Wednesday, 26 July 2017

UCU general secretary offers SOME union membership free.

nb Effective from 1 October 2017, if you are a PhD teaching in HE, or part of the teaching team without a teachers’ contract in FE, UCU will make your union membership free.


From: Sally Hunt, 

Dear colleague,

I was re-elected earlier this year on a clear mandate – make UCU fit to face the future in an increasingly uncertain world. We have been busy since then and I want to share with you five key areas where we have made progress.

1. The future of our profession

First, the future of our profession. During the election, I lost count of the senior staff who approached me to express concern about the fate of the next generation. Locked into exploitative employment with little or no job security, the current model used in FE and HE has high expectations of young staff but gives little back to them. They need UCU most, yet their membership density remains low.

With your help, we want to do something about this. Let’s work together and build a trade union culture in low security areas – a culture where the union stands up for staff rights, bargains for better pay and conditions, and helps young staff to get the best out of their careers.

Pushing for better conditions from the bottom benefits both established members and the profession as a whole. We all know that this exploitative employment model is creeping upwards.

Effective from 1 October 2017, if you are a PhD teaching in HE, or part of the teaching team without a teachers’ contract in FE, UCU will make your union membership free. We think this covers around 70,000 (mostly younger) staff – the majority of whom are struggling at the start of their academic careers.

It is a big offer and valid for four years (or until a more secure job is achieved). We need to remove every possible barrier in the way of young staff joining our union in the hope that positive, valuable, UCU experience will spark a lifetime habit.

That is not all. I have heard first-hand how poorly many universities and colleges support their young staff. Too often in HE, you are thrust into the classroom with barely more than a couple of hours training. In FE, surveys show that 60 per cent of staff have no access to any CPD at all.

So – over the next year, UCU is going to put rocket boosters under our existing CPD provision to make it the best in the sector, useful to members at every stage of their career, and particularly so for those who are just starting out.  I hope that the senior academics reading this will help with the project too – sharing tips on lecturing, research bids, interviews, surviving office politics, and so on – so we can make these courses as useful and real as possible.

That is still not all. Over the coming months, we will also be putting together local claims to every employer on behalf of early career staff. We will argue of course for better pay and conditions, but we will also bargain for improved facilities, status, and support.  This is about creating a culture where everyone is valued, wherever they are in their career, and I want UCU to be at the centre of it.

2. Effective industrial action

Second, I promised members (if I won the election) I would try to ensure that when UCU calls for industrial action we follow a clear plan, and hit the employer where it hurts when necessary.

At UCU Congress I announced a commission to examine effective forms of action which will report back by the end of the year. Over the coming months, whatever your role in the union, the commission will want to hear your views on what types of action you favour and see as the most effective. I hope that everyone takes this opportunity to participate in a debate central to the future of our union.

3. Effective representation

Third, I promised that when it comes to negotiations the union would 'follow the money'. This does not mean we will abandon national bargaining - but it does mean we will enforce it. To do that, we must ensure that when the national employers refuse to negotiate, the union will take up the cause locally.

Since the election, dozens of claims have been lodged by branches, seeking to improve conditions, end casualisation, and close the gender pay gap. But we now want to do more.

Your national executive committee (NEC) has agreed on a union wide effort that increases local capacity to bargain effectively. Specialist organisers will focus on bringing our smallest branches up to speed, so no one is left behind, while our regional officials will focus on supporting our largest branches. The aim is simple – improve members' pay and conditions. Alongside the substantial investment we are making in improving training for your branch representatives, this marks a sea change in UCU's approach. I hope you will get involved.

4. More opportunity to participate in UCU

Fourth, in the election I promised that I would try and make it easier for you to participate in the union. Progress has been made already. Get the vote out (GTVO) plans, agreed by your NEC, ensure that consultation with members is now a fixture of our action campaigns – giving you a real say. This has helped to create a more engaged membership, with the average turnout in all ballots 10 per cent higher than last year.

Changes in the law mean that a 50 per cent turnout is required in order to take action, so this is something we will need to continue to protect your right as trade unionists to take action when necessary.

Increasing consultation also means seeking your views on professional issues and matters of education policy. I know that members' appetite for this is strong, based on the thousands of responses I received when I asked for help developing our policy on the Stern review, and again with our FE transforming lives campaign.

5. Standing with international staff

Fifth, I highlighted the concern across UCU about the plight of EU colleagues during the election. Brexit, and then the U.S. travel restrictions put in place by Trump, created much uncertainty and UCU has led the way – the extra support agreed by the NEC provided hundreds of individual members with legal advice on their immigration status.

The union cannot rest on its laurels. I have asked staff to put together a further package of measures aimed at supporting international staff to feel welcome, safe and unafraid of standing up for themselves at work.

If you are an international staff member, kick-start this process by filling in this survey and sharing it with international colleagues if they are in the union yet or not.

I hope all of this shows that UCU has been busy.

