Tag: unite the union

Anti EDL Demonstration Rotherham 10/05/2014

Unite Community members were among the Anti-Fascist demonstrators in Rotherham yesterday, The EDL had a worryingly high turn out on the demonstration, proving that our movement cannot become complacent, rumors of the demise of the English Defense League are obviously exaggerated.

The far right are trying to capitalize on working peoples genuine fears and frustrations as the Con-Dem Austerity bites, causing misery and hardship for many people. We must stand united in our opposition to their message of division and hate.

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Yearly Centre Report 2013-14


The economic squeeze that is being imposed on most working class people will ensure that any first anniversary celebrations for the Unite/National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) community centre in Barnsley will rightly be muted. Far too many people are struggling against a barrage of government attacks on welfare benefits, rights at work and public services for champagne corks to be popping in honour of the many successes achieved by the Unite Community members who have provided welfare advice services to local people on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10am to 3pm since it opened in June last year.

By the end of April 2014, Unite Community members at the centre had dealt with 61 closed cases with 26 ongoing. Support for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants comprised almost half the cases. ESA, which is paid because of an illness or disability, has been heavily criticised by many organisations, including the Citizens Advice Bureau, due to the fact many claimants have been found fit for work after being selected for the Work Capability Assessment. (WCAs)  Following campaigning – in which Unite Community members have participated – by disabled organisations, the Department for Work and Pensions has recently stopped outsourcing company ATOS from carrying out repeat assessments until another company can be found to do WCAs.

The centre at Barnsley has helped 6 claimants appeal against an ESA decision to restrict their benefit. Four were won including Ms P whose successful tribunal hearing helped increase her benefits by £28.45 a week. By helping Mr R with his Working Tax Credit the centre helped him recover a total of £4,795.68. Five bedroom tax appeals helped ensure two people had more money in their pockets and with Ms C’s success also being combined with a successful claim for Personal Independence Payment and carers allowance then her benefit levels rose by £184,80 per week, She has joined Unite.

“We have helped many people raise their income, By doing so we have raised people’s hopes that there are people on their side,” said Richard Vivian, a life-long trade unionist and retired professional benefits advisor who volunteers at the centre.

Richard and Mohammad Tariq, who got involved in the centre in October 2013, designed the two-day welfare advice-training course, which was held for 16 Unite members from across Yorkshire earlier this year. All aspects of welfare rights and benefits were covered including protecting client’s rights and data protection. Unite Community members have also undertaken two days training on welfare rights provided by the Child Poverty Action Group. “People need representation but we can only provide it if we are properly trained and familiar with the complexities of the benefits system,” said Mohammad, who since joining Unite has become much more conscious of the widening gap between rich and poor. He now wants to particularly encourage young people and ethnic minorities to join the union.

In addition to providing welfare right advice the Barnsley centre, which is based in the NUM Headquarters that is the world’s first purpose built trade union headquarters, (see below) also runs computer classes. People have attended ‘Learn My Way’ computer basics classes and others have come in for assistance in setting up an e-mail address and help with writing a CV. “We are giving people opportunities to improve their skills. All benefit applications now have to be done online and the government wrongly assumes everyone has got a computer and internet connection,” said Brian Clarke, a former engineer who has been a trade union member since 1955 and whose last job before he retired was general manager at Wortley Hall. Brian became an active volunteer at the Barnsley centre after seeing an advert in the Morning Star and is enjoying helping people.

The professional advice provided by Unite Community members to the folk of Barnsley is becoming increasingly important in an era when many advice organisations are struggling to survive and cope with the increasing demands placed on them. Maximising people’s benefits is vital work but it cannot be a long-term solution, especially when benefit levels are so low and are not even being increased each year to keep pace with the rate of inflation.

Unite Community members thus try to help people understand what lies behind the government’s austerity drive that has driven down people’s living standards and raised inequality levels back to those seen in the 19th century. There has been a conscious effort to challenge media misrepresentation that the jobs crisis can be blamed on immigrants.

