The magazine for GMB members
Gold STAR! Mary Tu
rner honoured by TUC
an Apple iPhone! See page 10
Region backs bid to end n e m o w t s in a g a e c n le io v Use your smartphone to bring this issue to life! See p9
Get elected to
l a n o i g e r council GMB Midland and East Coast regional council is an elected body that oversees the regional committee and meets twice a year to make decisions on the things that matter to members in the region. If you have been a GMB member for more than one year, you are entitled to stand for election to the council and influence the decisions that affect your fellow GMB members in the region. You can seek nomination by contacting your GMB branch (shown on your membership card). Nominations close on 28 February 2013. The newly elected regional council will take office on 15 April. For more information, contact your GMB regional office.
Advice in line with GMB rules 17F, 18.3, 19, and 20.
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In this issue...
Andy Worth etary GMB regional secr
GMB antics at the Asda On Your Marks day Page 26
4 Remploy closures
9 Get elected with GMB
5 Ticket to Pride
12 TUC cracker!
6 Brough gets going
13 Paul Kenny
8 Park life
14 The heat is on
25 Are you man enough?
15 Pensions for all!
26 Asda fun day
16 Paul Routledge
27 All things equal
18 Better off with GMB
28 Justice done
20 The best you can be
29 Cold cuts
22 Watch your wages!
31 Contact GMB
24 The Full Monti
Factory closures hit members in Worksop
Members celebrate diversity in Nottingham
GMB saves jobs at BAE Systems
GMB saves park employees from cuts
Join the campaign to end domestic abuse
Members race to raise money for charity
All the news on equalities in the region
Compensation win for injured member
Butchers face chop in Preston
Names and numbers you can call on
Front cover: Helen Ashton/Andrew Wiard/ Rex Features
Mary Turner gets a TUC gold badge Page 12
GMB regional editor Karen Stockley: 0115 960 7171 Editorial director Stephen Pierce Editor Simon Hugo Art editor Johnny Goddard Contributors Jake Day-Williams, Victoria Ford, Jayne Nelson, Matthew Robinson Advertising manager Debbie Blackman Account managers David Parker, Lisa Dunham Production and procurement manager Matt Eglinton Production co-ordinator Katty Skardon Creative director Matthew Williams Design director Dylan Channon Director, Future Plus UK Jayne Caple Printed at St Ives Direct
We’ll help you stand for office – and win!
Award for national president Mary Turner
A word from your general secretary
Sign the petition for fairer energy policies
How automatic enrolment will affect you
The Mirror man on the future of gas
Our annual report on GMB membership
GMB’s John Kane on living with Parkinson’s
Beware the dangers of regional pay
GMB defeats EU threat to workers rights
Don’t moan and groan – become active It has been a busy six months on behalf of the membership. We have seen the travesty of this government dismantling Remploy bit by bit, while ministers bask in the spotlight handing out medals at the Paralympics – totally gross and obscene in my view. A negotiated settlement has been reached on the local government pension scheme and many other initiatives have been undertaken on behalf of the Region’s members – you can read about some of them in here. The Region has agreed to campaign against domestic violence and has teamed up with Women’s Aid on their Man Enough campaign. Check out the article on page 25 and sign up. GMB is also launching a programme this issue for members interested in becoming Labour councillors or even MPs (see page 9). It is important that we get some real people who understand ‘real life’ issues into parliament, so don’t just moan and groan about the state of politics – become active and help us make a difference!
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Would you like to advertise in GMB Contact magazine? Please contact Debbie Blackman on 01225 442244 (ex 2243)
MAN TO MAN Andy gets behind the Man Enough campaign. www.gmb.org.uk 03
l a n o i reg
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B M G m o r f s All the new
p o s k Wor woes G
MB has vowed to continue the fight to save as many Remploy sites as possible, following the closure of the Worksop factory, in the town for 62 years. been which had Members who worked at the factory staged two 24-hour strikes in a last-ditch attempt to make the government see sense, and to show support for 26 other Remploy sites threatened with closure across the UK, but the site closed its doors for the last
time on 31 August. “It feels as though my heart has been ripped out,” said Philip Clarke, who had just celebrated his 31st year with Remploy. “My pride, dignity and livelihood have been stolen by this emotionally detached government.” The first strike took place on Thursday 19 July, as part of a series of walkouts across 04 www.gmb.org.uk
Remploy closure hits disabled members
the UK. GMB members were joined on the picket line by councillors from the Worksop and Mansfield districts, including Labour councillor Steve Yemm. As they braved the unseasonal rain, the striking workers were rewarded by drivers signalling their support on their car horns, and goodwill messages from local residents and parents taking their children to school. “The senseless decision to close Worksop Remploy condemns its disabled workers to a lifetime of unemployment ,” said GMB regional organiser Harry Harrison. “The factory was built just after the second world war, providing work for injured servicemen. Today, the government should be extending it, not closing it, to provide employment opportunities for injured personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Members at Remploy Worksop, who made high quality wooden goods, were officially made redundant on Tuesday 7 August. “With Remploy, I felt I was playing my part in society,” said Philip Clarke. “Now I will feel excluded. My colleagues and I have had many challenges in life, now we have to face another: finding mainstream employment.” GMB continues to fight for its members at Remploy sites across the UK. Find out more at www.gmb.org.uk
SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk
Ticket to Pride GMB gets out and about at Nottingham’s LGBT extravaganza
MB played a big part in Nottingham Gay Pride on 28 and 29 July, with a wellattended stall in a prime position at the Forest Recreation Ground, which also hosts the annual Goose Fair. Local dignitaries including the Lord Mayor visited the GMB stall and gave their support to members from Remploy by carrying flags and banners. Many GMB members were also on hand to promote equal rights, including Nottingham City branch secretary Gary Chambers and regional organiser Chris Needham. “Gay Pride is now an integral part of the Nottingham scene,” said Chris. “The organisation was astounding and everyone who attended should be applauded for making it such a good couple of days.” The city’s annual celebration of diversity has grown bigger every year since it was first held in 1999, becoming one of the most successful Gay Pride events in the region. This year’s event saw festivities spread over two days for the first time, and more than 30,000 people passed through the gates over the course of the weekend. Go to www.nottinghamshirepride .co.uk/gallery-2012.html to see more Pride pictures.
