Category Archives: Trade Unions

New low for Starmer: Workers at the Party of the Workers are to go on strike

For the many? It seems “the many” are deserting the Labour Party in their thousands, in disgust at Keir Starmer.

Staff at Labour Party HQ who are members of trade unions have voted overwhelmingly to strike, in protest at the plan to sack 90 of their number and replace them with short-term contractors in exactly the kind of ‘fire-and-rehire’ deal that leader Keir Starmer claims to oppose.

It is suggested that they voted to strike by a majority of three to one:

It’s doubtful that this has anything to do with Starmer’s attack on the unions (he has spoken out against Unite’s new boss Sharon Graham, while Bakers’ union BFAWU boss Ian Hodson is in danger of auto-exclusion, apparently on a trumped-up charge) – but it is also doubtful that it will do their relationship any good.

Labour was originally formed to give working-class people representation in Parliament.

The fact that the party’s current leadership sees nothing wrong with betraying its own employees – and therefore its very reason for existing – is more damning than anything This Writer can say about it.

I just hope it goes the distance and they all walk out between September 25 and 29 (at least) – because those are the dates of the Labour Party Conference.

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Will Labour have any backers left after Starmer started attack on unions?

Sharon Graham: The Tories are demanding that Labour leader Keir Starmer take no donations from Unite after she threatened to work “outside the law”, if necessary, to win industrial disputes. It will leave Labour with an even bigger hole in its finances than it has now.

Keir Starmer seems determined to cut off all funding opportunities for his version of the Labour Party.

After spending more than a year attacking and reducing the membership on false pretences, so that the party is now a shadow of the largest political organisation in Europe that it was under previous leader Jeremy Corbyn, it seems he is now distancing himself from the trade unions.

It seems right-wing mischief-makers, either within the party or from outside, reminded Starmer of a 2019 threat by new Unite boss Sharon Graham, to work “outside the law” to win industrial disputes.

It was a humiliating for the Labour leader, who had only days previously congratulated her on her election win and claimed he was looking forward to “working together to improve the lives of working people”. That was probably an empty promise in any case, considering Starmer’s record of betraying his vows.

Tory Party co-chair Amanda Milling challenged Starmer to pledge to take no donations from the union if Ms Graham adopted the tactics she had threatened – but he probably won’t even have the choice.

Unite – Labour’s biggest financial backer – already restricted its supply of cash to the party under previous general secretary Len McCluskey, because of Starmer’s perceived failures as a leader, and Ms Graham is already being urged to go further and cut funding altogether.

Bakers’ union the BFAWU has already threatened to disaffiliate from Labour altogether after Starmer’s party threatened its president with auto-exclusion. The union says he has done nothing wrong and on Labour’s recent record, this is entirely believable.

A vote is to be taken and the result announced during Starmer’s speech at this year’s Labour Party conference.

Ms Graham’s threat was clearly announced as a last resort – as “Operation Cupcake” makes clear in this thread…

… but Ms Graham made it clear that she would not apologise for defending workers. She has already started a review of all the union’s activities, to ensure that members who are involved in disputes get “all the support they need”.

So a confrontation seems likely – and Starmer, having driven away more than 100,000 members and failed to secure corporate funding, will come off worst if it happens.

Meanwhile, commenters on the social media have drawn public attention to the realities of the situation:

Indeed.

Starmer is irrelevant – both to working people and to the UK as a whole. He had a chance to be a uniting force in the Labour movement and he blew it on vindictive attacks against left-wingers (so much for his claims to lead a “broad church”).

The focus now is on what the unions will do if they separate from Starmer’s Fake Labour altogether and let it sink.

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Sharon Graham wins Unite election – meaning the nomination process is broken

Sharon Graham: she’s the new Unite general secretary but the election has cast a shadow over the legitimacy of the nomination process.

Congratulations to Sharon Graham for becoming the first female general secretary of the UK’s largest trade union, Unite.

And well done to her, also, for demonstrating that the mechanism for nominating candidates is badly broken and must be improved.

We can see this because of the number of Unite branches that were seen to nominate different candidates.

