Friday 30 September 2011

Busy days in Manchester

There's a busy few days coming up for the trade union movement in Manchester.

On Saturday, there's a rank-and-file meeting of electricians at noon in Manchester's Mechanics Institute, building the campaign in construction against major contractors trying to back out of the JIB agreement, deskill the work and dramatically slash pay.

On Sunday, we have the TUC "March for the Alternative" at the Tory conference in Manchester (route map), assembling at noon. This is followed by a Right To Work post-demo rally, back at the Mechanics Institute.

On Monday, UNITE members at API Holographics in Salford are due to strike again in a dispute over a pay freeze. This UNITE press release includes the address of their picket-line for those who can show support.
[Update 2/10/10: Heard on the march today that tomorrow's strike at API Holographics has been suspended as the company has offered further talks]

On Tuesday, UNITE members at Fujitsu in Manchester and Salford are striking again as part of our long-running dispute over breaches of agreements and victimisation of reps. Details of the pickets and the protest planned outside the Tory conference to coincide with the CEO speaking at a fringe meeting are here.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Useful updates on TUPE

The IT services industry is amongst those most affected by the "TUPE" regulations, which are meant to protect workers when the work they do transfers from one employer to another, whether through an original outsourcing deal or the transfer of an outsourcing contract from one supplier to another. The regulations have some serious weaknesses, particularly in relation to pensions.

There's a useful update on TUPE in the latest LELR newsletter from Thompsons Solicitors.

Friday 23 September 2011

UNITE announces free transport to 2 October March for the Alternative

Yesterday UNITE announced it is paying for transport to the TUC's March for the Alternative at the Tory party conference in Manchester on 2nd October. Details are here.

Recent economic news bears out UNITE's arguments that far from helping the economy, the governments cuts and austerity are jeopardising the recovery.

A big demo on Sunday 2 October will help strengthen every campaign, including the ballots planned across the public sector and beyond for action on 30th November. Every member should do their best to attend and bring their workmates, family and friends.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

IT & Comms conference date changed

Unite's National Sector Conference for IT & Comms was scheduled for 30 November.

Because of the mass strike planned for that day it has been moved to 1st December.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Fujitsu strikes on Monday

With last-minute efforts to reach an agreement not proving successful, Monday's strike by Fujitsu workers in Crewe and Manchester is going ahead. The UNITE press release gives details of the picket lines and the public rally in Manchester on Monday morning.

UNITE members will be buoyed up by the success of PCS members elsewhere in Fujitsu in winning higher pay, as reported in Computer Weekly and elsewhere.

UNITE has an "appeal for support" leaflet (which gives background to the dispute) and a collection sheet on and the news page of the same site gives updates.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Gold Plated Pensions

Next time someone tries to deride those workers who've managed to cling on to decent final salary pensions, you could do worse than point them at this Independent report on pension pots for top company bosses.

We aren't all in it together. We do live in a two-tier society, but it isn't those with final salary pensions v the rest, or public sector workers v the rest, or those in work v those on benefits. It's a small bunch of the greedy, self-interested and reckless bosses v the rest.

They may be a tiny minority, but they wield enormous economic and political power. How can working people stand up to them without organising collectively? We need stronger union organisation in every workplace, and to rebuild the traditions of solidarity - we are stronger united. The most effective way to build the union is to help workers put up a fight over the issues affecting them.

Everyone should get behind the Southampton Council workers fight against cuts, the national demonstration at the Tory party conference in Manchester on 2 October, and the next round of strikes against public sector pension cuts, expected in early November.

The warnings we have being giving about the risk of austerity killing off economic recovery are looking worryingly accurate. Unite has an excellent policy against the cuts, which needs putting into practice.

Friday 2 September 2011

UNITE's National Industrial Sector Conferences

Every two years, UNITE holds an National Industrial Sector Conference for each of its sectors. These set the policy for the sectors of the union, as well as being a useful opportunity for reps from across the sector to meet up, share information and discuss key issues.

These are due to take place in Brighton over four days:


(AGS Diana Holland)

28 November:


Docks, Rail, Ferries & Waterways


RTC, Logistics and Retail Distribution

Food Drink & Tobacco

Rural & Agriculture


(AGS Tony Burke)

29 November:

Aerospace & Shipbuilding

Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Process & Textiles

Electrical Engineering & Electronics

Metals (inc Foundry)

Vehicle Building and Automotive

Graphical, Paper and Media


(AGSs Gail Cartmail & Tony Burke)

30 November:

Finance & Legal

Energy & Utilities

IT & Communications

Motor Components

Servicing & General Industries


(AGS Gail Cartmail)

1 December:

Community, Youth Workers & Not For Profit




Local Authorities

MoD & Government Depts

Delegates to these conferences are elected from the Regional Industrial Sector Committees (RISCs), and occasionally from National Industrial Sector Committees (NISCs). RISC delegates must be notified to the conference office by 3rd October. NISC delegates must be notified to the conference office by 31st October.

These elections are from the existing RISCs - elections to form new RISCs have been delayed into the new year. The September EC meeting is expected to decide on arrangements.

Two measures are in place to deal with the fact that not all RISCs are working well:
  1. "in those Regions where we have struggled to establish a RISC that meets with any frequency that methods with some democratic legitimacy (eg, the convening of a special or extraordinary meeting of the RISC during September) should be used to fill the seats allocated to the Sector."
  2. Normally, RISCs must elect the national conference delegates from amongst the RISC members, but "in those Regions where we have struggled to establish a RISC that meets with any frequency that methods with some democratic legitimacy (eg, the convening of a special or extraordinary meeting of the RISC during September) should be used to fill the seats allocated to the Sector."
The IT & Comms sector is entitled to a National Industrial Sector Conference of 30 delegates including at least 6 women and 2 Black Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAEM) delegates. The allocation is as follows:
  • East Midlands: 4 (including at least one woman)
  • Ireland: 2
  • London & Eastern: 5 (including at least one woman and one BAEM delegate)
  • North East, Yorks and Humber: 2 (including at least one woman)
  • North West: 5 (including at least one woman)
  • Scotland: 2 (including at least one woman)
  • South East: 4 ((including at least one woman)
  • South West: 2
  • Wales: 2
  • West Midlands: 2 (including at least one BAEM delegate)
Please do everything you can to ensure a fully-attended conference so that it can do an effective job on behalf of the members.

Each NISC and RISC is entitled to submit TWO motions on industrial business pertinent to their Sector for consideration by their National Industrial Sector Conference. The deadlines for sending in the motions to the conference office are the same as for delegate details.

The motions are a crucial part of setting the agenda for conference, so I would encourage every rep to consider submitting a motion before your RISC meets. If you aren't on the RISC yourself, there's nothing to stop you sending a motion in for the RISC to consider - these committees are there to represent the membership, not just the individuals on them.

UNITE and PCS strikes at Fujitsu come closer

UNITE members at Fujitsu Crewe have been taking industrial action over the victimisation of Alan Jenney, one of their reps, since 30 June. On Wednesday PCS announced the result of its ballot of members in Fujitsu (mostly in Telford, Swansea and Netherton) which is over pay. Yesterday UNITE announced the result of its ballot of members covered by the Fujitsu Manchester Recognition Agreement, over the breakdown of industrial relations, union busting, breaches of agreements and victimisation of reps.