PRIDE@WORK march GMB had an active presence on the nd. Grou n eatio Recr st Fore the and at
Members from Remploy carried their banner alongside some 2,000 marchers at this year’s Gay Pride event in Nottingham. Their presence on the march highlighted the inequalities faced by Remploy workers in Worksop, Derby and across the UK as the government seeks to destroy their best hope for long-term employment. “This just shows how Pride is about all equalities,” said GMB regional organiser Chris Needham. “Our thanks go to the organisers, who let Remploy present their banner at the start of the march.”
from GMB All the news
Brough gets going! GMB saves 248 jobs as manufacturing roles return to BAE Systems site
long campaign by GMB has saved nearly 250 jobs at BAE Systems in Brough. Manufacturing positions that had previously been contracted out will be brought back to the site in East Yorkshire, meaning that most GMB members there are no longer at risk. “This is clear proof that protracted redundancy consultation can make a difference,” said GMB regional organiser Dave Oglesby. “If we hadn’t secured further consultation and had the 90 days consultation period extended, these jobs would have been lost.” BAE Systems first revealed its sweeping redundancy plans for Brough in September 2011, since when GMB has been fighting hard for its members at the site. The company’s decision to save 248
christmas past Members from Brough took the fight to London last December. jobs came after its annual general meeting was picketed by GMB members in May. Despite this major victory, a significant number of jobs remain at risk, and GMB is still campaigning to secure each and every post. “We have used rallies, marches, mass meetings and media coverage to effect real
“This great result shows just what GMB can achieve.”
change,” said Mr Oglesby. “We have worked with MPs and community pressure groups, and we will continue to do so as we explore other avenues to save more jobs. “This great result shows what can be done through union organisation. Without GMB, the company would have silently wiped out hundreds of skilled jobs. It also shows that Tory plans to shorten consultation periods won’t help anyone but the bosses.”
NOT SO SECURE
GMB fights for terms and conditions at custody co. GMB is working hard to reach a resolution for members at GEOamey in Leicester after the prisoner escort company announced drastic changes to its terms and conditions. Proposals include cuts to contracted hours, injury on duty payments, and annual leave and holiday pay; as well as changes to working shift patterns, the sick scheme, and downgrade allowances. The company, which provides prisoner escort and custody services to the courts across much of England and Wales, will also
be looking at the possibility of redundancies. GMB officers from the region and the National office are working with workplace organisers to secure the best outcome for all its members through negotiation and consultation.
PRE_PRESS instructions 1. Cutout out heads 2. Get ready for print
FLAWED ESCORT New terms at GEOamey leave much to be desired.
from GMB All the news
GMB protects Scarborough borough council members
bedding in ng used Parks staff are getti t. en to a new departm
arks employees at Scarborough borough council will not suffer as a result of cuts, thanks to a long campaign of negotiations by GMB. Savings will now be achieved by a reduction in vehicles and costs, rather than jobs and terms and conditions. GMB has also negotiated 10 new apprenticeship posts, a wealth of new training opportunities, and a lifting of the salary cap for parks personnel at the council. The council has been told it needs to save £2.8 million in this financial year, meaning job losses had been a real risk. Instead, new plans will see parks and countryside services, street cleansing and refuse services merge to become environmental services, making savings of more than £0.5m. GMB members in the new department will see the introduction of a five-in-seven working week, providing cover on a rota system. Double-shifting of collection rounds will see three dustcarts and two tractors removed from the fleet, creating major savings. GMB is closely monitoring these longer hours, and has already put its foot down on 5am starts for refuse collectors, arguing this was too early for members and the general public. Workplace organisers Mick Agar and Ian Smith will be meeting the council every month to raise any concerns as the new system beds in. “Our members have family commitments that must not suffer as a result of these changes,” said Mick. “We are also keeping a close eye on health and safety as fewer vehicles are worked for longer. However, we are satisfied that the new arrangements represents a good deal for members during a difficult time, and offer job security after months of discussion between the council and GMB.”
GMB DEFENDS CASTLE HILL Battle for beds at East Yorks hospital
The committee already has its own Facebook group and a dedicated website [see below], and is producing leaflets, attending trust meetings and lobbying MPs. “These cuts are the latest attack on the NHS by a government that seems determined to pave the way for privatisation of the health service,” said Ester Marriott, GMB organisation officer for Hull. “The CEO of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Phil Morley has even said that he wants the trust to become ‘a Tesco Value service but with bolt-ons.’ “This would mean the bare minimum of free care at source, with everything else paid for privately.
nhs tribute There was no shortage of beds at the Olympic opening ceremony. “The government can’t be allowed to get away with this any longer, and I would like to thank all our members who are supporting this crucial campaign and attending the committee meetings.” For more information, visit the Save Our NHS Hull and East Yorkshire website at saveournhshull.wordpress.com
GMB is fighting to save hundreds of beds at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, East Yorkshire, where funding cuts are set to hit frontline staff and services, putting the whole community at risk. As many as 300 beds could be lost at the hospital after Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust was told to make savings worth £99 million by the coalition government. Along with new legislation, the cuts will also mean changes in working practice for GMB members at the trust and at Humber Mental Health Trust. In response, GMB has helped set up a new campaign committee called Save Our NHS Hull and East Yorkshire, which aims to make the public aware of the sweeping cuts and their implications for jobs and services. A well-attended rally outside the office of BBC Look North kick-started the campaign back in July, while a well-attended march through Hull brought more supporters to the cause on 22 September.
