Community Issue 24 | Summer 2013
Weaving a future
Community at the heart of efforts to save jobs and an industry
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licence as a direct result of injury, illness or disability;* qq Legal support – advice and representation against prosecution for Road Traffic Offences whilst driving an official vehicle on duty.*
How do I get it? Ask your local Community rep, go to our website and download the form or call the Membership Department on 0800 389 6332. At just 90p per week or £3.90 per month
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Vote ‘FOR’ a strong union Dear member, Events in recent months have provided a powerful reminder of the importance of strong trade unions. The most stark warning of what a world without effective trade unions looks like was found in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where over 1,000 workers were killed when a garment factory building collapsed at the end of April. Trade unions are fundamental to ensuring health and safety at work but, in Bangladesh, unions have been consistently denied access to organise workers in the garment industry, which manufactures clothes bought from UK high streets and supermarkets. Thanks to the efforts of IndustriALL, the global union federation to which Community is affiliated, many major brands have signed up to a legally binding agreement on Fire and Safety, which will also enable access for trade unions. There is no room for complacency when it comes to health and safety, which is why Community members gathered together across the UK on International Workers’ Memorial Day to remember the dead and pledge to fight like hell for the living. Of course, your health and safety at work is not the only thing that we protect – there are your legal rights too. Some of these rights are under attack from the Tory-led government. New fees for employment tribunal claims will mean that it would cost the average employee £1,200, which demonstrates yet again the value of trade union membership. We recognise the need to change to continue to provide the support you expect. As part of this we have revised our rules to enable the union to respond more effectively to the challenges and opportunities that we will face in the future. The changes will also ensure that Community remains a strong, independent union that is close to its members. Your National Executive Council members debated and discussed the proposed changes, which were then unanimously endorsed and therefore I would urge you to vote ‘FOR’ the changes. Visit our website or ask your branch secretary for further information. I hope this edition of Stronger Together will serve to remind you of the value of your Community membership. Please use your vote on the rules, a positive vote will help us to continue campaigning for your industries and to empower working people to create better communities. Yours in Unity General Secretary Michael J. Leahy OBE
stronger together INSIDE … News
Community welcomes Prison Service Union . . . . . . . . . . 4 Award for debtbusting Scottish MP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Community helps to raise thousands for food banks . . . 4 Community’s apprentices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Value for money – your union sub . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Hand-carved plaque unveiled . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
How Community campaigns save jobs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
European rules threat to supported employment . . . . . . Community Work programme success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Time to stop tax dodging worldwide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Community’s role in Doncaster mayor victory . . . . . . . . .
8 8 9 9
Workers’ Memorial Day
Community members join in events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 General Secretary Michael Leahy on the Dhaka clothing factory disaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Take advantage of the opportunities Community can offer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
If you have any comments or suggestions for the next edition please contact the editor on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7420 4000 Stronger Together. Summer 2013 Editorial Office: 67/68 Long Acre, Covent Garden, WC2E 9FA Tel: 020 7420 4000 email: email@example.com Printed by The College Hill Press www.collegehillpress.co.uk
Community Summer 2013
Community welcomes Prison Service Union THE PRISON Service Union has now joined Community. The transfer of engagements was completed on 26 March 2013 following a ballot of PSU members who voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining Community. General Secretary Michael Leahy said: “I am pleased to welcome our newest members of Community and we look forward to supporting them and growing our membership among the custodial and corrections workforce in the UK. “The vital work of prison service members deserves to be supported by strong trade union organisation, which is why we will continue to develop our
new membership, where the PSU had recognition.” Phil Hornsby, PSU section secretary and former General Secretary of the PSU, said: “This momentous change will strengthen and benefit the working lives of all PSU members. “I am personally grateful for the loyalty that PSU members have shown to the union over 25 years and I know they will continue to show the same loyalty to Community.” The Prison Service Section of Community now represents more people in the privatised custodial sector than any other trade union.
