Monthly Archives: July 2018

RALLY! Tories Out Now – Time for a Corbyn Government for the Many not the Few


On the evening of Friday July 27 please join us, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon, Marsha De Cordova, Maya Goodfellow, Sean McGovern (Unite Disabled Members Committee,) and other special guests to loudly say this failing and chaotic Tory government has to go!

Please also help us spread the word the rally by RSVPing, sharing and inviting friends on Facebook here.

This rally will open the Arise festival and takes place at Student Central, Malet St, London WC1E 7HY from 7.00pm (registration 6.30pm.) Please note that if you already have a weekend ticket, you are automatically registered for the rally. We hope you can join us at the rally and if possible at all of Arise for a weekend of people powered politics, internationalism and solidarity.

You can get your tickets for the rally only, the whole Arise event or the Saturday only here.

More Reasons to #kickoutcapita

From the Barnet Eye:

“Last night, the Barnet Eye, along with fellow bloggers Mr Reasonable and Mrs Angry attended the Audit committee meeting at Hendon Town Hall. The meeting was scheduled to discuss the annual audit of the Council business. It was a long meeting. The Audit committee is a rather dry committee and reviews of the Council accounts are serious matters. This was reflected by the number of questions submitted by members of the public (The full set of papers and an audio recording are available here).”

“The auditor spelled out that the problem was fairly and squarely down to Capita. The auditor also spelled out that there would be additional costs associated with the extra work caused by the latest issues with Capita. This is not the first time that Capita have caused audits to be late. Capita have been virtually running the council for five years. They were brought in to save money and to give better service. As Mr Reasonable discovered, they don’t save money and as the auditors have revealed, the service is worse. The council has no control of it’s own business.”

Meanwhile, further shocking news on Capita’s failings at schools:

“Capita has admitted a bug in an information management system used by 21,000 UK schools could have incorrectly linked contact details to the wrong pupils – an incident with huge implications for pupils’ data protection.”

“The error, which has been pinned on a December 2017 upgrade to the Schools Information Management System, could have resulted in schools sending out information about pupils to the wrong address.”

Kids visit DCMS demanding library access rights

Over 30,000 children in Barnet can no longer use their library service due to cuts and obstacles prohibiting reasonable access. They want to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge but Barnet’s cuts make it nearly impossible and last year Barnet’s participation dropped 63% because kids can’t get into libraries. The new Secretary of State, Jeremy Wright QC has the power to change this. Barnet’s children and supporters are gathering to ask he read the Libraries & Museums Act (1964) and use his powers to enforce their rights. The children warmly invite him to come to Barnet and see the impact library exclusion is having on them.

Link here.

Barnet Unison: Barnet Group to begin privatizing services at the same time cutting wages and terms and conditions of staff

Barnet UNISON is currently in negotiations with The Barnet Group in relation to the recommendations below.

Needless to say, Barnet UNISON is opposed to cuts to this vital front line service and opposed to the night operator service being outsourced.

The proposed recommendation to move to bench marked salaries would have grave implications for ALL Barnet Group staff irrespective of whether they are employed on a traditional Barnet Homes contract, which is protected by the 2006 TUPE agreement from LBB, or, a TBG Flex contract.

If Barnet Group Management continue with the intention to break with the current nationally agreed pay structure in the Barnet Homes and the TBG Flex paystructure, Barnet UNISON will be left with no alternative other than consult with ALL employees that would potentially be effected.

It is fully acknowledged that Assist is an essential and greatly valued service and the focus will be on how the service is supported to grow. However, the current cost base does not support the services ability to bid for new business and cannot continue to be provided in its existing form if the growth aspirations are to be achieved.

The proposed changes are not made to cut costs just to make the numbers balance, but are made to modernise the service. The result of the changes are lower costs as we plan to combine our call centre functions and tender the current night operators service. Jobs will be offered in the call centre where they are available but they will be different.

The measures that need to be taken if Assist is to continue to provide an operator and mobile response service to its current customers and to win additional services to support the growth imperative are stated below.

There have been 4 different options that have been consulted on with the Assist staff and following feedback the following is recommended.

