Sunday, 17 February 2008

Alan Wheatley's speech and the Emergency Motion on public service ethos, benefits and advice passed at GP conference 17/2/2008

To long-term jobseekers, single parents, low income folk and those currently suffering from Jobcentre Plus call-centre melt-down, this motion reads like Spike Milligan's 'A Poem for the Lonely': "Hello."

The £5 'earnings disregard' that I'm allowed to earn in a week without it affecting my £59.15/wk Jobseekers Allowance has not gone up since 1988.

Five pounds in 1988 would now be equivalent to about £9.80, and my £4K student debt from 1997 now stands at around £5K.

I thank GPTU for covering my conference attendance expenses as an expert witness and am not a 'dodgy donor' to New Labour or Peter Hain.

Though JSA earnings disregard has not gone up since 1988, a lot has happened since resolution deadline. Workfare is a growing global industry. Peter Hain's successor promises private providers "an effective and growing market," and not a Remploy factory in London for specialist skilled disabled workers.

Now, workfare provider 4e is bidding to take over delivery of public service information, advice and guidance services. Would the same company that denies a claimant their eligibility to basic income, support them in getting that income reinstated? Meanwhile, Channel 4 website cites 4e owner Emma Harrison as a model single 'mum in business'. While Citizens Income policy relates largely to people's basic income needs, this motion takes a stand against the privatisation of welfare and legal rights. We oppose workfare as the jobsearch slave trade and negation of public service ethos that it is.

Let social housing tenants evict privateer politicians from office and help save the planet from those who pillage the earth and do not believe in society.


Conference deplores the government's recent attacks on benefits and services for unwaged people. In particular, the privatisation of back-to-work programmes, threats to evict council tenants who don't seek work, and the cuts in legal aid.

We deplore attempts by large non-specialist companies to make money out of others' misery in these areas of delivery, which should be the preserve of a public sector ethos.

We note that Capita and 4E will compete for legal aid, and that Unum-Provident is increasingly involved in welfare-to-work programmes and work capability assessments.

Conference requests the Executive and Press Office to campaign publicly against cuts in benefits, and privatisation of welfare programmes or legal aid services to the for-profit sector.

[AG notes; the phrase 'for-profit sector' is chosen to indicate that it's ok for the voluntary sector to run legal advice centres and some back-to-work training/advice projects, as it does at present]

Saturday, 16 February 2008


The Green Party is extremely concerned to learn that a private American health firm (United Health Europe) has won control of three GP surgeries in London. We fear that this is the first step in an attempt to corporatise health care in the UK.

We believe that this is being done without any proper consultation with the citizens of the UK, who as stakeholders are the true owners of the NHS. We also fear that this paves the way to monopolistic malpractice and profiteering if it allows retail and pharmacuetical conglomerates such as Boots and Tesco to have any control over the salaries, judgements and activities of GP's and other primary health care providers.

We pledge our full support to opposition to this disgraceful step and any others like it by Gp's patients and pensioner groups and trades unions in the health sector.

We call on the Green party spokespersons nationally, locally and regionally to promptly issue public statements condemning this corportatisation and call upon the Green Party press office to give such statements maximum promotion.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


Delegates from obscure sects arrive
Caroline Lucas & Jean Lambert at the Opening Plenary
Chris Bough (PCS) addresses the Opening plenary
Lunchbreak: Greens seize opportunity for more product placement
Lunchbreak 2: Birmingham delegate accosted with apple

The Final Plenary
Jehovah Threatens the Final plenary

Derek wall persuades the Final plenary

Tony Cairns (CWU) gives the closing speech.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


Draft notes of meeting between Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for civil air transport, Charlie King (GMB), Peter Murry and Dave Welsh (GPTU).

1 The meeting was called by Mick Rix after Peter Murry sent a letter to the GMB on behalf of GPTU protesting re their support for an additional runway and terminal at Heathrow airport, (see below). Mick Rix stated that GMB was eager to engage in dialogue about this.

2 Mick Rix wished to stress that the GMB stance was not simply a matter of job protection for its members, GMB had opposed other airport extensions. Having said this it became clear that although not the sole concern jobs at Heathrow were certainly a GMB concern and at least 70,000 jobs may depend on the Heathrow expansion.

3 Although PM raised concerns re the expansion of cheap leisure air travel, the GMB officers in this meeting were keen to empahsise the importance of Heathrow as a hub for air freight and its distribution by road as a reason for the GMB stance. Even with possible reduction in leisure traffic via Heathrow, overall air traffic was expected to increase

Some very large freight operators were involved in this (notably DHL, but also UPS, FedEx and TNT). There were also some rail deliveries but about 450 lorry journeys went out from Heathrow daily. This was because of the practises of customers expecting rapid direct deliveries, and minimal stockholding.

4. The Open Skies policy was being introduced in March 2008 and this would remove restrictions on transatlantic flights going on to second or further destinations once they had made the Atlantic crossing. Currently about 33% of flights into Heathrow were for transfers for flights to other destinations.

5 Not expanding Heathrow would mean the export of much of the traffic currently going through it, probably to European airports and therefore jobs would follow.

