Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Unite Executive Council Nominate Ed Milliband

Unite EC have nominated Ed Milliband as their preferred leader of the Labour Party. They will be recommending the one million members of Unite who are eligible to vote in the leadership election to vote for Ed.
The Joint General Secretaries issued a statement which reads:
"We believe that Ed Miliband is the best candidate to reconnect Labour with the concerns of ordinary working people and to take the fight to the disastrous Con-Dem coalition.”

We can only presume that the decision of the EC, which followed a recommendation from the National Political Committee has been influenced by a presumption that Unite can influence Ed Milliband into campaigning for issues that are at the heart of Unite's policy.
Let's not forget that delegates at Unite's Policy Conference voted for the repeal of Anti-Trade Union Laws as well as the Nationalisation of UK Steel Industry.
How about it Ed?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Where Should a PM Spend His Time

So David Cameron has not accepted the invitation to address the TUC in September.
Bob Crow was intent upon organising a walkout leaving the PM with an empty hall to address and quite a number of Unite Branches had sent in motions objecting to this asinine act of class collaboration.

Instead David Big Society Cameron has decided to take his paternity leave during the week of TUC Congress. So where should he spend his time?
At his wife's ancestral home Normanby Hall Estate near Scunthorpe perhaps?
After all it has a hall one could lose oneself in, an estate full of reindeer, a model railway to play with and a golf course.
It would be a fantastic place to begin the life of a child
The problem is he can't the family moved out of the hall in 1963 and it was handed over to Lincolnshire Council in lieu of death duties.
The local Labour Council has over the the years developed the estate into a popular tourist attraction where children can study wildlife, learn about history, the general public can enjoy a round of golf on a public/private golf course and the oiks from the nearby steeltown can even get married there.
So I wonder if he thinks preserving estates like this are a waste of public money or perhaps Big Society Dave thinks it should be run by volunteers.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Branch Meetings and Wasp Nests

After a brief spell in the Socialist Party where I quickly learned that they were intent on organising my life for me and wearing me out through regular Saturday morning paper sales events, I have rejoined the Labour Party after an absence of 8 years.
Last night I attended my first Branch meeting and expected the usual references to the length of grass in the parks and lamposts not working.
The meeting began with Councillors reports and the major issue seemed to be a wasp nest in Jubilee Park, one of the many urban parks in Scunthorpe the industrial garden town.
I began to search my pockets for a stapler so that I could ensure my eyelids remained open but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of the meeting was taken up by an hour long discussions on current political issues.
It would appear something has woken up the foot soldiers.
A period of opposition and the need to organise a fightback perhaps?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Year Long Strike Ends

Miners at the Vale Inco nickel mine at Sudbury Canada have reached a settlement with the company.
The strike began in July 2009 after the Brazilian transnational company demanded concessions on worker's pensions and bonuses. 
Negotiations came to fruition after a request from Ontario ministers.
A five year deal has been agreed which includes:
  • Improvements to wages
  • Improvements to Defined Benefit Pension
  • A Defined Contribution Scheme for new members
  •  $2,000 return to work payment
  • $2,000 return to production payment
USW Representatives have been regular attenders at Unite Conferences where they addressed delegates as part of the Global Union Workers Uniting.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Corus Unions Begin to Organise

During the last two years both myself and another Unite Rep have been attempting to get the unions at Corus to engage with members on a regular basis.

We have achieved limited success but enough to encourage us to continue with what at times has felt like a Sisyphean task. A number of Unite reps are now beginning to realise that the members are the important people and not those that attend the endless list of committees that seem to take up a large part of a TU rep’s time.

So you take a week off and all hell breaks loose!

A multi-union branch meeting took place at Scunthorpe Plate Mill where members of Community and Unite voted to seek support from National Officers and pressure the company to reinstate two employees who were sacked for breaches of safety regulations.

The two people dismissed have fallen foul of the company’s zero tolerance attitude towards breaches of safety and cardinal rules.

The reps at Plate Mill are accusing the company of double standards and inconsistency when dealing with disciplinary issues.

Now I don’t know all the details so I cannot comment on any individual case but this declaration of support for their brothers by the workers at Plate Mill is a step forward with regards organising members and making unions in the Steel Industry stronger.

So what now?

The unions at Corus Scunthorpe need to move away from the top down approach that has existed for years and organise in a way that gives members a significant input into events at their workplace.

This will take time to achieve but we must now kick on and build upon this welcome involvement of the shopfloor.

Community, Unite and GMB need to recognise that having us all split up into separate departments throughout the site minimises the effect we have in dealing with issues and prevents a cohesive policy being formed.

Reps from all three unions need to meet on a regular basis and for Unite it is imperative that a Workplace Branch is formed and soon as possible.

This would give members the opportunity to voice their opinions and bring them into the decision making process.

You never know we may even get to the stage where we ask members what they want in their pay claim!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Make Domestic Abuse a Workplace Issue

During the recent Unite Policy Conference I had the pleasure of listening to Liz McInnes from Health Sector speak about how she is involved in minimising the effects of domestic abuse on workers.
She is in the process of negotiating a Domestic Abuse Policy in her workplace so that this vile trait can be stopped.
I took the opportunity of asking Liz to send me the proposed agreement and I am now trying to get our National Officer interested in proposing such a policy to Corus management.
This policy will centre around : -
  • Raising awareness and education of workforce
  • Financial support for victims
  • Time off for victims
  • Linking victims to outside agencies that offer support and assistance
This will encourage those in need of support to step forward and eventually help in eliminating violence in the home.
I urge every TU Rep to take steps such as these and raise the matter with your management.

Thursday, 1 July 2010