  • The Assist service provides a limited operator service during office hours and buys in the out of hours call monitoring.
  • All Assist daytime operators, mobile response officers, management and admin teams will be matched to the bench marked high rate salaries, aligned to NJC Outer London Spinal points.
  • Enhancements and shift allowances will no longer be paid.
  • 3 full time equivalent operator posts (125 hours) will be co-located to work within the contact centre carrying out the same duties as they currently do, during office hours (8am-6pm), this option will add another facet to the Barnet Homes Call Centre further supporting the diversity of work that this service area carries.
  • The current night operators will be consulted with and will either be TUPE’d to the procured provider, be redeployed within The Barnet Group, or be made redundant.
  • Where the impact of the changes to individual’s salaries and contractual obligations are impacted negatively by -10% (gross) or higher they will be offered redeployment or redundancy if a suitable alternative cannot be found.
  • All mobile response officer (MRO) work patterns will be reviewed to ensure that there is full cover for the service and capacity for growth.
  • There will be a reduction of one senior post.
  • The standby rate will remain at £26.76, this will be cost neutral for the Barnet MRO’s and an increase for the Brent MRO’s.
  • Removal of the car allowance with all mileage paid at 60p per mile.

Report from A New Lucas Plan Workshop

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 steveschofield@phonecoop.coop

And John Routley through john.routley@hotmail.co.uk

Thanks Moz Greenshields workshop chair

Draft Agenda for Monthly Meeting on 12th of July 2018

Agenda for Monthly Meeting on 12th of July 2018

7pm at Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, Finchley

07:00 PM

1

Attendance and apologies

07:05 PM

2

Review minutes of previous meeting

07:10 PM

3

Matters Arising from the Minutes

07:15 PM

4

Solidarity with the Bin Workers

07:45 PM

5

#kickoutcapita

08:00 PM

6

Antifacism

08:20 PM

7

Any Other Business and Delegates Motions

08:30 PM

8

Meeting Ends

Please submit other business to the secretary before 5pm on the 11th.


Proposed motion: Climate change motion to Barnet TUC

TUC London East and South East region notes – that the south east is suffering from the effects of climate change. More frequent flooding in the Thames Valley, rising sea levels threatening the Thames barrier and coastal erosion on the east coast, as well as the negative health effects of particulate pollution in urban and industrial areas. It also notes the historic climate motion passed unanimously at TUC’s 2017 Congress calling for energy democracy, a just transition to a sustainable future which protects current fossil fuel workers, insulation of homes, meeting carbon reduction targets, divestment of pension funds from fossil fuels, reduction of transport emissions and rights for environmental workplace reps.

TUC London East and South East region agrees that it is essential that Trade Unions engage members on these issues, to look at positive alternatives for future employment, and to campaign for one million new public sector jobs. At a time when fossil fuel jobs are in decline at and at risk through automation, we need a 21st century infrastructure plan to actively cut carbon emissions and create sustainable employment . This would include housing retrofitting, renewable energy, public transport, training, sustainable agriculture, and at the same time give a boost to UK steel production.

Therefore TUC London East and South East region resolves to:

a) Create a detailed plan and campaign for the climate jobs needed in the region

b)Affiliate to the CACC and participate in the TU group

c)Create a SERTUC Environmental Sustainability and Just Transition sub-group

 

250 words (excluding title)


Proposed motion: Heathrow

This conference recognises that there is significant popular and trade union opposition to the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport. We note that there remain significant doubts about the impacts of this development on noise levels and air quality in London and beyond, and on Britain’s commitments to reduce emissions of climate changing gases.

The main beneficiary will be (overseas-owned) Heathrow Airport Holdings, consolidating Heathrow’s dominant place among UK airports and damaging economic growth in Britain’s regions. The disbenefits of the airport expansion will fall disproportionately on poorer communities, particularly those in social housing, but with 70% of flights taken by 15% of the population, the expansion will be for the benefit of the few not the many. The plans for the third runway would substantially increase the number of schools currently affected by noise over the WHO recommended limits which we know will impact on health and learning.

While SERTUC is committed to protecting jobs and to sustainable future employment, we believe the claims about jobs are highly questionable and there are more effective opportunities to invest in growth that would have more equitable benefits and avoid catastrophic environmental effects.

The trade union movement should demand that the Labour Party adopts an alternative transport policy, developed in conjunction with the trade unions, that seeks to reduce demand for first and business class air travel by introducing a significant tax on this luxury air travel, making better use of existing airport capacity at London and regional airports and maintains a well-resourced and affordable rail network. The policy would promote alternative and more sustainable modes of transport to replace domestic and short-haul European luxury flying. We should also encourage and support research into green technologies including more fuel efficient and quieter aeroplanes and require airlines to adopt this technology, when it becomes available. Finally, if any workers loose their jobs as a consequence of these measures, then they should be given appropriate retraining and given some sort of priority, when applying for more environmentally friendly jobs.

This would be part of the creation of a million climate jobs in a just transition to a low carbon economy that will facilitate a more sustainable use of resources, protect the environment and delivers sustainable, high quality and highly skilled jobs.

