DEFEND THE RIGHT TO STRIKE: STOP LEGAL ACTION AGAINST THE NEU

Dear John Biggs,

We are extremely concerned to hear that Tower Hamlets Council is taking legal action against the NEU in respect of their strike ballot to defend their members’ terms and conditions.

We are particularly disappointed, as the NEU has played a leading role in the School Cuts campaign, working with MPs and councillors all over the country to highlight the effects of government cuts on our schools.

The right to strike is fundamental in a democratic society and we are truly shocked that a Labour Council is using anti-trade union laws brought in by David Cameron’s government to try and stop this.

We note that part of your submission to the High Court is the suggestion that strike action by school staff will cause financial hardship to parents and lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour.

This has nothing to do with the legality of the NEU ballot but is a clear signal to any judge who is sympathetic to Boris Johnson’s idea that public sector workers should be banned from taking strike action.

We fully support the right of NEU members to take strike action.

We urge you to withdraw the threat of legal action and to talk to the NEU and other unions so that the dispute can be resolved.

SIGN HERE.

Thanks for your support – if you want to be kept informed of future developments please leave your email address.

Forthcoming Lucas Plan events


1. Parliamentary seminar/book and film launch

2. Regional screenings of THE PLAN March 1

3. New Mike Cooley Reader

4. New Lucas Plan event in London April

1. Planning from the bottom up: Lessons from the pioneering 1970s Lucas Plan

Hosted by John McDonnell MP 6:00 -7:30pm THURS 27th FEBRUARY, The Wilson Room, Portcullis House Westminster SW1A 2JR

A seminar to launch two new books on the Lucas Plan and regional screenings of THE PLAN. Register.

Speakers:

Steve Sprung, Director: THE PLAN that came from the bottom up Trailer

Hilary Wainwright, Author: THE LUCAS PLAN a new trade unionism in the making?

Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Publisher: THE SEARCH for ALTERNATIVES Liberating human imagination

2. Regional screenings of THE PLAN March 1 (visit cinema websites for tickets)

“Described as ‘a film letter in parts’, THE PLAN that came from the bottom up is a thought-provoking and extensive film essay which chronicles the extraordinary story of the Lucas Aerospace engineers, who forty years ago responded to the threat of redundancy with their own plan of action.The film documents how this group of workers developed alternatives to the military products their company made, including wind turbines and hybrid cars. By having the documentary structured as a film essay, the result is a poetic exploration of this incredibly timely story in history.”

Birmingham Midlands Art Centre

Cambridge Arts Picturehouse

Liverpool Picturehouse at FACT

London Bertha Dochouse

Norwich Cinema City PicturehouseSheffield Showroom
The screenings will be followed by a brief panel with members of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine and/or local speakers.


3. Publication of a new Mike Cooley Reader, The Search for Alternatives: Liberating Human ImaginationSpokesman Publishers have produced a new anthology of the writings of Mike Cooley, the leading thinker behind the Lucas Plan.

Foreword by John Palmer
Introduction by Karamjit S Gill

“we have become far too smart scientifically to survive much longer without wisdom”
Mike Cooley, The Myth of the Moral Neutrality of Technology

Chapters include:

  • Contradication of Science & Technology in the Productive Process
  • Science and Social Action
  • Human Centred Systems

4. New Lucas Plan London event

The New Lucas Plan group is planning an event in East London during the Climate Strike period at the end of April and May Day, looking at the relevance of the ideas of the Lucas Plan to current challenges, including ecological crisis, automation and militarism. Watch this space.

Solidarity with our Tube Cleaners: RMT Parliamentary demonstration & rally

Tues 29th Jan 2019
5.00pm: (sharp) Demonstration opposite Parliament (Old Palace Yard, SW1P 3JY)
6.30pm: Rally in the Houses of Parliament

London Underground’s 3000 cleaners have been outsourced to global contractor ABM. Despite working unsocial hours, in dirty and hazardous conditions, our cleaners are being treated less favourably compared to other workers directly employed by London Underground.