6 Changes in aircraft technology should make air travel less environmentally damaging in terms of C02. Larger planes (e.g. Airbus), could use bio-fuel as part of their fuel and transport larger numbers of people faster Additionally BA was re-equipping its fleet with more efficient planes from 2010, it was hoped that other airlines would follow

7 GMB was urging firms round Heathrow to reduce their environmental footprints, encouraging the use of bus and train transportation to, from and around the airport. Improvements to the terminals should include a new rail link to the West.

8 Mick Rix and Charlie King felt that for these reasons the proposed expansion of Heathrow was the best possible current option which might actually reduce CO2 levels more than other options.

9 GMB agreed to send PM more detailed documents summarising their arguments which are not given fully here

LETTER 20/12/2007
To: Paul Kenny, General Secretary GMB

Dear Paul,

The Green Party Trade Union Group has asked me to write to you regarding reports of GMB support for Heathrow expansion. Whilst we recognise and support a Union’s right to seek to defend its members’ jobs, pay and conditions, we feel that support for Heathrow expansion and most other expansion of the air travel industry, is under current environmental and technological conditions, a short-sighted way of doing so, and we call on GMB to change its policy on this issue.

Expansion of current modes of air travel can only increase C02 emissions which have to be cut back drastically to avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of global climate change. GPTU and the Green party do not believe that campaigning against climate change and for new environmentally friendly technologies is in any way incompatible with a Trades Union’s proper role of protecting its members.

Many Unions will be sending members, reps and delegates to the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Conference in London on February 9th 2008, (for further details contact;), we hope GMB will have a presence at this conference to discuss ways in which the Labour movement and the Green Movement can work together in future.

Yours fraternally

Peter Murry

10 NUCLEAR POWER. Mick Rix also briefly explained that the GMB favoured a 'balanced energy policy’ in which some new nuclear power played a role together with other sources such as renewable and clean coal. Currently there were large quantities of nuclear material in the UK which potentially had military uses. If this was used as nuclear fuel in new plant built on existing nuclear sites that could also be used for other forms of generation, C02 reductions of about 8% could be rapidly achieved. Using the appropriate technology the waste would be in the form of ‘Mox’ that no longer had military potential. Furthermore the technology involved might be exportable.

11. PM invited Mick Rix and or other GMB speakers to put the cases as outlined above in possible further public meetings. Mick Rix was interested.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


Walkouts planned at Birkenhead and Aintree factories writes Mithran Samuel (04 February 2008 COMMUNITY CARE)

Remploy staff in Birkenhead and Aintree plan to strike this week in protest at government-backed plans from the company to close 28 of its 83 factories, which employ 5,000 disabled people.

A two-day walkout is planned for Wednesday and Thursday at the Merseyside factories, which are among those earmarked for closure by the publicly-funded company.

Unions GMB and Unite are also expecting results for a strike ballot at the York factory this week, with the outcomes of votes in Hartlepool, St Helens, Treforest and Ystradgynlais, near Swansea, and Brynammon, South Wales, due next week.

Remploy trade union convenor Les Woodward said this coming fortnight would be crucial for the unions' campaign to halt the closures.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Keele University UCU dispute

Keele University staff and students protesting against redundancy and course closure threats
Senior Management at Keele University have recently proposed to make 38 out of 67 academic staff redundant in the School of Economic and Management Studies (SEMS).

All undergraduate and postgraduate courses, with the exception of part-time MBAs, are to be closed and replaced with a limited range of general business courses run by a new Keele University Business School.

The 38 staff placed on a B-List 'at risk of redundancy', and the 28 deemed to have 'appropriate skills and attributes' and placed on an A-list, were selected before the consultation period commenced. The Vice-Chancellor's Management Committee will make the final decisions on redundancies in February when all staff targeted for 'displacement' will be given one month to agree voluntary severence or early retirement and those failing to do so will face compulsory redundancy on statutory terms.

The proposals constitute a major attack on social science teaching and research. Thus, 10 out of the 12 staff in Human Resource Management/Industrial Relations (HRM/IR), 7 out of 15 who teach business administration and the 7 out of 14 who teach non-business economics have been assessed as having inappropriate skills. Thirteen out of 16 in the Health Planning and Management Group are also at risk.

It is also important to note the failure of the University's senior academic managers to have met with UCU representatives and their refusal to extend the period of consultation. A special meeting of the University Senate (the academic governing body) has been requested but not allowed. There is neither business case nor pedagogic justification for this assult on jobs and subject areas. For example, in the case of IR, which has been particularly targeted, HRM and IR courses have been highly successful for many years and have achieved a considerable reputation. In reality this is a process of 'subject cleansing' being driven by senior management in which the teaching and researching of critical social sciences will be eliminated.

What your branch should do to support Keele UCU

Pledge to give full support to UCU members at Keele in their fight to defend their jobs and protect their subject areas;

Call upon Keele University's senior management to enter meaningful negotiations with local UCU representatives;

Call upon UCU nationally to put National Officers and resources aside to deal with this significant dispute;

Encourage branch members to attend demonstrations called in support of UCU members at Keele;

Back Keele UCU's call for a boycott of Keele University if these threats are not withdrawn;

Pledge to offer financial support to Keele UCU if their current ballot results in them taking industrial action to resist these attacks.

Messages of ProtestSend messages of protest to Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Finch, the Pro-Chancellor (and Chair of Keele University Council) Ian Dudson and the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Sue Scott