Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Updates from UCU retired members' branch

1 "Confronting the Climate Crisis" - a conference organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group - Saturday, June 8, 2013 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM at London Metropolitan University.

2 Fire Brigades Union - MARCH TO SAVE BELSIZE FIRE STATION 25 May 11.30am more details -

3 CAMPAIGN TO DEFEND UNIVERSAL PENSIONER BENEFITS SUCH AS THE BUS PASS AND WINTER FUEL ALLOWANCE Sign the National Pensioners Convention petition "Hands off universal pensioner benefits" : London region

4 NUT "March for Education" - June 25th

March to save Kingsland Fire Station
6 A Ralph Steadman Retrospective at London's Cartoon Museum

Assemble Kingsland Fire Station, corner of Kingsland Road and Downham Rd N1
12 noon Saturday 8 June,
marching to Clerkenwell Fire Station and rally at Spa Field.
Supported by London Region FBU, Islington FBU, Hackney FBU, Islington Trades Council and Hackney Trades Council

Monday, 20 May 2013

Defend Jobs Defend Education @ Chesterfield College

70 Jobs under threat.

Lecturers prepare to take action to defend education provision.

Lecturers at Chesterfield College, members of the University & College Union (UCU) are preparing to ballot for possible strike action over the College management’s plans to impose up to 70 compulsory redundancies at the College. This is the third year in a row that lecturers and other staff at the college have faced the threat of redundancy. If the redundancies are pushed through over 100 teaching staff will have lost their jobs at the college over the last three years.
UCU members at the college need your support in this important campaign to defend Further Education in Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.
What you can do:
Sign the petition now! You can do this online by following the link.
Download and circulate a copy of the paper version petition (completed copies can be returned to J Eaden, UCU, Chesterfield College, Infirmary Road, Chesterfield S417NG):
Send a message of support to lecturers at the college: parkersl at
Circulate this email to all your contacts.
For further information / details contact James Eaden jeaden at

