November 2020

Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council Delegate Minutes

Thursday 19th November 2020 Zoom virtual meeting

  1. Welcome & introductions to delegates & visitors

    Present: Sisters Taylor Unite, Welch & Millar UCU Univ, Simm PCS, Whyte UNISON City, Marlyn UNITE Transport; public meeting: Sis. Momenabadi, Morris, Abrahams, Campbell.

    Brothers Grant UCU, Kelleher, Marris, Oakley Unite WM6150, Rahimi Unite Community, Juss GMBx13, Childs CWU, Brackenridge FBU, Simm PCS(Assoc), Vaughan UNISON Staffs, Campbell, Barnsley (speakers)

    Apologies Bro. Deacon UNISON City, Smith RMT, Martin MU

  2. Minutes of last Delegate Meeting (Oct) agreed & Matters Arising – Body worn video – BLM campaign. Written to Simon Foster still to contact union self organised groups, delegates to send details to sec.

  3. EC Report & urgent correspondence:

  1. Freedom for Abdulah Ocelan, Kurdish leader jailed in Turkey – December – NK arranged, CS to send a Zoom link and check for number for participants to join just using a telephone. 21 Jan 2021 AGM – speakers suggested Patrick Vernon, Sky Cops Campaign, Steve Turner, James Bloodworth

  2. Plan for research into Wolverhampton/Bilston/Staffordshire links to slave owners paid state compensation at abolition. RM checked if done already with Patrick Vernon, he said we could cite him in our bid that he was unaware of such research and would welcome it and hoped that it would generate more research around Britain. Some research done into slave trade links GM & BS. GM sought interest from university researchers. £300 TUC Development Grant could be sought – reply from TUC “ using research which is then deployed or presented in community or workplace settings to raise awareness and build an anti-racist alliance or capacity building, certainly would be considered campaign activity. “ Need statement of aims and budget. GM, RM, NK to liaise. Funds could be sought from branches too.

  3. CATUC – NK written to Midlands TUC seeking closure of WMCATUC and giving all TUCs same access to Midlands TUC. {had reply Lee Barron in support but referring to national]

  4. TUC research – Wolverhampton’s social care spending NK written to check source with Midlands TUC; then write to Cnllr Linda Leech Chair of Adults

  5. WM CND re-affiliation agreed £15 inc. donation after vote 10:1

  6. Report from Midlands TUC EC – Black Country Living Museum refused to rent the Cradley Workers’ Institute building (relocated using union donations) for Mary MacArthur lecture

  7. RMT – Avanti West Coast plans to move its Birmingham Customer Resolutions team putting 60 jobs at risk. RMT has launched an online petition

  8. Delegate and branch participation – paper mailings sent out to those without emails (4), also to branch secretaries. EC made contact with delegates missing from zoom meetings.

  9. Save Union Learning Fund – Sstaffs UNISON have encouraged members to contact their MP Gavin Williamson who is responsible. Also branches could seek support from employers as many have already backed campaign. ULF was established by Labour government.

  10. from Secretary’s report – local unemployment claimant count 16,940 up over 7,000 in a year. Write to Ian Brookfield

  11. 2021 branch affiliations report presented on current and missing affiliations. Forms have been sent out to branches by post and/or email; form added to website

  12. Palestine Solidarity Day of Action Sat 28 Nov – social media and virtual lobby Parliament 2 Dec

  13. TUC – The rise of the Far Right: Building a Trade Union response – report launch Online 4 December 11.15am – 12.30pm

  14. info sought on Peoples March for Jobs 1981-3 (Greig Campbell), passed to George Hickman (Sandwell TUC who was organiser)

  15. NK spent £15.60 on stamps

    4) Reports and discussion:

  • FBU Bro Backenridge, Chair of Fire Authority; care callout by firefighters has been withdrawn, some voluntary duties have been undertaken during lockdown; government wants to give control of fire authority and police to mayors – all oppose; austerity has cost firefighters £4k each per year; lack of trust in senior leadership; FBU have launched the FundTheFrontline campaign

  • UCU Sis Welch & Millar – branch meeting online, some face to face meetings still happening at university; Wolves Uni so far had lower Covid transmission levels than other universities

  • UNISON – lot of casework especially H&S

  • UNITE – new regional officer job advertised (£55k/pa)

  • LP – government settlement unknown; future tax rises to cover Covid costs likely

  • Secretary report – circulated – Skycops enquiry, victims’ lawyers refused ability to ask questions. Send links to Sis Welch.

  • Midlands TUC EC report -Black Country Living Museum refused to rent the trade unhion funded Wporkers’ Institute for Mary McArthur lecture – response being considered.

    5. any other business none

    6. at 8pm – public meeting: In the Face of Decline: a critique of institutional labour movement responses to the world steel crisis, 1973-1980 and de-industrialisation in the Black Country with speakers labour historian Dr. Greig Campbell and Paul Barnsley, PCS organiser and PhD student.

    115,000 workers in steel industry when nationalised in 1967. Bilston was profitable when shut in 1980. The ISTC steel “union” was formed in WW1 by the government and failed to protect plants or call national disputes; it had agreed weekend work without member consultation and allowed closures to “protect” others which then also closed; involved in union poaching. Wolverhampton TUC played a role in trying to save Bilston 1973-80, along with Bob Edwards and Dennis Turner, and organised Day of Action in 1978. ISTC locked out manager union from TUC Congress House negotiations who could have explained how new processes could be used in smaller plants like Bilston. WBDTUC went to London and got agreement with Bill Spiers of ISTC for half day strike on day of action. Upon return he reneged, complaining about political extremists and threatened members with expulsion.

    De-industrialisation in the Black Country – 40 years on, consequences more than just jobs after 400 years of industrialisation. Market doesn’t regenerate industry, but produces low pay zones. Poundland distribution on Bilston steelworks site, ground-zero for TU rights; waterfront at Merry Hill. A half-life of what was, exists in living memory. Bilston had low unemployment in 70s but by 80s only Merseyside was worse. GDP no longer evenly distributed around regions. Especially noticeable in US where Biden votes represented 72% of GDP. Put slides on website.

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