Sunday, 9 December 2012

The First Day of Christmas

“On the first day of Christmas, Tesco gave to me .....THE SACK!” That was the message delivered by Doncaster Tesco drivers on Saturday to customers urging them not to shop at the biggest Tesco store in town. “On the dole for Christmas” is the “present” facing 180 Unite members, recently outsourced by Tesco to Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) who now want to sack them all. Stobarts “offer” of other job opportunites are anywhere in the country on at least £2-50 an hour less, an insult to professional drivers, many of whom have worked from the Doncaster depot for over 20 years.

The public were warned “Check the sell-by date, cos deliveries are running late” as protesters packed the store car-park and crowded out the shop entrance. The store manager gave out free mince pies but its jobs that the strikers are fighting for.

Around 250 drivers, families and supporters gathered round and on the now famous tank parked outside the depot gates before marching into the town centre and onto the Church View store. After 8 days of discontinuous strike action, the workers started an indefinite strike on Thursday December 6th.

Back at the depot, Unite national officer Adrian Jones  gave the strikers the full backing of the national union, and said that they should up the anti. Then returning to the picket, after one strike supporter, a Socialist Party member, held up two delivery wagons, strikers were emboldened to block the depot gates, blocking the road and holding up 12 to 15 lorries for around 45 minutes before the police arrived.

The police asked pickets to move saying “You’ve made your point, but things have got to function.” To which one of the drivers retorted “Why does it have to function? So little people can carry on being shafted by Big Businesses like Tescos!”

This action fired up the pickets who have been frustrated by Stobarts hiring agencies and scabs to keep deliveries going, giving the lie to ESL’s claim that the Doncaster drivers are not needed. Workload doubles in the run up to Xmas so the strikers are confident that Tesco/Stobarts will be forced to improve their offer because otherwise they won’t be able to meet their delivery orders.

Please send messages of support to Trevor Cheetham c/o

 and donations to Dave Beck, 6 Wildene Drive, Mexborough, South Yorkshire, S64 9SN made out to “8-9/490 branch, TGWU, Tesco Contract Doncaster”





Friday, 9 November 2012


The article below has been submitted by Alistair Tice who was present at the picket line

I’ve never been on a picket line like it! An armoured personel carrier and a farmer’s muckspeader blocked the gates to Doncaster Tesco’s depot. Around 150 drivers, members of Unite the union, and their families joined the blockade for photographs as police stopped the traffic and scab deliveries!
All were in high spirits as this ‘stunt’ ended another solid three day strike by former Tesco drivers who have been outsourced to Eddie Stobarts (forever now to be known as “Scumbarts”) and face the sack by Christmas.
The greedy Tesco bosses, not content with £3.8 billion profit last year, transferred the 186 drivers to Stobarts (ESL) in August and by September ESL had given 90 days notice of redundancy. Stobarts drivers who are not in a trade union are on £2-50 an hour less than the Tesco drivers.
Stobarts say they don’t need the Tesco drivers because of spare capacity in their network. Thats clearly not true as on strike days ESL have had to use scab companies and agency drivers. One of the scab firms, Taylors of Mansfield, has caused so much damage that they’ve been sacked! And rumour has it that the Tesco operations manager has had to be brought back in because Stobarts have made such a mess of things.
This strike must be costing Stobarts hundreds of thousands what with the scab firms, agency drivers and all the security on the gates. And Tecos don’t like all the bad press they’re getting – every strike day a coachful of strikers go pay a visit to a Tesco store or two, leaflet the shoppers and get the local press down.
Eight days of solid strike action has forced ESL back to the negotiating table. Next week’s planned four day strike has been suspended for talks on Thursday and Friday. But if ESL come up with another ‘insulting offer’ like they did last time, then the drivers are prepared to go all-out over Christmas. They feel like they have nothing to lose as they’re facing the sack anyway.
Most of these drivers have given 20 plus years to the job, now they are on their fourth employer. Many are ex-miners and ex-army. Hence the tank! They have never been on strike before but are very determined and disciplined, manning the picket lines according to their shifts. Whilst most don’t expect to win their jobs back, they do want to be treated with respect and cause Tescos and “Scumbarts” as much damage as possible in the meantime.
Please send messages of support to Unite shop steward Trevor Cheetham c/o

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Leeds Save Our Fire Service

Saturday 3rd Novembner sees a  a very imortant campaign and demonstration which
is taking place in Leeds and affects the whole of the West Yorkshire Fire Service.

