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Posts Tagged ‘Trade Unions

Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise, Ipswich Public Services Demonstration.

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Grandma Gilles on Ipswich Demo. (Thanks Ellie).

Over 300 people  came to the demo in Ipswich called by the Trades Council and local unions, Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise,  yesterday.

In Ipswich there were well attended pickets at the Russell Road Borough and County Council offices, at Crown Pools, the Borough Council Waste depot (dust-carts – the majority of which did not go out), and HMRC offices in Lower Brook Street.

59 Suffolk schools were affected by strike action and 17 closed for the day.

At the march and rally there were members of UNISON, GMB, FBU, UNITE, PCS & NUT, NUJ, DPAC, the Peoples Assembly, other unions and campaigns, as well as members of the public.

The Suffolk People’s Assembly (Facebook)  report notes,

Many speakers at the rally expressed their anger at the wage freeze public sector workers have faced over the past 4 years. This has led to a 20% decline in real wages at the same time as increased workload. One PCS member said that he was now doing 2 peoples’ jobs and facing constant performance reviews, which was destroying his job satisfaction.

A parent talked of her support for the teachers’ strike, to defend her and other people’s education. The Ipswich NUT Secretary, Margaret  Bulaitis, spoke about how the the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, denigrated the work of her profession, and was more interested in promoting academies and privatisation than the needs of school students.

Martin, from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), gave an impassioned speech on the effects cuts and changes to the benefit system were having on those with disabilities.

Support came from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Their representative suggested that Grandma Gilles (above) would not have put up with the attacks on public services by the Liberal-Conservative Coalition.

 Ipswich Tory Attacks Strikes. 

Ipswich Tory MP, Ben Gummer, disagrees.

He said (Ipswich Star) that, “public sector workers had fared better than the private sector during the recession.”

He said striking teachers were damaging the education of the children in their classes.

And he said the government was taking action to clamp down on tax avoidance by the rich and to help the low paid.

“This government has lifted two million people out of paying income tax altogether and the gap between rich and poor is getting smaller for the first time in 20 years.”

Gummer’s figures are certainly creative.

Sky news states (May 2014),

“The gap between rich and poor in Britain has become wider, with 10% of the population now owning almost half of the nation’s household wealth.

Those same one in ten households own assets worth over £1m – that’s almost 1.4 million homes.

Teachers’ Unions argue that it is Michael Gove’s ‘reforms’ are undermining education.

Their dispute about  pay, pensions and working conditions, is linked to the government’s efforts to devalue teaching, and open the way to private companies profiting from the schooling system.

Gove’s changes have created excessive workloads, and let free schools operate without democratic control and public accountability.

On public sector workers’ pay the TUC says,

Public sector workers are £2,245 worse off as a result of the coalition’s austerity policies, according to the Trades Union Congress.

NHS staff, teachers, firefighters and local government workers are among those that have lost out following pay freezes and limited pay rises since the government took office, the TUC said.

The figures, which show the average fall in real terms pay suffered by workers since May 2010, were published a day before a wave of strikes among UK public sector workers over pay, pensions and working conditions. Government policies on public sector pay have had a big impact on the spending power of almost six million UK households, according to the TUC.

The Liberal-Conservative Coalition has one overarching policy for the public sector: turning it into a source of profit for private companies.

As Thomas Picketty has noted,

Instead of holding public debt via their financial investments, the wealthiest European households would becomes the direct owners of schools, hospitals, police stations, and so on. Everyone else would then have to pay rent to use these assets and continue to produce the associated public services.”(Page 541. Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Thomas Piketty. Harvard University Press. 2014.)

The trade unions, backed by the People’s Assembly, are fighting back!

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Update: this how private companies making money out of public services in Suffolk fail to deliver:

Left Unity and its Future.

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Left Unity: Advancing to What?

“If the Labour Party cannot be turned into a socialist party, then the question which confronts us all is, how can we form a socialist party? If we are not ready to answer this question, then we are not ready to dismiss the party that exists.”

Socialists and the Labour Party. Ken Coates. 1973.

“There are many formidable obstacles, which stand in the way of political renewal on the left. Yet such a renewal is necessary if an effective challenge is to be posed to the domination which the Labour Party exercises over the labour movement: nothing much by way of socialist advance will be possible until such a challenge can be effectively posed. This requires the formation of a socialist party free from the manifold shortcomings of existing organisations and able to draw together people from such organisations as well as people who are now politically homeless. By no means the least of its purposes would be to provide a credible and effective rallying point to help in the struggle against the marked and accelerating drift to the right in Britain.”

