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The magazine for GMB members

Nexus www.gmb.org.uk | Spring 2013

Seeing Red

GMB shows racism the red card!

IairNof W ap Gltiacksetts o See page 23

! t l u s e R Hundreds enrol on GMB training course

Does your boss keep you hanging on the line? See p14


Read

s u x Ne online

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In this issue...

John Phillips etary GMB regional secr

How the coalition betrayed GMB members at Remploy Page 29

GMB wins a living wage for Barking and Dagenham members Page 16

Regional

National

4 Struggle for safety

9 Make a difference

GMB protests at Carillion death hearing

Help the Labour Party win the next election

5 Top training

11 Paul Kenny speaks

Welsh Water staff learn new skills

A word from your general secretary

6 Meat feat

12 Blacklisting

Slaughterhouse workers flock to GMB

How GMB is beating the illegal blacklist

8 Mike Payne

14 Zero hours contracts

Our regional political officer speaks up

Paul Routledge on the pitfalls of ZHCs

25 Marching on

16 A living wage

Bristol members protest NHS pay cuts

26 Welfare wreckers

How the Tories are attacking vital benefits

28 Discrimination – off! Wales shows racism the red card

29 Remploy’s rage

Disabled workers fight back against cuts

30 Testing his mettle GMB’s hearing loss victory for welder

31 Contact GMB

Names and numbers you can call on

GMB regional editor Carole Whyman: 02920 491 260 Editorial director Stephen Pierce Editor Matt Robinson Art editor Johnny Goddard Contributors Emma Johnston, Jayne Nelson Advertising manager Steve Hulbert Account managers David Parker, Lisa Dunham Production and procurement manager Matt Eglinton Production co-ordinator Katty Skardon Creative director Matthew Williams Art director Stuart Hobs Director, Future Plus UK Jayne Caple Printed at St Ives Direct

GMB is winning fair pay for members in councils across the UK

18 GMB@WORK

How to pay your GMB subs by Direct Debit

20 British Gas offer

Recommend a friend for free insulation and get a £50 voucher with this exclusive offer

23 Win Glasto tickets

Your chance to win tickets to Glastonbury

24 Save a life today

Register as a blood or bone marrow donor and become a life-saver

Produced by Future Plus, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2BW

We are committed to only using magazine paper which is derived from well managed, certified forestry and chlorine-free manufacture. Future Publishing and its paper suppliers have been independently certified in accordance with the rules of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

Would you like to advertise in GMB Nexus magazine? Please contact Steve Hulbert on 01225 442 244 (ex 5205) Accepting of advertising and inserts and does not imply GMB endorsement of the product or services. Remember that GMB recommends all services and offers should always be used to test the cost against other commercial companies. Members are advised to secure at least two quotes on all commercial transactions.

We’re seeing ‘us and them’ society Regrettably, as the clocks struck 12 to usher in 2013, it was to become clear that the coalition government would mark its mid-term point by taking its policy position to new, unrivalled heights. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are about to experience the most extensive class-driven attack on the social security system since the days of the depression in the 1930s. As the government’s discredited austerity measures continue to fail, workers, the workless, the poorest, disabled and women in particular are being deprived of financial help because of the failure of the system to produce an economy which develops employment and well-paid work. The Chancellor talks disparagingly about the culture of the ‘skiver’, while continuing to plummet the economy into a double-dip recession and create an ‘us and them’ style of society. The social and economic environment within the region shows little, if any, sign of improvement, and GMB continues to commit fully to campaigning for more jobs and opportunities for our members. We retain support for, and a close working relationship with, regional government in Wales, and continue to be active in all the key social and economic forums within the new region. I am pleased to record that membership growth is a consistent feature despite a continuing contraction in the manufacturing base and budget-driven reductions in employment levels within the public sector. The region persists in investing in new resources, and I am delighted to refer colleagues to the recently-opened Redruth office in Cornwall. Communications and contact with members is absolutely crucial to the role and function of the GMB, and we continue to strive to make our union more accessible. As always, may I pay due tribute to the sterling efforts of our workplace and branch activists in recruiting and representing members in these very challenging times.

www.gmb.org.uk 03


l a n o i g e r

UPDATE

G MB m o r f s w e n All the

Grim reaper n o i l l i r a C t a s call

r a e h h deat W

orkers employed by Carillion who were blacklisted after raising safety concerns have protested outside a court in re whe the firm is being prosecuted

Swansea after a site death. was killed In 2008, scaffolder Russell Samuel nsea. Swa in ent lopm while working on a deve ey Ltd Febr Ltd, ction stru Con llion This year, Cari ged char and director Michael Febrey were (Design under breaches of the Construction and 7 200 ons ulati & Management) Reg 37 of the breaches under Sections 2, 3 and . 1974 Act k Wor at ty Safe and lth Hea ips led GMB regional organiser Althea Phill ic trag the ing light a demonstration high 04 www.gmb.org.uk

consequences of breaches of heal in the construction industry. GMB national officer Justin Bowden light said, “This demonstration is to high the in y injur and h the terrible toll of deat the e erlin und to and or construction sect th heal of ent rcem enfo the of ce importan ” age. carn and safety laws to prevent this that learn to king Althea said, “ It was shoc l odia cust a face not d coul Michael Febrey seat when his in d rme squi ey Febr Mr .” sentence that “there the judge pronounced that he felt court.” this ss acro ing is a smokescreen waft d, ence sent been yet not Mr Febrey has plete com uce prod to d as he faile documentation of his finances.

Grim track record

The tragic death of Russell Samuel is one of many issues for which GMB is taking Carillion to task. The company has a shocking track record when it comes to employees’ terms and conditions, and GMB is already involved in longrunning disputes with Carillion over bullying, bribery and illegal blacklisting all over the UK. For more information see the feature on page 12.

Simon Chapman/Craig Jones

fety GMB members hold health and saaring protest outside Carillion court he th and safety


regional

SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk GRIM TRUTH Blacklisted workers fight back.

injured rkk?/ at wo b.org.u m www.g atwork injured

water way

o learn t GMB training project makes

HEAD OF THE CLASS Members have already enrolled for the next level of training.

a splash at Welsh Water

ing GMB@work

in the snow Despite attacks on public services, where would the country be without our dedicated members working night and day in adverse weather conditions to keep us moving? Pictured are members of the GMB Rhondda Cynon Taff branch on Maerdy Mountain.

A record-breaking number of GMB members have enrolled to take training courses at Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru. Thanks to the hard work of regional committee member Mike Wilson (who won a prestigious Wales TUC Learning Representitive of the Year Award 2012), GMB members are gaining a range of skills. Courses in the Essential Skills in the Workplace project include Application of Number,

Communications and Information Communication Technology. GMB has negotiated full paid time off for these courses and has received more than 250 learning requests from members, making this the most successful Essential Skills project in Wales ever. The feedback received from the learners is encouraging. They have thanked GMB for its support and said they now have increased confidence.

save our jobs

GMB members say no to outsourcing at Plymouth Council make a final decision on this issue, GMB members gathered outside the so there’s still time to make sure that council building in Plymouth in January your voice is heard. GMB workplace to protest against outsourcing plans. In organiser, Sarah Mason, is organising a bid to save £13m, Plymouth Labour a petition-signing event in the local Group is proposing to outsource town centre. Contact the domiciliary and care services to the Plymouth office to find private sector. out more. GMB has been campaigning to make Plymouth City Council KEEP CARE CLOSE rethink its position and has The demonstration also been writing to cabinet at Plymouth council. members explaining why this service should stay in public control. At the protest, Labour cabinet members spoke to the demonstrators, who showed the solidarity of GMB. The council is yet to www.gmb.org.uk

