Monday, 7 July 2014
11.30am: assemble Victoria Square
11.45am: Protest songs and speeches
2.00pm Music to finish
- Joe Morgan, Regional Secretary GMB
- David Pitt, FBU
Christine Blower, General Secretary NUT
- Chris Baugh - Assistant General Secretary, PCS
- Dave Prentis, General Secretary UNISON
- Peter Clews, UNITE West Midlands, head of Local Government
- Paul Nowak, Assistant General Secretary, TUC
Posted by Rob Johnston at 7/07/2014 08:59:00 am
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
The economy might be growing again, but across the UK real wages are still falling. In the public sector workers across local government, the NHS and the civil service don’t feel they’re about to share in the recovery any time soon, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will tell delegates attending Unite’s annual conference in Liverpool later today (Wednesday).
“Whether they work in town halls, hospitals or central government departments, public servants everywhere are facing a huge squeeze on their incomes. Pay restraint was a bitter pill to swallow during the dark days of recession, but now the economy looks to be back on its feet, public sector workers are understandably angry that their pay continues to be held down.
“Pay rises way below the cost of living, coming hard on the heels of several years of pay freezes, have left family budgets stretched to the limit.
“Now, as economic pressures seem to be lifting, the government is still insisting on keeping public sector workers’ pay down. The recovery remains some way off for our hard-working, dedicated midwives, nurses, teachers, dinner ladies and other public servants. For them several years more of financial worry and frugal living lie ahead.
“Only yesterday, radiographers, hospital porters and cleaners, physiotherapists and other NHS staff joined with their colleagues from hospitals and clinics across England for a lobby in Westminster to remind MPs of the need for fair pay for all health service staff.
“Across the public sector, the impact of austerity continues to make its mark on the public sector workforce. They might be paying the price in their purses and pockets now, but as spending cuts and job losses continue to take their toll, before long it will be our public services and everyone who uses them who will pay the price.
“Plummeting morale will make it harder for the public sector to hold on to and recruit highly skilled staff. And if the public sector becomes a place that no-one wants to work, then we all lose out.
“The anger about unfair pay across the public sector will be on display for everyone to see next Thursday when local government workers across the country hold a one-day strike.
“Many hard-pressed town hall workers will find it hard to lose a day’s pay next week, but they feel that as neither ministers nor the local government employers are listening, they have no other choice.
“Spending cuts and large-scale redundancies have hit libraries, leisure centres and nurseries hard in communities right across Britain. The workers left holding the fort and trying to deliver those services – despite the loss of many of their colleagues – have pretty much had enough.
“Their pay packets have been slashed, and half a million local government workers still earn less than the living wage.
“Refuse collectors, lollipop men and women, parks attendants, skilled technicians – all feel treated with contempt and taken for granted.
“Local authorities say they have no money to pay them more because the Chancellor has cut council budgets to the bone. The government managed to find the cash to give the wealthy a nice tax cut, yet professes not to have the means to give hard-working public servants the pay rise they deserve.
“In towns and cities across England and Wales next Thursday there will be rallies taking place where public sector workers need our support in their campaign for fair pay. Here in the North West, for example, there will be events happening in Liverpool, Chester, Manchester and Preston.
“No matter in which part of the economy employees work, people must be able to earn a fair living. In the autumn we hope that everyone who keeps being told the recovery is happening but can find no evidence of it in their personal lives will join our march and rally in London.
“On 18 October we have one big chance to show the government the strength of our resolve. We’ll have a very simple message – that Britain needs a pay rise. As the economy is recovering once more, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for ordinary people to want their fair share. In the difficult days since the economic crash, they paid the price in their pockets as benefit cuts, unemployment and stagnating pay made life tough for many.
“Now they keep hearing things are on the up, yet for many the recovery is something that can only be happening to someone else. Ordinary people don’t want much – just good jobs with decent wages, affordable homes and decent services in public hands.”
Posted by Rob Johnston at 7/02/2014 10:32:00 am
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
The tenth Women Chainmakers’ Festival took place in Bearmore Park, Cradley Heath on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th June.
The festival kicked off with a musical jamboree on Friday night with music provided by Sandwell Rock School and local artists.
The rain failed to dampen interest in the festival on Saturday as hundreds of people came to look at stalls, listen to speeches and generally have a good family day out. We were honoured by the presence of TUC Regional Chair Eleanor Smith. Speakers included Sylvia Heal the ex Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Parliamentary candidates Stephanie Peacock and Natasha Millward, and Jean Geldart from Hope Not Hate.
Lynn Morris as Mary MacArthur spoke about low pay, long hours and the importance of collective action, principles that are as relevant today as they were in 1910.
After the commemoration at the Chainmakers Monument in the Mary MacArthur Memorial Gardens, there was a banner procession that took place along Cradley Heath High Street to the festival.
