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Wolverhampton, Bilston & District

Trades Union Council organising since 1865

Secretary’s 2019 Report of Work &

Plan of Action for 2020

www.wolvestuc.org.uk info@wolvestuc.org.uk Wolverhampton TUC

07538 045 376


Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council meets on the third Thursday of the month at the very accessible UNITE office in Wolverhampton to hear speakers, 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 - our meetings are open to visitors. Ours and other local labour movement events are posted on www.wolvestuc.org.uk We are very grateful to UNITE for generously allowing us to use their office. Please ask your branch to affiliate and to elect delegates this year, promote our meetings to other trades unionists, or better still bring someone along. If you've been a delegate this year then please consider helping out on the Executive Committee which meets Wednesday the week before the delegate meeting to plan events. Trades union councils play a vital role in the union movement, providing a real link to our local communities, taking the trade union message out onto the streets and bringing the voice of trade unionism into our towns and cities. We link trade unionists from a wide range of unions and deliver a strong message of solidarity whenever it’s needed. Trades union councils stand up for trade union rights, strong workplace organisation and the achievement of good wages and conditions through collective bargaining. Many workers, especially young workers, are not represented by trade unions and some have little awareness of the difference we can make. We can help to bring trade unionism to the unorganised and combat exploitative practices like zero hours contracts, bogus self-employment, and unsafe working conditions. We are the voice of trade unionism locally, standing up against austerity, campaigning against cuts in public services and fighting to defend our NHS. We join with others in the fight for action against climate change, for a just transition to a greener future so that no workers are left behind. We are a powerful voice for equality and against racism and fascism and the politics of hate. Instead we bring a positive message of hope, that a better, fairer world is possible. Last year, only 12 union branches affiliated, covering 11,043 local trade unionists: ASLEF, Community W'ton Craft, CWU, Musicians Union, NEU, RMT, PCS (Associate members), PCS (B'ham DSS), UCU (University), UNISON Wolverhampton City, UNITE WM6150, UNITE WM7085 (W'ton Homes). Disappointingly, 8 previously-affiliated branches did not do so in 2019, although 4 of them did contribute and took part in campaigns. Our main email base increased to 193 local union contacts; we have several other databases of people interested in other activities locally. People sign up directly from our website. GDPR Privacy Policy at www.wolvestuc.org.uk/index.php/wbdtuc/908-privacy-policy Wolverhampton TUC facebook page up to 568 followers, with a 12,000 reach of our posts. Fewer people viewed our website www.wolvestuc.org.uk last year, with a drop to 7,000 page views by people in the UK. Attendance at delegate meetings averaged 16.4, down on last year but still one of our highest. 28% of attendees were women, slightly up. Our activities and campaigning have continued to draw in new visitors and delegates.


What we did in 2019 & our 2020 Plan Jan 2019 - we showed The Plan film, which our trades council helped to fund, of the 1976 Lucas Aerospace shop stewards' innovative designs for future non-military production. Feb - Tinplate Workers’ plaque. Graham Dodd branch secretary of Wolverhampton Craft branch of Community union - the successor branch of the Tinplate workers - and Council Leader Roger Lawrence, Labour councillors, the 3 Wolverhampton MPs plus delegates from Wolverhampton, Bilston and District TUC, took part in a rededication ceremony to unveil the plaque in its new prominent position in the ground floor canteen of the Civic Centre. Speaker from Police Spies Out of Lives campaign - tens of thousands of trade unionists and MPs’ offices and 18 Family Justice campaigns have been spied on. We bought 30 second-hand copies of Undercover- true story of Britain's secret police, and gave them out to delegates and visitors. Public enquiry expected until 2024, 12 civil cases by women ongoing, only one with legal aid. Our resultant motion was then passed at Midlands TUC and at the Midlands Trades Council conference. New website launched www.spycops.co.uk

#heartunions weekend - even more successful this year, involving 15 delegates and supporters from UNITE, Unison, CWU, PCS, MU, GMB, FBU, UCU and Students Union in Bilston & Wednesfield, along with music from Tim Martin. We spoke to over 300 people and gave out trade union recruitment info, details of our TUC and a Valentine’s flower. See www.wolvestuc.org.uk for pictures. Sat 8th Feb 2020 11am-1pm Wednesfield market Sun 9th Feb 2020 11am-1pm Bilston market Fri 14th Feb 2020 11am-1pm Wolverhampton We will again hand out free flowers while having union conversations. We plan to make videos of public comments and feelings about unions. March – Wolverhampton and Walsall PCS workers took two days of strike action over Universal Credit. Lee Barron, Secretary, Midlands TUC presented TUC Silver Badges for trades union council long service to our President Marie Taylor and Vice-President Rob Marris. Engraved tankards were also given to both.


