resist cuts to jobs, services and benefits

28 10 2010

A bulletin distributed outside Sheffield Council buildings this morning

Cameron, Osborne and their chum Clegg have declared war on working class people. They are attacking welfare and public sector jobs: 490,000 public jobs will go. The £81 billion cuts are not a neutral economic necessity.   They have been denounced by many leading economists as they risk slowing growth, reducing government income, and therefore making the debt even harder to pay off.  The real agenda?  Thatcher’s old tune: less for the working class, more for the powerful.

the cuts coalition

It is a lie to say that we are standing on the brink of economic ruin or that the money has run out. It is spin to claim that we are ‘all in this together’. Read the rest of this entry »





fire brigade: will london burn?

4 10 2010

The inside story of what is really happening in the London Fire Brigade, as told to The Commune.

16th September 2010 and the London left descend on the London Fire Brigade Headquarters to join the mass lobby of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) monthly meeting called by Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Unison LFEPA Branch.

the FBU are perceived as militant, but we need to break down the division between 'frontline' and 'support' staff

The headlines of the ’left’ press only tell part of the story: ‘FBU up the ante in contract dispute’ (Morning Star 17th September), ‘London Firefighters ready to strike against dismissal threat’ (Newsline 18th September), ‘Brutal bosses? Time to fight back!’ (The Socialist 23rd-29th September) and ‘The ballot is on to save fire jobs’ (Socialist Worker 25th September). Read the rest of this entry »





unison stirred by goverment cuts onslaught

3 10 2010

by Matt Mansfield

The national leadership of Unison held an anti-cuts Conference in a hotel in central Glasgow on 4th September, which was billed as one of a number of similar events in different areas of the country. In many ways this event shows the fear of having large sections of its organisation smashed that haunts the Unison leadership: this fear is driving the union to seek out allies in the fight against the cuts.

The first thing of note was the publicity: it was circulated on left email lists and I thought it was a basic event held by Glasgow City Unison branch, which is effectively run by the Socialist Party in these parts. However, as far as I know it did not appear on the boards/network for Glasgow City Unison members, nor was there anything through my own Unison branch although this tends to be pretty insular in nature. Read the rest of this entry »





is unison ready to fight the cuts?

29 08 2010

A UNISON branch official looks at the attacks on the left within the union at a time when public sector workers face major cuts

This summer Dave Prentis won his bid to become General Secretary of UNISON for the third time with 67.2% of the vote (based on a very poor 14% turn out). As a speaker at conference Dave Prentis often talks left.

However, despite his fine words, he has been at the helm during a period when the left have suffered serious attacks from the leadership. Several very well known and respected left wingers in UNISON have faced harassment and even expulsion on trumped up and unfounded charges. Some of these instances are well known amongst the wider labour movement. Read the rest of this entry »





UCL: reinstate juan carlos, pay the living wage!

30 03 2010

On Friday 26th March campus staff, students and activists demonstrated at University College London in solidarity with the cleaners there. The protest demanded a living wage (£7.60 an hour) for the cleaners, and the reinstatement of Juan Carlos Piedra, sacked by cowboy contractor Office and General on account of his trade union organising.

In a lively demonstration, after leafleting in the UCL Quad we made repeated – and ultimately successful – efforts to enter the building in spite of the security guards. We then chanted at delegates at an international academic conference on migration, demanding that the university support migrant workers’ rights rather than just pontificate about migration. Read the rest of this entry »





public sector unions face turbulent times

21 02 2010

by David Huckerby

According to research by the Independent newspaper, 20,000 council workers throughout England, Scotland and Wales face redundancy as forward planning for drastic government cuts take effect. Whatever the outcome of the general election the public sector will face austerity job cuts, cuts in services and attacks on terms and conditions.

Sheffield Council is one of local authorities identified where jobs are threatened. The director of Sheffield Homes, the council’s housing service has raised the spectre of at least forty job cuts in the financial year 2010/11 with more to follow. Over two hundred jobs have been lost in housing in the last few years. A recruitment freeze has been in place for some time. The council is the largest employer in the city so local unemployment is rising. Read the rest of this entry »





strike victory in north devon nhs

12 02 2010

by Mark Harper

The strike conducted at North Devon District Hospital on  5th-6th January has resulted in a victory for the UNISON members there.

Amid plans for further strike action, the North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and private contractor, Sodexo eventually gave in to our demands for NHS terms and conditions for the outsourced porters, cleaners and catering staff. This has resulted in 7 days extra annual leave, sick pay, NHS pay levels with increments, increased Maternity pay and back pay worth up to £3,600 for each member of staff. Though most staff will only move to band 1 of the pay structure which is still too low, the improvement is a significant step forward. Read the rest of this entry »





north devon hospital strike

10 01 2010

by a UNISON branch official
(personal capacity)

