Wednesday 30 January 2008

Getting members involved

One of my bugbears is when people see "organising" as nothing more than recruitment.

If organising is to be successful it has to include recruitment, but it also has to mean getting members active and involved, training and developing them, as well as building structures so that members and reps can sort things out for themselves.

I posted recently about my concerns about the low numbers of candidates and nominations for the UNITE Executive Council (NEC) and what that reflected about the levels of active participation in our union - from the workplace and local branch up.

The Regional Sector Conferences I've attended this week have made me think more about this.

Our Electrical Engineering, Electronics & IT (EEE&IT) sector has about 40,000 members - slightly less than the entire Fire Brigades Union (FBU). This is one of the smaller sectors in the Amicus section of UNITE. Yet many of our Regional Sector Conferences are attended by only a handful of reps. I don't know the FBU structure, but I doubt very much that a key regional meeting, held only every two years, would only muster a handful! Why?

One factor is undoubtedly that all most reps get is a letter telling them there's a conference. Nobody talks to them about it. Nobody explains what it's for or why it would be worth attending. Nobody gives them encouragement. Most reps stick it in the bin.

This is not how you would organise anything you wanted to be a success. It is well established that speaking to someone is a far more powerful tool for getting them to do something than a letter, email or web site (though these all have their place). If you really want something to be a success you use multiple methods of communication. Just compare the deluge of letter, magazines and DVDs encouraging us to vote Labour at election time with the almost zero effort put into building attendance at Sector Conferences or Area Quarterlies and it would be hard for any rep to escape the conclusion that the union didn't regard them as important. This neglect of lay member involvement is wrong and has to change if our union is to be a success.

Some sectors, including our own, have the added problem that nobody knows what they are and it's nobody's problem.

I would hazard a guess that the FBU has more than one officer. I would hazard a guess that FBU officers and activists know where the various brigades are and where the fire stations are within that.

Compare that with EEE&IT. We have one National Officer. Within any region, there are hundreds of workplaces in our sector. Responsibility for them is scattered amongst nearly all the Regional Officers (for understandable geographical reasons). The officer charged with running the Regional Sector Conference or Committee might, if they are lucky, know about a couple of key workplaces in the sector. Because "sector" isn't a concept they use day-to-day when dealing with disciplinaries, grievances, negotiations and disputes, they may not even realise which sector the workplaces they deal with are in. As a result, even if all officers prioritised building lay member involvement, the odds of them thinking of calling the relevant reps to have a chat about going to their sector conference are vanishingly slim.

So what's the effect? Even though we're in the biggest union in the country, it can feel small, weak and ineffective to a rep on the ground. This saps their confidence and enthusiasm, making it harder to get people involved and to build the union.

As we go into UNITE we have to get a grip of the fundamental task of involving, motivating, organising and inspiring our members so that we can win things and grow.

Update on EEE&IT sector conferences

Regional Sector Conferences are taking place at the moment in the Amicus section of UNITE - every workplace representative is entitled to attend the one for their sector in their region. I've previously posted the dates and venues for the EEE&IT sector conferences.

Several have already taken place, and I thought it might be helpful to give an update.

Any rep can propose a motion specifically about their sector at their conference. The conference can choose up to two which go forward to the National Sector Conference in June, and can become the policy of the sector.

Please have a think about motions before you go to your conference. It's best if quite a few people have ideas, people can debate them and pick the most important. It's not as if we're short of issues!

When drafting your motion(s), please bear in mind that the form they will be submitted on starts with the words "This conference...". Keep it short, simple and specific to our sector.

I understand that motions have already been passed on the following topics:

  1. North East: a motion about the impact on Climate Change and the environment of closing factories and transporting goods around the world.
  2. Yorkshire & Humberside: a motion about the new wave of attacks on occupational pensions in our sector. A motion about the loss of the organiser for our sector and how we can develop our sector organising plan.
  3. South West: a motion for a shorter working week
Do you know of any more?

If you can't attend, please send in your apologies, so that those who do attend have the option of including you in the delegation to the National Sector Conference or involving you in the Regional Sector Committee.

UNITE industrial structures - discussion paper

Though as a member of the Amicus section NEC I have been officially been told nothing about this yet, I have managed to get hold of a copy of the discussion document presented to the UNITE Joint Executive Council (JEC) on 10th January.

The document outlines a possible industrial sector structure for the new rulebook.

