Thursday, January 31, 2013

UK: National Shop Stewards Network News

NSSN ebulletin 127

Firstly, the NSSN website has had problems over the last week, bear with us. Meantime please use our Facebook group National Shop Stewards Network’ & ‘Stop the cuts’ and/or follow us on twitter NSSN_Anticuts

Defend the NHS; health unions should call a national demonstration to stop all cuts and closures!

Con-Dem cuts and privatisation plans put the NHS's whole future in jeopardy. But there is a growing resistance to this onslaught on our right to decent healthcare. 25,000 people marched in Lewisham on 26 January against the threat of losing the A&E and other vital services - and the hospital itself. Key to the struggle to defend our NHS is the
role of health workers.

On Monday 28 February, low-paid admin and clerical workers at the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust began five days of strike action against down-banding (meaning thousands of pounds in pay cuts). This follows four days of strike action in late 2012. NSSN national chair Rob Williams visited picket lines on Tuesday.
120 strikers joined picket lines across the three sites. The determined mood was spurred on by the dismissal and re-engagement notices sent by the Trust in an attempt to bully workers.

During the last strike Trust chief executive Stephen Eames said that he would meet the strikers 'anywhere, anytime'. But he's not been in a single negotiation with representatives of the strike committee.

On 31 January the Trust board is due to meet, with Eames in attendance. The strikers asked for speaking rights but were told it wasn't 'appropriate' for workers to address the meeting. The strikers were furious. They intend to make their voices heard, lobbying the meeting at the Trust headquarters at Pinderfields at 8am. If the Trust doesn't back down after this action, the Unison branch is discussing balloting the rest of the workforce, as it is clear that they will follow this up by down-banding them too.
More attacks are in the pipeline - admin and clerical workers face another 'review phase', ie cuts. The Trust is also severely cutting back on services at Dewsbury hospital, where Socialist Party members have also been leading a campaign.

Pay cuts, department closures and privatisations are taking place up and down the country. In the South West an employers' cartel has been formed in an attempt to drive down pay and conditions. Clearly the action taken by the clerical staff in Mid Yorkshire is inspiring other workers - so far £23,000 has been donated to the strike fund, mostly by Unison branches. And it is showing what the union can do to defend workers when these attacks come - locally hundreds have joined since the start of the action.
As elsewhere in the public and private sector, the bosses at Mid Yorkshire Trust are saying workers must pay for the economic crisis. But there's plenty of money to avoid these and other NHS cuts - but private healthcare and big business are leeching it out of our health service.

For example, Mid Yorkshire Trust pays 'consultants' Ernst & Young £3 million a year, and £40 million a year goes on repayments for PFI privatisation contracts.
It is urgent that a mass movement is built, taking inspiration from the determination of the Mid Yorks workers, to kick the profiteers out of the NHS and defend all our jobs, pay and public services. Please send messages of support to

25,000 march to save Lewisham hospital On 26 January a massive mobilisation of 25,000 people marched against proposals to close the A&E and other major facilities at University College Hospital, Lewisham. On Thursday, Tory Health Minister Jeremy Hunt announced that the A&E would be downgraded. A stepping back from total closure shows that if the campaign is maintained and stepped up, a total victory can be won.

This was a real community demo. The scale of support for the campaign was shown by the presence of the local football team Millwall's bus at the closing rally.
Such was size of the march that it had to move off about half an hour early so that everyone could join. Among the many union banners was the National Shop Stewards Network.

This was the second demo organised against recommendations in a paper authored by Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw who was commissioned by the Con-Dem government to do a hatchet job on NHS services in South London. It was in anticipation of 1 February when Kershaw will submit his plans to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for rubber-stamping. Petitions, letters and marches have been organised, but these alone will not save Lewisham Hospital.
NSSN members on the demo raised the idea that our strategy must be based on the health trade unions and pressure on them to ballot their members for strike action to save the NHS, solidly backed by the community. A workers' occupation of Lewisham Hospital could be organised to stop equipment being removed and facilities run down.
This attempt to attack jobs and services at Lewisham Hospital is not the first. During 2006 the then Labour government proposed the closure of A&E, maternity and paediatric services. Hundreds of NSSN placards were carried by marchers. They recognised that we need to save all NHS services and not allow the campaign to be just about defending Lewisham A&E at the expense of other NHS services in south London. Unite’s view on Hunt decision – ‘Hunt’s announcement on Lewisham hospital ‘a kick in the teeth’