Steve Turner reckoned he had 525 branches behind him – the most of any candidate – but it is widely believed that he only beat right-winger Gerard Coyne into second place because supporters of Howard Beckett held their noses and voted for him.

Beckett himself managed 328 branch nominations but pulled out in order not to split the Left vote. In hindsight, that may seem ill-advised.

Graham herself had 349, while Coyne managed just 196.

The fact that these nominations were not matched by the proportion of votes offered to each candidate indicates that there’s something wrong with the process.

I don’t know what that process is, but if it doesn’t offer sufficient weight to the number of members in each branch who support a particular candidate, then it needs to be fixed.

If it doesn’t even allow rank-and-file branch members a say, then it must be corrected at the earliest opportunity.

And there’s a knock-on effect, too: because they saw Turner receiving the most nominations, so-called ‘optics Left’ ‘influencers’ tried to exert pressure on Graham and Beckett to withdraw (successfully, in Beckett’s case).

We see now that this was a bad call.

You can read a more detailed piece about this over on Skwawkbox.

The message to take home is that Unite could have ended up with a leader who did not represent the intentions of its voting members – because of its faulty nomination system and the reactions of influential people.

Source: Graham’s win discredits Unite nominations process – and destroys ‘blue-tick’ left’s credibility – SKWAWKBOX

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Regret as Beckett withdraws from Unite union leadership election in favour of Turner

Withdrawing: Howard Beckett.

Howard Beckett has withdrawn from the campaign to elect the next general secretary of the UK’s biggest trade union – to gasps of disappointment from members and commentators.

He has announced that he will be supporting fellow left-wing candidate Steve Turner against hard-right Gerard Coyne, who many consider to be a threat to the union, and who is also considered to be politically allied to disastrous Labour “leader” Keir Starmer.

You can read Beckett’s announcement here:

In This Writer’s opinion, the wrong man is going forward.

Just take a look at Beckett’s Twitter output in comparison with Turner’s and you’ll see that the former showed a commitment to campaigning – on a variety of issues – that the latter did not. Here’s Beckett’s feed from the last few days:

Here’s Turner’s:

There is a third left-wing candidate – Sharon Graham – who seems to lack any purpose other than to split the left-wing vote, thereby allowing the hard-right Coyne to take over. She certainly hasn’t made much of an impression on This Writer in any other respect.

The loss of Beckett as a candidate is likely to hit Unite members hard.

Many of them considered him to be the natural successor to Len McCluskey and the only hope for the future of the union – and are likely to boycott the vote as a result, making it more likely that the right-wing Coyne will win.

I would certainly urge those people to reconsider. A lesser left-winger is still far better than a right-winger who is likely to dismantle Unite in terms of everything it stands for.

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Maureen Lipman quits actors’ union Equity to support apartheid Israel

Maureen Lipman: this is an old image from 2018 because she honestly doesn’t rate the time it would take me to get a new one.

Once upon a time, Maureen Lipman was best-known as a legend among her fellow actors. Oh, and as Beattie from the British Telecom ads.

Now she’s best known for quitting the Labour Party – multiple times, apparently – and today for quitting actors’ union Equity.

Here’s Metro:

Coronation Street actress Dame Maureen Lipman has resigned from Equity, the actors’ union, after the organisation urged members to join a pro-Palestine march, it has been claimed.

‘I’m going to resign and I’m also going to ask for my £1000 a year membership fees to be given back to me, and I’m going to send it a charity for the victims on both sides,’ she told [The Telegraph].

‘I didn’t join a political union. I joined a union to protect its members. You don’t dictate to artists what they believe in, and don’t incite them to join a mob.’

This Writer is sure that the 200,000 people who took part in the “mostly peaceful” event in London last weekend will be nonplussed to learn that Lipman has branded them a “mob”.

And while some may say she is right to ask, “Where is [Equity president] Maureen Beattie on the Uyghurs, Rohingyas, the Sudanese, the Yemenites?” some of us applaud the decision to take a stand on a topical issue.

And when there’s a major demo for Yemenites and the others, I for one will look forward to seeing Equity representatives standing alongside everybody else.