Kezia Dugdale MSP (left) and supporters presented a petition for a payday loan taskforce to Cllr Maggie Chapman (centre), Chair of Edinburgh Council’s Petitions Committee, in April
Award for Community’s Debtbusting Scottish MP COMMUNITY MEMBER, Kezia Dugdale, MSP, (right) and her team of volunteers won this year’s Best Practice Award at the Scottish Labour Party Conference for their campaign to assist constituents who were struggling with debt as a result of taking out payday loans. Kezia set up her ‘Debtbusters’ team to highlight the real costs to individuals and families of being lured into taking out such loans, and also to assist families who
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had got into trouble as a result. Receiving the award at conference Kezia said: “The Debtbusters team would like to thank Community for the wonderful support they have provided. “Their backing has allowed us to resource the campaign effectively and take action against predatory payday loan companies in our society. I look forward to continue working with Community as the campaign goes forward and make a difference to peoples’ lives.”
Nigel Perrot, from the Middlesbrough branch of Trussell Teesside, holds a cheque for £100 presented by Employees Charitable Fund Chairman Steve Readman (left). Also pictured are Community Campaign Manager Margaret Wotherspoon and Paul Warren, Multi Union Chairman
Members help to raise thousands for food banks A COMMUNITY initiative has raised thousands of pounds in donations for Middlesbrough’s Trussell Trust Foodbank. Community has approached a number of employers that union works with to enlist their support for the local food bank. Harsco, a steel mill services contractor at SSI UK’s Teesside site, has agreed to subsidise the Foodbank’s transport costs for a whole year. Further donations include: ●● £1,000 from Hargreaves Services, who provide coking coal for SSI’s blast furnace; ●● £400 from local taxi firm Boro Cars which has also collected food; and ●● £100 from the Teesside Employees Charitable Fund. In addition Community members have raised £900 for the Foodbank through sponsorship for taking
part in the Three Peaks Walk which involves conquering Yorkshire’s Three Peaks – Pen-yghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – within just 12 hours. Community is encouraging all its regions to get involved locally with the Trussell Trust, which is the UK’s largest charity involved in foodbank projects. At May’s meeting, Community’s Executive agreed £2,000 of funding for food bank projects in Scunthorpe and Rotherham. Trussell Trust’s Foodbanks provide a minimum of three days’ emergency food and support for people who could go hungry – perhaps because of redundancy or an unexpectedly large fuel bill – throughout the UK. Food banks fed 128,687 people in 2011-12 and the figure is expected to rise to over 230,000 in 2012-13.
COMMUNITY IS all too aware of the challenges of youth unemployment in the UK and has been a long-term supporter of apprenticeships as a valuable route into skilled employment. Community’s partnership with In-Training has resulted in it being one of the first trade unions to offer its own apprenticeships placements. Community’s first two apprentices Charlotte Appleyard and Nicole
Miller are now coming to the end of their first year and are working towards their Level 3 qualifications in Business and Administration. As well as attending events on behalf of the Union, Charlotte and Nicole have even spoken alongside government ministers to highlight the positive effect apprenticeships have on both businesses and the economy. Charlotte said she had
Charlotte Appleyard (left) with Lord Adonis, Minister of State for Education in the last Blair Government, and fellow apprentices Kirsty Downs and Claire Cordon at Unionlearn’s annual apprenticeship conference in March that marked National Apprenticeship Week found the experience of working for Community over the past year valuable: “I have really enjoyed getting hands-on
practical training whilst achieving a qualification. Being given more challenging work as you go along has meant I
can really see how I’m progressing, as well as feeling part of a team and that people can rely on you.”
NEW COMMUNITY PLAQUE UNVEILED AT THE May meeting of Community’s National Executive Council, President Robert Mooney (second left) and General Secretary Michael Leahy (right) unveiled the new Community stone plaque which has been embedded into the wall of the Union’s new facility at Earls Barton. The plaque had been painstakingly carved by hand over many months by the Union’s former Assistant General Secretary Eddie Lynch (left). We would like to thank Eddie for all his hard work and for creating such a magnificent tribute to the Union and our collective future.
