Tag: unite the union

Freedom Ride Solidarity Demo

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Unite Community members were out in force this morning supporting two of our members in Sheffield Magistrates Court.

A fantastic show of solidarity meant that well over 200 Trade Unionist activists and Freedom Ride campaigners cheered the two freedom riders as they entered the court room, who banned defendants and their supporters from wearing our Freedom Ride t shirts.

Unite the Union provided transport, printing and are supporting the pair legally, lots of new community members signed up today but we need to grow the community branch even further, so we can continue the fight back. Agitate, educate, organise!

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Introduction to New Media and Blogging

New Media and Blogging 02.07.14

Monday 30th June Castleford & Wednesday 2nd July
Introduction to New Media and Blogging

This was an introduction to New Media and Blogging where we looked at various sites such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, WordPress and Blogger. We delved into the practical side of social media and how to use this as a tool for organising within workplaces or communities. We also looked at the wider implications of its use and awareness of social media policies.

A big thank you to all the activists who attending the above courses! They were extremely popular and prove that we are all now become aware of how we can use social media as an organising tool for our campaigns.

Chris Sharman from Worker’s Education Association quoted, “I realise the huge potential opportunities there are with New Media for Campaigning and sharing, along with the pitfalls.”

30 Years On: Strike Anniversary Reunion Parade Rally

This Saturday the NUM headquarters in Barnsley will host a march and rally to mark the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike.

At 10.30am, visitor will have the opportunity to visit the historic Miners’ Hall, before marching through Barnsley, proudly displaying a number of the union’s banners. This will be followed by a rally by a rally back at the Miners’ Hall, with speakers including the Mayor of Barnsley Councillor Tim Shepherd, NUM National Secretary Chris Kitchen, NUM President Nicky Wilson, Women Against Pit Closures, columnist Owen Jones and broadcaster Ian Clayton.

From 3pm a buffet will be served at Gawber Road Working Mens’ Club, followed by live music from the Dublin Raiders from 7pm.
The event will also serve to launch the new website ‘Cleaner Coal’, that marks a joint venture between the NUM and Unite with the aim to unite workers in the energy sector. The new website can be viewed here.
View the launch flyer: CleanerCoal_LaunchA5_Web.
The full itinerary:10.30am Visit Historic Miners’ Hall – Exhibition – Tea & Coffee
12 noon March & Rally at Miners’ Hall
Enjoy Music & Refreshments at Gawber Road WMC (S75 2PR)3.00pm Live Brass Band “Barnsley Brass” and Buffet
7.00pm Till late live music “Dublin Raiders” and Buffet

View the flyer: Flyer for 28 June 2014


Thanks to the owner of a beauty salon, Unite Community has a new community advice centre. Natalia Garstka, owner of Prestige in Doncaster, was constantly being asked by her Polish clients about where they could get advice. So when she met translator Tom Scott-Chambers, who for the last six years has admirably befriended and assisted many migrant workers from Poland, she proposed that he move in and work with Unite to provide advice and information on a formal basis. In early June the advice sessions started and Tom is now looking for volunteers to be trained to help him.

Tom’s extensive involvement with the Polish community in South Yorkshire was sparked by him witnessing the deplorable living conditions that migrant workers were being forced to endure with up to sixteen people living in a small house with few facilities.

When he began searching for some premises, from which to start making improvements by providing free benefits help and welfare rights advice, he wrote off to Unite. “I was delighted when they wrote back saying they were fully behind me,” says Tom. The outcome was the new community centre on Nether Hall Road, location for many Polish and European shops in Doncaster.

In just a few short weeks the response has been very exciting. Many people have been helped and forty Polish people have joined the Unite Community Branch that has been formed in Doncaster. “Once they see we are on their side, people want to give something back and get involved,” said Tom.

Tom has also been unionising workers from Poland who are working at places such as Monaghan Mushrooms near Pontefract and ABP Food Group in Armthorpe. “People are coming in and saying I am working and I need to be in a union. I say complete the application form, get others to do so and get organised. We need all workers to be in a union as otherwise we will allow employers to pay migrant workers less and consequently see wage levels drop everywhere.”

The Community Centre is open 10am – 3pm every Tuesday and Wednesday. Ring
07548 096863 for details and to arrange an appointment. Note the centre is open to all nationalities.

