Large engineering and general union
Birmingham and Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham
Assemble Meyrick Park, Bournemouth
Demanding: * an end to off-shoring - quality, secure jobs for all
* to ensure equal rights for agency workers - and trade unionfreedom for all
* to close the yawning wealth gap
* to deliver fair pay to public sector workers and quality, publicly provided health and education for all
* to free councils to build decent housing for allhttp://www.amicustheunion.org/labourPartySite/whats%20happening.aspx
Bloomsbury Suite, ULU, Malet St, London
1. What is the union for?
2. Lay member democracy, Branches, elections and involvement: Making lay member control a reality
3. 'National' (actually, 'International') Trade Group Committees
The industrial sectors: Sector committees
Millennium Place, Coventry
March organised by TGWU and Amicus against job cuts at Jaguar. To join all the Jaguar workers on the march assemble at Millennium Place from 09:30 am or alternatively voice your support by joining the rally at Speakers Corner, next to Coventry Council Buildings from 10:30 am. More on the TGWU website.
Engineering construction: Workers demonstrated outside the Staythorpe power station construction site, in Nottinghamshire, again on Wednesday 11 March. But Unite union officials seem to be quietly encouraging a winding-down of the action.
Most of the workers currently on the site are Spanish workers, reportedly non-union and walled off from access by trade unionists, employed by two Spanish sub-contractors. The demonstrations are for labour for future phases of the contract to be hired locally under the national union agreement for engineering construction.
Solidarity’s approach to the recent construction strikes was very poor. While they were a national news issue and a major focus for everyone interested in how the British working class respond to the crisis, we wobbled and ended up downplaying the massive threat of nationalism to our class.
We did not heed Trotsky’s advice in the Transitional Programme:
“To face reality squarely; not to seek the line of least resistance; to call things by their right names; to speak the truth to the masses, no matter how bitter it may be.”
At a meeting in Birmingham on 21 February, the TGWU Broad Left and Amicus Unity Gazette merged into a left grouping for the Unite union into which TGWU and Amicus are merging.
There were 150-200 there, though very few young people. The event was mainly speeches from the platform and an endorsement of the merger of the TGWU Broad Left and Amicus Unity Gazette.
St Paul's Way school; Chemilines; Tube cleaners; Amicus-Unite election.
Nominations have closed in the election for general secretary of Amicus/joint general secretary of Unite. The choices are not inspiring:
• Incumbent Derek Simpson, who has been a mainstay of support for New Labour, selling out his members and witch-hunting left activists. But Simpson has received only 40 percent of the nominations from branches and workplace reps.
• The even more right-wing Kevin Coyne, the current North West Region regional secretary, who is second in terms of nominations.
Jerry Hicks is one of the three Amicus members — apart from the current General Secretary, Derek Simpson —seeking nominations to contest an election to be held next year for the post of General Secretary of the Amicus section of Unite. In the last issue of Solidarity we interviewed Hicks about his candidacy. We cover the other candidates, Kevin Coyne and Laurence Faircloth, in the next issue. Here Dale Street gives a critical response to Hicks’s platform.
Unite, formed by the merger of the unions Amicus and TGWU, has put the merger on hold and called an Amicus general secretary election rather than, as planned, having Derek Simpson go straight through to 2010 as Amicus general secretary and Joint General Secretary of Unite. Jerry Hicks, who is contesting the general secretary election, spoke to David Kirk from Solidarity. We invite readers to contribute to a discussion on the issues raised by Jerry.
Q: Why are you standing against Derek Simpson for Amicus general secretary?
According to reports from a delegate to the Executive of Unite (the union formed by merger of Amicus and TGWU), and other well-placed sources, the union's "joint general secretaries", Tony Woodley (TGWU) and Derek Simpson (Amicus) are presently engaged in "all out war".
It's so bad that the further integration of the two previous unions may now be at risk.
As we go to press (20 August 2008) a 24-hour strike action by local government workers, members of UNISON, UNITE, and the GMB is taking place.
The same day PCS members employed by the Scottish Government and Registers of Scotland, are staging a follow-up 24-hour strike.
Both strikes are about below-inflation pay offers for workers in the public sector.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has offered local authority workers a three-year pay-deal, with pay going up by just 2.5% each year.
A fortnight after the Grangemouth oil refinery was shut down by strike action, talks continue between refinery owners (INEOS) and UNITE.
The strike by the 1,200 union members was in defence of the refinery’s final salary pension scheme, inherited by INEOS from the refinery’s previous owners (BP).
INEOS wanted to close the scheme to new staff, force existing employees to pay 6% of their salaries into the scheme, and financially penalise workers who opted for early retirement.
At the time of going to press, 1,200 members of Amicus/Unite employed at Grangemouth oil refinery are due to begin 48 hours of strike action at 6.00am on Sunday 27 April – the first strike in a British oil refinery since 1935.
