Monthly Archives: June 2016

Statement From UNISON on the Attacks against Jeremy Corbyn

Unison believes the attack on him is misjudged ,mistimed and indulgent .
After a devastating Referendum result ,it is vital that our labour MP ‘s return to their constituencies to begin to heal the dangerous fault lines that have split poorer working class communities and not be hidden away in the corridors of Westminster plotting against an elected leader with an overwhelming mandate.

Stop the coup against Corbyn – Matt Wrack

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), responding to the resignations of several Labour MPs from the shadow cabinet, said:

“Trade unionists and Labour Party members will be baffled and angry about these resignations that appear to have been coordinated to cause maximum damage. It is bizarre that some of the MPs making the loudest criticism of Jeremy Corbyn over the referendum completely failed to convince the electorate in their own constituencies.

“Following the referendum, Labour should be setting out policies to defend jobs, public services and wages as an exit from the EU is negotiated. Instead, some Labour MPs are playing irresponsible and silly games from their Westminster bubble. They should respect the overwhelming democratic mandate which Jeremy Corbyn achieved only last September.”

Labour mutineers are betraying our national interest – By Len McCluskey

Those Labour MPs plunging their party into an unwanted crisis are betraying not only the party itself but also our national interest at one of the most critical moments any of us can recall.

The Tories are reaping what they have sown and are going to be consumed with divisions for the rest of the year and beyond.

The other EU states are pushing for the British government to give effect toThursday’s vote to leave as rapidly as possible. Great decisions need to be made by a government that is effectively paralysed.

Surely Labour’s priorities are first of all to ensure that Brexit is not at the expense of working people, that employment rights are secured and jobs protected. We need to fight might and main against those Conservatives who see Brexit as a mandate to introduce a free-market utopia at the expense of working people.

We also have a responsibility to speak out against racism and offer reassurance and support to people of all races and nations living in Britain today.

And we need a clear Labour perspective for life outside the EU in the years ahead, looking to the opportunities as well as the very real threats, including the opportunity for a more interventionist state acting to prevent jobs losses, acting to use public investment to shape the economy of the future and prevent jobs losses, like those looming over Tata Steel.

Instead, Hilary Benn and others have decided this is the moment to let the Tories off the hook, turn Labour inwards and try to set aside the overwhelming result of a party leadership election held less than 10 months ago.

It seems clear that this coup would have been launched irrespective of the referendum result. Anyone who thinks remain would have won the vote if Jeremy Corbyn had told traditional Labour areas that all was well with the EU and with globalisation is living in a dream world. It is easier to do that from an oligarch’s yacht or a bank boardroom than it is in our de-industrialised cities and towns.

In fact, Corbyn was honest and straightforward about a complex question. There is no more sense in blaming him than there is in blaming Margaret Hodge for the fact that her constituency was one of the very few in London to vote to leave the EU.

And while I would agree that Labour needs a very different message concerning the free movement of labour, criticising Corbyn for this comes ill from those who have always argued that Tony Blair’s open door policy was a progressive one.

Unite has been warning about working-class alienation from politics all this century. There was the plummeting turnout in 2001 general election, the further Labour core vote losses in 2005 and 2010, followed by the growth of Ukip. How many canaries did this coalmine need?

Corbyn is a brave and principled man, better placed to address this crisis in Labour’s heartlands than any of his critics. Of course he needs to broaden his message so Labour can reach out with a radical message of change for all working people, including those “left behind”. But does anyone belief that refried “new Labour” will work better?

I would like to see all Labour MPs playing a full and constructive part in this urgent work of communication. However, if people want to resign, so be it. Labour has plenty of talent to bring forward, women and men committed to the sort of alternative the party voted for last year. The truth is that some of those trumpeting their resignations owe their stature to being in the shadow cabinet, not the other way around.

A new leadership election is divisive and unnecessary. But if enough MPs want one, then bring it on. I am sure that Corbyn will secure a fresh mandate. But let me make two things clear.