That means inferior sick pay, holidays, pensions and travel facilities

On top of this the cleaning workforce is set to be cut by a third from 3000 to 2000, piling the pressure on these hard-pressed workers. RMT is holding a demo and rally at Parliament to demand:
• No Cleaning Job Cuts
• Equal Conditions with London Underground workers
• Bring all cleaning work in-house.
Please show solidarity with our cleaning members on 29th January

End the outsourcing of cleaning at TfL – Take action today

As part of the Justice for Cleaners campaign, RMT is fighting to end the outsourcing of cleaning work on London’s Underground and Overground rail networks.

As part of work to develop his Manifesto for re-election as London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has launched a policy consultation which is open to all for responses.

RMT is asking members in London to respond to this consultation by sending a model form of words calling on Sadiq Khan to end the outsourcing of cleaning work and bringing these cleaners into Transport for London.

The consultation closes on 31 January. Please help us build our campaign by responding to the consultation today here, using our suggested text: http://bit.ly/35TmatQ

Barnet Tories reject call for care workers to be paid London’s Living Wage

  • Council fails to produce agreed feasibility report on cost of LLW
  • Tory Council Leader describes care workers and trade unionists as “a Labour mob”

Barnet’s Conservative councillors have rejected a Labour Group motion for former Fremantle care workers to be paid at least the London’s Living Wage of £10.75 an hour – the level of pay identified as the minimum needed to cover the cost of essentials when living in London.

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings, put forward the motion at last night’s Policy & Resources Committee (6 Jan) after the Conservative Council failed to produce a feasibility study setting out the cost of paying the care workers London’s Living Wage. There was cross-party agreement at the last committee (3 Oct) to bring the feasibility study to last night’s meeting.

Care workers attending the Policy & Resources meeting yesterday reacted with dismay to Council claims that they couldn’t produce the report because it was too complicated to calculate the cost in the last 3 months. Conservative Leader of the Council, Dan Thomas responded by branding them “a Labour mob”.

The care workers were transferred to The Barnet Group (TBG) – a wholly owned subsidiary of Barnet Council – under TUPE rules after the Fremantle Trust handed over the running of its three Barnet care homes to TBG in April last year.

Since then, the care workers, their trade union – Barnet Unison – and Labour councillors have been campaigning for them to be paid at least London’s Living Wage, which is the policy of The Barnet Group. All other Barnet Group staff are paid at least London’s Living Wage, including other care workers already employed by them.

Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said: “It is the moral duty of the Council to ensure that all its staff – including those working in The Barnet Group and in contracted-out services – are paid at least the minimum to be able to cover the basic essentials of living in London.

“It is the Council’s policy to pay directly employed staff at least London’s Living Wage and it is also The Barnet Group’s policy, so they really need to find the funding to do this straight away.

“We cannot condone the Council and The Barnet Group paying poverty wages; and there cannot be a two-tiered workforce where those doing work of equivalent value are on unequal pay.

“It was shameful that the Conservatives refused to support paying London’s Living Wage to those who do some of the most sensitive work to support our most vulnerable residents.

“The Council have said they will come up with the feasibility figures at some point in the future, but will probably do nothing until July. My concern is that they will wait until the protected TUPE period is over and then seek to outsource the care workers again.

“The Labour Group will oppose any further outsourcing of care workers, and continue to press the case for all directly employed and contracted out staff to be paid at least London’s Living Wage.”

Unite the Union: London facing standstill as exhausted bus drivers prepare for strike action

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, is warning that London could face gridlock if exhausted bus drivers take industrial action later this year.

Unite will begin a consultative ballot of over 20,000 members employed as London bus drivers later this month and, provided a yes vote is secured, a full industrial action ballot will then follow.

Decisive action

Unite is demanding that London bus operators and Transport for London (TfL) take decisive action to tackle chronic levels of fatigue being experienced by bus drivers.

Unite is sharply critical of individual bus operators who have suggested that the solution is simply about ensuring drivers get more sleep.