05 5


regional

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

Meat

FEAT

Slaughterhouse workers flock to GMB to stay safe at work GMB enjoyed rapid recruitment at West Devon Meat when 24 people signed up in a single day. The slaughterhouse in Devon employs approximately 60 staff – many of whom are agency workers – so the GMB uptake represents more than a third of the employees on site. The sudden upswing started in October, when a single member of staff asked to join GMB. After signing up, that member raised a health and safety issue, prompting an all-staff meeting led by GMB organiser Kevin Norman. “We were able to discuss the services provided by GMB and the benefits

BORN LEADER Kevin Norman sees a bright GMB future at West Devon Meat.

of becoming a member,” several employees remarked. After the discussion, 24 new members signed up to GMB straight away – and another seven signed up in the following days. This takes the total GMB membership at West Devon Meat to 31 – around 50 per cent of employees onsite.

making more members GMB is now in the process of meeting with approximately 25 Russian migrant workers, who are working at the abattoir via an agency and have no idea what rights they have while employed in this country. The agency has supplied them with a workplace and also accommodation, which in some cases includes their whole family. Kevin Norman is optimistic about the future of GMB at West Devon Meat. He said,

Remploy recognised

REMPLOY’S REWARD L-R: Ian Lloyd, Carwyn Jones, Jenny Smith, Lyndon March.

06 www.gmb.org.uk

“The company has agreed to meet with myself and GMB senior officer, Stuart Fegan, to discuss how we can jointly improve the workers’ work/life balance and deal with health and safety issues. We are also hoping to secure a recognition agreement with this company at a later date.”

Worurk GMBmo@ lace, re of GMB in yo workp To make lace organiser contact your GMB workp . or call the regional office

GMB members recognised for Remploy campaign GMB’s campaign to save Remploy factories from closure has been officially recognised at the Labour Party’s gala dinner. During the prestigious event, GMB Remploy representatives Ian Lloyd and Lyndon March received an award for GMB’s Remploy campaign. BECOME The award recognised the A GMB hard work and commitment WORKP of GMB members employed ORGANILACE in Remploy for many years. www.gmb SER .org In receiving the award, Ian gmbwo .uk/ commented that, while it was an honour, it was with regret that the campaign had to be run because of the government’s attack on disabled people and the removal of employment from Remploy.


regional

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

e n y a P Mike

Upda your GtMe ProfileB www.g mb .org update .uk/

speaks

Your regional poli tical officer on standing up for ord inary peo ple

E

ven though most people’s new year’s resolutions are already long assigned to the dustbin and forgotten about, I would ask that you join with me this spring to adopt a late new year’s resolution that will change things not just in 2013, but for many years to come. I would like you to commit to joining with me to defend our welfare state and National Health Service from the cuts imposed by this coalition government and to stop the injustices being forced on working people. I would also ask members to defend disabled workers across the UK from a government which is ideologically intent on rolling back the years to a time when the public sector was much smaller, when terms and conditions were lower and when the power to sack people was much easier for employers.

Bleak forecast In 2013 we will see all Remploy factories in Wales closed, with those disabled workers assigned to the scrapheap. We will see many people’s benefits cut, and this will affect those in work as well as those out of work. ATOS, a private company, is carrying out assessments that will mean many disabled people will lose their entitlement to much needed benefits. The introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ will see people – who may have lived in their houses for many years with husbands or wives who have now passed away or left because of marital strife – having their housing benefit cut by 10 per cent if they have a spare bedroom or 25 per cent if they have two or more spare bedrooms. When challenged on the unfairness of this, a government spokesperson said people in this position should consider taking in lodgers to recover the deficit in benefits or move to one bedroom flats or smaller 08 www.gmb.org.uk

I would like you to commit to joining with me to defend our welfare state and National Health Service properties, even if that is many miles away. We are seeing shameless attacks on employment rights. From 6 April, workers will need to have worked for a company for two years before they have the right to challenge their employer in a tribunal for unfair dismissal. Workers who do seek a tribunal will also have to put up a bond of approximately £600 before a tribunal will even allow them to test their case for unfair dismissal and other dismissals or issues. We will see the cut in compensatory payments for successful workers who are able to overcome the first two hurdles and finally the tightening up of legal aid, which in addition to the above will have the negative effect of restricting access to legal redress when unscrupulous employers have treated them unfairly. All of this adds up to an ideological attack

by a neo-Thatcherite Tory Party, supported by a complicit Liberal Democrat Party, which is unprecedented in the past six decades. Join me in adopting a new resolve to combat injustice, defend the weak in our society who rely upon the services and benefits that they receive and join GMB’s campaign to achieve a better future for all by becoming active in our great union.

rt take pta involved

If you want to ge y, in GMB’s political activit at: e yn Pa contact Mike .uk mike.payne@gmb.org


l na O I T NA

E T A D P U

om GMB r f s w e n e h t l Al

e c n a h c r You to shape

e p o r u e

MEMBER

Stand up for working families in the UK

W

e all now realise the damage this Con-Dem government is inflicting on our public services and on GMB members and their families. The Lib Dems are complicit in the havoc being wreaked on our communities; we should never forget that. The GMB Central Executive Council (CEC) policy is to make the Labour Party electable in time for the next general election. GMB is now staffed with a political department and each GMB region has a regional political officer (RPO). These officers’ jobs are to organise politically and they are there to help, so get in touch – see the panel on the next page for details of your regional RPO. GMB is encouraging members to join the Labour Party, become active in their communities and local Labour Parties, and help the party become electable. If our members are involved they can encourage the party to adopt policies which will help people provide for their families. Only by being politically active can GMB members influence Labour Party policy and make sure it stands for the things we believe in: a stop to the privatisation of public services, a Living Wage for all working people and investment in our schools and hospitals. As a GMB member you can be part of the Labour Party for just £1.80 a month – that’s only £21.50 a year. Download a form from www.labour.org.uk/trade-union-join and start making a difference!

Bring YOUR mag to life! Discover a world of extras when you point your smartphone at the pages of this GMB magazine. To get started, download the Layar app from get.layar.com

1 Download the Layar app for iPhone and Android devices.

2 Point your smartphone at a WHOLE page of the mag where you see this logo.

3 Watch as it comes to life on your screen.

www.gmb.org.uk 09


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

Shaping a Europe that works for you In the November edition of this magazine we appealed to members to put themselves forward to stand as Labour candidates for the 2014 European elections. This was a huge success and many GMB members will be on the list of candidates to be voted on by Labour Party members in July. The result of the ballot and final regional lists of candidates will be announced at the Labour Party Annual Conference in September. Some of us see the EU as distant or gobbledygook that we don’t understand and just over 30 per cent of us voted in the last European elections. Yet GMB members benefit from the rights that belonging to the EU brings

us, and we must to fight to ensure these are protected and improved, not taken away. We have the power of our vote to start shaping a Europe that works for us – and if we want positive change we must vote for it at the next European election. We must vote for the GMB members and other trade unionists who have stood up for us and know that the EU needs change, but not at the expense of our hard-won rights. The rights from Europe came to us when we had majorities of Labour and Socialist MEPs, commissioners and governments at European level. It is no surprise that since we lost the majority across the EU, these rights fell under attack.

What does Europe mean to you? For GMB, Europe means a basketful of employment and social rights that we might otherwise never have had. Health and safety protection, paid holidays from work, limits on working hours, protection when faced with collective redundancies and rights when the company we work for is sold. The transfers of undertakings (TUPE) regulations give GMB the right to make sure we keep our hard-won pay and conditions. Part-time workers are guarded; fixed term and temporary agency workers’ rights have been improved; we have improved maternity/pregnant workers’ rights and extensive equal treatment and equality rights. When workers come to the UK to work they have to be paid the negotiated rate of pay and cannot be exploited. And these are just some of the rights we enjoy from Europe. Yet increasingly, when we hear and read about Europe, it is about why Britain should leave it. It's not about whether it's good for us as working families and everyday people to be in or out; the debate is being dominated by politicians. So if we are going to have a debate about Europe, we want it to be about shaping a Europe that works for us.