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don’t agree with that! Why didn’t Labour sort this out when they were than in power? I could do a better job this lot! ething How many times have you said som felt let bers mem like that recently? Many GMB now and ent, rnm gove down by the Labour we’re stuck with a cutters’ coalition literally no one voted for. There is still a lot of work to do to make sure the Labour party has real policies that help ordinary people and families. That’s why GMB members made a decision at Congress this year. If we want a Labour party that to we can really get behind, we need it. t abou g do somethin
pean Whether its local councils, the Euro hern Nort and s Wale on, Lond Parliament, the nts in iame parl the or ies, mbl Asse nd Irela to get Westminster and Scotland, we need into ce rien expe life people who have reale. renc diffe a e mak can they re positions whe councillors, as bers mem GMB e mor ns mea That MPs, assembly members and MSPs. t it You might not think you’ve got wha we but , me” like le peop for “not takes, that it’s , working nary ordi of s dred hun have dy alrea e. class GMB members in elected offic them gave and skills GMB developed their ing winn a run to ce iden conf and the insight difference a ing mak ’re they Now n. paig cam and for every day for their own communities ’s help GMB With UK. the ss GMB members acro ? next be you ldn’t shou why and support, e! mor out find to e pag the Turn
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from GMB All the news
GMB members are already MPs, SMPs, MEPs or AMs
ORD le MUM’S THE W sa has the peop Li um m ng ki Wor r! he nd gh behi of Peterborou
Lisa Forbes e parliamentary Labour’s prospectiv orough candidate for Peterb gh for has lived in Peterborou I’m a mum of four who ss cla ng an ordinary worki over 25 years. I’m from my d an rer s a manual labou background: my dad wa jobs, of ts sor NHS. I’ve done all mum was a carer in the t! en being a travel ag from potato picking to last Labour party after the the I got involved with my to ed en ember what happ election, because I rem le op Pe r. we Tories were in po family the last time the
here can’t afford for that to happen again. I know my family can’t – we’re already starting to feel the pinch. Thanks to the support of the trade unions – especially GMB – I was recently selected to be the prospective parliamentary candidate for Peterborough. GMB is serious about helping people like me get into parliament. They’re serious about supporting people with a genuine connection to the everyday lives of working people, and the support they gave me really showed that. If Labour is going to deliver policies that relate to the real lives of the people we seek to represent (and win elections at the same time), we need more GMB members to come forward to become party members, activists, councillors, MPs and elected representatives at all levels. It might seem daunting, but whether it’s going along to your first branch meeting or asking for advice on standing for council there is always someone on the end of the phone to ask for advice. When I moved to Peterborough 25 years ago, I never dreamed I would be standing to be the city’s MP. Now I am determined to beat the Tories and make sure that people have someone in Westminster who understands the impact of government policy on their everyday lives.
Get 50% off Labour party membership! Go to
WIN an iphone 4s! Register online to enter
very elected official needs to stay in touch! That’s why, when you tell us that you want to stand for the Labour party, we’ll automatically enter you into a free prize draw to win an Apple iPhone 4S! The iPhone 4S is a super-fast phone, camera and music player, with email, internet and access to thousands of apps and games – all available to download. It also comes loaded with maps, HD video
recording capability and futuristic Siri voice-recognition software. To find out more about standing for election, and to be entered into the free prize draw, call GMB national political officer Hilary Perrin on 020 7391 6749, or email firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday 14 December. When emailing, remember to include your name, address and your GMB membership number.
TERMS & CONDITIONS The winning entry will be drawn at random. Draw includes members who enter themselves into the draw by phone or email before close of business on Friday 14 December. The winner will be notified by GMB. Prize is subject to availability. No purchase necessary. This prize draw is only open to GMB members. Entries from employees of GMB 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.
Case study 1
SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk Bring these pages to life!
Join the GMB what to do councillors’ Want to become a Labour network candidate? Here’s what you need to do… 1
Join the Labour party at the discounted rate for GMB members at www.gmb.org.uk/ LabourPartyApplicationForm
Call GMB national political officer Hilary Perrin on 020 7391 6749, or email her at email@example.com and tell her which seat you want to stand for.
Sign up for GMB’s I Want To Be Elected programme for all the help you need to be selected. Sign up at www.gmb.org.uk/ GMBLabourcandidatesnews
Case study 2
Get elected, then get online for full support from GMB
MB won’t desert you once you get elected! We’ve set up an exclusive network to offer you help and support in your role on the local council. GMB’s councillors’ network is a new online forum where GMB councillors can share experiences and best practice, ask for and offer advice, and set up realworld meetings with fellow members who have plenty of experience of council business. So, maybe you want advice on implementing the living wage for council workers? Log-on to the forum and ask Gary Doolan, GMB national political officer and councillor for the London borough of Islington, where the living wage is now official policy. This is the sort of difference that GMB can make, and with info and ideas flowing, we can make those differences nationwide! GMB has more than a quarter of a million members working in local government, with many more directly affected by the decisions their local councils make. So who better to turn to for help and advice? The network is completely confidential and exclusively for GMB members. To sign up, go to www.gmbcouncillorsnetwork.org.uk and enter your GMB membership number to get started.
GMB members are already Labour councillors
Clive Lewis Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich South I’ve lived in Norwich for more than 12 years and work locally at the BBC. I’m not from a professional political background, so running for Labour was daunting. It was certainly a bit different from the Afghan desert, where I served as an army reserve! From the coalition’s plans to close two-thirds of Remploy factories, to their nakedly political attack on the pensions of public sector workers, it’s obvious that the first priority is to get rid of this government. But I don’t think that’s enough in itself. Undoubtedly, the Labour party did many good things during our time in government, but we also got some very important things wrong and didn’t do enough in other areas. I’m not in politics for the career – I want to see real and lasting change for the many not the few. For me, getting a Labour government is just the first step.