Driving revolution

Unite is instead demanding a revolution in how bus driving is scheduled to ensure that drivers can finish on time, are able to utilise all of their breaks, work to proper schedules, have enough running time to complete their journey, are treated with respect and receive proper training.

A survey by Loughborough University which was commissioned by TfL, and published last August, discovered that 21 per cent of bus drivers had to ‘fight sleepiness’ at least two or three times a week and 17 per cent had actually fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the past year.

Loughborough report 

Since the publication of the Loughborough report, TfL has attempted to deflect responsibility for the fatigue being suffered by bus drivers and has said that it is the responsibility of individual bus operators to resolve the situation. Unite believes this position is entirely unacceptable.

A survey of over 5,000 Unite bus driver members in September found 44 per cent of bus drivers work six days a week and long hours created severe physical, mental and relationship problems. A total of 79 per cent of drivers reported that in the past year they had made errors while driving due to tiredness.

Drivers had enough

Unite regional officer John Murphy said: “London bus drivers have had enough; they are permanently fatigued and at risk of being a danger to other road users, bus passengers and themselves.

“Unite will shortly be conducting a consultative ballot and provided our members endorse industrial action, strikes will follow later this year unless action is taken to ensure that the problems causing chronic fatigue for our members are resolved.

“TfL cannot simply sweep this problem under the carpet. It must act decisively and stop trying to pass the problem onto bus operators who have consistently failed to resolve the issue and have instead allowed it to worsen.

“For the last 25 years bus operators have been failing to deal with this problem. Unite members are saying enough is enough.”

Solidarity with Barnet Care Workers: LIving Wage Now

Over the past decade one thing Barnet UNISON is in agreement with Barnet Council is that the London Living Wage is the lowest rate of pay for its staff and those working on outsourced contracts.

Within the Barnet Group the minimum rate of pay for staff in Barnet Homes, TBG Flex (The Barnet Group Flex) and Your Choice Barnet is the London Living Wage – including posts which become vacant within the ex-Fremantle homes.

After a settling in period for the TUPE Fremantle staff Barnet UNISON raised in discussions with the employer the issue of paying these staff the London Living Wage as the lowest level of pay. We believe these staff should be treated no differently to other staff working for Barnet Council or on its outsourced contracts.

Barnet UNISON notes the decision regarding a discussion about implementing the London Living Wage for Fremantle TUPE transferred staff to Your Choice Barnet at the Policy and Resources Committee 3rd October 2019 is recorded in the draft minutes as:

“Following discussion on the London Living Wage for Fremantle staff who had been TUPE transferred to Your Choice Barnet the Chairman agreed to an item on the feasibility being brought back to the next Committee. This would be included in the Business Planning report”

In response to this request from Councillors the Business Planning Report dedicates a mere 2 paragraphs which is listed under “Risks to the MTFS”

  • Fremantle Care workers (London Living Wage): Former Fremantle staff were TUPE transferred to YCB in July 2018 under the agreement that terms and conditions would be protected for 1 year.  Some former Fremantle care workers that have been transferred to the Barnet Group may be being paid less than the London Living Wage (£10.75 per hour (as at Nov 2019)). The Barnet Group policy is to pay all its workers at least the London Living Wage, subject to affordability, and a HR process is now required to review any changes to terms and conditions which will need to be considered.

Any decision about changes to terms and conditions will need to be considered in the context of the overall pay and reward strategy for the Barnet Group, employment policies and legislation, the wider social care market and the council’s procurement rules.   It is not yet possible to quantify the level of risk associated as it is too early to form a conclusion about the application of the LLW to TUPE staff. However, officers in the Barnet Group supported by council colleagues where necessary will be working on this over the coming months and can provide further update to the committee in the future.

These two paragraphs responding to the Committee’s request in no way reflects the response Barnet UNISON or the care workers were expecting. We had expected a detailed report detailing the cost implications for implementing the London Living Wage. Instead this response kicks the question into the long grass.