In terms of the impact on EEE&IT, it confirms what I had heard. The proposal would mean a distinct "Electrical Engineering & Electronics" sector - possibly a good thing - and the creation of a new "IT & Communications" sector.

The latter is a major concern to reps in the IT industry that I've spoken to so far. While the name and the principle are fine, we understand that the main component of the "Communication" bit would actually be the "Communication Managers Association" (CMA) which has about 11,000 members who are mostly Royal Mail managers. It is hard to see an industrial logic to grouping Royal Mail managers with IT, telecomms or broadcasting workers. It is easy to imagine the problems that could arise from a sector with such a disproportionate management component.

The document is clearly identified as "for discussion and consultation", and I'm sure ours won't be the only sector where members have views about the pros and cons of the proposed structure.

I'd be very interested to know your views, and I'd also encourage members to make their views known through their officers and the union structures. Putting a draft proposal out for discussion is a very welcome development and members shouldn't let this opportunity to shape our union pass.

I am disappointed, however, that this key document doesn't appear to be on the union web site and hasn't even been circulated to Amicus section NEC members in advance of our meeting next week. With Regional Sector Conferences taking place at the moment, what better opportunity could there have been for consultation?

Tuesday 29 January 2008

Agency & Temporary Workers - another try

After New Labour talked out the Paul Farrelly bill to give employment rights to agency workers, UNITE is back again campaigning behind a new private member's bill. You can ask your MP to sign the Early Day Motion supporting it.

The new UNITE web site has a page setting out what you can do.

What have the unions ever done for us?

With apologies to Monty Python:

Monday 28 January 2008

Strike to defend pensions

With another round of attacks on occupational pensions taking place in our industry, it is inspiring to see members at Goodrich Aerospace taking action to prevent attacks on their pension fund.

When pensions are under threat the sums involved are often huge, so being prepared to take action when necessary is essential to make employers listen.

Let's hope they win!

Privatisation - is it a wind-up?

"You couldn't make it up" is a reasonable reaction to learning that Carphone Warehouse were behind one of the proposed "Academies" in Preston. The news coverage this week suggesting government support for McDonalds being approved to issue qualifications took this to a new level.

Does the government really want to reduce "education" to "training"? Are tax-payers expected to fund job-specific training because so many employers are too scared of having staff poached by competitors to train their staff properly?

Now Virgin, responsible for that bane of my life the West Coast Main Line, want to help privatise more of the NHS. Does Richard Branson know no shame? A man who launched a brand of condoms shortly after his balloon burst over the Atlantic, and who aims to milk the taxpayer of billions thanks to Gordon Brown's refusal to nationalise Northern Rock, now hopes to extend corporate power over more of our NHS. Presumably their healthcare centres won't be offering help with contraception, STDs or abortion? I hope there are protests at the various events they plans across the UK.

Satire is dead.

Sunday 27 January 2008

UNITE NEC Elections rally

Amicus Unity Gazette, the broad left grouping in the Amicus section of UNITE, is holding a national rally on 16th February in Derby, focussing on the NEC elections. Voting is expected to start on 3rd March. A leaflet is available for download from the gazette web site.

If you're in the Manchester area, don't forget the public meeting on 26th February - leaflet available from the same place.

Fighting Unions dayschool a success

Well done to everyone who took part in yesterday's "Organising For Fighting Unions" (OFFU) dayschool in Manchester yesterday. When the planning started there seemed a risk it would prove over-ambitious. In the event 80-90 people took part from a good range of unions and political viewpoints, which was about as many as the space and the workshop format of the middle session could cope with.

There was healthy discussion and debate, everyone seemed to enjoy and learn from it and the main problem was not enough time!

A meeting to plan further events will be held at 7:30pm on Tuesday 5th February in the NUJ’s Manchester office:

National Union of Journalists
5th Floor
Arthur House
Chorlton Street
M1 3FH

Thursday 24 January 2008

UNITE left meeting in Manchester

Amicus Unity Gazette (the broad left grouping) is organising a public meeting in Manchester on 26th February under the title "Make Unite A Strong Union", with a panel of left candidates standing for the UNITE Executive Council (NEC) leading the debate.

From a conversation today I think it is also likely that colleagues from the TGWU section of UNITE will be taking part.

You can download an initial leaflet here.

What future for our sector?

I posted recently about the future structure of UNITE, reporting that I'd heard the rules commission had a draft of the sectors for UNITE and that this would go out for consultation. I've still seen nothing official, even as an Amicus NEC member, but am picking up rumours via the officer force that the proposal involves our sector being broken up.