First, if anyone is undemocratic enough to think that there can be a new leadership election with the existing leader kept off the ballot, then they are setting the Labour party on course for a split.

And second, Unite has hitherto opposed any plans to change the party rules governing mandatory re-selection of Labour MPs. That, too, we have looked on as a divisive distraction.

But those MPs who have missed no opportunity to tweet and brief against the party’s elected leader over the last 10 months will find that their disloyalty finds no favour with party members and will make this an increasingly difficult line to hold.

union leaders backing Jeremy Corbyn

The below is a statement from union leaders backing Jeremy Corbyn to continue as Labour leader.

The Prime Minister’s resignation has triggered a Tory leadership crisis. At the very time we need politicians to come together for the common good, the Tory party is plunging into a period of argument and infighting. In the absence of a government that puts the people first Labour must unite as a source of national stability and unity.

It should focus on speaking up for jobs and workers’ rights under threat, and on challenging any attempt to use the referendum result to introduce a more right-wing Tory government by the backdoor. 

The last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own in the midst of this crisis and we call upon all Labour MPs not to engage in any such indulgence.

 

Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite the Union

Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON

Tim Roache, General Secretary, GMB

Dave Ward, General Secretary, CWU

Brian Rye, Acting General Secretary, UCATT

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, TSSA

Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF

Matt Wrack, General Secretary, FBU

John Smith, General Secretary, Musicians’ Union

Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary, BECTU

Ronnie Draper, General Secretary, BFAWU

Chris Kitchen, General Secretary, NUM

Letter to the Guardian In Support of Jeremy Corbyn

Polly Toynbee has inevitably fired a vitriolic salvo against Jeremy Corbyn, holding the supposedly ‘dismal, spineless’ Labour leader responsible for the Brexit vote. The anti-EU vote in many Labour-held constituencies shows not Corbyn’s weakness, but highlights instead the long-term withering of labour movement organisation in wide swathes of England and Wales, which no leader could have reversed in just nine months.
The systematic closure of factories, mines and other union-organised workplaces during the Thatcher years has left a bitter legacy of an atomised working class that has yet to rediscover a progressive voice. New Labour certainly wasn’t that voice and many champions of ‘remain’ in the Parliamentary Labour Party, including Margaret Hodge, Tristram Hunt and Stephen Kinnock, keen to oust Corbyn, might well ask why their own constituents largely backed Brexit.
Still, Toynbee belatedly recognises the importance of effective unions. Alas, I cannot recall her advocating ‘unions into all workplaces, [as] political educators about rights and solidarity’ during the Blair-Brown years, which saw the retention of the most drastic restrictions on collective union action in western Europe. Relentless outsourcing and enfeebled unions, rather than migrant workers, have led to the real decline in living standards for so many.
Ironically, she now chooses to concentrate her fire on the first Labour leader in living memory to actively promote trade unionism. Having attended last week’s Unison conference in Brighton, along with nearly 3,000 others, I know that Corbyn received a very warm reception the day before the referendum vote and nigh unanimous support from delegates as word emerged on Friday afternoon of still another attempted ‘coup’ at a time when both the Tory government and party are in disarray.

George Binette 
Camden UNISON Branch Secretary

County Durham Trades Union Council & County Durham Teaching Assistants

County Durham Trades Union Council  TUCS                    

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                           06 June 2016

County Durham Teaching Assistants (#ValueUs) and County Durham Trades Union (CDTUC) to stage joint solidarity rally in opposition to council decision to sack 2,700 staff and slash pay by 25%                     

This event will take place on Thursday 9th June 2016, at 19.00 (registration will open at 18.00) at the Durham Miners’ Hall, Flass St, Durham, County Durham DH1 4BE

Durham Trades Union Council will host and chair a public meeting in support of County Durham Teaching Assistants, who are currently fighting against Durham County Council’s controversial decision to fire and rehire thousands of staff on vastly reduced terms, which will see many facing up to a 25% pay cut.

