Category Archives: Trade Unions

Labour is becoming a pit of lies. No wonder everybody is walking away

Sadiq Khan: the train is probably empty because no RMT driver would want to get on one with him in it.

Wasn’t this a desperately disappointing development from Sadiq Khan, just when Tube drivers need support from the London Mayor who belongs to the Party of the Workers?

Tube drivers are striking because Transport for London has ripped up existing agreements and working arrangements for the Night Tube, demanding extra night and weekend working.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch explains: “This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family friendly agreements that helped make the original Night Tube such a success. Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.

“We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks since the off to resolve this dispute but it is clear that LU bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and have no interest whatsoever in the well being of their staff or the service to passengers.

“This strike action, and its serious consequences in the run up to Christmas, was avoidable if the Tube management hadn’t axed dedicated Night Tube staff and perfectly workable arrangements in order to cut staffing numbers and costs.

“We warned months ago that slashing two hundred Night Tube Train Driver positions would create a staffing nightmare and LU need to start facing up to that reality and soon. The union remains available for further talks even at this late stage.“

Contrast that with what Sadiq Khan, Labour’s London Mayor, has said about it, and you’ll understand why Unite’s Sharon Graham has tweeted what she did:

Here’s where Khan crossed the line:

It seems the claim was not true:

The letter to Khan states: “Our Lead Organiser for TfL wrote an email to London Underground senior managers… which ended with the words “We are happy to attend ACAS to resolve the dispute. And are available to do so.” We never received a reply to this email.

“Our reps and members have seen the email in which RMT offers to meet at ACAS and are justifiably furious at the complete misrepresentation of our position in the public domain. It is having an incendiary effect. It’s hard for us to understand why you’ve done this and all I can think is that you have been fed an inaccurate line by hawks within TfL.”

The explanation kindly suggested by Mr Lynch in the letter, even if true, wouldn’t let Khan off the hook because he should have checked the facts with the RMT Union.

It’s a terrible position for a Labour politician, in an elected position of authority, to choose. Here’s the better choice:

And here’s what all Labour politicians should be saying about it:

Sadly, the damage has already been done:

And we have identified the heart of the problem:

That’s exactly it. The rot is at the heart of the Labour Party because it is spreading from the leader himself.

Yesterday morning, This Writer’s Twitter feed was full of comments like these:

There are lots of good points in those comments. Probably the most pertinent are those stating that people who want a better country – for everyone rather than just the very rich – don’t owe Labour anything now that it clearly does not have the principles on which it was founded.

Nobody is obliged to vote for Labour. It is Starmer’s – and Khan’s – responsibility to show, by example, that they are worthy of our support.

Starmer’s record since April 2020 – and Khan’s shocking performance over the Night Tube – tell us they aren’t even interested in it.

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CWU joins Unite in withdrawing donations to Westminster Labour Party

Labour’s worst leader: Starmer keeps screwing up so This Site will keep using this image.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) has withdrawn its support from Keir Starmer.

A special conference of the union voted to provide only its affiliation fee to the national Labour Party from now on:

The union’s general secretary, Dave Ward, said the union would focus on individual Labour members who support its own aims: “In focusing our political resources on those in Labour who are really up for delivering for our members we are looking beyond the factional war being waged by an out-of-touch Westminster politics.

“This is a positive step for our union and a real offer to those in Labour who want to change things on the ground.”

It’s another defeat for Keir Starmer, who must now take the financial hit implied by the loss of the union’s funding. Coming on top of the #LabourDataBreach this puts his further-right-wing-than-the-Tories party in financial danger.

Too bad:

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Founding union splits from Labour in disgust at Starmer – hours before his big speech

BFAWU president Ian Hodson: the union has disaffiliated from Labour – the party it helped create – after Starmer’s rabble threatened to expel him over a connection with a proscribed organisation.

One of the trade unions that founded the Labour Party has disaffiliated from it – in disgust at Keir Starmer’s insistence on waging a “factional internal war” instead of opposing Boris Johnson’s far-right government.

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) had said it would hold a vote on disaffiliation after Labour threatened to expel its national president, Ian Hodson, over connections with one of the organisations that Starmer’s Labour recently proscribed for no very good reason.

Hodson had dealings with Labour Against the Witchhunt – a support organisation for party members falsely accused of anti-Semitism by Keir Starmer’s auto-guilting disciplinary machine – until 2017.

It was proscribed by Starmer’s perversion of the party earlier this year, making any action against Hodson retrospective – and therefore unreasonable.

The union had planned a disaffiliation vote to coincide with Starmer’s speech at the Labour conference in Brighton this week – but the announcement was made the day before, heaping humiliation on the party’s non-leader.

He is the only Labour leader ever to drive away one of the organisations that helped found the party.

In a statement, the union made its reasoning clear [boldings mine]:

“We need footballers to campaign to ensure our schoolchildren get a hot meal. Workers in our sector, who keep the nation fed, are relying on charity and good will from family and friends to put food on their tables. They rely on help to feed their families, with 7.5% relying on food banks, according to our recent survey.

“But instead of concentrating on these issues we have a factional internal war led by the leadership. We have a real crisis in the country and instead of leadership, the party’s leader  chooses to divide the trade unions and the membership by proposing changes to the way elections for his successor will take place.

“We don’t see that as a political party with any expectations of winning an election. It’s just the leader trying to secure the right wing faction’s chosen successor.

“The decision taken by our delegates doesn’t mean we are leaving the political scene; it means we will become more political and we will ensure our members’ political voice is heard as we did when we started the campaign for £10 per hour in 2014.

“Today we want to see £15 per hour for all workers, the abolition of zero hours contracts and ending discrimination of young people by dispensing with youth rates.

The BFAWU will not be bullied by bosses or politicians. When you pick on one of us you take on all of us. That’s what solidarity means.”

In the light of this announcement, Keir Starmer should be dreading the moment when he takes the stage for his speech.

He was probably hoping for applause – but now he’ll be lucky to avoid catcalls. Personally, This Writer would pelt him with rotten vegetables.

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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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