Annual Report of Work 2007-8

Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council

Secretary’s Annual Report of Work 2007-8

The Trades Union Council is an organising body for local union campaigns and the link between trade unions and the communities we are part of.

143 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.

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.

Local trade union branches affiliate to Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council to work with each other 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.
Affiliation details are listed on our website or by contacting WB&DTUC by phone, mail or email.

This report is an analysis of the our work in 2007, another active year for us, with a number of public events and positive media coverage. It uses the annual Programme of Work drawn up by the TUC General Council to provide a framework for our work in 2008 and specifically, what action we will take.

It prioritises 3 broad areas of work: Public Services, Trades Union Council Activity in the Community and Employment Rights;.

Public Services
The Labour government has continued its cuts to the public sector. Its workers’ have once again received real term pay cuts and resentment increases.
Our role is to support action taken by public service unions and to help promote and co-ordinate their actions. We will organise public rallies and petitioning to build support for industrial action as appropriate.  We can also assist in building for national demonstrations and co-ordinating coaches.
-FREE music festival ENTRY for trade unionists-
£16,000 has been raised in the last nine years by voluntary work for our TUC – mainly by non-delegate trade unionists. Funds are split between WB&DTUC and the Morning Star – this doubles our annual affiliation income.  Wolverhampton TUC gets £6.90/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

2008  bar worker volunteers needed for:
   Glastonbury (June)
   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.
01902 450640
 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.

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  holds regular meetings & socials.
£5/£2 to join, details: WB&DTUC  website,    01902 429591

WB&DTUC Activity in the Community

13th annual Wolverhampton May Day Festival, sponsored by FBU & UNISON West Midlands, with anti-fascism Rights theme.  Most agreed it was one of the best May Days ever held, with 250 enjoying the evening. The highlight apart from the usual range of excellent speakers was rant poet Attila the Stockbroker. The £1200 cost was covered by generous union donations.  Over the last decade the event has been built from scratch into a major part of the Wolverhampton calendar. 
action: 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 is on Thursday May 1st ‘08

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.

Schools – WB&DTUC officers are available on request to give talks on trade unionism at schools as part of the citizenship national curriculum

Anti-War and global climate change issue campaigns will be continued to be supported and organised as required.

Employment Rights
Migrant Workers – The Secretary gave input to the Inland Revenue regarding a presentation for migrant workers to be rolled out nationally, providing TUC information about employment rights and H&S info in various languages which they had not included and they seemed very receptive to providing such employment rights. They intend to take to workplaces and community groups.
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 and countering myths.

We have continued to assist the Rahimi Family Must Stay Campaign, to help maintain the profile of this locally based family who organised workers in Iran and face dire consequences if they are deported. They still after 3 years await a decision from the Home Office. Ken Purchase MP has been assisting. The family support and attend many local trade union events.

After last year’s campaign to bring TUC stewards’ and H&S courses back to Wolverhampton after many years absence, they have continued to run.  We help 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. This wasn’t done this year.

 Thanks to the outgoing Officers:

 President          Dave Cole (NUT)
 Vice-President Marie Taylor (CYWU-UNITE)
 Secretary   Nick Kelleher   (UNISON)
 Treasurer    John Grant   (UCU)
 Minutes Secretary Marion Halfpenny (NUT) 
action: after 5 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  to be added to our email contact list and receive all the latest information on local trade union events.

Funding – affiliation is 10pence per member for each affiliated branch, which gives us an income of £1,800 p.a. This is supplemented by £1,700 raised by organising teams of volunteer bar workers at Glastonbury and Leeds music festivals, 
action: to continue our high level of activity, we need to increase fundraising.

We again run the annual council unions’ Xmas party night. UNISON, CYWU, NUT, NASUWT, UNITE & UCATT were involved. We booked a night club and the night went very well with almost 250 attending with a good mixture of people. We raised significant funds.

We received a TUC Development Grant of £250 for the anti-fascist activity around May Day.