ON THE FRONTLINE other GMB Army man Clive joined mploy demo. Re members on a recent GMB supported me throughout my selection and continues to support me now. I will be working closely with GMB to secure the change we need for people, families, communities and for soci ety as whole. If you live in Norwich and want to get invo lved, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
from GMB All the news
GMB and Maggie Hughes win change in EU law
golden girl Mary Turner honoured at TUC Congress
ongratulations to GMB national president Mary Turner, who was awarded the TUC Women’s Gold Badge at this year’s TUC Congress. Mary was presented with the award by TUC general secretary Brendan Barber and dedicated it to trade union members around the world. TUC Congress is the annual policymaking get-together of the Trades Union Congress, made up of GMB and other unions. This year’s event took place at the Brighton Centre from 9 to 12 September and was chaired by GMB general secretary Paul Kenny in his role as TUC president. Also flying the flag for GMB was CEC (central executive council) member Barbara Benham, who took the shadow chancellor Ed Balls to task during his address to delegates. 12 www.gmb.org.uk
GET HELP SAYING HELP!
“The last Labour government failed Want to know how to ask for help to regulate so many areas to protect abroad? Go to www.missingabroad.org for the interests of the British people,” a list of essential foreign phrases, plus she said. “Labour deregulated and lots more vital info for travellers. removed controls over pricing in areas Originally set up to help families like energy markets, failed to build of miss ing people, the GMB-backed char social housing, embraced PFI, and lost ity now offers practical support for anyo touch with millions of people by taking ne who has been affected by an acci their votes for granted.” dent or serious crime away from home. She went on to ask Mr Balls what he If you or your loved ones get into would do differently if he could turn trou ble abroad, call the Missing Abro back the clock. He replied immigration ad 24/7 helpline, which is part-funded and regulation of the banks. by GMB donations, on 020 7047 50 TUC Congress also paid tribute to 60 (or 44 20 7047 50 60 from overseas). outgoing GMB national secretary and TUC general purposes committee (GPC) member, Phil Davies, warmly congratulating him for all his hard COSTA LIVING work on behalf of Remploy and Don’t go away without wishing him well in his retirement. Missing Abroad’s details. Sharon Holder will now replace Phil on the GPC for Congress 2013.
TURNER PRIZE Mary Turner is the GMB national president.
GMB member Maggie Hughes has won a change in EU law with help from GMB. Victims of violent crime across Europe will now get better access to medical care and legal help, thanks to her campaign. Maggie’s own son Robbie was beaten and left for dead while he was on holiday in Crete in 2008. She did everything she could to support him in his hour of need, but didn’t speak the language and found there was nowhere she could turn for help and advice. With support from GMB Brussels officer, Kathleen Walker Shaw, Maggie has spent the last four years campaigning to make sure other victims and their families get better treatment than her and her son. The new laws will make sure all EU countries offer the same levels of advice and access to medical and judicial services. “I hope that no other family will now have to go through the agony, frustration and pain that we did to get support and justice for our son Robbie,” Maggie said. “I am delighted by the progress we have made on victims’ rights in the EU.” “However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and once these measures have been adopted, all member states need to work hard to implement them in their countries. This will turn the progress we have made into a practical reality on the ground. “I have been on a major journey with GMB, and I would like to thank everyone who has supported our campaign so far.”
cretary e s l a r e n e g your GMB m o r f d r o w A
Protection from a mansion tax and £40k pay rises for the super-rich show whose side Osborne is on
ny suggestion that George Osborne doesn’t know how tough things are right now for his friends have been robustly put to flight by his decisive interventions to protect millionaires from the mansion tax and, of course, his £40,000 a year handout to the super-rich from next April. At a time when decent, hardworking families are facing pay freezes and cuts to working families tax credits threaten to finally shove hundreds of thousands into poverty, this Conservative government reverts to type and – with utter contempt – merely goes about lining the pockets of the rich and greedy.
IT’S NOT WORKING Pay freezes; cuts to our NHS, schools and services; and unemployment – particularly among the young – are the price the country is paying for Osborne’s obsession with an economic plan which even his own side are having to admit just isn’t working. In fact, the deficit is growing not shrinking – a direct result of more people out of work courtesy of Cameron and co, and the
subsequent downturn in spending created by year upon year of squeezed household budgets. Is it any surprise that the Olympic crowds, who cheered their hearts out at every event and for every competitor, ended up roundly booing George Osborne at a medal ceremony? Why, the pundits asked, did 80,000 people boo George Osborne? Answer: that’s all the stadium could hold!
TIME FOR CHANGE As the TUC march for the alternative showed, hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England are prepared to march and campaign for a change in economic strategy. Social and economic justice will not come about by doing nothing. Everyone knows that building more social housing will cut waiting lists, reduce emergency housing costs and help cut the £20 billion a year housing benefit bill, most of which ends up in the tax-free offshore back pockets of private landlords and property companies which feed off the council housing shortage.
Everyone knows that leaving a million young people without jobs or access to higher education is storing up a huge social problem for us all – as well as the pure waste of talent that mass youth unemployment brings.
ATTACKING RIGHTS Everyone knows that attacking the basic protection rights of working people leads to abuse, fear, bullying, stress and unfairness in the world of work. What’s more this spills over into family life. Everyone who relies on the NHS knows it is in danger of being sold off to profitmaking spivs in the name of progress. Just like the disasters of rail and water privatisations before, our NHS is in real danger of becoming a cash machine for private companies first, and a service to the public second. It seems that everybody knows these things except George Osborne and his millionaire mates. Well, when you have just been handed a £40,000 wage increase, life under Osborne and the Conservatives must seem a little more rosy than for the rest of us ‘plebs’. www.gmb.org.uk 13
from GMB All the news
ON THE UP Help stop rising prices with GMB.
he UK is facing an energy bill crisis. One in every four households can’t afford to heat their homes, and this is expected to rise to one in three by 2016. Cold homes damage the health of our most vulnerable citizens, including children, older people, those on low incomes and people with disabilities. The main reasons for the crisis are that gas, oil and coal prices are high, and the UK’s homes are some of the most energy inefficient in Europe – badly insulated and with old-fashioned boilers. This means they cost much more than they should to heat and power, and they contribute to climate change, too.
