Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Keep the Post Public - London and Witney events planned

Postal workers will take their campaign against Royal Mail privatisation to parliament in December.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is organising a public rally at lunchtime on Wednesday December 15 at Central Hall, Storey's Gate, Westminster, London, SW1H 9NH.
The main speakers are Green MP Caroline Lucas and shawdow business secretary John Denham.
Other campaign events include a demonstration on Sunday January 9 in Witney, Oxfordshire - the constituency of prime minister David Cameron.
The union is urging people to support their Keep the Post Public campaign.
And pledging to link to blogs that oppose the sell-off of Royal Mail.
DECLARATION: I'm working for the CWU on a freelance basis.

Monday, 29 November 2010

BA cabin crew to ballot for more industrial action

BA cabin crew are to hold another ballot for industrial action - as predicted on The Workers United.
The latest twist in the year long dispute over working conditions was announced by Unite today.
The ballot will be concluded in early January.

Red Pepper reports: from the picket line at BA and from the deserted airport.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Pilots win union recognition at low cost airline

The British pilots' union has won the right to negotiate pay and conditions at the low cost airline Jet2.com.
As predicted on The Workers United the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) was awarded recognition without the need for a ballot.
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) - the quango that adjudicates recognition claims - had already established that more than 60 percent of the company's 247 "flight deck pilots" are members of the union.
At a recent CAC hearing the company argued that a ballot would clear the air given the "heat" there had been on both sides.
Jet2.com also said a vote would provide a democratic mandate for union recognition.
The CAC panel agreed with BALPA that the law - introduced by Labour in 2000 - gave a union with that level of membership the right to conduct collective bargaining for the pilots without a ballot.
There is a full report of the decision on the CAC website.
Congratulations to BALPA. This sort of victory against a modern and relatively new private sector employer should act as inspiration to the whole trade union movement.
But a public meeting in Manchester heard that BALPA members organised themselves into strike-breaking squads during the ongoing cabin crew dispute between Unite and British Airways.
The airline industry is cut-throat and the workers need unity to defend and improve working conditions.

Friday, 26 November 2010

GUEST POST: Union leader reports from inside a student occupation

A book lies on one of the tables inside the occupation at London South Bank University (LSBU).
It's about the 1968 student revolts in Europe and there is a film running on one of the students’ laptops about the Situationists.
So the historical forebears of the current wave of student occupations across the UK is clear, yet these students are making entirely modern demands – no Con-Dem cuts, of course; no increases in tuition fees, of course; but in this language centre turned occupation centre at LSBU the students have specific demands for their ProVice Chancellor Phil Cardew.
They want no repeat of the recent ban on students’ meetings, restore second language teaching and convene a public meeting with students to discuss how they and teaching staff can agree alternatives to cuts.
The students’ organisation at LSBU is impressive.
They are disciplined and welcoming, with a mature understanding of the issues - and it is heart-poundingly exciting for me to get the chance to visit the occupation and meet them.
But there is no hiding the feeling of exhaustion and isolation among some of them.
Located in the unglamorous Elephant and Castle in south London, the LSBU students do not have the high profile - or the recent previous experience – of other London occupations such as at University College London (UCL) or the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
However, that probably makes them even more determined. They urgently deserve support from trade unions and other campaign groups.
It is impossible not to recognise the inspiring role which all the occupations and the student organisers are playing in the fast-growing coalition of resistance against cuts and the austerity agenda.
More traditional trade unions have masses to learn from them.
We live in historic times.
By Pete Murray, President, National Union of Journalists
Defend LSBU! Defend our Education! student blog
EXTRA: Solidarity message to students from Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka.
It would be good to hear other examples of links between workers and students in the last few days. Unity is everything.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Lose a ballot and do two terms as a union general secretary

A man who lost the last postal ballot for the leadership of the GMB is about to start his second term as the union’s general secretary.
Paul Kenny was the only candidate when nominations closed on November 16.
As Wikepedia notes: “Kenny had been defeated heavily by Kevin Curran in the 2003 GMB general secretary election to replace John Edmonds. However, he was appointed acting general secretary on 24 March 2005 following Curran's resignation after alleged election rigging.
“In May 2006 he was elected un-opposed as GMB general secretary.”
The GMB, formerly the General Municipal Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union has 600,000 members.
Congratulations to Paul Kenny. But why do none of the GMB’s other 599,999 members fancy a crack at the top job?
I’d be interested to hear from GMBers in the comments box – anonymously if necessary.
I was a GMB member in 2003 and voted for Kevin Curran.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Unite 2010 general secretary election - McCluskey wins

Len McCluskey, 101,000 votes (42%)
Jerry Hicks, 53,000 votes (22%)
Les Bayliss, 47,000 votes (19%)
Gail Cartmail, 39,000 votes (16%)
Turnout 16 percent
A remarkable performance by Jerry Hicks - who has recorded this message.
A very poor vote for Les Bayliss considering the money spent.
Your comments welcome below.