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Britain Needs A Payrise: TUC national demonstration 18 October 2014

Join us for a march and rally in London on 18 October 2014, to help call for an economic recovery that works for all Britons, not just those right at the top. BRITAIN NEEDS A PAYRISE!

Please see below the link to the TUC’s short video advertising the 18 October demonstration.

Click here.

New union community centre for Doncaster

Unite, the UK’s largest union, is opening a community centre in Doncaster which will support the local community.

The new centre at 95 Netherhall Road, will have a grand opening on Monday 9 June from 3pm. There is an open invitation to the public and press to come and meet the organisers and volunteers and see what the centre has to offer.

The centre will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10am and 3pm offering help and support for individuals and the community as a whole. The centre will provide a place for people to learn new skills, provide support with welfare problems and support for people looking for work. The centre will also become a hub for the local community to campaign on local issues including welfare changes.

Many of the most vulnerable people are suffering as a result of devastating cuts, such as the Bedroom Tax, housing benefit cuts and ATOS. The community centre will be providing welfare rights training so that local people can get knowledge of the welfare system and support each other with some of the problems they are experiencing.

Unite regional secretary Karen Reay said: “This is an exciting development which brings Unite back into the heart of our local communities. Our members can be confident that we are aware of the local issues and that Unite is seeking to work with the people of Doncaster to address them.

“We will be working with local campaign groups so we can ensure that our members’ voices can be heard and that issues that matter to them are top of the local agenda.”

Unite regional community coordinator Joe Rollin said: “I am pleased that we are opening this centre in Doncaster where the local community is in great need of support and centre will go some way to providing that assistance.

“Our experience of working with local groups and individuals ensures that issues which matter to people are campaigned for. The centre will become a focal point for making those changes.”

Unite opened five such centres last year – in Barnsley, Belfast, Cinderford, Tower Hamlets in East London and Durham.

Blogging Course

There is a one day New Media and Blogging course currently available to ULRs, Community Activists, Workplace Reps and Branch Officials planned for Wednesday 2nd July from 10.00 until 15.00 at Castleford Community Learning Centre.

This is an introduction to New Media and Blogging where we will look at various sites such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, WordPress and Blogger.

Please confirm back to me with your membership number to Rebecca.feather@unitetheunion.org by Friday 13th June with your initial interest as we have limited places available.

Once we know there is enough interest to run the course, we will send out a course application form for you to complete.

If you would like any further details regarding this please do not hesitate to contact me.

Organise To Win! Freedom Ride: Standing up against the Cuts


The Campaign to save free travel for the disabled and pensioners in South Yorkshire now known as the Freedom Rides has been inspirational and it has already won a partial victory! Something to be celebrated for sure! But how did the campaign win this amazing concession?

On 31st March, elderly and disabled travel pass holders lost the extra concessions that had applied in South Yorkshire since travel passes had been brought in nationally. South Yorkshire agreed, like a number of other authorities, to give extra concessions because of the poverty that many elderly and disabled suffer in this region. That meant that disabled pass holders could travel free on buses and South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire buses free at any time of the day; elderly were able to travel free on buses and trains from 9am through to the end of the day.

On 6th February South Yorkshire Transport Authority voted to scrap free train travel for all disabled people and pensioners. The savings were £329,000 for ending train travel and £300,000 for restricting bus travel times. There are over 268,000 travel pass holders in South Yorkshire. The body making the decision, South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, was made up of 12 councillors from across the region. The five councillors from Sheffield and the two from Barnsley, all voted for the cut while three from Doncaster and two from Rotherham voted to keep the concessions.

What caused great anger among those affected was that there was no publicity or consultation. It was the complete lack of debate and democracy that was too much for people to stomach.

But the Barnsley Retirees Action Group had other ideas and spear headed an amazing campaign of direct action that has inspired campaigners everywhere. They printed a few thousand leaflets calling a public meeting in the central library. 300 people turned up and the caretaker turned away another 50. The meeting grilled the two Barnsley councillors who voted for cuts and the Director of SYITA. It was agreed to start weekly Freedom Rides which saw people boarding trains and refusing to pay for travel then holding rallies where they would meet other “freedom riders” from Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

The numbers involved in the freedom ride were inspiring, with over one hundred people taking part each week and the protest seemed to be growing as time went on, winning support from the Trade Union Movement including ASLEF, RMT,BFAWU and Unite, who’s officers took part in the protests and spoke at rallies.