But there is a fair and permanent solution. We can have warm homes, reduce our fuel bills, and help the environment at the same time! The government currently taxes big companies on their carbon emissions, which are harmful to the environment. If the government used the money it gets from those taxes to fund an energy efficency drive across the UK, it would keep people warm while cutting their fuel bills, cut harmful carbon emissions and create jobs! Over the next 15 years, the government will raise an average of £4 billion every year in carbon taxes. The companies eventually pass these taxes on to consumers in the form of higher bills, so it
“GMB is calling for super-energy efficient homes.”
join the 14 www.gmb.org.uk
is only fair that the government recycles the revenue back into households by paying towards better insulation, modern boilers and renewable energy. GMB is part of the Energy Bill Revolution, a campaign calling on the government to do just this, making our homes super-energy efficient and driving down our energy bills forever. Hundreds of charities, consumer groups, businesses and politicians are already behind the campaign, but there is still more to do. By taking two minutes to go online and sign the petition, you can add your voice to this vital cause. You can also help by writing to your MP, and by sending the link to your family and friends. Together we can end the energy bill crisis forever. Join the revolution by signing the petition at www.energybillrevolution.org
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PENSIONS FOR ALL! New rules guarantee a workplace pension for millions of workers
s your boss ready for automatic enrolment? October saw the start of a new pension system which requires employers to include their workers in workplace pension schemes by 2017 at the latest – but many bosses still claim to be unaware of the changes. Known as automatic enrolment, the new system is the first time employers have been obliged to put their staff into pensions, and to make contributions towards them. It has been introduced to tackle a pensions crisis caused by very low state pensions combined with a lack of individual saving. Workers will be auto-enrolled if they are aged between 22 and the state pension age, and earn at least £8,105 a year. You also have the right to be enrolled if you are outside this age group but earn more than £5,564 a year. Workers have the right to opt out of the system, but they must not be pressured or encouraged to do so by their employer.
If this happens to you or anyone you know, tell your GMB workplace organiser and your local GMB office (see p31). The government has already written to employers explaining the new system, so bosses have no excuse for not knowing what to do. Many large employers have already started enrolling employees, and even the very smallest must do so by April 2017. Though GMB welcomes automatic
enrolment as a step in the right direction, the union is disappointed that the standard of pension scheme required by the new system is not very good. Currently, the minimum employer and employee contributions stand at just one per cent of pay, which is nowhere near enough to secure a decent income in retirement. However, it is a start, and GMB will continue to argue for higher employer contributions.
“Workers must not be pressured to opt out.”
dukes of hazard
GMB health and safety representative Dave Carter reports from the National Hazards Conference This year’s National Hazards Conference took place at the University of Keele, bringing together health and safety activists from around the UK. High on the agenda was the problem of asbestos, which remains a deadly danger after all these years. I was amazed to discover that the British Commonwealth is a major part of the problem, as Canada continues to mine and produce the fatal fibres with seemingly no regard to the dreadful implications. Meanwhile, in UK schools, government policy is not even to remove asbestos – simply to seal it off and make it ‘safe’. Yet that same government has approved £1.2 billion to remove all traces of asbestos from the Houses of Parliament! How much clearer could they be that they only care about themselves? Another major issue to emerge from the weekend was workplace stress. This has huge
financial implications for many companies, but more important is the cost to the health and wellbeing of affected workers. Stress levels are rising as budgets are falling, yet government responses have been atrocious at best.
executive stress Health and Safety Executive (HSE) budgets have been slashed by 35 per cent; many industries have been reclassified as low-risk; and vital inspections are no longer being carried out. So not only are workplaces suffering from HSE cuts – the flagship body of health and safety itself is becoming a hotbed of stressed and overworked employees! One of the highlights of the conference was a wonderful speech from Louise Adamson, a young woman whose brother was tragically killed while working as an electrician.
Louise has turned her bereavement into positive action, becoming involved with a group called FACK, or Families Against Corporate Killers, and her evocative speech lambasted big business for trying to shirk its responsibilities when it comes to deaths caused as a result of work, and she went on to receive a standing ovation. If the conference taught me anything, it’s that – no matter who you are or where you work – health and safety must be the paramount concern for all of us, all the time. This government simply doesn’t care, so we – as workers, managers, companies and GMB members – must look out for our colleagues, our loved ones and, of course, ourselves. Work safe. Go home safe. Dave Carter is a GMB health and safety rep at Harsco Metals in Scunthorpe. www.gmb.org.uk 15
from GMB All the news
ow many of you remember the catchy jingle “Cook, Cook, Cookability – That’s the Beauty of Gas!” that went out on TV as long ago as 1978? Written by award-winning Roger Greenaway – author of “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” and other hits - it was timed to coincide with the flow of North Sea gas into people’s homes. The ad ran for years, and even featured a very young Noel Edmonds bopping with teenagers in a kitchen. The industry was still publicly-owned in those days. How things have changed since! But the reality behind the slogan is as true now as it was then. Gas is still the cook’s friend, and a versatile fuel that remains the nation’s favourite for central heating. It doesn’t make sense to burn this vital primary energy source in power station
IT’S A GAS Noel was always warm in the 1970s.
furnaces to produce electricity. But that’s precisely what the Coalition government threatens to do - up to and beyond 2030, probably in contravention of Labour’s 2008 Climate Change Act and certainly with greater risk of global warming. Gas is needed in the home and in industry to supply clean, efficient power, not the ovens of privatised power stations looking for a quick buck. However, ministers in what David Cameron once called “the greenest government ever” are trying to rat on their pledge to de-carbonise the electricity generation market. In particular, Chancellor George Osborne, under intense ideological pressure from anti-wind farm Right-wing Tory MPs, wants to get round policy commitments put into law by the Labour government. In private, he sneers at legal curbs on toxic emissions and panders to the gas lobby. As the union for energy workers, with 40,000 members working in the industry (and more than half a million members with gas in their homes), GMB takes a close interest in developments in this field. And recently, top scientists on the government’s Climate Change Committee intervened to undermine GMB’s case. They want to see gas phased out and be replaced by electricity for home heating and cooking. This reckless and extremist policy could lead to a four-fold increase in your energy bills if households are forced to use electricity to cook and heat their homes. Thousands more would have to be spent on new appliances. They wrote to Energy Secretary Ed Davey
FRIED ED The heat is on for energy secretary Ed Davey.