Friday, 19 November 2010

GUEST POST: Bradford journalists join colleagues fighting the big publishing company Newsquest

Newsquest’s bosses in West Yorkshire are worried about falling sales of their papers.
Solution: sack most of your newsroom staff and get them to apply for their own jobs – but there will be fewer of them.
If it wasn’t so serious, you could die laughing. Here’s a company that has lost the plot.
Its journalists, including 29 National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members, have endured a pay freeze lasting more than 1,000 days and the closure of their pension scheme. Now they’re being thrown on the scrap heap.
Paul Davidson, chief executive of this profitable British arm of an American-owned company, sits in his Surrey ivory tower with his enhanced pension and £106,000 pay rise while his managers steer a course for oblivion.
Two editors, six reporting staff and six photographers, including the NUJ’s father of chapel, are at risk of losing their jobs, along with some editorial middle managers’ posts. When the dust settles, there will be two fewer jobs.
Keighley, a post-industrial ex-mill town with high unemployment and social problems, will have its editorial operation merged with Ilkley, a genteel, affluent former spa town.
To pretend this is going to help sales is to live in cloud cuckoo land.
Enough is enough. The Newsquest Bradford chapel today announced it was balloting for industrial action, joining our Newsquest colleagues throughout England.
There have been strikes at Southampton and Brighton. Chapels - workplace branches - in York, Darlington, Bolton, and Blackburn are also balloting.
We’re fighting not just for our journalist members but for our towns and communities, which will be left with pale imitations of newspapers.
By Bob Smith, Father of Chapel, Newsquest Bradford and Newsquest group chapel, NUJ
Strike in Brighton
Ballot in Brighton

Ballot in Blackburn
Ballot in Darlington
Strike in Southampton
LATEST: Newsquest cut jobs in Scotland today
EXTRA: NUJ vice president Donnacha Delong reports from the Brighton picket line

Campaign promised to defend historic link between UK trade unions and the Labour Party

Left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell has vowed to launch a "broad-based campaign" to defend his party's links with the UK trade unioon movement.
McDonnell's pledge follows a call from shadow chancellor Alan Johnson to bring in "one member one vote" elections in the Labour Party - which would deny a say to members of affiliated trades unions.
There is a detailed report in this morning's Morning Star newspaper.
McDonnell is the MP for Hayes and Harlington in west London and chair of the Labour Representation Committee.
The Morning Star quotes a spokeswoman for the Communications Workers Union (CWU) saying: "Trade unions created the Labour Party and it's important to maintain that link."

Thursday, 18 November 2010

BA union leader predicts fresh strikes in January

A leader of the British Airways cabin crew - who have been resisting changes to their working conditions for more than a year – is predicting they will be back on strike in January.
Duncan Holley, the secretary of the BA union branch, was speaking to The Workers United after addressing a meeting of the Manchester Industrial Relations Society.
He told an audience of more than 50 people – mainly students - the story of the dispute which has led to him and other union activists losing their jobs.
Cabin crew union reps recently rejected a deal that had been negotiated between BA and leaders of Unite.
Holley said after the meeting that if the airline’s bosses didn’t agree to four demands a fresh ballot for industrial action would start in about two weeks with strikes likely in January.
The demands are:
• Returning staff travel concessions to cabin crew who went on strike earlier this year with no loss of seniority.
• Reimbursing cabin crew who had wages deducted when they were sick on strike days.
• Taking the cases of union members who were disciplined because of the dispute to the government arbitration service ACAS.
• Withdrawing plans for an agreement which would allow BA management to impose new terms if negotiations lasted more than eight weeks.
During his address Holley had criticised some elements in Unite’s leadership for not supporting the cabin crew strongly enough - particularly those who were previously in the Amicus union.
He said later that he had voted for Len McCluskey in the election for Unite’s general secretary – which ends tomorrow (Friday) – and was confident that if McCluskey wins he would back the strikers and organise a ballot quickly.
Holley is the secretary of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) – a branch of the bigger union. He worked as a steward for 35 years before he was sacked in May.
The meeting was at the Manchester Metropolitan Univsersity business school.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Commended by the Queen then suspended by the bosees

Female firefighters in London are to lobby their bosses on Thursday in support of a colleague who has been suspended.
Sian Griffiths received the Queen's Fire Service Medal for distinguished service last week, and two days later was escorted off the premises at the London Fire Brigade's Southwark Training Centre.
She is accused of bullying and harrassment during the current dispute over shift patterns which has seen members of the Fire Brigades Union stage a series of strikes in the capital.
Griffiths was one of the first women firefighters recruited in London and currently chairs the FBU's Women's Action Committee in the city.
Female colleagues will be staging a lobby of the London Fire Authority on Thursday in her support.
More details from the Press Association.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

