Monday, 30 June 2014

London Euro-MP calls on John Lewis to pay its cleaners enough to survive

She made the call after it emerged that cleaners at the chain are still paid less than the living wage – an hourly rate calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK, currently standing at £7.65 in the UK and £8.80 in London.
Although the John Lewis Partnership is widely considered to be a model of ethical employment, with a profit-share scheme that saw most staff receive a 14% bonus last year, its cleaners are not directly employed by the firm and, as well as being paid less than a living wage, are entitled to neither bonus payments nor a share in the firm’s profits.
Ms Lambert said: “The John Lewis Partnership is one of the most successful retailers in the UK: a trip to the firm’s flagship store in Oxford Street is, for many, synonymous with a central London shopping trip.
“It’s shocking then that it chooses to have it’s stores cleaned by people who aren’t paid enough to live on, and I hope this attention will persuade them to change their minds.
“The Green Party believes that the minimum wage should be replaced with a living wage, and that the last well-paid workers in the UK should all earn a greater share of the nation’s wealth.
“A more equal society is better for everyone, not just the least well-off, and all employers – especially one, like John Lewis, which is widely-regarded as one which treats its staff fairly – must do their bit by increasing pay at ‘the bottom’ and bringing in a ‘pay ratio’ to make sure its Chief Executive and best paid staff earn no more than ten times the amount taken home by its staff, often its cleaners, earning the least.”
- See more at:



We are shocked at the violence that was unleashed on Monday 23rd June by British Transport Police on a peaceful protest to win back free train travel for South Yorkshire’s older people.

The police clearly knew they were using excessive force which is why one of their number intimidated the young journalist from ‘The Star’ into deleting his video film of the arrests by threatening him with arrest under the Terrorism Act. They wanted to destroy any film evidence of their behaviour.

We believe the police were acting to a plan which was why they seized campaign secretary, George Arthur, first. When challenged they lashed out violently which could easily have had fatal consequences, as happened to Ian Tomlinson.  The police behaviour threatens the right to protest.

We welcome the wonderful support the campaign has already had from the train drivers’ union, ASLEF. We appeal to the whole trade union movement to get behind this campaign, and to put pressure on the Labour Party to give support too.  The best support Labour could give is to make funding free train travel for disabled and older people a manifesto pledge for next year’s General Election.

In the meantime we call on the South Yorkshire Labour councils, in conjunction with Northern Rail, to reinstate immediately older people’s rights to free train travel for the remainder of this financial year, to enable proper consultation to take place in a calm atmosphere.

The campaign is organising a demonstration to protest at the arrest and charging of two of our members. They will be outside Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on monday 7th july from 9am the morning that the two arrested campaigners appear in court. We call on everyone who is opposed to the impacts that the government’s austerity policies are having on the working class to join that protest.

The campaign to win back free train travel will not be intimidated by police violence and has pledged to continue to organise mass peaceful direct action including future Freedom Rides, until their just demands are met. They deserve our full support.                                            Please send replies to Fran Postlethwaite:

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Facing 25 Years in Prison for Circulating a Petition