April - Dr Francisco Dominguez, National Secretary for Venezuela Solidarity Campaign gave a report of the gains of the Bolivarian revolution and current US backed attempts to overthrow the elected socialist government. Britain has seized £1billion of Venezuelan gold reserves. Delegates voted to re-affiliate to VSC. UNITE demo in Swindon for Honda workers, attended by our delegates. The planned closure would cost 3,500 jobs in a town smaller than Wolverhampton. Workers' Memorial Day - 70 people attended; speakers from UNISON on Mental Health, UNITE and GMB on dangerous substances. Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living.

2020 Wolverhampton Workers' Memorial Day: 12.30pm Tuesday 28th April @ Cenotaph, St Peter's Sq. Wolverhampton WV1 1TS

1st May - Wolverhampton May Day Committee’s festival was the 25th anniversary; 300 attended, a good mix of trades unionists and local people from Whitmore Reans, a very successful night. Over 250 free meals were served courtesy of the Indian Workers’ Association. Main acts were Attila the Stockbroker & Reckless bboy crew. Local Labour councillor Lynne Moran addressed the gathering. In the council election the next day, her percentage of the vote increased. We had a number of new signups and understand that the union stalls present recruited several new members. UNITE, UNISON, PCS & UCU members helped hand-deliver leaflets to 5,000 local homes. 2,000 more flyers went out in the labour movement. It was listed on several websites and social media, with a Facebook reach of 4,700. If your branch or local campaign group would like a free stall this year please contact us. Next event:

7pm Friday 1st May 2020 @Pegasus pub, Whitmore Reans WV6 0QQ www.1stmaywolverhampton.org.uk


May – Labour retained all but one seat in local elections, with Bushbury North lost by just 8 votes. Ian Brookfield elected as new Council Leader. WB&DTUC activists Sis. Simm and Coogan both won their seats. The council now has 50 Labour and 10 Tory. PCS members in the Universal Credit Service Centres in Wolverhampton and Walsall again took two days of strike action in their campaign for more staff and improved working conditions. June - Sis.Dixon UNISON City delegate, was awarded Chief Constable’s Good Citizens Award for saving the life of a stranger who fell in the canal. Victory for UNISON's 280 Home Care Enablement workers, who had been in dispute with Birmingham City Council, taking strike action over 17 months. They will keep their original jobs! Sandwell College sacked UCU branch secretary Dave Muritu for gross misconduct after he wrote on a poster promoting the controversial Prevent programme. UCU believed such a heavy-handed and disproportionate response from the college to be down to trade union activities. Bro.Muritu accepted a financial settlement after a failed vote for strike action at the college and now works as a TU Regional Officer. July - We sent a team of four to Topluddle festival to work on the bar for the Workers’ Beer Company again this year to raise £700 funds for our campaigning.

Fundraising @ music festivals Wolverhampton TUC has sent local volunteer teams to work on the bars at music festivals since 1999, raising £39,000; our main source of campaigning income. Half this money we use for adverts and donations to the Morning Star. What is expected of you? serving pints, usually 6 hours

What you get?

toilets; tips are shared communally

We are recruiting for places working with us at 2020 festivals. Deadline: 18th March 2020 - all details on www.wolvestuc.org.uk


Midlands TUC Women Chainmakers’ festival - a dozen of our delegates was at the biggest annual celebration of women's history in Britain, celebrating a ten-week strike by 800 women chainmakers led by trade unionist Mary Macarthur, founder of the National Federation of Women Workers, to win a minimum wage in 1910. WB&DTUC again ran a stall, selling badges, books and strawberries and cream; we took part in the march and distributed Wodenstock flyers.

Women Chainmakers' festival 2020 on SATURDAY 4th July from 11am, Mary Macarthur Gardens, Cradley High Street stalls, music & entertainment, re-enactments and union banner procession; see www.wolvestuc.org.uk Volunteers needed to help staff our stall.

Wodenstock 2019 on Sunday 14 July - Wednesfield TU music event. Estimated 700 attended over the afternoon. From feedback we received, it was very successful with a diverse range of local people attending and performing. Local sponsoring unions provided all the volunteers who organised the event and 16 stewards on the day. FBU, PCS, UNISON, UNITE, GMB, Wolverhampton TUC had stalls. The Fire Brigade brought a fire appliance and showed children around it. The gurdwara gave out samosas and tea. Wednesfield Community Centre sold refreshments. Wednesfield Historic Society, St John’s Ambulance and six local charity/voluntary groups had stalls to raise their own funds. There was a varied range of music to suit all tastes, a mix of folk, blues, reggae, ska, punk, pop and indie. Financially supported by local councillors to whom we are very grateful; local businesses took part - a doughnut van and bouncy castles which helped subsidise the event. Market traders gave out flyers. The free Circus Skills area was very popular with both kids and adults from the many positive social media posts. We part crowd-funded this new event, but most money came from unions and the council. Local homes were leafleted, an after-party held in a local pub and a lot of social media coverage. Wodenstock 2020? tbc Sunday 19th July