A few misguided souls have supported Lipman’s stand:

I wonder whether she feels validated by the support of a former journalist who, as editor of The Sun, falsely accused Liverpool supporters of responsibility for the Hillsborough disaster?

And, as she is falsely accusing Equity of drumming up support for a “mob”, I can only surmise that she does.

Perhaps she prefers the statement by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which falsely claimed that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza happened because that overwhelmingly better-armed nation, supported as it is by the weaponsmiths of the UK and the USA, needed to defend itself against some home-made fireworks that mostly rebounded from the so-called Iron Wall.

Before reading this, let’s remember that the violence happened because Israeli soldiers had been attacking residents of Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem, turfing them out of their homes in what’s known as ethnic cleansing, and had invaded the Al Aqsa Mosque, hitting worshippers there with rubber bullets and stun grenades:

Strangely enough, accusing Jews in the UK of being more loyal to the people they know in Israel, has been described to us all as an anti-Semitic trope. Draw your own conclusions on what this says about the Board of Deputies.

Would you appreciate some more rational responses?

Some have reminded us that Lipman spent the last few years threatening to quit Labour over the false claims that the party had become a hotbed of anti-Semitism:

In fact it seems this isn’t the usual time of year for Lipman to quit Labour – that’s October or November, as far as I can tell.

Others have pointed out that Lipman’s stand is a contradiction: by opposing Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, she supported anti-Semite Boris Johnson’s racist Conservative Party back into power…

(If you don’t think Johnson is an anti-Semite, you need to read his novel 72 Virgins – or at least those parts of it that he stuffed with anti-Semitic tropes.)

… and by supporting apartheid Israel, she supported – well, read it for yourself:

Others have been more generalised in their criticisms:

But the message that people have taken from her announcement is all too clear:

Perhaps the most cutting comment is the one on which I’m going to end:

How the mighty have fallen. Lipman has brought a once-glittering career down to end in ashes.

Postscript: There is some good news:

Source: Coronation Street’s Maureen Lipman ‘quits’ union’ over pro-Palestine march urge | Metro News

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Is Department for Transport planning ‘all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’?

Two-fingered salute: Boris Johnson’s message of thanks to transport workers who kept groceries, other goods and medical supplies moving during the Covid-19 crisis. His government is apparently planning to attack their jobs, pay and pensions as soon as it can.

The Tory government is planning to reward key transport workers who kept the UK running through the Covid crisis – with a kick in the teeth, it seems.

The Department for Transport is hoping to employ a “union-buster” to take on workers in an “all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions”, according to the RMT union.

And where the DfT leads, will other government departments follow in a renewed effort to destroy workers’ representation once and for all and begin a new dark age for the people of the UK?

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Employees (RMT) reports that the DfT is recruiting for a Rail Pensions and Workforce Director who will be a member of a new-created team of 15 workers.

An advertisement in The Guardian states that the successful applicant “will shape and define the future of pensions and workforce in the rail sector”, operating in a “politically sensitive environment”.

Welfare Journal quotes RMT general secretary Mick Cash:

RMT has been warning that the Government and the employers would be gearing up for a post-COVID assault on our members across the transport sector and here they are headhunting a dedicated hitman or woman.

It would be a scandal if the essential transport workers who have kept key staff and freight moving throughout the pandemic were rewarded with a kick in the teeth on jobs, pay and pensions.

And why not?

Matt Hancock has already slapped NHS employees in the face with his refusal to reward doctors, nurses and support staff for all their dedication, working to keep thousands of people alive in the face of indifference from their political employers who failed to source appropriate equipment.

So why shouldn’t the government tell the people who transported all the supplies – including, no doubt, the medical gear that we all needed (when it finally turned up) – that their contribution is not appreciated at all and that they will be punished rather than rewarded for it?

What did these people expect from selfish, ignorant, entitled toffs?

And what can you expect in the future? You know the Tories will get around to attacking you as soon as they’re able – don’t you?

Source: Government ‘gearing up for an all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’ | Welfare Journal

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Victory in fight against ‘fire and rehire’ by British Airways after Unite union secures deal

This is great news at a time when companies seem keen to ramp up the stress on employees who already have enough worry with Covid-19.