December 18 is international migrants day

Trades unionists across Europe are being urged to organise events on Saturday December 18 to mark international migrants day.
A Brussels-based campaigning group called December 18 is calling on the member states of the European Union to ratify the “international convention on the protection of rights of all migrant workers and members of their families”.
So far 43 Members of the European Parliament have signed a petition in favour of ratification.
International trades unionists who have backed the petition include John Monks, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.
The full text of the international convention on the rights of migrant workers

Saturday, 13 November 2010

BA cabin crew reps describe proposed deal as "surrender" and "disarmament"

Representatives of British Airways cabin crew have revealed their reasons for rejecting a draft agreement drawn up between the company and Unite the Union.
A ballot of the air stewards and stewardesses has been suspended because the union says it can no longer recommend acceptance of the deal.
The agreement could have settled a year long dispute over job cuts and changes to working practices – which lead to strikes in the summer
The committee of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA) – a sub-section of the union – said they could not agree to appendix 2 of the offer from BA.
A document posted on the web on November 10 gives detailed reasons.
It says Unite would sign away the right to represent members in some disciplinary cases and concludes: “What is the point of being in a union then?”
The document says of the proposed deal: “This is not merely terms of surrender but disarmament too. The union is effectively acknowledging that it will never again be in a position to threaten strike action.”
Tony Woodley, Unite joint general secretary, said on November 11 that union officials and cabin crew reps had, at an earlier meeting, “reluctantly” agreed to recommend acceptance.
But as cabin crew reps have now decided they cannot recommend the proposed deal the union leadership will not either.
The union negotiators for the proposed BA agreement were led by Woodley and Len McCluskey – one of the candidates in the election to find a new general secretary for Unite.
Both men were quoted in a October 20 statement about the offer.
In an article in the Daily Mirror on October 27 McCluskey boasted of “dealing with tough bosses like BA’s Willie Walsh”.
The other candidates are:
Les Bayliss who said of the BA dispute in October: "It has been disastrous. It has lowered our standing and reputation. We need to make sure it never happens again".
Gail Cartmail who, on November 11, quoted a supporter who worked in civil air transport saying: “Members in my sector became very disillusioned with the handling of the BA dispute by the current general secretaries.”
Jerry Hicks, who said on November 8: “If I were the general secretary I would not recommend this latest offer and if I worked for BA I would not vote for it.”
Unite members must return their general secretary ballot papers to the scrutineers in London by November 19.

Friday, 12 November 2010

NUT leads the call for co-ordinated action over pensions

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is trying to organise co-ordinated industrial action against attacks on teachers' pensions.
The union's executive decided this week to start campaigning for an industrial action ballot in the spring term.
And to talk to other unions about joing in.
Read the details on the blog of NUT national executive member Martin Powell-Davies.
The best way for unioins to win is to act together.
Everyone with pensions under attack - in the private and the public sector - should join the NUT's campaign.

Daily Star readers poll backs Millbank student rioters

Readers of the Daily Star have voted by 54 per cent to 46 in support of students who rioted at the end of a union-organised march on Wednesday.
The result of the readers poll is tucked at the foot of a story in today's paper about the unrest at the Conservative Party offices on Millbank, London.
The rioters were part of a 50,000 demonstration against education cuts and rising fees organised by the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Students (NUS). Daily Mirror columnist Paul Routledge has also expressed his support for the rioting students saying: "I stand four square with them".
Routledge denounces the "career-seeking" leaders of the NUS for condemning the disturbance.
The president and secretary of the UCU branch at Goldsmiths college, New Cross, south east London, posted a statement on their website supporting the rioters.
It said:"We also wish to condemn and distance ourselves from the divisive and, in our view, counterproductive statements issued by the UCU and NUS leadership concerning the occupation of the Conservative Party HQ."
The branch has called a meeting at 1pm on Monday November 15 at Goldsmiths to discuss further anti-cuts activity.

Train drivers in Wales hold strike ballot over pay

Drivers who work for Cardiff-based Arriva Trains Wales are to ballot for industrial action over pay and conditions.
The Rail, Maritime, and Transport union (RMT) says they are amongst the lowest paid train drivers in the country.
The RMT's press release

Bite-sized strikes over Macclesfield pensions freeze

Workers at the Macclesfield factory of the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca are on strike today (Friday) over changes to their pension scheme.
The dispute involves the GMB union which represents 250 of the company’s several thousand UK workers.
Today is the eighth day of strike action and involves three two-hour walkouts. The next strike is on Tuesday November 16 and will follow the same format.
GMB members are stopping work from 5am to 7am, 10am to noon, and 4pm to 6pm.
They are also refusing to work overtime.
The workers voted 70 percent for strike action in a ballot earlier this year.
They will be picketing the factory at the Hurdsfield Industrial Estate, Queens Avenue. Macclesfield.
Unions agreed in 2000 to close the company’s final salary pension scheme to new recruits.
Now the multinational is attempting to push members of the final salary scheme to choose between continuing making contributions, but with their pensionable salary frozen at current levels, or transfering to worse scheme.
The Cheshire plant is AstraZeneca’s second largest facility worldwide. Workers there produce the anti-cancer drug Zoladex.
Unite is also a recognised union at AstraZeneca.
Report from Macclesfield Express

