Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council
Secretary’s Annual Report of Work 2006-7
The Trades Union Council is an organising body for local union campaigns and the link between trade unions and the communities that we are part of.
142 years ago, WB&D TUC was founded, following a period of strife between workers, and employers who had attempted to thwart the organisation of labour. Wolverhampton & Bilston trade unionists continue the fight today, with delegates from the local unions. Concerted action in unity with other workers achieves so much more than can be done in isolation. UNITED WE STAND!
No to Privatisation march Wolverhampton October 2006
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress” – Frederick Douglass
PO Box 2917 Wolverhampton WV2 2YA (01902)686613
WB&D TUC meets . 3rd Thursday of each month .
7.15pm, Civic Centre . Entry through outside car park entrance.
All trade unionists are welcome to attend. 2nd Thursday is Executive.
Trades Union Councils represent an important form of union organisation: local trade union branches acting together in pursuit of a common agenda within the community.
Only through union strength can we win rights at work and deliver a better quality of life for people throughout society.
Trades Union Councils work with trade union branches to build organisation locally, but also take a lead in forging links with other parts of the community and raise the profile of the labour movement generally. Crucial to this is identifying issues on which unions and other organisations share a common agenda – an agenda based on the pursuit of social justice. The capacity for a reinvigorated trades union council to take action and to mobilise workers in support of campaigns is vast.
This report is an analysis of the our work in 2006 and uses the Trade Union Councils’ Joint Consultative Committee’s Annual Programme of Work to provide a framework for our work in 2007 and specifically, action.
2006 has been a very active year for us, have a number of large public events and a lot of positive media coverage.
Defending Local Government Pensions – several hundred strikers from a number of affected unions, attended a rally called by WB&DTUC and addressed by several of our delegates in March. There were 50 picket lines across Wolverhampton.
action: further industrial action is likely as no satisfactory resolution has yet been reached as workers still face cuts to their pension rights. WB&DTUC will need to draw all affected unions together again to maximise impact. Civil Servants are balloting at time of going to press for a strike on 31st January ’07.
Anti-Privatisation – in October, hundreds of lively and loud protesters brought Wolverhampton centre to a halt. We were asked to co-ordinate a march & rally by UNISON. As a Save the NHS demo it did not attract much support but the ability of the trades union council to build wider support by linking the Older Peoples Homes & Danesmore School campaigns, gave it enough impetus to attract very positive coverage on BBC Midlands Today, WM, Wolf, Beacon & Saga Radio, Ex&Star & Morning Star. We received a TUC Development grant and fundraised from unions to offset some of the costs.
11,000 signatures were collected in the UNISON Older Peoples Homes campaign. Councillors took the decision to still close Dale House, but keep Underhill open until at least 2009, with Nelson Mandela House and Merry Hill safe but potentially becoming dementia units in the future. Early in the year a successful campaign was won the keep open the Learning Disability Day Centres, after 5,000 signatures and co-operation between UNISON and carers’ group.
action: we need to continue to encourage all health service branches to affiliate to the Trades Union Council if future activity is to be successful.
action: build links with other organisations campaigning to defend the health service including affiliating to “Keep Our NHS Public”.
12th annual Wolverhampton May Day Festival, sponsored by FBU & UNISON West Midlands, with Employment Rights theme. Coverage on Heart FM. It brought together over 200 activists and local people, another good turnout again on 1st May. Over the last decade the event has been built from scratch into a major part of the Wolverhampton calendar.
action: despite lots of help on the day last year, all the prior organisation was left to just a couple of people. WB&D TUC is part of the W’ton May Day Committee. More help is needed so VOLUNTEER NOW. The WB&D TUC website has a downloadable document written by the Committee, explaining how we run May Day.
This year’s festival will be on Tuesday May 1st 2007.
Employment Rights, Migrant Workers,
Racism & Low Pay
There is considerable overlap between these target areas. Many migrant workers are found in low paid jobs – particularly when they do not speak English. Migrants are always a potential target for xenophobes and racists. Equally it is important to recognise that these problems are not always so interrelated. Not all migrants are low paid and many non-migrant workers are low paid. Similarly many black Britons are subject to racist abuse despite being born in the UK.
action: Trades Union Councils should promote the economic and social case for migrant workers. Without migrant labour many of our public services could not function e.g. health. Migrant workers are helping to grow the economy and are net contributors – to a greater extent on average than non-migrant workers.
Many people arriving in the UK are unaware of their rights, and organisations working with migrant workers have to recognise their specific needs and be able to provide them with sound advice. For trade unions it is also an opportunity to organise and recruit these new entrants to the workforce. Trades Union Councils should support migrant workers in their communities, as well as helping unions to organise migrant workers in the workplace by:
• working with unions to identify workplaces with a migrant workforce.
• working with community groups and unions to ensure that H&S legislation is understood by migrant workers and complied with in their work environment.
• identifying people with language skills who can help talk to migrant workers
• organising advice surgeries for migrant workers.
• use of informal or social events to initially draw in migrant workers
• promoting an awareness of the difference between asylum-seekers & migrant workers.
