Thursday, 29 November 2007

William Morris Gallery news

Publicly the Council have said they've pulled out of the De Morgan Plan to move the majority of the William Morris collection away from the William Morris Gallery - BUT privately there are rumours that they are still in dialogue with Kate Catleugh. Peter Cormack leaves his post of curator and keeper on December 6th, for those of you who have not met Peter he is truly an inspiring curator, and has worked for 30 years at the gallery. From December 6th, there will be no-one at the gallery with the knowledge or experience to safeguard the collection or to help visitors. There is a new team due to join the gallery - but no one seems to have a long term contract. The new Education and Outreach Officer and Assistant Keeper are both on secondment contracts. The Manager of the Gallery and Museum still seems to be based in Northumberland with no sign of a start date. The interim Keeper at the gallery is apparently from the de Morgan Centre. The entire collection is not catalogued - the council has never invested the time or money to do this - the entire collection is therefore in serious danger. From January 2008 William Morris Gallery and Vestry House Museum will only be open part-time. This is an enormous reduction in access.

This reduction in access seriously jeopardizes the museums and galleries chances of gaining future funding. Funding is most often assessed on access criteria. Staff have been told to do everything possible - at no matter what cost - to book up events for Sundays in January 2008 onwards to boost visitor numbers. These same staff have been under a year of extreme stress because they didn't know what was happening with their jobs - some have lost their jobs and some have been forced to take part-time positions - to then be told 'it doesn't matter about the money' by the Manager of Museums and Galleries has been hard to swallow. The council have applied for a license for wedding ceremonies to be held at Vestry House Museum and William Morris Gallery, they have stated that this should not further reduce opening hours. At the William Morris Gallery this means you'll only be able to get married Monday - Wednesday which is a blow to their income generation plans. Meanwhile in the same council department - the Manager of Museums and Galleries - the person who implement these cuts and restructuring has been promoted to Head of Libraries also. According to the local Guardian, the council has admitted this post was not advertised, that no-one else was considered and that this member of staff jumped 4 civil service grades - breaking their own rules. The department has already been forced to admit that a popular library was closed with 'virtually no consultation' and today the news broke that the borough has admitted the number of library items fell 239,344 between 2005 and March 2007 and that 100,000 + books were destroyed.Petition NewsThe petition will be printed off and presented very soon - we need 60 more signatures to get the petition to 11,000 - so please help... sign if you haven't already and forward if you haven't already. We do believe it will make a difference. See:

How to Help / What to do next:
1. Please write to the people on this page: Please write again if you've done so already3. If possible, please call for the reinstatement of Peter Cormack as Keeper and Curator. 4. If possible, please encourage the council to open their galleries full time.3. If you have written already but have not had a reply or an unsatisfactory response, please fill in this council complaints form. All complaints are recorded and must be responded to. This department is coming under increasing scrutiny and we are all making a difference. We campaigners believe:
That the council's stated aim to save £56,000 by this restructuring and part-time service will not be achieved.
We are increasingly beginning to believe that the council wishes to purposely run down the service as the buildings are valuable real estate.
We also believe that the council are having to spend hundreds of thousands on employing outside consultants to supplement the lack of knowledge within the council. This money would've been better spent on advertising the gallery and museum and keeping experienced staff in post.
The collection is in extreme danger, after next week there will be no-one employed with knowledge or experience in looking after the collection.
Part-time opening hours under values the service and is a dangerous precedent for museums and galleries nationwide.
The reduction in investment and opening hours will run the service down further, and this will eventually lead to the redundancy of the gallery.
Our continued scrutiny of the council is having an effort and must be continued.
There are many ways to increase the gallery's income generation - starting with actually advertising the service locally - the council have not sufficiently explored these routes.
Exhibitions Currently on at Vestry House Museum and William Morris Gallery
1948:2012Vestry House Museum until 28 January.
Zarah Hussain, HandasahWilliam Morris Gallery, private view tonight 29 November 7-8pm, open until 25 January

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Does the GMB have a truly social agenda?