Heatherwood hospital campaign - Eighteen months ago a group of activists met to discuss how best to resist plans by NHS bosses to close our local hospital. Terry Pearce


The Fire Brigades Union condemns decision by London mayor to overrule LFEPA and press ahead with cuts.  The FBU has condemned a decision by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to overrule his own fire authority and press ahead with plans to close 12 fire stations, remove 18 engines and slash 520 firefighter posts in the capital. The mayor announced the unprecedented move this afternoon (January 30th)

National demonstration against Prison Closures – February 13th The union will be protesting opposite Parliament on 13th February 2013. It has been arranged for a drop in Surgery at the House of Commons to brief Members of Parliament and for a demonstration opposite, which would be the (Old Palace Yard).

Courts fines collection workers strike to stop sell-off
PCS Education Department members ballot over office closures and 1000 job cuts - On January 28th members of the PCS Union working in the Department for Education started balloting for strike action and action short of a strike, in opposition to plans to close 6 out of 12 departmental offices and slash 1000 jobs (25% of the workforce)
PCS calls off tomorrow’s strike after jobs win

One Housing faces historic strike ballot over massive pay cuts!  Sign the petition to support the campaign.
interview by Sparks with Union News on the BESNA victory and the importance of solidarity.

Howdens drivers picket company’s HQ
More than sixty DHL drivers and supporters picketed the headquarters of Howdens on Thursday January 31. DHL distributes for Howdens who earlier this month announced they were moving their transport operation from Merseyside to Yorkshire. This will leave 53 drivers facing redundancies. Today’s noisy protest aimed at bringing Howdens back to the negotiating table, to stop ignoring the dispute and to stop all 53 of the redundancies due to come into effect on 4th February. Drivers have been refusing to deliver to Northampton and Runcorn, to which Managers responded by employing bouncers to intimidate the drivers. An agreement was reached to withdraw the bouncers but staff discovered managers spying on them from the canteen with binoculars! All 8 outlets as well as the company and shareholder offices are being hit by nightly noise protests. Unite has been watching the share price fall as a result of these protests, while large sums of money have been pumped into the company to keep the share-price up.

While the bosses have been told these protests will be over in 30 days that is not the intention of the drivers. Some have given 24 years of service only to be faced with redundancy. The mood of the workers is defiant and determined to get DHL to back down.

Picket at Greencore as 500 workers strike for a living wage! Messages of support can be sent to:

Weekend protests at threat to Agricultural Wages Board
Unite members are staging two protests this weekend – outside posh people’s hotel, the Savoy and at the Somerset constituency ‘surgery’ of the farm minister – to ratchet up the pressure to save the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).

"Asda Wal-Mart: Change decision to de list welsh country foods from their supply chain " and need your help to get it off the ground. The future of 350 workers/unite members depend on Asda to reverse their decision and put ethics before profits/ Jamie Pritchard - Unite Rural and Agricultural

LUL 33 Agency workers struggle for justice goes on – sacked Trainspeople workers lobbied Boris Johnson’s Question Time on Wednesday
Latest RMT London Calling Newsletter February 2013 Edition FIGHT AGAINST JOB CUTS Review: Unity is Strength - 100 Years Of The National Union Of Railwaymen by Alex Gordon – RMT President 2010-12
Rail union RMT warns of skills shortage threat to high-speed and rail modernisation plans
Rail franchising racket rolls on as Government hand out two year extensions to worst performing train companies

Birmingham University UCU  ballots members for strike action over "forced redundancies and aggressive management tactics" The University and College Union (UCU) is balloting its almost 1,000 members at the University of Birmingham for strike action next month. The branch committee is threatening industrial action in response to "the University management’s campaign of forced redundancies and aggressive management tactics that many of our members perceive to be of a bullying nature".