Facing 25 Years in Prison for Circulating a Petition

June 26, 2014
Green Party member and 2008 Congressional candidate Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan is once again battling political persecution. On July 21, he will stand trial for circulating recall petitions against Benton Harbor’s pro-corporate Mayor James Hightower.
The state is charging him with five felony counts and threatening him with up to twenty-five years in prison. Benton Harbor has 70% unemployment and 90% of its people living
below the poverty line, and is also home to one of the richest companies in the world, the $19 billion Whirlpool Corporation.
Rev. Pinkney has led residents in a relentless battle against racism in the criminal justice system, for jobs, for education, for a better life, and against the state-appointed “Emergency Financial Manager” (EFM) that took over Benton Harbor in 2011. EFMs are a threat to democracy everywhere, as proven when an EFM declared the bankruptcy of
Detroit in 2013. A federal judge subsequently ruled that its workers had no right to keep their pensions despite explicit protection in the Michigan State Constitution, a decision that impacts the fate of workers as far away as California.
The specific charges against Rev. Pinkney in the recall of Mayor Hightower are that he altered some of the dates on the petitions. However, the evidence against him introduced at his preliminary hearing was flimsy and contradictory, as pointed out in a June 3 article in Voice of Detroit:
· Another Benton Harbor resident turned in the recall petitions on January 8, not Rev. Pinkney.
· Rev. Pinkney was formally charged and a warrant issued for his arrest on that same day, January 8, but the petitions were not turned over to the Michigan State Police Forensics Lab for examination until February 26.
· In March, Berrien County Sheriff Deputies conducted a massive campaign to interrogate and intimidate petition signers throughout Benton Harbor.
· Sgt. James Goff, who examined the petitions, is not a certified Forensics Document Examiner.
· Sgt. Goff testified that, “I can’t say who altered them or when.”
· No original petitions were admitted into evidence, only copies, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Elections Commission, and Michigan State Police disagree on where the originals are located.
· Three witnesses who had circulated petitions testified that they saw petition signers themselves change the dates on their signatures due to errors, and one circulator testified that she changed a date she herself entered due to an error.
· County Sheriff Sgt. David Zizkovsky stated that he himself asked the Forensics Lab to change five dates on the petitions.
· There was no confession, no certified handwriting expert testimony, no eye witnesses, no evidence that Rev. Pinkney had exclusive access to the petitions, and lots of evidence that lots of other people had access to them.
The charges against Rev. Pinkney are an attack on our right to petition for redress of grievances and our right to take political action independently of the corporate agenda and the two-party system. The fight to defend Rev. Pinkney is the fight for democracy and for the future of America.
~ Sandy Perry serves as Secretary of Housing on the General Welfare Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet.
Prior article on Rev. Pinkney: Democracy Campaigner, Rev. Pinkney, Arrested
Publicize this case. Write letters of support for Rev. Pinkney to BANCO (Black Autonomous Network of Community Organizations) at Donations for legal defense may be sent to BANCO, 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.

Natalie Bennett: message of support to National Union of Journalist members at Newsquest

For the record...
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett today sent a message of support to National Union of Journalist members at Newsquest on strike over the centralisation of production of newspapers outside the communities they serve, and the loss of jobs.
Bennett said:
“As a former local newspaper journalist myself, I know how essential being part of the community you serve is to understanding and reporting on it. This goes far beyond getting place names and geography right; it's about knowing the people, the community, the organisations, and the real local concerns, which is only possible when you are on the ground.
“And good local news reporting is essential to democracy. We've seen the growth in places of excellent online news sources, but the financial structures aren't yet in place to allow that type of coverage to be anything like wide enough to fill the gaps being increasingly left by giant newspaper groups closing and slashing back local newspapers that often have behind them a century or more of tradition.”

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Striking Swaziland sugar workers need your support!

Striking Swaziland sugar workers need your support!

Thousands of members of the Swaziland Agricultural & Plantation Workers' Union (SAPWU) launched broad strike action at the operations of two of Africa's leading multinational sugar producers, Tambankulu Estates and Ubombo Sugar, on June 12 and 13, respectively. Ubombo, is controlled by the South Africa-based Illovo Sugar, Africa's largest sugar producer, with Swaziland's King Mswati III owning 40%. Ilovo in turn is 51% owned by the UK's AB Sugar Group, part of Associated British Foods. Tambankulu Estates is controlled by South-African based Tongaat Hulett, which also has important operations in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. 

The union is demanding wage increases of from 11-14%, depending on the job grade, increased education and tool allowances, an additional paid holiday and improved leave, among other demands. The companies have responded by withdrawing school transport for workers' children and legal moves to limit picketing. 

Strikes are often severely repressed in Swaziland, an absolute monarchy where the king rules by decree and political parties are banned. SAPWU is part of the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) formed in 2012 and deregistered the following year. Union members and their allies fighting for democratic rule are routinely harassed and jailed. Some two-thirds of Swazis live in poverty. The UK AB Sugar company website boasts: "Illovo is one of the world's lowest-cost sugar producers…" 

Swaziland's sugar workers need your support! 

local government members vote for strike action over pay

NUT and Unison are due to strike on 10 July 2014 with Unite, GMB and PCS awaiting ballot results. Could be biggest coordinated strike action for years.

Worth it thumbnail

Steve Forrest

UNISON decided to ballot local government and school members for strike action after 70% of members rejected this year's pay offer in a consultative ballot.