Your union: Still Value for money FROM THIS summer it will cost at least £1,200 to pursue a claim of unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal – £250 for lodging the claim and a further £950 if it goes to a hearing. This could put the pursuit of justice at work beyond the reach of many people. But not if they are not a member of Community.
Community is committed to securing justice for our members and so this year’s small change to contribution rates still represents excellent value for money for members’ continued protection at work. New contribution rates (excluding PSU, TNT and LCN) effective from 1 June 2013 are shown on the right.
EARNINGS Per Week (£)
Per Year (£)
CONTRIBUTIONS* Per Week (£)
Per Month (£)
APPRENTICES (1 year only)
*TUA exempt contributions are 20p per week less on grades 1–5. Members who pay by direct debit are encouraged to return P60 copies to ensure that they still qualify for all their Community benefits and services.
Community Summer 2013
Community campaign helps to save 100 Axminster Carpets jobs AFTER WEEKS of high-profile campaigning by Community to save Axminster Carpets, a management-led consortium stepped in to buy the business as a going concern from the administrators in April. The move, which has saved about 100 out of 400 jobs, came after Community had collected thousands of signatures in support of the union’s “Save Axminster Carpets” campaign. The campaign was launched at the Guildhall in Axminster, Devon in February, as soon as the company went into administration owing over £35m to creditors, including its pension fund and HMRC. Hundreds of Community members and local people marched through the streets of Axminster to show their
support, while the online version of the petition won over 1,500 signatures in the first 48 hours alone. Support from all over the UK, Europe, the USA, and even Australia, provided a great morale boost for the workers and their families. Community is now in discussion with the company about the future shape of the business and also taking legal advice to ensure all former employees get their full entitlement to any outstanding payments. Branch Secretary, Derek Branker, said: “We are very pleased to see they will be producing Axminster Carpets in Axminster, and future employment will be kept in this factory. I can’t wait to work for the new company, hand in hand with Community Union.”
Axminster Carpets workers rallied in the town with their families and supporters
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Good news as Brintons invest COMMUNITY HAS welcomed the announcement by Brintons Carpets in April of £3m investment in new technology which will help to safeguard 500 jobs in Kidderminster, Worcestershire and Telford, Shropshire – and, it is hoped, create new job opportunities in the future. The company has developed a new loom which produces highdefinition weave carpets from photos and can feature up to 32 colours instead of the conventional eight. It will enable the Kidderminster-based company to supply the international market, including carpets for prestige buildings such as airports, hotels and convention centres and for cruise liners. Gavin Miller, Campaign Manager for Community, applauded the company’s commitment to investment in the UK. “It’s not looking doom and gloom, it’s looking like there’s some recovery on the horizon,” he said. “We’re not talking years, we’re talking decades, but we need to take positive news and we really need to expand on it. “The industry is growing, the industry has got a voice, it’s all small acorns, but you’ve got to start somewhere. This industry can’t decline any further, let’s get it
Paul Mills: ‘Absolutely delighted’ growing again.” Paul Mills, Community’s branch secretary at Brintons, said he was “absolutely delighted” by the news. “Community has been working with the company for a long time now to raise awareness of the carpet industry’s plight and it’s good to see our campaign rewarded with some new investment and confidence in Kidderminster carpet making.” In 2011 the American private equity giant the Carlyle Group bought out Brintons Carpets which faced debts of £20m. Since then there have been job losses in Kidderminster and Telford but Community has run a vigorous campaign to keep the historic company in its birthplace. This included launching a petition to the government to assist workers in their fight to keep carpet manufacturing in the town.