What I've heard is that the intention is to join the Electrical Engineering and Electronics parts of the sector (the majority) with something else (haven't heard what) and create a new "IT and Communications" sector.

When the EEE&IT sector was first set up, many people in the manufacturing part of it were unhappy that they had been grouped with a "service" industry that seemed quite different. I think this feeling was accentuated by the fact that both NEC members and the National Officer all had more of an IT background than manufacturing. I think this feeling has started to break down over the last few years, as people realise just how much we have in common. Nonetheless, many members in Electrical Engineering and Electronics feel no particular affinity with the IT industry. I think their reaction to any reorganisation would depend on what they were grouped with instead.

The position for people in the IT industry is of more concern. "IT and Communications" sounds innocuous - indeed in many contexts people refer to IT as ICT - "Information & Communication Technology". But from what I hear, the "Communication" bit isn't about telecomms or networking, but about lumping us together with the "Communication Managers Association" (CMA).

The CMA has over 10,000 members who are mostly managers in Royal Mail.

The CMA had a long legal battle with Amicus (it is not my preference that trade unionists allow judges to resolve their differences).

While I think it is great that managers in any company are organised in a trade union, they will never be the bedrock of effective union organisation. In Royal Mail, where the CWU has been fighting job cuts, privatisation and bullying, many managers are on the wrong side of the argument.

I attended a demonstration in Burslem on Saturday in support of 12 suspended CWU members. Royal Mail is bringing in managers from elsewhere in an attempt to cover the work and break the strike. Only this week a member showed me a copy of a letter (given to them by someone they knew in the CWU) from CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes to Derek Simpson, asking him to investigate the scabbing at Burslem - allegedly by CMA members.

There is no industrial logic to grouping IT workers with Royal Mail managers, and I believe doing so would impair our ability to organise in a vital and growing sector of the economy.

Members in EEE&IT should await the proposals for the new sector structure of UNITE with great attention and make sure their views are heard if necessary.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Manchester Area Activists Meetings

Tonight I attended the Amicus section's Manchester Area Committee, which meets between the full Area Activists' Quarterlies, which all workplace reps and lay branch officers are entitled to attend.

We were grappling with how to involve more people and to encourage more campaigning in the Greater Manchester Area.

We agreed dates for the rest of 2008 [PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE DATES NO LONGER APPLY]:

Quarterly meeting, 7pmCommittee meeting, 6pm
12th February11th March
29th April17th June
22nd July9th September
21st October2nd December

All meetings take place at the UNITE/Amicus Prestwich office.

We decided to have a main theme for each of the Quarterlies, and to use these to help us work systematically to target particular parts of the union structure to seek more involvement.

At the February Quarterly meeting we want to get a speaker from the campaign against the closure of Rolls Royce Bootle and someone from Abortion Rights UK. While we want to put some effort into encouraging more women activists to attend, the attacks on abortion rights are an issue for all trade unionists.

At the April Quarterly meeting, we want to have a discussion about the impact of the Credit Crunch. This affects us all, but presents an opportunity to get more people from the Finance sector (the biggest in the Amicus section of UNITE) to take part.

At the July Quarterly meeting, we hope to have a discussion about the proposed new UNITE rulebook. It would be particularly interesting if we could get some colleagues from the TGWU to come along as guests.

We also discussed doing some work to map the membership and potential membership in the Manchester area, so the Quarterly meetings can help the union to grow.

Brown - a let down - on housing too

When people at the top of various unions were scrabbling round for justifications for backing Gordon Brown's coronation as Labour leader, heavy hints were dropped that he would make big changes on council housing. Many people found it plausible, given that many "Brownites" had backed the Defend Council Housing campaign.

I guess some people must be feeling pretty let down by the reality, which is starkly spelt out in a UNITE press release "The need for new council housing has been completely overlooked in the new Housing and Regeneration Bill".

At a time when sub-prime mortgage problems in the US are sending shock waves across the world economy and our dependence on credit is in question, the case for good quality, publicly owned, affordable housing seems almost irresistable. It seems that Brown needs to see the argument of our force as well as the force of our argument...

Getting trade union activists together

In the face of attacks from employers and government, there's a strong desire for unity from working people. This has manifested itself in many ways including support for mergers, the desire for coordinated action against pay restraint and some impressive examples of solidarity as well as local and national efforts to build cooperation between activists in different unions, spawning groups such as Public Service Not Private Profit (PSNPP), Organising For Fighting Unions (OFFU) and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN).