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Care home workers in Nottinghamshire sign up for union recognition

A group of care home workers in Nottinghamshire have cleared the first hurdle of a campaign to have their pay and conditions negotiated by the GMB union.
Under the union recognition laws introduced by Labour in 2000 the GMB had to prove it was likely to win the support of more than half the staff.
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) - the quango responsible - said the test had been passed in the union's bid to organise staff at the Loxley Lodge Care Home, School Street, Kirkby in Ashfield.
The union submitted evidence that it had eight members out of the 20 workers the employer said were in the proposed bargaining unit. And 12 people signed a petition in support of being represented by the GMB.
The workers who would be represented are hourly-paid care workers and domestics.
The employer - Leyton Healthcare - initially claimed to the CAC that some of the staff who had supported the union "did not realise what they had signed up for".
Now the application for recognition has been accepted by the CAC there will be an opportunity for the union and the employer to conclude a voluntary agreement.
If they cannot the CAC panel will convene again to adjudicate on any disagreements.
A detailed report is on the CAC website.
The GMB - formerly the General, Municiple, Boilermakers and Allied Trade Union - is to be applauded for its efforts to organise vulnerable and low paid workers.
As reported on The Workers United last month the GMB is also campaigning for recognition at a small plant hire firm in south Wales.
It is vital that - while the Labour movement is concentrating on defending jobs and services from cuts - unions keep putting resources into offensive work.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Union-organised march ends with riot in Conservative offices

More than 30 people were arrested after a big demonstration against education cuts and increased tuition fees ended in the occupation of the ruling Conservative Party's headquarters.
Windows were smashed, fire extinguishers were set off, and graffiti daubed on the walls of 30 Millbank in London.
Police were overwhelmed by the crowd outside the building.
The march had been organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and Colleges Union (UCU).
Sally Hunt, general secretary of UCU, told various papers: "The actions of a minority should not distract from today's message. The overwhelming majority of staff and students on the march came here to to send a clear and peaceful message to the politicians. The actions of a minority, out of 50,000 people, is regrettable."
On Tuesday evening in comments on The Workers United John Tymon called for the occupation of public buildings. Twelve hours later it was happening! Where next?
Maybe other Conservative offices around the UK could be occupied. Or the roads outside them blocked by protestors.

Massive vote for strike action in Sussex

Journalists in Brighton are set to join their Southampton colleagues on strike over pay.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at the Newsquest company in Sussex have voted 91 percent for strike action, and 95 percent for action short of a strike in a secret ballot with a 82 percent turnout.
The papers involved include the daily Brighton Argus.
Journalists at Newsquest Hampshire have been on strike for two days as reported on The Workers United.
Tom Davies, an NUJ national executive member for London, visted the Southampton strikers and said: "Newsquest workers have had to endure pay freezes or below-inflation pay settlements for far too long now, and they are absolutely right to take action.
"A company whose senior executives are grotesquely over-rewarded and whose journalists are callously undervalued does the cause of local journalism no good at all.
"The mood on the picket line and in the city-centre where members were leafleting the public was good-humoured, friendly and determined. They deserve our full backing."
The American owned Newsquest company makes good profits but imposed a pay freeze nearly three years ago.
The Sussex workers are also concerned about the transfer of jobs to another centre.

Red Pepper magazine

Lecturers facing job cuts in Northern Ireland

A lecturers' union fears thirty jobs are about to be axed at a college in Northern Ireland.
Management at the North West Regional College warned in September that public spending cuts would lead to redundancies.
David Limb of the University and College Union (UCU), told the Derry Journal: "There is going to be a lot of courses that are going to suffer."
One union representative said: "These cuts amount to a loss in teaching time of 20,000 hours."
The Journal says the cuts will be confirmed by the end of the month.
The college has campuses in Derry, Limavady, and Strabane.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

FBU and RMT walk away from calls for an early demonstration against the cuts

Two UK unions with militant reputations have abandoned plans to organise a national demonstration before Christmas to oppose government spending cuts.
As reported on The Workers United last week members of the eight-member Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG) were considering calling the protest against the wishes of the leaders of the wider labour movement.
But since then two key members of the group - the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Rail, Maritime, and Transport union (RMT) - have told colleagues that they are no longer in favour of holding an early demonstration. They are believed to fear a poor turnout because of the short notice.
When the Trades Union Congress (TUC) general council met in October it decided not to organise a national protest until next March.
In response the executive of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), meeting on October 26 decided to press on with plans for a national demo - expecting support from other unions in the TUCG.
The PCS has nearly three times as many members as the RMT and FBU put together.
And it would almost certainly have support from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) - as general secretary Jeremy Dear is on record supporting the early demo.
But the chances of a national demo before Christmas now seem very remote.
The TUC is the umbrella organisation for almost all unions in Britain.
The TUCG is made up of eight TUC affilaites who have agreed to work on joint campaigns.
At public meetings all over the country people are asking "why can't we do a France" and organise massive civil disobediance against attacks on jobs and public services. The answer is a lack of confidence on behalf of union leaders and members. If the cuts are to be watered down - never mind defeated - the Labour movement must stop choking.