Community members at Brintons Carpets
COMMUNITY MEMBERS’ WORK IS OSCAR WINNER STAFF AT the Grosvenor Wilton Company provided a red-carpet service for top director Steven Spielberg’s Oscarwinning film Lincoln. The firm, based in Hartlebury, Worcester shire, have made carpet for Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and the National Trust. In 2011 it was approached to supply carpet for Lincoln. Its products had been used for historic carpeting in the Lincoln bedroom in the White
The historically accurate carpet featured in key scenes
House and the film producers wanted their sets to look as authentic as possible. Steven Spielberg himself was insistent that an authentic period design carpet was used in the film , which won an Oscar for its production design and set decoration. The 200 metres of Wilton carpet had to be completed almost 12 months in advance. It goes to show that Community members working at the company have star quality!
Community Summer 2013
New procurement rules could lead to privatisation, not employment for disabled people IN JANUARY 2011 the European Commission committed itself to modernise existing public procurement legislation. The negotiations began in March of this year between the European Parliament, Commission and Council and it is expected that an agreement will be secured before the summer. The proposed changes include the repeal of Article 19 which allows reserved contracts for public work where “most” of the employees are disabled. Community has campaigned for many years for public authorities to make better use of Article 19 to ensure the sustainable future of supported employment businesses, where we represent hundreds of disabled members. It is proposed that Article 19 will be replaced by Article 17, which will mean
reserved contracts can be awarded provided that more than 30% of the employees are disabled or disadvantaged workers. Following consultation, the UK Government has added a new clause to Article 17 which opens up these reserved contracts to Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland, says we need to prevent changes to procurement policy leading to exploitation organisations whose “main aim is the integration of former employees of public authorities into the private sector”. Labour MEP Catherine Stihler believes that this makes “Article 17 a licence to
privatise without procurement”. “It is conceptually flawed and should be abandoned,” she said, going on to argue that it will mean more companies trying to exploit the new rules, without the original intention of supporting disadvantaged or disabled workers. She added that changes should be made to strengthen the community benefits of procurement, not weaken them. “I am a strong proponent of the inclusion of a living wage within public procurement rules. I want to see the living wage extended to those who are working on public sector contracts but are employed in the private sector.” Community will continue to work with Catherine to ensure that the new procurement directive works for Community members not just for private profits.
Partners: (l to r) Bill Higgins, Customer Service Operations Manager from Job Centre Plus; Susan Cassidy, Project Manager from Communitas EU Ltd; John Park from Community; Frank Roy MP; David Neary, Director of Suited and Booted; and Ian Donnachie, Manager of the Alona
Community Work Programme a great success FOLLOWING THE exceptional achievements of Pat McFadden MP and Community’s Work Programme, the Labour MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, Frank Roy, has rolled out the initiative in his constituency with great success. The scheme brings together local employers and social
partners to deliver high quality training, skills development and provide young people with real opportunities for the future. Over 40 firms have signed up to offer placements for the ‘Our Community’ scheme targeted at unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds in the constituency and, so far, all the placements have been taken up.
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Frank Roy said: “This scheme is important because there are a thousand young people who can’t find a job because they have no experience and they can’t get experience because they don’t have a job. “I’m trying to break that cycle by speaking directly to employers and young people”
Community’s Director of Strategy John Park, said: “I am proud for Community to be supporting this Work Programme. “We need to make sure there isn’t another lost generation of young people. Making sure our young people are afforded opportunities in the workplace is vital.”
COMMUNITY ROLE IN MAYORAL VICTORY IN DONCASTER COMMUNITY LABOUR Campaign Network members were out pounding the pavements in Doncaster helping to secure important election victories in the May elections. Labour’s Ros Jones won the race to become
Doncaster’s elected mayor seeing off the incumbent, Peter Davies, who had stood as an independent candidate. The Doncaster campaign saw record numbers of LCN members working alongside local
councillors and Caroline Flint MP. Caroline Flint thanked all campaigners for their hard work and said: “Community has shown it is a 21st century union that is really working for Labour”.
