Thursday, 31 July 2014


Defend PCS reps' right to campaign against austerity

Defend PCS reps' right to campaign against austerity

31 July 2014  from  acknowledgements to Adrian Cruden
PCS has launched a petition against the disciplinary action imposed on one of our reps for publicising jobcentre staff cuts.
Rep George Thompson issued a press release about the number of staff to be cut at 2 north London jobcentres.
Management says George breached the Department for Work and Pensions' standards of behaviour, which states that union representatives must not disclose, without authorisation information that they obtain as a civil servant and through their work in the department
However, the information passed to George was not marked in confidence or restricted nor was he told it was of a sensitive nature. In fact, this staffing information was routinely passed to PCS without any restriction every month.

Lawful campaign 

George was given the information by management in his capacity as a union representative and was taking part in a lawful union campaign and made it clear he was speaking for PCS.
DWP has imposed a two-year final written warning. The case has been submitted to an employment tribunal.
We believe that representatives have a legitimate right to comment on job cuts as a part of our campaign against austerity.

Trade unionists worldwide call for an end to the siege of Gaza

Thursday, 31 July 2014 from

Trade unionists worldwide call for an end to the siege of Gaza

The military occupation of Palestine, and the complicity of the most 
powerful states on earth in this occupation, is a massive injustice.

Unfortunately, we only tend to receive news about this situation every
few years when the Israeli “Defence” Force decides to murder hundreds,
if not thousands of civilians. The harsh daily reality of life in the Gaza 
strip and the West Bank are mostly ignored in between. Instead, when 
violence flares up we are presented with an ahistorical picture which
 mistakes “blaming both sides” for objectivity. Whilst schools and 
hospitals are being bombed, whilst children playing on the beach are 
targeted, whilst chemical weapons such as white phosphorous are 
deployed, our media outlets parrot IDF press releases about defending
 itself. What is often conveniently left out of this narrative is the fact 
that Israel is militarily occupying Palestine and proceeding to build
illegal civilian settlementson this land; one of the grossest violations 
of international conventions. This is not a straightforward case of 
interstate conflict, but is instead a case of occupier against occupied.

However, as evidenced by the voting patterns in the UN, and the 
protests which have erupted in cities and towns globally, the majority
 of the world has its eyes wide open with regards to this. The 
governments of some the poorest countries on earth, such as Bolivia, 
have spoken out against Israel’s offensive. They join their Latin 
American neighbours Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, El Salvador and Chile
 in breaking off normal diplomatic ties due to what they deem to be
 “crimes against humanity”.

On the 26th of July in London I joined with tens of thousands of people in a march from
 Downing Street to the Israeli Embassy in protest against the siege of Gaza. The crowd 
was diverse, with people from many different backgrounds and many different organizations. 
I was especially proud to see grassroots trade unionists 
carrying their branch banners, and trade unionist leaders
 up on the platforms speaking.  
British trade unions now have well established links with organizations such as the 
Palestine Solidarity Campaign. (Dozens, including my trade union Unite, hold 
official affiliation). These links between trade unions and social movements are 
vital in terms of political strategy, and recognize that we need to organize both within 
civil society and as producers at the place of work. Beyond pressuring our government
 to change its policy, trade unions such as Unison and the FBU are actively campaigning
 in support of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign which
 is putting economic pressure upon the Israeli state and companies which are complicit 
in the occupation.

Photo: Demonstration in London. From The Weekly Bull on Flickr and
 reproduced underCreative Commons 2.0

Trade unions from all over the world have answered the call 
from Palestinian trade unions for solidarity. From New Zealand
 to South Africa, they are reaching beyond immediate bread and
 butter issues in order to condemn these atrocities. As most big 
social democratic parties have lost their role as educators, and 
the media has become even more concentrated into the hands 
of the elite, the role of trade unions as political educators rather 
than just tools for collective bargaining is important.

Obviously though this commendation for the actions of trade 
unionists should not be seen as triumphalism. Press releases
 condemning the occupation, marches and rallies should all be
 applauded, but we have been here before and their strategic 
effectiveness is questionable. I can’t offer the definitive answers
 assuming that there even are any, but there have been some 
great summaries out there recently in terms of practical action 
which you can take today both as an individual and as a trade

  1. Support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign   
  2.  Hear from people on the ground
  3. Challenge media bias
  4. Join a group and take to the streets 
  5. Listen to dissenting Jews and Israelis
  6. Confront the arms trade

  1. Stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel
  2. Divest your trade union pension  and other funds from Israel 
  3. Dissociate from Israeli trade unions complicit in the occupation
  4. Support our call for a military embargo on Israel
  5. Share information with your members 
Laurence Goodchild - Rugby Greens Trade Union Officer

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Meet in August to address the Housing Crisis in Kilburn and London

Meet in August to address the Housing Crisis in Kilburn and London

A strategy meetng to address the Housing Crisis in Kilburn and London

Called for by Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

Supported by KUWG, Unite Community membership, and Community Organisers.

