Saturday, 30 April 2011

Unite general secretary May Day message to members

This government has no mandate from the people. Standing together, we can hold them in check

Dear friends
Last month, half a million men, women and children marched through London to call for a rethink. A rethink on the job losses sweeping our communities, to the wage cuts grinding people down. Jobs for the one million young people wasting on the dole.
They wanted an arrest to the assault our schools and health care, on the services that over generations we have paid for but are now to be gift-wrapped and placed into private hands. A fairer Britain, where those who can help those in need.
And they wanted a government with no mandate from the people to think carefully about its misuse of office. It was not elected to shatter our society - and it will not be forgiven if it accomplishes this mission.
The people of this country still want all these things. We want them because these are the values on which civilised societies rest.
Predictably, this government thumbed its nose at the biggest ever trade union presence on the streets of the capital. Remote from everyday people, they refuse to accept mounting calls to grow the economy, not cut mercilessly, even while the experts say this pain is for no economic gain, because they have a different mission - to change Britain radically, and not for the benefit of all.
Just look at their plans for the tribunal system that secures justice at work for employees; soon it will be dismantled, a favour for its friends in the CBI. Similarly they are presiding over the mass use of "sack and rehire" where cash-strapped councils do central government's dirty work by forcing tens of thousands of workers into a Hobson's Choice of accept horrific pay cuts - 24 percent in one case - or lose your job.
And someday soon they will come for the unions which are often all that stands between a worker and mistreatment.
That is why we must grow this union. To protect you and your family we must build, we cannot stand still because this is a fight about our futures. And such is this battle we may have to use our common power in whatever ways we can to defend our rights and achievements.
We know that working people want someone in their corner - we know that because of the countless requests for help we are receiving every day.
Soon, Unite will roll out a massive, concerted organising drive. This will see us join many more into Unite so that we can defend them - and you - against further attacks. Every Unite officer will be charged with growing this union and strengthening our grassroots. Every branch will make union growth its priority. Every member will be encouraged to remind their fellow workers why this union is their best defence.
The expertise and skills of the country's biggest union will be 100 per cent focused on building for our shared futures. Because Unite's strength gives YOU protection.

More than any other time in a generation, you need this. So too do your family and friends. If they are not in a union today, do them a favour and make sure they are Unite members by tomorrow. Joining on line is easy - just visit
Our strength is your power.
With best wishes to you and your family for the May Day holiday
Len McCluskey
Unite general secretary

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Many ageing steel workers finding themselves with work related health issues

I have had a long break from this blog due to personal issues and I am grateful to Eric Stevenson who contacted me recently and proposed that he do a guest article.
Below is the article by Eric and I hope you appreciate his efforts:

The steel industry has never been considered one of the safer industries to work in, as unions have always remained a necessity to protect the workers. While much of the safety risks that involve steel manufacturing involve physical wounds and harm, many retired and veteran steelworkers are finding that their time in the steel mill has led them to some major health issues.

As the steel industry became large in the 1900’s, the use of asbestos as a material continued to grow as well. Used diversely from products like clothing and most often in insulation and construction material, asbestos was most common in plants, mills, factories and shipyards. Praised for its versatility in usage and low cost, asbestos had to be considered one of the most popular building and construction materials throughout the world at one time.

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, cases of mesothelioma and asbestosis began to hit a many workers from the World War II era, in factories, shipyards and military bases. These connections began to quickly become correlated with structures that contained asbestos and their workers. The long period of time in between diagnosis and original exposure involved mesothelioma and its long latency period. In most cases, symptoms will not develop for decades after original exposure and in some cases up to 50 years.

This long latency period makes current times absolutely crucial for many veteran and older workers in a number of industries, including steel manufacturing. The time of use between the 50’s and the 70’s was a time of major asbestos use. Given the multiple decade latency time between exposure and symptoms, the after effects of these health risks may begin to show themselves in the near future for many of these steel workers from the ladder half of the 20th century.

The health risk of mesothelioma is not one to be taken lightly. Mesothelioma life expectancy is only a year on average with a rather severe outlook for most patients. This has resulted in a number of compensation suits and battles between diagnosed workers and major businesses who continued use of the asbestos after it was shown to be dangerous.

Regardless, these asbestos related health risks remain a major problem for many older steel workers and retirees. Awareness is one of the most important things when it comes to learning about possible problems. Maintaining checkups and awareness will be important for these workers to provide themselves in the best possible treatment in the case that they are handed any of these problems