Thursday, 26 February 2015

Roundtable for trade unionists on the current situation in Venezuela with a leading figure in the Venezuelan labour movement, Marcos Garcia



We're writing to remind you of your invitation you to a roundtable for
trade unionists on the current situation in Venezuela with a leading figure
in the Venezuelan labour movement, Marcos Garcia (short CV below,) who has
recently moved to Britain from Venezuela. Thanks to those of you who have
already replied - whether you are able to come or not, please forward this
email onto colleagues who you think may be interested, so we can ensure the
best possible turnout for Marcos at this difficult time for our colleagues
in Venezuela.

The discussion will take place at 2pm on Friday March 6   in Room 1 at Unite
House, 128 Theobalds Road, London, WC1X 8TN. It will be followed at 4pm by
a welcome reception for Marcos at a nearby bar, kindly sponsored by the
General Federation of Trade Unions, and you are invited to both events.

Marcos has recently been in Venezuela working on the first congress of the
new, progressive, unified trade union movement alongside the establishment
of the National Labour Council and implementation of the country's
progressive Labour Law, drawing on his experience as a transport workers'
leader in Venezuela for 19 years. He has also recently been the Labour
Attaché in the Embassy of Venezuela in the US, so can also bring a
first-hand perspective on the developments in US-Venezuela relations as
well as current developments in Venezuela, including in the labour and
trade union movement.

Dr, Francisco Dominguez will also give an important update regarding the
latest attempts to destabilise Venezuela, including the recent thwarted
coup attempt, President Obama signing U.S Sanctions on Venezuela and the
ongoing 'economic war' against the Government from sections of big business
and the right-wing opposition, which has led to many comparison with the
situation in Chile in the 1970s in recent days (see TELESUR video at:!en/video/venezuelan-right-wing-wants-to-make-the-economy-scream


Yours in Solidarity,

Tony Burke, Unite Assistant General Secretary & VSC Vice-Chair Doug
Nicholls, GFTU General Secretary & VSC MC Matt Willgress. VSC National
Co-ordinator _______________

Marcos now serves as First Secretary at the Embassy of the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela in London. Previously, he worked as Second Secretary
in Labor Affairs in Washington D.C., from April 2007 to February 2014. He
worked for 19 years in the Underground System of Caracas as station
operator, organizational and process analyst, administrative coordinator
and trade union leader. In 2003, he also served as adviser to the Minister
of Labor in the Committee for Occupied Factories.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Anti-TTIP Protest, Brussels, 3-4 February. Day 2


The second day started with the Trojan Horse Protest outside the European Commission. This protest was organised in cooperation with Friends of the Earth Europe, who made this video of the event. The speakers explain why TTIP is considered to be a Trojan Horse, and why we should protest against it.

After the protest, we all walked (yes, including me!) from the European Commission to the European Parliament, to meet with our Green MEPs.

Our Green MEPs are Jean LambertKeith Taylor and Molly Scott Cato. Here they are at a discussion chaired by a member of the German Greens. They were also joined by Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans, who sits in the European Parliament as a Green. (I could hardly believe that I was really in Brussels, attending a meeting at the European Parliament. And they provided us with lunch!)

The Green Group has consistently opposed TTIP from its inception, as have the Left groups, but apparently not the Social Democrats. The discussion involved pointing out that there is much more to TTIP  than a trade treaty, it is not merely about 'goods crossing borders'. As we had already learnt, it is more about lowering standards of environmental protection so as to increase the profits of multi-national organisations, There was more discussion on ISDS, to which we had been introduced on the previous day, and we were reminded of the fact that corporations can sue governments, but not the reverse.  The introduction of TTIP would mean multinational corporations making the laws, not governments, The measure of the special tribunal would be whether INVESTMENTS had been damaged.

Keith Taylor pointed out that bilateral trade agreements are only about money (profits), and wider social and environmental issues are routinely ignored. 
Molly Scott Cato also spoke on the theme of finance, pointing our that a 'trade' treaty is really a corporate power treaty, enabling corporations to move finance, not goods.The banks are still not properly regulated, but TTIP asks for reductions on regulation.

Jean Lambert reinforced the theme that had already  been discussed, that implementation of TTIP would pose a threat to the UK National Health Service and to public services in general (throughout the EU).

Jill Evans spoke on the threat to food safety standards, and the question of food labelling, Apparently there is very little food labelling in the US, and the treaty would require a reduction in the standards of safety and explicitness in food labelling in the EU. It is a very political issue! 

We then moved on to a discussion with Labour MEPs, led by David Martin, a Scottish MEP. The Labour group are less committed in their opposition to TTIP than the Green group, perhaps more prepared to give it consideration under certain circumstances, David Martin said that he did believe in 'free trade if possible, but only if it's fair'. He said that there could perhaps be a 'good' TTIP, which would be good for jobs and good for growth,  but it would have to enshrine labour rights in law. He claimed that the discussions have not reached the point where it's possible to be for or against TTIP since it is still 'a blank sheet of paper'. 

He then told a heckler, 'If you're not here to listen, just piss off', which some of us thought was quite funny, but he then had to apologise. The hecklers were quite often does anyone get the chance to go to the European Parliament and discuss serious issues? 

That was the final meeting, and then we returned to London, with a lot to think about, and with the intention of continuing the campaign.

I'll just finish with something that  is not connected with the campaign, but I found rather amusing, one point a woman came up to me and asked where I was was from. I said, 'London - Green Left', and she said....''re not from Shetland, then?' This is why!!

This was what I was wearing......I did indeed knit it for Shetland Wool Week, interesting that someone in Brussels recognised the design!!

Maldives Sheraton workers deliver Shame on Sheraton message

Maldives Sheraton workers deliver
Shame on Sheraton message

Union workers dismissed from Sheraton's Maldives luxury resort for demanding union recognition are not allowed on the company's private island - so on February 20 they took to the sea for a boat picket around the resort to say 'Shame on Sheraton'.

Sheraton workers on the island came to the beach to wave their hands in support of the union's fight for rights and recognition. After circling the island, the dismissed union leaders returned to shore and met with workers at the staff ferry jetty to update them on the IUF Shame on Sheraton campaign.

You can support them! If you haven’t yet been able to send a message to Starwood, click here!

Hellenic TV - Syriza London and Greece SolidarityCampaign Rally Trafalgar Sq

Hellenic TV - Syriza London and Greece SolidarityCampaign RallyRally Trafalgar Sq 14/1/2015

Video posted on Facebook and here :

featuring Romayne Phoenix, Paul Mackney, Owen Jones etc

Friday, 20 February 2015

25 Feb UK-wide day of action at jobcentres

25 Feb UK-wide day of action at jobcentres

From Boycott Workfare

Solidarity with unemployed activist arrested for representing a jobseeker:
Take part in a Day of Action at Jobcentres Britain-wide Wednesday 25 February 2015

Support Tony Cox from the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network, who was arrested after assisting a claimant at Arbroath Jobcentre.
Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath Jobcentre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker. We urge you to join a Day of Action on 25th February at Jobcentres round Britain to show your solidarity.
We must fight back against this clear attempt to intimidate claimants and deny us the right to be accompanied and represented. Tony will be in court in Forfar on 25th February facing charges of “threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest”. That same day we call on people to descend on jobcentres round Britain to show their solidarity with Tony and distribute information to claimants urging them to exercise their right to be accompanied and represented at all benefits interviews.
As we face unprecedented sanctions and benefits cuts, it’s more important than ever that we support each other and stand up to the DWP bullies. The Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions and other groups have established a strong presence at the Jobcentres in Dundee and in nearby towns and cities like Arbroath, Perth and Blairgowrie, supporting claimants in opposing sanctions and harassment.

On 29 January Tony was accompanying a vulnerable woman claimant, who suffers from severe dyslexia and literacy problems. The claimant, D, had been signed up to the Universal Job Match (UJM), the computerised job search system, and was being forced to complete five job searches per day, the pressure of which had led to her having several panic attacks. Tony proposed that D’s UJM account be closed, and that her number of job searches be significantly reduced. The adviser refused to consider this, and so Tony and D met with the Jobcentre manager.
The manager likewise refused to even look at the issue, falsely claiming that all jobseekers had to be registered with UJM. She even suggested to D that she should arrange another meeting without Tony or any other witness or rep present. Despite the pressure D was being put under by the manager, she replied that she would not attend another meeting without Tony. At this point the manager demanded that Tony leave the building or the police would be called. Tony refused to leave, but the meeting ended when it was agreed that a further meeting be arranged to discuss the issue further. Tony was arrested after he left the Jobcentre.
The right of claimants to be accompanied to interviews, and for the accompanier to have the right to speak, has been established by groups like Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, who have forced the DWP locally and Britain-wide to apologise for calling the police on ECAP reps, and to affirmclaimants’ right to representation. The DWP clearly state “Claimants accessing Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefits and services can have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf…”
The attack on benefits and claimants is part of the austerity assault on the entire working class. We call on all unemployed and claimants groups, anti cuts and anti austerity groups, human rights groups, workplace activists, and all working class people, waged and unwaged, to show solidarity with Tony and the right of the unemployed and all claimants to organise collectively to fight back.
Visit your local Jobcentre on 25th February with banners and placards and distribute leaflets to claimants on Tony’s case and the right to be accompanied to all benefits interviews.
  • Send a message of support to admin AT
  • Complain to Noel Shanahan, Director General Operations DWP, Caxton House, Tothill Street London SW1H 9NA
  • Sign the petition
  • There will be a picket of the Forfar court before the hearing on 25 February, by activists from Dundee, Tayside and area – for details contact admin AT
  • There will be a solidarity action in Central London at 3pm – for details
Call out by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty - ecap AT
Please add the support of your group/organisation: and ecap AT
email admin AT
And don’t forget Disabled People Against Cut’s Day of Action the following week on 2 March!


Dear Supporter, 

Here is a message from Indro Sen at the College of North West London. Can you send a message of support from your branch and publicise the victimisation issue and the anti-casualisation campaign?

Can you get your branch banner and a delegation to support the picket lines on 23rd and 25th February?

Hi All,

This is to let you know that members at the College of North West London are taking two days strike action against College’s policy of achieving greater Casualization through compulsory redundancies. Currently as a result of this heinous and educationally damaging policy, one of our most active reps Michael Starrs, a leading figure in smashing the merger plan between our College and City of Westminster (only merger in the country smashed by joint union action)  has fallen victim to this policy by being made compulsorily  redundant when there is sufficient hours for him to have a full timetable. He is a brilliant teacher, voted the most popular teacher in 2013 by all  students in the College. All his plumbing students have also signed a petition supporting his reinstatement. So this strike is also about getting his job back.

The following resolution was carried unanimously at the last branch meeting:

Michael Starrs and the anti- Casualization dispute:

  • Members noted that Michael is now fully supported by union appointed solicitors who have confirmed that he has a reasonable prospect of success on unfair dismissal and trade union victimisation claim.
  • Branch also noted that one day strike on the 8 December and subsequent negotiations have failed to persuade management to give Michael his job back and withdraw its casualization policy.
  • The branch decided unanimously:

“Branch agrees to take escalating strike action starting with 2 days in the second half term”

 Your urgent  messages of support for Michael Starrs and branch members for taking strike action in support of him and against College’s casualization policy can only assist our fight as it had in the case of Lambeth. Please drop a line to I will circulate it to members and Michael tomorrow and over the weekend. 
Please also note fighting casualization is a UCU national policy priority and an election issue ( zero hours) . We are in the process of launching a campaign along the lines of the very successful  “Save Kilburn Campaign” to coincide with the election as that campaign did. You can find details of that campaign by going to the following link:

The Green Party Trade Union group supports CNWL strikers, causalisation and victimisation of education workers is not just an attack on workers and their conditions of employment, but it's also an attack on education. We need Further Education to train and educate those who can help to create the low-carbon economy that is so urgently needed and need FE managements that value their staff and treat them properly.

Yours in Solidarity Peter Murry
Secretary Green Party Trade Union group
Member UCU London retired members' branch

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Govenment u-turn on FairPay. Victory for NHS staff?