The Green Party of England & Wales has common cause with the GMB in its opposition to Remploy factory closures that are in the name of 'efficiency savings'. Yet there seems to be a dichotomy in other aspects of its corporate workforce strategy that is far from helpful to vulnerable adults and is so unhelpful to the environment as to make everyone vulnerable.

Its national secretary for public services says he suggests moving
towards a "more efficient" local government workforce in which fewer
staff each receive greater rewards (Community Care, 8 November, 'The
shape of disputes to come').

Yet in the leisure and tourism industry, the GMB is very much on the
same side as BA and the British Airports Authority in a 'the sky is the
limit' approach to Heathrow expansion, despite global warming.

Do they have a truly social agenda, or just a leisure and tourism one?

Alan Wheatley
Green Party of England & Wales Disability

Thursday, 15 November 2007


Arguably the most important issue at present is climate change; there are some sceptics about it and scientific truth cannot be decided by a majority vote, but an overwhelming majority of relevant scientific opinion now agrees that climate change is taking place and trace its causes to a rise in global temperatures that has taken place over about the past 200 years. This can be attributed to human industrial production and consumption, but there is no consensus over what the effects could be. Sea level rises, extreme weather fluctuations and desertification in some regions, perhaps, but exactly how much, when and where is uncertain.

Whatever the impacts, it seems certain that these will affect the working lives of Trades unionists in all occupations. Some Union are becoming aware of this and, are taking on climate change as a Trades Union issue. A recent TUC leaflet notes how front line workers in the emergency services could already be feeling the impact of climate change, but the effects will certain spread far wider that this, possibly including the destruction and relocation of entire industries and markets, and more positively, perhaps, the creation of new industrial sectors, as is already happening with renewables and recycling.

All major British political parties at least state that something ought to be done, but what role can Trades Unions play in this? A lot of work so far seems to have gone towards uncontentious issues, e.g.; having environmental reps who may engage with employers to encourage modifications to make workplaces as environmentally sound as possible. However, deeper problems remain, some unions may successfully pressure, for ‘green’ workplaces; Fords at Dagenham now reportedly adorns its roof with wind turbines, but if the product continues to do environmental damage, as mass-produced petrol driven vehicles do, what is the point?

Difficult issues such as this mean that pre-existing ‘green’ and trades Union political, economic and social agendas cannot simply be bolted together. However discussion about disagreements is the way forward to building a united response to climate change. drawn from a politics based on the interests of workers, the powerless and the poor, rather than the concerns of existing elites to perpetuate their power and privilege.

To this end, I would like to invite trade unionist, activists and branches to support the Campaign Against Climate Change Trades Union Conference that will be held at ULU Malet St, London on February 9th 2008. The Campaign Against Climate Change is an environmental pressure group, which numbers many trades unionists amongst its members and supporters. It has called the conference to address questions such as those outlined above with the support of several major trades Unions, TU branches and Green organisations. There will be workshops throughout the day and plenary sessions addressed by some prominent political and union figures, including Derek Wall and Caroline Lucas. For further details please contact.

Sunday, 4 November 2007


Report from Aled Fisher

Hi guys,The following regards news I've just received from Sam Causton, Chair of the LSESU Citizens for Social Justice Society.This Friday, following pressure from the T&G and London Citizens, Citigroup have agreed to move all their cleaners onto the Living Wage!

LSE students were involved, taking the protest to Citigroup HQ by handing out leaflets to LSE students at an LSE-focused presentation. Many students were shocked that Citigroup did not pay cleaners a Living Wage, and Citigroup themselves sat up and took notice of our action. They have now been shamed into doing the right thing!Another high profile victory for the campaign and for underpaid Londoners. Well done to all involved!The LSESU should be proud to be affiliated to London Citizens - so let's keep taking the campaign to new places until London is a Living Wage City!

Regards,Aled Dilwyn FisherLSESU Environment and Ethics Officer