Tim Roache has been elected General Secretary of the GMB, Britain’s third largest trade union. He succeeds Paul Kenny, who has stepped down after 10 years in the position, and who courted controversy recently by accepting a knighthood.
Roache won with 57% of the vote to his opponent Paul McCarthy’s 43%. Both men are former Regional Secretaries, powerful positions in the GMB which are appointed, rather than elected. Other candidates initially put themselves forward but later dropped out. Neither candidate would have represented any profound change of direction for the union, although Roache is generally perceived to be the more progressive of the two, and has been supportive of the new turn in the Labour Party. 26,488 people voted in the election — just 4.2% of the GMB membership.
Teachers fight workload
Teachers at John Roan school, Greenwich, struck again on Thursday 19 November in their dispute over excessive observations, workload, and marking.
On Wednesday 18 November teachers held an open meeting about the dispute, inviting parents to attend to air their views. Despite a few parents being concerned about school days lost to strikes, most parents were supportive of the dispute, seeing it as part of a wider fight for better education for their children. Parents have now formed a support group and plan to visit picket lines.
Teachers at Alfreton Grange School in Derbyshire also struck on 19 November in their ongoing dispute over increased working hours. The school intends to move to a nine-lesson school day and has introduced other measures which increase teacher workload. Teachers at Crosby High School in Sefton also struck on 19 November and disputes over workload are brewing in many other schools.
Wildcat postal strike
CWU members in Bridgwater, Somerset, staged an unofficial walk out in defence of a disabled worker, Andrew Mootoo. Royal Mail management had refused to help Andrew back to work after being ill due to multiple sclerosis. Instead they kept him on sick leave so long that his pay was stopped. Workers struck on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 November, and only went back to work after Royal Mail management agreed to negotiate about making adjustments for Andrew to return to work.