Monthly Archives: September 2009

You couldn’t make it up (1)

Sally Keeble MP

Sally Keeble MP

A story from the “you couldn’t make it up” section.

Many of you may have heard about London Midland Railways having to cancel their services on Sunday because not enough drivers volunteered to do the Sunday shift

The reason? Staff used to get double time on a Sunday. And now they don’t. So no one wanted to do it. And who can blame them? After all we are continually told that without the incentive of giant bonuses bankers won’t want to come in Britain. So why would anyone want to give up their Sunday without some inducement?

Well Labour MP for Northampton North Sally Keeble has weighed into the argument. Apparently what needs to happen is:

“London Midland really needs to speak to its staff and to unions to get this situation resolved, because it is ridiculous.

“A review of Sunday working is now long overdue. It should be rostered into staff working hours so this situation doesn’t come up ever again.”

So there you have it. No more carrot, just stick.

This was spotted in the Morning Star

You can also check out the story in the Northampton Chronicle

Sally Keeble’s website


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Filed under "you couldn't make it up", RMT

Battle to lead Unite

jerry hicksRespect member Jerry Hicks is one of those who is in the running for the next General Secretary of the Unite trade union, the biggest in the country with some 2 milion members.

The union will be formed by a merger of the union Amicus and the TGWU and an election will be held for a new General Secretary in 2010.

Jerry ran earlier this year for the Geneal Secretary of Amicus as a rank and file candidate after he forced a ballot against the incumbent Derek Simpson.

Simpson had been elected in 2002 as “left” candidate against Blair’s favourite union leader Sir Ken Jackson. He proved to be a big let down and did not nothing to defend union members against Labour’s continuing neo-liberal offensive.

In a surpise result Jerry got 39,000 votes against Simpson (with the backing of the union machine) who won with 60,000.

A (rather dispiriting) report on the United Left meeting in Manchester by Richard Searle can be read here.

The Times also has a report on the election in which they seem to rate his chances. It can be read here.

Jerry’s campaign blog can be read here

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Filed under Jerry Hicks, Unite

Indefinite Strike at Tower Hamlets College

Teaching staff at Tower Hamlets College have gone on all-out indefinite strike against 13 compulsory redundancies in the English as a Second Language Department.

This will also mean the cutting of the number of places on ESOL courses from 3,000 to 2,000. Tower Hamlets has got one of the highest proportions of speakers of other langauges in its school system in the country.

Nearly 100 people attended a public meeting on Thursday evening to hear speakers including local Respect councillor Dulal Uddin, Pul McGarr, a teacher at St Paul’s Way School and Neil Williams, a local fire fighter.

Attack on education

Since the removal of further education colleges from local authority control and their “incorporation” they have turned into ever more ruthless businesses. Colleges have cut staff and courses and forced down wages continuosly.

On the other hand at this time of year the amount they spend on advertisng and selling themselves, in the media, on buses, on hoardings, is unbelievable.

Every business has boom and bust. And this artificially created “business” is now apparently experiencing an equallly artifically created “bust” at the hands of the governemnt. It seems there is “over production” in education. The number of students needs to be cut.

All out action

Tower Hamlets College staff have done something that few others have done, go on all out strike to stop the attack. Not only that, they have walked out during the start of year registration. Stop entrollment and hit management where it hurts. The registration of the “customers”.

The other thing that they have done is go on indefinite strike. Strikes in recent years have been reduced to tokenistic displays. Union bureauctats call people out for a day, just to prove they still can. Then they get down to the real business of compromise. Compromise which is usually in large part sell out.

They can get away with this because at no point have members been mobilised. Union structures that have withered over the years are little built by such passive strikes. Workers are told just not to come into work.

An indefinite striek is different. It means striking for victory, a real way to stop and roll back the attack. not just to count a slightly less bad deal. Victory is not assured,but to do nothing nowadays is to be defeated. Management shows no mercy.

An indefinite strike involves people: pickets have to be organised, leaflets produced, other groups of workers met, money collected.

Workers organise themselves rather than someone from nion HQ telling everyone what to do (ususaly “go home and do nothing”). It also brings them into contact with other workers and the community. Workers come to find out who they can rely on: other workers.

This strike is an inportant strike. Mangement is facing up for a showdown as they and all other managements in the public services prepare for much bigger cuts after the election.

It is a strike that can show the way for others to win and not only turn back the bosses attack at Tower Hamlets college, but maybe show the way to rebuild workers organisation.

The dispute seems set ot run. Unison staff are now also set to ballot to join the action.

The lecturers union, the UCU is calling a day of action on Tueday in solidarity.

A demonstration will be held on a Saturday in the borough in the next few weeks.

We will bring you news of these events as it comes in.

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Refinery workers set to strike again

lindsey strikeRefinery workers organised by the GMB and Unite have been balloting for industrail action and look set to strike. Obviously the militancy displayed  earlier in the yet is continuing.

To find out more check out the article in today’s Guardian here

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