve the dispute which has involved unofficial action by drivers who face having either their pay slashed or the sack. Drivers are being asked to sign new contracts meaning a pay cut of around £12,000 a year or face the sack. More

Unite, with 100,000 members in the health service, said that the admission by new health secretary Jeremy Hunt that the cost of the so-called NHS reforms had leaped by £300 million to between £1.5 billion and £1.6 billion warranted an investigation by both the Health and Public Accounts select committees. More

Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond has been asked to save the remaining Scottish Remploy jobs, as the Remploy Task Force meets at the Scottish parliament last Monday. The meeting in Edinburgh, which will be attended by Esther McVey, Westminster minister for the disabled, was lobbied by about 100 Remploy workers.  More

Workers Lobbied Bromley council against their threat to take them out of national terms and conditions. “Now we need joint industrial action from Unite and Unison,” Glenn Kelly, staff side secretary, argued.

RMT

Workers United Against Racism RMT London. More.

Two strike dates and further action short of a strike resulted from a massive mandate by members in a ballot of groups of staff on First Devon and Cornwall buses in a dispute over pay. The dates are: Fri 26th October 2012, and again on Friday 9th November 2012. Relevant members are not to work any unscheduled overtime or rest days on Sunday 11th November or Saturday 17th November 2012.

The RMT General Grades Committee has agreed to ballot driver members on the Bakerloo and Central Lines for action short of a strike to ensure a safe procedure for detraining passengers. More

PCS

Civil service job cuts part of ‘political smash and grab’: The civil service headcount was down to 463,812 in March 2012, a fall of 63,672 on March 2010.

Between March 2011 and March this year 34,621 jobs have gone, a 7% cut.

Administrative grades shouldered the biggest burden with a fall of nearly 10% over the last year, giving the lie to the Tory myth that we are ‘all in this together’. Earlier this year, MPs on the public accounts committee said HM Revenue and Customs could have collected £1 billion more in tax if it had not cut so many staff! More

PENSIONS: Ministers are pressing ahead with draconian changes to pensions that will mean many people having to work longer, pay more and receive less in retirement, despite huge opposition and lack of agreement, having already imposed cuts to civil service redundancy pay. More

Welfare Benefits: With the Department for Work and Pensions increasing the time to up to three years that claimants can have their jobseekers allowance removed, the union points out that the government’s own advisory body on social security has questioned the effectiveness of punitive sanctions. This means an army of 4.5 million workers chasing just 476,000 vacancies, nine people for every available job.

In recent years, there has been an 86% rise in working people claiming housing benefit, with an additional 10,000 workers a month making a claim to help to pay their rent. More

Low-paid workers who look after the British Museum fear their pay and conditions could be seriously cut if cleaning and other building work is contracted out as planned. The unions believe the museum is close to confirming that outsourcing will go ahead, with the contract starting from 1 April 2013. In industrial action ballots, PCS and Unite members voted by 90% and 100% respectively for a strike and the unions’ members are now discussing dates for action. More

Even ministers admit uncollected tax equals a quarter of budget deficit. More

UNISON

Members working for Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals Trust have voted to strike over redundancies and pay cuts. 88% of the admin and clerical staff voted to strike and 96% voted for action short of a strike. Workers face pay cuts of between £1,500 and £3,000 a year. Many of those workers will be joining the demonstration through Dewsbury against hospital cuts on 27 October.

In response to the announcement that cuts worth more than £120 million may have to be made at Birmingham City Council in the next financial year, Ravi Subramanian, UNISON Regional Secretary said: 
“UNISON will be asking the Labour Council to campaign jointly with us to approach Eric Pickles and ask for a Fair Deal for Birmingham.”
More

Hull council workers demand that Labour councillors oppose cuts. In a week that saw redundancies announced in Hull at two companies, Seven Seas and McCain Foods, over 300 angry Hull City Council workers rallied outside the Guildhall at the start of a campaign to oppose the latest round of cuts in council jobs and services. More

UNISON & GMB

Members at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust staged a demonstration, in protest at attempts to cut their terms and conditions.