Everyone is now aware of the dceepening crisis in Housing in London and its impact on local residents and ourcommunities. Over the last two years the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group has been dealing with — and campaigning on — more and more housing cases in the wider area.

We want to bring together people from across our community for a more united and sustainable response:
  • Individuals (especially those with housing problems)
  • Tenants and Residents Associations
  • Housing and advice workers
  • School, community and council rerpresentatives
  • Trade Unions and political organisations.

We want to hold an inclusive, participatory strategy meeting so we can begin to:
  • share experiences about the housing challenges faced by people in Kilburn and build connections
  • help each other cope and find solutions; make our voices heard
  • develop and campaign collectively around policies which would begin to meet real housing needs in the area


Priory House, 10 Kingsgate Place, London NW6 4TA

(Some of) what's happening now:

  • .... Housing insecurity and homelessness; inflated rents and house prices; huge shortage of social housing; overcrowding, disrepair, evictions... displacement
  • ... reduction in the Local Housing Allowance (housing benefit for private accommodation), the benefit cap, 'Bedroom Tax', charging Council Tax on Benefits, "Affordable" rent being defined as 80% of the market rate [on a London that is becoming a global billionaires' Monopoly board], spike in benefit sanctions...
  • ... Cuts to legal aid, advice, support and language services; no security of tenure in private and social housing; exploitation, bully and victimisation, ...
  • ... Low pay and 'zero hour contracts', rogue landlords, loan sharks...

 KUWG is part of the Unite Community and the London Coalition Against Poverty and campaigns with Social Work Action Network, Brent Housing Action, Housing 4 All, and the London Radical Housing Network.

Monday, 28 July 2014

SERTUC Disabled Workers’ Network Open Meeting: How will a Labour Government improve the lives of disabled people?

FREE EVENT (registration essential)
SERTUC Disabled Workers’ Network Open Meeting: 
How will a Labour Government improve the lives of disabled people?

Thursday 11 September 2014, 2.30 - 4.30pm
Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS

Guest Speakers:

·        Kate Green MP, Shadow Spokesperson for Disabled People - was elected MP for Stretford and Urmston in May 2010. She is currently Shadow Spokesperson for Disabled People.

·        Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) - disability rights campaigner for thirty years, and founder of the Community Options Involvement Network, a service user involvement project in Bromley for people with mental health impairments. A member of the National Steering Committee of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC),

Please register:
Telephone:        020 7467 1220

·        Please specify any disability access and other facility needs

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Funding crisis threatens Kew

Funding crisis threatens Kew

Globally important conservation and science are under threat at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew due to government cuts
Globally important conservation and science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, andWakehurst Place, its Sussex estate, are under threat because of a steep reduction in funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
More than 100,000 people across the globe have signed a petition calling on the UK government to urgently reverse existing, proposed and further cuts to Kew’s annual operating grant in aid.
Protesters deliver petition to Downing StreetKew’s most important global contribution is its plant science. It maintains the world’s premier plant and fungal collections, including 30,000 living plants, one billion seeds and the DNA of 20% of the world’s plant species. Without these collections and expertise, plant conservation stops.
In 1983, 90% of Kew’s funding came from the UK government as grant in aid. By 2014, this had fallen to below 40%. Funding was reduced by £0.9m in 2009-10, £1m in 2010-11, and by an extra £0.5m year-on-year thereafter.
Prospect wrote to the environment secretary Owen Paterson in June 2014 calling for:
  • additional interim funding for Kew
  • an assurance that Defra is opposed to Kew making any compulsory redundancies
  • a review of Kew’s funding arrangements to ensure long-term clarity and security.
The union said it was incongruous that the Department for Business, Innovation and Science is investing over £1bn in life sciences, yet one of the UK’s pre-eminent life science institutions is being irrevocably compromised by short-sighted cuts.
Kew has already lost approximately 50 posts, vacancies are not being filled and management is planning the loss of a further 50-70 posts. Most of the endangered jobs are in the areas of science and public engagement.
Cutting staff reduces Kew’s capacity to fulfil its statutory obligations, to carry out its leading science and conservation, and to generate its own revenue.
Successive independent reviews of Kew have praised the quality and value of its scientific work and recommended that its public funding be maintained or increased.
Broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough said: “Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after out botanical heritage and our botanical future. The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically.
“People who think it is just a place to go to look at pretty flowers and flower beds are mistaking the importance of Kew Gardens”. He added that the Seed Bank is of world importance and should be supported by the government like a proper institution or university. 
  • The earth is losing one major drug plant every two years – yet we’ve researched less than 3% of tropical plants for new drugs.
  • 80% of the world relies on plants for medicine, yet 15,000 medicinal plants are threatened with extinction worldwide.
  • 70% of the top-selling pharmaceutical drugs are directly or indirectly derived from natural sources – primarily plants and fungi.
What you can do
Sign the petition:
Visit the campaign website:
Follow the campaign on Twitter: @KewCuts and Facebook: Stop Kew Cuts
Hashtag: #kewcuts