On 5th-6th January over 200 UNISON low paid porters, domestics and catering staff working for Sodexo took strike action.  This dispute arose after Sodexo and the North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, which contracts Sodexo to provide hotel services, refused to honour a government agreement aimed at achieving NHS terms and conditions for these staff. In 2005 the Labour government had signed this agreement with NHS employers, private contractors and trade unions with the intention of bringing the two tier workforce within the NHS to an end by October 2006. NHS trusts were given a total of £75 million to pass on to private contractor “soft facility” staff working in hospitals. Read the rest of this entry »





lessons of the tower hamlets esol strike

8 10 2009

Two workers who took part in the recent strike over cuts to teaching roles and student places in English for Speakers of Other Languages and other subjects spoke to The Commune about the lessons of the dispute.

esolpicket

Tell us about what unions workers are in, their organising capacity, and of their previous relationship with management

All teachers are in the University and College Union. Support staff/admin staff are mainly in Unison or no union. UCU has always been strong in the college and in the two years before the strike successfully campaigned to make 60 hourly paid teachers into permanent employees with higher pay and more rights. UCU also led an unofficial walkout earlier in the year to support our longstanding caretaker who was sacked. Read the rest of this entry »





tower hamlets college: strike solid!

18 09 2009

by Joe Thorne

On Wednesday, at the end of the third week of the strike, a mass meeting of Tower Hamlets College UCU members voted overwhelmingly to continue the strike: 156 for continuing action, 14 abstentions, no votes against.

The struggle suffered a setback on Monday when it emerged that the ballot for strike action of UNISON members (i.e. of admin workers at the College) failed 13 to 12.  Apparently, however, a mass meeting of UNISON members last week voted 60 strong for strike action, with 3 abstentions.  Some UNISON members did not receive a ballot paper (often the case in strikes – members not receiving ballots need to be chased up, and replacements must be arranged).  But, in part, the result is also a reflection of an the atomising procedure that is the secret ballot: which is established in law specifically because it makes it harder to organise collective action.

However, the strike remains strong.  Picket lines are always welcoming, receptive, and worth a visit.  (Locations and other ideas for how you can help on our previous report.)  The strike fund stands at an impressive £25,000, though with 250 striker in their fourth week without work to support, it does need to be augmented.  The strike has a number of positive features which the whole movement can learn from: Read the rest of this entry »





report: latin american workers’ association conference

22 08 2009

60 Latin American workers meet to elect a new committee for the Association.

The general assembly of the Latin American Workers’ Association began at 4:30pm on Saturday 15th August, at SOAS university.

Derek Wall, national representative of the Green Party, opened the event before the reading of messages of support from various parts of the trade union movement, such as the Unite hotels and restaurants branch and the RMT transport union. This was followed by a detailed presentation of the Association’s activities in terms of education, voluntary work and campaigns in defence of Latin American workers. Read the rest of this entry »





exposed: soas unison, rmt and unite cleaner activists in the pay of the bosses

19 08 2009

by Chris Kane

According to shocking information obtained by The Commune, union activists, with cleaning companies organised with UNISON (SOAS), RMT (LUL) and UNITE (Mitie and Lancaster) – are in the pay of the bosses!

This is of course a pack of lies, nevertheless it is a disgusting lie being officially circulated, in writing by a senior full-time official of UNITE, Jose Vallejo Villa un-elected organiser responsible for cleaners. Read the rest of this entry »





soas occupation challenges immigration raid with mixed results

29 06 2009

An article by activists involved in the recent SOAS occupation covering the story of the dispute and the lessons learnt from its results

Even for those well used to the low standards and dirty tricks of private contractor ISS and the UK Border Agency (UKBA), the brutal immigration raid on cleaners at the School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London last month came as a shock. It sparked a protest movement and occupation which – for 48 hours at least – constituted a significant show of strength against the university management and promised to win real concessions from those directly involved in the shameful intimidation of workers who – the timing was not coincidental – had only recently won union recognition and the London living wage.

That SOAS Director Paul Webley eventually managed to get his office, the Directorate and two conference rooms back without having made any real concessions proved a disappointment for many involved in the action. As activists continue to assess ‘what went wrong’, and rue an opportunity missed, it remains to be seen whether future gains made by the ongoing campaign will vindicate the strategy of those who wanted to end the occupation early. Read the rest of this entry »





SOAS occupation ends with mixed results

19 06 2009

by Taimour Lay

The occupation at SOAS ended disappointingly on Wednesday with a victory rally but few real gains. A statement released in the afternoon admitted that the ‘concessions’ made by Director Paul Webley and the senior management were ultimately more ‘symbolic’ than real. For many of those involved throughout what was often an inspiring protest against last Friday’s despicable immigration raid – an attack which SOAS facilitated and still refuses to apologise for – the question remains: Why did the occupiers walk out when still in a position of strength?

Some members of the occupation were shocked to read the ‘victory post’ that went up on the FreeSOAScleaners blog on Wednesday afternoon, and have collectively released a counter-statement today (posted on Indymedia) to temper the triumphalism. It calls not only for the continuation and renewal of the campaign against ISS, union-busting and collaboration with the Border police, but stresses that lessons must be learned from the occupation after so much promise and negotiating strength on Monday evening was allowed to dissipate in the rush for a deal. Read the rest of this entry »








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