The first three weeks of the freedom ride went off without incident even though there was a large police and security guard presence at Barnsley train station in the first week. Protesters thought they were going to be stopped but were told by the police, “We are here to look after your safety,” and were almost escorted onto the train. On weeks two and three there were no police around and the numbers travelling swelled. On week four police blocked entry to the Sheffield bound platform. After a long period of argument the police and Northern Rail management said that everyone could get on the train, “But this is the last time, next week you have to pay.” Week five found Barnsley station swarming with police and everyone forcibly barred from getting on to the platform. Protestors sang songs based on US Civil Rights songs updated. The singing and chanting rocked the station but did not move the police.

The protestors began to cross the railway bridge to go over to the north bound platform where a train arrived carrying protestors from Sheffield. Everyone boarded that train while the police were still blockading the other platform. As the train set off everyone waved at the police who looked very confused! The TV and other media had been contacted to say that it was likely that there would be a confrontation at the station. They turned up and gave great coverage to the day’s events.

Week six found even more turning up to ride but a massive police operation. It was impossible to get to the ticket office without a ticket. The bus interchange bridge was blocked by police. The media had been warned by protestors that there was likely to be an escalation on both sides and they came along hoping for good footage. The large numbers of protestors provided that. A lively rally was held during which the national chair of ASLEF retired members section presented BRAG with a cheque for £50.

Like all other meetings the rally was extremely democratic. Everyone who wanted to was able to speak. Ideas and proposals were voted on. This rally decided to set off on a march around Barnsley. As the demonstration set off protestors from Sheffield arrived on a train and were able to pass through the police and join the march. The massive crowd went up to Barnsley Town Hall, where for some time there were chants against the cuts and calling for the councillors who made the cuts to come out – they didn’t!

The demonstration went into the town centre for a public rally and sing song and chanting then back to the interchange, through the bus station and over the interchange bridge until stopped by a wall of police. After more chanting everyone dispersed.

A huge letter writing campaign also was underway with people complaining to local councillors and MP’s who at first were reluctant to become involved but the large protests and accompanying media coverage helped force the hand of the local politicians, who I am sure were concerned about what effect this would have on the up-coming elections.
Members of the public and Unite’s Community Branch were becoming more involved, not just with the protests but also behind the scenes applying pressure on local councillors and asking difficult questions at Labour party meetings. That combined with the Sheffield Citizens Advice Bureau’s legal Challenge helped create a massive amount of pressure which has resulted in a partial victory, meaning free travel on local trains for disabled people and their carers is to be re-instated on June 8th, along with half price train travel in South Yorkshire for OAP’s.

On the Monday of the seventh week even more people turned up, pleased that a partial victory had been won but angry that the original concessions were not restored in full. Disabled campaigners who had been central in the protests turned up to say they were willing to support any future protest for elderly travellers to win back the original concessions.

The Freedom Riders are planning a victory parade through town on Saturday the 17th of May and will be holding a vote (show of hands), on whether or not to continue with the protest in light of this announcement. Whatever the protesters decide to do on the 17th, their action has been inspirational and shows that a combination of direct action, political pressure and legal challenge can win! How many times are we told that “nothing changes” “you can’t win”? We now can prove that is wrong, “if you fight you may lose, if you don’t fight you have lost already” (Bob Crow).

Media Links
Sheffield Star
We Are Barnsley
Barnsley Chronicle
Morning Star
Yorkshire Post

Sheffield Star
Sheffield Star

Unite Community Library

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The Barnsley Unite Community Centre is setting up it’s very own community Library.

We have already had donations from Unite the Union and Red Pepper Magazine. If you would like to donate some books, please drop them off at the centre or put them in the post.


As you no doubt know, the TUC is organising a national March and Demo on Saturday 18 October 2014.  Please find below further details of this event, which we hope will help you to mobilise.  We would be grateful if you would share this information as widely as possible, and keep us informed of any relevant regional activity.

The march will assemble from 11am on the Embankment near Blackfriars. 

The march will move off at noon and march, via Northumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly to Hyde Park for the rally.

This is a slighter shorter route than previous marches, and it is hope that it will allow more people to get to Hyde Park in time for all, or at least a good part, of the rally.

The website will be the main information resource for the event and you will be able to download all you need to help to publicise the march, both in print and on-line.  As soon as this is active, I will send out details.