expressing “great concern” that the government plans to favour imported gas over nuclear generation and renewable forms of electricity generation. The Thatcher government’s “dash for gas” of the 1980’s is in danger of becoming a permanent feature of energy policy under Cameron’s Tory-led Coalition. But there are huge financial penalties in store for consumers, warns GMB’s national officer for energy and utilities, Gary Smith. “Our union has never been a supporter of burning gas to produce electricity,” he explained. “Even with the development of shale gas GMB do not think it is the best use of what is a finite resource. “We recognise that while gas-fired stations are easy to turn on to meet peak demand, the UK needs investment in low-carbon ways of producing electricity including nuclear. “The view that gas should not be burned to meet base load electricity is right.” GMB agrees with the scientists that
Rex Features x 3
Plans to phase out gas for home use will inflate your bills says Daily Mirror political correspondent Paul Routledge
SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk Bring these pages to life!
of energy. A unit of electricity is about FOUR TIMES as expensive as the equivalent unit of gas. “Given the fact that around 80 per cent of British homes use gas for heating and cooking there is no way they will easily or cheaply move from gas to electricity. “Nobody in their right mind would suggest that people will have to fork out thousands of pounds to replace their gas boilers and gas cookers with electric units – and then have to endure a fourfold increase in fuel bills. “The experts need to face the fact that the suggestion of forced conversion to electricity is bonkers and will not be accepted by households.” Energy Secretary Davey – one of the Lib Dems in the Torydominated Cabinet – defends his policy with a weasel-worded statement, offering only “significant” de-carbonisation of the industry. No dates, no promises. One fifth of the nation’s power stations are due to close over the next decade, he HOB-NOB Chancellor George Osborne says, adding : “We have always said that this will isn’t out of the frying pan. include gas-fired plant which is quick to build and flexible. After 2030 we expect that gas will be increasingly used as back up…. but gas has an important role to play.” government ministers In plain English, the Coalition are sending out “mixed intends to keep as much gas-fired messages” about energy policy that will capacity for as long as possible, damage investment in low-carbon and certainly beyond the date technologies. There is already evidence of a when it should be phased out. That’s bad “very poor” investment climate in the industry. news for climate change and very possibly These new electricity generating methods for consumers. are needed to tackle long-term climate change. And Davey isn’t the But there is an even worst of them. more pressing Cameron’s demand to bring appointment of home to politicians hard-liner Owen the impact on Patterson to be families of switching Environment Secretary from gas to in his autumn Cabinet electricity for reshuffle is seen as a cooking and snub to the greenhome heating says tinged Lib Dems. A Gary Smith. dedicated opponent of “There is a need wind turbines, with the for a reality check by OLD FLAME ear of the Prime some of these experts Even tellies ran on Minister and the about the economics gas in those days.
NO DEAL Even Noel couldn’t foresee the problems of modern energy policy. Chancellor, he’ll be hostile to GMB policy. But Gary Smith is clear that the union will continue to campaign for a rapid transition to nuclear and renewable power supply, to stave off the imposition of totally electricity-dependent cooking and heating. All this is a far cry from yesteryear’s “The Beauty of Gas” commercial. Adverts today stress the ease of switching from one supplier to another, rather than “cookability” or the versatility of gas. The industry is mired in an ideologicallydriven, profit-based dispute about the best way forward for consumers and energy generators alike. GMB stands four-square with households and the champions of climate change through conversion to low-carbon technology.
“This reckless policy will mean a four-fold rise in energy bills.” There is a role for gas in electricity production, Gary Smith agrees. But it has to be back-up, rather than supplying the base load. “We also have to think about carbon capture and storage for coal-fired generating stations, but the reality is that in the long term, electricity has to come from renewable sources, which in practice means nuclear.” Gary also criticised ministers and the energy companies for failing to spend the £1.3 billion already taken from customers to help insulate their homes and bring down bills for poorer people. “This is a scandal,” he added. “This is an obligation from government. We are all paying for this but the energy companies can’t find the people whose homes need insulating.” That’s the beauty of consistent energy policy. www.gmb.org.uk 17
from GMB All the news
! l a i c i f of
you’re better off with GMB W orking people who are trade union members earn an average of 18.1 per cent more than those who aren’t. That’s a big increase on last year’s figure of 16.7 per cent, so it’s more worthwhile to join GMB now than ever before. It’s not just GMB saying this, either, but official figures from the annual labour force survey, published by the Office of National Statistics.
We’ll fight for your rights Collective agreements – how unions make a difference to your workplace
collective agreement is an understanding between employers, which regulates terms and conditions for all employees. These collective agreements affect your pay, working hours and duties and even have a bearing on the duties of your employer. They usually follow long bargaining sessions between unions and employers and this is a fundamental way in which
GMB improves conditions in workplaces all over the UK. The trade union membership report 2011 shows just how important collective bargaining is. A whopping 73.2 per cent of members are covered by a collective agreement. Almost a third (31.2 per cent) of employees said their conditions were affected by collective agreement. In the private sector, collective agreements cover just 16.9 per cent of
The report shows that the hourly earnings of UK union members average £14.18, an impressive 18.1 per cent above the hourly rate for nonunion members, which comes in at just £12.01 an hour.
you’re in good
company Between Septe mber 2011 and Septem ber 2012, GMB mem bership grew by 1.6 per ce nt, making GMB on e of the fastest growing unions .
employees, while in the public sector they account for a much healthier 67.8 per cent of employees. The highest sector for collective agreements is public administration and defence, with 71.1 per cent, while the lowest rate is in accommodation and foodservice, which has just 4.6 per cent.
