Trade union issues

"Facility" clampdown is anti-union

Submitted by Matthew on 29 June, 2011 - 10:03

“Ministers are threatening to end the practice of part-time and full-time union officials working in Whitehall departments and quangos”, reports the Financial Times (27 June).

The threatened attack is on “facility time”, the arrangement by which employers release union reps from part or all of their regular work to do union duties. The purpose is to weaken unions.

The basis of “facility time” is the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992, which mandates employers to allow union reps time off for such things as representing members on individual grievances.


Submitted by Matthew on Wed, 29/06/2011 - 10:14

The attack on facility time being prepared by the government and in the press is clearly aimed at weakening unions.

Two points however:

"Many union branches find it difficult to fill “facility time” posts. The work is often more stressful than ordinary employment, and going on to “facility time” can damage your chances of promotion and your CV for future employment."

That may be true in some places but in others, the civil service for example, the opposite is true: being on 100% facility time as a union rep is less stressful than actually doing the job and isn't at all a barrier to promotion, in fact it's often seen as an alternative route to it.

"There is a good trade-union case for all facility time to be partial, a few days a week rather than 100%, so that all union reps regularly spend time in “ordinary” work, know what it’s like, and relate to other workers as workmates rather than as harassed officials."

This is the key point. And in unions such as PCS, it is the workers rather than those on 100% facility time who are "harassed".

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Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 2 March, 2011 - 3:38

Train drivers on Arriva Trains Wales have taken strike action in a dispute over a number of issues, including pay.

Arriva drivers are amongst the lowest paid in the country, and ASLEF – one of the unions which organises the drivers – says they are paid substantially less than their English counterparts. The strike had a significant impact on services with only four scab drivers turning up for work.

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Government to set up strike-breaking unit?

Submitted by Matthew on 23 February, 2011 - 10:14

The Daily Mail on 22 February carried an article reporting on “top secret” government plans to undermine strikes, with the Cabinet Office setting up a special “unit” to “prevent Britain grinding to a standstill in the event of mass public sector walkouts.”

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Tories want to help your boss sack you

Submitted by AWL on 11 January, 2011 - 12:06

The government is attempting to introduce a new charter of employers' rights that will give bosses much greater freedom to sack workers. The proposals include an extension of the qualifying period for an unfair dismissal claim from one year to two, meaning that no worker will be able to claim for unfair dismissal within their first year of employment. The charter also includes a plan to charge for the right to lodge an employment tribunal, with government sources suggesting the fee will be towards “the higher end” of the £30-£500 bracket suggested by bosses' organisations.

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Workers' Liberty No.8 - Le Pen, South Korea, Australian Labor Party, National Union of Railwaymen (NUR), 1987 TUC conference

Submitted by AWL on 28 December, 2010 - 2:54 Author: AWL

A collection of articles from Workers' Liberty No.8.

* Conservative Party invitation to French Fascist and leader of the French National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

* 1987 TUC conference and the Union leaderships' response to declining union membership.

* An analysis of the Australian Labor Party's 1987 Australian general election victory.

* Child sex abuse, incest and UK law.

* The rise of working-class struggle in South Korea

* General Secretary Jimmy Knapp's sell-out of the members of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR)

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Class struggle in the arms industry?

Submitted by AWL on 23 November, 2010 - 11:46 Author: A WCA supporter

From the Workers' Climate Action website.

Workers at Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston are set to take strike action over pay. A lunchtime protest on 23rd November was believed to be the first industrial action taken by workers in the company's 50 year history.

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Stranded abroad by volcanic ash? Can't get to work? Tough!

Submitted by Matthew on 29 April, 2010 - 11:17 Author: Darren Bedford

Penny-pinching and sheer bloodymindedness has been the response of some bosses towards workers stranded abroad due to the recent volcanic ash cloud. “Act of god” or not, they want to dock workers’ pay.

During the heavy snowfalls of 2008/9 and 2009/10, employers all over the UK docked pay from workers prevented from getting to work, prompting RMT general secretary Bob Crow to refer to them as “throwbacks to the worst excesses of the Victorian mill-owners.”

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Workplace bullying: winning respect at work

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2010 - 11:23 Author: Ira Berkovic

“Work is, by its very nature, about violence — to the spirit as well as to the body... It is, above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of us.” Studs Terkel.

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Cuts fightback: Jersey workers prepare to fight

Submitted by Newcastle on 5 November, 2009 - 10:33 Author: By Mary Burgess

The tiny island of Jersey may be about to host some major class struggle. This year the island’s States (Parliament) decided to withdraw the money budgeted for public sector pay rises, over the head of the States Employment Board, which usually negotiates with the unions.

At the end of October, a motion to reinstate free collective bargaining fell, with Chief Minister Terry La Souer commenting: “At a time when private sector jobs are being frozen or cut, a pay rise for States staff is not viable.”


Submitted by Bruce on Wed, 11/11/2009 - 14:50

There is a major economic crisis in a number of semi-British tax havens.
The Cayman Islands are bankrupt and considering having to (shock, horror)introduce taxes; there is also a crisis in the Isle of Man following cuts in UK subsidies (see which also explains the tax structure there).

We should tie our demands for Jersey up with demands in the UK along the
lines of 'Tax the rich' requiring a major crackdown on tax havens and link it with demands for 'real jobs' there. In practice, I imagine that the tax status only means jobs for accountants, lawyers and a few clerical workers with most others outside the public sector dependent on servicing the rich or tourism.

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THE BLACKLEG* (By Jim Connell, author of"The Red Flag")

Submitted by dalcassian on 2 July, 2009 - 6:40 Author: Jim Connell (Author of the Red Flag, etc)

(Air: "Paddy's Lament")

There's a cuckoo** in our household
And he terrifies our young,
For the habits of the traitor
Have been often told and sung.
Though his feathers flutter softly,
There is murder in his heart,
And all down the toiling ages,
He has played the villain's part.

Oh! We hate the cruel tiger,
And hyena and jackal,
But the false and dirty blackleg
Is the vilest beast of all,

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