The pay offer would mean around 50,000 of the lowest paid local government workers receive a rise that is slightly above inflation. However the remainder of the workforce - around 90% - would receive just 1%. 
Local government workers covered by the offer include teaching assistants, planners, administrators, social workers and engineers. 
Local government workers have already endured three consecutive years of pay freezes, followed by below-inflation rises in 2013 and 2014, leaving their pay reduced by almost 20% since the Coalition came to power.
UNISON's Head of Local Government, Heather Wakefield, said: 
"Our members have made it clear that this pay offer is the straw that breaks the camel's back after years of pay freezes and below-inflation rises.
"This offer is effectively another pay freeze for the majority of our local government and school members, and they have used this consultation to send a strong message that it is insulting and unacceptable.
"Local government workers have kept services running in our communities in the face of the Government's harsh austerity agenda, and they deserve more than just a bare minimum pay increase." 
acknowledgements: Martin Francis and 

James Thompson Stewart

Solidarity with the Lambeth College Strike

London Retired Members support the Lambeth College Strike

Solidarity with the Lambeth College Strike

Wednesday 25th June 11am

Lambeth College Clapham Centre, 45 Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 9BL (nearest tube Clapham Common)
Wednesday is the UCU National Day of Action for Lambeth College. The branch decided to take the banner to the Lambeth College picket line at the Clapham Centre. Anyone who can make it would be most welcome.
Copyright © 2014 UCU London Retired Members Branch, All rights reserved.
UCU London Retired Members Branch - members and supporters

Our mailing address is:
UCU London Retired Members Branch
53 Fladgate Road
Leytonstone, London E11 1LX
United Kingdom

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

*Does working-class education have a future?*2nd August 2014

*Does working-class education have a future?* 2nd August 2014

A day conference for all trades unionists including Union Learn reps, trade
union branch officers, TUC/ Trade Union Studies tutors, WEA/adult education
lecturers, and mature students, organised by Trade Union Solidarity
magazine and Bridgwater Trades Union Council

GWRSA/Railway Club, Wellington Rd, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5HA

*Speakers: *

  • *Marie Hughes *South West TUC Regional Education Officer
  • *Trish Lavelle *CWU National Education Officer
  • *Becca Kirkpatrick *Co-editor Trade Union Solidarity
  • *Shan Maidment *TU studies tutor, City of Bristol College
  • *Carole Vallelly *GMB Southern Region/TUC tutor
  • *Nigel Costley, *Secretary, South West TUC
  • *Dave Chapple, *Bridgwater TUC
  • *Ian Manborde, *Ruskin College
  • *Richard Ross *London Metropolitan University
*Cost is £5 per person which includes buffet lunch. Places are limited:
please register in advance if possible, make cheques  out to “Bridgwater
Trades Union Council” and send to Dave Chapple, Conference Organiser, 1
Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU. 

Further details phone 07707 869 144 or e-mail 

10.30am  registration tea and coffee*
11'00am: welcome: Vicki Nash, Somerset NUT and President Bridgwater TUC*
 First session: Chair, Andy Newman, GMB, White Horse (Wiltshire) TUC*
*Speakers: Marie Hughes, Trish Lavelle, Dave Chapple*

Second session: Chair, Glen Burrows, RMT, Bridgwater TUC*
*Speakers: Nigel Costley, Shan Maidment, Richard Ross*


2.40pm  Third session: Chair: Richard Capps, PCS, vice-Chair South West
*Speakers: Carole Vallelly, Ian Manborde, Becca Kirkpatrick*
*iscussion including conference follow-up*

*4pm: Close of conference*

The last few generations have seen, overall, both a crisis and decline in
the general field of what used to be called working-class education.
Despite substantial government Union Learn funding, now of course under
severe pressure, and some impressive internal trade union shop steward
programmes, the subsidised and ‘liberal’ ‘adult education sector where many
of us learned the theory and practice of socialism has almost disappeared.
*This conference is a ground-breaking attempt to address this crisis,
asking these questions amongst many others:  would the internet have
destroyed adult ‘liberal’ education without any government cuts? Do any
trade unions educate their members for socialism or merely effective trades
unionism? Can a volunteer/community-led strategy restore cuts to Union
Learn and adult evening courses? *

What about the left-wing political parties, including Labour and the
Greens? What are the strategies to restore a once-thriving Independent
Working Class Education as part of the workers’ emancipation project? Do
TUC courses succeed in teaching solidarity between workers in different
unions? Could local trades councils play a new educational role?

