July 2020

Minutes Wolverhampton Bilston District Union Council Delegates’ Meeting 16th July 2020 – Zoom online meeting

  1. present Sisters Taylor Unite, Simm PCS, Whyte UNISON City. Brothers Kelleher, Marris, Oakley Unite WM6150, Simm PCS(Assoc), Rahimi Unite Community, Grant UCU, Juss GMBx13, speakers: Simon Cardy (UNISON City), Will Cooling, Rob Miller; apologies Bro Pugh UNISON City Sis Ceresa UNISON City, Millar UCU

  1. Minutes of the June delegate meeting agreed with the correction that Bro Kelleher & Bro Marris attended Des Halestrap’s funeral.

3. EC Report items of note:

  1. follow up on last month’s outcomes of Black Lives Matter discussion – Body Cam use by police – only need to record if (premeditated) force used . Discussion of Surveillance Camera Code of Conduct, individual privacy, BME 4x more likely for stop and search; more research carried out sent out to Executive; problems may arise due to linked with facial recognition software . Invite Simon Foster LP candidate for Police Commissioner to September meeting.

  2. Wodenstock – W’ton council has agreed we keep their donation for use next year

  3. Matchgirls’ Strike 1888 memorial offer to speak at online meeting – invite

  4. Grace Millar Social Media & the Law; Bilston steel works closure campaign and aftermath via Grace Millar – maybe October.

  5. Chainmakers’ virtual festival 198 attended online – slavery statement on our website Bro Juss joined, reported good discussion. Chainmaker slavery statement on www.wolvestuc.org.uk Some black country flags have been taken down.

  6. Townsend Theatre Grunwick dispute play ‘We are the Lions, Mr. Manager! Available for one month ONLY until 6th AUGUST https://youtu.be/emDZYCbX_Eg

  7. Tolpuddle radical Film Festival this weekend details on website.

4. delegate reports:

  1. Unite – general secretary hustings are starting

  2. GMB – general secretary resigned in April new elections due. There are no references in government guidance for restarting work that BME workers are more vulnerable.

  3. PCS – there is a new atmosphere as workers have been designated as key workers. union’s hope there is an increased motivation to fight for the annual pay claim; organising will have to be done online .

  4. UNISON – 2.75% pay offer, recommended to reject. Ballots by email starting next week. Sis Whyte on UNISON black lives matter working group. UNISON general secretary election at the end of this year. So the big three unions are due to change leadership this year.

  5. Labour Party – discussion on NHS funding .

5. speakers:

7-45pm – Unionisation of Professional Wrestling, Will Cooling, (Equality and Diversity officer at Wolverhampton University) and professional Wrestling podcaster addressed the meeting . Wrestling is neither classed as a sport or entertainment and many different companies operate circuits; many wrestlers are independent working internationally. There is little regulation, ramshackle set-ups with few written contracts and superstars work next to hobbyists. It is rife with economic and sexual exploitation. Many wrestlers are expected to do stagehand work. Pro wrestling has recently received many #metoo accusations; including David Star who was leading the unionise campaign and the leadership of Wolverhampton Fight Club Pro; restructures are happening throughout the industry currently.

Many companies do see the need for regulation. Sis Simm, who is also involved in the local wrestling community, has spoken to Equity who seem not to be really enthusiastic about organising in pro wrestling, but focusing on high membership areas such as theatres during this pandemic. Equity has a problem to represent without a critical mass of work workers in such a diverse industry. However a code of conduct has been drawn up and some companies are moving towards unionisation. Equity is the appropriate union as wrestlers are similar to actors. they require loss of earnings to injury and legal help.

Pete Dunne, WWE wrestler from Birmingham first raised the issue with Equity and wrestlers are now accepted in the Equity insurance program to cover loss of work through injury. Eve Wrestling became unionised after one of their part-time wrestlers broke their back and was unable to continue other part-time work.

Wrestling venues are licensed similarly to boxing, Licensing Act 2003. It is possible that pressure from councils to increase safety standards can be applied.