Proposals are up for consultation- but currently mean 10 fire stations will close and be replaced by
5, with a possible 200 firefighter job losses. This will put lives at risk .
Consultation is due to end the 30th November.

United Left urges activists to spread the campaign to as many people as possible and show support
for the protest and campaign.

A  Facebook group has been created!/groups/490944414256535/

There will also be a meeting on 8th November at 6pm
Leeds TUC Building 88 North Street LS2 7PN
Please attend this meeting and ensure this campaign is succesful

Friday, 19 October 2012

Defend The NHS

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

Terms & Conditions are under attack!

The Trust Governing Board will be meeting at the University Hospital of North Tees, Hardwick, Stockton on Tees, TS19 8PE on Thursday 25th October 1.30pm
A rally and lobby of Trust Board members will be held at the site from 1pm-3pm.
Recognised Trade Unions and their members are welcome to attend.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Can we reclaim the Labour Party?

The Unite union has launched a strategy to win the Labour Party back for the working class. But can it be made to stand for left wing policies?

YES: Martin Mayer of Unite, says we win back the party

We’ve heard it all before—“the Labour Party can’t be won back to socialist values”. Before we rush to create a new party of the left from scratch (yet again?) why not try a real fightback for once, at all levels of the Labour Party?
For over 30 years most trade unions have loyally funded “our party” yet have feared to rock the boat on party policy. It’s our collective failure that has handed the party to the right.
Unite’s new political strategy is the first serious attempt to win back the party. We are clear that the objective must be to change the party’s policies in three main areas:

  • Restore trade union rights
  • Reverse the privatisation of public services
  • No to austerity—recover the missing tax billions

Unite is currently getting union activists back into the party. We know that barely a dozen left trade unionists can turn around poorly attended constituency Labour Parties up and down the country.
We have sharp new political education courses and we are creating a network to keep them in touch with Unite policies and give help and assistance. There is a new Unite councillors network to push our policies—particularly against the cuts.
Our parliamentary group has been re-formed to help MPs take Unite’s policies back into the Labour group. Unite’s political department is openly supporting left trade unionists in MP selections, to get left working class candidates elected to parliament.
We’ve launched Class, the new left think-tank, to put up a real alternative to the corrosive effect of Progress, New Labour’s neoliberal machine. We are building bridges with other left-thinking trade unions to help us create a formidable left force again in the party.
This strategy is only just being implemented following agreement at last November’s Unite executive. Will all this work? We honestly don’t know, but we think we owe it to our members and the working class generally to give it a try.
At Labour Party conference Ed Miliband committed to repeal the government’s NHS reform and laid out his One Nation vision.
It was light on policy, but for a fairer more inclusive society and tougher on vested interests. Ed Balls evoked the memory of the 1945 Labour government and promised to build 100,000 affordable homes.
But it’s still the “too far too fast” response to austerity, and an obsession with “balancing the books”. While the party is backing the living wage, Ed Balls still peddles the message of wage restraint to protect jobs.
The party made another step forward to distance itself from New Labour but there’s a long way to go. The polls tell us that five million working class voters walked away from the Labour Party in disillusionment at neoliberal policies.
Our collective failure to fight within the party for working class values will only leave the neoliberal right wing in charge—and mean a likely defeat at the next election.
A final thought. Out of those five million disillusioned voters, hardly any were attracted by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition or other left minority groupings, whose combined vote at elections is bordering on insignificant.
If Unite’s political strategy seems ambitious, it looks much more achievable than starting a new mass party of the left that can actually win power.

NO: Michael Lavalette, socialist councillor in Preston, says Labour has always failed

Let’s start with what we have in common in this debate. On 20 October, whether we are inside or outside the Labour Party, we will all march together against this Tory government.
Every mobilisation across Britain—whether it’s against the fascists, war, environmental destruction or hundreds of other campaigns—is strengthened immeasurably when we stand together. But how is our side going to win?
The Labour Party was created by the unions. It is still funded by millions of union members’ money today. But what do workers get out of it?
We would likely agree that the last Labour government’s record was disgraceful. But even today, under Ed Miliband, we are being told that a future Labour government would continue the cuts—and the public sector pay freeze.
This is not a break from the past, but the way Labour has always acted. There is a myth on the left that the party needs to return to its “golden age”, when it was true to its “socialist roots”. But Labour’s history in government is a history of betrayal.
Miliband talks about the “spirit of 1945”, when Clement Attlee headed a radical reforming Labour government. But by 1948 the economy had turned, and Labour chancellor Sir Stafford Cripps brought in an austerity budget, including a wage freeze.
This is a recurring theme. In the 1960s Harold Wilson brought in a pay freeze of his own. All this was long before the “New Labour cuckoos” took over.
“Reclaiming” the party has been tried through its history, not least by the huge movement around Tony Benn. This drew in many left activists, who turned their energies away from working class struggle and towards trying to change Labour.
Yet ultimately the leadership still won out. This is because Labour is a party that is committed to working within the parliamentary system. That ties its hands—it cannot challenge capitalism, only try to manage it.
The danger is that those who join Labour to try to change it find instead that the party changes them, with its argument that elections matter more than struggle.
The working class needs political representation. For most workers, elections are the main place where politics happens.
As a socialist councillor in Preston, I know first hand that it is possible, though difficult, for left-of-Labour challengers to win seats.
There is still a need for an electoral alternative to Labour. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, though it is not the finished article, can play a role in this. In a straight fight between the Tories and Labour, however, we call for a vote for Labour.
But the real base of working class power is not in parliament or the council chamber. It is in the workplaces—not just the factories but also the offices, in unions like Unite. And it is on the streets, in the kind of movements that can put politicians of any hue under real pressure.
It is the working class that has the potential to change the world. In the Socialist Workers Party we believe their power is the key to overthrowing capitalism, liberating humankind and saving our world for future generations.
As part of that we always stand and fight now alongside all those who struggle for a better world. Workers deserve more than Labour can offer.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Victory for Doncaster Refuse Collectors

Report of Doncaster bin-workers strike by Alistair Tice (Unite Community - NE Y&H)

This morning, Doncaster bin-workers, employed by Sita UK, voted 70-50 to accept a revised pay offer and return to work.
This follows two days of strike action taken last Friday and Monday and notice of indefinite strike action effectively starting from today.
The workers, all members of Unite the union, were demanding £1 an hour pay rise to bring them parity with Sita staff in West Yorkshire. Before the strikes, Sita insisted their 1.7% pay offer was final - "Let me make this crystal clear, there is no more money" repeated one manager in negotiations.
However after a very militant picket last Friday which turned back scab bin-wagons, workers rejected a self-financing productivity deal and agreed to go on all-out strike.
This forced Sita to concede a 3.2% rise for this year (no strings and back-dated to April) with inflation-rate pay rises in the following two years.
 One worker said that he had worked on Doncaster bins for 17 years and this is the biggest annual pay rise he had ever had.
That said, nearly half the workers voted against this deal believing that the strike had Sita on the run and more could have been achieved by striking into next week.
 Even so, this is a partial victory and will give confidence to a group of workers only recently unionised and still in the process of building a branch uniting all 3 depots.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Our Lives Our Futures!

Public Meeting against austerity

Our lives Our futures!
Supported by UNISON

Thursday 20th September 2012 7pm

Danum hotel (Wentworth suite)
High street

Paul Holmes unison nec
Zita Holbourne pcs nat exec / barac
Dot Gibson national pensioners convention
David Malone documentary film maker

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Bedroom Tax or Under Occupancy

In early July 2012 tenants of “social” housing in Leeds  received a letter or possibly a personal visit from their landlords informing them that records showed that the tenants were “under occupying” their properties.

. If you receive Housing Benefit, are of working age (under 62) and live in social housing then your tenancy could be at risk from next April if it is deemed that you are under occupying.

This is a national problem caused by the ConDem coalition Government that has introduced the Welfare Reform Act. This new Act is just the latest scheme whereby the government wants to save money by cutting the Housing Benefit budget, one of the largest benefits that is paid out to 5,012,000 claimants (in April 2012). This figure shows that HB is clearly claimed by those who are in work as well as those who are unfortunately unemployed. A recent report shows that 93% of new HB claims were made by households containing at least one employed adult. Proof positive that the allegations of scroungers is nonsense.

From April 2013 it was expected that the “Universal Credit” scheme would start to apply in West Yorkshire. Due to computer problems this is now likely to be October 2013. Universal credit will be a lump sum replacing HB, Income related employment and support allowance, Income based JSA, Income Support, Child Tax Credit and Working tax Credit UC will be capped at £500 a week for lone parents and couples and £350 for single claimants. It will be administered by Jobcentre Plus  / HMRC and be paid Monthly in arrears.
 The HB element of UC will in any event apply from April 2013 and if it is considered that if you are a tenant with “too many” bedrooms then your housing benefit will be cut. If you have one extra bedroom you lose 14 % of HB, if you have 2 extra bedrooms you lose 25% of HB.

In the Leeds city area these rule changes are going to affect 7373 “council” tenants. 5499 tenants are under occupying by one bedroom and 1527 by 2 bedrooms. 4946 require 1 bedroom accommodation according to the Council. Guess what? That one bedroom accommodation does not exist!!

What is under occupancy?

The DWP has decided people are entitled to one bedroom for each couple, one for each adult over 16, one for 2 children under 16 of the same gender and one for 2 children under 10 even if different genders.

If Mr and Mrs have a 3-bedroom house, a boy, and a girl age 6and 8 they will lose 10% of housing benefit until the boy becomes 10 and is entitled to a separate room. In the interim the parents either make up the difference from other income or “downsize” to a 2-bedroom property.

Single people occupying a 2-bed property are at risk of being forced into private rented accommodation where there is no security of tenure and repairs are seldom carried out. This is because whilst you can apply to a social housing provider for a one bed property you will probably find that there aren’t any.

 Recent changes to the law also state that a single person who is under 35 years of age is not entitled to HB for anything other then a room in a house of multiple occupancy – no house, no flat just a room.

Families are not static units. People come together, have children watch their children grow and start work (if they can find a job), leave home and produce grandchildren. Some relationships breakdown and parents separate but still want to maintain contact with their children. How can they do that if there is no room available for them to use when they stop over.

Just imagine if young Johnny can’t find work so joins the army. His parents bid him farewell to go off to Afghanistan and then are told they are “over occupiers” as they have a spare bedroom and their HB will be cut. The examples are almost endless. You can no doubt think of plenty yourselves.

Employment chances also fluctuate. People may read this and believe it doesn’t apply to them because they are in work. In the middle of a recession people may lose their job or be put on short time working. At that point a claim for Housing Benefit is made and the number of bedrooms becomes very significant.

Communities will forever be changing as a family size alters. Gone will be the days of a stable community where people look out for each other. Only the rich will be able to afford a community with such as the inhabitants of Chipping Norton sharing “country suppers”

Tenants may be tempted to try and make up the shortfall in the rent from their general income. In the long term that is not a realistic possibility and there is the risk of resorting to loan sharks at exorbitant rates of interest to try and avoid possession proceedings due to rent arrears.

Leeds City Council offered some interesting suggestions to tenants in this worrying situation.
Try and find work or increase you hours! Obtain help in opening a bank account! Take in a lodger
Move on Leeds Homes Register. Consider a move to a private rented property (and a 6 month assured short hold tenancy instead of a secure Council home).

It may be that councils up and down the country will tell the DWP

If there is no alternative accommodation it is doubtful that any Judge would grant an eviction order in such circumstances – and remember, unlike the private sector social landlord will not be evicting without a court order. It is therefore essential that if eviction is ever threatened tenants contest those proceedings and if Legal Aid is not available they must attend court hearings and make a Judge aware of the situation.

We in Hands Off Our Homes ( a Leeds based group) can not tell tenants what to do but by bringing people together we can help create a feeling of togetherness and community. To that end we hope to hold meetings in a number of localities so tenants can get together and work out a position which is perhaps different to those suggested by the Council.

Hands Off Our Homes is linked to the national organisation Defend Council Housing to which Unite is affiliated and provides office space. Contact them

What can be done?

This topic should be raised in all Labour Party forums and Trades Councils.
It is Labour led Councils that have to decide whether they are going to evict tenants who fall into arrears of rent. Write to or contact your Councillors, your M.P.s.

Should any Unite Branch in West Yorkshire want a speaker please contact on details below.

We are always happy to receive donations, cheques payable to “Hands Off Our Homes” sent to John Davies. 50, Henconner lane, Leeds LS7 3NX
Contact or 0113 2629046

Friday, 10 August 2012

Building Unite Community Membership

A group of Unite community members in Leeds have been on a weekly basis helping to promote Unites community membership scheme by standing outside Job Centre’s in the Leeds area.
 Along with promoting this exciting initiative outside Job centre’s they previously held a stall outside Leeds University before the student’s broke up for leave to try and attract student’s to join up. Alongside making a physical presence in Leeds they regularly hold a meeting once a week to plan and discuss what worked well to what didn’t to plotting the direction of where to go next in terms of how to attract more members.

They have set up a Facebook group called “Leeds unemployment action group” where those in the Leeds area who happen to be unemployed or on benefits can communicate with one another and offer advice.
The group has been going since May 2012. As part of actively promoting Unite they hold regular protest against businesses that take part in the coalition’s workfare programme as they believe this ties in with the ethos of Unite community membership of promoting the important value of being in a trade union Solidarity and comradeship.  They will continue the campaign to set up a community branch in Leeds and are looking forward to the appointment of a Community Membership Organiser for North East Yorkshire & Humberside in September. This should lead to more resources and a direct plan of action implemented on a consistent basis throughout the region.    


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Executive Council By-Election

Ballot papers will arrive this week for the North East, Yorkshire by-election for Unite Executive Council.
Unite members in the region are urged to vote for United Left candidate Sharon Wadwell.
Sharon is a committed activists who is determined to keep Unite as a lay member led union.
A union that:-

  • Campaigns for investment in manufacturing
  • Fights austerity and supports a strategy for jobs and growth
  • Campaigns to end low pay through a living wage
  • Fights to ensure equality for all

Sharon Wadwell

AGM News

The North East, Yorkshire & Humberside United Left met in Leeds on Saturday 4th August for its AGM
The main decisions were to create various positions that would allow United Left to organise more effectively and concentrate on being the progressive driving force for Unite in the region.
Positions voted on were:
 Kevin Donnelly & Dave Allan

Joint Co-ordinators:
Steve Miller & Steve Bush

Area Organising Team:
John Roscoe
Pete Watson
Dick Banks
Martin Mayer
Charles Schieber
Ed Malcolm
Pat McCourt

Community Membership:
Jack Dillon

Some areas are vacant and will be filled by a willing volunteer. The areas vacant are East Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Teesside.

The purpose of the organising team will be to inform of any political and industrial activity in their area so we can be more proactive in securing support for campaigns or disputes.
Promote unite policy on CLP and Trades Councils.
Identify organising opportunities for the union
Recruit new supporters to United Left and ratify new members to allow attendance at next meeting.

The Co-chairs will be looking at United Left Founding Statement with a view to making improvements.
The idea behind joint co-ordinators is to share workload and divide work up between industrial and political spheres.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Unite warns Greencore in Hull to end attacks on workers' rights

Unite, Britain's biggest union, is warning a key supplier to Asda, Sainsbury's and Waitrose to end its attacks on workers' rights or face the full force of the union which is determined to deliver justice for the workforce.
The union has already filed a complaint with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) against Greencore in Hull, which supplies cakes and desserts to well known supermarkets.
In the complaint the union has submitted evidence that the company has impoverished its workers by abolishing overtime, shift and bank holiday premia for all workers, the majority of whom are on the national minimum wage. Greencore is threatening to make 236 people redundant and replace them with agency workers and breaching employment law by issuing individual notices to terminate contracts and re-engage workers on the new, worse terms and conditions before the end of the legal consultation period.
The complaint to the ETI claims the company is breaching the ETI's base code to which Greencore is a signatory. The union believes the company is breaching the code on freedom of association, working hours, the provision of regular employment and intimidation of the workforce.
Unite national officer, Jennie Formby, said: "We’re not prepared to sit back and allow blatant breaches of the Ethical Trading Initiative code which is there to protect workers from exploitation. Unite is now making a formal complaint to the ETI Board. Unless this supplier to Asda, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Tesco ends its attacks on workers rights, it will feel the full weight of Unite, a union determined to fight back for the workers.
"Unite will not accept companies that break the law, attack union rights and the terms and conditions of the lowest paid workers in society. It would be better for the company to sit down with Unite and resolve the outstanding issues through constructive talks rather than face the full force of a major campaign against it."
Greencore Group plc is an international manufacturer of convenience foods. It has 22 convenience foods manufacturing sites in the UK and the US; and employs in the region of 11,000 people. Unite represents thousands of workers at Greencore sites across the UK. The union's ETI complaint relates to the company's cakes and desserts supplier in Hull.
The Ethical Trading Initiative base code is founded on the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is an internationally recognised code of labour practice. It was negotiated and agreed by the founding trade union, NGO and corporate members of ETI and contains nine clauses which reflect the most relevant conventions of the International Labour Organisation with respect to labour practices.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Unite Policy Conference 2012

United Left delegates from North East, Yorkshire & Humberside made a significant impact upon the Unite Policy Conference held last week at Brighton.
Conference debated and passed motions on issues such as the economy where there was a call for taking banks into public ownership, housing calling for more council house building to create jobs and ease the housing crisis. Defence and energy proved to be the two liveliest debates with anti-nuclear supporters making the case for non nuclear strategies in both sectors but delegates eventually sided with a policy that supports members working in defence and energy industries but does not ignore the political aspirations of those that wish to see a society free from nuclear weapons and power stations.

Among the United Left delegates to speak at conference were Ged Dempsey, Steve Bush and Charlotte Childs. All made important contributions by either moving motions/ amendments and contributing to the wider debate.
This conference was a successful one that saw Unite evidently becoming a union at ease with itself.
This will leave it in good stead to continue the fight back against austerity and with good United Left activists in the fight the future looks good.

Friday, 8 June 2012

United Left Candidate for Unite Executive By-Election

Unite the Union

Executive Council By-Election

North East, Yorkshire and Humberside Region


Sharon Wadwell                   

Membership Number: 1482299  
Branch: NE302/36 First Leeds
Workplace: First Group Leeds


I work at First Group Leeds as a bus driver and have been a member of Unite for 10years. Since joining I have been involved as an activist working alongside the late Ian McDonald.
I am seeking Branch/Chapel nominations to enable me to stand in this important election.

My experience as an activist includes:
·        Women's rep for 5 years
·        Recently elected as equalities rep for First Leeds
·        Delegate to Passenger Transport National Industrial Sector Committee
·        Delegate to regional LGBT committee
·        Delegate to Unite Equalities Conference 2012
·        Labour Party member

For the last 5 years I have been representing Unite and the LGBT by actively supporting Leeds Pride and this year I will be following in a great mans shoes and taking the place of Ian McDonald by leading the Unite members to make people aware of who we are and why equalities lay at the heart of our union.

I have been selected as the United Left candidate for this election and if elected to the Executive Council I will work with the current regional Executive members and continue the progress made by this region that has brought it to the forefront of the progressive initiatives instigated recently by Unite, including the new Community membership and the launch of the Unite Women’s toolkit.

We must ensure that our union continues to fight against the austerity programme imposed on our class by this out of touch Con-Dem Government:
·       Oppose all cuts at every opportunity
·       Defend pension rights of all workers
·       Ensure that reps have the resources at their disposal to protect members in the workplace
·       Ensure that our education programme is the best and delivers the training our reps deserve
·       Build opposition to attacks on Trade union and employment rights

If you elect me you will be choosing a person who is a committed activist, has a keen sense of accountability and will represent North East, Yorkshire and Humberside region in the interests of members. 

Please nominate and support the United Left candidate
Sharon Wadwell

Friday, 1 June 2012

Unite Bank Holiday Demo Greencore Hull

Unite has called for an emergency demonstration at Greencore Amsterdam Road Hull on Monday 4th June beginning at 12-30pm.
The employer is accused of failing to consult properly over redundancies and offering unfavourable terms and conditions to its existing workforce.
Below is a sample of the newsletter being issued by Unite.
Please send messages of support to the convenor Pete Ford.

The 12 week consultation is less than half way through but management have told us they will start individual consultation on 6th June – this is totally unacceptable when we still have seven weeks left of the consultation.
We believe that attendance should be voluntary, but if you do attend we strongly suggest you should: 
Insist on having a shop steward present

Simply listen to what is said and then seek advice from your union afterwards – do not commit yourself to anything
We believe management are doing this to make you believe there is no alternative to their plans – something they constantly repeat in all their communications - and in fact they’ve told members a lot of things that need to be challenged so we’ll answer some of those points here.
Bank holidays worth more than back pay
Management is saying that if their proposals were accepted, we would get £211 in back pay. However, if we get our bank holidays back and work the two Jubilee holidays we would get double time and a day off on pay for each. This works out at £6.44 x 7.5hrs x 2 (double time) x 2days = bank holidays – no wonder our members want their conditions back!
£193.20 plus 2 days off on full pay. This is just for the two bank holidays
Is there a need for redundancies?
Absolutely not Unite believes that the threat of redundancies is being used as a weapon by management to frighten you into accepting their proposals. The company has made over 60 agency workers permanent in the last 12 months and is has been taking on more agency workers every week, so they can’t argue we’ve got too many workers on site.
And just to stress – We raised this with HR last week, they didn’t deny it so don’t be fooled by threats of losing your job.
It is not legal to make people redundant and replace them with agency workers!
Why hasn’t Unite put forward any new alternatives yet?
That’s easy! Management hasn’t proved to us that there is any financial need to take the drastic action that they’ve proposed. This is why Unite’s financial expert is looking at much more detailed company financial information from Greencore’s finance officer; this will help us to know the truth of what is being said – and put forward alternatives.
This is the whole point of consultation, we must be given time to do a professional job on this.
The truth about the notice boards!
Management says they haven’t banned the Union from using the notice boards -
In a meeting with Unite, Dominic Kerrigan clearly stated that this was a ‘war’, that the company was going to win and that we could not use notice boards or put leaflets on canteen tables. He has since changed his position and said we can use these facilities so long as they are approved by the company for accuracy or tone, but it will be interesting to see whether any of our newsletters do in fact get approved.
And what about the ‘Employee Welfare Officer’?
The company’s attempts to explain this away are frankly laughable and the reasons for creating this position have changed since we first challenged it. Management told us last week that as the role of Convenor was contractual, when Di Mulligan was voted out of office they had to find an alternative position for a limited time until something substantive became available. Now they say it’s
‘to provide union and non-union employees with a mechanism forgaining advice and guidance on employment issues”.
 This is a blatant attempt to undermine union democracy –if the union votes a convenor out of office, for management to give them a job with the same role is a disgrace
And of course it is also a complete breach of all equality requirements – it wasn’t advertised in any way so where’s the fairness?