Rather than sitting at home worrying, people are encouraged to get involved in campaigns around the effects of government cuts to working people. Centre activists have supported the local campaign against the bedroom tax, joined protests against the workfare programme and supported workers taking industrial action.

“Working people have power if they are organised. Unite Community members can help raise awareness and help encourage a culture of resistance. I remain optimistic we can change society for the better,” said Richard, who as a young man was forced to retrain when he was blacklisted by engineering employers across Scotland.

NUM Headquarters, 2 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley S70 2LS

Opening times: 10am to 3pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays

  • The NUM Building in Barnsley was the world’s first purpose-built trade union headquarters when it opened in 1874. It was designed by Wade and Turner of Barnsley in a Scottish Baronial style and featured a tall, French-Gothic entrance. The moving force behind the centre was the secretary of the South Yorkshire Miners’ Association, John Normansell, who said at the time of the opening: “you are most welcome into a house that is built by your fellow miners at their own cost and expense in every way.” Normansell died soon afterwards and is commemorated by a monument outside the building. A meeting hall, the windows of which record major elements of miners’ working lives, supplemented Wade and Turner’s design in 1912. In more recent times a statue has been erected that commemorates those miners who lost their lives in supporting their unions in times of struggle. These include David Jones and Joe Green, who lost their lives during the year-long strike in 1984-85 and who every year in March are remembered in a special ceremony.

View report in PowerPoint: Annual Report1 Barnsley Center 

Information taken from Buildings of the labour movement by Nick Mansfield and published by English Heritage.


Doncaster Unite Community

Unite Community members in the NEY&H Region will be opening our third community centre in Doncaster in the next few weeks, supported by our Industrial Members.

We will provide welfare advice to the people of Doncaster in English and Polish. The Centre will also act as a hub for community activists. Watch this space for more information.

Educate, agitate, organise!

Thanks to Polestar (Sheffield)

We would like to thank our industrial members in the print sector at Polestar in Sheffield, for their act of solidarity in donating £150 to the Barnsley Unite Community Support Centre. This will be used to support local people and community groups.

Read the letter here.


Young Activists and International Trade Unionism

Northern College is hosting the Global Labour Institute course ‘An Introduction to International Trade Unionism’ on the weekend of 13-15 June and it is free for delegates.

It’s aimed at young activists and those with little knowledge of the global union movement.  More details here http://global-labour.net/courses/

There are a few places left and local activists are encouraged to take part.

Pete Kilbane
Tutor Organiser
Northern College
01226 776 000

Unite Community Members Marched today, in support of the Doncaster Care UK workers strike

Unite Community Members Marched today (20 April 2014) in support of the Doncaster Care UK workers strike.

Private company Care UK has taken over former NHS care homes in Doncaster and are attacking terms and conditions of unison members, to increase profit for shareholders. If thieving Care UK get their way, some of the most valuable workers in our community are facing wage cuts of between £3000 -£5000.

Workers are waging a brave fight to defend this service and have waged 16 days of strike action to defend themselves and the patients they care for.

Care UK is a small part of a huge pan-European company called Bridgepoint Capital, which owns well known brands like Fat Face, Hobbycraft, Pret A Manger and Leeds Bradford Airport.

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Atos Protest Sheffield

Atos demo April 1 2014, Barkers Pool Sheffield 12pm.
Attendees: approx 40

Participants congregated at Barkers Pool outside lloyds bar. Various groups and organisations attended and were represented inc: Unite Community members, the NUM and striking NAPO members.

Short speeches inc one by David Kirkham of Sheffield Uncut who highlighted the fact that IDS seems to have slipped through the fit to work scheme.

The procession set off led by union banners, people held placards with slogans such as;

” disabled people are not disposable”

and many others.

The crowd proceeded to march to the DWP building on West St.

Supported by cheers and whistles from people hanging out of windows of nearby buildings and some motorists hooting in support.

5 activists immediately entered the building unchallenged and proceeded to chain themselves with lock to the struts of the central staircase. They held a huge banner which read:


Outside the remaining protesters lined the street and began a series of short, punchy, speeches which highlighted the issues of the protest. Not only to the DWP and the SYP who had been called to attend but to passers-by, who were in general disgusted at the treatment of sick and disabled people.

