Wolverhampton, Bilston & District
Trades Union Council Secretaryâ€™s 2016 Report of Work &
Plan of Action for 2017
2016, saw another increased affiliation to WB&DTUC, twenty-five branches with 18,216 affiliated members, up 5,000 from previous year: ASLEF 236, Community W'ton Craft, Community Region 4 Associates, CWU W'ton, FBU, GMB X13, Musicians Union, NUT, NASUWT, PCS Midlands Valuation, PCS West Mercia, RMT, UCATT UE191, UCU College, UCU University, UNISON Acute, UNISON W’ton General, UNISON Black Country Health, UNISON West Mids Police staff, UNISON Sandwell General, UNISON University, UNITE Faith Workers, UNITE W6150, UNITE WM6151NULMW, UNITE-CYW. As a trades union council, we meet third Thursdays every month to discuss issues of joint concern to the local labour movement and make democratic decisions to organise events and campaigns which bring the message of trade unionism to the wider public; all welcome Delegate meetings averaged 14.9 attendance, back up to normal levels, after last year‘s blip. We had more speakers which may have helped, but it is our activities and campaigning that have continued to draw in new visitors and delegates. Affiliated branches however continue to elect fewer delegates to us than their allocations. The notable exception is UNISON General branch which has for many years elected new full delegations of 11 almost all of whom have made attendances. 8 sister and 15 brother delegates attended meetings during the year, representing 11 of the 25 affiliated branches; 31 delegates never attended. 28% of attendees were women and there were 28 visiting trade unionists, unemployed or retired. At least 21 of the affiliated branches were involved in our activities this year. The Trades Union Congress sets our
priorities as a
trade union council for 2017 through the Trades Union Councils’ Programme of Work: ● protecting workers’ rights to strike, promoting trade unionism and building union organisation. ● setting out the case for a high investment, high productivity economy with great jobs and skills at its heart. ● making devolution and decentralisation work for people; and reaching out to young workers. ● support and campaigning for the Welfare Charter. ● fighting racism and fascism. The Programme of Work ensures that trades union councils identify the role they can play in TUC campaigns and helps to implement resolutions passed at the 2016 trades union councils conference. Full version can be viewed at: www.wolvestuc.org.uk/index.php/wbdtuc/tuc-programme-of-work
WHAT WE DID January 2016 - Wolves TUC started the year with ASLEF, RMT, UNISON & UNITE members in another Action for Rail event at Wolverhampton Station. As rail fares rose again, we leafleted 1,000 commuters with postcards for their MPs calling for an affordable railway under public ownership. Gill Cox, West Midlands Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament spoke on Why Jeremy Corbyn is right about Trident; his fellow MPs did not agree. The council's Equality Report was released. There are 24,500 working age people with disabilities in Wolverhampton but the council employs only 79. Apart from in schools, less than 100 under 25s are employed by the council. Black workers are twice as likely to be disciplined as white workers, a figure sadly consistent over the last 15 years. TUC Love Unions campaign during Valentine's week - we organised excellent events in Bilston and Wednesfield with flowers given out to 200 people and photos taken of supporters for social media; [photos on this front cover] very effective and will be repeated this year on 11th & 12th February. We received a letter of support and solidarity from Frances O'Grady TUC General Secretary: “....My sincere thanks to you and everyone at Wolverhampton, Bilston & District trades union council for all the brilliant campaigning work you do. You’ve got a great reputation as real organisers and ace campaigners – from anti-fascism/anti-racism to anti-austerity and bringing our railways back under public control. In fact, I mentioned you specifically at the President’s working group in respect of the campaign to protect the right to strike and heart unions week – handing out red carnations was inspired. Needless to say, unions and the working people we represent have been through some tough times and it doesn’t look set to get any easier over the next period. But, as always, ultimately the best possible response we can make to the attacks we face is to get bigger and stronger. If we can spread a little of the spirit and determination Wolves TUC has shown around the movement, I reckon we’ll crack it. All best Frances” 29 Feb 2016
