Tag: unite the union

Leeds Unite Community Members In Action

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Leeds Unite Community members teamed up with Hands Off Our Homes today, to leaflet two of the city’s Job Centres simutaniously (not bad for a rainy Friday!). Here is the leaflet we put in. The Bed Room Tax Tool Kit also goes down well when we do our sampaign stalls, here.  All these materials are available from your coordinator Joe Rollin. Why not organise a stall in your Town? As always we put a letter into the Job Centre showing our solidarity with the PCS members.

This week on Friday the 1st of August, Unite Community will be holding an information stall outside the Leeds DWP Jobcentre Plus office, to highlight the Coalition Government’s unfair and unjustified attacks on the benefits system and on the unemployed, the sick and disabled, as well as their families who rely on these benefits.

We ask you to support the action in any way you can. I want to emphasise that this Information stall is not aimed at DWP employees/PCS members who we know are under similar attack from this Government in terms of job cuts, increased threats of disciplinary measures and a squeeze on pay and conditions. We want to make common cause with you as our fight is your fight and vice versa.

Instead this Info Stall is aimed at the Government’s savage policy of cutting £30 billion out of the benefits system and forcing people off benefits through measures like the cruel sanctions regime and the discredited Work Capability Assessment.

Yours in Solidarity

Leeds Unite Community Branch

 

United Migrant Workers Education Project (UMWEP)

Brian Clarke and myself attended this event on behalf of the Barnsley Unite Community Support Centre in order to observe just what UMWEP is doing, how it is progressing and to give us ideas for the development of the Barnsley Centre.  Our first priority after registration was to introduce ourselves and to explain why we were here, we spoke very briefly with Carlos Cruz – ULR who was constantly being asked questions and dashing around from one room to another ensuring everything was going as planned, obviously a very good organiser, we also asked for permission to take photographs which we were given.

The first items on the days agenda were various workshops, having looked at the programme; we decided that the most appropriate workshop for us to attend was the ESOL On-line, as we are keen to offer this course in Barnsley. ESOL standing for English for Speakers of Other Languages. The tutor for this workshop was Orlando Martins, Regional Learning Organiser based in Norwich. We stayed in the workshop for two sessions listening to Orlando explain to participants what the course involved and what to expect from it. There were only the two sessions for this workshop and Orlando was kind enough to spend another 30 minutes or so explaining to us that he has been teaching this course since November last year he told us how he organises the courses the methods he has found most successful and of course he answered our many questions. Mohammad was keen to learn what qualifications Orlando had to deliver ESOL. Orlando gave the answer but explained that PTTLS was a good starting point and adequate to facilitate the course. It became apparent to Mo and me that this programme could work well in the Barnsley Centre but there are some resources that the Centre would require.

We next spent some time in the Art workshop, not participating but observing what the students were doing and looking at their work. We took several photographs of art work on display.  Next was the drama workshop where we watched what was taking place, unfortunately for us, in this workshop only Spanish was spoken so we had to guess what the students were doing by their actions rather than words. It appeared that they were re-enacting a scene where they as immigrant workers were being abused and even physically attacked.  We then had the opportunity to speak with Lesley Stevenson, Equality, Diversity and Community Coordinator, a long-time friend of mine, Lesley explained the origins of UMWEP and its development to the present day and of the strengths of Carlos Cruz.  Lunch was next on the programme which was very good with a mixture of Latin American foods on offer including Rice, Congrie (Black Beans) fried banana, fried pork, chicken, salad and a samosa type pasty with salsa with either orange or apple juice.  Linda Hughes, Union Learning Organiser in our Region introduced herself (Mo had met her previously) and we chatted to her about the project.

Click on Images to view the slide show !

After lunch everyone gathered in the auditorium, we were surprised just how many people there were present. A welcome was given by I think Steve Rowlatt, unfortunately the PA system was not working and my hearing is not good. Greetings from Len McClusky and Jim Mowatt were read out.