Action on tax dodging long overdue Melanie Ward, head of advocacy for ActionAid UK and Labour Campaign Network member says workers in all countries are suffering from tax dodging
THE TAX dodging of Starbucks, Google and Amazon has angered most of us. These companies milk the system and the poorest are hit hardest, wherever in the world they live. Developing countries lose three times more money to tax havens than they receive in aid every year – money that should be funding schools, hospitals and roads across Africa. Caroline Muchanga lives in Mazabuka, Zambia. She has two daughters and runs a small market stall selling drinks, toiletries and foodstuffs. She works really hard, often putting in 15 hour days. On a good day Caroline earns $4 (about £2.65) but sometimes she does not earn enough to make ends meet. Next to Caroline’s stall is a sugar plantation run by Associated British Foods,
Caroline Muchanga displays a receipt for the market stall tax she has to pay in Nakambala Market, in Mazabuka, Zambia. Zambia Sugar – part of Associated British Foods – has its main base in Mazabuka. “Our profits are never enough,” she says, as she pays a tax levy of 30,000 Kwacha (about £3.65). an enormous global company which owns Silver Spoon sugar. ActionAid has revealed that even though Caroline is one woman struggling to make ends meet and ABF is a giant multina-
tional company, in some years Caroline has paid more tax than ABF. The company has made a profit of $123 million from sugar in Zambia since 2007 but admits to paying “virtually no corporate tax” in the country. Caroline earns £15 a week if she is lucky,
while her children often go to bed hungry. Companies like ABF use tax havens, the life-support systems for tax avoidance. But ordinary people cannot stash their money in a tax-free account in the Caribbean or a phantom company in the Channel Islands. Tough action on tax dodging is long overdue. The government needs to call time on tax havens because when companies do not pay their fair share then the rest of us have to pick up the tab: from Caroline in Mazabuka, to people working hard across the UK.
Community Summer 2013
workers memorial day MARK PINDER/REPORTDIGITAL.CO.UK
Community members at the Workers’ Memorial Stone in Scunthorpe’s Central Park
Community marks Workers’ Memorial Day COMMUNITY MEMBERS and officials took part in events for International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD), 28 April, which fell on a Sunday this year. The Day is both to remember all those who have been killed or injured as a result of their work and to campaign for improved workplace safety. Community members, including National Operations Officer Terry Pye and Health, Safety and Environment Officer Rob Sneddon, attended a memorial service at Scunthorpe’s Baptist Church on 25 April. The event, organised by local councillor and Community works rep at Scunthorpe Plate Mill, Tony
Gosling, featured local school children reading poems written specially for the day (see right). The mayor of North Lincolnshire, Councillor Ivan Glover, presented the children with prizes. Later the congregation was led by a piper to the Workers’ Memorial Stone in Central Park. Thanking all those who took part, Mr Gosling said the day had been “a fitting tribute to those who have laid down their lives whilst at work or as a result of work related illness or injury”. In Edinburgh, Community representatives attended a debate in the Scottish Parliament led by Motherwell and Wishaw MSP
John Pentland on 25 April to mark IWMD. “Historically, health and safety improvements have not come from above. Workers in industries such as steel had to contend with poor safety regimes and fought through their unions to get improvements,” said Mr Pentland. “I look forward to the creation of a steelworkers’ memorial at Ravenscraig to mark the lives and health lost as a result of the steel industry.” Mr Pentland also mounted a week-long exhibition, with support from Community, in the Parliament’s public lobby on the theme “empty shoes” to represent fatalities at work.
Cllr Ian Glover, the Mayor of North Lincolnshire, presented prizes to pupils from local schools who had taken part in a competition to write a poem for the Workers Memorial Day service in Scunthorpe, Winning and highly commended authors read their poems at the service
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A poem for International Workers’ Memorial Day One More Day In The Dragon’s Breath By Samuel Davies, 11, Brigg Primary School Every day I walk into the unbearable heat Of a hell-hole of smoke and fire. Working with sweat dripping from my forehead Like the molten metal out of the huge tubs. Slaving away as ravenous flames lick my suit, The sparks and snakes winding towards me. Slowly tears cascade down my face as I stare at my colleague who has been taken by the choking air that is poisoned by this. Dreaming of escaping the creeping heat Which engulfs me, and then I stare back at the black on Red in front of me. At the end of the day I trudge with a weak step Into the relief of the refreshing air on my face. Happy to be out of the steelworks. Happy to be out of the dragon’s breath.
