Politics for the Many: The Trade Union Case for Electoral Reform

The trade union movement has always been at the vanguard of political change in Britain. And furthering economic equality goes hand in hand with political institutions that deepen political equality. To ignore the role of the political system (which concentrates political power in a minority of voters in a minority of seats) in driving political inequality, is to miss the potential for radical political change.
To truly shift power closer to the people on a long-term basis requires more than changing the underlying economic structures. Embedding changes in the political system would allow for a change in the very way we do politics, securing better social and political outcomes.
Politics for the Many: The Trade Union Case for Political Reform sets out the opportunities for the labour movement as a whole in uniting behind a broad platform of progressive political reform.
Key findings:
  • Proportional representation is linked to greater economic equality and democratic quality
  • The Westminster model of government has allowed for sweeping legislation, eroding trade union rights in the UK.
  • The Westminster voting system is increasingly working against the progressive
  • majority forming the next government

 

Briefing here: PFTM-Briefing-Final

Report here: The-Trade-Union-Case-for-Political-Reform-report1

Support TGI Fridays staff striking for fair pay!

After a genuinely rousing talk at Hendon Labour Party from Charlotte Bence, Unite the Union organiser, about the staff at TGI Fridays, Barnet activists will be heading down their picket line on Friday, 5pm at Covent Garden.

TGI Fridays workers have recently been hit with a huge reduction on their very low incomes, because the employer is taking 40% of the services charges that customers believe are going to them and using it to cover other costs. They are standing up for the right to a decent living, in sector where poverty pay and insecure condtions are the norm.

Facebook event here.

Details and material from Unite here.

Solidarity with the People Of Turkey sends its support to: Afrin medical aid concert

A night of Middle Eastern music at Union Chapel (N1 2UN) on Friday 25 May 2018, 19:30.

Nearest station: Highbury & Islington

This is a night not to be missed with great performances by the Metin Kemal Kahraman brothers and the Reflection of Silence band

We wish to create a memorable night in solidarity with Afrin and provide an opportunity to listen to great music that touches our souls so deeply.

All proceeds from this concert will go to help people displaced from Afrin, Rojava (Northern Syria). Around 450,000 civilians have been displaced and are in urgent need of aid. In the wake of this humanitarian crisis, Re-build as one of the few charities helping the region. The proceeds of this concert will be used to purchase an orthopaedic medical device costing £30,000.

By purchasing a ticket you can help us get one step closer to buying this device.

Support the UK TGI Friday’s workers fight for fair pay!

Workers at two UK restaurants of the US-based franchise chain TGI Friday’s struck for 24 hours on May 18 after being given two days’ notice that they would be stripped of 40% of their income from tips – a loss of up to GBP 250 per month. Workers at two other TGI Friday’s locations have voted 100% in favor of possible strike action on June 25, with other locations set to follow.

As the strikes commenced on May 18, The IUF-affiliated Unite held lunchtime rallies at the restaurants to support the strikers before moving on to a mass low-pay rally in Central London including McDonald’s workers.

You can support the fight back against exploitation and low pay – CLICK HERE to send a message to CEO Karen Forrester, telling the company you support the workers’ demands and urging talks with Unite.

Interesting Discussion Piece on Building the Movement from Unions21

“Jack Jones used to say that he was a trade unionist first and a member of the T&G second. This philosophy underpinned the social contract and a period of unprecedented levels of union membership. Today’s generation of trade unionists face one hell of a responsibility. We should follow Jack’s philosophy and face it collectively, putting the needs of workers and movement overall first. If we do nothing we are odds on to become the living (and dying) embodiment of Robert Taylor’s suggestion that we are too set in our ways to reform ourselves to reprise the role that movement played in shaping the old world, which for all its faults, was one in which working people, through the institutions that had built, had a far greater say over working life. “

Read full report here: Change-for-the-better

The Return of Barnet Alliance for Public Services: Time to Kick Out Capita!

Last night, one of London’s longest running anti-austerity campaigns reconvened with a packed meeting at Finchley’s Greek Cypriot Centre. At our last trades council meeting on Thursday, we had resolved to get organising the re-elected Tory council as soon as possible, and this was an excellent start.