This was followed by a contribution from Carlos Cruz, mainly in Spanish and a short film which featured Paul Robeson singing Joe Hill. During the contribution from Carlos he emphasised this project was not all about learning, it was also about organising, expressing the point that we cannot do much on our own as individuals but collectively in a trade union we can make changes and progress. Carlos also explained the situation and unfairness of Colombian Isabella Acevedo who was cleaner for Tory MP Mark Harper; he was reinstated as a junior minister after it was revealed that he had been employing Ms Acevedo illegally. Ms Acevedo has now been deported back to Colombia. He reported that UMWEP was now attended by people from 27 different nationalities, speaking 34 languages. (We had been told earlier that today the majority of people are from Latin America and the organisers are trying to encourage people of other Nationalities. Unfortunately at this stage we had to leave to catch our train back to Barnsley.  Myself and Brian spoke at length on the train about what we had seen and heard and learned and how these ideas could be utilised in the Barnsley Centre.

 

Unite in Schools

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The Unite in Schools project got under way in the NEY&H Region today, with our first volunteers undergoing training. Another training day will take place on Friday September 26th.

If anyone would like to get involved in this important initiative, or has good contacts with their local schools please contact Joe Rollin.

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Argos catalogue launch will be affected by week-long strike

The twice-yearly launch of the Argos catalogue will be affected by a week-long strike by about 1,000 warehouse staff in the dispute over terms and conditions which will mean increased weekend working, adversely impacting on family life.

The strike, starting at 06:00 on Saturday (19 July), will hit the company’s internal distribution centres at Basildon, Bridgwater, Castleford and Magna Park (Lutterworth, Leicestershire). The strike at Heywood (Greater Manchester) starts at 06.30. It will finish at the same times on Saturday, 26 July.

Unite, the country’s largest union which represents Argos warehouse staff, predicts that customers anticipating the new Argos catalogue – due to be launched on 26 July – will have their deliveries severely disrupted because of the aftermath of the strike.

The workers held 24 hour strikes on 15 June and 4 July – and Unite disputed the company’s contention that because the majority of the workforce had signed the new contracts, this undermined the industrial action.

Unite national officer for road transport and logistics, Matt Draper said: “The reason that our members felt pressurised to sign these contracts is that they would have lost the unsatisfactory one-off payment of £2,000 to sacrifice their family life for many years to come.

“And if they continued to refuse to sign the contracts, they faced being sacked. They had the metaphorical gun put to their heads to sign.

“This week-long strike coincides with the launch of the twice-yearly Argos catalogue keenly awaited by hundreds of thousands of people. The aftermath of this strike will severely affect the delivery of purchases that customers will be making.

“The crux of this dispute is Argos’ determination to push through a new 24/7 shift pattern, without offering our members a decent compensation package or make reasonable adjustments that would allow for a better work/life balance.

“It is going to cause havoc with childcare arrangements and mean spouses and partners will see much less of each other. It will seriously undermine the ‘work/life’ balance.

“Some of our members already work weekends, but that was agreed with Unite. The new proposals impact much more on family life.

Matt Draper urged the management to return to the negotiating table and relax the new strict criteria.

View the leaflet here.

SENT ON BEHALF OF STEVE CLARK, REGIONAL COORDINATING OFFICER
 
Dear Colleagues,I write with reference to a previous email regarding the week-long Strike action at Argos, Castleford (address below).

Argos Distributors

California Drive
Whitwood Freight Centre
Castleford
WF10 5QHCould you please let me know your availability to attend the Picket Line on a morning, roughly between the hours of 7am – 8:30am as our colleagues on Strike there need our support at this time as a number of Managers are crossing the Picket Line to undertake the picking work.

If you could please contact me directly to let me know if you are able to attend on any of the following mornings:

Tuesday 22nd July

Wednesday 23rd July       
Thursday 24th July
Friday 25th JulyThe Picket Line is on all day, however, I reiterate if you could attend between 7am – 8:30am it would be much appreciated, not only by myself, but by our members who are on Strike there.

You can contact me on 07980 710 031.