If you are producing your own material, the artwork files (ranging from those you can use to photocopy a few leaflets to professional format hi-res artwork for high quality print) are available.  Please read the brand guidelines on the website.  Any print or design queries should go to Rob Sander on rsanders@tuc.org.uk

You can also order A5 leaflets from the TUC, at cost price, using the order form on the website.

We are also asking people to pledge support on-line and to use social media to promote the event to their friends and contacts.

Coach places have been booked in Wembley, New Covent Garden and the 02.  Coaches will not be able to drop off or collect from central London on the day.

We will shortly be able to let people know how to book the parking – as with previous years, Wembley spaces will be done directly via their website and Covent Garden and the 02 via the TUC.  Coach companies or unions can book spaces to suit.  NB Please find attached specific information for Trades Union Councils regarding booking coaches to travel to the rally.

Nearer the day, the False Economy web site will offer a facility for coach organisers to offer spare seats.   NB Anyone wishing to offer spare coach seats can also do so through the regional TUC office at y&hregsec@tuc.org.uk

The TUC will offer advice for those making their own way to the event on the website.

The key message that we want to get out early is that form-up is close to Blackfriars so that people arrive from the rear of the march.  The key tube stations will be Blackfriars, Southwark and St Pauls.  Temple is likely to be closed as it is small and easily overcrowded.

It is hoped to improve on the number of stewards for this event, and we would very much welcome some of the same people who volunteered previously if they could help again.  The demo in October 2012 went very well and it is envisaged that there will be a similar amount of people attending this year.

There will be two main types of steward:

·         Senior Stewards – who will be place along the route of the march (or in other locations such as the form-up and in Hyde Park).  It is intended to make individual unions responsible for each section of the route, and the national TUC will be talking directly to unions about this.  Senior stewards will be expected to attend a training session in advance, in either  Glasgow or London.

·         Route Stewards – who will move with the march.  Many will be recruited by unions or other supporting organisations to look after groups of members.  They will need to register in advance, complete and on-line training exercise and wear a TUC provided hi-vis jacket (not that of their own organisation).  The TUC will shortly be providing a sign-up facility on the website.

While route stewards are helpful and welcome, the priority is to recruit and train senior stewards, to ensure that all of the march is stewarded.  In order to ensure that we have sufficient numbers, we ask unions to recruit most of the senior stewards by the end of June 2014.

The TUC chief steward is Carl Roper cropper@tuc.org.uk and all queries should be directed to him.

1.       There will be a short march for those who are not able, or do not wish to do the full route.

2.       There will be an assembly area for wheelchair/scooter users on the Embankment for which we will be able to arrange drop-off through road closures.

3.       There will be a viewing platform (larger than in previous years) in Hyde Park for wheelchair/scooter users.

4.       Please let us know, as soon as possible, if any of your members require British Sign Language Interpretation at the rally.

5.       Please let us know of any other issues, and we will do our best to help.

Content of material and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act

The demonstration takes place in the “regulated period” for the next general election, but as the march is not intended as any kind of electoral intervention we do not consider that this counts as third-party campaigning and therefore we do not need to account for spending on the event to the Electoral Commission.

Unions that follow the general line of TUC material should have no difficulties.  If in doubt, then Nigel Stanley may be able to provide guidance (though not legal advice).  Contact him at nstanley@tuc.org.uk

Attendance Numbers
Early mobilisation is important.  Unions are asked to let us know approximate attendance numbers as this information will inform planning and will impact upon the number of police and other services at the event.  Please let Michelle Gregory know by providing monthly updates to mgregory@tuc.org.uk and copying in the regional office on y&hregsec@tuc.org.uk

If your union would like a table top stand at the rally, then requests should be submitted to Stephanie Pugsley by 2 September 2014 at spugsley@tuc.org.uk

Keeping in Touch
The national TUC has already organised the first meeting for national union organisers at which a number of helpful points were raised.  The rally will be placed on t he agenda of the Y&H TUC Executive Committee on 5 June 2014, where information can be shared.

A Google group for union officers involved in organising the event has been set up: if you want to join or add colleagues to the list, please let Alen Mathewson have the email addresses at amethewson@tuc.org.uk.

Many thanks to the unions who have already provided their key contacts: please provide this information if you have not already done so, to ensure that you are kept up to date with the plans.

Development grant report form
TUC Reserved Funds for supporting demonstration – application form