March 2016 - Wolverhampton Federation of Tenants Associations speakers on the Campaign Against the Housing & Planning Bill. The right to buy social housing will use council house sales to fund government to compensate housing associations. Secure tenancies to be reduced to 3/5years then buy or be evicted. Council housing has reduced from 33% to 8%. Labour increased council housing to 46,000 homes – now under 21,000 in Wolverhampton. A motion on the Housing Bill for the Midlands Trades Union Councils conference was agreed at our following meeting. The TUC’s analysis of official figures shows that more than 370,000 West Midlands workers did on average over 8 hours of unpaid overtime a week, worth £6k annually. See www.wolvestuc.org.uk Wolverhampton NASUWT strike victory – teachers won at St Peter’s Collegiate School after the first walkout of six planned oneday strikes; 22-3-16. In a letter to the union, the chair of directors, said: “As a result of ongoing discussions we have now secured funding which enables the school to meet the pay rises and progression payments. It is therefore possible to confirm that all entitlements and back pay will be received in April salaries.” Axeing of parent governers was announced in March by government then scrapped after pressure in September. April - West Midlands Combined Authority report – imposed by Tories, details still unclear. There will be three trade union seats on the WMCA, but no direct link to trades union councils. Also an elected mayor with cabinet from local councils and a reduction in councillors. Ned Williams spoke on the history and fate of the Wolverhampton Workers' Education Association, recently closed in Wolverhampton; Dudley and Walsall WEA also closed. WEA is largest educational charity with 80,000 students, 500 branches and 9,500 courses. Our trades council had supported it locally as far back as 1924 and there was also mention of it in 1914 in the Wolverhampton Worker. TUC analysis shows that since the Tories introduced employment tribunal fees, sex discrimination claims have fallen by a staggering 9 out of 10 in the region; challenges over unfair dismissal were down 70%, race discrimination down 68% & disability discrimination claims down 63% .
Protect our Steel Industry; 23 people (TU & LP) helped collect 800 signatures in Wednesfield. 575 jobs around Wednesfield at risk from steel closures . Made front page of Chronicle and also in Express & Star.
Workers' Memorial Day 28th April. More than 60 people were in attendance and wreaths were laid by WB&DTUC, UCATT West Midlands, UCATT Wolverhampton, UNISON Wolverhampton General, UNISON University, Mayor & Mayoress of Wolverhampton and Thompsons Solicitors. Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living. Wolverhampton’s 26th annual Workers' Memorial Day: Friday 28th April 2017 @12.30pm at the Cenotaph, St Peter's Square Wolverhampton WV1 1TS 1st May 2016 - around 300 came, one of best attendances, over 200 meals served. Frances O’ Grady, TUC General Secretary recorded a May Day video link at our request which we showed. Speakers from Fire Brigades Union, Indian Workers’ Association, Communist Party and PCS. Trademark Blud, Transit Trix breakers, Gary O’Dea and One Love International reggae sound system performed. The event was filmed by Wolverhampton Digital Archive. Save and Support The Pegasus Pub from closure our May Day venue is under threat, though still open. Appeal to Magistrates Court in January 2017, after W'ton Council Licensing Committee revoked its licence - sign the petition here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-and-support-the-pegasuspub-from-closure-and-losing-licence
Wolverhampton May Day Committeeâ€™s
next event: 7pm Monday 1st May 2017 @ Pegasus, Whitmore Reans WV6 0QQ