Low-paid journalists take on multi-national profits machine

Journalists employed in Hampshire by the US-owned Newsquest group are on strike over a thousand day pay freeze.
Senior journalists on the Southampton Echo and other titles earn less than £22,000 and have to live in an expensive area between London and the south coast of England.
Trainees earn much less.
Last year - while journalists' pay was frozen -Newsquest's highest paid director trousered a rise of more than twenty percent.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) are on strike today and tomorrow and for two days next week.
Send messages of support to dailyechochapel@yahoo.co.uk .
A ballot for action over pay by Newsquest journalists in Sussex concludes tomorrow.
Newsquest, Britain’s second biggest regional newspaper publisher, is an arm of the big American company Gannett.
Gracia Martore, Gannett’s chief financial officer, said on Friday October 15 2010: "Let me once and for all dispel the myth that Newsquest doesn't make money. Newsquest makes a lot of money.”
Full story and picture
Journalists at The Independent are also balloting for action as reported on The Workers United.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Essential reading for trades unionists fighting the cuts

Trades unionists are at the forefront of campaigns against the UK Conservative government's massive cuts.
Union leaders and activists are speaking at public meetings, reps are briefing members, and trades unionists are being urged to take the message to their friends, neighbours, and family.
Information is power - so here is The Workers United guide to the some of the best crib sheets on the web.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has produced a short pamphlet called
"There is an alternative: The case against cuts in public spending."
It deals with subjects like economic growth, privatisation, and unpaid tax.
Find a web version and a downloadable PDF here.
Red Pepper magazine has an article dealing with the myths around the defecit - like the depth of the crisis and the allegedly-bloated public sector.
Read it here.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has a calculator that allows individuals to work out how they will be affected by the cuts. Find it here.

Feel free to recommend other sites - or alternative strategies - in the comments box below.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

FA cup heroes are supporting strikers off the pitch

FA Cup giant killers FC United are refusing to take part in the BBC's flagship Football Focus show today in solidarity with striking BBC journalists.
The non-league club was formed by disgruntled Manchester United fans in protest at the running of the Old Trafford outfit.
FC United won three-two at their much higher ranked neighbours Rochdale last night.
Club general manager Andy Walsh, speaking exclusively to The Workers United, said: "I told Football Focus producer David Garrido that we would not be taking part in solidarity with the strike.
"I've told everyone at the club not to take part.
"I'm a trades unionist and it is important that people take a stand.
"We spoke to some BBC reporters last night because of a misunderstanding."
The Workers United understands strike-breaking BBC staff told FC United officials that the dispute only involved newsroom journalists and didn't cover sport.
That is not true. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has 4,100 members at the BBC - in all departments - who are striking over a pension scheme that covers all workers.
FC United boss Walsh is a former member of the national executive of the Banking, Insurance, and Finance Union - now part of Unite.
DECLARATION: I am a member of the NUJ and a former BBC sports journalist. I'm not in the pension scheme. I support Manchester City.

Report from BBC world service picket line

Red Pepper magazine

BBC journalists' strike - picture special

Picket lines in London by Jess Hurd
Picket line in Birmingham by Stalingrad O'Neill
Around the country from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ)

Report from world service picket line

Friday, 5 November 2010

Report from the BBC world service picket line

Striking BBC world service journalists were celebrating taking all the station's news programmes off air today.
While strike-breakers were able to compile short bulletins the longer Radio 4 style news shows were all scrapped and replaced with pre-recorded repeats.
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have walked out for 48 hours over changes to their pension scheme which will see some people have their pay-out cut be a quarter.
At lunchtime around 70 journalists and their supporters rallied on the steps of the world service's Bush House headquarters in London.
They heard speeches from NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear, world service newsroom rep Mike Workman, and George Binette bringing solidarity from the Camden branch of the local government union UNISON.
Pickets were in good spirits and pleased with the public reaction to their dispute.
Although the BBC pension scheme covers all the workers only the journalists are on strike.
Members of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph, and Theatre Union (BECTU), the BBC electricians' union Unite, the Musicians' Union, and the actors' union Equity voted to accept the new scheme after some changes were won by the threat of industrial action.
However - as reported exclusively on The Workers United - some BECTU activists have swapped to the NUJ to support the strike.
In Newcastle tweets from the picket line reported that a significant number of BECTU members have refused to cross. The same story was coming from Southampton and Cornwall.
Across the UK the NUJ was getting support from members of other unions - and comedians Alan Davies and Robin Ince tweeted that they wouldn't be crossing picket lines to appear on BBC programmes.
Belinda Affat, a Unite rep at The Guardian print centre, visited the world service picket line and said: "It was very uplifting to talk to the strikers. I would encourage other trades unionists to visit their local BBC centre and offer support."
Picket lines and messages of support
Pictures and updates from the NUJ