Watch GMB TV Want to know more about getting involved? Get it from the horse’s mouth! Watch interviews with Labour MPs and GMB organisers at www.gmb.public-i.tv

10 www.gmb.org.uk

We want honest answers about what will happen to our jobs if we leave the EU. Around 50 per cent of everything we produce is bought by Europe. The USA has already said that for them the UK is a route to the EU – and if we’re not in they will find another route. All this will have big implications for us as working families, our jobs and our economy. David Cameron says he wants to renegotiate the terms of our involvement with Europe rather than withdraw altogether. One of the top priorities for him and the coalition is to remove workers’ rights. So any renegotiation under a Con-Dem government is bad news for GMB members. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) would also remove our rights. They are not any friend of GMB members. So get involved and help us shape a Europe that works for us – because its future is in our hands.

GMB

cts political conta

Get in touch with your regional political officer GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region Stephanie Peacock 0121 550 4888 stephanie.peacock@gmb.org.uk

GMB London Region Gary Doolan 020 7391 6748 gary.doolan@gmb.org.uk

GMB Midland & East Coast Region

Richard Oliver 0115 960 7171 richard.oliver@gmb.org.uk

GMB Northern Region Chris Jukes 0191 233 3930 chris.Jukes@gmb.org.uk

GMB North West and Irish Region Neil Smith 0151 727 0077 neil.smith@gmb.org.uk

GMB Scotland

Richard Leonard 0141 332 8641 richard.leonard@gmb.org.uk

GMB Southern Region Michelle Gordon 020 8397 8881 michelle.gordon@gmb.org.uk

GMB Wales & South West Region Mike Payne 029 2049 1260 mike.payne@gmb.org.uk

GMB Yorkshire & North Derbyshire Region Steve Jennings 0845 337 7777 steve.jennings@gmb.org.uk

GMB Euston Political Team Cath Speight, national political officer 020 7391 6746 Heidi Benzing 020 7391 6749 Gary Doolan 020 7391 6748 Lisa Johnson 020 7391 6764 Steve Kemp 020 7391 6700 Hilary Perrin 020 7391 6753

! get onrtyline u yo what

Tell the Labour Pa esto 2014 want in the Labour Manif k g.u .or ain rit rb ou at www.y ney Find out who’s giving mo at s rie To to the searchthemoney.com


Paul kenny

says

cretary e s l a r e n e g your GMB m o r f d r o w A

It is a scandal that people are victimised for asking questions

T

here is a line in a Joni Mitchell song which goes “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”. How true those words ring when the people you love are no longer around, and I guess that is what the song was written to convey. However, such sentiments also apply to the standards of equality, justice and services which are lost, diluted or just plundered by politicians and the vested interests of markets and millionaires. We now live in a country where our natural resources are all owned by private companies, who make vast profits selling us back natural resources, like water, which falls from the sky for free!!

SELLING IT OFF Our energy, railways and public services are all seen as primary wealth producers for corporations’ shareholders or entrepreneurs rather than being instruments for a richer economy for all, a planned future for the benefit of the many. I look in disbelief as this generation of snake oil salesmen that masquerade as our government, package up our health service for privatisation. How they tell us that somehow giving hundreds of millions, currently spent on patient care, to the back pockets of privateers, is the health service we need or indeed want!

RISKY BUSINESS The power of the business lobby is stronger now than at any time in modern government and where better to see that power than to look at the “special advisors” from business, which now adorn every government department. The lobby group who don’t ever have to book an appointment to see the minister. They just waltz right in from the office next door! These “business” interests, demanding cuts in regulations on everything from health and safety to employment rights and equality laws. These are the same guardians of our interests who welcomed cuts in public services whilst applauding cash hand outs to millionaires. The same crew who demanded and got cuts in corporation tax alongside cuts in benefits. The vested interests of multi nationals who earn billions from our country yet pay nothing or virtually nothing back in taxes on their vast profits. The vested interests of the companies who were allowed to get away with compiling blacklists designed to discriminate against ordinary men and women whose only crime might have been to attend a meeting about working conditions or airport expansions or similar environmental concerns.

It is a scandal that people who live in a country that politicians like to tell us is a free democratic society are victimised for asking questions or having the desire to just listen to a debate.

DEMAND ACTION GMB has led the way in both exposing and demanding action on these matters, from tax avoidance by the Starbucks and Amazons of this world to the companies like Carillion and McAlpine whose involvement in blacklisting is now out in the open. If anyone thinks GMB will tire of pursuing these companies, then they better think again. The first political party which has the courage to break the strangle hold of the self-interest buccaneers will be embraced by millions of British people who have become victims of the snout in the trough arrangement, the “we can do whatever we want” culture, of so many companies and individuals whose only interests are their own. I hope that party is Labour. I hope Ed Miliband has the strength to follow his own natural instinct on justice and equality. And a vision which enhances the lives of British people, not on servicing the vested interests of an unelected rich elite. After all when it comes to political support, as the song goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”. www.gmb.org.uk 11


national

UPDATE

3 1 2 , 3 from GMB All the news

d e t s i l k c a l b

e of the on , ow kn u yo ne eo m so is or u, yo Are 3,213 names on the construction industry blacklist?

M

ore than 3,000 names appear on an illegal blacklist used by companies in the construction industry. The map, right, was made by GMB to show how many people in each area of the UK were on the blacklist of 3,213* workers. The blacklist first came to light in 2009. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out trade union and health and safety activists. By autumn 2012, only 194 of the 3,213 blacklisted workers knew they were on it. After GMB pressed for disclosure, the ICO agreed to supply names, dates of birth, trades and towns of residence on a restricted basis to enable GMB to check our own membership records to find members who are on the blacklist. We found 200 exact matches and are in contact with these members to get their files from ICO. GMB appointed lawyers Leigh Day are preparing litigation to get compensation for them. There were a further 300 names on the list, who may be GMB members, but we need more information to assess if they are. We publish the map, based on locations supplied by ICO for all 3,213, to prompt responses from members to help us in this. If you were a construction worker from one of these areas and as a trade union or health 12 www.gmb.org.uk

STAND UP FOR JUSTICE Blacklisting makes innocent members into outlaws.

1 northern ireland

1 eire

and safety activist were denied work for reasons you could not explain, get in touch so we can crosscheck the records. GMB’s priority is to step up the campaign to get every blacklisted GMB member compensation. GMB is calling on councils not to award work to the companies that operated the blacklist until they compensate those they damaged. GMB is also pushing ICO for a proactive action to inform all builders affected that they are on the blacklist. A GMB report on blacklisting showed that it was not something isolated or rare. The

report estimated that in one quarter, Carillion, for example, checked 2,776 names with the Consulting Association, and in the period from October 1999 to April 2004 it estimates that Carillion checked at least 14,724 names.


SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk

NATional

1

Orkney islands

highland

15

aberdeenshire

54

Aberdeen city

14 stirling city of glasgow

falkirk

argyle & bute

7

24

3 35

8 140 26

21

clackm

7

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5

2

w dunb.

inverc

Angus

perth and kinross

22

15

67

1

3

east lothian

n lanark k s lanar

18 E ayr

6

11

West yorks

60 greater manchester

173

gwynedd

34

cheshire

2

2

9

birmingham met area

glamorgan swansea

15

5 10

monmouthshire

19 3

cornwall

5

devon

oxon

8

bristol

bath

8 dorset

7

leics

berks

5 wilts

50

beds

essex

14

12

454

isle of wight

11

“Blacklisting is not something isolated or rare.�

57

london

32

hants

1

9

12 herts

20

surrey

suffolk

cambs

4

bucks

1

somerset

14

1

glos

25

cardiff

norfolk

northants

32

9

5

warks

3

heref & worcs

powys

lincs

notts

derbys

69

13

12

16

staffs

shropshire

kingston upon hull

62

56

16

east riding of yorks

16

south yorks

64

12

ceredigion

53

183

merseyside

denbighshire

north yorks

12

lancashire

fy mo If you can help us identi the on d me of the people na rst, hu ite Wh il Ph l tel blacklist, on r ice off GMB construction il. ph or 0 81 8 07968 33 k whitehurst@gmb.org.u son en ph Ste or GMB, 22 Way, London NW1 2HD.

cleveland

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Beat g blacklistin re

northumberland

7

durham

D&G

anglesey

GRIM PRACTICE GMB members demonstrate at . a Carillion court hearing in Swansea

mid lothian w loth

16

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fife city of edinburgh

52 12

dundee city

95 8

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east sussex

west sussex

* When alias names and duplicates are excluded there are 3,213 individuals on the blacklist. The map shows where 2,554 lived or worked. There are an additional 12 unmapped in Wales and 8 unmapped in Scotland. For 639, or 20%, no proper addresses are given. The ICO using NI details could, with help of DWP, find current addresses for most of 3,213 but they have not done so.

www.gmb.org.uk 13


national

BECOME A GMB WORKP ORGANILACE SER

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

www.gmb .org gmbwo .uk/

hangin’ on the

telephone Daily Mirror columnist Paul Routledge on how zero hours contracts are keeping UK workers waiting by the phone

D

ON’T call us – we’ll call you!” That’s the old showbiz gag. Promoters who exploit struggling artistes tell them to stay by the phone on the off chance of something coming up. But it’s no joke in modern-day Britain, where employers impose “zero hours contracts” (ZHC) contracts on people desperate for work. These breadwinners spend hours listening for the boss to call them in for a few hours’ paid work. Sometimes the phone rings, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not a job. It’s not even a genuine contract – it’s a con-trick. But nowadays it’s year zero every year in UK plc, as employers rush to turn their workforce into casual labourers. Once upon a time, it was the dockers, gathered at the dock gates waiting for the foreman to shout 14 www.gmb.org.uk

“You, you and you! The rest go home.” Today, this system goes right across the board from fast-food outlets to the NHS. Exactly what are we talking about here? Under a zero hours contract, employees are obliged to make themselves available for work – but the employer is under no obligation to provide work. There are no specified hours, and work can vary from week to week. Workers are paid only for the time they work, so the waiting time they spend by the phone is unpaid. And some employers don’t even pay for waiting time spent on work premises, though legally workers are entitled to payment. ACAS, the employment relations service, says, “National Minimum Wage (NMW) regulations state that workers on ‘stand-by time’, ‘on-call time’ and ‘downtime’ must

still be paid the NMW if they are at their place of work and are required to be there. “Similarly, such time is likely to count as ‘working time’ under the Working Time Regulations if the worker is required to be on call at the place of work. This means that it’s against the law to ask employees to ‘clock’ during quiet periods but still remain on the premises.” Workers should be aware of these provisions. It’s obvious why the employers like this evil system. As GMB puts it: “This isn’t a proper job at all, but being on a bank of agency workers, with no rights, no guarantees and unable to plan their lives.” Security work has been particularly hard hit by the zero hours revolution. And as the union for security workers, GMB members and GMB workplace


SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk Bring these pages to life! organisers have spotlighted the excesses and are driving action by the union in the workplace and in a wider public debate. GMB has successfully challenged ZHCs in a number of companies, where the employer has agreed minimum hours so workers have a “default position” knowing just how much they will get.

tough fight But it’s a tough fight we have on our hands. The industry is highly fragmented, with many people working alone and on night shifts. Where workers are isolated, and communication is poor, it’s easy for them to be abused by management. Security is probably the worst in terms of exploitation, but ZHCs are also found in local government, schools, food processing, telecommunications, agriculture and some parts of manufacturing. And in the NHS, one Trust in south-west England has more than 1,000 people on ZHCs at all levels of the organisation: healthcare assistant, midwife, doctor, surgeon and admin worker. None have security of income. Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, has called on the coalition government to halt the spread of ZHCs in the NHS pending an urgent review into the potential risks to continuity of care and patient safety. “What we’re seeing is the casualisation of our health service, turning parts of the NHS into a temping workforce,” he warned. Reliable figures across the nation are hard to come by, but the official government Labour Force Survey calculates that in pre-recession Britain of 2005, there were

JOB INSECURITY Factory workers suffer from unfair contracts.

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75,000 employees on zero hours contracts, 32,000 of them women. In 2011 this had increased to 146,000, with 85,000 women.

tip of the iceberg These figures show a doubling of ZHCs since the bankers’ recession hit the economy, with women now more likely to be exploited by employers. And the official numbers are just the tip of an iceberg. They exclude hundreds of thousands of agency workers – who are not technically employees. The clear and present danger of exploitation from zero hour contracts has prompted GMB to back a call for a National Minimum Hours strategy to complement the National Minimum Wage, with GMB giving evidence to the Low Pay Commission. GMB executive policy officer Ida Clemo says: “Employers regard these workers as ‘flexible’, but it is GMB policy that if workers

“Where workers are isolated and communication is poor, it’s easy for them to be abused by management.” have a regular pattern of work over a fixed period then they must be offered employment on a permanent contract, not a casual one.” The security industry is traditionally a low-wage economy with long hours. In addition to this many sites are not GMB-organised sites, and there is a high potential for guards to be exposed to violence. As such security guards are SIA-licensed and vetted to high standards. The big players, with whom GMB has recognition agreements, fund the license with the cost repaid if guards leave before the end of the three-year license period. However, most guards who aren’t GMB members are on ZHCs and have to pay for their own license and training with no guarantee of work. The logical outcome of this cut-throat business practice was perfectly demonstrated during the Olympic Games, when security firm G4S – many of whose security officers were on ZHCs – failed dismally to produce the tens of thousands of guards required to keep the sites safe.

ON CALL Andy Burnham, Shadow Health Secretary, objects to ZHCs. That’s because ZHCs cut both ways. How can an employee treated badly in this way feel any loyalty to a company that treats him or her like an industrial serf? These work deals first reappeared in the recession of the ’90s. They didn’t guarantee any hours or pay. But they were a contract with that employer, so the employee could not work anywhere else, nor could they sign on for benefits. Where did they go afterwards? As soon as the labour market eases and better forms of employment become available, people stop accepting them and they become rare. But there are few signs that the labour market is picking up. Quite the opposite. And with the UK economy bumping along the bottom, most new employment is low-paid, part-time work. Hundreds of thousands of worthwhile jobs in the public services have been sacrificed in the name of austerity but the private sector only wants “flexible” staff who can be called out when they’re needed. This is a recipe for disaster, because dissatisfied workers are reluctant workers. Whatever the nature of the work, you need people who are committed to doing a good job. “A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” is an old maxim, but one that reflects the British way of life. A way of living now under siege from the zero hours mobsters.

get help from gmb ered a zero Have you been off ch hours contract? Get in tou ice off al with your region or find out more online at www.gmb.org.uk

www.gmb.org.uk 15


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

GMB calls on UK councils to pay

IT’S A LIVING THING GMB secures a living wage at Barking & Dagenham council.