Moving On. Ralph Miliband. 1976.

“There is a saying on the British left that the only thing more futile than trying to transform the Labour Party into an instrument for radical change is trying to set up a viable party to the left of it”.

Left Unity or Class Unity? Andrew Murray. 2014 (1)

Polls indicate the xenophobic and anti-EU UKIP may get over 30% of the vote in May’s European election. Nigel Farage is not isolated. Marine Le Pen (also leading voting intentions) in France, the Austrian FPÖ, Wilders and the PVV in Holland, and others, many others on the populist extremes, have come to prominence across the continent. They appear on the crest of wave, with a projected electoral score of up to 25% gathered inside the EU. If there is radical shift in the political agenda it looks as if it’s being pushed from the fringes of the right. (2)

Faced with this prospect it may seem of little consequence that in November last year a small section (over 1,200 sub-paying members) of the British left formed a new party, Left Unity (LU). Left Unity’s creation began in March 2013 when Ken Loach, Kate Hudson and Gilbert Achcar, railed against the absence of a left agenda in national politics, “…Labour embraces cuts and privatisation and is dismantling its own great work. Labour has failed us.” (Guardian. 25.3.13) The wanted something paralleling other European radical left-wing parties “to fill the left space, offering an alternative political, social and economic vision..“The anomaly which leaves Britain without a left political alternative – one defending the welfare state, investing for jobs, homes and education, transforming our economy – has to end.” The call received thousands of on-line and other endorsements, 10,000 according to supporters

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The Media and Trade Unions.

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There are those in the media who are so nostalgic for the days of openly bashing trade unions they are busy recreating a kind of Sealed Knot society devoted to replaying the 1970s.

The Evening Standard was always at the front of these battles.

Today we see this ‘story‘.

Comrade on tour: Steve Hedley poses in a Soviet-style soldier’s hat with an assault rifle.

This is one of the militant union officials fighting to succeed Bob Crow as RMT boss.

Steve Hedley, the union’s Hard-Left assistant general secretary, is pictured on his Facebook page wearing a Soviet-style soldier’s hat and brandishing an assault rifle, believed to be a German weapon from the Second World War.

Messages on the page reveal he appears to relish walk-outs, such as the one which caused misery for Londoners last week. His comments include:

“With 3 different strikes announced today I think ill [sic] enjoy the Easter weekend.”

“Two very good Rmt branch meetings tonight. 1 jubilee south branch want to name strike dates for the job losses dispute. 2 Fleet branch reject job losses and want strike dates. I love the RMT membership.”

Steve Hedly is a member of the Socialist Party. This group, of Trotskyist origins, has, to say the least, nothing  to do with Soviet Stalinism.

The below is from the Evening Standard in December 1970 on Electrical Trade Unionists.

How things change……

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Odessa: 31 people choked to death on smoke or were killed when jumping out of windows after the trade union building was set on fire.

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  A protester throws a petrol bomb at the trade union building in Odessa

A protester throws a petrol bomb at the trade union building in Odessa:

“Unclear” cause of Fire, says Radio France. 

The Voice of America has described this crime as follows,

Dozens of people were killed in a fire and others were shot dead when fighting between pro- and anti-Russian groups broke out on the streets of Odessa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast on Friday, opening a new front in a conflict that has split the country.

A revised Ukrainian government statement said the fire broke out in a trade union building, and that 31 bodies were found at the scene – seven fewer than police first reported. Most of the victims were apparently members of pro-Russian groups.

So a “fire” just “broke out”.

An even more weaselly-worded report on France-Inter this morning described fighting in Odessa between “pro-Russian” and “pro-European” backers of Kiev. The French radio station claimed that the “pro-Russians” attacked the “pro-Kiev” marchers, who were mainly “football supporters”.

The burning to death of 39 protesters in the Trade Union building was described as follows,

Dans la soirée, les pro-russes se sont barricadés dans la Maison des Syndicats, qui a pris feu dans des circonstances peu claires alors qu’il était assiégé par les pro-Européens : 31 personnes sont mortes intoxiquées par les fumées ou se sont tuées en sautant par les fenêtres.