1,041 words (excluding title)


Motion: London Renters’ Union

London’s three million renters pay the highest rents in Europe, and often get nothing but second rate housing and dangerous conditions in return. As renters, we never know when we may be forced to move, and we face the prospect for renting for our entire lives, raising families and growing old without a secure place to call home.

Absurdly, we enjoy better consumer rights when buying a fridge than when renting a home. Tenancies may be as short as six months, and landlords can end a tenancy or raise the rent at a moment’s notice. Rented homes aren’t even legally required to be fit for human habitation.

This is all the result of policy choices that promote property as an investment over people’s need for homes. Our housing system is actively helping a few to get rich while many others lose out. On average London’s renters spend half their income on rent. This pushes people on low incomes and in precarious work further into poverty while landlords, property firms and investors rake in profits.

Across the capital, we see homelessness on the rise and people being forced to leave the area where they live. Migrant communities face particularly acute problems finding housing, alongside those on housing benefits who too often face unfair discrimination.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Across Europe, renters have won protection from eviction, long term tenancies and rent caps. We can do the same here.

Renters are more than a convenient source of income for property investors – we’re people who need homes in which we can live and thrive. That’s why we back the London Renters Union, a new fighting union that aims to reboot the housing system in favour of renters. By standing and organising together, renters can win better conditions and affordable rents and ensure that everyone has a decent, secure place to call home.

This trades councils votes to affiliate to the London Renters Union and to take this motion to the Greater London Assembly of Trade Unions.

1,069 words (excluding title)

Report on a useful TUC London, Eastern and South Eastern regional meeting

LESE, as it is now known, had a pretty useful meeting today, so those of us that were willing to not be at the football or Pride were able to say it wasn’t a wasted morning.

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.

A Brief Report on the Annual General Meeting of BAPS

The Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) met on 4th of July, in what was effectively a relaunch for one of London’s longest running local anti-austerity organisations. The time could not be more right for the return of this grouping.

Keen as ever to emphasise the strong ties between community organisations and the trade union movement, there were two invited speakers from the unions. Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of RMT, drew strong comparisons between BAPS’ struggle over services with RMT’s battles in the transport sector. Not only is privatisation, to big businesses that asset strip and repeatedly fail, a common theme but so also is the axing of workers who are essential to vulnerable people. This is as true of station staff and train conductors as it is of librarians and local care workers – and our movement should fight to retain all these grades. Steve finished by contrasting the left and the labour movement’s genuine concern for protecting the innocent with the false narrative currently being peddled by the hard right who are making a false cause out of it, and he urged everyone to attend the anti-fascist demo on July 14th.

Steve Day then spoke from the Baker’s Union (BFAWU) about the ongoing ‘McStrike’, and it was great to get an update. Since a mere 47 workers launched their action, down the road from where we were meeting at McDonald’s HQ in Finchley, one of the biggest employers in the world has been forced to concede a 6.5% pay rise for almost 200 thousand workers in Britain. The campaign to organise and improve the conditions of McDonald’s workers continues, and Day concluded by saying there would be a lot more of our tax revenue to pay for public services if some much wasn’t currently having to be paid as in-work welfare to subsidise absurdly the absurdly low pay large companies pay to service staff.

After the two guests, we had the more familiar faces of local “Mr Reasonable” blogger, John Dix, and Barnet Labour council group leader, Barry Rawlings. John reiterated that since the election, the news regarding the state of council finances just doesn’t stop getting worse. Cuts the Tories had initially estimated as totally £9 million are now looking more like £20 million (when John asked why the Tories were so caught off-gaurd by this, despite officers in Barnet being aware in February, he was told that Tory leader Richard Cornelius “doesn’t read reports”). The never-ending farce of payments to Capita (to say nothing of actual fraud) add completely unacceptably to this. Even when savings to their expensive provisions are found, Capita claim back 40% savings as “gain-share” – literal money for nothing! John said that on July 19th, when the Tories have been forced into having a council meeting to review options regarding Capita, good sense would call for so-called Option 3: bring it all back to the public sector. Barry, and numerous other Labour councillors from the borough, reiterated that the Tories are rampantly breaching election pledges, while doggedly supporting a national government that is directly responsible for lack of council funding, and called for pressure on Tory councillors and MPs to be maintained.

The next steps in the campaign, then are to unite our forces for Option 3. There will be a cultural launch, featuring the start of the Barnet Wall, on Friday the 13th at West Hendon’s Midland Pub. The big push for campaigning will be to get people to protest at Hendon Town Hall on Wednesday the 19th at 6pm.

DEMAND OPTION 3!

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