The purpose of this event is to support the existing Teaching Assistants grassroots campaign #ValueUs, which has been running since the council announced its plans last October.

This event will bring together local community groups, teachers, unions, parents, pupils and local MPs, who have made the decision to unite in opposition to this attack on a low paid and predominantly female workforce.

Keynote speakers include Davy Hopper, General Secretary of Durham Miners’ Association, John Gilmore (NUT), Gillian Iveson, Lisa Turnbull, Claire Reed and Anne Richardson (Teaching Assistants and #ValueUs campaign organisers).

CDTUC Secretary, Ben Sellers, said:

As many other people in the wider labour movement have stated, the way County Durham’s teaching assistants have been treated is nothing short of disgraceful.

County councillors will say there is nothing to be done, but many of us feel that when low paid workers are facing pay cuts of up to 25%, there has to be a better solution and we are determined to ensure that negotiations between the council and unions continue until they find it.  

But, devastating though these cuts are, it’s not all a tale of woe; what we have witnessed in the determination and organisational ability of these Teaching Assistants is in the tradition of the best of our movement. They’re an inspiration.

Teaching Assisatant and #ValueUs campaign organiser, Gillian Iveson, said:

This event is incredibly important to our campaign because we need to get the truth out to the public. This is not simply a dispute about holiday pay as some would like to think. We are full time employees being forced into part-time contracts with part-time wages. We work above and beyond our contract on a daily basis and this cut is kick in the teeth to those of us who have dedicated years of service out of a love for the job we do and the children we care for.

Teaching Assistant and #ValueUs campaign organiser, Anne Richardson, said:

Having been truly inspired by the vigour and impact that Durham Teaching Assistants have achieved thus far through their own determination and efforts to highlight the catastrophic life changing measures being forced upon them, I feel this event is a vital stage in the growth and development of the TA’s campaign, as it is increasing public awareness of the real tragedies in this story. The Teaching Assistants’ voices are going to be heard and more importantly listened to, as they gain the support of other unions at both county and national level.

General Secretary, Durham Miners’ Association, Davy Hopper said:

Education is one of the most important public services we have and frankly it is unbelievable that a Labour Authority is behaving in this way. They should immediately start renegotiating with the Teaching Assistants and sort out this mess. My solidarity is with the Teaching Assistants.

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, said:

“I whole-heartedly oppose the decision by Durham County Council to substantially cut the income of low paid teaching assistants and I’m frankly appalled they would use such an abhorrent practice of dismissing and re-engaging, in order to impose a new contract.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information about this event please contact:

Kathryne Wray (Press and Communications, CDTUC) 07946719668 kathrynewray@hotmail.com

  1. County Durham Trades Union Council (CDTUC)

CDTUC is a registered branch of the Trades Union Congress and works to bring together unions to work and campaign around issues affecting working people in their local workplaces and communities. Our aim is to raise public awareness of rights at work and the union role in enforcing those rights; promote organising and recruitment drives to build union membership; and support union and community campaigns for dignity and respect in the workplace and beyond.

For further information about CDTUC please contact:

Ben Sellers, Secretary, secretary.cdtuc@gmail.com

  1. #ValueUs – County Durham Teaching Assistants – campaign group

For more information about this grassroots campaign please contact:

Gillian Iveson, gill1968@aol.com, 07580562837

Barnet Libraries are taking industrial action

UNISON members working in Barnet Libraries are taking industrial action on the 13th, 14th and 15th of June 2016 in opposition to the Council’s plan to outsource the Library Service.

What the Council intends for Barnet Libraries

  • Library posts will be cut by 46%, a loss of 52 full time equivalent posts
  • Staffed hours will be reduced by 70% (despite overwhelming opposition to this from respondents to the Council’s Library consultations)
  • Under 15 year olds unaccompanied by an adult will not be able to use libraries during unstaffed hours, which will be for most of the  time libraries are open
  • Library space to be reduced, thus cutting study space and book stock
  • Four libraries to be run by “community groups”
  • Phase 3 alternative delivery model to be identified for this section.