This is absurd as all new vacancies in the ex-Fremantle homes are advertised as paying the London Living Wage as a minimum. These posts are open to existing Fremantle staff to apply for those posts. This means that incrementally at least some of these staff working in these homes will be all be employed on the London Living Wage. This fact is not even listed in the 2 paragraphs written by the officers. This means this risk is already a reality and yet it is not mentioned or evaluated. No turnover rates are mentioned. Is it ironic that a credible option for the ex-Fremantle staff to en masse resign from their posts and then to reapply for posts in the new homes which would have to be offered at the London Living Wage?

The report in no way reflects the request made of the Committee to the officers. A “feasibility” was requested not the “risks”. Furthermore the Councillors are asked to believe that the officers are incapable of quantifying the “level of risk” associated with “the application of the LLW to TUPE staff.”

Barnet UNISON can be of assistance to the officers and councillors in understanding some of the implications by revealing the inaccuracy of the sentence: “Some former Fremantle care workers […] may be being paid less than the London Living Wage”. (Our italics)

TUPE information from Fremantle in May/ June 2019 revealed that just under 300 staff were TUPE transferred. Of these, according to the figures given for the job titles and the rates of pay quoted for those job titles, some two thirds were listed as being paid below the London Living Wage. In total these were 222 staff. The largest group are the care workers which total some 143 workers and are nearly half of the ex-Fremantle workforce.

Care work is a physically demanding role as well as an emotionally demanding role. Yet according to the TUPE transfer information 161 members of staff are aged 55 years and over and of these 40 are aged 66 years and over. By contrast the numbers of staff aged under 40 years are 76.

RISK

There is a risk in not paying the London Living Wage as this report demonstrates:

https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/adult-social-care-workforce-data/Workforce-intelligence/documents/State-of-the-adult-social-care-sector/State-of-Report-2019.pdf

In the Care industry there is a national turnover rate of 38% for those working less than one year in the field (p.13). It shows that those who are paid more are less likely to leave their roles.

“Turnover at regulated services that were rated overall as either ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’, turnover was found to be lower (29.5%) than those rated as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ (32.2%). This trend remained consistent across each Key Line of Enquiry (KLOE) with an average difference of 2.7%. The largest difference in turnover was shown for the ‘Safe’ KLOE which had 3.4% lower turnover at providers rated positively.” (p.118)

Continuity is an important factor in delivering quality care and support to our most vulnerable residents. There are associated costs in constantly recruiting and inducting new members of staff. These can result in reputational and safeguarding costs.

Barnet UNISON strives to work with both the Council and quasi outsourced employers, such as the Barnet Group, in continuing to promote harmonious industrial relations and to provide a high level of service for our customers. This may, potentially, be put in jeopardy if the decision is not to value monetarily the important role that care workers perform.

These factors should be of importance to this Committee and to Councillors in general and should be taken more seriously than the response to the request from Council officer’s shows.

Protest tomorrow over threat to ban transport strike action

RMT to protest at Parliament tomorrow over threat to ban transport workers from taking strike action

TRANSPORT UNION RMT has confirmed that it will be staging a protest tomorrow outside Parliament in response to the threat by the in-coming Tory government to ban workers across the sector from taking any kind of effective industrial action.

The provisions for this legislation are expected to be included in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech and as a result the demonstration has been organised to assemble outside parliament on:

Thursday 19th December, by 12.30pm by Parliament Square, (Opposite the Houses of Parliament), SW1P 3JX. https://goo.gl/maps/uAmeAS6o46rmk8hW9 


RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“It hasn’t taken long for the true colours of this new Tory Government to emerge and tomorrow we will be kicking off the fight back against their new raft of anti-union laws.

“Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of the threat now being lined up against the trade union movement. Banning strikes and denying workers the basic human right to withdraw their labour has been the hallmark of hard right, authoritarian regimes throughout history.

“It is no coincidence that this threat comes while our members on South Western Railway are continuing a month of rock-solid action in defence of the basic principle of a rail service that is safe and accessible for all.