BBC strikers would welcome visits and messages of support

Members of the National Union of Journalists are on strike over massive cuts to their pensions.
Anyone who wants to support the BBC strike or talk to NUJ members for more information about the dispute can go to picket lines across the UK.
There will be pickets at:
London – Television Centre at White City, Bush House on Aldwych and Millbank, next to parliament.
BBC Scotland offices Glasgow, Edinburgh, Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeen and Inverness. BBC Cardiff, BBC Bristol, BBC Belfast. BBC Manchester, BBC Merseyside, BBC Lancashire in Blackburn, BBC Tunbridge Wells, BBC Southampton, BBC Nottingham, BBC Leeds, BBC Hull, BBC Newcastle, BBC Birmingham, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, BBC Lincolnshire, BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC Monitoring at Caversham, BBC Jersey, BBC Stoke, BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Spotlight in Exeter, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Look East, BBC Radio Norfolk and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
NUJ members striking outside the UK are expected to picket in Kabul, Washington, Paris, Rome, Los Angeles and Istanbul.
NUJ pictures and updates
There are rallies on pickets lines today in London and Glasgow.
TV Centre, Wood Lane, at noon.
BBC Scotland, Pacific Quay, Glasgow at 11.30am.
BBC World Service, Bush House, Aldwych, London at 1.30pm.
Send messages of support to campaigns@nuj.org.uk

Feel free to add details of any other rallies and specific times and addresses of pickets in the comments box.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

National and local journalists driven to action over pay freezes and job cuts

Members of the National Union of Journalists are planning industrial action at newspapers across the South of England as anger boils over in the face of pay freezes and job cuts.
Journalists at The Independent and Independent on Sunday voted by 105 votes to one at a chapel (workplace branch) meeting in London yesterday to organise a ballot for indistrial action over a three year pay freeze and increased workloads.
NUJ members at Newsquest Southampton have called two 48-hour strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday November 9 and 10, and again on Tuesday and Wednesday November 16 and 17.
The dispute is over the continuing pay freeze at Newsquest.
On the first day the of action, the strikers will be protesting outside a Press Complaints Commission (PCC) open day event at Southampton Art Gallery where their editor is a guest speaker.
Journalists at Newsquest titles in Sussex - including the Brighton Argus - are also balloting for industrial action as reported on The Workers United.
Tomorrow more than 4,000 BBC journalists start a series of strikes over cuts to their pensions.
It is vital that amid all the talk of the public sector trade unions organise and fight at penny pinching private sector companies.
These newspaper journalists are on the front line and other trade unionists can find out how to support them at the union's website.

Support needed for jailed female Colombian trades unionists

The campaigning organisation Justice for Colombia is calling for urgent action to free two female trades unionists who have been in jail without trial for well over a year in the Latin American state.
There are hundreds of political prisoners in Columbia but five are being highlighted in a campaign of letter writing to the UK foreign secretary,
They include trades unionists Rosalba Gaviria and Liliany Obando.
More details and an e-card to send to William Hague

Red Pepper magazine on Latin America

Seafarers to protest outside Tesco on the Isle of Man

A shipping union has accused Tesco and Shoprite of undermining Isle of Man ferry services by switching their freight to a company using low-paid eastern European seafarers.
Nautilus International, a union for maritime professionmals in the UK and Netherlands, has written to the two big retailers urging them to reverse their decision.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company uses the freight business to provide a subsided passenger route to the Island .
They are now facing competition from Estonian-flagged vessels run by a firm called Mezeron.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said:"It is wholly unjustifiable that competition is introduced on the basis of ‘social dumping’ and undermining an established company that has a demonstrable commitment to decent working conditions and the employment and training of Manx and British seafarers."
RMT, Nautilus and Unite members will be handing out leaflets outside Tesco at Douglas on the Isle of Man on Saturday November 6.
Read the full Nautilus press release.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Union apologises for saying photographer was involved in "terrorist activity"

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has been forced to apologise for mistakenly suggesting one its own members had been involved in "terrorist activity".
A document sent to the Home Office and published on the union's website said that photogrepher Marc Vallee was prevented from covering a protest at the Greek embassy in London in 2008 "for reasons of terrorist activity".
The error was in a submission about how the Terrorism Act 2000 has been misused against journalists.
A report of the original incident and the full apology to Vallee are on the NUJ's website.
Ironically - as Vallee points out on his blog - he is one of the founders of the I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist campaign which defends the right to take pictures in public places.