*These of course are only a few possible ways of approaching our conference
subject: make sure you raise yours! Our speakers will all, hopefully, give
us personal reflections of all their years teaching workers, as well as
their own ideas for future education campaigns. *

Bridgwater GWRSA/Railway Club is 100 yards from Bridgwater rail station at
the east end of Wellington Rd. Car parking in adjacent station car park.
Bridgwater station is served by an hourly train service throughout the day,
arriving from Bristol at 40 minutes past the hour and from Taunton at 15/20
minutes past the hour. Bridgwater is also easily accessible from the M5
motorway with two junctions: north (Dunball/Junction 23) and south
(Huntworth/Junction 24). The GWRSA/railway club itself is one of the
national network of railway clubs which in themselves are an important part
of working-class history-they were funded by the employers, and so can be
understood both as social concession or dangerous palliative.  However, you
will find the Bridgwater GWRSA a friendly, thriving but last-surviving
local working class club. We look forward to seeing you on 2nd August 2014

Monday, 16 June 2014

Wind Tower Workers in Thorold Join United Steelworkers

Wind Tower Workers in Thorold Join United Steelworkers

THOROLD, ON, June 13, 2014 /CNW/ - Employees who build wind turbine towers at TSP Canada Towers Inc. in Thorold have voted to join the United Steelworkers union (USW).
The employees voted Thursday by a 66-per-cent majority to join the Steelworkers. The vote was administered by the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
"We congratulate the TSP employees who have voted to join our union to obtain a real voice in their workplace. They want to build a better future for themselves, their families and their community," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.
"The employees are looking forward to negotiating a fair collective agreement with the company and to moving forward together in building the local wind power industry," Warren said.
TSP is a company based in China and started regular production at its Thorold plant in 2013.
"As a longtime supporter of building the green energy industry, the United Steelworkers is proud to welcome TSP employees to our union," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.
"Our members, including the employees at TSP, know that a sustainable economy must provide good jobs and protect the environment. That's what wind power can do."
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW) 

Martin Empson
Treasurer, Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group
079 585 35231
Skype: swpmre

Hands Off Birmingham Schools – Stop Islamophobia

Hands Off Birmingham Schools – Stop Islamophobia

Rick Hatcher - B’ham NUT cttee, Hands Off B’ham Schools, and education researcher.
Zoe Gardner – Movement Against Xenophobia...

Meeting hosted by Socialist Resistance

The “Trojan Horse” affair has been politically charged and Gove has made numerous attacks to further the Tory agenda. It fits into a strategy to compete with the racism of UKIP. This has fuelled islamophobia and divides communities. Associating Muslims with the word “extremism” creates fear. In this context, the Oftsed reports cannot be fair or unbiased. Gove’s solutions must be rejected. They include forced academisation, teaching so-called “British values”, and the privatisation of the local authority. Defending education for all and public services, and standing up against racism, are starting points for a response against this attack.

 Tuesday, June 24 at 7:30pm Community Centre, 62 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AB

Monday, 9 June 2014

Message of support to City and East London College UCU from GPTU

GPTU sends it's solidarity to City and East London UCU  Branch. Green Party Trade Union group Secretary Peter Murry writes; "As I have written before, I am an ex FE lecturer and member of the UCU Retired (London) Branch, I know that Further Education can often seem like the 'forgotten' sector of education and it is all too easy in a climate of austerity for yet more attacks to be mounted on FE Lecturers' pay and conditions inspite of the fact that FE plays a vital role benefitting society as a whole. I therefore send support to City and East London College UCU strikers on behalf of GPTU."

Friday, 6 June 2014

RITZY PAY ROW: Staff to strike on Saturday after Picturehouse London Living Wage talks collapse

RITZY PAY ROW: Staff to strike on Saturday after Picturehouse London Living Wage talks collapse

Written by  on June 4, 2014 in CommunityNews - 3 Comments


Staff at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton are preparing to strike for the sixth turn, accusing
employers Picturehouse of performing a “volte-face” on pay talks.
Union members at the cinema have been embroiled in an industrial dispute for months
in a bid to be paid the London Living Wage, currently £8.80 per hour.
The union BECTU says it was due to to go into talks with the employer today
(Wednesday) and had expected to be offered a package that involved all staff being paid
living wage by October next year.
Ritzy front

BECTU General Secretary Gerry Morrissey said: “Until today we thought we were
on course to an amicable agreement with Ritzy management, but their move to buy
off the determined and well-organised members in the Ritzy with another cut-price
pay offer is a big mistake.”
“The Ritzy workforce has called for fair pay throughout this dispute, and they know
this means at least the London Living Wage. We are willing to bargain over the
timetable for the full rate to be introduced, and even offered the Ritzy a get-out if
the figure for 2015 exceeds inflation by more than 2%.”
Speaking to the Brixton Blog previously about the dispute, managing director
of Picturehouse Cinemas Lyn Goleby said: “We are working towards a position
where we can offer higher pay but at this point, we cannot do so without risking
job losses across the wider Picturehouse group.
“We will continue to work with BECTU to try to resolve the issue quickly and we
hope that our customers will bear with us while this process comes to a conclusion.”
The next strike will begin at 6am on Saturday (June 7) and finish at 3am the next
day. Read about the history of the dispute here.