www.1stmaywolverhampton.org.uk UCU went on strike over a 1% pay offer whilst university chancellors got huge pay rises. 1.1% was later imposed. Nick Matthews, co-operative expert and Morning Star Features writer, spoke on How we lost the Co-op bank and the possibility of regaining it. June 2016 - we received visiting Nicaraguan trade unionists hosted by UNISON: Domingo Perez General Secretary of UNE and Mariana Gaitan FETSALUD health union. Most of Nicaragua's working population of 2.2 million work in the informal sector and trade unions are attempting to organise them. There has been free healthcare and medicines under the Sandinistas. 52% of our council's annual government grant has already been cut since the Tories got in. Secretary made redundant. 1,000 council redundancies were announced over 12 months to June 2017. The annual Trades Union Councils conference was held in Sheffield and attended by our Secretary. In the ballot for the West Midlands Trades Union Councils Joint Consultative Committee rep, Dorothy Heath from Walsall was re-elected with four trades councils voting for her, Bro.Kelleher had three votes and Jason Hill from North Staffs TUC had two votes; same split as last year. EU referendum - 52% in favour of leaving and two thirds voting to leave across Wolverhampton; against the wishes of the main political parties, BBC and the three local MPs. The Midlands TUC also promoted Remain, against several trade union positions and many labour movement activists. We had a stall with WB&DTUC merchandise sold at this year's 12th annual Women Chainmakers' festival in July, organised by Midlands TUC in Cradley High Street. It celebrates the achievements of 800 women chainmakers against the local employers who sought to deny them their rights. The women, led by trade unionist Mary Macarthur, founder of the National Federation of Women Workers, met them with with forceful opposition and won a minimum wage in 1910, following a ten week strike. Women Chainmakers' festival will be on SATURDAY
1st July 2017
11am-5pm, banner procession along Cradley High Street see www.wolvestuc.org.uk volunteers needed to help staff our stall
We held a discussion on the future of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn in July; he was subsequently re-elected leader with an even bigger majority of the membership of the biggest political party in western europe. Still he lacks support from Labour MPs including all those locally. Another Action for Rail Day of action was held in August, a dozen union members from Wolves TUC, ASLEF,UNISON and UNITE handed out 1,000 cards to commuters when the government announced yet another hike in our rail fares. The number of employees in the West Midlands with daily commutes of two hours or more has shot up by a quarter over the past five years, according to new analysis published by the TUC. September - there were tributes from many delegates to the part Ken Purchase had played in people's lives, Wolverhampton and the trade union movement. He was a good working class MP who represented his constituency well. His excellent skills of debate and oration were praised as was his continuous support of WB&DTUC and war opposition. From our March minutes Ken Purchase said: “I advise everyone to buy the Morning Star”. We receive regular reports of the Midlands TUC Pensioners Network; their Attendance Allowance campaign has now been taken up nationally – see www.wolvestuc.org.uk for model letter. Government plans were hidden within documents concerned with altering business rates. Attendance Allowance may become the responsibility of local authorities, using their own criteria as in the case of council tax rebates, changing from a national payment based on need to one based on income. Wolves Pride – several of our delegates took our banner on the march which was well supported despite bad weather. We ran a stall with TUC LGBT material. Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary for refugees launch; 70 present, many from religious groups. There are 790 asylum seekers in Wolverhampton. 10,000 took part in the Midlands TUC’s Austerity has Failed demo at the Tory Conference in Birmingham; our banner was again present.
This year’s demo at the Tory conference in Manchester:
Sunday 1st October 2017
- local transport will be arranged.