It is an area of work that we have not done much.
We have continued to assist the Rahimi Family Must Stay Campaign, organising within the trade union movement locally to help this locally based family who organised workers in Iran and face dire consequences if they are deported. We chaired a June public meeting of 40, in Support of Asylum Seekers.
We took part in a successful campaign to bring TUC stewards’ and H&S courses back to Wolverhampton college this autumn after many years absence and have helped promote these courses which have had good uptakes so far.
action: in the next year we need to try to get an input into trade union steward training so that the role and value of Trades Union Councils can be explained.
Workers’ Memorial Day – just under 40 people attended, with wreaths laid by two TGWU branches, CYWU, CWU, UNISON, Midlands TUC, Wolverhampton TUC & MPs. We involved the Black Country Urban Industrial Mission and delegates handed out leaflets to the public. Coverage on WM, Wolf & Beacon Radio. We will organise a lunchtime event in Wolverhampton for the 16th year, on Saturday 28th April 2007.
Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living!
The replacement for the Wolverhampton Race Equality Council is the Race Equality Partnership Wolverhampton. We have been invited to participate.
Holocaust Memorial Day – had a good turnout of over 70 people. WB&DTUC laid a wreath alongside other trade unions. All MPs attended but whole event was dominated by church groups. It certainly lost the anti-fascist theme that we introduced when we established this event before handing it back to the council leader. We are planning to address these issues for Saturday 27th January ’07.
The TUC is committed to tackling racism in all its forms. Trades Union Councils support those communities being targeted and challenge the arguments of racist groups that attempt to intimidate, spread fear and increase racial hatred.
Trades Union Councils should work with trade unions within their region to help challenge racism within the workplace. This could include strategies to reach out to young people, working with groups such as Kick Racism out of Football. Religious leaders should also be asked to provide statements against racism and fascism.
action: create links with ethnic minority self-help groups and Community Cohesion groups to promote equality at work and celebrate diversity
• monitor the media for appearances by fascists and watch out for the circulation of racist propaganda or graffiti.
• Trades Union Councils should co-operate with Unite Against Fascism campaign and where possible students’ unions and community groups to increase voter registration.
• 2007 is the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery in British law.
An anti-BNP leaflet was designed for Wednesfield North Ward council election, calling for voters to come out and vote against the fascists. We mobilised well and leafleted of all the 4800 homes less than six hours. Third highest turnout in any ward, significantly higher than any other ward in the constituency, though considerable BNP vote (3rd place).
We received a TUC Development grant for our work. We will be organising a dayschool in the new year in preparation for the next elections Thursday 3rd May 2007.
Trades Union Council Organisation
The local union branches that affiliated to WB&DTUC last year were:
Amicus-all 3 active branches affiliate), ASLEF, ASPECT, Community (Hall Palm), CWU-1 of 2 branches (main P.O. branch does not ), CYWU (now part of TGWU), FBU, GMB-only 1 branch, members attend from other branches, NASUWT, UCU (formerly NATFHE)-both branches affiliate, NUT, TGWU-just 2 branches, TSSA and UNISON-only 2 of 5 branches.
A total of 13,000 affiliated trade unionists.
There are still a number of local union branches that do not affiliate.
action: increasing our affiliation base is a key to increased activity and effectiveness for our campaigns. The Executive Committee constantly looks at this. Regional Offices pay affiliations on behalf of Community, TGWU and UCU branches, so there should be higher levels of affiliation from these unions. Many local trade union branches have very small branch meetings or seem not to function and some seem insular. WB&DTUC is thus the ideal platform for increasing the capacity for involvement in public work.
Our monthly delegate meetings involve an outside speaker and are open to all trade unionists (but voting by delegates only). This year our meetings heard speakers on: Save British Manufacturing (resolution passed), No 2 ID Cards (resolution passed), Irish hunger strikers, Day Centre Campaign, Education Bill, TUC UnionLearn and regular workplace, conference and industrial reports.
Many visitors have gone onto become delegates and got new affiliations.
Executive meetings, meet a week before delegate meeting to stuff envelopes, make recommendations to delegate meeting & plan work. They are often cancelled if likely to be inquorate.
action: the Executive is a weak side of our activity as there is little successful delegation of organising work, though delegates get involved in campaigning.
About a third of regular delegates are LP activists (not paper members). Rest are non-aligned left plus a communist Secretary (which maybe an excuse for some branches not to affiliate?).
action: branches still need to attract new names to be put forward as delegates. There is still a huge potential for increasing our affiliation base and delegates can assist by contacting unaffiliated branches with which they have dealings.
How we keep in contact
Monthly paper mailing to 80 delegates
Email contacts – 60 contacts on WB&DTUC list approx 10 emails sent per month additional email lists for STW, anti-fascists etc
Group texts to mobiles are used for urgent activity.
For all the latest info on local labour movement events, visit www.wolvestuc.org.uk We have had some problems with viruses this year but average about 25 visitors to the site each day. Updated by Secretary with a volunteer webmaster.
action: after 4 years in existence, we should redesign the website. Trade union branches can submit their forthcoming events and campaigns by email or post for listing on the site.