from Prospect website acknowledgements to Martin Francis

Green Party Calls For a Wealth Tax

Green Party Calls For a Wealth Tax

24 July 2014
THE Green Party, the only party committed to progressive policies that tackle Britain’s persistent inequality problem head on, is calling for a Wealth Tax on the top 1%, those with assets of more than £3million. 
The Green Party, which is already fighting for a Living Wage for all (1) and fairer company-wide pay ratios, says a tax on wealth would help to ensure that the richest 1% (300,000 people) pay their fair share back to society. 
The richest 1000 people have doubled their wealth in the last five years (2). Meanwhile, the number in poverty has risen (3) and the queues at food banks have lengthened (4). 
Policies that tackle the disparities in income do not necessarily address the problem of excessive wealth. That is why an annual wealth tax which taxes the assets of the wealthiest at a rate of 1% which would raise approximately £21billion is needed. 
Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, revealed the Party’s commitment to a Wealth Tax ahead of the General Election live on LBC’s Duncan Barkes Show. 
Bennett said:
“Our strong General election polling (5) and surge in membership (6) goes to show that the Green Party’s commitment to people over profits policies are really hitting home. The Green Party is prepared to take principled stands and an increasing number of voters recognise and value this. 
“Other political parties are offering business as usual, only minor changes to our failed economic system and policies that are helping the super-rich and making the poor pay for the economic crisis that they did not create.   
“A Wealth Tax is part of the Green Party’s policy programme that will deliver real change for the common good. It is this change that British politics and British society desperately needs.” 
For more information please contact or 07889 809 070 
2 Rich double their wealth in five years:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

UCU London Retired Members Branch update

UCU London Retired Members
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A Walk, the Next Meeting and an Update on Bahrain

The next Retired Members and Friends walk will be on Monday August 18th,more details from here...
Branch Meeting
The next UCU London Retired Members branch meeting will be on Thursday September 25th, 2pm-4pm at the union's Carlow Street offices. Directions from here...
An article entitled "Bahrain: Trade Unions and the Struggle for Democracy" written by Dave Binns, who is a member of our branch, will shortly be posted on the MENA Solidarity website. Retired Members can get a preview from our own site here...
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

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The government has dropped its plans to privatise the student loan book

Fiona Edwards2:38pm Jul 22
The government has dropped its plans to privatise the student loan book in an announcement made by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills yesterday.

This government u-turn represents a major victory for the student movement. If the student loan book had have been sold off to private debt collectors there is no doubt that in a bid to maximise profits interest rates on repayments would have soared. To put it bluntly, privatising student loans would have been a retrospective hike in tuition fees.

But students and graduates have shown that we won’t tolerate being burdened with even more debt without a fight.

The Student Assembly Against Austerity (the student wing of the People’s Assembly) has been at the forefront of the campaign to #StopTheSellOff. Alongside hundreds of student activists across the country, we have organised national days and weeks of action involving more than 50 campuses which has resulted in over 76 MPs signing our Early Day Motion against the privatisation of student debt.

With the General Election just around the corner and the student movement on the rise it is no surprise that the Lib Dems have decided to back off on their assault on students.

Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part – all the banner drops, occupations, mass petitioning, stunts, protesting and lobbying together made a huge difference and proves once again that campaigning works!

There are, however, many more fights ahead.

There will be those who will want to revisit plans to privatise student loans in the future – we need to make sure they never succeed.