Partly because our dispute at Fujitsu coincided with the rise of these various groups, I've ended up being involved to some degree in all of them. While the details differ, I think their goals overlap significantly, and they are all reflections of the desire for a more united, coordinated and vigorous response from the trade union movement to the problems faced by working people. They are all worthy of support.

In my neck of the woods, we have an OFFU dayschool in Manchester on Saturday 26th January which looks set to be a very interesting and useful event with a great mix of participants. Then on 2nd February we have an NSSN meeting in Liverpool to plan a north-west NSSN conference.

Lobby Ivan Lewis MP for the reinstatement of Karen Reissmann

The campaign to reinstate Karen Reissmann, Manchester nurse and UNISON rep sacked for speaking out in defence of the NHS, is holding a lobby of Ivan Lewis MP from 5pm on Friday in Prestwich.

Monday 21 January 2008

UNITE NEC elections - nominations published

The Amicus section of UNITE has now published the full list of nominations for the 40 "Amicus seats" on the new UNITE NEC. They make interesting reading - if you know what to look for.

From a left point of view, nine candidates backed by Amicus Unity Gazette (the broad left grouping) were unopposed and (subject to confirmation by the Amicus NEC) should be declared elected. Another twenty-six received sufficient nominations to appear on the ballot paper.

While it's nice to have some of the seats almost "in the bag", it is surely no more healthy to have a lot of uncontested elections for a union's National Executive than it is to have uncontested elections for reps and stewards within the workplace. It is a sign of health in a trade union to have vigorous debate and controversy - as long as people work together as well.

It's not easy to compare the numbers of nominations with the last NEC election in 2003, as UNIFI and GPMU have joined since, there are 40 Amicus seats instead of 48 and the distribution has changed. Perhaps the best barometer is to look at the four women's seats.

In 2003 there were 1719 branch nominations shared between 13 candidates for the four women's seats.

In 2008 there are 510 branch nominations shared between 9 candidates for the four women's seats.

There is one candidate (Jane Stewart, from my own region) who stood both times. In 2003 she received 212 branch nominations. This time 109, despite being an "incumbent" NEC member.

I don't believe that this decline can be accounted for simply by branch mergers, and it shows the need to revitalise our branches and other lay member structures.

For the EEE&IT sector, it's clear that nobody else even tried to stand (presumably they could at least have nominated themselves!) and apparently I received nominations from reps in 11 workplaces, compared to 14 in 2003 (when there were also 5 other candidates). Bearing in mind that the sector was new in 2003 so reps didn't know each other yet, this is a pretty shocking decline.

It is vital that as many reps and stewards as possible attend their Regional Sector Conferences over the next few weeks and make the structures work effectively for the members.

Saturday 19 January 2008

Motorola-TTPCom job cuts

The Register is carrying a story that 155 staff in Cambridgeshire are to be laid off.

Leon Kuhn cartoon on incomes policy

I can see this cartoon appearing in workplaces across the country.

Friday 18 January 2008

UNITE NEC elections - nominations closed

I have received a letter from Derek Simpson, the Returning Officer, saying that when nominations closed last Friday, I was the only person to receive sufficient nominations for the Electrical Engineering, Electronics & IT (EEE&IT) seat. He will recommend to the Amicus Section NEC on 6th February that I am declared elected unopposed.

Rumours suggest that I am not the only candidate in this position.

A big thank you to everyone who supported my campaign. But please don't forget that the Executive Council will be 80-strong, so it's important that good candidates are elected to as many seats as possible if we are to make UNITE as strong as members need it to be. Members in the EEE&IT sector are still likely to get a vote for a regional seat and four women's seats. The campaign goes on.

Watch for updates.

If you're interested, this is the leaflet I had prepared for the election campaign.

Thursday 17 January 2008

EDS Voluntary Redundancy programme

The Register today carries a report about job cuts in EDS, which they seem confident of achieving voluntarily.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

North West Health & Safety Reps Conference

UNITE is planning a conference for all our health and safety reps in the north-west on Tuesday 18th March. Similar conferences have already taken place in several regions, and I understand that more are being planned.

I think this is an important event because it's an opportunity for H&S reps to get an update on various issues and to exchange news and experiences. H&S reps (like Union Learning Reps and Equality Reps) aren't part of the industrial sector structure, so this is one of very few opportunities to get together.

