Monthly Archives: March 2018

CHANGE IS COMING… How Can We Achieve An Anti-Austerity Government?

National People’s Assembly
10:30am – 6pm, Saturday 2 June, St Pancras New Church, Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BA

Find out more on our website here.

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 rely on immigrants?

#ChangeIsComing

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?

Please like and share our Facebook Event here.

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Fire safety issues in Barnet Libraries

Over the last year Barnet UNISON have been very concerned about Fire Safety in Barnet Libraries.

This arose because the Council were slow in providing Fires Risk Assessments (FRAs) for Libraries and in complying with the actions resulting from these assessments.

During 2017 Library buildings were altered as part of the Library Program. This included internal structural changes and the installation of technology to permit unstaffed opening hours. These changes meant that the building’s Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) needed reviewing and replacing.

In addition a new Library, Finchley Church End was opened in September 2017 which also required a Fire Risk Assessment

UNISON began asked the Council for these Fire Risk Assessment prior to library staff returning to each site and before the Libraries opened to the public.

However the Council only produced these FRA weeks and months after library staff and the public were admitted to the Libraries.

Examples include;

1. North Finchley Library reopened to the public on the 12th June 2017

The FRA issued on the 24th August 2017

2. Golders Green Library reopened to the public on the 3rd July 2017

The FRA issued on 10th August 20.17

3. Osidge Library reopened to the public on the 26th June 2017

The FRA issued on the 16th August 2017

The FRAs when they were produced identified a number of actions for the Council to carry out. The majority of these were described as a

  • “…..a potential contravention of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, or a high risk to Health & Safety from fire”

The deadline for complying with most of these actions was three months from the issue of the FRA.​​

A few of the issues are listed below:

  • Replacing Fire Doors at some with doors with the required level of fire Resistance
  • Fire Refuge Area communication system not working at a number of sites
  • The Emergency Lighting untested at a number of sites
  • No record of the five yearly structural inspection of the external fire escapes at a number of libraries
  • Incomplete Fire Safety signage missing at a number of sites
  • Smoke seals needed for doors at a number of libraries
  • Insufficient numbers of fire extinguisher at one site
  • Fire extinguisher incorrectly mounted at a number of sites
  • Fire door not closing correctly at one library
  • Basement area at one library requiring upgrading to required level of fire resistance
  • Width of staff exit at one site below recommendations
  • Confirmation needed that there is fire separation in the roof void between the library and the commercial use area at one site

Barnet UNISON have been inspecting Libraries to see if the FRA actions have been carried out. In most cases these have not been completed. UNISON have raised this at a number of escalating meetings to the highest level and in our inspection reports.

But no real evidence was presented to Barnet UNISON by the Council that most of the issues had been resolved. Barnet UNISON informed the Council on a number of the occasions that if this continued we would be compelled to contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to report our concerns.

Despite this the Council failed to meaningfully respond and with regret Barnet UNISON reported our concerns to the Health and Safety Executive.

The Council have since then provided UNISON with a plan of works to act upon the FRAs but while this is welcome. These action should have been completed months ago.

The Council inaction has in UNISON view being largely caused by various Council/Capita management teams’ failure to take responsibility to have the Fire Risk Assessment in place in good time and to respond in sufficient time to resolve the problems identified in these assessments.

Barnet UNISON do not believe these failures have been due to library staff on site, who have reported these problems according to Council  procedures and to their Trade Union , and who have themselves been put at risk by the Council.

Barnet UNISON will continue in our campaign to make Barnet Libraries safe for our members, all Library staff and the public.

To this end we call on the Council to:

  • Ensure that libraries and other Council buildings have up to date FRAs in place before staff and the public are admitted
  • Act speedily and effectively to comply with Fire Risk Assessments
  • Review the management of Fire Safety arrangements and monitoring within the Council
  • Work with UNISON and other concerned parties in addressing the risks and hazards in identified in Fire Risk Assessments.

Please note: The following services are provided by #Capita:

  • Estates
  • Health and Safety
  • Project Management

Take immediate action against Romford Conservatives for whipping up racism

With local elections set for 3rd May, racism is already playing a serious role in campaigning. A disgraceful leaflet was distributed by the Conservative Party in Romford warning that if residents didn’t vote Conservative, Romford would “increasingly look like an inner city area“, a “London crime wave” would take place and that Havering would resemble “boroughs like Hackney, Newham, Camden and Barking rather than a traditional parts of Essex”.
UKIP is also set for the most racist campaign since it was founded. Acting Leader Gerard Batten has described Islam as a “Death Cult” and for Muslim immigrants to have to sign a document renouncing parts of the Qur’an.
Stand Up To Racism will be campaigning across the country to keep racism out of the local elections – contact info@standuptoracism.org.uk for leaflets or get in touch with your local group.

DEFENDING THE BROMLEY LIBRARY SERVICE

Unite The Union members will begin all out indefinite strike action from Wednesday 28 March 2018.