Oct - HS2 union busting - UNITE speaker explained HS2 has dismally failed to uphold its 2015 framework agreement with the trade unions, and has given Costain and Skanska free reign to undertake union busting activities. Framework Agreements are normal in big construction projects and all (sub-)contractors must comply. The UNITE campaign is against contractors who have ongoing blacklisting cases against them - not against the building of HS2 itself. Excessive executive pay yet some workers are having to pay umbrella companies to cash their pay cheques. TU site access being denied. Demo held in Birmingham in October, more to follow. Nov – speaker was Shrewsbury 24 campaigner, Eileen Turnbill. Established in 2006, the Campaign seeks to uncover evidence hidden by Tory & Labour governments. The only national strike of UCATT, T&G and FTAT was in 1972, when over 300 building workers were dying on site each year. On 6 Sept 200 pickets were at 7 North Wales sites, accompanied by 80 police. On the day, the police praised the pickets’ behaviour. On 16 Sept ‘72 the strike ended, with agreement on pay but not on H&S or the ‘lump’. Only in Feb ‘73 were the Shrewsbury 24 arrested, 6 of them later being imprisoned. After 46 years, the first victory: in Nov 2018 the CCRC conceded at court and in April 2019 agreed to re-examine the cases. Funds are still needed and we continue to support the campaign. www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk TUC Trade Union Studies 2020 - sign up now .....for January, April and September at Shrewsbury & Stoke (and 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


December - General Election 2019 discussion Wolverhampton TUC The Tory “Get Brexit Done” slogan was key to result, even Tories post-election are claiming this. Brexit main issue, LP had no clear or valid position. Corbyn took blame. No obvious new leader - they will need to withstand media onslaught. Many members, MPs and trade unions opposed Brexit and had little respect for referendum. LP front bench support for Remain gave mixed message to the respect Brexit position. Tories held onto votes, LP lost to LD, Brexit and SNP who had clearer Brexit positions. Labour needs to develop a post-Brexit plan - quickly. Corbyn effect? - five years of relentless attacks by press and some Labour MPs, spread by social media. One of our delegates has received anti-Semitic comments locally. Corbyn remained calm – much criticism was shallow and unsubstantiated. Support for LP in South East & London and among those aged under 45. Johnson – a UK clone of Trump. Attacks on LP by Tom Watson, West Bromwich East ex-Labour Deputy leader and Dudley North ex-Labour MP Ian Austin who called for a Tory vote and others, was unprecedented and turned off the electorate – low turnout in many Labour areas. LP’s MP defectors all lost their seats. All parties continued with the much-disliked practice of parachuting in outsiders as candidates. Momentum has no links to local trade unions in Wolverhampton and Bilston. 2019 - A third of voters voted for Labour's radical anti-austerity policies. Total Labour vote relatively high still at 10.3m. In 2017 with similar manifesto, same leaders; but respecting Brexit vote, Labour got 12.9m votes. 2010-19: under Tories, inequality of income reduced while inequality of wealth increased greatly, unemployment reduced, mortgages are cheap: austerity has not affected all working class; average annual wage £22,000 in W.Mids yet more food banks and homelessness. A delegate who works in northern ex-mining communities said they had seemed to have no hope for the future. 9 years of austerity has knocked the stuffing out of people. The demand for respect for the referendum result trumped social and economic needs. Wolverhampton SE just 53% voted (almost lowest in country); 68% had voted Leave. 1,200 Labour majority. The anti-Corbyn, pro-Remain MP lost 27% of votes from 2017 when Labour won by 8,500. Wolverhampton NE also a low 55% voter turnout; 68% had voted Leave. 4,100 Tory majority over the anti-Corbyn, pro-Remain MP who lost 29% of votes from 2017 when Labour won by 4,600. Wolverhampton SW 68% turnout (slightly above UK average); 54% had voted Leave. 1,700 Tory majority over the pro-Corbyn MP who lost 13% of votes from 2017 when Labour won by 2,200. The now-Tory MP was a director of several companies which went bust. The world can be a better place . We need to fight on - collectively. Trades union council work is part of this.


