STUC Fringe Meeting

PAS STUC Fringe 2015 230215-1 (2)

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Professor Keith Ewing and John Hendy QC discuss the importance of collective bargaining

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Early Day Motion 802 – The Right To Stirke

Please urge your MP to support the EDM 802 Motion on the Right To Strike.

That this House notes that 18th February 2015 is Global Day of Action for the Right to Strike; further notes that the Canadian Supreme Court on 30th  January 2015 handed down a judgment proclaiming that the right to strike was a fundamental right inherent in the fact that freedom of association is guaranteed by the Canadian charter of Rights; observes that in stark contrast the right to strike is not enshrined in UK law; is deeply concerned by the recent report of the European Committee of Social Rights that the UK is not in conformity with the Articles of the European Social Charter 1961 which it has ratified; is appalled at the extent of non-conformity with the Charter in relation to the right to organise, the right to bargain collectively, the right to just conditions of work and the right to a fair remuneration, amongst others; is further concerned that the UK, which was the first country to ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention 87, remains in breach in relation to the absence of the right to strike; condemns Conservative Party proposals to place yet further legal restrictions on industrial action as another move away from internationally-agreed standards; congratulates the Trades Union Congress and the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom on their work to defend and promote trade union rights; and calls on the Government to immediately fulfil its international obligations regarding trade union rights including those under the European Social Charter and ILO Convention 87.

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Finland’s Unions Seek Ban On Zero Hours

41c40740-19b4-4d2b-9772-8ae228c32cdeFinland’s trade unions are vigorously promoting a citizens initiative which would oblige Parliament to debate and adopt a law banning zero-hours contracts.


Young union activists in particular have been the driving force behind Operaatio vakiduuni (Operation steady job), which aims to collect 50,000 voter signatures and, if accepted by Parliament, would compel lawmakers, to start drafting legislation to outlaw the contracts, which have spread to all employment sectors.

In addition to banning contracts with no specified hours, Operation steady job also demands a guaranteed 18 hours of weekly work for part-time workers, improved conditions for workers employed through temp agencies, improved unemployment benefits for part-timers and advance information on working hours in part-time contracts.

Thanks to the IUF.

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NZ: Fast Food Workers Strike Over Theft Of Holidays

WendysWendy’s workers from five restaurants in two cities in New Zealand walked off the job on February 10th over the company’s denial of their right to alternative days off for working on public holidays.

Unite Union has denounced Wendy’s use of scheduling changes immediately before public holidays to evade their legal responsibility to offer a day off in lieu of working the holiday.

The existence of zero hours contracts, which offer no guaranteed hours or shifts, facilitates the abuse.

Two US McDonald’s activists from Los Angeles who travelled to New Zealand to support Unite Union’s campaign against zero hour contracts in the fast food industry joined protesting workers in Auckland. They will also take part in a national fast food workers’ gathering in Auckland on February 14th. The IUF is organizing solidarity rallies through the region.

For the full story click here

Thanks to the IUF.

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US Unions: What Is Right To Work?

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TPP Trade Talks: USW Local 9-508 Gathering Support To Oppose Fast Track Legislation

Local9-508Earlier this month, United Steelworker District 9 Local 9-508 Rapid Response Coordinator Joe Shelley and his team stationed themselves at the plant gate at Kapstone Paper in Charleston, SC to gathering petition signatures urging their Representative to oppose Fast Track legislation.

Fast Track is a legislative procedure that speeds massive trade agreements through the US Congress with limited debate and no amendments.

It also contains no provisions to guard against abuses of workers’ rights, presenting a clear and present danger to not only our members, but every worker in the global economy.

It would provide expedited and preferential treatment for unfair trade policies like those we have seen in the past that have led to stagnating wages and a rise in wealth inequality. We have already seen the effects in policies such as this by the decimation of U.S. manufacturing and an uncontrollable, rising trade deficit.

Click Here to read more on Fast Track and how it could affect you.

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Ascent Of Giants – Report On NAFTA and Corporate Power

imagesThe report “Ascent of Giants” on NAFTA’s impact on corporate power is based on data from Canadian firms and discusses how trade and investment liberalisation enabled corporations to concentrate market power through mergers and acquisitions. Investing in buying other companies diverted resources from productive investment which dragged job growth. Stockpiling cash also increased.

The timing of the study is important given the US current government’s intensive policy of negotiating ever-more intrusive NAFTA-like trade and investment agreements with countries like Japan, the European Union, China and others.

Here are some excerpts:

  •  “Corporate amalgamation fuels asset and profit concentration. In 1950 the largest 60 firms accounted for 29% of total corporate profit, which was little changed in 1993 (30%) on the eve of the NAFTA. Following the agreement Canada witnessed its two largest merger waves and profit concentration doubled, peaking at 58% in 2011. It’s the same story with asset concentration. In the early 1960s the largest 60 firms held 27% of total corporate assets, rising to only 30% in the early 1990s. But by 2010 the largest 60 firms controlled 46% of all corporate assets.
  • “By concentrating corporate assets and centralizing income streams, amalgamation waves have also contributed to the stockpiling of cash on corporate Canada’s balance sheet, which is another key ingredient in the stagnant GDP growth of recent decades… Between the early 1960s and the early 1990s the stockpile of corporate cash averaged 4% of assets but this nearly tripled (to 11%) between 1990 and 2012.
  • “In 1993, on the eve of the NAFTA, the markup was less than 3% but surged to a postwar high of 12% in 2007. The windfall is not being shared equally between the owners of corporate equity and the labourers who help produce it. As corporate power increases, as it did in the decades since 1990, owners tended to win at the expense of workers.