In the evening, the pro-Russians barricaded themselves in the House of Trade Unions, which caught fire in unclear circumstances while being besieged by the pro-Europeans: 31 people died poisoned by fumes or were killed jumping through windows.

Radio France.

The Guardian is more even-handed.

More than 30 people were killed in violent and chaotic clashes in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa on Friday as pro-Ukraine activists stormed a building defended by protesters opposed to the current government in Kiev and in favour of closer ties with Russia.

Odessa’s large Soviet-era trade union building was set alight on Friday as the pro-Ukraine activists mounted an assault as dusk fell. Police said at least 31 people choked to death on smoke or were killed when jumping out of windows after the trade union building was set on fire.

Bodies lay in pools of blood outside the main entrance as explosions from improvised grenades and molotov cocktails filled the air. Black smoke from the building and a burning pro-Russia protest camp wreathed the nearby square.

Pro-Russia fighters mounted a last-ditch defence of the burning building, throwing masonry and petrol bombs from the roof on to the crowd below.

Medics at the scene said the pro-Russia fighters were also shooting from the roof. At least five bodies with bullet wounds lay on the ground covered by Ukraine flags as fire engines and ambulances arrived at the scene.

Some people fell from the burning building as they hung on to windowsills in an attempt to avoid the fire that had taken hold inside. Pro-Ukraine protesters made desperate efforts to reach people with ropes and improvised scaffolding.

“At first we broke through the side, and then we came through the main entrance,” said one pro-Ukrainian fighter, 20, who said he was a member of the extreme nationalist group Right Sector.

“They had guns and they were shooting … Some people jumped from the roof, they died obviously,” he said.

Riot police arrived on the scene as hand-to-hand fighting was already under way inside, but did not enter the building and stood formed up in ranks outside.

The Guardian.

 Russia Today reports,

39 anti-government activists have died in a fire at Odessa’s Trade Unions House. Some burned to death, while others suffocated or jumped out of windows, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported. The building was set ablaze by pro-Kiev radicals.
A total of 46 people have died in Odessa’s violence on Friday and almost 200 others have sustained injuries, Odessa Region prosecutor Igor Borshulyak told journalists on Saturday.

39 of the dead lost their lives in the fire at the Odessa Trade Unions House, according to the Ukrainian emergencies agency.

31 of the dead were found inside the building, eight more were found outside by law enforcement officers,” the agency’s statement reads.

Police detained over 130 people following Friday’s bloody clashes and opened up 10 criminal investigations with charges including premeditated murder and violence against law enforcement officers.

According to the ministry, the Friday standoff on Odessa included “anti-Maidan” activists on one side and “football fans” from Odessa and Kharkov, as well as “euro-Maidan” activists, on the other. A criminal case on the charges of mass unrest has been opened.

This article on the mounting conflict is well worth looking at: The Great Game of Oligarchs. Behind the Ukraine conflict are post-Soviet billionaires often residing in London, says SOLOMON HUGHES

Written by Andrew Coates

May 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Suffolk People’s Assembly: Defend Our Unions Public Meeting.

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On Tuesday up to 60 people came to Ipswich Library Lecture room to the Suffolk People’s Assembly meeting, “Defend our Unions and Right to Resist Austerity.”

Speakers represented many different aspects of the Trade union and anti-cuts movement.

Dave Smith, a Founder Member of Blacklist Support Group, spoke on employers who witch-hunted activists out of jobs. Drawing on his experience in the building trade he outlined the long-standing campaign against the practice, and the recent actions against Crossrail and private contractors for public services.

Donna Guthrie of Joint Chair Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) talked of their grass-roots campaigning in London’s East End. In Newham they had struck deep roots in the community, from many different ethnic backgrounds. They were campaigning against cuts in social housing, and issues such as the abuse of police powers.

Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, National Union of Teachers, said,

I’m Proud that NUT was in at the beginning of People’s Assembly and to share this platform today.

Why is the NUT is involved?

Well firstly because Teachers can’t separate themselves from the rest of working people. But perhaps more importantly because many of the children we teach see the worst effects of the austerity agenda. And it is the most vulnerable hit hardest.

Kevin described the attacks on the education system, spearheaded by Michael Gove.

How do we offer an alternative?