Remember the dead. Fight like hell for the living Community’s General Secretary Michael Leahy paid tribute to the victims of the Dhaka disaster “Immediately we fell several storeys. I closed my eyes as the entire place was engulfed with dust. A stitching machine fell on my leg. All I could see were dead bodies all around me.” THOSE ARE the words of Shariful, a worker who was pulled from the rubble of a garment factory that collapsed. His story is not one from decades ago but from last month in Dhaka, Bangladesh. More than 1,000 people are now known to have died in the disaster. Structural cracks had appeared in the building earlier in the week but the garment companies, employing around 2,500 workers on the site, had ignored warnings from the local authorities to evacuate. This mass industrial manslaughter made this year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day all the more poignant. The tragedy in Dhaka is directly relevant to us in the UK, not only from a perspective of international solidarity between workers, but also because the clothes made there end up in the stores of a number of well-known brands on our high streets. Our own demand for cheap clothes can have devastating consequences if producing them means workers’ health and safety is forgotten, as was the case in Dhaka. Health and safety is not something that should
ever be forgotten. The consequences of doing so are too serious. This is not just a trade union view, it is one that is shared by many of the companies that we work with, who rightly put the safety of their workforce ahead of any other consideration. This Tory-led government, unfortunately, cannot be accused of a lack of action on health and safety. Their talk of health and safety legislation as ‘red tape’ and the prime minister’s call for ‘less nonsense about health and safety’ has been followed up with 35 per cent cuts to the health and safety executive’s budget and a subsequent reduction in inspections. I have recently written to Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith outlining my concerns regarding this Government’s appalling record on health and safety. What can we do about all this? We can take action both locally and globally. In the UK, we must campaign for a Labour majority to make sure that this is a one-term government. At a global level, you can support the garment workers by joining the online campaign organised by IndustriALL and our sister unions in Bangladesh. As ever, Community members marked Workers’ Memorial Day by remembering the dead and together we must renew our pledge to ‘fight like hell for the living’.
Community Summer 2013
EDUCATION: T HE KEY TO OUR FUT URE Community National Officer Roy Rickhuss urges members to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Union’s education programme
A VITAL PART IN GROWING OUR UNION I FIRMLY believe that education and training play a vital part in growing our Union. As somebody who has personally benefitted from the opportunity to learn and improve through the Union, from my days as a branch rep at Monmore Tubes to my time as a full-time official, I know how important it is that there are training opportunities available to help our members to develop and grow their branches. Community has invested significantly in education and training in recent years. As well as the modernisation and development of our own Education and Training Centre at The Grange in Northamptonshire, we have also increased the number of course places available and introduced new courses to continue the development of our branch representatives.
The Grange – the Union’s own education and training centre in Northamptonshire
Our branch reps are the lifeblood of the union. Without their efforts and sacrifices there would be no union. We know members see them as the face of the union in their workplace and look to them on a daily basis to provide the support at work that they need. That is why we will continue to give our branch reps every help and assistance to provide the first class service that members expect. Feedback from the students throughout the courses has been overwhelmingly
positive, particularly on the quality of the education delivery and the facilities at The Grange. We welcome positive criticism and also try to act on legitimate complaints. For example, we are now providing students with memory sticks containing useful information for further study and support. It is important that education opportunities are available to all our reps. We understand that residential courses can be impractical to attend for some members, so we are constantly investigating innovative ways of delivering our courses and we will make members aware of any new opportunities as they become available. In the meantime, I would urge all branch reps to keep an eye out for details of our courses and I would encourage you to sign up and get involved.
Stage 1 Branch Reps School – 17-21 June (fully booked) and 7-11 October Stage 2 Branch Reps School – 25-29 November Contact your regional office to register your interest