Thank you very much for your assistance on this matter. I know that you are all busy but can you please make an effort to assist.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Clark

Regional Coordinating Officer

We’re Not Going Back

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We’re Not Going Back is about the 1984/85 miners’ strike… more or less.

But, in this hard-hitting musical comedy there are no miners. Instead, we follow the fortunes of three sisters in a pit village, hit hard by the Government’s war against the miners and determined to set up a branch of ‘Women Against Pit Closures’

Olive, Mary and Isabel are like any other sisters whose everyday squabbles became a background hum to the strike that forced them to question their lives, their relationships and their family ties.

We’re Not Going Back tackles the resilience of working communities, the make-and-mend fabric of family and the power of sticking two fingers up to a government hell-bent on destruction… and all with humour, song and a six pack of Babycham.

Red Ladder are delighted to be working with Unite the union, North East, Yorkshire & Humberside on this production. For further information about their work visit their website.

Stacey Sampson, who plays Mary in We’re Not Going Back, is currently writing a new blog about being the main ‘bread winner’ in her home following returning to work after having a baby. It makes for a really interesting read, have a look here.

For tour dates and booking information, click here.

#NoVoteNoVoice

This is a campaign Unite are working on with the Mirror, Hope not Hate, the NUT and others to increase voter turn-out at the next general election.

The Mirror want to register 1 million new voters. For background please check out this story.

This is going to be an ongoing campaign so we should all hear more between now and voter registration cut-off date.

If you would like to give the campaign some encouragement this is the page where members can register to vote.

And this article from the good people of Ammp3d is great.

Colin Stuart
Unite Community

Durham Gala Report

Durham Miners' Gala 2014

 UNITE members were well represented in a crowd of well over 100,000 people at the 130th Durham Miners Gala on 12 July 2014. The sheer spectacle of the occasion increasingly makes this annual event, first held in 1871, one not to be missed.

The ancient cobbled streets of Durham City and its magnificent Castle and Cathedral were a fitting background for an impressive display of well over a hundred trade union and labour movement banners that were accompanied on the march to the Racecourse rally ground by booming brass bands.

The continued existence of the gala is something of a minor miracle. With Durham’s last mines having closed two decades ago it means there have been no contributions since 1993 to the gala organisers, the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA), which still continues to represent at industrial tribunals those made unwell by harsh working conditions.

With the DMA having lost a lengthy, highly expensive court case in defence of former miners suffering from osteoarthritis on grounds that the three-year time limit for claims had been exceeded then the future of the gala has been left in doubt. It currently costs in excess of £60,000 for what is the biggest union event in the country. Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala was launched last year and asks people to make a minimum donation of £2 a month or £24 a year. Over a thousand people have so far signed up. Meantime, major unions and UNITE in particular have contributed generously to the organising costs.

When UNITE was formed in 2007 it was felt that the Gala should be a key event in the North. The Tolpuddle Martyrs festival has been a focus for trade unions to celebrate in the South and UNITE wanted a similar show of solidarity in the North.

Unite has also helped expand the Gala into almost a week of events with various national education courses taking place around the occasion. This year, UNITE commissioned the Red Ladder Theatre Company to present a Musical Play about the 1984/85 miners’ strike. We’re Not Going Back – was very well received when it made its debut in the main council chamber of the DMA headquarters at Redhills on the Thursday before the Gala.

The NUM and UNITE have been working closely together on a number of projects such as the joint establishment in the last year of two advice support centres at NUM buildings in Durham City and Barnsley. Professionally trained volunteers from amongst UNITE community members provide welfare and employments rights advice, whilst also co-ordinaing campaigns against welfare benefit cuts and workfare. On Friday 11 July UNITE community members held a demonstration outside the Durham DWP Jobcentre plus office to ‘highlight the Coalition Government’s unfair and unjustified attacks on the benefits system and on the unemployed, the sick and disabled and their families who rely on these benefits.” Around 150 people participated in the protest.