There is a real recognition among the NEC and the senior officials that the union needs to transform itself in order to meet our challenges. We need to create a collective trade union culture throughout the sector, especially at the low security end of the sector where the union simply does not have enough current influence.

These changes are designed to help us get better at what we do, whether that is negotiating pay, representing members, taking action, standing with international staff, or – with your help – giving a leg up to the next generation.

I thank you very much for your support.

Sally

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The People's Assembly Against Austerity update


After the boost to morale the General Election result gave us, the campaigns against this Tory Government are hotting up again. The lack of affordable housing continues to force people into sub standard living conditions, increase the number of homeless on London's streets and after the Grenfell Tower Disaster concerns about safety have added a sense of urgency to London's ongoing housing crisis.

If you're able to get over to East London tomorrow night, please get along to this important meeting:

After the Grenfell Disaster - We need Justice We need Answers
6:30pmWednesday 26 July
Bow Road Methodist Church

Join George Monbiot, ex-Grenfell resident Mona KamalRushnara Ali MPEileen Short Defend Council Housing (DCH), Matt Wrack Fire Brigades Union Genreal Secretary, housing campaigners and others.

We need an alternative to: · Unsafe homes · Unaffordable housing · Privatisation · Deregulation · Profiteering

Check out the Facebook Event here.

Also, starting today private contractor Serco is facing a two-week long strike from its employees at four hospitals in London, as they continue to fight for an increase in wages. Serco workers have held several days of vibrant strike action already and the next wave will escalate the campaign. If you can get down to any of the 4 hospitals in the Barts Health NHS trust to show support please do and take a picture and post online to show your solidarity. 
SCRAP THE CAP. RCN London will be holding its biggest event of the summer at Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street, on Thursday. Get along if you can!

RCN London #scrapthecap Westminster Pay Rally
4:00pm - 6:00pm, Thursday 27 July
Richmond Terrace, London, SW1A 2

The event programme will feature high-profile speakers from inside and outside the nursing community as well as a speech from a special celebrity guest (TBA). This is part of our mission to take our campaign for fair pay right to the government’s doorstep. If you can please get along, chant, wave banners and help us send a clear message that pay restraint must end, now.
Check out the Facebook Event here.

Lastly don't forget to get ready for our up coming, Take Back Manchester Festival 2017.
Saturday 30 September - Wednesday 4 October

Join us in Manchester as we'll be holding a series of gigs, parties, rallies, meetings, screenings, comedy nights, educational events, and a National Demonstration on Sunday 1 October, in the city to let them know that we won't rest until we have chased them out of office

We've now launched the Facebook Event, check it out, like and share as widely as you can!

See you on the streets!

The People's Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

Unite members who work for privatisation giants Serco Plc, have been on strike for nine days and are about to start a two week strike.

Acknowledgements to Alan Wheatley

On Monday, 24 July 2017, 16:06, Mick - Unite Organise <team@uniteorganise.org> wrote:

Unite members who work for privatisation giants Serco Plc, have been on strike for nine days and are about to start a two week strike. You can help by emailing Serco and Barts NHS to demand fair play. Take action now to add your support.
"We are cleaners, porters and security workers in the Barts Heath NHS Trust. Our work is vital to high quality, safe patient care. Many of us have dedicated decades of our working lives to the NHS.
We have been privatised to Serco who boasted a £80 million profit last year but have refused a 30p pay rise. With inflation anything less will make us poorer. Will you help pressure Serco & St Barts to act?"
Our strike is solid and we voted by 99% to go on strike yet Serco have been illegally using newly hired zero hour contract agency staff to do the work of striking workers.
Will you take just a few seconds to send emails to Serco and St Barts to tell them to play fair by loyal, low-paid workers?
Thanks for your support!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Motion to TUC Congress from National Trades Councils Conference, Sunderland June 2017

Motion to TUC Congress from National Trades Councils Conference, Sunderland June 2017
The ‘LUCAS PLAN’, Arms Conversion and Socially useful Production

"Conference welcomes the ‘Lucas Plan’ 40th Anniversary Conference held in Birmingham in November
2016 and agrees that the Plan was an idea from which we can learn much today.

The Plan was a pioneering effort by workers at arms company Lucas Aerospace to retain jobs by
proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills.
40 years afterwards, we are facing a convergence of crises – militarism and nuclear weapons, climate
chaos, and the destruction of jobs by automation – which mean that we have to start thinking about
technology as political, as the Lucas Aerospace workers did.

However, in the 4 decades since the Plan was drawn up Britain’s manufacturing industry has shrunk
from 25% to 14% of GDP, with the ‘defence’ industry now representing 10% of all manufacturing.
Britain cannot afford to lose any more manufacturing skills and capacity, and ‘defence’ workers are
rightly concerned about the potential loss of jobs, for example if Trident replacement is cancelled.
In line with the outcomes of the Lucas Plan Conference, we therefore call on trades unions and the
TUC to lobby the Labour Party to establish before the next general election a ‘shadow’ Defence
Diversification Agency, to work closely with the Shadow Department for Industry in developing an
overall national industrial strategy including the possibility of conversion of ‘defence’ capacity.  The
first task of this Agency would be to engage with plant representatives, trades unions representing
workers in the ‘defence’ industry, and local authorities, to discuss their needs and capacities, and to
listen to their ideas, so that practical plans can be drawn up for arms conversion while protecting
skilled employment and pay levels.  A key means for developing the national industrial strategy
would be the National Investment Bank proposed by the Shadow Chancellor.