acknowledgements tp brixton blog and roy sandison

UNion Win – United Nations reverses derecognition

UNion Win – United Nations reverses derecognition

Some good news from the international online union campaign group LabourStart (make sure to sign up if you’re not already a part of it)…
(As an aside, it begars belief that the UN took such a dramatically anti-labour move in the first place, when the generally pro-worker International Labour Organisation constitutes such a significant and strong part of the UN)
Eight months ago, I wrote to all of you asking you to support a campaign for workers’ rights at the United Nations.
On 11 July last year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon derecognized the staff unions representing the organization’s 65,000 staff, many working in dangerous locations and war zones.  I asked you to join me in sending off protest messages to Ban Ki-moon, and you did in your thousands.
This week, I learned that our efforts paid off.
According to Ian Richards, President of the Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations, “the campaign by UN unions to restore the recognition rights of UN staff has secured a successful outcome.
“On behalf of the unions of the United Nations, I would like to thank you, LabourStart and your 14,000 members who sent emails to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for their fantastic support during the campaign. Your efforts helped persuade the Secretary-General and his team that the UN should live up to its principles on human rights and labour representation.”
You can read the full text of Ian’s message here.
I thank you too — we did well.
And we demonstrated yet again the incredible power of the new communications technologies when combined with traditional trade union solidarity.
Have a great weekend!

Eric Lee
 acknowledgements to josiah mortimer

The Kew - A Cut Too Far campaign

Dave Plummer (Green Party) 

The Kew - A Cut Too Far campaign are handing in their petition on Monday in Downing Street.

The campaign's got support from PCS, Prospect, The GMB, David Attenborough and Alan Titchmarsh.

Even though the petition's going to be handed in by Zac Goldsmith (Tory - Kew's in his patch) it's a very Green Party campaign as it covers botany and public services.

Have we been supporting the campaign, promoting the petition, issued statements etc? It'd be a bit cheeky to turn up if we haven't but I'd hope that we have! I genuinely don't know.

The campaign site's here:

The PCS press release is here:

If anybody plans to go along please let me know and I'll rustle up a placard or two.

Thursday, 5 June 2014



Independent Workers of Great Britain
Contact: Contact: or 07922810798
Twitter: @3CosasCampaign
Members of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) at the University of London have voted 100% in favour of strike action over the loss of more than 80 jobs at the Garden Halls, student halls of residence near King’s Cross.
The IWGB has served notice of five days of industrial action against the two main outsourcing companies at the University – Cofely which runs cleaning, portering, security, and maintenance services, and Aramark which employs catering staff. The strike will begin on Friday 6 June and will continue from Monday 9 June to Thursday 12 June.
The University is set to refurbish its halls from the end of June. The process will last around two years and current workers are at risk of redundancy.
Many of workers under threat of redundancy have been the most active in the 3 Cosas Campaignfor Sick Pay, Holidays and Pensions. The campaign recently won improved sick pay and holiday pay after a high-profile strike in November 2013.
The IWGB is demanding:
•           a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies
•           full and meaningful consultation with the IWGB
•           the same wage levels, terms and conditions, and length of service for any workers transferred to contracts outside the UoL
The IWGB is building a strike fund to compensate workers taking strike action and is calling on support and solidarity from other trade unions, students’ unions and the wider labour movement.
In the run-up to the strike, student activists at the University of London Union (ULU) have occupied Cofely’s head offices at Angel in Islington, London, and the company’s prestigious contract providing building services at the Shard near London Bridge.
Sonia Chura, a Garden Halls (Cofely) worker and Vice-Chairof the University of London branch of the IWGB said:
“The workers who have been most active in the 3 Cosas Campaign are on the verge of losing their jobs. This is the fault of Cofely and the University of London who have consistently refused to negotiate with us or to accommodate the workers. We’re striking in order to continue working. We have been serving the University for many years and this is the thanks we get – being thrown out on the street.”
Contact: or 07922810798
Full details of the 3 Cosas Campaign can be found on the campaign website:
Details of student solidarity actions, including against Cofely’s contract at The Shard, can be found on the IWGB UoL branch website: