Friday, 29 January 2016

UK Trade Union Bill and the Spanish Gag Rule

INVITATION ONLY EVENT: UK Trade Union Bill and the Spanish Gag Rule
The Institute of Employment Rights would like to invite you to a round-table discussion to take place onFriday 12 February at the TUC, London. You are invited to join us for a continental breakfast at 8.30amand the meeting will start at 9.00am. The meeting will finish no later than 11am.
This meeting has been jointly organized by IER, SERTUC and UNITE and will involve:
·       Welcome: Gail Cartmail, UNITE AGS
·       Spanish Law: Fátima Aguado Queipo, International Secretary FSC-CCOO and Jesús Gallego, International Coordinator, UGT.
·       UK similarities: John Hendy QC, IER
·       Questions and Discussion

Background - Spain: the “Gag Rule”
Prior to the 2015 UK general election various Conservative sources referred to the “Spanish model” of controlling trade union protests. Now we have the Trade Union Bill being pushed through Parliament and many of the attacks contained in that Bill reflect similar laws in Spain.
So how are Spanish laws being used to restrict trade union rights and what can we learn from our Spanish colleagues? The headline news is that eight Air Bus workers are in court in Spain facing an eight year sentence for offences related to the Spanish “gagging law”.

At this invitation only breakfast meeting we will have two Spanish trade unionists explaining the law, assessing it impact and answering any queries we might have.

What the law does:
In summary, the “gagging law” is aimed at protests in support of industrial disputes, within a framework intended to cause maximum financial damage and intimidation including:
·       Strikers are allowed to film pickets but not the police therefore in practical terms no filming
·       there are strict rules regarding wearing of badges and T-shirts in the vicinity of a strike  
·       Workers classified as providing “services of general interest” are within scope and the definition being applied is very wide.
·       A blanket ban on any protest in areas of interest to tourism can be applied.

Actions against breaches of law
·       People are deprived access to the court.
·       Sanctions for breaches of this new law are ‘administrative’ sanctions are being automatically imposed by the police for breaches of the law
·       Legal challenges have poor prospects of success and are guaranteed to be more costly than the administrative fine imposed.
·       Fines are enforced via a civil process, with personal assets under threat of seizure.
·       No pre-authorization for house searches is required.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Plane Stupid Heathrow demonstrators found guilty and told to expect custodial sentences

Monday, 25 January 2016
Plane Stupid Heathrow demonstrators found guilty and told to expect custodial sentences
From Get West London LINK
A group of 13 Plane Stupid campaigners who caused 25 flight cancellations after breaking in to Heathrow Airport 's north runway have been found guilty today of aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area.

The seven men and six women cut a hole in a fence and chained themselves to railings on the north runway, beginning at around 3.30am on July 13 2015.

As the verdict was read out, one defendant shouted: "This is a farce!", as other gasped in disbelief.
District Judge Wright has told defendants they can expect jail sentences for their actions.

During their three-day trial at Willesden Magistrates' Court, defendants told of how they carried out the pre-planned action in order to 'save lives', using the defence of necessity.

The protesters claimed their actions were necessary and reasonable in order to reduce carbon emissions and halt climate change.

The court previously heard how Graham Edward James Thompson, 42, of Durlston Road, Hackney and a press officer for Greenpeace, explained that he was “compelled by his conscience” to take action that day.

Mr McGhee, prosecuting, said: “Why do you feel that your conscience entitles you to break the law?”
To which Mr Thompson replied: “In the context of this situation, breaking the law was not the most serious issue at hand.”

The 13 defendants all pleaded not guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates Court on August 19 2015. 

acknowledgements to

Sunday, 24 January 2016

#ScrapTrident #StopBombingSyria #WelfareNotWarfare, 2nd Feb 7pm at the Trinity Centre, Bristol

#ScrapTrident #StopBombingSyria #WelfareNotWarfare, 2nd Feb 7pm at the Trinity Centre

stop trident
On the 2nd of February the Bristol People’s Assembly is joining forces with the Bristol CND and the Bristol Stop the War Coalition to host a public meeting and rally against the renewal of the trident nuclear weapon system and the continued bombing of Syria.  Join us in calling for ‘Welfare not Warfare’.
The government is expected to force a vote on renewal of Trident in a few months time. The majority of the British people, including the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (though sadly not all of his MPs), the Greens and the Scottish and Welsh Nationalist all oppose nuclear weapons. They are deadly relics of a bygone era, weapons of mass destruction that would indiscriminately kill millions, and which are completely useless against the threats Britain faces. They don’t keep us safe and they divert resources from essential spending.
We are seeing devastating cuts to vital services, most tragically our NHS, and millions are forced to use food banks as the government no longer pays benefits adequate for many people to survive.  In such a situation it is a huge travesty that the government wants to waste over £100 billion on renewing the deadly and useless white elephant that is trident.
trident nhs
We’ll be coming together at the trinity centre to protest against the renewal of trident and the continued bombing of Syria.
We all oppose the brutal outrageous committed by Daesh/ISIS, but further Western intervention in the form of Britain joining the 12 other countries already bombing Syria is unlikely to achieve anything constructive.  Simultaneously it plays into ISISs hands by giving credence to their clash of civilisations rhetoric in which they portrays themselves as protecting Muslims against a hostile and militant west.  At the same time despite the promises of Cameron and the champions of intervention British bombs are already killing innocent civilians and further adding to the bloodshed and misery inflicted on Syria and its unfortunate people.
Furthermore, the obscene cost of this and other unnecessary interventions is a smack in the face to everyone on the sharp end of austerity Britain.  The cost of just one air strike mission is over half a million pounds, and we will likely spend many hundreds of millions over the year in this latest military entanglement.  The cost of bombing Daesh/ISIS in Iraq is already over £200 million a year and it seems this figure is sure to rise as our involvement escalates.
It tells us a lot about our elite that they would rather priorities fruitless military intervention and seeming tough on defence over looking after their own people.  We saw this link between austerity and war most clearly in the last budget when the government increased total defence spending by £12 billion, the exact same amount they simultaneously decided to cut from welfare.  As the late and great Tony Benn used to say “If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people”.
cost of bombing
That’s why we’ve organised this event and are bringing you a fantastic line up of speakers from across the movement to demand Welfare Not Warfare.
Join us to say no to Trident, no to war and no to austerity.  We deserve better!
So far speakers include:
Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
John Rees, From the Stop the War Coalition
Shahrar Ali, Deputy Leader of the Green party
Mhairi Threlfall, Eastville Councillor for the Labour Party
They’ll all be making the links between austerity and war more explicit and arming us with the arguments we need to make the case for peace and equality.
We’ll also be trying to raise awareness (and funds for coaches) for the national march against trident in London on Saturday the 27th of February.  If we are to overcome the powerful vested interested at the heart of the Conservative party (and sadly infecting some of the parliamentary Labour party too) bent on pushing through trident renewal against the wishes of the people than making this demonstration big and vibrant will be key.  Naturally we’ll be supporting Bristol CND who are organising coaches:  (if you want to buy a ticket please see ).
To find out more about the national demo and for updates join the national CND Facebook event here
So please join us the February the 2nd, and invite as many people as you can, its shaping up to be an event not to miss.
Join our facebook event and let us know you’re coming:
For more information on the groups organising this event please see our facebook pages here:-
Bristol People’s Assembly –
By, Will Quick for the Bristol People’s Assembly

Friday, 22 January 2016

Tell ASDA to look after their staff

Tell ASDA to look after their staff 
acknowledgements to

The GMB union is fighting proposals by Asda to cut staff free hot drinks and remove vending machines.  Asda are said to have seen falling turnover in the face of competition from Lidl andAldi.

The GMB is the only union to have successfully gained recognition in the Walmart international  empire.   They have launched a petition against the changes. This is their statement:

On 13th January 2016 ASDA informed GMB of their proposal to change the canteen offer within stores. This could result in the closure of the breakfast offer, removal of chilled vending machines and removal of free tea, coffee and toast which is available within its smaller stores.
GMB are aware from speaking to members and colleagues that this is an emotive subject and understand how valuable these facilities are to you as hard working, dedicated colleagues within ASDA. 

We are therefore requesting that you sign the petition so that this can be presented both through the consultation process and Andy Clarke CEO to ensure ‘Your Voice’ is heard on this matter.

Please use the social media buttons to share this petition.

If you are not currently a member and wish to be protected join online at
The petition can be found HERE

These are two views that can be found on the GMB petition website:
Over the 9 years I have worked for Asda I have seen a decline in the company looking after the colleagues I agree times change and cost go up but you need to keep your workforce happy to keep your customers happy and removing colleague canteens is the wrong way to go this is an engine room for colleagues to reboot themselves and chat and get rid of stress eat and drink breakfast is the start of the day our store has a cafe downstairs bacon butties and more are a £1 that's great but can you imagine ten to twenty colleagues queuing up for their breakfast and wasting their break time of 15-20 mins so then making them late going back onto the shop floor and such could also lead to disciplinaries come on there must be costs you can cut elsewhere keep the troops happy mr Clark

I do not work for Asda, but do shop there but may have to start shopping elsewhere if this is the sort of company my shopping spends supports. This is so wrong on so many levels. A good company would look after their workforce and make sure they have hot drinks and food available. Its the staff that makes the company, So come on Asda treat your wonderful staff better.
It is advisable not to engage Asda staff in conversation about the issue as this could result in disciplinary action against them but if you sign the petition they will know they have public support.  

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Make an allowance to seniors for free access to the internet.

Greens constantly seem to ignore  the fact that there are more 50+ voters than 50- voters in the UK.
Some Green issues vaguely cover some of the  problems that effect seniors but there are many that are specific.g Housing. Does not cover sheltered housing, care Homes, bed blocking, the need for single bedroom units.

With austerity cuts the Government are renegading on their duty to inform seniors of their rights. They no longer send information to seniors with leaflets. Everything is on line. Seniors cannot afford internet access and there is no appropriate training  to their needs. Many Libraries and Community centres have been closed where seniors might have got some advice and help.  In fact those of us who have paid out for devices and internet service are subsidising the Government duties.
Unless Greens start addressing  the specific problems seniors face they are seen to be  neglecting a vast section of the UK population of voters.
Maureen Childs Co-chair Green Seniors
Please sign and forward our petition below
Make an allowance to seniors for free access to the internet.
Considering the Government ONLY inform seniors of their rights by the internet many seniors are excluded from essential information by the very cost of internet access.
More details
An allowance of £200 per year, similar to winter fuel allowance should be granted to state pensioners to enable them internet access from their homes.
Many seniors are house bound and cannot make use of provision of internet access in libraries or other free facilities. The government have recently announced the possibility of medical advice from GP's via the internet. They would be able to communicate with local services, buy their weekly provisions and make use of the infinite services available to contribute to their well being.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Trade Union bIll and on-line voting

The government has nearly succeeded in pushing through its anti-democratic Trade Union Bill, without one crucial reform. The government wants to stop trade union members from voting via the internet on whether to take industrial action.
The government is refusing to budge, but there is a chance we can force it to reconsider. The Bill is about to go before a committee of MPs for line-by-line scrutiny. This still gives us the chance to force the government to make amendments and allow simple, secure online voting.
The government is hoping to make it really hard for trade union members to legally go on strike. It doesn’t want anything in the Bill that could make it easier for ordinary trade union members to vote, like using online voting.
So here’s the plan: We’re going to hold our very own online ballot! That way we can show the government just how silly its position is, and hopefully force it to back down.
Do you think trade unions should have the right to use online voting?
The government knows that by allowing online voting, it will increase turnout and make ballots more legitimate. That’s why it’s refusing to modernise the rules. It claims that online voting isn’t secure. If we can do our banking online, pay our taxes online and apply for a passport or driving licence, then a few simple clicks registering a vote should be pretty simple.
Strikes aren’t always the most popular thing with the public, but they are an important tool to make bad bosses behave better. Without the ability to strike, it would allow big corporations to roll back decades of improvements to our working lives, like decent pensions, protection from unfair dismissal and stopping discrimination at work.
By voting, you will show the government that its position makes no sense and it will have to include online balloting in the bill. If we can force online voting into the Bill, then we will help workers up and down the country who work for bad bosses by making sure they can legally strike and fight for their rights. Cast your votes now!
Do you think trade unions should have the right to use online voting?
Thanks for all you do,
Martin, Hanna, Fatah, Sondhya, Kat and the rest of us.

More information:

The trade union bill sounds the death knell for workers' rights, Politics Online, January 12 2016
Unite chief offers union bill deal in return for online strike ballots, The Guardian, October 3 2015.

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Sunday, 17 January 2016

SERTUC activities and news

SERTUC activities and news

SERTUC with Hope not Hate training days

Three days 23 & 30 January6 February, in Chelmsford, London, Canterbury, full details here

SERTUC health & safety reps conference

Trade unions campaigning for better health, safety and well-being at work and in the community Friday 5 February 2016 at Congress House. Registration details here

SERTUC with ACAS conferences - note the dates

·         London Thursday 4 February 2016 with ACAS Chair Brendan Barber, ACAS Chief Conciliation Officer David Prince, Hannah Reed TUC, Pete Lockhart PCS, Amanda Brown NUT, Liz Stephenson Pattinson & Brewer details here
·         East of England Monday 15 February 2016 with ACAS Chief Conciliation Officer David Prince, Binder Bansel Pattinson & Brewer, Hannah Reed TUC, Professor Richard Saundry Plymouth University details here

Burston Strike School: Bargain Hunt!!

Bargain Hunt, due to be broadcast on BBC1 on Monday 25 January at 12.15 (but check nearer the time) will feature a short film on the Burston School Strike

SERTUC unionlearn courses for 2016

Dedalus & Arianna project on European Works Councils

Here is a report of the international seminar The next activity is a seminar in London to support EWC reps and officers – very relevant for all those in multi-national companies with European Works Councils, Friday 19 February, free to attend, lunch provided, and reasonable travel expenses can be reimbursed. Apply at

SERTUC Pensioners Network seminar: Crisis in care and caring

Tuesday 15 March 10.30 at Congress House, with Barbara Keeley MP (Shadow Minister for Older People, Social Care and Carers) andJan Shortt (Vice President of the National Pensioners Convention). Details here

The Trade Union Bill


Week of activities Monday 8 February to Sunday 14 February, information here

SERTUC flyers for #heartunions week will be available soon…

Hansard report of the second reading debate in the House of Lords

Disputes/union actions

BMA junior doctors’ dispute

Full information on progress is here The BMA will be continuing ACAS-facilitated discussion this week, but if unsuccessful next strike days (you can support picket lines and demonstrations at most major hospitals) are:
·         8am Tuesday 26 to 8am Thursday 28 January
·         8am to 5pm Tuesday 26 January

CWU petition defending the People’s Post

Trades Council actions

GLATUC celebration: Reclaim International women’s Day

Saturday 12 March 2pm in London, with Megan Dobney SERTUC, Sarah Jackson author, Councillor Rachel Blake. More information from

Other actions/events

Campaign for Trade Union Freedom & Institute of Employment Rights

Spring Rally: The Trade Union Bill and Beyond – fighting the anti-union laws Thursday 11 February 6.30pm, London with everyone! See here for details

Hold on Tight – London Transport and the Trade Unions

Venezuela Solidarity Campaign: film Hip Hop Revolucion

Documentary screening Thursday 28 January 6pm followed by Q&A with director Pablo Navarrete, Dr Francisco Dominguez, Stephanie Kennedy, Shelly Asquith, in London £5/£4

Newham United Against Austerity

Inaugural meeting Saturday 30 January 2pm with Lyn Brown MP, John McDonnell MP, Kevin Courtney NUT, Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz, Yvonne Green Unison. More info from

Marx Memorial Library

Online education courses “Labour, Value and Exploitation: introducing Marx’s economics”. Four sessions beginning on Saturday 25 January£20/£10, info here

News International Wapping Dispute exhibition

1 December to 11 February, Tower Hamlets 21 January 30th Anniversary Event 5pm including showing of Banging out: Fleet Street remembered

London marathon: Alliance for Inclusive Education

SERTUC is affiliated to ALLFIE and they have a runner in the marathon on 24 April – if you wish to sponsor, see here

Ruskin College BA and MA beginning in October 2016

·         BA International Labour and Trade Union Studies
·         MA Global Labour and Social Change


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Friday, 15 January 2016

People's Assembly . March for Health, Homes, Jobs & Education | End Austerity NowNational Demonstration, Saturday 16 April 2016, Central London

At our national conference on 5 December in London it was decided that one of the main priorities for the People's Assembly was to mobilise for a national demonstration in the first half of 2016.
After discussions with many organisations and unions we are excited to be able to announce the first details of that demonstration.
March for Health, Homes, Jobs & Education | End Austerity NowNational Demonstration, Saturday 16 April 2016, Central London


Help us Launch the Demo

Next week we will have a public launch in the media and on social media when we have more details and we want your help. We will send more info early in the week about how you can help but please get ready to share and spread the word
We face a vicious government who prioritise only the richest in society, big business and the corporations. With the potential of 4 more years of a government who will continue dismantling the NHS, furthering the housing crisis, taking away workers rights, and attacking our education system - it's time to get back on the streets and to demonstrate the majority won't take it.
The Tories aren't going to back down easily so it's up to each and every one of us to get out and march for our Health, Homes, Jobs and Education.
Last year saw massive political shifts. After the devastating general election result, where the Tories gained a tiny majority, it became clear that that result did not reflect the views of the county.
Immediately after the election, protests, meetings, rallies and demonstrations took place up and down the country culminating in one of the biggest demonstrations in Britain for years with 250,000 people bringing London to a stand still on the End Austerity Now Demonstration organised by the People's Assembly.
Since then, the surge in support for anti austerity politics, being put forward by Jeremy Corbyn, is yet another indication that people are fed up with policies that only represent those at the top.
See you in London on April 16. Let's make this the biggest demonstration possible. Transport will be arranged from across the country, full details inc. time, assembly point, route and speakers will be announced soon.

 The People's Assembly Against Austerity

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Junior doctors accuse Hunt of gambling with lives: 'Jeremy's Punt' stunt

Sunday, 10 January 2016 acknowledgements to

Junior doctors accuse Hunt of gambling with lives: 'Jeremy's Punt' stunt

A faux betting shop storefront has been erected outside a London hospital and the Palace of Westminster by the junior doctors campaign group, ahead of the first planned strike on Tuesday January 12, to represent how Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to introduce radical reforms to doctors’ contracts could gamble with the public’s health.

The betting shop, dubbed “Jeremy’s Punt” was launched as the Government's continued failure to address doctors' concerns that no proper safeguards have been put in place to prevent hospitals from forcing them to work dangerously long hours.

Junior doctors are worried that the new contract will lead to increasingly unsafe working patterns without adequate rest and recovery, as well as changes to the definition of ‘office hours’ weekday and weekend working.

The fake betting shop was offering ‘Money Back’ if Hunt re-negotiates, ‘Evens on being treated by an overworked doctor’ and ‘3/1 on reforms causing a preventable medical error’ as a way to get the message across.

The monitoring system that protects the number of hours junior doctors can work has been in place for over 15 years, but now, under the proposed reforms, faces a drastic alteration that could put the public’s lives in danger, doctors say.

Following a freedom of information request, doctors have received confirmation from the Department Of Health that there has been no specific assessment into modeling patient safety under the new contract, showing that Hunt’s actions are a gamble.

Doctors’ fears carry merit as the most recent study into fatigue and medical errors, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2009*, revealed that fatigue could see an increase of medical error rise by 15%. 

Dr Nadia Masood, an anaesthetic trainee in London said:
We work hard to keep our patients safe and want to continue doing so.  You wouldn’t drive for 13 hours without proper breaks, yet the government want to remove vital safeguards in their version of the new contract. Tired doctors make mistakes, this contract doesn’t protect patients or staff adequately.
We chose this profession because of an innate passion for the care of people, but these reforms are showing a lack of that for both the public and us. We cannot gamble with people’s lives, plain and simple.
Initially the government was content to remove the safeguards entirely, but under pressure from the BMA (British Medical Association), created the role of ‘guardian’ to protect junior doctors from working unsafe hours. However, the Government is insisting that hospital trusts make this appointment, without input from the BMA, leading to a conflict of interest where junior doctors believe the guardian’s true agenda will be helping the overstretched hospital trusts to cut costs, not ending unsafe practice.

The proposed contract will also mean that doctors working shifts as late as 1.59am, which are not classified as night shifts, will not receive the necessary protections (breaks and rest periods) before being back on duty.

Dr Marie-Estella McVeigh, a junior doctor in London said:
For all of us, the strikes, planned to start on Tuesday, are the last resort to make Jeremy Hunt listen to the issues that we face on the front line of patient care. This is not about getting more money; the Government and BMA have agreed right from the start that the total cost of changes remains neutral, there’s no increase in the pay bill.
As doctors we are deeply concerned about safety. We feel the Government are not listening to our concerns and are playing games by ignoring 50,000 junior doctor whistle-blowers.
The current dispute centres on the Government’s new contract offer, which focuses on changes in working hours, patterns and conditions as well as restructuring and distributing pay within a neutral pay package.