Bring these pages to life!
We’ve got your number! Stats from the trade union membership report 2011 give us a detailed view of the UK’s union members. This information is helpful to GMB members, workplace organisers and officers for planning recruitment, supporting existing members, and recognising areas that need improvement.
average hourly wage for union members
average hourly wa ge for non-union members
amount that union members earn above nonunion members
of GMB members are women
union members in the private sector
of asian and british asian workers are union members
people in work who are union members
hourly extra earned by women in unions over non-members
of public sector workers are trade union members
34.5% of people aged 50+ are union members
of public sector workers have a union in their workplace
33.6% 34.9% 29.8% 24.8% percentage of workers who are union members (by country) www.gmb.org.uk 19
from GMB All the news
FLIGHT CREW John (far left) with his winning darts team.
the best you
can be! My life with Parkinson’s, by GMB Sellafield branch president, John Kane
champion, Phil ‘The Pow
testing times I saw my GP, who arranged an appointment with a neurologist. I was also a keen runner, and my trainer could not explain why my right arm and leg suddenly lacked the speed and rotation I still had on my left side, so I was really starting to worry. But when the specialist put me through tests including nerve conduction, a lumbar puncture and an MRI scan, they all showed up nothing, so I carried on with my life. When I started dragging my right leg in 2007, I thought I might have suffered a stroke, with the worst of it masked by my youth and my general fitness (I was only just in my 50s). I went to see the doctor at Sellafield, where I worked, and he put me in touch with a Professor Bates in Newcastle. Within 20 seconds of meeting me, and after seeing me walk along the corridor, the professor told me he was 99 per cent certain I had Parkinson’s. He said the only way to be sure was with a DAT scan, which shows up a lack of dopamine
Rex Features x 2
first knew I had a problem in 2005. My social life had always revolved around darts and for 25 years I had played at the highest levels – captaining the Cumbria county team, winning national and international titles, even winning the old ITV game show Bullseye! But now, at a national team competition final in Blackpool, I found I was not the darts player my teammates had come to rely on. Together, we won the competition, but amid the celebrations that followed, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was wrong. There had been something up with my handeye coordination that I had never experienced before. Little did I know that in two WE’VE GOT THE POWER years I would never be able John with 15-times darts world to play darts again. er’ Taylor.
SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk Bring these pages to life! – the chemical in the body that helps to control movement. My earlier doctors had not considered such a test because they simply aren’t looking out for Parkinson’s in anyone my age.
keeping active After the scan confirmed the professor’s diagnosis, I decided to give up the job I loved and do all the things I had planned to do when I eventually retired naturally. Parkinson’s isn’t fatal, but it is progressive, and worsening symptoms relating to lack of movement control and balance often lead people to become housebound – or the victims of tragic accidents. My wife and I always wanted to travel the world. Now I wanted us to do it together while we still could. I also decided to stay as active as I could in the wider community. I had many years experience with GMB, first as a shop steward and then as convenor, so I knew I could deal calmly and confidently with other people’s problems and concerns. In the same year I was diagnosed, I was elected as Labour councillor for Copeland. At first, I didn’t tell anyone about my Parkinson’s, but when I did, nobody treated me any differently, or expressed any doubts about my ability to do the job. I also got involved with the charity Parkinson’s UK, working hard to raise the profile of the condition, which most people know so very little about, and organising days out and other activities for people with Parkinson’s and their families.
compulsive behaviour – and for a while I became obsessed with gambling, keeping it secret from my family while my debts and my shame grew. I am on a different drug now, that suits me much better, but the experience has only spurred me on to spread the word. I’m lucky to have such a loving and understanding family (and a daughter who’s a nurse!), but many people with Parkinson’s risk becoming isolated and some even become suicidal. That’s where my work with Parkinson’s UK comes in. I go into care homes around the North West running awareness courses for staff who might not spot the signs of Parkinson’s, or might simply mistake them as the signs of old age. I talk about diagnosis, about the drugs, about the way the condition affects every individual differently. I share my own experiences, using humour and all the invaluable skills that I learned standing up and talking in front of people during 30 years representing members in GMB.
“The tests showed up nothing, so I carried on with my life”
side effects My work for Parkinson’s UK is what really motivates me now. I’ve had some very hard times since I was diagnosed – not just with the symptoms, but with the drugs I have been prescribed to control them. Among the many things people don’t know about Parkinson’s are the extreme sideeffects that the drugs can cause, including
you can help I have always believed in fighting for what’s right, whether as GMB steward, a Labour councillor or as a campaigner for Parkinson’s UK. In every job I have done, I have also believed in being the best you can be, and I get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that I make a real difference. Last year I was elected chair of the West Cumbria branch of Parkinson’s UK and I am still GMB branch president at Sellafield. I’m 57 now, with two wonderful grown-up children, and my wife and I have just returned from trips to Borneo and Kuala Lumpur. So it’s not all doom and gloom! I have made it my ambition to raise the profile of this condition, because Parkinson’s is often forgotten when it comes to charity donations. Without money for research, a cure will never be found. If you want to help, go to www.parkinsons.org.uk and please give whatever you can.
The life and times of John Kane
• Started work at Sellafield and joined GMB on his first day.
• Became a shop steward while
working for BNFL in the Magnox reprocessing plant.
• Voted onto the Sellafield shop stewards committee.
• Elected GMB convenor at Sellafield. • Married Dot, now his wife of 30 years.
• Together they have two children, Laureen and Jenna.
• Lead the national campaign for
the licensing of THORP (Thermal oxide reprocessing plant). • Negotiated new company contract raising basic and pensionable pay by 40 per cent. • Stepped down as convenor after seeing members through the MOX data falsification scandal.
2000s • Elected Labour councillor for Copeland.