Firefighter who was run over by strike-breakers to speak at London meeting

A picket who was run over by a strike-breaking fire engine earlier this week will speak at a public meeting in London on Thursday (November 4).
Ian Leahair, from the national executive of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), was hit on Monday evening - as reported on The Workers United.
He was already scheduled to speak on Thursday with Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), at an event called by the Southwark Save Our Services campaign.
And Leahair has told organisers he is “sore and tender” but will be there.
Becky Branford, an NUJ rep at the BBC who lives in Southwark, will also be speaking
The meeting is at the Salvation Army Hall, Princess Street, Elephant and Castle, SE1 6HH, at 7pm on Thursday November 4.
On Friday November 5 London firefighters will strike over changes to shift hours and BBC journalists will strike over pension cuts.

The Workers United exclusive: Activists swap unions to join BBC pension strike

Pilots union close to winning recognition at Jet2.com airline

The pilots union will today (November 3) try to persuade a hearing in London that it should be granted the right to represent workers at Jet2.com - without the need for a ballot.
The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is following the UK’s statutory procedure for union recognition introduced by Labour in 2000.
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) – the quango responsible – has already established that 62 percent of the workers in the proposed bargaining unit are members of the association.
BALPA wants to negotiate pay and conditions for 247 “flight deck pilots” of whom 174 are union members.
Jet2.com is a low cost airline with bases at Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast, Leeds/Bradford, Manchester, East Midlands, Blackpool and Exeter airports. It employs more than 1.000 people.
Today’s hearing will decide if BALPA can be granted recognition without a ballot.
Under the law a union needs a membership level of 50 percent plus one person to secure recognition – but employers are allowed to argue for a ballot.
Firms that are hostile to unions hope they can pressurise their employees into voting "no" during the balloting period.
But it would be unusual for the CAC to demand a ballot when a union has more than 60 percent membership.
Today’s hearing is at 10.30am in the Hilton London Euston Hotel, Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0HT. It is open to the public.
The CAC website has a detailed report of the acceptance decision and the bargaining unit decision for BALPA’s application for recognition at Jet2.com.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Activists swap unions to join the BBC pensions strike

Four leading BECTU activists at the BBC have quit the general broadcasting union and applied to join the National Union of Journalists – so they can take part in this week’s strike over pensions.
The four – until today members of the BECTU audio and music branch committee – explained their decision to colleagues across the corporation in a 1,500 word email.
David Gallagher, who was joint branch secretary, Joti Brar, Tim Clarke, and Ben Toone have jumped ship because BECTU – the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematgraph, and Theatre, Union – are not taking part in the pensions strike after members voted to accept the deal.
Their email says: “The pensions issue is the most shocking and unreasonable assault ever made by BBC management on their staff.”
Because: “The current proposals mean a huge and unacceptable cut to the pensions of existing scheme members, and the imposition of inadequate stock market-dependent pensions for all future staff.”
The message to BECTU members says: “The BECTU leadership have effectively thrown in the towel and seem happy to let BBC management get away with their heist.”
It goes on: “Without explictly campaigning for members to vote 'yes', they did everything in their power to push members in that direction.”
The four say: “The Bridlington agreement (by which trade unions agree not to poach each others' members) means we can't encourage you to leave one union and join another. But we can at least explain the reasons why we're doing so.”
The former BECTU committee members have invited their colleagues to attend “drop-in advice sessions” this week at two London BBC buildings – Bush House and Henry Wood House.
They apologise to any BECTU members who feel let down by their decision but say: "The anti-trade union laws make it very hard for BECTU members to support striking NUJ members. The only way we can make a real difference is by joining the NUJ and taking full part in their industrial action. "
Both unions agreed to ballot members on the latest BBC pension proposals without a recommendation.
But - as first reported on The Workers United - leading NUJ members supported a rank-and-file campaign for a no vote.
The NUJ strike is on Friday and Saturday.

Unite 2010 general secretary election: red scare, organisation, insults, and anti-capitalism