The initial presentation came from the one and only Mr Reasonable, John Dix, who had a comprehensive report on just how bad the past five years of mismanagement by Capita, the woefully incompetent and self-serving outsourcing giant to which the Conservatives have entrusted almost our entire borough. The Tories claim that the deal saves money, which might even be true if over-billing, contract variation and “special projects” weren’t absolutely rife. Combine this with the Tories failing to make even the most limited council tax rises for many years (even when their associates in other councils were doing so!) and the fact that Capita fees, astonishingly, rise with RPI inflation and there is a multi-million pound shortfall coming in Barnet’s finances. Auditors have expressed severe doubts that the Tories can possibly fill the gap by 2020 or 2021. You can read John’s full report on his blog.

John was followed by fellow campaigning blogger, Roger Titchbourne of the Barnet Eye. Roger issued a call to arms for activists from across the movement and different parties to unite under a simple slogan: Kick Out Capita! This is going to be the new focus for BAPS, and we’ll be starting with a series of musical and cultural events around the borough.

Finally, we were joined by a very special guest and great friend, John McDonnell MP. The shadow chancellor joined us fresh from address the PCS public sector union’s conference, and spoke about how that union was taking its own action to save essential services. He reiterated that the Labour Party has committed to ending privatisation and bringing failing contracts like Capita back in-house where they belong. Research by the University of Greenwich has shown that far from costing money, this approach would pay for itself in a matter of years. Answering question from some of BAPS’ members, John also touched on some other areas:

  • Labour intends to crack-down on the massive tax evasion and money laundering that goes on in London, which is estimated to be of the order of £92 million annually and strongly tied to international crime.
  • Labour has realised that simply dragging voters to the polls when election day comes will not win the next election. There has to be a turn to community activism and the party is appointing community organisers to help make this happen.
  • There has to be a renewed assertion of a right to a commons in Britain – including of land itself – in order to make society more just, and Labour is working with figure like George Monbiot on policy.

The relaunch was an excellent step in the right direction. Now we have to get the message out there and take the fight to Capita. BAPS will now be meeting every Tuesday at 6.30pm in the Cypriot Centre. Why not come along and join the movement against corporate greed to make Barnet a better place to live?

France: Rail unions fight against privatisation

The French railway workers have expressed their strong disapproval of the proposed reform of the railway system leading towards privatisation. They have been taking part in massive numbers in national mobilisations. The government has chosen not to open any serious negotiations with them. The unions want to guarantee high social standards within a future unified public group in the rail sector. The unions argue that competition is not a solution designed to improve the rail system, but instead enriches private companies and firms. They are calling upon the government to open real negotiations covering such issues as debt and funding, the relaunch of goods rail transport, employee benefits, the social rights of railway workers, taking workload back in-house and the organisation of production. Please show you support by sending your message to the French government.

Act now.

WE ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HERE

Bringing together all those facing a ‘hostile environment’ from the Home Office

7pm, Thursday 31 May
Venue: UNITE the Union, 33-37 Moreland St., EC1V 8BB

Speakers include:

  • Windrush generation families from the Caribbean and other Commonwealth countries
  • People seeking asylum from wars, dictatorships, ecological devastation and hunger
  • EU nationals threatened by Brexit
  • Ian Macdonald QC, leading barrister in immigration and human rights law

The Windrush scandal has finally exposed to the public the truth about what deportation means for people’s lives, and the public is outraged.

Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean and other countries, invited by the government to help rebuild war-torn Britain, have been separated from loved ones, lost jobs, homes, refused healthcare, pensions and rights after living in the UK most or all of their lives. An estimated 50,000 people have
been affected but it is yet to come out how many were deported, suffered permanent harm, or even died.

The media, and even right-wing MPs, had to reflect public outrage forcing the then Home Secretary Amber Rudd to resign. The government promised to acknowledge the citizenship of and pay compensation to the Windrush generations and their descendants, partly because Commonwealth heads were meeting in London. The new Home Secretary Sajid Javid is a Tory banker, with a disgusting track record against immigrants even though his own parents were immigrants. The government is likely to renege on some or all of their promises, and they will try to use this moment to split Commonwealth residents from other immigrants – already the Home Office is quietly recruiting NGOs to help deport asylum seekers and their children.