More detailed analysis of the destruction of the Library service can be found in our report entitled “Direct and Collateral Damage to the Future of Barnet Libraries” here

http://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/publications/public-bodies/transformation-and-public-service-reform/options-appraisals/direct-and-collateral-damage-to-barnet-librari/barnet-libraries-unison-march-2016.pdf

UNISON Picket Lines will be at the following Barnet Libraries:

  • Monday 13th June – Mill Hill Library (Hartley Avenue, Mill Hill, London NW7 2HX) from 8.30 am
  • Tuesday 14th June – North Finchley (Ravensdale Ave, North Finchley N12 9HP) from 8.30 am followed by a demonstration outside Barnet House 12-1 pm
  • Wednesday 15th June –  Chipping Barnet Library (3 Stapylton Road, Barnet, EN5 4QT) from 8.30 am

UNISON Library Convenor, Hugh Jordan said: Barnet UNISON calls for the current plan to decimate our Library Service to be stopped now before further damage is done. Our members are angry at proposals which look to sack half of them and then outsource them to another employer. Every day we hear of another Library closing due to cuts, handing over the service to volunteers or outsourcing. Enough is enough, there needs to be a national response to the systemic destruction of the national library service. Our Borough needs real libraries and real library professionals and para-professional, only this year our service was given a 96% customer satisfaction rating. If the Library staff less plan is implemented and staff sacked their absence will see Barnet pay a heavy price in the coming years as literacy levels fall, accessibility to information is reduced, and social mobility is further curtailed. Lastly, whilst we appreciate the current support from Library volunteers we are asking volunteers not to take our jobs away which is the part of the Barnet Libraries Plan”

Barnet resident refuses to volunteer & take jobs away from Library staff

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Background

For those unfamiliar with the Barnet Libraries debacle please watch this short animation which details the plans for our fantastic Library Service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3XfibjbJuA

Keith Martin for local government worker, resident and long standing Libraries campaigner wrote a response to the Local Times newspaper survey “Have your say over Barnet future Library service”http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/14528718.Have_your_say_over_Barnet___s_future_library_service/

Keith has given permission to share his response with our members in the Library Service.

“Would I volunteer?”

“Mrs Angry expresses my views succinctly in her Broken Barnet blog.

http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-eve-of-destruction-act-now-or-wave.html

and here http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/barnet-libraries-capita-it-crash.html

  1. Half the staff will be losing their livelihoods,
  2. You cannot replace professional library staff with volunteers,
  3. The proposals amount to the virtual destruction of the library service,
  4. Shrinking libraries, halving the book stock, the highly risky use of unstaffed DIY libraries. All are dangerous, stupid gambles.
  5. What next?
  6. Why not instead cut the massive allowances and perks received by councillors?
  1. Now the view from me. I have been a library volunteer at Friern Barnet Community Library for nearly four years now, initially at the invitation of Phoenix and the squatters who began their occupation on 5 September 2012. My experiences are recorded in my book Friern Barnet – the library that refused to close. I was a co-defendant with the squatters in the action by Barnet Council for their eviction in December 2012, and one of the original band of trustees appointed by the community to run the library in succession to the squatters.

Would I volunteer for Reuben Thompstone’s plans to reshape the library service; to harness Barnet’s community spirit?

Would I thus be a party to putting chartered librarians and other professional library staff on the dole, after they have attempted to train unskilled volunteers such as myself to replace them? Would I be a party to actions which have as their goal the closure of libraries and the wrecking of educational opportunities to schoolchildren which generations of library users have benefitted from as their birthright?

No, I would not.

This is why I am active in the campaign to save not only libraries in Barnet but throughout the United Kingdom.

Best wishes

Keith”