As the writer of this report, I witnessed no negative feed back from the general public. It is important to note that.

Speakers on the day were many and came from varied backgrounds.

Some spoke as union or group reps some as individuals.

Napo’s rep highlighted the link between the cause and the cuts to legal aid and how one drastically affects the other.

Chris Skidmore form NUM talked about people who had been diagnosed with RSI (vibration white finger) by vascular surgeons, only to have it quashed by ATOS staff. He also highlighted to need to screen and assess staff for medical experience and qualifications and the importance of all constituents badgering their local MP to question the processes that are currently in place.

He said that sick and disabled people suffer continual abuse because they are labelled scum and scroungers even if they don’t work due to work related injury.

Unite member highlighted workfare practices.
Cerco. D4E
The cost of implementing workfare is £5.5million.
The fact that companies are taking advantage of the scheme while IDS scapegoats foreign workers for the lack of jobs.

Shouts from the assembled crowd of ” it is slavery” were met with applause and agreement.

Jenny Poulton of Sheffield University Disabled Students Committee said, “what does it mean to be fit for work?”

Instead of telling people they are not fit for work, why aren’t employers being told to create jobs for disabled people? Some people are unable to fight back, or even were unable to attend the protest because they are trapped in their homes.

Disabled people are not useless and the world needs to stop telling them that it doesn’t want them.

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An unhappy birthday

Unhappy birthday Ian Duncan Smith

6 April marks the first anniversary of Iain Duncan Smith’s hated Bedroom Tax. We hope this will be its last anniversary.

The Bedroom Tax has caused misery to 660,000 homes, serving to push people into poverty and increase the foodbank queues.

The Bedroom Tax is cruel and unfair and needs to go.

Please click on the link to sign and leave a message on our unhappy birthday card below. It’s Iain Duncan Smith’s birthday a couple of days after, we’ll make sure he receives the card on his 60th.

Wakefield protest at delay into inquiry decision on ‘Orgreave’

A demonstration in Wakefield will be held tomorrow (Friday 28 March) into the delay by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on whether it will launch a full inquiry into what happened at Orgreave during the 1984 miners’ strike.
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) is holding a second demonstration at the IPCC’s office at Pioneer House, Woolpacks Yard, Wakefield WF1 2SG  at 13.00 tomorrow.
Protesters will include community activists, members of Unite, the country’s largest union.
OTJC members are disappointed at the length of time the IPCC is taking to decide whether it will launch a full investigation into the alleged criminal activities of the South Yorkshire Police (SYP) at the Orgreave coking works, near Rotherham, in 1984.
In June 1984, 95 miners were arrested at Orgreave after police officers – many in riot gear, with others on horseback – allegedly assaulted miners striking to save pits, their jobs and their communities.
However, when the subsequent court cases took place all of the charges were abandoned. Later, SYP paid out £425,000 in compensation to 39 pickets in out of court settlements.
Nevertheless, no police officers were disciplined for misconduct or charged for the alleged injuries they caused to those they attacked.
In November 2012 the SYP referred itself to the IPCC to decide whether there should be a full investigation into what happened at Orgreave. The IPCC has had 17 months to conduct its investigation.
Unite regional community coordinator and OTJC chair Joe Rollin said: “Sadly, the IPCC appears to have undertaken a very limited amount of work in collecting and collating information on what happened at Orgreave. It is moving at a snail’s pace.
“The OTJC, therefore, remains concerned that no officers will face charges of assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office.”

However, the OTJC welcomes the decision by the Labour party to launch its Justice for the Coalfields campaign and calls on Ed Miliband to confirm that a Labour government will order a full public inquiry into events at Orgreave.

Unite Community Pays Respect To Bob Crow

Unite Community members along with thousands of other Trade Unionists, paid their respects today at the funeral of Bob Crow, one of our movement’s great leaders who died at such a young age. The fight for social justice continues.

Don’t mourn, organize!
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