Monday, 26 March 2012

Labour and union funding - an explanation

In the early 1900s the trade unions set up the Labour Representation Committee to do what it says on the tin - represent workers in the political arena.
That morphed into the Labour Party.
Without rich supporters the unions started a small levy on their thousands of members to fund their party.
That arrangement is still in place.
Hundreds of thousands of members of affiliated unions still pay what is called the 'political levy'.
For that they get a type of associated membership which gives them a vote in the electoral college that chooses the Labour Party leader and deputy leader.
It's not one big donation - its lot's of tiny membership fees. Union members can opt out of paying.
It's transparent and built into the party's and the unions' democratically decided rules.

It is nothing like the huge donations from super-rich individuals, stitched-up in secret meetings and coming from offshore tax havens, that fund the Conservative Party.

Every time someone repeats Tory spin about Labour and union funding we must point them to these facts.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

It's time for everyone to file a pension grievance

As the public sector pension dispute starts to unravel there is one highly effective tactic that hasn't yet been tried.
Everyone who is facing a change to their pension should take out an individual grievance.
It would cause chaos with employers having to organise millions of hearings - and millions of appeals.
Now is the perfect time as some changes are due to be imposed from April 1.
Changes to individual contracts should only happen after consultation. This has clearly not happened.
DON'T take out collective grievances - that's too easy for managers to deal with.
This is a tried and trusted tactic.
When I was National Union of Journalists' northern organiser we regularly used guerilla grievances to stop or seriosuly modify detrimental contract changes empolyers wanted to impose.
We did it at Sheffield Newspapers, Bradford Newspapers, the Bury Times, Bolton Evening News, Yorkshsire Coast Radio, and the Lancashire Telegraph in Blackburn, to give some examples.
Follow this link for a report on one of these instances - under the heading 'just say no' -
These are smaller groups of workers - imagine the impact if millions of grievances landed on the desk of public sector managers.
Line managers and union reps wouldn't be able to work for weeks - possibly months - as the hearings were held.
This action can be taken by members of unions with leaders that have called off strikes. Even non-union workers can join in.
I hope the March 28 walkout goes ahead with the biggest numbers possible.
Mass grievances - run concurrently - would show the government, and union leaders, that these changes are not acceptable.