We also urge trades union councils, trades unions and the General Council of the TUC to assist the
work of such a ‘shadow’ Agency if set up."

acknowledgements to Jenny Patient, Sheffield Climate Alliance

Friday, 21 July 2017

IER News Brief 21/07/17

news brief
Friday 21st July 2017

Wales this week repealed the Trade Union Act as it pertains to public sector workers in the devolved nation.

Those workers who would have fallen under legislation affecting "important public services", will no longer have to meet the 40% support threshold on industrial action ballots; and will not face restrictions to their check-off systems or facility time.

Local Government Secretary Mark Drakeford explained: "We always said that the Trade Union Act was unnecessary and would lead to more confrontational relationships between employers and workers, undermining rather than supporting public services and the economy."

A spokesperson for the UK government said Westminster stands by its view that industrial relations is not a devolved area of the law and that it "will act at the next available opportunity" to make all public services in great Britain comply with its divisive Act.

The Institute of Employment Rights argues that the Trade Union Act 2016 must be repealed across the UK. Reducing trade union powers further weakens workers' ability to have a democratic voice in the workplace - an issue the government's own Taylor Review recently highlighted as critical to protecting workers from exploitation.

Lastly, a correction from last week's News Brief: A typo in the text reported that the European Convention on Human Rights would not be brought into UK Law. This should have read the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Our apologies for this error.
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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Barts Hospital Workers Strike

Barts Hospital Workers Strike

The cleaners, porters and other SERCO workers at Barts Health, including Whipps Cross Hospital, are involved in an historic dispute. They are striking again this week to improve working conditions and to get a pay rise from £9.70 to £10 an hour.
The next round of strike days begins on Tuesday July 11th and runs until Tuesday July 18th at 6am

Solidarity demo

Unite the Union demonstration
Saturday 15 July, 12 noon, the Royal London (Whitechapel) to Mile End hospital
Meet on Turner Street, E1 2AD.
The branch banner will be on the demonstration, please join us if you can.
 


Statement from UNITE:

We the cleaners, porters, and security who are members of Unite the Union at the St Barts NHS Trust are going on strike to defend our jobs and the integrity of our work. Since December 2016 – ‘soft services’ (catering, cleaning, security and portering) SERCO has been given the privatised contract so we work for the private sector not the NHS.
This is a deal that will cost taxpayers £600m and lead to Serco making large profits from our hard work. Since Serco have taken over they have:
1) Planned job cuts at Whipps Cross Hospital.
2) Attempted to abolish tea breaks for hard-pressed workers at the Royal London Hospital.
3) Increased the workload to unsustainable levels affecting workers physical and mental well-being.
4) Continued zero-hours contracts despite a commitment not to.
Serco profits from our NHS. Their CEO alone earns almost £2m a year. A cleaner would have to work for almost 100 years to receive this sum.
Unite members have called for:
1) A pay rise of a 30p per hour to cover rising costs in London.
2) An end to proposed job cuts.
3) An end of an ever increasing workload that is affecting our health.
Serco have refused to listen. We have now been forced into taking
industrial action. From the 4th of July we will be on strike. This is
a last resort for us and we hope that both Serco and the Barts NHS
Trust do the right thing.

Friday, 7 July 2017

"gig economy"

IER News Brief 07/07/17

news brief
Friday 07th July 2017

New, damning evidence from several sources has been released on the gig economy this week, just ahead of the expected publication of the Taylor Review.

Yesterday, former Committee Chair for Work and Pensions Frank Field released a report that contained interviews with "gig economy" workers at Parcelforce, DPD and British Car Auctions. He found that workers were being paid less than £2.50 per hour and getting fined hundreds of pounds for being ill.

A quote from a DPD driver republished by the Guardian said: "This isn't self-employment, or employment either. It's a living hell, a nightmare scenario and the government needs to bring in legislation to stop these crooks from ripping off vulnerable people."

Both Taylor and government sources have come out in support of the gig economy by saying that many workers enjoy the "flexibility" it offers them, but further evidence of exploitation this week puts this argument into question.

One study found that people on zero-hours contracts and shift workers are at a greater risk of mental health problems than their peers in stable employment.

Meanwhile, ACAS reported that zero-hours contracts are being used to silence workers who might otherwise assert their rights, and many have been forced onto the contracts rather than choosing insecure work.

The government itself has also been accused of attempting to silence workers this week, as the Justice Secretary applied to the High Court to permanently ban prison officers from industrial actions.