Further Action at Staythorpe

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.

Dispute/Discussion: Nationalist strike - an inconvenient truth


Mark Sandell

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.”

TGWU Broad Left and Amicus Unity Gazette unite


David Kirk

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.

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.

Rumpole of the Amicus?


Dale Street

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.

Jerry Hicks: where I stand


Jerry Hicks, speaking to David Kirk

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?

Ructions in Unite


A Unite member

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.

Public pay strikes in Scotland

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.

Grangemouth Pension Dispute Continues

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.

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