Monday 27 May 2013

Unite Fight Back launched

I went to the national meeting with Jerry Hicks and his supporters on Saturday, to discuss how to build on the 80,000 votes in the recent General Secretary election.

The meeting agreed in principle to set up a new network, called Unite Fight Back, to develop solidarity networks as well as campaigning to improve UNITE policies and rules along the lines of the Jerry's election campaign.  I did a lengthy post explaining why I backed Jerry in the election campaign, but I think it can really be summarised in three themes:

  1. The need for a more effective fight back against austerity - in deeds not just words
  2. The need to change the relationship with Labour so they don't take our money for nothing
  3. The need to make UNITE's leadership and structures more accountable and less remote

It's early days yet, but there's already a web site, Facebook page and Twitter account up and running.  Whether you backed Jerry, Len or (like most members) nobody at all, whether you want to be part of the new network or not, sign up for these and help break down the lack of communication in UNITE.  It really should feel like you've got a million members behind you whenever any members are taking action.

The new web site also has more detail on the About page.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Branch closures

The (much needed) branch reorganisation has been handled pretty badly in many cases, leaving members in limbo without a functioning branch.

Jerry Hicks' web site is reporting a decision by the London & Eastern Regional Committee to close large numbers of branches with effect from 15th May, without keeping members informed, much less consulting them, leaving them without access to the union's democratic structures until new branches are up and running.  If this is the case it would not appear to be in line with the Executive Council's decisions on branch reorganisation.

A meeting to discuss (and oppose) the closures has been organised in Chelmsford for 16th May.

Monday 6 May 2013

Support the Mitie strikers at Manchester airport

Cleaners at Manchester airport have been outsourced to Mitie for the last couple of years, and they haven't been easy years.

The workers say that at the time of the transfer, they were told there would be no redundancies, yet within a month about 10% of the workforce was cut, leaving the survivors with a heavier workload.  Too often, competition for contracts between bidders isn't about a better service, or organising the work better, but simply about delivering the lowest price by driving people to work longer and harder for less.  In this case the cleaners get just £6.95 an hour and have had no pay rises for four years.  At this rate they will soon be on the National Minimum Wage.

But even this isn't enough for Mitie.  They want to cut attendance bonuses and paid breaks, which would leave workers about £96 a month worse off.  They're also chiselling away at other terms - even cutting compassionate leave from 3 days to 1 (could you organise a funeral in a day?) and stopping workers swapping shifts.

On Friday, the Mitie workers went on strike in defence of their paid breaks.

Mitie is a giant company, with lots of subsidiaries, but a quick look at the records for just one of them, Mitie Cleaning & Environmental Services Ltd, gives you a clue as to the scale of the operation, built on the hard work of low-paid workers like those at Manchester Airport.

You can send messages of support to the workers via their UNITE officer, Dave Kennedy.

Thursday 2 May 2013

UNITE National Industrial Sector Conferences 2013

Updated 9/8/2013

The National Industrial Sector Conferences will take place in Brighton from 11 to 14 November this year, in accordance with the following schedule.

Docks, Rail, Ferries and Waterways
Civil Air Transport
Passenger Transport
Road Transport Commercial, Logistics and Retail Distribution

Food, Drink and Tobacco
Rural and Agricultural
Graphical, Paper and Media (changed)
IT and Communications
Motor Components
Electrical Engineering and Electronics
Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Process and Textiles

Vehicle Building and Automotive
Metals (including Foundry)
Servicing & General Industries
Finance and Legal
MOD and Government Departments
Aerospace and Shipbuilding
Energy and Utilities

Community, Youth Workers and Not for Profit
Local Authorities