All 5,452 staff employed by the trust have been issued with HR1 notices and given a 90-day consultation period to introduce new contracts of employment. The trust operates two hospital sites in Stockton and Hartlepool. More & More

NUT

ACTION SHORT OF STRIKE ACTION is already achieving successes and boosting members’ confidence. Victories are being won at school level and some of the worst workload practices knocked back. But if action short of strike action doesn’t persuade schools to think again, then the NUT has made clear that school strike requests are likely to be supported. A victory over the withdrawal of a threatened ‘mock inspection’ was won in a Tower Hamlets school after notice was given without needing to strike. NUT and NASUWT members at Deptford Green School in Lewisham have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action if their Head refuses to withdraw plans that could mean eight or more classroom observations a year. Staff in an Academy in Buckinghamshire and at Stratford Academy in Newham have also voted for strike action in response to threats to dock their pay if they stick to the union action guidelines. Incredibly, at Stratford, staff were told that they had to inform management individually that they were not going to participate in action short of strike action – any staff that did not do so were told they would be deducted 15% of their pay! Send messages of support to:

Academy in Bucks: Chris Butcher [email protected]

Stratford Academy: Steve Charles [email protected]

Deptford Green: Karen Wheeler   [email protected]

16 schools in the North East London borough of Waltham Forest have or could become academies and teachers at Connaught School in Leyton took two days’ strike action on 16 and 24 October. NUT members had voted unanimously for action to defend their community school from becoming a forced academy More

Further information on campaigns also at NUTLAN

UCU

UCU members at the University of East London (UEL) were on strike against increases in their workload, and the way in which management is dealing with appeals, negotiations and line management. More

NUJ

Journalists working for Newsquest in Bradford have given notice of industrial action and their Newsquest colleagues in York are taking action today. The Bradford NUJ Newsquest chapel action is planned for Friday 26 October. More

The union has contacted all NUJ members via email to ask people to report abuse to the NUJ general secretary and be part of the union’s campaign for safer working environments. More

The NUJ backs the National Pensioners Convention criticism of the suggestion from Lord Bichard that those who have just retired should be forced to undertake voluntary work or risk losing part of their pension. More

The NUJ concluded over 6 months of negotiations at Richard Desmond’s Daily Express and Star on Tuesday 23 October 2012. It has been agreed that there will not be any compulsory redundancies in London, Broughton and Glasgow. More

CWU

A major survey to establish stress levels in Virgin Media, Everything Everywhere and TalkTalk call centres has been launched by the CWU to coincide with UNI global union’s International Call Centre Action Month in October. More

FBU

Surrey County Council accused of breaking pledge to provide fully crewed fire engines whilst diverting council tax money to a private company – FBU alerts public to danger cuts in crews pose. More

The long-running industrial dispute in Essex fire and rescue service has been brought to an end following months of detailed negotiations. 
More

BECTU

BECTU is seeking more transparency from senior management at the Royal Opera House after talks this week to discuss proposals for major changes to staff pension arrangements. More

PFA

Jason Roberts has again refused to wear a T-shirt in support of anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out this weekend but gave his tentative support to the Professional Footballers Association’s six-point plan designed to eradicate the problem within the game. More

GENERAL

Scottish March for Jobs. From 17th to 20th October, young people marched through the cold and rain from Stirling to Glasgow, demanding real job creation, an end to attacks on benefits, pensions and wages, free education, public works and affordable housing. [email protected] More

Eight community hospitals, community health services and around 3,000 staff will not be taken out of the NHS into a social enterprise, nor will these services be open to tender. The area reserved for members of the public was packed for the Board meeting of NHS Gloucestershire on 15 October. After 18 months hard campaigning and taking the case to the High Court for a judicial review, Gloucestershire’s local anti-cuts groups got the decision which they had been told was “impossible”, “illegal” and, according to NHS manager-speak, “unwanted”. More

300 GPs end their link with Virgin Care over conflict of interest. Here’s how our FoI research helped break the story back in March. More

Last week, ‘False Economy’ launched a poll to find Britain’s fishiest outsourcing firm. The shortlist of 10 predatory privatisation companies includes: A4e, Atos, Capita Translation and Interpreting, Care UK, Circle, FirstGroup, G4S, McKinsey, Serco and Virgin Care. More

VICTIMISATION

Crossrail – Unite are in discussions with the company over the sacking of 28 workers. It is rumoured that all members bar a rep have been offered their jobs back and that it is costing millions as the tunnel project is now behind schedule.The union is asking people to protest by emailing the employers at [email protected].Donations to Joint Sites Committee’ send to: 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford CM1 4XA. More

Sign the petition at www.ucu.org.uk/christinevie and show your support for those being victimised for speaking their minds and supporting employee rights.