Local artists performed in the Left Field Marquee, and we had new attractions including performances from Open Door Theatre and Stourbridge Martial Arts group. Many local organisations and trades took up stalls in the Community Tent which continues to grow each year.
Thanks to all those who played a part in making the festival such a special occasion.
Rob Johnston, Midlands TUC Regional Secretary, said
“The rain may have fallen but this failed to dampen the spirits of festival goers. From the fantastic music provided by the Rock School on the Friday Night to the many exhibitors and performers the two days were a huge success.
The support of the local community has been invaluable in helping to grow the festival, with the support of the Friends Of Chainmakers group in particular contributing to the wide variety of events and activities. The support that Sandwell Council have provided in facilitating the festival is hugely appreciated. And, of course, without the ongoing generosity and commitment of the trade unions in the region there would not be a festival at all. A big thank you to all.
Mary’s message of collective action to secure better pay for working people could not be more apt and it was great to hear Natasha Millward and Stephanie Peacock both speak so powerfully about how the Black Country needs a pay rise. In short, it was a great family day, reflecting on our history but also recognising that the Chainmakers story about better pay is a call we have to fight today”
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
John Edwards Chair West Midlands Fire Authority and Local Councillor
Other Trade Union speakers
Friday, 23 May 2014
As part of the November 2014 TUC Young Workers Month, the TUC will be running its first ever Young Trade Union Leaders Weekend at Ruskin College, Oxford from November 28th to 30th 2014.
The programme is aimed at young activists already in leadership positions at branch, sector, regional or national level within their unions. The aim of the programme is to develop awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by the trade union movement and the skills required to build strong and effective unions
The programme will cover the following key areas;
- The key challenges faced by unions
- Strategies and skills for union revitalisation
- Effective campaigning
The programme will be run by senior TUC staff and will include contributions from senior officers from unions, partner organisations and academics.
The cost of the programme is £180 per person which covers two nights accommodation and meals at Ruskin College. All materials etc. are provided free of charge. This does not include the cost of travel to and from Ruskin College.
Participants will be expected to arrive at Ruskin College in time for the formal opening of the programme at 6.30pn on Friday November 28th and stay until the close of the programme at approximately 3.00pm on Sunday November 30th, 2014.
Nomination for the programme are sought either directly from unions or individuals who meet the criteria above and are able to demonstrate that they have the support of their union at either a national or regional level. Nominees/applicants must qualify as young members under the rules of their union. In cases where the nominees/applicants union does not have a rule defining a young member, then they should be aged 27 and under on November 28th, 2014.
Applications/ nominations should be made using the application form below and should reach the TUC by September 20th, 2014.
Applicant/nominees will be informed if they have been successful in securing a place on the programme shortly after this date.
Places on the programme are limited to 15 participants and priority will be given to activists in leadership positions who have had limited training and other development opportunities.
For further information contact Carl Roper, TUC National Organiser -
Carl and Lauren can also be contacted on 020 7467 1290
Where and When?
Venue and town/city: Ruskin College, Oxford
Posted by Rob Johnston at 5/23/2014 03:00:00 pm
Monday, 19 May 2014
What can the UK learn from China?
A new TUC report The Way of the Dragon: What can the UK learn from the rise of China & East Asia? was recently launched at an event chaired by Linda Yueh, the BBC's Chief Business correspondent. You can now see key points and footage from the event in this storify.
Is our labour market on the up?
Anjum Klair looks at the latest Labour Market Statistics. The unemployment rate is now 6.8% and the level has fallen again to 2.2 million, its lowest since January 2009. Employment levels have also increased and the employment rate is recovering, reaching 73% which is close to pre-recession levels.
But despite this welcome news concerns about under-employment and the rise in self-employment remain. With real pay at best stagnating and still decreasing for many, a full labour market recovery remains a long way off.
The UK coal industry needs a rescue plan
Philip Pearson sets out the alternative to the government's plan for "managed closure" of two of the UK's last coal mines, which will leave only one deep coal mine open. The TUC and NUM are making the economic case for the government to seek EU state aid, which has been provided in other countries as a model to support the coal industry. Early closure of the UK's mines would be bad news for the workforce, local communities and the wider economy as well as making the UK more dependent on imported coal.
What is happening to social mobility in the UK?
The TUC recently launched a new Touchstone Extra Dismantling the Barriers to Social Mobility by Declan Gaffney and Ben Baumberg. The launch event was chaired by Phil Collins from The Times and Alan Milburn, Chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission was the keynote speaker. Panellists included Kay Carberry, TUC Assistant General Secretary, Baroness Claire Tyler, Liberal Democrat peer and Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility and Stephen Timms MP, Shadow Employment Minister. Ben and Declan set out key findings from the report and you can follow the event's discussions in this storify.
Posted by Rob Johnston at 5/19/2014 04:19:00 pm