The strike could result in fuel supplies in Scotland, the North of England, and Northern Ireland drying up within a matter of days, and also lead to a shutdown of production in the North Sea oilfield.
Birmingham City Council workers will strike again on 23 and 24 April over the council’s plans to use “single status” negotiations to cut pay and jobs.
[Activists in the Amicus bit of Unite may wish to omit the reference to the TGWU Biennial Delegate Conference]
We note the statement from the General Executive Committee put to the Biennial Delegate Conference of the TGWU section of Unite in July 2007.>
It called for "an end to the manipulation of [Labour Party] conference by the party leadership and the ignoring of conference decisions by ministers". It also said that "the right of party conference to make party policy needs to be upheld and respected."
The Remploy factories in Aintree and Birkenhead (CCU) are taking strike action on 6th and 7th February.
According to Unite, which together with the GMB organises Remploy workers:
The Remploy Consortium of Trade Unions (Unite, GMB and Community) has vowed to fight the closure of 28 Remploy factories, including Aintree and Birkenhead and the jobs of its’ employees. Remploy is the UK’s biggest employer of disabled people and employs over 5,000 disabled workers in 82 factories nationally...
Following the massive Yes vote in their ballots, RMT and the two smaller unions TSSA and Unite have named strike dates on Metronet. RMT and Unite will strike for two lots of 72 hours - from 18:00 on Monday September 3 until 17:59 on Thursday September 6; and from 18:00 on Monday September 10 and 17:59 on Thursday September 13.
On 27 June refuse workers in Salford mounted a 24-hour strike action in protest at the council's exploitation of agency staff.
Agency workers are paid less than their full-time colleagues and have no guarantee of work. Salford Council claims that it needs casual labour to fill in when full time staff are absent, although clearly this excuses neither their two-tier pay structure nor the fact that many workers are long-term casual staff who are relied upon by the council as an alternative to hiring enough permanent workers.
by Dale Street
STRIKERS at the Sunvic Controls factory in Uddingston near Glasgow, which manufactures controls for domestic and commercial central heating systems, returned to work last Monday (4 June) after ten weeks.
The 42 employees, mostly women, and all of them members of Amicus and the TGWU (which have now merged into Unite), had been out on official strike since 21 March in a dispute over flexible working and lay-off pay.
The question on Jim Denham’s voting paper, and on mine, in the recent TGWU-Amicus ballot, was “do you approve the Instrument of Amalgamation?”, not “are you, in general, in favour of a merger of TGWU and Amicus?”
I favoured voting no because I do not approve the Instrument of Amalgamation. Jim does not approve the Instrument, either. He believes that “the creation of a rank-and-file controlled accountable industrial structure must be our central task”. The scheme outlined by the Instrument of Amalgamation is anything but.
To Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary of TGWU-AMICUS
Dear Bro Woodley,
"Should [Labour] party policy be put into practice by [Labour] government, and if not, why not?", you asked in your article in the Guardian on 5 March.
By Chris Leary
WORKERS at the Burslem sorting office in Staffordshire are in the process of balloting for further strike action against the sacking of a long standing worker after a previous strike.
The ballot – 99% yes to further action! – concerns the misapplication of conduct procedure by Royal Mail managers. The sacked worker was first suspended for eight weeks on the testimony of just two managers for eight weeks.
Shop steward and long-standing union activist Antony Czubkowski has been sacked by energy firm E.ON, in reaction to his complaint about being subjected to a verbal attack by his boss.
Antony has for the last 18 years been a leading Amicus activist, and in July 2006 convened a meeting for the five unions operating in E.ON. The manager, with a long record of anti-union and bullying behaviour, tried to sneak into the back of the meeting — Antony politely asked him to leave.
On the TGWU-Amicus merger, by Tom Rigby
Critical comments, by Martin ThomasOn the TGWU-Amicus merger, by Tom Rigby
Hundreds of UK trade unionists are to protest outside the Australian Embassy this week (Thursday 30th November) at anti-worker and anti-trade union labour laws introduced by the Australian government.
Pensions, Pay and Privatisation
Why healthworkers should reject the NHS Pension proposals
With accusations still flying around that it was overly generous pay deals that led to the current financial crisis in the NHS it might seem a little selfish for staff to be worrying about their pensions when the future of the NHS itself now seems to be at stake.
Crucial proposals affecting all NHS workers have once again appeared during the summer holidays, and once again the NHS unions have signed up to give away some of our rights, on proposals that are still only half-written.
Packed meeting in Hackney
The Hackney Empire’s Marie Lloyd room was packed to capacity on Wednesday 18 October with over 100 people turning up to hear John McDonnell make his case to be leader of the Labour party.