Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council Delegate Meeting MINUTES of Zoom virtual meeting (due to Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings)
Thursday 21st May 2020
Welcome & introductions to delegates & visitors Present Sis Weaver UNISON City, Taylor UNITE CYW (Chair), Milar UCU, Simm PCS DWP, Bro Oakley, Kelleher, Marris UNITE WM6150, Simm PCS Assoc, Grant UCU, Juss GMB apologies Sis Whyte, Ceresa UNISON City, Bro Rahimi Unite Comm, Deacon UNISON City
Minutes of last Delegate Meeting (Feb) agreed & no Matters Arising: POBox use ended saving £350/year will not publish postal address in future due to potential security issues.
EC Report 13th of May 2020, Virtual Zoom meeting & urgent correspondence
- Agreed to hold May delegate meeting by Zoom; June meeting will be the same. Do not publish passwords publicly, send to current delegates and attendees. Additional observers without speaking rights. We will need to agree on the future format of meetings. – nobody in addition to normal delegates requested.
- Delegate meeting will be the opportunity for branches to discuss what they are doing during this pandemic, problems they are experiencing with the government’s advice on going back to work.
- Late lock-down and lack of track and tracing has been the cause of excess deaths in Britain compared to other countries. The working class and in particular black workers have been disproportionately affected. As furlough ends, unemployment will increase.
- Affiliation of GMB X13 branch received – new branch sec, Martin Benham payment by BACS, Treasurer to check payment received. Not yet had promised affiliation from PCS DWP.
- Our Wodenstock event, planned for July this year will be postponed until next year. We need to write to UNITE WM6150 and the council to see if they need the money that they paid to us, returned or kept for next year
- Workers’ Memorial Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5o9DVzZGYBA and May Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdNNJJqRoEQ virtual video events, organised by Wolves TUC were successful with around 150 views on YouTube each. Agreed sponsorship for the printed workers memorial day flyers of £38 did not materialise from Thompsons. Bro Juss will chase up.
- The TUC claims not to have received the TUC JCC nomination for brother Kelleher which was posted along with the trades union councils conference delegate forms. Photocopies of the documents have been re-supplied. Conference and Equality conferences cancelled. TUC Congress September still planned.
- Attention was drawn to the Sheffield needs a pay rise Zoom meeting. A local organiser in conjunction from BFAWU was employed with funds raised locally. We previously agreed to have a speaker for this campaign as a result of discussion of last year’s trades union councils conference. https://www.facebook.com/SheffPayRise/videos/939631916457099/
- Palestine Solidarity via Bro Cardy & Deacon. PSC has defeated the UK Government in the Supreme Court, wiping out regulations that restricted the right of Local Government Pension Funds (LGPS) to take ethical investment decisions, such as to withdraw money from companies complicit in Israel’s grave human rights violations. Local Government Pension members please see link on or website. Sis Simm is now Vice-Chair WM Pensions Fund
- Agreed reaffiliation PSC £25, Campaign for TU Rights £35
- Future speakers agreed hold as separate to delegate meetings to encourage wider participation.:
- Other issues:
- Grace Millar Social Media & the Law;
- David Star, the “Bernie Sanders of wrestling” who has been persecuted trying to organise the professional wrestling industry through Equity it is believed via Bro & Sis Simm. Wrestling still going on in the US unprotected.
- Freedom for Abdulah Ocelan, Kurdish leader jailed in Turkey, supported by most trade unions.
Bilston steel works closure campaign and aftermath – W’ton Uni Phd students, via Grace Millar
4. Reports and discussion, delegate reports:
a. GMB – Bro Juss – Thompsons offices closed, some working from home but many furloughed; plus wage cuts 10-20%. PPE lacking for members in care and teaching assistants. Lockdown affected workers differently.
b. PCS – Sis Simm – time taken for DWP to supply technology for home-working and reasonable adjustments. Some fixed term contracts extended and temporary workers made permanent.
c. UCU – Sis Millar – all universities closed, mass furloughing, courses reduced, redundancies feared, lot of uncertainty.
d. UNISON – Sis Weaver – branch office working from home. Lot of workforce still working or from home UNISON helped set up food distribution from Aldersley; sourced and supplied face mask ppe to workers in council and private care homes, which have been hit badly; ensured social distancing for refuge workers by negotiating separate transport; Risk Assessments for re-opening of markets and schools.
e. UNITE – Sis Taylor EC elections ongoing, ballots out this week. Bro Marris reported on libel case lost by UNITE. Bro Kelleher- UNITE office closed, officers working from home; information re H&S, rights etc under lockdown put up on our website.
f. LP – no meetings, national conference cancelled. Council meetings only started online this week – details on the city council website.
5. TU responses to pandemic and plans for return to work discussion No return to unsafe schools – the government initially wanted schools open after Easter was blocked by trade unions, requesting Risk Assessments and ppe. Still not safe now.
Plan now to open for some year groups, but not full week from 1st June. Some evidence of less drastic effects on children but auto-immune problems (Kawasaki disease) for young people still possible and for spreading. No track and trace in place unions united in opposing early school return. 2m social distancing will be impossible in schools. Deaths still too high. Children will still be carriers of Covid. Need to protect those working in schools as opening will happen, UNISON working on Risk Assessments, though many parents will refuse to send in their children.
Only a third of eligible children expected to attend. Wolverhampton Council seems unlikely to follow the lead of Liverpool, Hartlepool and others and delay opening. Most in Sandwell and Sutton Coldfield will open one or two weeks later than Wolverhampton. Headteachers are vulnerable if a new spike occurs after opening.
Little teaching will happen in most schools – rich and private schools have more access to technology and bigger classrooms allowing social distancing. 15 pupils per class is widely optimistic.
School cleaners vital to operate deep cleans, probably close schools on Wednesdays rather than leaving schools for 72hrs Sat, Sun, Mon. Lack of cleaning supplies for schools. Schools that can afford have increased hours but not all. Future deaths will occur due to cancer screening being abandoned, other hospital treatments reduced; poverty kills and will increase, mental illness, domestic abuse- chaos expected from government. Opening schools is about getting parents back to work. Richer parents are more likely to be able to home educate and less likely to be key-workers. Poor and black people have been affected disproportionately by the pandemic in the UK. No teaching unions present at this meeting – letter by Dudley TUC looked at but dismissed in favour of using info from national websites and support their positions: Agreed risk assessments, social distancing to continue, plans agreed for future opening, ppe for staff, tack and trace system.
Risk Assessments must be agreed, through and, understood by all and stuck to, unlike risk assessments by many employers. Zoom meeting details of schools meeting with Obeida Ahmed to be sent out to the executive.
Bro Kelleher to circulate letter based on no return until unions’ five-point plan is met to Executive to send onto council. Council has already taken the decision, passing buck onto head teachers in academies.
@8pm, 5min break for those wishing to clap for key workers
UK has a lower public spending as percentage of population than even the US.
New Zealand has had a low death rate after closing the country and strict track, trace and isolate policy, public health first early lock-down meant it was not wasted, the economy will follow.
Government announcements during the pandemic have been vague and confusing and many people have used loopholes or misunderstood risk of not social distancing. 2m is a minimum not 100% safe.
any other business – meeting worked well on Zoom. Sis Simm to assist Sis Taylor to chair the next meeting if technology issues are not resolved.