TUC Midlands Regional Annual Conference 30 March 2019
Delegate: Bob Simm (PCS), Observer: Clare Simm (PCS)
First impressions: this was a busy event with good speakers and positive motions. Of the
speakers we had Cllr Lisa Eldret who is leader of Derby Labour Group talking about
challenges ahead and winning back councils like Derby to the Labour cause, Lee Barron
spoke very much to the same tune as last months WB&D TUC reiterating the work
accomplished in the last year and the hard road ahead, and we had Roy Palmer MEP
speaking about his recent appointment and what he feels are the challenges for MEPs in a
post Referendum world.
The first truly notable speaker was Kyri Ermoyenous; the 14 year old youth ambassador for
the Period Power campaign. She spoke with great confidence about the issues young
women face in getting hold of sanitary products in the place and at the time that they need
them and the logic behind charging VAT on these products. A tax on being female. She also
spoke about campaigns to do with the amount of plastics used in the industry.
Next we had Frances O’Grady who spoke at length about the No Deal Brexit “shit show”
going on in parliament and what it could ultimately mean for hard won workers rights. She
used the struggle of the Unison Homecare workers as an example of the troubles we face. It
slipped my mind to ask her why she was unable to attend our last Trades Council meeting.
There was a very interesting talk from Anthony Hayes about the TUC campaign to reach
young workers in the workplace. He spoke about the importance of emails but also
alternative update methods such as Text Messages and Whatsapp Groups. Young people
are more likely to respond to these than to phonecalls. He also introduced us to
Megaphone.org.uk which is a website and tool for organising campaigns and finding local
campaigns. It started in Australia and has been quite successful.
Finally we had an update from Terry Renshaw of the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign give us an
update and he thanked WB&D TUC personally for our ongoing support.
Next we had the NEC elections where Lee Barron moved to have both Young Members
Candidates elected rather than turn one away and a UCU member from Wolverhampton,
Vera Kelsey, was voted in as a Womens Officer. We spoke to Vera afterwards and she
expressed a wish to make sure her branch is affiliated and would like to be a delegate to
Lastly came the Motions, I won’t go into too much detail as they all passed without
contention and ill supply a photocopies of the motions themselves for people to look
1. Franchising of Crown Post Offices CWU. A motion against the closure and
privatisation of profit making post offices. The effect on local communities. The
motion asks to call a halt to these closures.
2. Trades Union Councils Derbyshire CATUC. Essentially a motion to heavily promote
TUCs, the work they do and affiliations as well as encouraging more involvement
3. Cuts to Fire Service FBU. Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority have authorised the
use of Section 188 notices to cut firefighters in an effort to save costs. Further
condemnation of austerity and its effects on public safety.
4. Universal Credit Centres Strike PCS. A motion to support staff at Wolverhampton and
Walsall UC centres as well as to work with Unite Community to assess the real world
damage caused by UC.
5. Rail Industry RMT. A motion highlighting the dangers of and opposing Driver Only
trains. This is a safety critical issue as well as a workforce issue.
6. Support our Taxi Drivers RMT. A motion supporting the regions Hackney Carriage
Drivers on an array of destructive issues including punitive taxes.
7. NHS Neurodevelopmental Assessments in the Midlands Region, Rugby District TUC.
A motion highlighting the long waiting times for assessments and urging to find if
other NHS trusts are similarly effected.
8. Birmingham City Council, Unison West Midlands. A motion condemning the many
punitive measures taken by BCC against its workforce and residents. The motion asks
for TUC to work with all affiliated unions to coordinate a positive result.
All in all it was a positive experience and a good chance to catch up with comrades from
across the region.
TUC Midland Regional Council 22/09/18
The Chair opened welcoming all to the Midland TUC meeting 2018
The Regional Secretary’s Report was read out first
Kate Tudson – From the Birmingham Unison Branch
Kate expressed her anger regarding the home care workers dispute and how the Birmingham Council managers are treating the workers. She announced [at the TUC meeting] that the home care workers working hours will not be cut, but we now learn that they are trying to go head with the cuts. She knows this will leave the home care workers financially struggling and this is why she has supported them in going on strike.
The second guest speaker: Sue a home care worker
Sue spoke about how difficut it has been for her and other workes and that some are looking towards food banks to make ends meet. She reminded us that the majority of the workers are women, single parents and migrant workers. Sue was very emotional whilst giving her speech. She gave thanks for all the support that has been given so far but the fight still goes on.
The third guest speaker: Young worker in Hospitality
She spoke about being on her feet and not getting a proper break or no break at all. She expressed how people working in hospitality can come under a zero hour contract. She stressed that the hospitality workers are tired of not getting their tips or are not equally shared. Some employers are told the tips are put back into the buisness for training days. She highlighted many big chain resturants are owned by companies based in the USA. She networks with ones through social media where she has the backing and support of hospitality workers. She looks for further support from the TUC.
The fouth guest speaker: Carl Roper TUC National Organiser
Carl opened his speech in saying how all the trade unions are lacking behind. One of the problems that he seeing is that far too much training officers, where we need to train more shop stewards. Carl also said that the trade unions are burying their heads in the sand. From the trade unions membership Carl showed us on the scale chart how the private sector is getting more members than the pubile sector.
Carl is currently working on a Young workers project and he commented on the fact that young workers are not been recruited early on in their careers. To then become members of a trade union. Carl also went on to mention that we need to look more closely at how young people today communite with one another. For instance the usage of social media platorms. Especially if we want to recruit new young members. Carl Roper was a good strong and passionate speaker on this matter.