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Labour NEC Elections

United Left agreed to support the Grassroots Centre Left Alliance slate in the Labour Party National Executive Committee elections.
Labour Party members will soon be getting a postal ballot paper.
Please vote for all 6 candidates on the slate:
Peter Willsman
Kate Osamor
Ken Livingstone
Ann Black
Christine Shawcroft
Darren Williams.

Kate Osamor is a UNITE member and very much a United Left supporter with good left politics.
If you know any councillors please encourage them to vote for Jay Kramer a left councillor from Hastings and like Kate a Unite member and UL supporter.

Forthcoming Events

Executive Council By-election Hustings Meeting

The hustings to select the United Left candidate for the vacant Regional seat on the executive council will take place on Saturday 2nd June at 11-30am. A room has been booked at Leeds TUC, 88 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN.
Each prospective candidate will be allowed 5 minutes to speak followed by questions from the floor.

Next Regional Meeting

The next United Left regional meeting will be held on Saturday 7th July beginning at 12 noon. The venue is Leeds TUC, 88 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN. This meeting will serve as the AGM for 2012 with elections for:
Chair, Regional Coordinator, Treasurer and a Regional United Left coordinating committee to oversee the work of United Left within North East, Yorkshire & Humberside.
Also on the agenda will be a discussion on the Area Activist Committees with a view to rejuvenating them and promoting activity in the community.
Durham Miners Gala
Durham Miners Gala 2012 is being staged on Saturday 14th July.
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey will be attending and the region has organised a function at the Three Tuns in Durham for the Friday night.
Several National Industrial Sectors are meeting in Durham so that delegates can take part in the historic march from the town centre to the parade ground.
North, East Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Committee
Motion to Policy Conference


UNITE The Union demands that trade unions must have their freedoms and rights restored in line with ILO Conventions 86 and 97. These are basic human rights in a civilized democratic society.
Workers need the right to organise in the workplace to secure justice and respect, remedy wrongs and hold employers to account. Above all, workers need to have the ability to bargain for better wages and conditions, and have the right to collectively withdraw their labour in protest.
Before trade unions were fettered by Thatcher’s anti-union laws, which were subsequently endorsed by 13 years of New Labour, collective bargaining covered over 80% of the workforce. Free trade union power ensured that wealth was more fairly distributed and working people not only enjoyed a better share of the nation’s wealth, but also enjoyed enhanced political power too. Indeed in 1979 when Thatcher first came to power it is no coincidence that Britain was the most equal society in Europe with some of the most progressive social policies in the developed world.
Central to this is the issue of facilities time, which is crucial in order for trade unionists to effectively carry out their duties: this is being increasingly attacked. Recent Labour Research Department findings have shown that trade union activists make the best employees and add value to the British economy: in general, trade unions are a force for good in society, promoting justice and equality, promoting social progress, redistributing wealth and achieving gains for working people.
However, thirty years of attacks on trade unions have resulted in less than 30% of the workforce covered by collective bargaining. Weaker trade unions, facing massive legal obstacles to stage legal strike action, are much less effective at regulating wages today. Working people’s share of the nation’s wealth has shrunk as a direct result and over the past few years is now actually falling in real terms.
Meanwhile the wealthy are enjoying a bonanza at our expense. Top directors’ pay is increasing at almost 50% per year and top bankers are again enjoying multi-million pound bonuses. In contrast to 1979, Britain is now by far the most unequal society in Europe and the gap between rich and poor is accelerating at an alarming rate. It is also true that as trade union influence has declined, working people have less political power than before and the political consensus has shifted far to the right.Indeed all three political parties swung behind a neo-liberal agenda.
Strong trade unions with a fighting back agenda can make a difference industrially and politically as UNITE is now demonstrating. We are actively organising the unorganised once more, building power in the workplace and supporting our members to fight for better wages and conditions. We are forging ahead with a bold political strategy to reclaim the Labour Party for working class values.
But our task will be made much easier if we have the freedom to withdraw our labour and the right to regulate wages in the economy once more. We therefore resolve to intensify our campaign to create a new legal framework for trade union freedoms in the interests of civilized society, equality and justice and for the promotion of basic human rights and democracy.