Email email@example.com to be added to our email contact list and receive all the latest information on local trade union events.
Recruitment – listing of WB&DTUC phone number in Yellow Pages and on publicity and website generates enquiries for joining trade unions. Information of relevant unions is provided by us.
Funding – affiliation is 10pence per member for each affiliated branch, which gives us an income of £1,300 p.a. This is usually supplemented by £2,000 raised by organising teams of volunteer bar workers at music festivals, though last year we did not raise any money due to a lack of Glastonbury and a mix-up over Leeds.
action: to continue our high level of activity, we need to increase fundraising.
We took over the annual council Xmas party night that UNISON has previously organised, with their agreement. For the first time CYWU, NUT, NASUWT, TGWU & UCATT were also involved. We booked a night club and the night went very well with almost 200 attending with a good mixture of people although we only covered our costs in the end and it did not raise significant funds.
TUC conferences – Over the last decade we have sent between 2 and 4 observers to the TUC Equality conferences (Women’s, Black, Disabled, LGBT) each year, probably more than any other TUC in Britain. We also send delegates to Trades Union Councils’ regional and national conferences. It is important that anyone who attends a conference on our behalf, participates fully and provided a report, giving action plan for follow-up work for our TUC as a result of attending.
WB&D TUC & STW held a February protest in response to a call by Military Families Against the War to mark the 100 pointless deaths of British soldiers in the illegal war in Iraq. Coverage on Radio Wolf, Heart FM & Morning Star By the end of the year, there were over 650,000 Iraqi and 3,000 US military deaths.
action: 24 Feb.’07 NO TRIDENT / TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ demo London. CND & STOP the WAR Coalition. We are launching a No to Trident postcard campaign, urging a further £25,000 million not be wasted. It would be better spent on defeating poverty at home and abroad and providing for employment, education and health.
As the Oil Wars continue this last year, 22,000 workers have lost their jobs in the NHS and 2,500 beds were axed. Company directors are paid £205 for every £100 they did six years ago, yet workers average £106 instead. Directors have been securing final salary pensions at 60 with huge bonuses, while slashing benefits for workers. Britain’s manufacturing base continues to decline. Workers jobs such as those at Peugeot are easily being transferred to low wage economies utilising our anti-trade union laws. Public Services are being bled dry by consultants’ fees and the privatised state industries rake it in for shareholders by extracting profit or government subsidies. Academy Schools are being promoted over equality of education.
There’ll be a new Prime Minister this year but if the candidate of the Left, John McDonnell doesn’t win, then expect more of the same disillusionment and apathy for Labour’s voting base.
President Dave Cole (NUT)
Vice-President Marie Taylor (TGWU-CYWU)
Secretary Nick Kelleher (UNISON)
Treasurer John Grant (UCU)
to the outgoing Minutes Secretary Marion Halfpenny (NUT)
Officers: other Executive Committee members:
Satwant Sagoo, Paul Davis & Don Ash (all UNISON)
-FREE music festival ENTRY for trade unionists-
Over £14,000 has been raised in the last eight years by voluntary work for our TUC – mainly by non-delegate trade unionists. Nothing was raised however in 2006, so we need to build up funds again this year. Funds are split between WB&DTUC and the Morning Star – this doubles our annual affiliation income. Wolverhampton TUC gets £6.50/hour for each worker from the Workers’ Beer Company (set up by Wandsworth & Battersea TUC) by sending teams to work on the bars at Glastonbury and other festivals. This has allowed us to increase activity, spending it on increased solidarity to strikers, organising rallies & demos, anti-BNP campaigning, May Day, subsidising coaches to national demos etc
2007 bar worker volunteers needed for:
Leeds (August bank holiday weekend)
plus London festivals,
What do you get? What’s expected of you?
free entry to a festival (worth £100+) no experience needed
free meal & 2 pints each day serving pints 6 hours/day (with breaks)
free festival T-shirt hard work, reliability and a sense of humour
secure camping you’ll also need a tent for weekend festivals
hot showers, flush toilets transport is sorted out between us
subsidised bar, open until you drop! – if you offer to work, you must be available
Wolverhampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign organises regular public meetings, local leafleting and organises transport to national demos.
Always in need of new members.
or c/o WB&DTUC.
The Morning Star is a lone voice for trade unionists, reporting on issues that directly involve our class and our organisations.
Any regular reader of our national press could be excused for believing that the only people living on planet earth are the Royals and celebrities. Media bias begins with the censorship of news that does not appeal to the handful of super-rich individuals and multinational corporations that control the newspaper industry. www.morningstaronline.co.uk
Day in day out, there’s only one daily paper telling real stories of real people. Available at all newsagents on order 60p daily, & now on the shelf at many places. Local Readers & Supporters’ Group 686613
Wolverhampton Cuba Solidarity – the Group held a dayschool, quiz, public meetings and regular planning meetings.
– More events planned for 2007,
£5/£2 to join, details: WB&DTUC website, 01902 429591 firstname.lastname@example.org