a living wage

The campaign steps up as some councils make the first step to get on board

I

pay freezes have meant that this progress has t’s nonsensical that council been halted and dragged back, leaving some workers’ pay has to be topped up by GMB members at the lower end of the pay state benefits. More councils are scale on £6.30 per hour. GMB is determined signing up to the GMB living wage that members on these lower pay rates, who campaign all the time, so check out the are forced to claim tax credits, free school latest list of the councils that haven’t at: meals, housing benefit and council tax benefit www.gmb.org.uk/livingwage to make ends meet will be paid a living wage. GMB is calling on all UK councils to pay a Around 280,000 – 16 per cent of living wage. In England and Wales local authority staff – would GMB wants councils to pay £7.45 benefit from a living wage. Jobs per hour. With a much higher currently paid £6.30–£6.38 cost of living in the capital, per hour include home help, GMB is seeking an hourly teaching assistants, rate of £8.55 from the 33 rts pe ex at The hourly rate th cleaners, grave diggers, London boroughs. The ed ne le op pe y sa an admin assistants, sure-start, campaign is being backed to be paid to have d ar nd sta caretakers, care workers and by Labour Party. A le ab pt acce school crossing patrols. sokesperson said, “Labour of living (£8.55 in London). You will find GMB living wage councils are leading the way in material at www.gmb.org.uk/ committing to pay a living wage livingwage GMB has petitions to their staff and subcontracted among council workers and is meeting with workers. As part of Labour’s policy review we the chief executives of councils and calling on are now looking at ideas for extending it elected councillors to vote for a living wage. further into the private sector.” At the time of writing, 35 councils in Council rates of pay have been pushed up England, including 10 London boroughs by GMB negotiators over time, but years of

£7.45

which will pay the higher hourly rate, have committed to pay a living wage. They are Ashfield, Blackpool, Birmingham, Brent, Brighton & Hove, Calderdale, Camden, Carlisle, Chorley, Croydon, Dartford, Deal, Derby City, Ealing, Enfield, Gloucester City, Hackney, Harrow, Hounslow, Hyndburn, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newark & Sherwood, Newcastle, Norwich, Oxford City, Preston, Sheffield, Southwark, Wirral, Wolverhampton, Barking & Dagenham, Greenwich and York. Scotland is leading the way by paying £7.20 from 1 April this year in all 26 Scottish councils. GMB Scotland intends to move on to the private sector contractors delivering catering and cleaning services to councils by extending the campaign to cover them too. None of the 26 Northern Ireland councils have signed up to the GMB living wage aims Only two of Wales’s 22 councils, Cardiff and Swansea, have signed up to pay a living wage of £7.45. GMB wants a living wage for members in the private sector too, not just in councils.

GMB wins a living wage of £9ph for members at Barking & Dagenham council in London. 16 www.gmb.org.uk


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

How GMB makes life easier for you GMB workplace organisers are there to offer support and advice, so whether you are having a problem that you need help with, or if you just want to know what your rights are, call them! Don’t worry, Clive. Just fill in a direct debit form and I will send it off to GMB. it’s that simple.

One afternoon…

Jen, I Start a new job next week and my new boss won’t deduct My GMB contributions from my wages.

you have a legal right to be a GMB member wherever you work, Whether your Boss recognises GMB or not.

I Still want to be a GMB member. What can I do?

Yes, I saw your names on the list of staff who are leaving. I’ll be meeting with you both later in the week.

Thanks, Jen. If you give me the Direct debit form I’ll fill it out now. By the way, Helen is moving to the new depot.

The End

18 www.gmb.org.uk

Gavin Roberts

Great! I’ll Ask Helen to fill in a Membership Transfer Note. Then payroll can keep her GMB deductions going.


national

UPDATE

PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

from GMB All the news

50 could be yours! VOUCHER

EXCLUSIVE TO GMB MEMBERS!

Refer a friend to British Gas for free insulation and earn yourself a £50 voucher!

B

ritish Gas is offering a FREE £50 voucher to anyone who refers a friend on qualifying benefits to receive free insulation worth up to £1,000. If you have a friend on any of the benefits listed in the table to the right, you could get them FREE insulation and a £50 voucher for yourself! The voucher will be sent to you once the installation has been completed. What’s more there is no limit on the number of people you can refer. As well as getting FREE insulation, the customer you refer will be paid £50 too and they don’t even need to be a British Gas customer to be eligible. The offer is part of a government initiative to help Britain’s homes become more energy efficient – and it is FREE to anyone who qualifies. The whole process is hassle free and is usually complete in less than a day. What’s more insulation can save your friend money on their bills. Loft insulation alone could save as much as £175 a year!

ND REFER A r,FtelRl anIE eligible To earn a £50 vouche British Gas on: friend or relative to call

0800 107 1683 ’ with your name, quoting ‘GMBMAG number. address and telephone

Who qualifies?

Visit www.britishgas.co.uk/smallprint or see the table below:

If you receive one of the following benefits: 1. State Pension Credit or 2. Child Tax Credit with an income below £15,860 or 3. A combination of the following: Income-related employment and support allowance, which must include a work-related activity or support component

Has parental responsibility for a child who ordinariliy resides with that person where the child is: (i) under the age of 16; or (ii) 16 or over but under the age of 20 and in full-time education (other than higher education)

Income-based job seekers allowance

A child tax credit which includes a disability or severe disability element

AND

A disabled child premium Income support

A disability premium, enhanced disability premium or severe disability premium A pensioner premium, higher pensioner premium or enhanced pensioner premium OR

Working tax credit and has a relevant income of £15,860 or less

AND

Has parental responsibility for a child who ordinariliy resides with that person where the child is: (i) under the age of 16; or (ii) 16 or over but under the age of 20 and in full-time education (other than higher education) Is in receipt of a disabled worker element or severe disability element Is aged 60 years or over

TERMS AND CONDITIONS To be eligible, a member of the household must be on eligible benefits call 0800 107 1683 or see britishgas.co.uk/smallprint for details. British Gas installs in mainland Great Britain only. Not all homes are suitable for insulation. Offer only applies to loft and cavity wall measures recommended by an appointed surveyor. Offer includes up to £1,000 of specialist equipment at the discretion of the appointed surveyor. Tenants must seek landlord permission. Offer only applicable to residential properties and excludes all other properties including commercial or part commercial premises. The Offer is subject to availability and subject to change or withdrawal at any time. A £50 Love2shop voucher will be sent to the Applicant and the Referrer within 30 days of completion of insulation installation. Employees of British Gas, members of their immediate family and British Gas contractors are not eligible for the £50 reward. Referrers may refer more than one Applicant. Applicants must provide proof of their eligibility for the Offer, including proof of receipt of eligible benefits as set out above and/or proof of age and proof of their residential address. Free insulation is limited to one per Applicant. Phone lines are open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday, 8am-4pm on Saturday and 9am-4pm on Sunday. Closed on Bank Holidays. Calls are free from 20 however charges from mobile phonesand other networks may vary. Calls may be monitored and/or recorded for quality assurance and compliance purposes. a BT landline,www.gmb.org.uk

iStock

£

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SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk Bring these pages to life!

y b ver o ed l w o b be l ’l u yo

congress 2013 plymouth, 2–6 june

Save the

TELEVISIO

N

Watch it liv Congress Te on V! Go to www.gmb .public-i.tv

’ s r ine m m a h Dur

Dave Hopper, general secretary, Durham Miners’ Association appeals to GMB members GMB Central Executive Council is backing the future of the Durham Miners’ Gala, which was first held 142 years ago and is the biggest celebration of trade union values in Britain today. However, the cost of the Gala is increasing year on year and we need your help to keep this institution running.

MINERS’ MARCH The Durham Miners’ Gala is 142 year-old tradition.