The Unite general secretary ballot has been running for more than a week.
The advice on the union website says any members who have not received a voting paper by Monday November 8 should contact Electoral Reform Services – the independent company organising the poll.
Ballot papers must be returned by Friday November 19.
The giant union – with well over a million members - was formed by a merger of two organisations, Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union (T and G).
Candidate Les Bayliss, who came from Amicus, is accusing his rival Len McCluskey of trying to turn Unite into a “mirror image” of the T and G.
Bayliss’s website quotes the United Left faction – which supports McCluskey – to back up his case.
In an item posted yesterday Bayliss says: “Their plans are to drastically reduce the number of industrial sectors in the union and thereby concentrate power in the hands of the big battalions.
“Furthermore, they will dismantle the political structure and hand it over to the ultra left.”
In a post dated October 29 Bayliss complains that Unite members have been “receiving unsolicited letters, e-mails, text messages and phone calls” from other candidates.
There is no question that the Bayliss campaign has been sending unsolicited emails. They have been forwarded to The Workers United and reported here and here.
Gail Cartmail’s blog carries a four minute interview with the candidate which was posted on October 31.
Cartmail says Unite should have better organisation in more workplaces to protect people from attacks on wages and conditions.
She says of government policy: “Tax the rich so that we can invest in our industry – public and private sectors.”
Cartmail’s blog is regularly updated with messages from supporters. Today they are Mark Wood, a member of the Unite executive committee who works in local government; and Norman Chislett, secretary of the Ringwood branch in Hampshire ,
Jerry Hicks is the only candidate who is not already an assistant general secretary of Unite.
His rank-and-file campaign is not so well resourced and his website has not been updated since October 24.
Hicks is scheduled to speak on Saturday November 6 at 11am at an event called Anti-Capitalism 2010 at University College London (UCL), Gower St, WC1E 6BT.
According to the organiser's website he will “ speak on the industrial offensive of the ConDem coalition on working class people".
The most recent “news” update on candidate McCluskey’s website is a transcript of a letter from Unite’s joint general secretary Tony Woodley to The Guardian newspaper about the union’s long running dispute with British Airways.
Woodley criticises comments by Bayliss on the dispute saying: “I make allowances for the fact that Les has never led industrial negotiations as a union official, and would certainly be unfamiliar with a dispute of this magnitude and complexity, but for him to argue that the dispute is 'lost’ and has ‘lowered our standing and reputation’ is, to put it mildly, an unhelpful intervention from an official of a union which is in the midst of trying to resolve a difficult industrial dispute.”

Who are you supporting? Feel free to use the comments box to discuss the election.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Manager arrested as three striking firefighters run over on picket lines

Three picketing London firefighters have needed hospital treatment today (Monday) after being run over by vehicles driven by strike breakers.
The most serious incident was in Croydon, south London, where a firefighter had to be taken to hospital by helicopter after being hit by a car driven by a station manager.
The driver was arrested and the picket - named by the Croyon Guardian as Tamer Ozdemir - is believed to have suffered a broken pelvis.
Later there was an incident in Southwark when Fire Brigades Union national executive member for London, Ian Leahair was hit by a strike-breaking fire engine returning to its base.
Earlier on there had been 150 striking firefighters and their supporters outside the yard where strike-breaking fire engines are based.
FBU leaders agreed with police that a small group of pickets - including Leahair - would talk to strike breakers while the crowd bayed from across the street.
Speaking on ITV London news tonight FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said he also knew of a third striker who had been injured and needed hospital treatment.
The firefighters are striking over changes to their shift patterns.
VIDEO: Ian Leahair is hit by a fire engine.

UK government considers making it easier for bosses to sack people

The coalition government's business minister confirmed on The Daily Politics in the last few minutes that they are considering making it harder for dismissed workers to go to employment tribunals.
The City Am newspaper has reported that the government wants to make people wait for two years before they can be unfairly dismissed.
Employment law could be relaxed
Business minister Mark Prisk MP confirmed it was being considered while speaking on BBC2.
The two year qualifying period was the law in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.
As a union organiser I represented many people who were sacked for absolutely no reason in the first year of their employment.
This could now be able happen for two years.
Employers will use this as an excuse to sack people and replace them with cheaper, less experienced workers.
It is a recipe for exploitation and fear in the workplace.
There should be no qualifying period.
People should have the right to be treated fairly from their first day in work.

New bakers' president wins support of just 2.9 percent of the members

Full time officer Ian Hodson has been elected president of the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) - despite winning the support of less than three percent of the union's members.
Hodson beat ten other candidates in a first past the post election.
21,923 ballot papers were distributed and 3,392 votes cast.
Hodson received 645 votes, 14 more than his nearest rival Tony Richardson. The result was confirmed after a re-count.
The new president will take over from Ronnie Draper was elected general secretary in August.
In the general secretary ballot to replace Joe Marino - who had held the job for 31 years - Richardson finished second and Hodson third. In that poll both received more than 800 votes.
New president Hodson was elected a full time official in 2002 after 14 years working for Burtons Foods on the shop floor, and holding the union positions of shop steward, health and safety rep, branch chair and branch secretary.
Ian Hodson's election statement
The full results of both elections are on the BFAWU website.
The election campaign was reported on The Workers United.

Tony Woodley's anti cuts tour hits the north

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley is on a speaking tour to encourage the union's members to campaign against the UK government's cuts.
There are four dates left:
Tuesday November 2, at 7pm in the Hallmark Hotel, Midland Road, Derby, DE1 2SQ.
Wednesday November 3, at 7pm in Civic Hall, Millennium Square, Leeds, LS1 1UR.
Thursday November 4, at 7pm in the Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead, NE8 1HH.
Woodley will also be visiting Scotland next week but the evenue has not been announced.
Here's the Unite press release announcing the tour.
The union had a successful meeting in central London to bring together activists to discuss the cuts - as reported on The Workers United.
An election to replace Woodley at the top of Unite is under way.

Red Pepper magazine on Countering The Cuts Myths