Category Archives: Trade Union
In an almost unprecedented move cleaners at the Ministry of Justice, Kensington and Chelsea Town halls and 6 privately owned hospital departments and outpatient clinics run by Health Care America, will strike simultaneously for 3 days from 7-9 August demanding the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour!
That’s 3 days of stirke action at 3 companies and 11 sites!
Please donate to their strike funds here if you can. Any amount will help!
An MP-led commission has been set up to examine the impact that automation and AI will have on the jobs market
Attendees at the Trades Council conference workshop hosted by The New Lucas Plan group heard introductions from John Routley former Lucas Shop Stewards Combine and Steve Schofield researcher for Lessnet (The Local Economic Sustainability and Security Network) and author of Oceans of Work: Arms Conversion revisited. Discussion centred on the original Lucas plan and its relevance for today. By the end there was agreement that with long term planning and investment, particularly in High-Tec growth areas like wind and marine energy, the creation of alternative, sustainable, socially-useful, high skill, high value employment was possible and desirable but only achievable by a Government prepared to invest time, money, with sustained political will and a Labour Leadership that reflects our values-as we now have!
However, success was only possible if there was engagement with defence workers and their Unions and representatives at the very start and heart of the process. They are the ones to identify their needs, capacity and to initiate ideas for the drawing up of practical arms conversion plans whilst protecting skilled employment and pay levels, in the same way that Lucas Aerospace workers did over 40 years ago. It was felt given the sensitivities around this issue Trades Union Council’s, based in their local communities, were well placed to initiate, and develop those discussions locally.
You can see John and Steve’s introductory workshop speeches on https://www.facebook.com/greatermanchester.cnd/videos/804404266416772/.
Following on the film THE PLAN – that came from the bottom up tells the story of those pioneering Lucas workers and the ideas that were the motivation for the Arms Conversion/Defence Diversification motion passed at the TUC Congress in 2017.
Frances O’Grady has written this about the film “Throughout the union movement’s 150-year history, our cause has been to make working lives better. But there are times when we have gone further, we have challenged the very nature and the purpose of the work that we do. The Lucas Plan was created during one of those times. It holds out hope that production can be transformed to create a fairer, greener world. And it is testimony to the wealth of genius to be found on the shop floor. This will be a must-see film for every trade unionist – please support it.”. You can do so by donating through crowdfunding using this link https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-plan-community/x/11054043#/ or get more information via http://www.theplandocumentary.com
Of course, a key means in developing any industrial strategy would be the National Investment Bank proposed by John McDonell who has stated that such a bank could support the development of diversification plans in the local economies of areas heavily dependent on the defence industry, in consultation with local Unions and businesses.
In addition, a shadow Defence Diversification agency would also help deliver a future Labour Government’s goals of an ethical foreign policy and secure sustainable jobs, guaranteeing as Jeremy Corbyn said in his 2015 Labour Leadership statement “A just transition for communities whose livelihoods are based in those defence sectors, so that engineering and scientific skills are not lost but transferred into more socially productive industries”.
Building on from the workshop there are a few public meetings taking place on Defence diversification/arms conversion-Labour CND AGM; Parliamentary launch of Nuclear Education Trust report; Labour CND fringe at Unite conference; Yorkshire CND meeting with Fabian Hamilton.
You can continue discussion with both Steve Schofield on firstname.lastname@example.org
And John Routley through email@example.com
Thanks Moz Greenshields workshop chair
In addition to some good motions on abortion rights (pushing for women in Northern Ireland to gain these rights following the success of the Irish referendum) and setting up a homes and housing sub-committee, my own union, TSSA, moved a well-received motion on ‘climate jobs’. As the world sweats in a record-breaking heatwave, our regional TUC has now resolved create a sub-group on environmental sustainability and just-transition for workers and create a detailed plan for creating climate jobs. A further TSSA motion, urging a reconsideration of hugely controversial third runway at Heathrow, was ruled out-of-order because the TUC nationally supports the runway, but a long-standing TSSA activist with air traffic experience did get the opportunity to explain the union’s concerns that, in addition to the serious environmental case against the third runway, the employment and transport infrastructural case are also questionable. Ultimately, Heathrow has a bloated air traffic agenda because airlines are businesses that chase profits: a third runway does not fix this.
The first guest speaker was Phillipa Harvey, an NEU executive member and leading activist with Palestine Solidarity Campaign. She urged that the unions’ support for Palestinian rights remains as essential as ever. The relocation of the US embassy by Donald Trump in to Jerusalem has resulted in a massive crackdown in paltry autonomy Palestinians had up to recently had in the West Bank, as witnessed by the recent brutal destruction of a traditional Bedouin village. Imprisonment of children, currently highly controversial in America, is extremely common in Israel. But no situation is more serious than that of Gaza, the scene of so many killings of unarmed people by the Israeli army, which is estimated to become unliveable in just 18 months. Without urgent action by the international community, things will undoubtedly reach new levels of horror in Palestine.
The last guest speaker was particularly interesting. Victor Figueroa is former LSE academic who has been working with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to produce a study of the impact of new technology on transport work and workers worldwide. The full report will be out in September, but Victor gave us a digested preview. His finding is that the main narrative – that new tech is primarily about automation, that 100% automation is unstoppable and that this either the best or worst thing ever (depending on who you ask) – is largely a marketable fiction. In reality, automation is constantly running into limitations (no, crew-less freight ships aren’t coming) and never completely eliminates labour (‘fully automated’ warehouses have almost 50% of the staff they had pre-upgrade). Automation and AI are also not as important, in many ways, as data, but not enough people in the international labour movement have considered data and they need to talk about it more. The most important thing said to us about technology is that whether it is a good or bad thing is absolutely dependant on who uses it and how they use it: capitalism will not create a utopia with technology, it will use it make profits and this will mean that new tech it introduces will exacerbate existing inequalities. It is with this knowledge that our movement should seek to create it’s own alternatives and this has to be a combination of worker’s organising and progressive governments and movements demanding strong regulation of how tech is used. The extract report is here:ITF – Transport Workers Building Power
The TUC Transport Industry Network, which I attend, is looking to hold a major event on automation in September, and the sorts of findings that the IFT have produced can hopefully feed into this, as can the ideas about transition to sustainable jobs.
ASLEF attended talks at ACAS with London Underground to try to find a way to resolve the disputes on the Jubilee line and at Acton Town on the District line. Strike action has been called for next Wednesday 6 June and Thursday 14 June.
Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s organiser on the Underground, said: ‘As always, we will go to these talks with an open mind and prepared to seek agreement. Until now, management have refused to meet with us on these issues and it is understandable that our reps and members suspect that their last-minute change of heart means they are simply “going through the motions”; turning up for talks but unwilling to change their hard-line stance.
‘The issues at the centre of these separate disputes are the imposition of new duty schedules that break commitments on weekend working on the Jubilee line, and the failure to follow agreed procedures on the District line, are symptomatic of a management style that seems to relish confrontation instead of trying to work with trade unions to solve problems.
‘We hope that management will make a genuine effort to solve these disputes with us tomorrow and avoid disruption.’
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.
“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