Around a thousand times as many turned up to the Gala the following day. On display were 80 miners’ union banners including new ones from Fenhall Drift mine in Lanchester, which operated between 1954 and 1963, St Hilda Colliery from South Shields, where on 28 June 1839 a fire damp explosion, ignited by a candle, killed 51 men and boys; and New Brancepeth colliery which closed in 1953.

West Rainton Primary School also ensured that West Rainton and Leamside community was represented at the gala again with an Adventure Colliery, closed in 1978, banner on display for the first time. Following the successful collaboration between UNITE and the DMA there was also a first proud carrying of a UNITE community membership Durham banner. FIGHT FOR OUR FUTURE – celebrate our past was its slogan.

UNITE members from other branches also marched with their banners. They included members at Leeds City Council, fresh from their participation in the public sector strike of 10 July, and the Welsh region, who were celebrating the recent victory at the Supreme Court that paves the way for the creation of a Welsh Agricultural Wages Board to replace the one scrapped by the Con-Dem Government last year.

Unite members from Tyneside Safety Glass, who were also in high spirits after their recent successful pay strike, marched behind their banner with workplace rep Mark Robertson saying, “I came for the first time last year and I was intent on bringing my branch and its banner this year. I love the Gala as it is about working class solidarity and whilst it is sad that there are no working collieries represented it is great to see working class people coming along to maintain the tradition of this unique event.”

Tunefully accompanied by the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside (NEY&H) UNITE brass band, members waited patiently as the huge crowds made it difficult to move more than a few yards every ten minutes. A blistering hot day added to the carnival atmosphere and when the UNITE contingent, headed by the giant swaying highly decorative regional banner, was able to march past the assembled dignitaries on the overhead balcony at the impressive County Hotel a huge cheer and the applause of the packed watching crowds was a moment of real joy.

Arriving at the Racecourse rally ground the sheer size of the assembled crowd, the banners on display and the noise sent a shiver down the spine. The sight of the UNITE marquee and accompanying facilities were a welcome relief for tiring limbs and served as a meeting point for members to sit and relax.

There were also dozens of trade union and labour movement stalls including one for the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, which UNITE has supported, that has led the fight for justice for miners arrested and brutalised during the 1984-85 year-long strike in defence of jobs and communities.

One of the speakers, Paul Kenny of the GMB, remarked that if some newspaper reports were true and the trade union movement was really dead “then looking at this gathering then the after life is brilliant.” Kenny spoke of how he wanted a “normal” Labour Government with policies that prevented tax dodging, racketeering landlords, zero hours contracts and provided for a living wage and security at work.

Prison Officers Association general secretary Steve Gillan warned that if the Tories win next May’s general election they will introduce legislation similar to the one introduced in 1984 that makes it illegal for his members to take industrial action.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower was at pains to point out, “a housing bubble in London and the South East doesn’t mean people are seeing a recovery in their living standards as evidenced by the increasing numbers forced to rely on using food banks.”

Dennis Skinner, MP for Bolsover, has long been a favourite at the Gala. He pointed out that new proposals by the Tories to only allow strikes if there are huge ballot turnouts is at odds with the fact that hardly any MPs are elected with a 50% voting threshold.  Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has pointed out that: “Britain’s anti-trade union laws are already amongst the most restrictive in Europe.”

Skinner also received warm applause and raucous laughter when he said he had been prevented by the Commons speaker at Prime Minister’s question time from asking David Cameron if “he intended visiting his close friend and former communications director Andy Coulson in prison.” The largest cheer, however, was reserved for Jane Lofts of the Communication Workers Union when she said: “Workers should unite with every refugee and asylum seeker.”

When the rally closed at just after 3 pm the local pubs were packed and the nearby fairground was buzzing. Dave Hopper, the DMA general secretary, had told the departing crowds that “the Gala will be on next year” and such is its growing appeal that what was the largest attendance in many years may again be exceeded in 2015.

“I’d recommend anyone to consider coming to the Gala at anytime,” said Karen Reay, UNITE NEY&H regional secretary, “as it is a colourful, special sharing occasion in which the trade union values of solidarity are upheld. Long may it continue.”