Since our coalfield was destroyed 20 years ago by a vengeful Tory government, we have had no regular subscription to our funds from working miners. Our financial problems have now been further compounded, as we have to pay more than £1.4m in legal fees. Anyone who donates £2 a month or a one-off payment of £24 a year will become a member of The Friends Of The Durham

Gala

Miners’ Gala Society, and each year will receive a glossy magazine with photographs of the Gala and a report of the speeches. Donations can of course be more than £2 per month if circumstances allow, and one-off payments are equally acceptable. To join or donate, please contact us through our website (details below). You may also wish to buy one or more of the items for sale from the site. This year’s Durham Miners’ Gala will be held on Saturday 13 July.

please donate

la The Durham Miners’ Ga lp! he ur yo s need org www.durhamminers.

www.gmb.org.uk 21


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

mother

care

Going to be a mum? Don’t miss out on your maternity rights

G

MB has worked hard over the years for maternity rights and pay. Here are some basic facts for new mothers:

What maternity pay will I get? If you earn the lower earnings limit of £107 a week and you have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks before the 15th week before your baby is due you will probably be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

though you are not entitled to SMP, this is Contractual or Occupational Maternity Pay. You should look at your employment contract or the maternity policy to see what it says about maternity pay. There may be a requirement for you to pay some money back if you don’t return to work for a certain length of time.

Remember... The situation with your employer may change, so always discuss your individual situation with your GMB workplace organiser. This is a brief guide to your legal minimum rights and is not a definitive guide to the law, which may change.

Is it true that all women get 52 weeks’ maternity leave no matter how long they have worked for their employer? Yes! The first 26 weeks of leave is known as Ordinary Maternity Leave and the second 26 weeks is Additional Maternity Leave. Employers will assume you're taking the full 52 weeks’ leave. If you want to go back to work before the 52 weeks, you must let your employer know the date you will return to work. What if I decide not to go back to work? You never have to pay back any SMP. If you are getting more than SMP, or if you're getting payments from your employer even

Fighting for cancer GMB and Macmillan help with cancer in the workplace

Four in 10 people in the UK will be affected by cancer at some stage of their life. Many cancer sufferers say that work is important to them, as a job can help restore normality, routine, stability, social contact and income. However, Macmillan Cancer Support has established two hard facts: 91 per cent of workers suffer a loss of income and/or increased costs as a result of cancer, and 48 per cent of cancer patients are not given any financial support information. Macmillan is keen to work with GMB in raising the profile on what can be done for 22 www.gmb.org.uk

sufferers

working people suffering the emotional and financial effects of cancer. GMB, which has long campaigned on the prevention of workplace

elptial Work getn h has an Essen

Macmilla le at at & Cancer Toolkit availab /work, .uk rg n.o illa cm ma w. ww for or call 0808 808 0000 a t jus or rt po sup , ers answ quick chat on the issues.

cancers, will be getting involved to roll out the issue on a regional basis with the help of workplace reps.


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Bring these pages to life!

WIN!

this could be you! Your chance to win a pair of tickets to Glastonbury.

A pair of tickets to Glastonbury Just register at www.gmb.org.uk and update your profile to enter!

F

ancy going to this year’s Glastonbury festival, taking place from 26–30 June? We’ve got a pair of tickets to give away in association with the Workers Beer Company. For your chance to win follow these steps to update your GMB profile on GMB’s new-look website.

Step 1

• Go to www.gmb.org.uk • Select ‘GMB members login’ • Enter your GMB membership number

and password or create a new password

Step 2

Last issue’s iPhone winner!

Select ‘update profile’ and enter your: Email address Mobile number Home address

Rex Features

•  •  • 

TERMS & CONDITIONS The winning entry will be drawn at random from fully financial GMB members only who register for/login to www.gmb.org.uk members area and update their GMB membership record with additional data before close of business on Friday 3 May 2013 . The winner will be notified by GMB. Prize is subject to availability. No purchase necessary. Entries from employees of GMB or their families will not be accepted. The winner must be prepared to participate in publicity arising from the competition. Winners’ names and photos may be published in future issues.

GMB member Mercedes Fernandez Regalado-Tivy won a brand new iPhone when she entered the prize draw in the last issue of GMB magazine.

she’s a winner! Mercedes receives her new iPhone from her GMB branch secretary Vaugha n West.

www.gmb.org.uk 23


national

UPDATE

Be a life-saver from GMB All the news

GMB backs charity ACLT’s call for blood donors

T

here’s nothing more tragic than a young life needlessly lost, as Beverley De-Gale and Orin Lewis told GMB’s equality conference. Their son, Daniel, had battled for years with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia; a bloodrelated cancer. He had overcome many of the hurdles that a cancer sufferer faces, however at the age of 21; he tragically passed away from an unrelated illness. Aged eight Daniel needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant if he was to win his [then] three-year battle against leukaemia. At this time in 1996, there were only 550 donors from black communities on the entire UK bone marrow register. Sadly, for the black, mixed race and ethnic communities this translated to a one in 250,000 chance of

HAPPY FAMILY Beverley De-Gale and Orin Lewis with their son Daniel.

finding a matching bone marrow donor; compare this to the one in five chance for a white member of the UK population. Such statistics were the reason for Beverley and Orin forming the ACLT. For the past 17 years the charity’s few but hard-working staff and volunteers have recruited thousands of blood donors. There are now 40,000 people of minority ethnic origin on the UK bone marrow registers. This has improved the odds, but only to one in 100,000. It is the racially specific characteristics of bone marrow that mean compatible donors for black and mixed race sufferers must come from the black or mixed race population. GMB urges members to sign up to become a blood or organ donor, irrespective of racial origin,

but particularly if you are from a black, minority ethnic or mixed race community. Sufferers from these backgrounds are three times more likely to need an organ transplant but only one per cent of people on the NHS organ donor register are from this community! The ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) was inspired by Daniel. After his successful bone marrow transplant, he enjoyed a precious 12 years with his friends and family. To give other sufferers a similar opportunity, the charity raises awareness throughout the UK, to enable potential donors to come forward and make them potential life-savers. To join the bone marrow, blood or organ donation registers, or to make a financial donation, call the ACLT on 020 8240 4480 or visit aclt.org

and change Have fun the world Verity Jones on why you should join Woodcraft Folk

SERIOUSLY FUN Woodcraft Folk members use fun to make a serious point.

24 www.gmb.org.uk

You might have seen Woodcraft Folk at the TUC march in London last October. There were parents, children and volunteers of all ages in our group – having fun, but taking action on a serious issue at the same time. Woodcraft Folk is a movement for children and young people, which aims to help young people value the planet. We believe no one is too young to learn about social change, and that no one is too old to play games and have fun. We put all this into practice in our local groups, where all ages work together to make the world a fairer place. If you’ve got children, or if you want to volunteer for a youth movement that cares passionately about society and the environment, go along to your local Woodcraft Folk group. Find your closest group at www.woodcraft.org.uk Alternatively VERITY JONES email info@woodcraft.org.uk or call Verity loves being part 020 7703 4173. of Woodcraft Folk.


regional

UPDATE from GMB All the news

regional

NHS NO-NO Bristol members rally to oppose Pay Cartel.