British Airways has agreed to end so-called “fire and rehire” employment practices.

The company came to the deal after nine days of strike action over the Christmas/New Year period which the union United said caused “overwhelming disruption to the company’s cargo services”.

Unite had proposed a urther nine days of strike action to start on January 22 but the first three days were called off at the last minute, after progress was made at the negotiations.

Another round of strikes due to begin this weekend has also been called off.

The deal is as follows:

  • End of “fire and rehire” (the last area of BA where this was a threat)

  • Workers will revert to previous contractual provisions subject to agreed changes

  • No compulsory redundancies

  • Improved pay protection for staff whose pay sits above the new agreed rates

  • An increase in pay for a significant proportion of staff

  • Members who did not sign the new contract and were dismissed will be offered their jobs back on the agreed terms.

Unite’s members will have to be balloted on the deal, and it is understood that they are likely to accept it.

It’s a great victory for Unite, but let’s not minimise the step that BA has taken at a time when other firms are opportunistically forcing employees to re-apply to do the same job they’re already doing, but for less money and with fewer work-related protections.

BA is setting an example, and even if nobody else follows it, let’s applaud that choice.

Source: Unite ends BA ‘fire and rehire’ dispute by securing deal to avoid forthcoming cargo strike action

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Tories finally tell PRIMARY schools in LONDON to stay closed. Union calls for rest of England to do the same

Wearing the dunce’s cap again: for Gavin Williamson, the reopening of schools at the height of the Covid crisis isn’t a hard decision – he does what he’s told to do by Boris Johnson. That’s why he has made a fool of himself – and why he is deliberately endangering your children and (if you are a parent) you.

Could anything better illustrate the weakness of Boris Johnson and his Conservative government?

They want to keep the UK’s economy going, despite having done everything possible to let Covid-19 rampage through the population while pretending to restrict it.

So they need to keep schools open, so parents don’t have an excuse to stay at home.

That’s why none of their restrictions/lockdowns since September have included schools.

They seemed ready to keep up this farcical charade into the New Year – even though Covid-19 infection rates have soared and schools are the most common vector – right up until January 1, days before the new school term was due to begin.

Then – at the very last minute once again, meaning parents’ plans have been thrown into chaos for no good reason – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson u-turned, signing off on a plan for all primary schools to remain closed for the time being…

In London.

For clarity, you need to be aware that secondary schools and colleges were already set to be closed to most pupils for the first two weeks of term, while primaries in 50 local authorities in London and southern England were also told to remain closed until January 18.

It was only after council leaders in 10 other London boroughs, where Covid transmission rates are high but schools were told to remain open, said they would defy the government and support closures that Williamson agreed to close them all.

He had been backed into a corner. Whatever he did would have led to humiliation so he chose the option that would not result in open defiance.

But his decision only covers those 60 local authority areas in London and the south, prompting education unions – most prominently the National Education Union – to ask:

Why are are children and parents in the rest of England being left vulnerable to Covid?

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Mary Bousted, has called on the government to close schools across that country (remember: education is a devolved responsibility so the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland choose whether their schools will open or not).

According to the BBC,

In Wales, there will be “flexibility” at the beginning of term, with teaching due to start in most places from 4 January. Schools are expected to offer face-to-face learning for most pupils by 11 January, with a full return by 18 January.

In Northern Ireland, primary school pupils will be taught online until 11 January. In secondary schools, years 8 to 11 will be taught online throughout January. Years 12 to 14 will return to school after the first week of January.

In Scotland, the Christmas holidays have been extended to 11 January, and the following week will be online learning only. A full return to face-to-face learning is planned for 18 January.

Dr Bousted pointed out that it is impossible to stop children from mixing with each other in large numbers and if just one has the virus, then they all may catch it and transmit it to their families – and out into the community:

She added, on Andrew Castle’s LBC radio talk show, that teachers have a legal right to refuse to work if they think opening schools will create a health risk:

For Gavin Williamson, the situation has now become extremely precarious:

Will Williamson cave in again, or will he stand accused of condemning thousands to catch the virus when the NHS cannot take the strain and fatalities are rising?