Durham Miners' Gala 2014 Durham Miners' Gala 2014

Unite Policy Conference 2014-07-14

Report From Tanis Unite Community Leeds

The general secretary, Len McCluskey opened the conference with his keynote address, urging that Unite’s major focus had to be the election of a Labour Government in 2015. The main reason is to stop the austerity programme of cuts. The two major themes of the conference was planning how to the defend the NHS from privatisation, one of the biggest threats being TTIP, which will prevent any attempts to renationalise the NHS if it is sold off, but will prevent the renationalisation of any sector of our economy, even if Labour won the 2015 elections and was willing to fight for it. There was a explaination of Unite’s new leverage campaign to save the NHS, through building public awareness and to put pressure on MP’s (in particular Labour MP’s) to vote against the privatisation and to defend it and to vote against TTIP (even if the NHS is not included) as it is being done in secret in the interests of creating trade agreements that will allow for the exploitation of workers across the globe in the interests of big business.

Overall, it’s been successful years for unite, with many gains, including the win at the Optare Strike Dispute in Leeds. Steve Turner gave a report of Unite’s campaigning against the austerity programme. Not just through demonstrations and strikes, but also with the forming of Unite Community, which gives an opportunity for Unite to build in the local communities.  There was also a video of interviews of community members on the people’s assembly demo, including Steve Johnson form Leeds Branch. The community branches have been a great success, with many groups forming and the opening of several community centres, particularly across Yorkshire. It has also helped boost the profile of Unite in general, by being at the forefront of the protests and campaigns against austerity.

The most relevant policy on Unite Community was J4 (Building and Strengthening the Unity of the Movement Against Austerity: twinning Unite industrial branches with Unite Community Branches). This motion covered the use of Unite Community in building a unified movement against austerity and the way to link industrial branches with the wider community is by twinning industrial and community branches. The industrial can provide education, funding and support to community and help the industrial in the wider movement against austerity. This motion was passed and many of the speakers and delegates showed strong support in helping to build the community branches. I spoke on this motion, outlining the importance of community in building branches in non-unionised workplaces and the support we can lend to the industrial members and vice versa, giving the examples of some of the leafleting of workplaces we’ve done in Leeds and the zero hour contract and Bedroom Tax protests.

The most moving speeches came from Aidee Moreno, FENSUAGRO EC Member and Head of Human rights explaining the attack on trade unionists in Columbia. We also saw a video message from a political prisoner in Columbia, Huber Balleseros and we all held up posters calling for his release. Ricky Tomlison gave an inspiring speech on the Shrewsbury 24 campaign, which is now on its 40th anniversary.

We’re Not Going Back

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Unite Community / Unite Members were blown away by the preview of the Unite backed Red Ladder production of “We’re Not Going Back”.

The Show took place at the Durham Miners Headquarters and home of our Unite Community Centre Red Hill.

This fantastic show will now tour the UK, so book your tickets fast! More info here.

Red Ladder have just had their funding cut, so please get along and support them. Britain’s best and most radical theatre company!!!

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Unite Community Update

Assistant General Secretary, Steve Turner.

I’d just like to invite you to take a few minutes to watch our latest film on Unite community.

Also attached is a brief report on how Community membership is progressing and and all the amazing things community members do and how it is enhancing Unite’s reputation as the leading union in standing up for working class communities in the UK.

Unite’s community members play a really important role in supporting our industrial members in their disputes and readily attend picket lines and demonstrations to defend our public services.

But for community to continue to grow we need your help. Industrial branches can link up with community branches and can really help by donating money to sponsor community members who cannot afford the subscription. For as little as £104 you can bring four new members into our union. Community groups do a lot of local campaigning and donations also help pay the travel fares to get unemployed and disabled people out to demonstrations.

Unite employs a Community Coordinator in every region who will be happy to speak at branch meetings or identify a community member who could go along and explain what community is doing in the region.

If you want to find out more please contact my colleague Liane Groves on 02085407176 or 07793661657 or email.

Unite Community Report: Community report national policy conf 2014 v2