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

GMB blog on the Brighton Cityclean dispute

GMB blog on the Brighton Cityclean disputeShare on TwitterShare on Facebook

Posted: 10 May 2013
Brighton and Hove City Council hit the headlines this week after the workforce at their Cityclean department stopped working for 2 days. This action followed the announcement of proposals to make changes to pay and allowances which will see some employees standing to lose up to £4000 a year.
In January 2013 the Council announced that they would seek to introduce a new pay and allowances system for staff. Importantly, they have provided no proper legal rational for doing this, and have refused to say what has changed since 2009 when agreements were made which were certified as legally sound at the time.
The Council’s framework for implementation of the proposals was contained in a pay modernisation paper submitted to the Policy and Resources committee ( ). The document recommended delegating responsibility for the negotiation and implementation to officers rather than elected representatives.
Councillors present voted by a majority to accept the recommendations of the paper, with Green and Conservative Councillors voting in favour and Labour Councillors against. This decision was concerning for a number of reasons. GMB felt it was wrong, as Councillors were not prepared to face the workers they were treating badly and there was also controversy over whether Councillors knew what they were voting for. In the webcast of the meeting ( at 03:10) Green Cllr Shanks states that she would be “concerned that this is not going to hit our lowest paid workers unfairly…that needs to come back again.” This statement would seem to indicate that she thought that the final decision would return to elected Councillors.
This view was substantiated by Green Councillor Alex Phillips (@alexforgoldsmid) who when asked on asked on twitter “Why is Jason (Kitcat) saying that the majority of Green Cllrs supported it?” responded by saying “Because he led them to believe that officers would take their decision to group to be voted on. This was not the case”
Jason Kitcat is convener of the Green Group of Councillors and leader of the City Council. Cllr Phillip’s statement confirms that he misled his own Councillors in advance of the vote. This is not the first time he has faced such allegations. In April Kitcat had to apologise for making misleading statements about the effect of the proposals on staff after being challenged by GMB Branch Secretary Mark Turner. ( ).
After the Pay Modernisation Report was passed Council officers began negotiating with recognised Unions. Councillors were told not to comment on the negotiations, presumably so as not to undermine their officer’s negotiating positions.
During the negotiations the Council issued a press release indicating that the Cityclean Service would operate on Bank Holidays. They also briefed ward Councillors on a planning application to allow this to happen. This is significant, as the effect of doing so means the loss of ‘make up pay’ for employees taking on the additional work and hours after a bank holiday, which is paid if strict conditions are met.  This action highlights a blatant lack of meaningful consultation as it is clear a decision had already been made.
As the negotiations progressed it was clear to see that the Council were not prepared to budge and that little was to change between their initial proposal and what would became their ‘best and final’ offer. A large number of GMB members would still stand to lose up to £4000pa and 260 members at the Council’s Cityclean department were to be particularly badly affected, with an average loss of £2000pa rising to £4000pa for many.
As such GMB launched a campaign to highlight the affect that such substantial cuts would have on members. We launched a petition on our website, that thousands of members of the public have now signed and we made a video of GMB members at Cityclean talking about the implications of the proposed cuts. You can see the video at
On 8th May the Council held a mass meeting with Cityclean staff to brief them on their best and final offer. Staff refused to work for two days, and the value of their work was quickly seen as the City’s streets descended into a rubbish strewn chaos. Staff went back to work on 10th May, on the basis that GMB would conduct an official ballot for industrial action, and formal notice of this ballot will be sent to the Council early next week.
The action taken by the workers, while not endorsed by GMB, brought the matter to a head. The Green Party had held a meeting the previous night were they voted by a large majority to support staff and campaign against any cuts. ( ) A number of Green Councillors also spoke to the workforce and stated that they opposed Kitcat’s proposals and would resign if necessary. The Green MP for Brighton, Caroline Lucas, also visited the workers to express her support, and condemned any measures that would reduce take home pay.
As a result Cllr Kitcat’s Green administration is now acting in direct violation of his Party’s own democratically decided policy and against the position of many of his own Councillors and the Green Party’s only MP. His position has become untenable and as a result of his actions in misleading the public, his own Councillors and our members GMB no longer have trust and confidence in him to continue in his role.
Given the situation the Green Party must act. Whilst support is appreciated, they cannot protest against Kitcat’s actions while still allowing them to happen. We are willing to try to resolve this dispute but the Green Group must play its part too.
It is also important that Labour Councillors stand up and be counted. Whilst it is noted that they voted against the proposals in January, they must now speak out, and also support any measures by Green Councillors who seek to bring the decision back under democratic control.
As for the Conservatives, they shouldn’t get away scott free, but at least we know what to expect with them.
The Cityclean workers have now returned to work, on the basis that GMB holds an official ballot for industrial action. GMB has confirmed that it will do this and notices will be served on the Council early next week. I’m sure there will significant developments in the coming weeks, but in the interim Councillors may wish to consider the case of Aberdeenshire Council. They faced exactly the same dispute in January 2013 and withdrew their proposals when agreement could not be reached. 
Rob Macey is a GMB Senior Organiser for Legal, Political and Campaigns.
You can find updates on the dispute and sign our petition at / twitter @gmbsouthern. You can also follow the workers on twitter on @gmbcityclean

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Uni of York Green Party committee statement on Brighton and Hove Council

Hi all,

The Uni of York Green Party committee just passed the statement below unanimously. Please share widely and use it as a model motion to pass in your local parties. When passed, please send it (and whoever else appears relevant!):

The University of York Green Party joins Brighton Green Party members and Caroline Lucas MP in calling for Brighton and Hove Council to rethink plans to cuts refuse workers’ pay by up to £4000 per year, which could have a disastrous effect on some of the lowest-paid council staff.

While we recognise the difficult situation the minority Green administration is in, faced with huge central government cuts and a harsh Labour/Conservative opposition, cutting the pay of the low-paid is contrary to Green principles and should be avoided by any means possible.

The University of York Green Party fully supports the workers taking action against the proposed pay cuts, and we call on the Green administration to work with the trade unions in Brighton to avoid any regressive measures, and to come up with a progressive pay proposal in line with the party’s principles of social justice, building on the council’s introduction of the Living Wage.

All the best - and get motion-passing/sharing! Feel free to amend the text


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Caroline Lucas: "I plan to join striking City Clean workers and continue to stand up for workplace rights"

Update on Council pay

08 May 2013
Yesterday around 10% of Brighton and Hove council staff received a settlement offer as part of a process designed to ‘modernise’ pay and allowances.
Since the negotiations began, I have made my opposition to any cuts in take home pay very clear.
I am therefore disappointed that, whilst some will gain from this process, a number will face a reduction in the money they have to live off each week.
This is unacceptable. I know from the many constituents who have written to me about this issue that they agree.
So too does the Brighton and Hove Green Party, whose members voted at a meeting last night to  condemn the offer and also expressed dismay that responsibility for the pay negotiations was handed to council officers.
With the support of the local Green Party, I have pledged to campaign against the offer made to workers, in accordance with the local and national party's democratically agreed anti-cuts and anti- austerity policies.
I plan to join striking City Clean workers and continue to stand up for workplace rights – as I promised to do when I was elected and have consistently prioritised in Parliament.