And what will happen to Boris Johnson’s precious economy if this irrational stubbornness over schools creates knock-on havoc in business and industry?

Whatever happens, responsibility for the result will lie entirely with Johnson and his Conservative government. But we, the people, will pay the price.

Source: All primary schools in London to remain closed after U-turn | Schools | The Guardian

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Labour civil war: unions weigh in, former MP signs out, and Margaret Hodge contradicts herself

.Margaret Hodge: she once praised Jeremy Corbyn glowingly but is singing a different tune now. Why the change of heart? Political expediency?

For a leader who said he wanted to bring unity to the Labour Party, Keir Starmer has certainly caused a lot of division.

This Writer thinks the best conclusion to be drawn by those of us who are watching is that he lied; Starmer’s plan was always to cause the maximum amount of upset possible and ensure that Labour is incapable of opposing the Conservatives at a time when the Tory government is itself weak.

That is the only explanation that makes any sense at all.

So today the antagonism has intensified – as witnessed in the articles of that exhaustive follower of Labour’s woes, Skwawkbox.

I’ll level with you: this story is likely to develop so quickly and in so many different directions that it will be hard to keep up. But I’ll try to keep tabs on developments and point you to those that are of interest.

Skwawkbox tells us first that the unions have condemned Starmer’s continuing persecution of Jeremy Corbyn:

Unite’s Len McCluskey condemned Starmer’s ‘vindictive and vengeful decision which despoils Party democracy and due process‘ – and for acting in ‘bad faith’ in his ‘continued persecution’ of Corbyn – and accused him of destroying ‘party unity and integrity’ while undermining the EHRC report he has pledged to implement in full.

Fair comment, I think…

CWU general secretary Dave Ward went even further, describing Starmer’s action as ‘shocking’ – because it gives Boris Johnson a free ride over the serious issues of the day. Millions face redundancy, hundreds are dying every day and the government gets away with it. But Starmer wants a civil war.

Also fair. Read the full report here.

Meanwhile a well-respected former Labour MP has quit the party in disgust at Starmer’s behaviour.

Former Colne Valley MP – and PPS to John McDonnell, meaning she worked as part of his shadow Treasury team – Thelma Walker has resigned her membership of the Labour Party, while expressing solidarity with former party leader Jermey Corbyn.

She made her feelings clear in a tweeted response to another former Labour MP:

“Labour MPs used [the PLP] as a vehicle for self-aggrandisement and personal attacks on those they didn’t agree with.”

“[I] witnessed the toxic atmosphere [in the Parliamentary Labour Party] every Monday evening. My stomach used to turn over before I went in the room. The same people would leave the meeting and report to journalists.”

That’s not the kind of Labour Party This Writer wants to have and I don’t think you want it either. But thanks to Starmer and his cronies, that’s the party we have.

Read the sad details here.

On the subject of Starmer’s cronies, one of the reasons he kept Corbyn from rejoining the PLP seems to have been a threat by Margaret Hodge that she would quit the party if it happened.

Hodge has been a vociferous opponent of Corbyn, having spent several years denouncing him as an anti-Semite. It seems she is also a hypocrite, as a comment uncovered today shows:

“I was fighting fascism and that would be completely up his street. He takes stands on things and he fights his corner. I like that about him.”

How times change. The Skwawkbox article is here.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Unions unite to demand reinstatement of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour’s ratings plummet

 

Seven trade unions have jointly demanded the reinstatement of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour Party.

Unite, CWU, FBU, TSSA, BFAWU, ASLEF and the NUM have all signed up to the demand after the party’s new general secretary, David Evans, suspended his membership over comments on the EHRC report into anti-Semitism – that Corbyn was fully entitled to make.

It seems Corbyn has been subjected to the usual treatment faced by party members accused of anti-Semitism under a right-wing general secretary: he still does not know what rule he has broken.

For more information see this article.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party’s approval ratings are plummetting, according to an opinion poll.

A snap poll by the admittedly Tory-run firm YouGov found that Starmer’s ‘favourability’ rating had dropped by seven points over the two days of the report and suspension, with Labour’s falling even further, by twelve.

Further information on that is in this article.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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