Tuesday, 27 May 2008

First UNITE Executive Council meeting

The first meeting of the UNITE Executive Council took place last week. I apologise that I haven't been able to post a proper report - I've hurt my shoulder and am trying to avoid long periods at a keyboard - not easy in my job!

I notice that Gill George has posted a report on her web site, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Another ECJ blow against workers

I posted previously about the "Rüffert" case, where the European Court of "Justice" ruled that the right of companies to trade freely over-rides national agreements on wages etc.

Thompsons solicitors have produced a helpful summary of the case and the issues it raises.

Fujitsu workers vote for action

The CWU web site reports that their members at Fujitsu Solihull have delivered a hefty majority for strike action in opposition to plans to end manufacturing there.

Let's hope the talks get some results.

Proposed UNITE rulebook

On 24th April the UNITE "Joint Executive Council" (JEC) approved a draft rulebook. The new Executive Council which took office on 1st May will have to put this to a ballot of members this summer, with the expectation that it comes into force in November 2008.

You can download the proposed rules here. I haven't yet had a chance to compare them to the earlier draft which I previously commented on.

I found out a bit more today about the proposed rule on branches. Firstly, the assumption seems to be that all retired members would all be put in separate "Retired Members Association" branches. Secondly, the TGWU General Executive Council (GEC) had been given assurances that the wording in 17.1 "Wherever possible, Branches shall be based on the workplace, although provision shall also be made for local Branches and National Industrial Branches as appropriate and as approved by the Executive Council" meant local industrial branches and national industrial branches, not local general branches and national industrial branches. If this is so, I imagine there will be sighs of relief from industrial branches in construction, health, IT, finance, voluntary sectors - but concerns from those in local general geographical branches.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Ineos pensions win?

If press reports are to be believed, UNITE members at the Ineos oil refinery at Grangemouth have been successful in defending their final salary pension scheme through industrial action. By protecting the pensions of future employees, they have made their own pensions more secure.

There is something of a pattern developing here. Remember the threatened strike at the British Airport Authority a few months ago?

Union official channels are often cautious about broadcasting successes, for fear of making it harder for employers to climb down. That doesn't mean the rest of us should fail to draw the lessons.

It would be too easy to look at the huge power BAA or Ineos workers have and think they're different to the rest of us. But the reality is that most groups of workers have great power if they act collectively - it's just not always so obvious. Think about some of the lowest paid workers in the country, such as supermarket checkout staff, and think about the impact if they took united action. The problem is not usually that workers don't have power, it's that workers don't realise their power.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Freescale production under threat

900 more jobs are under threat in East Kilbride at Freescale Semiconductors.

CWU Fujitsu strike ballot

The result of the CWU strike ballot at Fujitsu Telecommunications Limited's Solihull plant, over the threat to move manufacturing to the USA, is expected on 14th May.