Our priorities as a trade union council for 2020 will stem from the TUC Campaign Plan and

Trades Union Councils’ Programme of Work

Trades Councils are encouraged to: Work with unions, the TUC and the Campaign for Better Transport to support campaigns for re-regulation and re-nationalisation of buses and all public transport systems and operations. Maintain opposition to the introduction of driver-only trains. www.bettertransport.org.uk Work with unions in the cultural economy and the TUC to support campaigns to recognise the value of the cultural economy; raise standard for workers in the cultural sector; and support union growth and organising. Work with education unions and the TUC to support campaigns against cuts in special educational needs provision. Support delivery of Unions into Schools; note the TUC supporting materials www.unionsintoschools.org.uk Work with local public service campaign groups to oppose cuts in local government services. Since 2010 non ring-fenced funding has been cut by 86 per cent (£27.6bn), resulting in cuts to essential social care and mental health provision and closures of vital community assets such as libraries, domestic violence services and children’s and community centres. Work with unions and the TUC to support campaigns against the roll out of Universal Credit. Support provision of union training programmes on Greening the Workplace and tackling climate change. Wolves council have set a zero emissions target for 2028. Continue to support union efforts to secure a properly resourced and effective health and safety regulatory regime, including building design and control, fire safety and workplace health and safety. Support campaigns to improve the direct involvement of residents and tenant in local regeneration programmes, including working with unions and the TUC to lobby local authorities and regeneration bodies; and campaigns for high quality social housing development. Continue to support local union campaigns and workers taking industrial action.


WASPI woman, 65 and still waiting for your Bus Pass? In most of England, entitlement to a bus pass rises with State Pension Age, 66 . West Midlands Combined Authority has introduced a Women's Concessionary Pass, available now to women born between 6th March and 5th November 1954 who live in Wolverhampton. It provides free bus and tram travel after 9.30am Monday to Friday and anytime weekends. Apply for your pass 0345 303 6760 or www.networkwestmidlands.com/tickets-andpasses/older-persons-pass/womensconcessionary-travel-scheme-west-midlands/

Celebrate the Bus! Between Saturdays 28th March and 4th April 2020, Midlands TUC Pensioners’ Network, supported by UNITE the union, will be off on its third annual bus tour. The campaign’s aims: Protect pensioners’ and disabled people’s bus pass Invest and Expand Bus Services Defend the workforce We need partners to identify local issues, build local support and get media coverage.

Join Wolverhampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign 01902 450640 or wolvespsc@gmail.com or Facebook Palestine Solidarity Campaign Wolverhampton 2020 was a very active year with public meetings, film shows, a successful annual garden party and protests outside branches of HSBC which has investment in arms companies linked to Israel. The UK government continues to export arms to Israel, the highest total for a decade last year. We know there’s a real need for change in Britain’s world of work. 3.7 million people are in insecure jobs, including zero hours contracts that leave them not knowing how much work they’ll have from one week to the next. Two million people are missing out on holiday pay. And wages are still below their pre-crisis peak. We know what the solutions are too. A ban on exploitive zero hours contracts, with payments for cancelled shifts; workers’ rights from day one on the job; more investment in enforcement; and better rights for trade unions to negotiate the pay and conditions workers deserve.

Thanks to outgoing officers: President (Chair) Marie Taylor UNITE-CYW, Vice-President Rob Marris UNITE WM/6150, Treasurer John Grant UCU, Asst Sec. Bob Simm PCS. Executive members: Paulette Whyte UNISON City and Grace Millar UCU University. Fraternally, Nick Kelleher, (UNITE WM/6150) Secretary WB&DTUC, January 2020


EVENTS in 2020 see www.wolvestuc.org.uk Thurs 16 January 2020, 7pm Annual General Meeting WB&DTUC TUC Unions week: Sat 8 February, 11am - 1pm Wednesfield High St Sun 9 February, 11am - 1pm Bilston Market stall Fri 14 February, 11am - 1pm Wolverhampton (venue tbc) Thurs 20 February, 7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

First week of March 2020, Midlands TUC Women at Work Week

Thurs 19 March, 7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

Fri 20 March deadline for festival applications www.wolvestuc.org.uk

Thurs 16 April,

7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

Tues 28 April, 12:30pm Workers’ Memorial Day by cenotaph, St Peter’s Square, Wolverhampton WV1 1TS

Fri 1 May, 7 - 11pm Workers’ Day, Pegasus Pub, Craddock St. WV6 0QQ Thurs 21 May,

7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

Thurs 18 June,

7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

Sat 4 July, from 11am Women Chainmakers’ Festival at High Street, Cradley Heath B64

Thurs 16 July,

7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

Sun 19 July from 2pm Wodenstock - trade unions in the community festival Wednesfield Amphitheatre tbc There is no August Delegate meeting of WB&DTUC Sun 6 September, Burston School, strike rally, 3 free places sponsored by WB&DTUC each year; contact us

Thurs 17 September, 7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

Thurs 15 October,

7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

Thurs 19 November, 7:15pm

WB&DTUC Delegate meeting

Thurs 17 December 2020, 7:15pm WB&DTUC Delegate meeting All WB&DTUC meetings are held at the UNITE office, Victoria Square WV1 1LD (next to Sainsbury’s Local)

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Wolverhampton & Bilston TUC 2020 Plan & 2019 Report of Work  

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