Move to Direct Debit www.gmb .org ddmove .uk/

Bristol

Fashion

GMB members march in Bristol to protest NHS pay cuts of up to 25% G MB has stepped up the campaign for the NHS South West Pay Cartel to disband. On 1 December 1,200 protesters from the South West NHS Trade Union Group held a march and rally in Bristol to protest against the Cartel (who prefer to be called the NHS Pay Consortium). The 19 Trusts are currently considering proposals which could lead to the withdrawal from national pay bargaining. GMB led the march and pulled out all the stops, with a mock coffin and tombstones marked with the words ‘RIP NHS’ following the regional banner. GMB national officer, Rehana Azam, said: “It was fantastic to see so many GMB members marching through the streets of Bristol against the NHS Pay Cartel. GMB is not going to stand by and see our hard-fought terms and conditions slashed in this way.” What happens next? GMB will not accept: Reductions in unsocial hours payments Reviewing cutting pay levels Reducing annual leave

•  •  • 

• Increasing basic working hours • Removal of sickness absence

GMB win

for refuse worker GMB wins £7,000 for member injured by bin A GMB member who suffered injury to his shoulder and neck in a workplace accident received £7,035 in compensation. Gary Wainwright, 48, was injured while employed by Cardiff Council as a HGC/ waste collection driver. At the time of the accident he was collecting refuse from properties in the Cardiff area. The bins that were being emptied were large roll top bins, which are larger than those provided for single domestic premises. The bins are placed on the back of a refuse vehicle and automatically raised and emptied. As the bin began to lower, it fell and struck Mr Wainwright. Complaints had been made prior to this accident about the bins, as they had a tendency to fall off the back of the vehicles. As a result of his injuries Mr Wainwright had to have physiotherapy. GMB enlisted Thomspons Solicitors to start court proceedings. Following negotiations, the claim settled for £7,035. Clare Nash of Thompsons Solicitors said: “Mr Wainwright suffered injuries in an accident which could have been avoided if complaints made prior to this accident had been properly investigated.”

enhancements

GMB regional organiser, Chris Jeffery, said: “This is about the consortium trying to remove the Agenda for Change terms and conditions, which could result in staff (depending on what banding they are in) losing up to 25 per cent in pay.”

we need your support! We will be contacting you with updates: look out for more information on notice boards, flyers and letters. In the meantime please write your local MP and try to attend any MP surgeries with representatives. There will be more demonstrations, so please make every effort to attend. Contact your local representative or GMB Office for more information. Contact details are on page 31. www.gmb.org.uk 25


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UPDATE

from GMB All the news

smashing your

rights

The coalition government is intent on changing the way welfare benefits are paid. GMB organiser Jill Richards talks us through the changes...

the benefits cap The most high-profile change is a cap on the amount of state benefits any household can receive. Payments will be limited to £26,000 a year per household – an income of £500 a week, or a £36,000 salary. This cap would encompass all regular income, including Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. 26 www.gmb.org.uk

There are exemptions: for instance, Working Tax Credit and Disability Living Allowance (now Personal Independence Payment); war widows and widowers; and it looks likely that child benefit will be excluded, too. If the cap gets the go-ahead, it will apply from April.

changes to child benefit If you, or your partner, have an individual income of £50,000 and currently claim Child Benefit, you may be affected by a new tax charge.

disability living allowance The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be replaced with a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). You’ll have to complete a set of medical tests before you can claim,

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int r p e Blu saster i For d iStock

T

he government’s plans to cut welfare payments have been in and out of the headlines for months, and the final outcome is likely to have a dramatic impact on the finances of thousands of people. If you currently receive benefits, you’re likely to be one of them. The main changes which will affect tenants apply to: tax credits, non-dependent deductions, under-occupation, capping, Disability Living Allowance (which is changing to Personal Independence Payment), Universal Credit and the change from Incapacity Benefit/Income Support to a new Employment and Support Allowance.


SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk

GMB’s Stuart Fegan explains the new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) The Department for Work and Pensions is introducing a revised sanctions regime – as well as making more money available through hardship funds – for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants who are in the Work Related Activity Group known as (WRAG). Members in receipt of this benefit will receive letters four weeks before any changes. ESA claimants may be sanctioned if they do not attend or take part in a work-focused interview, or carry out prescribed workrelated activity. Claimants could lose the Personal Allowance component of their ESA until they comply, followed by a sanction of up to four weeks. ESA claimants will be able to apply for hardship payments from day one of a sanction. Contact your local GMB office for further advice if you are in receipt of ESA entitlement and you receive a letter.

and be subject to regular assessments. At present there are no plans to cancel DLA for anyone aged under 16 or over 65.

Are the changes set in stone? All the welfare reforms detailed here are still going through the process of being made into UK law and will need to be approved by the House of Lords.

Are there any positive changes? The annual tax-free allowance – the amount of money you can earn before you pay income tax – will climb from £7,475 to £8,105 for those under the age of 65. So if you earn less than £42,475, you should be better off. You can find out about how all the changes will affect you at www.gov.uk/benefit-enquiry

iend Tell a frers hip This is why GMB memb ow is so important. If you kn from fit ne be uld co o wh ne yo an the protection of GMB, tell them to sign up now www.gmb.org.uk/join

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Older, wiser better off! RETIRE FROM WORK NOT G www.gmb MB .o

rg gmbrm .uk/ a

FAIR PAY GMB worked to erase age-related redundancy.

GMB battles age discrimination and wins a fairer redundancy package at Qioptiq glass works After worries that it encouraged age discrimination, a redundancy agreement at Qioptiq in St Asaph has been successfully re-negotiated by GMB. The company, which was formerly part of the Pilkington Glass Group, had a beneficial redundancy agreement that offered payments well in excess of the statutory redundancy provisions. These payments had been negotiated and established many years before, offering maximum benefit to those who were in their mid-50s. The introduction of age equality legislation, however, meant that to continue to use the agreement might lead to discrimination on the basis of age. “We wanted to change the redundancy terms because it is right as trade unions we do so,” said GMB

organiser Mark Jones. “The emphasis being fairness and equality at work.” The negotiations were complicated by the fact that many Qioptiq employees were content with the existing agreement. GMB and Qioptiq worked hard to ensure that the end result was fair. A small negotiating team was set up and legal opinion was sought to consider whether the agreement could continue on the basis of ‘objective justification’. A ballot led to a significant vote to accept the new redundancy terms. At the outset there was much anxiety from within the company about the potential for a negative reaction to change – however, the exercise and time invested appears to have removed those hurdles, and a new agreement is in place.

“The emphasis is on fairness and equality at work.”

www.gmb.org.uk 27


regional

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

Stand up against

racism

Welsh comics perform to raise £7,000 for anti-racism campaign

S

how Racism the Red Card (SRTRC) is a campaign that uses top footballers to educate people against racism. This year, campaigners threw a star-studded event to raise money for the cause and give guests something to smile about in the process. Stand Up Against Racism took place at the Marriott Hotel in Cardiff and featured the talents of up-and-coming Welsh comics. GMB representatives were invited to show their support, and GMB organisers Jamie Mardon, Kelly Andrews, Jill Richards and Gareth Morgans all put on their best evening dress for the sold-out event. They joined high-profile campaigners including Doreen Lawrence OBE, Carwyn Jones, First Minster for Wales, and an array of Welsh sports stars. A line-up of Wales' premier comedians, including up-and-coming star Marlon Davies, thrilled guests in an entertainment-packed evening, featuring a charity auction and raffle following by dinner and dancing.

good cause

Of course, the true aim of the event was to raise awareness and funds for SRTRC. The campaign organises hundreds of educational workshops in schools, community centres and sports clubs each year and money raised is vital to keep up the good work. The event, which will hopefully become an annual occasion, was a great success and raised an impressive £7,000 for SRTRC. This was a great result and will help the campaign continue to make giant strides in the fight against racism and discrimination.

the murder of her son, Stephen Lawrence, in 1993, dedicated to securing justice for the victims of racially motivated crime. This was the most successful fundraising event in the last six years of running the campaign in Wales. “The effort invested each year in visiting and educating more than 10,000 young people about the negative impact racism is having on society is immense, and one that should be highly commended,” said Jill Richards, GMB regional organiser. “This event was a great success and I am delighted that GMB was able to show its support. Initiatives which bring this issue to people's attention are absolutely crucial." GMB would like to congratulate the SRTRC team in Wales for their hard work, dedication and campaigning. As a trade union we are delighted to play a role in supporting such a memorable Stand Up Against Racism show.

