Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Unite Sector Conferences 2017

Later this year the National Retired Members and all Unite sectors will hold their conferences in Brighton. Each sector conferences determines a sector's own industrial policies provided that they are not inconsistent with the general policy and objectives of the Union - so they cannot deal with general policy or rules issues.

The timetable for the conferences is as follows:

  • Sunday 12 Nov: Retired Members. Docks, Rail, Ferries & Waterways
  • Monday 13 Nov: Civil Air Transport. Passenger Transport. Road Transport Commercial, Logistics & Retail Distribution. Food, Drink & Agriculture. Service Industries. Government, Defence, Prisons & Contractors
  • Tuesday 14 Nov: Local Authorities. Energy & Utilities. Education. Health. Community, Youth Workers & Not for Profit. Unite Construction, Allied Trades & Technicians. Finance & Legal.
  • Wednesday 15 Nov: Aerospace & Shipbuilding. Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Process & Textiles. Automotive Industry. Graphical, Paper, Media & Information Technology. Metals (including Foundry). General Engineering, Manufacturing & Servicing.
Delegates are normally expected to arrive the day before the conference to register, and delegates normally stay over after the conference to travel home the next day.

Each Regional Industrial Sector Committee (RISC) and National Industrial Sector Committee (NISC) is entitled to submit two motions to its sector's conference, which must be received by 20 October 2017. Delegates are normally elected from RISCs. Delegates' details must be received by 22 September 2017 (but in some cases this may need to be extended where elections from NISCs are required).

EC members are entitled to attend their own sector's conference as observers if they are not elected as delegates.

Sector conferences are only every two years, so don't miss the opportunity to set policy for your industrial sector. Even if you aren't on your RISC or NISC, there is nothing to stop you sending in a motion to your RISC and asking them to consider submitting it to the conference.



Thursday, 6 July 2017

Solidarity needed - housing, BA, NHS and finance

Four groups of Unite members are currently engaged in pretty serious industrial action at the moment. They deserve our support.

I'd previously posted about the outsourced Manchester housing maintenance workers. They are now escalating their action with four weeks of continuous strike action from Saturday 8 July to Friday 4 August. A letter appealing for support has been issued by Unite's north-west region. You can support the strikers by:

  1. Visiting pickets, typically 7:30-10am on strike days, at Hendham Vale, by the junction of Hazelbottom Road and Vale Park Way (map
  2.  Donating to the strike fund by cheque payable to UCATT UD.393 Manchester 1st Branch, sent to Andy Fisher, Unite, 2 Churchill Way, Liverpool, L3 8EF, or online to account 46034412 sort code 60-83-01.
  3. Sending a message of support to Colin Pitt via colinpitt65@hotmail.co.uk
Meanwhile cabin crew at BA Mixed Fleet have announced another 14 days of strike action. Like the Mixed Fleet Unite Facebook page for more information, or their web site gives details of how to support them.

In the NHS in London, cleaners, porters and security staff employed by Serco at Barts Health NHS Trust have been striking this week and plan a further seven day strike from Tuesday 11 July followed by a 14 day strike from 25 July. The action covers Whipps Cross University Hospital, Royal London Hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Mile End Hospital. Messages of support can be sent via Unite branch secretary Len Hockey (leonardhockey789@hotmail.co.uk). Photos and videos on the strikers' Facebook group show an impressive level of participation - and that migrant workers are at the heart of fighting low pay rather than being the cause of it. Cheques payable to “Barts NHS Health Branch” can be sent to Willie Howard, Unite the Union, 33-37 Moreland St, EC1V 8BB or you can donate online to account 20344885 Sort code 60-83-01.

At the Bank of England maintenance, parlours and security workers will be taking a four day strike from 31 July.

Two things stand out from this cluster of strikes. Firstly, all are about pay - reflecting workers losing patience after years when wages were held down and prices are rising. Why should we wait to make Labour's manifesto pledge of a £10 an hour minimum wage a reality? Secondly, all are sustained action to try to win, not token or "protest" action for odd days. Nearly two years ago I pointed out that the Trade Union Act "strengthens the case for intensive action rather than relying on the disruption of odd hours or days of action". In an article yesterday Gregor Gall argues that the "predominant strategy of one-day strikes, (or a series of one-day strikes) is coming to an end". If this is the case it is not before time - token strikes have acted more as a way of letting of steam than a serious attempt to win.
cleaners, porters and security staff
cleaners, porters and security staff



Friday, 23 June 2017

Support Manchester housing maintenance strikers

180 Unite members employed by Manchester Working Limited / Mears, who carry out vital maintenance in the city, have been been in dispute for five weeks and are currently striking on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Today they held an impressive protest outside the Northwards Housing office in Blackley.

The workers are paid appallingly for skilled and often safety-critical work. Manchester City Council has a substantial stake in Manchester Working Limited, and it is particularly disgraceful after Grenfell Tower that Manchester residents are still facing attempts to do maintenance on the cheap. Strikers have already protested at Manchester town hall.

I understand that their low pay is being used as a "benchmark" by other employers to try to hold down wages elsewhere.

Strikers are discussing escalating the action to every day, but under the Tory Trade Union Act Unite would have to give two weeks' notice to the employer. They need more financial support to sustain and escalate the action.

A letter appealing for support has been issued by Unite's north-west region. You can support the strikers by:
  1. Visiting pickets, typically 7:30-10am on strike days, at Hendham Vale, by the junction of Hazelbottom Road and Vale Park Way (map
  2.  Donate to the strike fund by cheque payable to UCATT UD.393 Manchester 1st Branch, sent to Andy Fisher, Unite, 2 Churchill Way, Liverpool, L3 8EF, or online to account 46034412 sort code 60-83-01.
  3. Send a message of support to Colin Pitt via colinpitt65@hotmail.co.uk
  4. Join a protest on Thursday 29 June from 9am at Manchester Central Convention Complex (GMEX), where Mears will be meeting from 11am with other employers in their industry