If we don't act soon, Gove will have won his ‘war’ on teachers without teaching unions even having put up a serious fight.  The latest issue of Classroom Teacher. The overwhelming mood of NUT members at the NUT Briefings in both London and Sheffield tonight was one of anger and frustration at the continued delay in calling action. Both briefings called on the NUT Executive to vote for strike action to start before Easter - when it meets again. It’s now vital that, in every region of the country, NUT members lobby their Executive members to vote for that action. As part of that lobbying, five London NUT Associations (so far) are backing a call for a LOBBY OF THE NUT NATIONAL EXECUTIVE on WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 27 at 5 pm, outside NUT HQ, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD ( Kings X / Euston tubes ). Martin Powell-Davies NUT NEC (personal capacity) & NSSN Steering Group.

Bromley Council sent out 4500 letters today asking workers to volunteer to give up national terms and conditions. Next stage of fight is a mass non sign up campaign.

Chris Murphy R.I.P. “Sorry to hear the sad news of the passing of Chris Murphy a member of the UCATT Executive Council, lifelong trade union activist, a blacklisted building worker and a friend.
At last TUC Congress, Chris gave a memorable speech in favour of a General Strike. Chris appeared on the top platform of Blacklist Support Group, Construction Safety Campaign and Defend Council Housing public events. Chris Murphy was convener on London Underground and on London Borough of Islington DLOs, an example of a trade unionist that supported his class with a conscience. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.” Dave Smith Blacklist Support Group

GMB Ballot At Pilkington Glass over job losses and pension changes.
GMB No Vote In Aberdeenshire. GMB has notified Aberdeenshire Council that members have yet again voted today to reject council’s proposed changes to their terms and conditions of employment


GMB PUBLISH UK MAP SHOWING WHERE 3,213 WORKERS ON CONSTRUCTION BLACKLIST LIVED OR WORKED  GMB is calling on local councils not to award any new public work to the companies that operated the blacklist till they compensate those they damaged Please download it and circulate widely as less than 10% of the 3,213 on the blacklist know they are on it.

Select Committee investigation into blacklisting continues: Witness: Jack Winder - Director of CAPRIM Ltd  1:30pm Tuesday 5th Feb
Committee Room 6 Houses of parliament.  CAPRIM Limited are the company set up after the demise of the Economic League by Jack Winder and Stan Hardy. As the Chief Exec and Head of Research of the League, they had possession of the entire Economic League database and sold the construction industry section of it to the Consulting Association to allow them to set-up an run the building industry blacklist. CAPRIM Limited went into voluntary liquidation a few weeks after the raid on the Consulting Association. The directors have never spoken in public before: this could be very interesting (or very dull, if they refuse to answer questions). Blacklist Support Group Video blog:
Ministers are not running a campaign against trade unions, according to immigration minister Mark Harper.

Re-instate the Halesowen 4

Layoffs spark protests in Belgium

The ITUC has condemned the Greek government’s use of wartime emergency powers to break a week-long strike by metro transit workers in the capital city of Athens. & More on the details on government unions role.

Korea: Public sector union president on indefinite hunger strike

South Africa - Battle for control of mining sector


Feb 2
Women& Austerity conference (Brighton Women Against Cuts) Art and activism; using the media; benefits; safety; the public sector; Setting up women’s network; NHS – building the campaign. Brighthelm Centre, North Road, 1pm – 4pm Crèche available
Halifax Town hall protest against cuts 10.15am
March to protest the threats on Chase Farm Hospital are planning to march through Enfield 1pm

Ruckus at Liverpool Mutual Homes

Protest against South West NHS pay Cartel! 10am Great Field Poundry.

POA national demonstration against Prison Closures – opposite Parliament

Bromley trades council relaunched; next meeting 14 February, AGM 14 March; Steve Leggett

Stop the great Fuel Robbery – National Weekend of Action!

Newcastle Stop the cuts and save services march
Greater Manchester Emergency open conference
Northampton Defend Welfare Public Meeting 2pm Friends Meeting House, NN1

National Construction Rank & File Meeting 1pm-4pm; Jury's Inn, Jamaica Street, Glasgow.


RESISTING AUSTERITY in Europe and in the UK 10.00 am-6.00 pm, Congress House, WC1 3LS. Key discussions on: International crisis, International resistance/Austerity in Britain, there IS an alternative & How trade unions can fight austerity. Book your place on 020 7467 1218,

Barnet spring march over sell off of services. 1pm Finchley station

June 29 
7th annual conference of the NSSN – Camden Centre, London.

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