GMB is writing to all Birmingham city councillors requesting them to press Carillion Plc, bidding for the forthcoming Birmingham Energy Savers (BES) Scheme contract reportedly worth up to £1.5billion, to follow up their recent apology with compensation for the 224 workers they blacklisted. More

Scottish Affairs Select Committee & parliament

The Information Commissioner’s Office gave evidence at the Select Committee on Tuesday and under questioning from MPs admitted that they had only seized 5-10% of the documents held by the Consulting Association. This obviously opens up the spectre of many thousands more workers actually being blacklisted and the documents still being in circulation.

INTERNATIONAL

European General Strike The Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) called for a Day of Action and Solidarity, across Europe on 14 November. The ETUC strongly opposes the austerity measures that are plunging Europe into economic stagnation & Recession. These measures, far from restoring confidence, are only aggravating imbalances and creating injustices. This Day of Action and Solidarity will include strikes, demonstrations, rallies and other actions.

Estonia Month-old healthcare workers strike continues on rotational basis

Egypt Strike at Egypt DP World ends after management reinstate union activists. More

Indonesia 2 million strike! More

Ireland SIPTU workers to protest over health cuts. More

Palestine University staff call off strike in West Bank but PA workers will hold 2nd strike next week. More

Poland Polish miners went on 24-hour strike.

South African miners from the joint strike committees need your support! More

 

DIARY

27 Oct

Scotland NSSN conference – Glasgow Unison Offices, 84 Bell Street 11am -4pm. Speakers include Rob Williams NSSN chair & Janice Godrich PSC President.

South West NSSN public meeting ‘Defend NHS workers’ – 2noon to 4pm, at the Great Western Hotel, Station Road, Swindon just opposite entrance to the railway station.

North West NSSN ‘ Build for a general strike’ Town Hall Tavern (upstairs), 20 Tib Lane, Manchester City Centre M2 4JA. Speakers include Steve Acheson – Unite Construction NISC and Sparks rank & file and Alex Davidson – PCS North West vice-chair. 1-3pm

London demo against return of EDL to Walthamstow, meet Town Centre, 11am. The racist EDL threatened to march through the streets of Walthamstow on Saturday the 27th October. Although all marches and static protests have been banned, the threat from the far right is still present. More

Disabled people to again take to the streets of Newcastle over proposed cuts to benefits. More

London SERTUC Regional Council at Congress House, speaker Frances O’Grady TUC general secretary-elect 10am. All trade unionists welcome but registration essential: Darren Lewis [email protected]

31 Oct

Hands of our Bus passes! National Pensioners Convention rally and lobby of Parliament “Hands off the bus pass” Wednesday 31 October 11.30am protest Old Palace Yard, 1pm rally/lobby

Residents of Barnet campaign over ONE BARNET PROGRAMME, to hand over our public services to private for-profit companies. More

Birmingham Against The Cuts Demonstration against ATOS and the flawed WCA disability assessment process in Stoke. More

1 Nov

Brighton Stop the Cuts Organising Meeting 7:30pm King and Queen

3 Nov

Leeds city centre 12.30 Art gallery headrow, Leeds. West Yorkshire FBU stop the cuts.

5 Nov

Former Fords workers, spun-off to Visteon, are still fighting Ford for pension justice. Lobby of Bridgend Ford plant by Visteon ex-workers from Swansea: 1.30.

8 Nov

Gloucester NSSN Defend the NHS – Fight Consortium pay. 7.30pm Barton & Tredworth Community Centre, 199 Barton Street, Gloucester GL1 4HR.

17 Nov

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

Brighton Reclaim the Night. More

21 Nov

NUS Demo Educate, Employ, Empower Central London

24 Nov

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

Construction Safety Campaign National Meeting & AGM.  Affiliates and supporters of the CSC are invited to attend.  11.00am to 3.00pm. Venue: Doncaster Trades, 19 South Mall Second Floor, Frenchgate Centre, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN1 1LL

25 Nov

Scotland Commemoration in Glasgow of Red Clydesider John Maclean.  Assemble 1pm at Eastwood Cemetery for graveside oration, march MacLean’s Cairn at Shawbridge.

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Twitter NSSN_Anticuts

Facebook main group ‘National Shop Stewards Network’ & ‘Stop the cuts’

New website: www.shopstewards.net

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 07952 283 558

Post: NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9D

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