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.

Workers’ Memorial Day 28th April almost 40 people attended.
• speakers: Nick Kelleher, Secretary WB&DTUC, Rob Marris, Ken Purchase & Pat McFadden the local Labour MPs.
• wreaths were laid by WB&DTUC, UNISON, TGWU, MPs, CYWU
• Industrial Chaplain Rev. Benson Headley led a service dedicated to those killed at work.
It should be noted that this event should not just be a commemoration but a focus for activity around Health & Safety campaigns.
 We will organise a lunchtime event in Wolverhampton for the 17th year, on Monday 28th April 2008.

Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living!

Tackling Racism
Wolverhampton & Bilston Trades Union Council run an anti-fascist Hope Not Hate election campaign. 37 volunteers distributed 21,000 leaflets in under 3 weeks, using national Searchlight as well as producing our own local anti-BNP leaflets for each ward, calling for voters to come out and vote against the fascists.  The local LP asked us not to leaflet areas where the BNP were expected to get votes – we ignored this, targeting those areas. We got full trade union support for this action which was deemed to be an outdated, failed strategy. Follow up meetings are planned.
 The fascist BNP stood in Wolverhampton Council election in one ward in 2006, coming third with over 26%. In 2007 it was 6 wards, losing all. Their vote dropped to 22% in that ward but got 22% in another – both of these had ex-Tories standing, showing their true colours. Other wards got 18%, 13%, 11% and 6%. They were 3rd or 4th in each ward.
There were no fascist gains in Walsall, Dudley or Sandwell where anti-fascists campaigned heavily – all the votes dropped significantly, as they have in recent local by-elections where we have been out to help leaflet.
WB&DTUC prepared a guide to running an anti-BNP campaign which was distributed to all UNISON branches in the region.
Wolverhampton Together – an initial meeting was held in the summer bringing together a wide range of groups to get involved, organised by Rob Marris MP and the Bishop, though it is yet to get up and running.
action: we will work with the group and call on it to organise letter writing campaigns, publicising/supporting leafleting in Wolverhampton & other by-elections, education event, interview/article e.g. from a Wolves player.
We will run anti-fascist election campaigns as the need arises.
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.
• the Trades Union Councils should continue to co-operate with Searchlight & Black Country Unite Against Fascism campaigns and where possible students’ unions and community groups to increase voter registration.


One of our priorities last year was to address the religification of the event which we established.  Vic Dunthorne anti-fascist veteran of 1936 Battle of Cable Street, and the LGBT Network injected some welcome political reality into last year’s Wolverhampton Holocausts Memorial Day,  (85 attended, WB&DTUC laid a wreath). 

The next event is Sunday 27th January ’08.
Trades Union Council Organisation

The local union branches that affiliated to WB&DTUC last year were:
ASLEF, ASPECT, ATL, Community(Hall Palm), CWU (W’ton), CWU (W.Mids & Worcs), FBU, GMB X13, NASUWT, NUT, UCU City College, UCU University, UNISON General, UNISON Health, UNISON PCT, UNISON University and Unite branches: Amicus 0558,  Amicus 3210M, CYWU, TGWU 5/748, TGWU 5/836, TGWU 5/998,
There are still a few 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. Some Regional Offices pay affiliations on behalf of their branches e.g. Community, TGWU, UCU & UNISON, 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. 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: all the TUC conferences, Shop Stewards Network, Gaza, Ireland, Iran, Cuba, Philippines, EU, migrant workers, LGBT laws and regular workplace, conference and industrial reports.
Many visitors have gone onto become delegates and got new affiliations.
Executive meetings have not been very successful this year and are in need of rejuvenation.  The Executive should meet a week before delegate meeting to make recommendations to delegate meeting, plan work & stuff envelopes, but have often been 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.

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 70 delegates
 Email contacts – 70 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  We average about 30 visitors to the site each day. Updated by Secretary with a volunteer webmaster.

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