As a result of the trebling of tuition fees, higher education in the UK is the most expensive in the whole of Europe and student debt is rocketing as a result. At the same time the slashing of EMA and savage cuts to education are hitting students hard.

With a General Election just months away, now is the time for the student movement to step up our campaigning efforts and loudly raise our demands for free education - against all fees, cuts and debt.

That is why The Student Assembly Against Austerity is joining a coalition of groups to organise a national student demonstration this autumn onWednesday 19 November.

Join the fight back – get active with the Student Assembly!

If you would like to get involved in organising the national demonstration or would like to set up a
Student Assembly on your campus get in touch with us today

Read the story on our website here:

tuc march and rally in london on 18 October 2014,

Britain Needs A Pay Rise
Let's increase Britain's pay packet, and see it shared more fairly.
Join us for a march and rally in london on 18 October 2014, to help call for an economic recovery that works for all Britons, not just those right at the top. Britain needs a payrise!
We want:
  • A properly enforced minimum wage.
  • Higher wages from employers who can afford to pay.
  • Increased commitment to the living wage.
  • A crackdown on excessive executive pay.
This march and rally has been called by the TUC, but coach places need to be booked direct with those organising them. Check what’s in your area and get in touch with the listed contact.

SERTUC newsletter 110


newsletter 110  

SERTUC Regional Council 10am Saturday 19 July with Andrew Fisher economist and the Ritzy strikers - all trade unionists are welcome to attend as observers but please let Darren Lewis know you intend to 
SERTUC Theatre Club The Yard Theatre "Beyond Caring" reduced entry 1 to 26 July with SERTUC code 
Unemployment (Office for National Statistics)
  • National
    • unemployment decreased by 121,000 in the quarter to May to 2.12 million
    • the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance fell by 36,300 in June to 1.04 million
    • more than 4.5 million people were self employed
    • average earnings increased by 0.3% in the year to May
    • unemployment for 16-24 year olds fell by 64,000 over the latest quarter to 817,000
    • number of people workg part-time wanting to work full-time fell by 61,000 to 1.3 million (of 30+ million in work)
    • job vacancies up by 30,000 to 648,000
  • East of England unemployment has decreased by 2,000 in the quarter to May, 169,000 were unemployed, a rate of 5.4%
  • London unemployment has decreased by 17,000 in the quarter to May, 325,000 were unemployed, a rate of 7.3%
  • South East unemployment has decreased by 28,000 in the quarter to May, 205,000 were unemployed, a rate of 4.4%
East of England Trade Union Network (ETUN) new facebook page
Union information
FBU Herts County Councilhas rejected a call to review their decision to sack firefighter Ashley Brown. As the campaign continues you are invited to support the financial appeal to support him and his family, account details are here
BECTU campaign "Boycott Picturehouse Cinemas" contact Sofie
RMT conference Listen to London - the Future of London UndergroundSaturday 26 July 10am London
RMT demonstration at Portsmouth against social dumping and the exploitation of overseas workers by Condor Ferries Saturday 26 July 7am
TUC national demonstration Saturday 18 October transport and other details here
Trades council actions
Redbridge trades council benefit screening of "Miners shot down"Tuesday 29 July 7.30pm £3 book at 07956 656 986
West Surrey trades council meetings now start at 6.30pm and a buffet will be provided at 6pm, venue Milestone House, Portsmouth Road, Send GU23 7JY, 11 September, 13 November contact Tony Jay
Other actions/information
Ross Pritchard Memorial Committee offers you the chance "think, write, £750" for the 2014 annual essay competition "Do the new arrangements between the Labour Party and trade unions promote the political interests of tyrade unionists?" see 
Burston Strike School centenary book "The School of Freedom" 
Burston Strike School Rally 10.45am Sunday 7 September with Owen Jones, Geoff Revell RMT, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Megan Dobney SERTUC, Lara Norris LP PPC, Roy Bailey, Thee Faction, TheatreTrain, Red Flags, NASUWT and RMT Brass Bands
Jim Mortimer a life on the left, website capturing some of the wonderful contributions to the memorial event held in April
Denis Goldberg sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 with Nelson Mandela, new tribute book "Freedom Fighter and Humanist"
Townsend Productions play United We Stand about the Shrewsbury 24 tour includes Bedford, Peckham, Faversham, Portsmouth between September and November
Ruskin College BA International Labour and Trade Union Studies full time starting October 2014 and part time (weekends) in January 2015. Some scholarships available. Holmes