Friday, 24 December 2010

Talks at Heinz Break Down

The  possibility of a breakthrough in the month long dispute at the Heinz Wigan plant was crushed by the employers yesterday when they refused to budge on their below inflation pay offer.
Profit margins at Heinz are at 37% yet workers have been offered 3.3% pay rise with a further 3% next year.

Setting the record straight, Unite says that:

While the company asserts management bonuses have been cut by 20 per cent, some are still boasting about receiving a whopping 15 per cent bonus – so even though down from what must have been an unbelievable 35 percent, this is still equivalent to a staggering 7.8 weeks' pay extra.

The workers’ average bonus will now be less than 4 per cent, a fall of 2 per cent from last year and considerably lower than the average bonus over recent years.

The 3.3 per cent offer for this year is considerably below RPI at the anniversary of the deal, which was 4.8 per cent. RPI has fluctuated since then, going above 5 per cent at one point and now stands at 4.7 per cent.

Capping next year’s deal at 3 per cent will again see a reduction in real terms as inflation forecasts for 2011 is forecast to reach 4.1 per cent if not higher

The supposed `improvement' to healthcare is compulsory and comes at a cost to the workers of over £1.00 more a week - £52 per year. This is a far worse deal than they could get it as a private individual over the internet.

Strikes at the plant have been solid all week and a further strike is planned for 29th December.

Speaking after the talks, Ian Wright, Unite convenor at the Kitt Green site, said: "We are extremely disappointed that today's talks have come to nothing. We entered into the meeting in good faith and with a genuine commitment to find a resolution to the dispute but management were not prepared to add any value to the offer that has already been overwhelmingly rejected by our members."

Messages of support can be sent to their convenor,

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Workers Uniting Group Disbanded

Below is the official statement from Workers Uniting Group confirming that they have now disbanded and their website will be removed in the next few days.
It would appear that some of them will be looking to join United Left which is a positive step towards uniting the left in our union but we must not lose sight of the fact that this group campaigned for Bayliss in the recent Unite General Secretary Election.
I personally feel that United Left should prioritise working with Simon Dubbins Group Unite Now, a group of people who worked tirelessly for the election of Len McCluskey. This group secured thousands of votes for Len especially in Amicus workplaces.
Hopefully a combined slate can still be achieved in the forthcoming Executive Council elections.

Following consultation with co-ordinators, activists and supporters it has been agreed that the Workers Uniting Group will be wound up at the end of December.

As a progressive left organisation, many of the policies supported by the Workers Uniting Group are the policies of Unite the Union.
It is the considered view that the work of the Workers Uniting Group has now ran its course.
The members have spoken. Len McCluskey was elected by the membership as the new General Secretary by a considerable majority and he deserves and should receive the support of the whole of the union.

Unite faces significant challenges: the fightback against the Con-Dem cuts in the UK and the appalling austerity measures being forced through in Ireland; the need to grow the union through organising and building strong workplace organisation; the need to win back the Labour Party for our members and to win local elections, elections in Scotland and Wales and the General Election and to continue the fight against global capital in the UK and Ireland and with our comrades in Workers Uniting - the USW.

To win for our members, to campaign and fightback there is a need now to unify the entire union behind our newly elected General Secretary, Len McCluskey.
To this end we will need one progressive organisation to ensure that Unite remains a left union and isn't hijacked by those who would seek to take the union to the right or to the extreme left.

A number of comrades have indicated they would intend to support United Left, others have said they will personally support the General Secretary and unite behind him.
It is clear that the problems Unite faces cannot be addressed by having opposing left groups with broadly similar policies.
Therefore all Workers Uniting Supporters need to unite behind our new General Secretary and build unity for the future and in the best interests of the whole of Unite's membership.
The Workers Uniting Group website will closed down in the next few weeks.  

Saturday, 11 December 2010

It's OK For Some

"Things got out of hand and we'd had a few drinks. We smashed the place up and Boris (Johnson, Mayor of London) set fire to the toilets". David Cameron (Prime Minister) Oxford 1986.

So You Want a Better Society

During this cold spell I've lost count of the number of times I have heard someone say
"We are never prepared for weather like this" or something similar.
Ok then so you want to be able to drive your car or walk safely in bad weather. Well it is possible what we need to do is have fleets of snow ploughs and teams of workers on stand-by so that we can pre-empt the weather and make preparations for eradicating ice and snow so that it doesn't effect the transport system of our country and everyone can go about their business with as little disruption as possible.
Problem is as soon as you mention paying for this service the people who moan about lack of gritters run a mile.
But hang on a minute while we're on the subject of improving our way of life why not invest in an integrated transport system with buses and trains that run to meet need and not profit.
Build affordable houses so that we can solve the lack of housing and put thousands of construction workers back into work.
Maybe we could have a sensible energy policy as well with investment in green technology and clean coal so we can use our natural resources for our advantage instead of buying gas from abroad and charging customers exorbitant rates for fuel.
Possibly we could invest in our manufacturing industry to produce quality goods instead of buying cheap products from countries that treat their workers like slaves.
You see we can build a better society one where we have a health service that is free at point of use and everyone gets equal treatment despite their income.
Most importantly though to build this better society we need the bedrock of a FREE EDUCATION!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

John Leggot Protest

Below is a short report of the Student Protest at John Leggot College Scunthorpe.
Thank you to Martin Copson for submitting the report.

Over 100 sixth form students at John Leggot College walked out of lectures in protest at the Coalition government's decision to treble tuition fees and scrap EMA. Despite the freezing weather the students were in a defiant mood and it was really inspiring to see them making a stand. A smaller group marched into the town centre and distributed leaflets stating their cause. The response from the public was almost entirely supportive of the their fight.

The coalition proposals really stick in the craw as the government ministers all received a free state education and now seem intent on pulling the ladder up after them. Free secondary education is vital to ensure that the potential of working class kids is not wasted as they are put off from going to university by the prospect of massive debt. The protests in Scunthorpe and around the country put paid to the myth that young people are apathetic and unpolitical and should give us hope that the ConDems can be defeated, and that we can build a better world.
Scunthorpe Coalition of Resistance members were on the protest supporting the students' fight and some good contacts were made, which can only strengthen the movement.

Goodbye Bayliss

I had heard a few rumours that he was due to go but it seems to be generally accepted that Les Bayliss the candidate who came a sorry third in the Unite GS Election has left the union.
A more detailed post can be read here
Not too sure that it is confirmed that he has gone to the JIB but we will see.
In my opinion his position in the union had become untenable after he publicly criticised the ongoing dispute with BA.
No doubt this news would have been celebrated at Len McCluskey's victory party last night.

A more pressing concern for myself is the Metals inc. Foundry Sector.
One of our EC members found out last week that our National Officer retired on October 31st without telling anyone from the National Industrial Sector Committee.
At the moment we have no dates for future meetings and no indication of any appointment to the vacant position.