“Bringing this issue to people’s attention is crucial.”

role model Doreen Lawrence, who has been described by SRTRC campaign manager, Sunil Patel, as a "real role model for all those who fight inequality in society", was the guest of honour at the event. Ms Lawrence has been a prominent human rights campaigner since

STANDING UP! Jamie Mardon, Kelly Andrews, Jill Richards and Gareth Morgans. 28 www.gmb.org.uk


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regional

Asbestos: who pays

the bill? New asbestos Bill seeks cash from employers to cover NHS costs

remploy regrets

Mervyn Burnett examines the coalition’s betrayal of Remploy workers This government’s unprecedented attack on disabled workers sees no end. Since August 2012, seven Remploy factories have closed their doors with a loss of 180 full-time, well-paid jobs for disabled workers. By April, a further three factories and sites will also be closed, bringing the total job losses to approximately 300 within the region. Remploy workers who now find themselves unemployed will find it extremely difficult to find a job in the South Wales valleys, where every vacancy is being chased by, on average, 30 people. This is all thanks to the coalition government's hard-line attitude and lack of understanding of the need for disabled people to play their part in society. All they

want to do is work and pay their taxes and national insurance, just like every other individual in the country. GMB would like to place on record its thanks to the Welsh Assembly Government for its support for the Remploy campaign, and for the financial assistance being offered to find alternative jobs for those Remploy workers who otherwise may face a lifetime on benefits. GMB would also like to pay tribute to Remploy workers, activists and stewards for their involvement in the struggle to keep every factory open.

A new bill could ease the pressure of asbestos on the NHS in Wales by making it law for negligent employers to reimburse the health service for its costs. GMB’s political department – working alongside its Health and Safety helping workers department – has Vaughan Gething. campaigned for the bill to be introduced in the Welsh Assembly. If it is passed it will mean that where there is a clearly identifiable negligent employer and a civil compensation settlement is due, the negligent party (or their insurers) should reimburse the NHS for the cost of medical treatment for Welsh workers with asbestos disease. The bill, which was brought forward to the Welsh Assembly by Mick Antoniw and Vaughan Gething, two Labour members of the Welsh Assembly and GMB members, would see negligent employers contribute towards the costs of providing medical treatment and support. The bill will also displace the financial burden from the Wales NHS, and transfer it to the very people who caused the disease in the first place – negligent employers. It is estimated that caring for victims of asbestos-related diseases costs NHS in Wales £2m a year. The recovery of these costs would be a significant help to the NHS in Wales at a time when it is financially hard pressed. Due to the devolutionary powers of the Welsh Assembly in particular to pleural plaques, any compensation paid will go back to the Welsh NHS for costs administered for health care provided to people with asbestos related diseases.

www.gmb.org.uk 29


regional

UPDATE

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Weld-done

GMB

GMB wins £7,500 for welder with work-related hearing loss

A

GMB member who suffered hearing loss and tinnitus after decades working in a noisy environment has been awarded £7,500 thanks to GMB’s legal team. The welder-fabricator was employed between 1982 and 2011 and exposed to excessive levels of noise from his loud industrial tools. He was also subjected to noise generated by his four colleagues. He first became aware of some reduction in hearing six months before an occupational health hearing test in 2010. Afterwards, he contacted GMB and was referred to solicitors Leo Abse and Cohen. Following court proceedings, his employer’s insurers admitted breach of statutory duty and offered £7,500 to settle the claim. “This case illustrates that damages for noise-induced hearing loss can be brought many years after the job or events that caused excessive noise,” said Nick Hughes, GMB regional senior manager. “In this case, damage to our member’s hearing would have started shortly after 1982 – when he was exposed to excessive noise – and continued until he left the source of the noise.”

30 www.gmb.org.uk

too little, too late The member was provided with muffstyle hearing protectors by his employer in late 2006 – but this was woefully late given the damage already caused. Also, these muffs could not be worn with the welding visor to protect his eyes. Though he received training, it did not focus on any element of noise exposure. Nor was he advised that, as a trainee supervisor, it would be his role to conduct risk assessments with regards to noise exposure. Nick commented, “Employers have a duty to protect individuals against the effects of damaging noise as far back as 1963.” Everyone should be aware of the hazards of work-related hearing loss. Nick added, “Many members may not appreciate that working in excessive noise has damaged their hearing, for which they could claim compensation. Any member who feels they might have worked in a noisy environment from 1963 onwards, whatever their age now, should contact their GMB office for legal advice from our solicitors about making a claim.”

Don’t let your claim fall on deaf ears! If you are injured at work, or

suffer work-related hearing loss, GMB’s legal team can help get you the compen sation you deserve. Find out more at www.gmbwalesandsouthwest. org.uk


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musical

muscle

Member writes anthem for Disabled People Against Cuts

GMB member and singer-songwriter, Kevin Robins, has dedicated one of his songs to disabled rights group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Titled Con-Dem Love!, the song describes the torment faced by disabled people refused entitlement to disability support by ATOS, a company acting on behalf of this Con-Dem coalition government. DPAC has a model motion which it is asking trade union branches to adopt. This is available for anyone and can be found on the DPAC website. For more information on DPAC, to make a donation or view Kevin’s video, please visit www. dpac.uk.net or email mail@dpac.uk.net.

New GMB office in Cornwall GMB Wales & South West Region has fulfilled its commitment to open an office in Cornwall. Chris Jeffery, GMB organiser, will service and represent our members in the area. Get in touch using the contact details in the panel to the right.

New regional website GMB Wales & South West Region launched its new website in February. Visit now for information on GMB benefits and services are available.

www.gmbwalesandsouthwest.org.uk

Welcome Hannah We are pleased to introduce new GMB organisation officer, Hannah Gibbins, who will be based in our Colwyn Bay office. We hope you will join us in saying: "Welcome Hannah!"

Banners Congress 2013 will be held in Plymouth in June and we are planning on displaying GMB branch banners in the main hall. If you would like your Branch banner to be displayed there. please contact Lynne Bowen, at the regional office, on 029 2049 1260 and she will make the arrangements for getting it there and back to you.

GMB Wales & SOUTH west REGION

Contact If you have a problem at work and need advice, in the first instance speak to your GMB workplace organiser. Alternatively, contact your local GMB office.

GMB Wales & south west region

Williamson House, 17 Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 0TB T: 029 2049 1260. F: 029 2046 2056 Email: john.phillips@gmb.org.uk

GMB bristol Office

4 Hide Market, Waterloo Street, Bristol BS2 0PH T: 0117 955 4470. F: 0117 955 4409

GMB colwyn bay Office 12 Wynnstay Road, Colwyn Bay, Conwy LL29 8NB T: 01492 535 313. F: 01492 535 314

GMB Cornwall Office

The Old Arts School, Clinton Road, Redruth TR15 2QE T:01209 213 950. F: to be confirmed

GMB gloucester Office

36 Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JJ T: 01452 503 739

GMB plymouth Office

1st Floor Offices, Sandon Ct, 1 Craigie Drive, The Millfields, Plymouth, Devon PL13JB. T: 01752 660 219 F: 01752 604 478 Email: stuart.fegan@gmb.org.uk

GMB pontypridd Office

28e Taff Street, Pontypridd CF37 4TS T: 01443 491 959. F: 01443 405844

GMB swansea Office

Ground Floor, Alexandra House, 1 Alexandra Road, Swansea SA1 5ED T: 01792 467 803 . F: 01792 457 806 www.gmbwalesandsouthwest.org.uk

www.gmb.org.uk 31



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