from A GREEN TRADE UNIONIST – IN BRISTOL a blog by William Quick
Late on Tuesday the 27th of January the news started to come through that the planned 12 hour strike by NHS workers from 11 different heath unions had been postponed, in light of an improved offer on pay from Jeremy Hunt and the department for health.  Originally the majority of staff were to get nothing (as outlined in my previous post); and when union members struck, Hunt and the government refused to even meet union representatives, to negotiate.  Collective action by unionised workers (and the threat of continued and escalating action) brought the government to the negotiating table in the first place and forced from them this improved offer.  This is a remarkable achievement, but does it really represent victory for NHS staff?  These are the proposals outlined in Hunt’s letter to the unions:
As its frames of reference are couched in the language of agenda for change pay points it may seem slightly confusing. Let me explain.
In essence the government is now offering to give all staff earning under £56,000 a 1% consolidated pay rise, with additional increases for the very lowest paid (around 5.6-2.2% for just over 200,000 staff).  This will be funded by freezing the normal incremental pay increase of staff paid over £40,500 (pay point 34). These staff still get the proposed 1% increase (worth less than the increment) up to staff paid £56,000 who get nothing.  This allows Hunt and the department of health to give the majority of staff a rase without increasing the budget or making good of his threat to sack 14,000 nurses.  From anecdotal evidence and my own experience at work those earning above £56,000 (band 8) were less likely to support the strike.  Nonetheless, this still alarms me as a move to pit the lower and higher paid staff against one another, instead of focusing on how its the governments policy itself that is attacking our working terms and conditions to pay for a crisis we did least to create. Finally the government wants to cap redundancy payments; and makes a lukewarm commitment to continue to use the Pay Review Board (who’s recommendations it ignored precipitating the whole dispute) to increase NHS pay in the future.
To some extent the offer addresses (in part) most of the core demands our unions balloted us to strike for.  These were primarily to implement the suggestion of the Pay Review Board to give all staff a 1% cost of living pay rise; to pay the living wage as a minimum; and to restore the value of NHS pay to pre-recession levels in the future. These are very modest demands and it is ridiculous that it required two four hour strikes and the threat of further twelve and twenty-four hour strikes (as well as lots of lobbying and action shot of a strike) to get an offer that even starts to address them.  In Wales where a Tory party ideologically committed to austerity isn’t in power none of this was necessary.
CSP assistant director Peter Finch succinctly surmised the offer:
“For the vast majority this new offer represents a better deal than originally proposed by government.  There is no doubt the threat of further industrial action was a decisive factor in the decision by government to negotiate with the unions.  This still isn’t a great offer but for 2015/16 it does at least provide a consolidated increase, which means it is pensionable and permanent. It does also re-affirm a commitment to the pay review body.”
The 1% goes nowhere near to mitigating the undermining of our pay by inflation since the recession (by about 10-16%). It doesn’t come into effect till the next financial year (conceding another cut against inflation to NHS pay for this year).  It also doesn’t address the increased workload brought about by the current government’s policies – the loss of 35,000 staff since 2010 and a 10% increase in patient numbers (as cuts to community care force more people into hospitals).  Worst of all there is no mention of the governments recent announcement that it plans to cut unsocial hours payments (additional pay for weekend or night shift) by either reducing the amount of hours classed as unsocial, or the value of these hours (or both).  For me, the extra token few pence an hour this offer would give me personally would be taken away many times over if these proposals for unsocial hours go ahead. We could ballot for strike action again once the government makes concrete plans over unsocial hours payments, but this could lose all of the momentum our actions have built up so far.  Furthermore strikes are most effective right now just before the general election as they focus attention onto the NHS (where the majority of people disagree with the Coalition policy).  It was the embarrassment caused to the government by our first two short strikes and the prospect of a 9am-9pm stoppage in January (and 24 hours in Feburary) that most likely caused the governments u-turn on pay. Waiting to see how bad the governments final plans for unsocial hours will be and then balloting loses vital time and could delay action past when it will be effective.  We need to push for the government to scrap these plans now whilst the influence of our actions is highest and we have the best chances of success. For these reasons I will be voting to reject the offer.  Securing this government u-turn on pay is a victory; but put against all the other attacks to our pay and conditions so far, and the looming threat over unsocial hours, it is insignificant.
I’ll leave you with the words of some of the other health unions that highlight some of the major problems NHS staff are facing that this offer does nothing to address. Though they are talking about nurses or midwifes in particular their comments describe the situation for almost all staff
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN said of the offer: “This is a positive start, but there is more to be done. The Government must not let today’s breakthrough go to waste by ignoring the immense pressure and stress NHS staff are under because of chronic understaffing. The only solution to the recruitment crisis which is hammering staff morale and patient care is a sensible long-term workforce strategy with fair pay at its core.
Cathy Warwick of the RCM: “Midwives are caring people who work long hours to give excellent care to women and their babies, often working beyond their shift and through their breaks.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

What could the Mayor do to ensure that affordable, comfortable and secure homes are provided for Londoners?

Dear all,

Darren Johnson AM would like to invite you to an evening discussion in "London's Living Room" at the top of City Hall on the 3rd March, from7-9pm.

You can register here:

The subject will be: what could the Mayor do to ensure that affordable, comfortable and secure homes are provided for Londoners?

Many of the ideas Darren has promoted in recent years require national government intervention - for example a land value tax, or wholesale reform of the private rented sector.

This event will hear ideas from Hilary Osborne (Guardian), Stephen Hill (National Community Land Trust Network), and speakers TBC from the London Tenants Federation and Just Space Network. We will then open it up to all attendees to discuss their ideas.