“Instead of attacking rail workers fighting to defend safety and disabled access any responsible Government would be tackling the scandal of private profiteering on Britain’s railways which has reduced services to chaos.”

Other unions back the protest, taking industrial action is a basic human right and denying workers the ability to withdraw their labour has previously been the hallmark of hard right, authoritarian regimes.

The provisions for this legislation will be included in Thursday’s Queen’s Speech and a demonstration has been organised outside parliament to coincide with it by the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, of which PCS is a member.

Firefighters win back pensions in blow to government

Over 6,000 firefighters are entitled to return to their pre-2015 pension schemes, an employment tribunal declared today, in a landmark victory for the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) with implications across the public sector. This comes after the Court of Appeal ruled last December that the government’s attacks on firefighter pensions constituted unlawful age discrimination.

The claimants, members of the 1992 and 2006 firefighters’ pension schemes, are now entitled to be treated as if they have remained members of their original pension scheme, with benefits including a retirement age of between 50 and 55.

In July, the government admitted it had spent £495,000 on legal costs fighting to maintain discriminatory pensions, while the total annual cost of applying the ruling across the public sector could be up to £4 billion.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“Last Christmas, we gave firefighters the gift of a victory in the courts. This year, firefighters can celebrate knowing that their union has secured their rightful retirement – a gift borne of solidarity that proves what unions can achieve.

“The law has now changed and our FBU claimants will be entitled to return to their previous pension schemes. Legislation will need to be amended, but there can be no delay in implementing this remedy. Firefighters were robbed, and they must now be repaid.

“To the new Tory government, let me be clear. We fought tooth and nail against your attacks on our pensions and won. If you dare to try to pay for these changes by raiding the pensions of current or future firefighters, we will come for you again – and we will win.”

In 2015, the Tory-Lib Dem government imposed a series of detrimental changes to firefighter pensions, which included a built-in “transitional protection” which kept older firefighters on better pension schemes while younger members were moved onto a new, worse pension scheme, which included a requirement to work until aged 60.

In December 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that this transitional protection arrangement constituted age discrimination and was therefore unlawful. The government then attempted an appeal to the Supreme Court which was denied in June 2019, ending their legal challenge. They have since confirmed that the ruling will be applied across all public sector pensions.

Today’s decision is an interim declaration which will cover immediate cases, such as those who have taken ill-health retirement, with a final declaration in July. It will apply to firefighters who joined the fire and rescue service before 1 April 2012.

The declaration follows similar judgements for judges, police, and Ministry of Defence police. The FBU is the only organisation that has fought on behalf of firefighters and launched over 6,000 employment tribunal cases, organised dozens of periods of industrial action, and sent hundreds of firefighters to lobby parliament against the changes.

The FBU will now pursue compensation for injury to feelings and compensation for financial losses for claimants who lost money due to the changes.

Any FBU member who was a member of the fire and rescue service before 1 April 2012 who is not currently a claimant will be able to register as a claimant shortly, with details and frequently asked questions to be addressed in an all members circular.

AMAZON PROTEST- CYBER MONDAY 2ND DECEMBER 2019

Tis the season to hurt Amazon, falalaa laa la la la. They are mean there’s no comparison, falalaa laa la la la.

This 2nd of December at 10.45 am GMB would appreciate your assistance and attendance at Amazon office’s from 10.45 am for approximately 3 hours. Your welcome to attend during this period when you can, but the greater the number the louder the message. We hope to have frontbench speakers from the Labour Party as well as our famous rat.

Please get the message out far and wide so we can make the difference.

Details of the location is below.

Amazon HQ, 1 Principle Place, Worship Street, London, EC2A 2FA (Shoreditch/City of London) Farringdon and Barbican stations are around five minutes walk.

Please feel free to contact me should you have further questions in relation to this important event

The hashtags (#) we will be using for the day are: #AmazonWeAreNotRobots #AmazonPayYourTaxes #AmazonActOnClimate

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