 Ascent of Giants: NAFTA, Corporate Power and the Growing Income Gap is by Jordan Brennan

The report can be downloaded here.

Our thanks go to Gail Cartmail of Unite.

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Mick Connolly Obituary

Mick ConnolleyBy Megan Dobney and Adrian Weir

Mick Connolly’s early life was not calm. He was one of five children (four sons, one daughter) to mother Ellen and father Danny — a Communist Party member.

During the tail-end of the Blitz in 1941, Ellen moved her children to the relative safety of Swindon, where Mick was born in July of that year.

Returning soon to London, Ellen would again move the children to safety, this time to Lancashire, where they saw out the war.

Danny became a university lecturer of politics and economics while Ronnie became a Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) official, and Terry attended Hull University on a T&G bursary.

Patsy however was evacuated to Wales with their nan, where sadly she was killed in a road traffic accident in 1944 aged just 4.

After the war the family would return to their native Wapping.

Mick (pictured) attended Wapping’s St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Primary School — now demolished and redeveloped — after which he followed his father and brothers into employment in the London docks and joined the Communist Party.

Political education started in the home and continued at work and Mick was quickly elected as a T&G shop steward to defend the interests of his co-workers. During this time he was a contemporary of well-known communist dock and river workers such as Jack Dash and Harry Watson.

Mick married Paula in 1962 and they had two sons, Sean and Mark. The family grew, and Mick’s love of his grandchildren was well known in the Southern and Eastern Region TUC (Sertuc) office. Sean and Tricia had Chloe and Sam, and Mark and Tania had Thomas, Joe and Zak.

While a dock worker he benefitted from the structured support for working-class activists (that hardly exists now) to further their education, going to the London School of Economics and graduating in 1966 with a politics and economics degree.

He was then a T&G full-time officer, based in the union’s Stratford district office and working and organising in east London.

The Stratford office became a hub of organising and political mobilisation as Mick was joined by a number of key young left-wing officials, many of whom went on to hold senior office in our movement.

One of these, Barry Camfield, who was later Unite assistant general secretary and is now with the Australian Nurses & Midwives union, said on learning of Mick’s death: “I was 24 when I met Mick and he was head and shoulders above everyone. Confident, strong, principled and so supportive. I thought he would live forever. Very sad. A big part of my life has gone, he was a rock, a mate, a comrade. Makes you more determined to fight for union freedom and socialism.”

Mick was later appointed by Ken Livingstone, leader of the Greater London Council (GLC) as director of the Greater London trade union resource unit (GLTURU).

The unit’s work was wide-ranging and cemented Mick’s reputation as a leader in anti-racist campaigning. While at GLTURU Mick also commissioned work on London’s manufacturing base, questioning the over-reliance on defence industries and the arms trade.

Mick was a great internationalist. He had an enduring affinity with the Spanish republic and unions, particularly the Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO) in Catalunya. He was quick to draw the lessons for London from the experience of economic regeneration enjoyed by Barcelona when the city won the right to stage the 1992 Olympic Games.

Mick of course lost his job when Thatcher abolished the GLC in 1986 and he returned to the role of lay activist. He eventually became vice chair of T&G region 1 (London, South-East & East Anglia) regional committee, one of the key left regions in the union.

London taxi driver, T&G executive council and TUC general council member Peter Hagger, who died too young in 1995, was a close personal and political friend.

During the miners’ strike the T&G established a special unit in the region 1 office staffed by Mick and Peter to track the movement of coal across London and the south-east. It mobilised trade unionists to try to stop the coal getting to power stations. Both Mick and Peter’s powers of persuasion and motivation were legendary.

Barry Camfield recalls a visit to South Africa with Mick in 1989, at the invitation of the South African T&G, a couple of months before Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

They went to a bus depot with South African T&G president Vivian Zungo, who worked at the depot, and union general secretary Jane Barrett.

Vivian and Jane were called inside to deal with a major dispute, leaving Mick and Barry in the car outside. The clouds formed and it began to rain. Mick’s comment on this turn of events: “I don’t know about you, but I didn’t need to fly 6,000 miles to sit in the pissing rain outside a bus garage during a strike. I could have done this anywhere in London.”

In 1993 Mick was appointed Sertuc regional secretary, a post he held until his retirement in 2006.

He made sure that Sertuc led the TUC’s anti-racism campaigning and was instrumental in gathering a popular front of anti-racism organisations under the banner “Unite Against Racism,” following the election of the first ever BNP councillor.

Mick organised the TUC’s Unite Against Racism march where over 40,000 people marched through Tower Hamlets in March 1994. Campaigning continued and the BNP was defeated in May.

In 1997 Sertuc put on an organising conference and Mick invited as keynote speaker the then US Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern.

He was ahead of the game as usual and 350 delegates heard the call to build our unions by recognising the difference between organising and recruitment.

Working with mayor Ken Livingstone, Mick again showed his international credentials by mobilising the unions to support and engage with the European Social Forum held in London in 2004.

Mick strode the Sertuc stage like a colossus. Full-time permanent TUC regional secretaries were a new-ish phenomenon and Mick created and coalesced Sertuc as the TUC’s leading progressive region — always with the breadth of working-class interests at its centre. That meant anti-racism and women’s equality was, and is, at its heart.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes described Sertuc as “the TUC’s broad left.” Mick liked that.

This obituary first appeared in the Morning Star.

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Whatever Happened To Collective Bargaining?

1 TUF_Collective bargaining_28 March 2015 FINAL

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