This action takes place following the failure of Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) who took over the library contract last year, to properly staff our libraries. This is despite all the promises from the Council. GLL are also refusing to pay staff the local government pay offer – despite initially agreeing to do so. That’s another promise broken – under GLL staff will be under poorer conditions than local government colleagues. It is also very suspicious that the Council and GLL are refusing to release a report which went to Council last year and which set out how GLL would make efficiency savings. This is despite freedom of information requests made by the union. Instead the Council are hiding behind so called “commercial confidentiality”.Workers have had enough! That is why Unite members voted by 100% for strike action. We are not wasting any more time – all out indefinite strike action begins on Wednesday 28 March. Join us on our first day of strike action from 8am at Bromley Central Library.

For further details contac:

Kathy  Smith                                                  Onay Kasab 

bromleyunite1@outlook.com                      onay.kasab@unitetheunion.org

07786170379                                                 07771818637

Workers’ Memorial Day

The purpose behind Workers’ Memorial Day has always been to “remember the dead: fight for the living” and unions are asked to focus on both areas, by considering events or memorial to remember all those killed through work but at the same time ensuring that such tragedies are not repeated.

That can best be done by building trade union organisation, and campaigning for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws.

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government.

In 2018 the theme for the day is Unionised workplaces are safer workplaces and will focus the huge difference that unions make in preventing deaths in the workplace. We will also be celebrating 40 years of union health and safety representatives.

Below is a list of some of the events that are happening up and down the country. Some of these events will also feature a minute’s silence at noon, or a suitable time. All are on 28th April unless indicated otherwise.

What you can do:

  • Find out what is happening in your area on 28 April. This website will list all the local activities we know about, but you can also ask your union branch or trades council;
  • If nothing is happening then get together with some of your workmates or others in the area where you work and organise something. It can be a commemorative rally, a workplace meeting or just a small get-together;
  • Organise a minute’s silence in your workplace on the day (because the 28th April is a Saturday, if your workplace is closed that day you may want to hold it on the Friday);
  • Ask your local council, or any other public body, to fly official flags at half-mast on the day. Remember that the day is officially recognised by the government;
  • Arrange an event such as planting a memorial tree in a public place, putting up a plaque, dedicating a sculpture, a piece of art, or a bench, to remember workers who have been killed at the workplace or in the community;
  • If you are planning any events for the day, or you want to raise awareness about Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, then it is important you consider how you can best use local media both before and on the Day.
  • Ask local religious centres to include Workers’ Memorial Day in their worship on the day;
  • Distribute purple ‘forget-me-not’ ribbons, the symbol of Workers Memorial Day;
  • Let people know about anything that happened in your area on the day. use hashtag #IWMD18
  • For resources on Workers Memorial Day including ribbons and car stickers please contact the Greater Manchester Hazards centre at: mail@gmhazards.org.uk.

Joint Statement on Just Transition in the UK

Climate Justice March | London

It’s time for a Just Transition in the UK, moving to a modern low carbon economy in such a way as to protect workers’ livelihoods, create new industries and deliver a fairer society in all regions and devolved nations. The need for action to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Change Agreement to keep global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, is urgent if we are to avert the environmental and economic costs of climate change.

We share a concern that the Government’s Industrial and Clean Growth strategies fail to reference the need for a Just Transition. This embodies the principles of consultation between all sections of society; investment in skills and jobs; the creation of decent work; and social protection for individuals and communities, particularly those reliant on fossil fuels. It is necessary to confront the danger facing our industries and power system as employment in traditional sectors declines. Workers, if losing their job in these sectors, should be able to retrain and redeploy to a new job on equivalent terms and conditions, covered by collective agreements, and fully supported in their housing and income needs through transition.

Government must take a decisive lead with plans to transform key sectors, through publicly and community owned energy supply, transport infrastructure, investing in energy efficiency and sustainable heating in our homes and in industry. The speed and scale of Government action must be increased, as advised by the Committee on Climate Change. Where necessary to secure change at sufficient pace and scale, options for public and community ownership or partial stakes in flagship energy projects and enterprises should be pursued.

Employment and social benefits for communities most affected by industrial change should be secured through local investment in new jobs and skills, the creation of local supply chains, and ‘community benefit’ clauses in public contracts and local ownership. The principles of social justice and equity must be adopted to ensure no-one is left behind in the transition to economic and environmental sustainability.

Meanwhile, internationally, the government should support the strengthening of workers’ rights and environmental standards in the global supply chains for low carbon industries, such as solar panel and battery production.

We believe that all key stakeholders should be represented on consultation and implementation bodies linked to the industrial, skills and climate change strategies. This should include proposed industrial and sector bodies at national, regional and local levels

We therefore call on the UK government to:

  1. incorpo rate Just Transition principles within the UK’s commitments to implement the Paris Agreement, including the UK’s Industrial and Clean Growth strategies.
  2. legislate for the right to appoint workplace environment representatives to help ensure workers’ views are fairly represented at local level. At company and sector level unions need the right to a voice in the economic restructuring decisions that will take place.
  3. establish a Just Transition Commission to develop a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead, along the lines of the welcome initiative of the Scottish Government to establish such a body.

 sponsoring organisations so far which include NEU. PCS AND NUS

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