We all have the right to be here. African, Asian, Caribbean and other Third World people have contributed over centuries to the wealth in the UK. We have suffered through imperial conquest, slave trades, plunder of resources, proxy wars, Western backed dictatorships, rape and other torture. More recent immigrants from Europe and elsewhere have also contributed with hard work and have made their lives here. The NHS would not function without people from all over the world who work hard
despite wage freezes, underfunding, privatisation, and poor working conditions.

We demand: An amnesty for all affected and immediate compensation for this persecution. Stop all deportations, detention and destitution. Abolish laws that recruit teachers, doctors, landlords, employers, etc., to snoop and report on immigrants. No collaboration by voluntary groups, charities and
NGOs with Home Office deportations.

Caribbean Labour Solidarity: info@cls-uk.org.uk
Women of Colour/Global Women Strike:
womenofcolour@globalwomenstrike.net

ARISE: A Festival of Labour’s Left Ideas

The event takes place in London on the evening of 27 July and all day on July 28 and participants include: Diane Abbott MP //.Richard Burgon MP // Shami Chakrabarti // Chris Williamson MP // Emma Dent Coad MP // Lucy Anderson MEP // Liam Young – writer // Lara McNeil – Labour NEC Youth representative // Rachel Garnham, Labour Party NEC member // Steve Turner – Unite the Union // Christine Blower – international secretary, NEU(NUT section) // Shelly Asquith – People’s Assembly Against Austerity // Danielle Tiplady – nurse & NHS campaigner // Siân Errington – Labour Assembly Against Austerity // Cllr Asima Shaikh,CLPD // Murad Qureshi – Stop the War Coalition // Hugh Lanning – Palestine Solidarity Campaign // Laura Morales – Justice Mexico Now // Maz Saleem – Stand Up to Trump // Jenny Manson – Jewish Voice for Labour // Huda Elmi – Momentum NCG member & BAME Labour activist // Sean McGovern,Co-Chair, TUC’s Disabled Workers’ Committee & Unite Executive Council (National disabled members seat) // Mike Jackson – Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) & more special guests to be confirmed. Join us for a weekend of people powered politics, internationalism and solidarity. Discounted tickets are available here.

Change is Coming: How Can We Achieve An Anti-Austerity Government? National People’s Assembly 2018

Saturday 2 June, 10am – 6pm, St Pancras New Church, Euston Rd, London NW1 2BA

For nearly a decade falling living standards has been the reality for the majority. Our public services have been cut beyond recognition, our wages have fallen, access to education and decent housing is becoming more difficult as a result of austerity policies. But the last year has seen a turbulent time in politics, with the Conservatives in an internal crisis, with no majority in parliament. This situation is untenable, change is coming! But how do we build a movement that forces this Government from office? And when that happens what exactly do we need from a new Government that can reverse the damaging austerity policies that the Tories have presided over?

John McDonnell MP | Gary Younge (columnist) | Diane Abbott MP | Danny Dorling (author) | Amelia Womack (Dep Leader Green Party) | Steve Turner (Unite the Union) | Lindsey German (People’s Assembly) | Jonathan Bartley (Leader Green Party) | Sam Fairbairn (People’s Assembly) | Emma Dent Coad MP (Kensington & Chelsea) | Ben Chacko (Morning Star) | Dr Louise Irvine (Health Campaigns Together) | Alex Kenny (National Education Union) | John Rees (People’s Assembly) | Louise Regan (NEU) | Barry Gardiner MP (Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade) | Rachel O’Brian (NUS Disabled Students Officer) | Faiza Shaheen (CLASS) | Liam Young (Journalist & Author) | Cllr Ali Milani (Labour Party) | Glynn Robins (Axe the Housing Act) | Des Freedman (Goldsmiths UCU) | Moz Greensheilds (TUC JCC) | Andrew Murray (Unite the Union) | Jonathan Ashworth MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care) | & more to be announced

Sessions include:

How much nationalisation do we need & should we compensate corporations? | Could councils fight austerity? | Is our NHS fit for purpose? | What would a national education service look like? | What would a national investment bank do? | How can we fight an establishment backlash? | A charter for working women | How many houses will solve the problem? | Strikes & solidarity: what do they look like? | Environmental justice and Social justice: How Green Policies can help working people? | Does our economy need immigration?

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