October - we discussed Children's Services. The government's plan to water down laws that protect vulnerable children was defeated in the House of Lords after 105,000 signed an online petition. 63,000 people took advice from our webpage on the National Minimum Wage. The National Audit Office reported a substantial increase in employers under-paying in 2015-16. Over the past 12 months, 58,000 workers were recorded as being owed money by their employers, more than doubling those recorded previously - the total debt owed to workers has more than tripled, to over £10m arrears. Since the National Minimum Wage was won by trade union campaigning in 1999, employers have failed to pay a total of £68 million to over 313,000 workers. Non-compliance was a particular concern in the social care sector, where it is estimated 11% of workers do not receive the National Minimum Wage. Meanwhile, workers are forced to wait an average of eight months for the HMRC to resolve their case. National Minimum Wage rate for 25+yrs of £7.20/hr began last April and last October increased to £6.95 for 21-24yrs; £5.30 for 18-20yrs and £4 for 1617yrs with apprentice rate of £3.40. The Living Wage locally is £8.45/hour. Construction companies coughed up an average £65,000 to 771 of the blacklisted workers. Won by their unions UNITE, UCATT and GMB, it represents a huge victory but is still only a fraction of what is really owed in terms of lost wages over decades. Blacklisted, a new film www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRfVcfQWNE4 of the seven year campaign to get some justice for the blacklisted workers through the Blacklist Support Group www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/ set up in the aftermath of the raid on the Consulting Association in 2009. The fight for real justice, to secure employment and unionise the sites is still ongoing. book: https://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/ UNISON threatened a strike of workers who escort transported children but the dispute was settled with a reduction of hours but payment of shift allowance to them and other workers. November - UNISON held an SOS Care day with over 70 letters to councillors completed and a dozen helpers in Queen Square. TUC analysis showed the number of people who work night shifts in the West Midlands increased by 22,000 (9%) between 2011 and 2016 to 267,000. One in eight employees in the region is now regularly doing night work.
Lucas Plan 40th anniversay speaker Paul Quigley detailed the pioneering effort by workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills. They'd lobbied the Sec State Tony Benn in 1974 and at his suggestion drew up the Plan over 18 months. 150 new potential products in medical, transport and alternative energy were put forward, including hybrid vehicles and a vehicle for children with spina bifida; but all were rejected by management. Put forward by lay officials but neither TU leadership or Labour Party fully took to the Plan; yet it was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Industrial Democracy. The company had 13,000 workers at plants in Wolverhampton (now UTC), Coventry and four in Birmingham. Its relevance remains four decades on, for workers to fight job losses by proposing alternative, socially useful applications of their company’s technology and their own skills as Britain's economy remains overdependent on arms production. Tim Martin entertained us at our December meeting and there were tributes to Fidel Castro. The Wolverhampton Worker, monthly newspaper of Wolverhampton Trades and Labour Council (what we used to be called), from 1913-15 was purchased for £150 from a bookshop in Shropshire has been put ONLINE to read at www.wolvestuc.org.uk This new archive provides a unique and interesting portrait of the lives and struggles of working class people in Wolverhampton in the lead up and into the First World War and the fledgling local Labour Party, trade union and housing campaigns and Womens' Labour League. Circulation was 17,000. Still no progress on updating our most recent history but the first 125 year History of Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council is available £1 at our meetings or free to read online: www.wolvestuc.org.uk/index.php/wbdtuc/589-wbdtuc1865-1990 Years 1990-1995 are in Wolverhampton City Archives and annual reports 1996 to present are on our website.
Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council and UNISON have called on Wolverhampton Council to sign up and incorporate the TUC Dying to Work campaign's recommendations into its employment practice to see terminal illness recognised as a ‘protected characteristic’. An employee with a terminal illness would enjoy a ‘protected period’ where they could not be dismissed as a result of their condition. A report is going to Cabinet in January 2017 and so far seems very positive. Birmingham Council has joined Sandwell Council locally already in signing up. More details on www.wolvestuc.org.uk Mike Edwards spoke on the future of TUC Education. The TUC is giving a one off £1.4million payment to top up the short fall this year. In 2017/18 there is no funding at all. This is likely to lead to all Trades Union Studies Units closing in the country. We passed a motion to go to the 2017 Midlands TUC AGM to continue to fund the TUC education programme for the 2017/18 academic year. TUC Trade Union Studies Representatives’ 2017 Programme - sign up now...for April and September 2017 at Shewsbury, Stoke or Wolverhampton (if sufficient numbers) see www.wolvestuc.org.uk Union Reps Stage 1 ten weeks 9am – 4pm on Mondays Health & Safety Stage 1 ten weeks 9am – 4pm on Tuesdays
Wolverhampton TUC facebook page has over 500 fans and our posts were viewed 17,000 times in 2016. Fundraising @ festivals Wolverhampton TUC has sent local volunteer teams to work on the bars at music festivals for the last eighteen years, raising £36,000. Half this money we use for adverts and donations to the Morning Star and the rest for Wolves TUC campaigning. This year there was less work available and a lower than usual £880 was raised by six volunteers at Glastonbury and Tolpuddle festivals. We are recruiting for places at 2017 festivals working with us. Deadline: 20th March - all details on www.wolvestuc.org.uk If you offer to work, you must be available for the whole of the festival and work a shift of about 6 hours per day during the event. Glastonbury 2017 - places for this festival are often very limited and there’s more chance of getting places at other festivals so don't be too disappointed and apply anyway. We go to Glastonbury site by free coach from Birmingham on Tuesday 20th June and return Monday 26th June. Tolpuddle + Latitude festivals are on at the same time and bar volunteers go 13–17 July; we share cars and visit the seaside.
More people viewed our website www.wolvestuc.org.uk with 83,000 page views last year. The most popular pages were: national minimum wage; homepage; Chainmakers' festival, socialist songbook; volunteering at festivals and local unemployment. Our main email base has dropped 4% to 182 local union contacts; we have several other databases of people interested in other activities locally. People sign up directly from our website. Thanks to outgoing officers: President: Marie Taylor (UNITE) Vice-President: Rob Marris (UNITE) Treasurer: John Grant (UCU) Auditor: Adrian Turner (UNISON) And especially to Minutes Secretary, Marion Halfpenny, who has recently moved after so many years of activism locally with the NUT and our trades union council. Nick Kelleher, Secretary WB&DTUC January 2017 Wolverhampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign has again been active. Several film shows were held and a lobby of Parliament and they held discussions with Wolverhampton Council about divestment of the West Midlands Pension Scheme from Israeli investments. 70 of the 150 numbered limited edition, numbered anniversary (40mm) badges remain. To this design of our banner with numbered presentation card @ ÂŁ5 + free Wolves TUC History book see wolvestuc.org.uk or available at delegate meetings or eBay!
EVENTS in 2017 Thursday 19th January 2017 Annual General Meeting WB&DTUC TUC Love Unions week: Saturday 11th February Wednesfield High St stall 10.30am & Sunday 12th February Bilston Market stall 10.30am Thursday 16th February WB&DTUC Delegate meeting 1st week March 2017 Midlands TUC Women at Work Week Saturday March 4th national NHS demo, London Thursday 16th March WB&DTUC Delegate meeting March 18th TUC supported Stand up to Racism march & rally, coaches from the Black Country to London marking UN Anti-Racism Day March 20th deadline for festival applications www.wolvestuc.org.uk Thursday 20th April WB&DTUC Delegate meeting Friday 28th April Workers’ Memorial Day 12.30pm @cenotaph/Workers’ Memorial Day Tree, W’ton. Monday 1st May, 7pm Workers’ Day @ Pegasus WV6 0QQ Thursdays 18th May & 15th June WB&DTUC Delegate meetings Glastonbury bar work volunteers 20-26 June Saturday 1st July Cradley Women Chainmakers’ festival from 11am, Cradley Heath High St Tolpuddle + Latitude festivals bar volunteers 13–17 July Thursday 20th July WB&DTUC Delegate meeting no August WB&DTUC Delegate meeting Sunday 3rd September Burston Strike School Rally, 3 free places are sponsored by Wolves TUC each year Thursday 21st September WB&DTUC Delegate meeting Sunday 1st October demo at the Tory conference Manchester WB&DTUC Delegate meetings: Thursdays 19th October, 16th November & 21st December 2017