Kevin stated,

The Peoples Assembly shows the characteristics we need for the fight back – unity, broad base, looking for activity, something for everyone to do and contribute to And we do see very successful mobilisations all over the country – against cuts and closures in the health service, against the bedroom tax and evictions, against schools being forced into academy status.

Bill Bowring, the International Secretary of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, and Colchester based, congratulated Suffolk People’s Assembly on its work. He listed more reasons to offer an alternative to the Liberal-Conservative government’s policies. He said that reducing legal aid, a pillar of the post-war settlement, was part of the same weakening of social rights as attacks on the NHS and education.

Roy Humphries FBU Secretary Suffolk Fire Brigades Union, spoke on the government’s plans to reduce their pension rights and raise the age of retirement to an unsustainable limit.

He described how their battles were far from over and thanked members of the local labour movement, in particular Ipswich Trades Council, who had supported their protests.

Jim Kelly, Chair of London & Eastern Region Unite the Union, spoke on  his union’s base in the private sector. He outlined the decline in collective bargaining agreements – the UK is now apparently on a par with only one country, Lithuania, for its low level of these agreements. Jim cited how UNITE had successfully fought back against employers and had, for example,  won bonus for London Bus drivers, and had defended their members. UNITE were beginning to tackle the problems created by the anti-union Gateway port employers.  What was needed were changes to the anti-trade union laws that prevented workers form organising and only a Labour government, he suggested, could do that.

On the Grangemouth dispute Jim pointed out that it was the local membership who had decided on an agreement with a ruthless employers.

In the discussion that followed a member of the SWP attacked the Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey.

Others saw the trade unions in a positive light, as reaching out to people to defend social rights and as advocates of a better society.

The People’s Assembly was mentioned as a way people  draw campaigns and unions together. The previous week Suffolk activists had supported the Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) protest against ATOS. A campaign extending our work on the Living Wage, will be launched for  Fast-Food workers.

At the People’s Assembly National Conference (15 March) Suffolk will be presenting two motions. One opposes  the government’s  policies against migrant workers. The other calls for a national campaign against Workfare and for Charities, social sector and local authorities to have nothing to do with forced labour.

Ipswich Postal workers mentioned their fight to defend their conditions, and the effects of the closure of the local sorting office.

In the pub afterwards activists considered that the meeting had been a success and a help in our efforts to campaign for progressive politics.

Sisters, Brothers! There’s a place for you – in the People’s Assembly!

UNITE and the Giant Rat.

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The Daily Mail ‘reports‘,

For those who recall the dark days of the 1970s and early 80s – when endless strikes and violent mass picketing brought British industry to the brink of ruin – the bully-boy tactics deployed by the Unite union during the recent Grangemouth dispute will have brought a chilling sense of deja vu.

Coordinated by Unite’s sinister ‘Leverage Unit’, mobs of protesters were unleashed to intimidate managers and their families at their homes.

It was a clear attempt to terrify the management into submission.

This despicable  report was carried on Channel Four last night.

UNITE General Secretary, Len Len McCluskey  was at least given a chance to reply to the tissue of lies.

If Tory bully boys threaten workers it’s fine by the Daily Mail.

If UNITE fights back then it’s “bully boys”. 

There is a rumour that Mr Ratty is coming to Ipswich…..

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Suffolk People’s Assembly Public Meeting September the 17th.

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And….

Owen Jones, Journalist, Broadcaster and Author of “Chavs”.


• John Lister Keep NHS Public, author of Public Health and Private Profit

• David Ellesmere, Leader Ipswich Council – Labour Group

• Graham White, Suffolk County Secretary NUT

• Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary UNITE the Union

Suffolk People’s Assembly say No to Austerity!

It’s Time to FIGHT BACK!
This meeting is designed to do just that. It will bring together people fighting against the cuts in jobs and living standards and follows on from the successful Peoples Assembly held in London in June, which attracted over 4,000 delegates, with 100 coming from all ov

At the SUFFOLK Peoples Assembly Public meeting at the Coop Hall Ipswich on September 17th, we will launch a “Living Wage Campaign“.

This will plan our public activities on November 5th, the date selected by the national Peoples Assembly for a day of action against Austerity across the country.

COME TO OUR MEETING ON SEPTEMBER 17th

National People’s Assembly.

Contact Suffolk People’s Assembly via Facebook.
Supported by UNITE the UNION, NUT, PCS, Ipswich Trades Council and many others…