Saturday 31 October 2009

EAT ruling on DDA and Carers for Disabled People

Reports are starting to come out from a Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) hearing yesterday on the case of Sharon Coleman v Attridge Law. This has already been picked up by publications ranging from the Morning Star to the Daily Mail, Personnel Today to Community Care.

I haven't yet seen the actual ruling, but the gist of it seems to be to uphold the view of the original Employment Tribunal that the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) protects people who care for someone with a disability as well as the people with disabilities themselves. This was in question because (as so often) UK law didn't properly implement the EU legislation, in this case the anti-discrimination "Framework Directive".

Given the numbers of people (especially women) who care for elderly relatives who would be classed as disabled under the DDA definition, this ruling is likely to have far-reaching effects in many workplaces.

Hopefully the TUC will update their helpful page on disability issues soon.

Thursday 29 October 2009

UNITE members in Fujitsu vote to strike over Jobs, Pay & Pensions

We got the result of the UNITE UK-wide Fujitsu industrial action ballot over Jobs, Pay & Pensions today, which was 74% for strike and 92% for action short of strike. We are awaiting the PCS result with baited breath.

There's an updated "appeal for support" leaflet and now a collection sheet on

Information about the postal strikes

The latest strikes are:

  • Thursday 29th October: Mail Centres (there's a list here)
  • Friday 30th October: Manual Data Entry Centres (MDECs) in Plymouth, Stockport and Stoke
  • Saturday 31st October: Local Delivery Offices
The CWU web site is rather labyrinthine, but these areas may be useful:
I've posted their collection sheet here, as I can't find it on the CWU web site.

The letter from the UNITE Joint General Secretaries to UNITE members in the CMA (Communication Managers Association) is available online.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

HP Engineers to Vote on Strike

While transferring staff from one HP company to another, the company is hoping to get away with cutting pay, pension and bonus.

UNITE is conducting the first ever industrial action ballot of HP staff.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Defend Our Pensions

My union branch (UNITE, Greater Manchester IT) has called a "Defend Our Pensions" public meeting in Manchester on 2nd November. We've got a got range of speakers to cover public and private sector pensions, as well as the state pension. The meeting will be taking place shortly after the result of our industrial action ballot at Fujitsu is announced. There's a leaflet here.

I've been sent this photo from an impressive looking protest by the Swansea Visteon Pensioners Action Group outside a Ford showroom.
If you're a Facebook user, you can join the "Defend Our Pensions" group.

Friday 23 October 2009

UNITE September EC meeting

The official briefing from the Joint General Secretaries about the September meeting of the UNITE Executive Council (EC) meeting is now out. I will email it to UNITE members on request.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Support the postal workers

It is clear that the dispute in Royal Mail is a crucial one for all of us.

We have had some important successes in a number of disputes including Visteon, Linamar, Lindsey/construction and Tower Hamlets College. These have started to raise the confidence of workers to resist efforts to make us pay for the consequences of a recession triggered by the greed and irresponsibility of the rich and powerful.

What's happening at Royal Mail is qualitatively different. It's not just that the scale is so much bigger. The media onslaught against the CWU is full of class hatred, almost reminiscent of the 1980s. Whereas in a number of other disputes management seem to have been caught on the hop, in this case there has been a massive level of preparation by the employer and a systematic management organised scabbing operation on a scale not seen for years.

None of this means the CWU can't win. The postal workers are a powerful group, and well organised. But the movement can ill afford to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s by allowing employers to pick us off one at a time to demoralise the rest. Imagine trying to argue for action in your workplace if the CWU had been smashed and the Tories elected. Or imagine the boost in confidence your workmates could have if we all helped the posties beat off these attacks from their overpaid bosses.

The CWU have produced a collection sheet. Every trade unionist should be taking it round their friends and workmates and visiting picket lines to show solidarity. We should be helping to set up solidarity groups should be springing up in every town and city. Building solidarity won't just help the posties win - it will make us all stronger.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Fujitsu strike ballot over Jobs, Pay & Pensions

UNITE served the notice of industrial action ballot on Fujitsu this week - the official press release is on the union web site. See our branch web site for an appeal for support, news etc.

PCS has also served notice of balloting their membership in Fujitsu. It's great to see the two unions working together on this campaign, especially given the barrage in the media trying to set public and private sector workers against each other over pensions.

Our campaign got a good boost in profile thanks to coverage in Channel 4's Dispatches programme this week, which was on the pensions crisis.

UNITE September EC meeting

With everything that's going on at work, I haven't yet had time to do a full September EC report, but a few highlights from a Fujitsu perspective are on our branch web site.