Both Sis. Simm and Will Cooling have spoken on the issue with the media; some coverage by the BBC but Express and Star seems not to wish to take up the issue due to the legal consequences of the #metoo allegations; Daily Mirror has covered. Some of the biggest wrestling companies are anti-union and are linked to big business, the Trump family and also Saudi Arabian royal family.

These campaigns are in the infancy but our Trades Union Council can raise the issues with the Midlands TUC and with other trade union councils .

8pm Simon Cardy from Wolverhampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign addressed the meeting. The Israeli government has made its intentions clear to unilaterally annex large swathes of the illegally occupied West Bank, declaring the territory an integral part of Israel proper. Annexation, illegal under international law, is the forcible and unilateral acquisition of territory over which it has no recognised sovereignty and to make it an integral part of the state – in this case, Israel. He explained that the Israeli annexation of Palestinian land seems to be on hold, due to discussions and the Covid-19. Expectations are that it will still happen in the future. On 4th of July there was a national protest which Wolverhampton members took part in, social distanced outside; went well and there was much discussion with the public. Also the campaign through the local Government Pension Scheme membership to divest £139million from companies that the West Midlands Pension Scheme invest in; highlighting booking.com, Expedia, and General Mills, all companies linked with illegally annexed land. It has had some engagement with the help of Pensions Committee Vice-Chair Cnllr Sis. Simm. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is requesting further correspondence to the chair, councillor Jaspal. Brother Simm explained that some Israeli groups are also opposing annexation. Threats of sanctions on Israel are now being raised more widely .

8.15pm Rob Miller the director of Cuba Solidarity Campaign joined the meeting. Cuba pre Revolution was a gangster racist state, since Cuba has suffered the longest non-wartime blockade.

Cuba has a different approach to Western societies; 30% of GDP spent on health (UK only 13%), the highest number of doctors per patient 9 per 1000, compared to UK 3 per 1000. Cuba so far only had 87 deaths in the 11 million population from Covid-19; they had early lockdown and used masks. Door to door health visitors allowed full track and trace and higher recovery rates. There are 30 medical brigades from Cuba in 28 countries currently including Italy, Andorra and French and British overseas territories. In the last 60 years Cuba has responded to international disasters e.g. in the Kashmir earthquake 70% of medical treatments were done by Cubans; during the 2015 Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organisation asked Cuba for help. Chernobyl children and their descendants are still being given treatment and holidays in Cuba after 30 years; 4 million eyesights have been restored in Latin America. Yet the US has stopped international aid in transit to Cuba; British banks have been fined by the US for Cuba links included in the Royal Bank of Scotland £200 million; Cuba Solidarity’s bank account was closed down by the Co-op; eBay threatened closure of accounts for things as small as a 99p bracelet from Cuba; the Open University turned down a Cuban student because he was Cuban, which was discovered after a trade union campaign. The Cuba Solidarity Campaign has raised £30,000 online for Cuba recently.

Cuban Americans in Florida (a key state), dictate central policy. The US makes outrageous claims over Cuba including their international medical mission is human trafficking of doctors; pre-revolutionary descendants in America expect the return of nationalised property especially the Bacardi family even though Cubans have already compensated for nationalisation.

Some countries and companies ignore the blockade: Virgin does, British Airways doesn’t; Mercedes and Peugeot operate in Cuba; Marriott Hotels have been forced to pull out by the US. Under Obama fines were paid by 49 companies including $9 billion by a French bank for relations with Cuba.

Many British trade unions send regular delegations to Cuba and have very supportive outcomes . Cuba is an independent nation trying its best 70 miles away from a superpower which slanders and blockades. Latest United Nations annual vote was 191-3 against the blockade.

6. any other business

  1. Sister Whyte reported Stand Up To Racism walk in the Black Country 28th of August.

  2. send Sis. Dixon a get well card

  3. Will Cooling – deadline for virtual Wolverhampton Black History Month is 10th August – re our Sept meeting + article re web-cam campaign.

  4. a vote decided not to hold a meeting in August; the next meeting is September.

  5. Delegates encouraged to join the national trades union councils’ meeting (being held in replacement of the conference) online on the 28th of July – details sent out

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