Monday 14 January 2008

Future structure of UNITE

UNITE's "rules commission" is charged with drawing up the rulebook for the new union, which will be put to a ballot of members by the first Executive Council some time after it takes office in May. I understand that the rules commission has now drafted a proposal for UNITE's industrial sectors (23 of them), and that this will be circulated to branches for consultation. It will be interesting to see whether/how our sector is impacted by this - members should be ready to express their views when the proposal comes out.

In the meantime, the union's web site now contains a helpful "structure" page which brings together the current Amicus section rulebook (updated for 2007-8), the Instrument of Amalgamation and the UNITE General Rules.

Support the CWU in Burslem

In the aftermath of the national post strike, CWU activists in a number of areas have faced victimisation. At the Burslem delivery office, on the outskirts of Stoke on Trent, 100 members have been on all-out strike in defence of 12 colleagues who between them have two hundred years of service with royal mail.

CWU have called a national demonstration for this Saturday - I hope to see you there.

Saturday 12 January 2008

Ruth Frow - a sad loss

I was sad to learn of the death of Ruth Frow, who along with her husband Eddie (who died in 1997, and had been an activist in the engineering industry) were part of the fabric of the Manchester labour movement for most of the 20th century.

One of their more recent achievements was to turn their enormous personal archives into the foundation of the Working Class Movement Library, which moved out of their house and expanded into bigger premises in 1987.

Part of the reason the WCML archives are so valuable is that the couple were activists who kept material from the campaigns they were involved in. The library is always keen to play the same function now, and appeals for materials from today's campaigns. What might seem mundane today could be of great interest to someone in years to come.

I'm sure others who knew her better will write more about Ruth's fascinating life and the contribution she made to our movement.

Friday 11 January 2008

Comeuppance for Clarkson

One comedian this week described Jeremy Clarkson as having opinions unencumbered by fact - his own take on events was "I was wrong and I have been punished".

He'd used his column in The Sun to rubbish the furore over the loss of the HMRC data disks, claiming it was a fuss about nothing. To make his point, he released similar information about himself as had been contained on the disks about millions of others. He believed that it would only allow people to put money into his bank account, not take it out.

Some bright spark used the data to set up a Direct Debit from his account to charity - making a point even more powerfully than Clarkson himself had.

Fraudsters' wit seems high on the news at the moment - with the news the Barclays Bank boss Marcus Agius fell victim when someone got a Barclaycard in his name and took £10,000.

Let's hope that the recent data-disasters lead organisations to value their data more highly - and the people they rely on to manage and protect it.

Mixed views on IT spending

An interesting article in The Register giving different views on likely IT spending this year.

The Register is a useful source of information, but should always be taken with a pinch of salt - it tends to carry stories that others don't, but doesn't always check things as carefully as you'd like.

Wednesday 9 January 2008

Photronics UK win union recognition

I hear that UNITE has won the ballot for union recognition at the Trafford Park (Manchester) site of Photronics UK Ltd, which supplies masks to the semiconductor industry. Photronics had previously derecognised the union and contested the case at the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

Congratulations to members at Photronics!

EEE&IT conferences

The Amicus structure is mainly based on workplace representatives / stewards taking part in industrial sector conferences and committees, so it's vital that as many reps as possible take part in the next round of Regional Sector Conferences which take place between January and March 2008. These are intended to be the foundations of our union's democracy.

Amongst other things, these will be able to fill vacancies in Regional Sector Committees, Regional Councils and the delegation to the National Sector Conference. With reps being unable to attend these meetings if they lose their positions (whether by being unelected by the members or due to losing their job) it's inevitable that they're getting a bit thin on the ground after a two year term of office.

Please do all you can to ensure a good turnout for the conferences. I thought it would be helpful to start to gather together the dates of them all, as invitations for many haven't gone out yet.

The National Sector Conference for EEE&IT (Electrical Engineering, Electronics & IT) will be Friday 6th June (other sectors, see here).

The EEE&IT Regional Sector Conferences are:

  • North East: Thursday 17th January (am, Murton, County Durham)
  • Wales: Monday 21st January (am, Cardiff)
  • South West: Monday 21st January (pm, Bristol)
  • Scotland: Tuesday 29th January (11am, Glasgow)
  • Yorkshire & Humberside: Wednesday 30th January (10:30am, Wakefield)
  • North West: Thursday 31st January (11am, Prestwich, Manchester)
  • East Midlands: Thursday 7th February (10am, Derby)
  • West Midlands: Thursday 7th February (2:30pm, West Bromwich)
  • Ireland: Wednesday 13th February (Belfast)
  • South East: Monday 18th February (10am, Maidstone)
  • London & Eastern: Wednesday 20th February (10:30am, Moreland Street, London)
If you are a steward or workplace rep (not H&S rep or ULR) in the sector and don't get an invitation, you should contact your Regional Office. Regional Office contact details are on the union web site.