Please do pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested.

Monday, 16 February 2015

appeal for solidarity with Greece

Leading figures in the German trade union movement have issued an appeal for solidarity with Greece following the resounding election victory of the leftist Syriza party.

It's an extraordinary statement and trade unionists around the world are being asked to add their names to those of the German trade union leaders.  Thousands have already done so.

Please read the appeal and add your name here:

Please share this message with your friends, family and fellow union members.

Thank you!

Eric Lee
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Friday, 13 February 2015

February 2015 Newsletter: Brighton People's Assembly

February 2015 Newsletter
View this email in your browser

Hello friends,

We're into the full swing of election year with local council budget decisions fast approaching, so this email update is packed with actions, events and meetings taking place in February. We will send out another update in a couple of weeks with March info, but please do check out the website for all events over the coming months: 

Please do come along and support where you can! If you have any ideas or want to help please email 
Brighton People's Assembly Against Austerity News
Next Brighton People's Assembly meeting: Wednesday 18th February 7.30pm @ the Brighthelm Centre (Pelham room), North Road
Come and join us to coordinate and bring together campaigns and events  - we'll continue discussions and action ideas from the recent Power to the People event. All welcome!
Brighton & Hove City Council final budget proposals 2015-16 have been published and explanations of how the cuts will effect each service are on the website (click here) . The below flier is being distributed about the city with details of how to fight the cuts - please spread the word and support the actions!

Small Revolutions VI - first one of the year!
Raising money and bringing us together for music, poetry & cabaret. For more details of the acts check out the Facebook page here. £5 suggested donation.
Brighton People's Assembly stalls!
Activists have been setting up in town to publicise local campaigns and talk to people in the lead up to the elections. Next one is tomorrow (Sat 14th Feb) at the Clocktower. All welcome to come help out and bring your campaign literature. Email if you want to help with the stalls. 
Local Campaigns: Actions & Events

Love Activists Brighton have set up a Pop Up Love Kitchen
Presently at the clock tower as much as possible.
Building Love Activist to join the group email list to share your availability and /or to be kept in the loop
  • Shout it Out - no cuts to our city! Street theatre performance organised by Brighton & Hove Green Party @ Jubilee Square, Brighton: Friday 13th Feb 11am & 1pm, Sat 14th Feb 2 & 3pm; @ George Street, Hove: Sat 14th Feb 11am & 12pm
  • Global Divestment Day action at Sussex University Mass bike ride and rally at Sussex University & presentation of petition calling on the university to stop investing in fossil fuels, Fri 13th Feb 3pm @ Library Square, Sussex Uni
  • Global Divestment Day action in Brighton Street stall in Brighton town centre, calling on the big banks to divest from fossil fuels, Sat 14th Feb 11-4pm @ New Road, Brighton
  • Hove People's debate for the NHS One of a series of three election debates organised by Sussex Defend the NHSFri 20th Feb 7.30pm @ Glebe Hall, Glebe Villas BN3 5SN
  • City of Power: how the City of London exerts its influence over government and society The talk and Q&A will be followed by a buffet lunch,Sat 21st Feb 11.45 am @ Bertie McLaren Pavilion, The Level. Organised by Brighton & Hove United Nations Association, please contact to let them know if you'd like to attend  - 01273 602168 / 07984 900394 / francisclark-lowes[at]
  • Brighton and Hove budget protest  Bring placards, people, musical instruments, megaphones... Let's tell them we won't accept these cuts, Thurs 26th Feb 3.30pm. Assembling outside Hove Town Hall. March to the protest organised by Children Centre's Campaign, see above flier.
  • NHS Charity book launch Launch of a new book by National Health Action party candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, Dr. Carl WalkerFri 27th Feb 7.30pm @ West Street Loft, Shoreham.Tickets £5. To book, go to this Eventbrite page
  • Time to act on Climate Change: Brighton public meeting, Public meeting with speakers & break out cirles to plan for big Climate demo in London on March 7thFri 27th Feb 7.30pm @ Brighthelm Centre, North Road
  • Day of action against Maximus Maximus has taken on the contract to administer the infamous Work Capability Assessment on behalf of the government, after ATOS walked away from the contract. Day of action called by Disabled People Against Austerity, protest outside the assessment centre in Brighton. Mon 2nd March 1-4pm @ West Lees House, 21-35 Dyke Road.

Local campaigns: organising meetings