The fifth Guest speaker: Ravi Subramanian
Ravi began by saying how proud he is of the home care workers and how they should be proud of themselves. He will be continue to keep up the fight with them. We should do our utmost to support them. Ravi moved on to talk about Staffordshire University’s ballots and how UNISON looked at how Andrew Lloyd from PCS national pay ballot, contacted members by telephone. Also having stalls at the university, to make sure that members have received their ballot paper. By doing this, help members to understand the reason for their vote and by doing this shows how effective this was to receiving the numbers needed.
Overall I found this meeting to be encouraging.
Report from Sharon Dixon
AGM report 25 February 2017
The conference opened with a series of excellent guest speakers from Women against State Pension Age Inequality (WASPI), the Derby Teaching Assistants dispute, the Equality and Human Rights Commission dispute, and Jack Dromey MP, Shadow Minister for Labour.
The WASPI speaker drew attention to the detrimental effect on women born in the 1950s of the Tory-Lib Dem government’s method of equalising the pension age for men and women over a very short period and without adequate notice. The aim of the campaign is to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements for all women born in the 1950s who are affected by the changes to the state pension law. Their web site is here http://www.waspi.co.uk/
Derby Teaching Assistants are in dispute with Labour-controlled Derby Council and have taken several periods of strike action over their employer’s proposal to cut their wages by 25% by making their contracts term-time only instead of all year round. You can read more about it here https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2016/12/derby-teaching-assistants-to-take-a-further-six-days-of-strike-action-says-unison/ and here https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2017/03/council-must-use-acas-talks-to-reach-settlement-in-school-staff-strike-says-unison/
The Equality and Human Rights Commission in Birmingham have made 7 PCS members redundant by email, imposing payment in lieu of notice on them and giving them 24 hours’ notice to clear their desks. Six out of the seven are Black or Minority Ethnic, four are disabled and some are leading PCS activists. The Birmingham office of the Equality and Human Rights Commission is being closed at a time when there has been a huge rise in hate crime. More details here http://www.pcs.org.uk/news/support-equality-workers-striking-for-reinstatement-of-sacked-colleagues
Jack Dromey spoke of the importance of the win for Labour in the Stoke by-election at a time when workers’ discontent is being exploited by the extreme right. A well-organised Labour party campaign involving several hundred activists focused on the financial deficit in local hospitals and the threat by the council to close children’s centres but deliberately did not avoid controversial issues such as national defence, the concept of ‘Englishness’ and employers using the availability of migrant labour to undercut wages. He stressed that the Labour party needs to respond to working class grievances in order to become the champion of the working class again.
Resolutions were passed on the promotion of the TUC’s Dying to Work campaign, condemning the refusal of the Home Secretary to set up an inquiry into police actions at Orgreave during the 1984-85 Miners’ strike, the need for fair rates for musicians at TU events, opposition to staffing cuts on the railways and education cuts in schools, the dangers in the NHS Sustainability and Transformation plans (otherwise known as ‘Slash, Trash and Privatise’), campaigning against benefit cuts that have increased the number of people living in poverty and for a minimum wage of at least £10 an hour, supporting investment in transport infrastructure.
The Wolverhampton, Bilston and District motion on Trade Union education was ruled out of order as it had not been through the County Association of Trades Councils and a similar motion from Shropshire and Telford and Staffordshire Trades Council was remitted to the Regional Executive because its stress on classroom-based TU education was seen to be unrealistic in the present climate.
It was a well-attended and well-organised meeting that reminded me that while we can learn a lot by reading about other workers’ struggles, there is no substitute for hearing about the issues first-hand from those involved.
Penny Welch UCU March 2017
21 May 2016, Derby – WB&DTUC delegate’s report
Midlands TUC Regional Council
Less than 40 delegates attended.
USDAW, the shopworkers’ union thanked trade unions for helping their successful campaign to prevent longer opening hours on Sundays. A 31-vote government defeat in parliament was recorded. 2016 is the 125th anniversary of USDAW and there is an exhibition in Dudley Archives currently.
PCS speaker from the Welsh National Museums two and a half year dispute over threatened pay reductions for weekend rates. Average wages of £15,000 yet the director general had a £27,000 taxi bill last year. They were on the third week of indefinite strike and the Welsh government is now involved. Collection was taken and donations from unions encouraged.
Plans for the 2nd July Chainmakers’ festival were announced although no leaflets were available.
Speaker on the EU the TUC European officer segway safe for under EU rules on under Tories or Labour. She blamed Tata for the steel industry and TTIP on the Tories, not Europe.
The new Derby Council Jobs and Fair Employment cabinet member, explained how Derby had adopted the Employment Charter, agreeing to pay the Living Wage and freezing zero hours contract on new recruitment jobs. It’s use had saved the council money. See https://www.tuc.org.uk/about-tuc/regions/derby-city-council-emploment-charter There was a dispute however with Derby’s school support staff over single status.
UNISON put forward a People’s Assembly motion supporting the national demonstration in Birmingham at the Tory conference on the 2nd of October under the banner: Austerity has failed.
The Midlands TUC’s Dying to Work campaign has been adopted as a national TUC campaign and Sandwell was the first local authority to sign up.
A BMA speaker from the Junior Doctors dispute failed to attend.