Tuesday 8 January 2008

Inflation and Pay

There's something deeply sickening about hearing MPs on good salaries talking about holding down pay for working people to avoid inflation.

The current surge in inflation has not been caused by workers' pay going up. It has been caused primarily by rising fuel and food prices. Don't take my word for it - that's the message Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England gave to explain inflation as it passed the 3% (even by the government's CPI measure) in early 2007.

The other reason King gives is "businesses have become more confident that they could raise prices to rebuild profit margins". In other words, businesses felt they could charge us more to boost their profits.

In this context, the government's mantra, inevitably echoed by private sector employers, that workers' pay must be held down to avoid fueling inflation, really means that workers should have their living standards cut to pay for the increased profits. In an economy where many working people rely on credit even more than in the past, this is a dangerous road to go down for both individuals and the economy.

So UNITE is absolutely right to attack the government's latest wheeze - trying to impose multi-year pay deals - presumably below inflation - on public sector workers. The government is making a big gamble with such an explicit pay policy. They appear to have largely got away with it in 2007, but how much longer can union leaders loyal to Brown hold the lid on resistance if real wages continue to decline?

Reinstate Karen Reissmann, Defend the NHS

Yesterday I went to one of the campaign meetings for nurse and UNISON activist Karen Reissmann, who was sacked for speaking out against NHS cuts.

It's good to see that losing the appeal hasn't dampened the spirits of Karen or the other campaigners, who are determined to keep up the pressure rather than just await the tribunal result.

Lots of plans are being hatched - keep an eye on their campaign web site for updates, and in the meantime, why not sign the petition on the Downing Street web site and pass on the details to your friends?

Outsourcing & Redundancy

It's not uncommon, despite the protection of the TUPE regulations, for employers to be motivated by cost-cutting to consider outsourcing parts of their workforce.

According to reports on and on ZDnet, Shell has tried to "interpret" a relatively favourable redundancy deal as not covering IT workers before proposing to outsource up to 3,200 of them to AT&T, EDS and T-Systems. Doubtless the new employers would be very grateful to receive staff under TUPE with worse terms and conditions. How long would it be before the first of the outsourced employees got made redundant?

Monday 7 January 2008

Defend the Prison Officers' right to strike

If anyone still had any illusions that Gordon Brown was more union-friendly than Bliar, surely the news that the government proposes to ban Prison Officers taking strike action will dispel them.

The irony of the recent Prison Officers Association (POA) strike was that it was conducted as a wildcat strike, causing more disruption, precisely because they believed that going through all the legal hoops would have given the government time to ban the action altogether. And as with most unofficial action, the POA walkout did not lead to the union having its funds sequestrated or the sky falling in. If action is united, determined and successful, employers are generally reluctant to use the law for fear of escalating the dispute.

The news makes a Manchester "Organising For Fighting Unions" day school I'm helping organise for 26th January look even more interesting. The opening session is on Trade Union Freedom and the Right To Strike, and will be addressed by Brian Caton (the POA General Secretary) and Jane Loftus (Liverpool postal worker and CWU President). You can get a leaflet here.

Laurence Scott

The name "Laurence Scott" is part of the legend of the Manchester trade union movement, thanks to the 11 month dispute and occupation against factory closure in 1981-2 which was broken up by riot police.

So I was surprised to see it pop up on a UNITE press release under the heading "Unite Secures Legal Victory for Sacked Workers".

Trade Union conference on Climate Change

The final agenda & material is now available for the trade union conference on climate change on 9th February. Our sector is sending a delegation, and I'll be attending on behalf of my branch. If you're not going, make sure you book up as soon as possible.

Thursday 3 January 2008

2008: The worst year for jobs in a decade?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has issued an end of year report saying that 2008 would be "easily the worst" year for jobs since 1997, with net job losses in the public sector and slow growth in the private sector.

They forecast a further squeeze on workers' living standards thanks to rising fuel and food prices.

The report has had quite a bit of media coverage, in the context of general ervousness about the state of the economy.

What we need is a union...

Closer to home, this makes me even more pleased that we resolved our dispute in Fujitsu - the deal included a new agreement on redundancy and redeployment rights.