• Awarded honorary life membership of GMB while still at Sellafield.
• Elected chair of the West Cumbria branch of Parkinson’s UK.
• Remains president of the GMB Sellafield branch.
PARKINSON’S FACTS • P arkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition • T here is currently no cure and doctors don’t know
what causes it • O ne person in every 500 has Parkinson’s • Most people with Parkinson’s are aged 50 or over but younger people get it, too • B oth Mohamed Ali and Michael J Fox were diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their 30s
PLANT LIFE John dedicated his working life to GMB members at Sellafield. www.gmb.org.uk 21
from GMB All the news
Government proposals for regional pay spell disaster
LOOK OUT! The government wants to slash your pay. 22 www.gmb.org.uk
SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk Bring these pages to life!
% of workers employed in the pu
££££££££££££££££££ ££££££££ 30 ££ ££££££££££££££££££ ££££ 28 ££ .8£ North East ££££££££££££££££££ ££28 ££ Scotland ££ ££££££££££££££££ 27££ .1 North West ££££££££££££25 ££.3£ Yorkshire & The Humber ££££££££££ 24 ££ .5£ Unit d South West Ki n g d e ££££££££ 23££ .4 o m as a whole West Midlands ££££££ ££.2£ 23 24 % East Midlands ££££££ 22££ .9 East ££££ ££ 22 .3£ South East ££££22 ££ Wales
Area by % rank
££ 21££ .3 20
% of people
iStock x 2
he pay of millions of public sector workers would be cut if the ConDem government goes ahead with its plans to scrap national agreements and introduce regional pay. These agreements are negotiated with GMB and other unions to ensure a fair rate of pay for workers, and scrapping them could lead to harsh salary cuts. Public sector workers make up 24 per cent of the total UK workforce – and as much as 30 per cent in some regions. A pay cut for them would mean less money going into their local economies. The areas that would be hit
hardest are in Wales, Northern Ireland, the North East and Scotland. Eilean Siar in the Western Isles, has the highest percentage of public sector workers with 42.7 per cent facing a pay cut. Many other areas would be badly affected too. See the full list at www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom GMB general secretary, Paul Kenny said “GMB negotiators have built up the pay of public service workers over many years and now the government wants to cut the pay of millions of public services workers by getting rid of the national agreement that is so successful. “If they succeed it would be a further devastating blow for local economies, where previous Tory governments have devastated the mining and manufacturing industry. “The Tories have a problem with workers in the regions. They just don’t like to see them doing well.”
DEEP CUTS Nearly a quarter of UK workers would be affected.
The general secretary warned that pay cuts would be a harsh blow to British workers, and affect all local businesses. He continued: “To reduce their pay further would not only be iniquitous, it would also reduce consumer spending and choke-off business confidence. The result would be local economies suffering a further drop in demand and private sector jobs being lost in their thousands.” GMB membership is the best defence in the face of the government’s reckless plans to cut wages across the country in the public sector. Paul Kenny concluded: “GMB is proud of its record in raising pay in the regions and cutting it back is in no one’s interest. As well as a regional policy to promote good, wellpaid jobs we need to see the levelling up of the poor pay in the shops and other commercial services, not a levelling down of public sector pay.”
“Regional pay will choke-off business confidence.”
from GMB All the news
The Full Monti
EU drops plans opposed by GMB that would have restricted workers’ rights
s the European Union a social project, designed to improve people’s lives, or a purely economic one, designed simply to make money? That was the question at stake back in September, as GMB and other unions fought against proposals that would have undermined the fundamental rights of workers, including the right to go on strike. The proposed Monti II regulations, which have now been abandoned in the face of overwhelming opposition, were meant to safeguard the right to collective action (including strike action) in the face
of pressure from regulations allowing the free movement of goods across EU borders. “From the day these proposals were launched, trade unions across Europe told the European Commission that they were not going to solve the problems they set out to resolve,” says GMB European officer Kathleen Walker Shaw. “In fact, they actually posed further threats to trade union rights. “GMB welcomed the decision to withdraw these very damaging proposals, but the Commission still needs to find a workable solution to make sure fundamental trade union rights and freedoms are not restricted or undermined by economic freedoms.” The need for clarity comes from two judgments in the European Court of Justice in 2007. While the freedom to take collective action is a fundamental workers’ right,
WELCOME NEWS Kathleen Walker Shaw led GMB’s opposition to the dropped plans.
protected by the European Union charter, the court judgments raised questions about what happens when that right comes into conflict with regulations on the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital. “There are huge legal uncertainties left by the EU Court of Justice rulings regarding the rights of workers,” says Labour MEP Stephen Hughes. “The problem is not going away and the European Commission has the responsibility to act.” European social policy includes commitments to improved living and working conditions, proper social protection, and dialogue between management and labour. GMB believes the European Union should put those commitments first and foremost.
EUROPE MUST ACT Labour MEP Stephen Hughes says workers’ rights must be clearer.
“Fundamental trade union rights and freedoms must not be undermined.” 24 www.gmb.org.uk
Photos by GMB’s Helen Ashton www.facebook.com/helenwithlovephotography Tel: 07951 840 499
from GMB All the news
GMB backs bid to end domestic abuse
re you man enough to say no to domestic violence? That’s the question being asked by GMB Midland and East Coast region and Women’s Aid Integrated Services (WAIS) in Nottingham, who are backing a campaign to stop violence by men towards women. The Man Enough campaign has been running since Valentine’s Day this year, and by 14 February 2013 hopes to have 10,000 men from across Nottinghamshire signed up to this simple promise: “I pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about men’s violence against women in all its forms.” The campaign also aims to: Raise awareness of domestic abuse Encourage men to demonstrate positive behaviours and attitudes towards women Provide women with support and confidence to report domestic abuse
• • •
GMB will be working closely with WAIS in the run-up to Valentine’s Day to
gather pledges and provide other support across the county. Midland and East Coast region lead officer for equalities Tyehimba Nosakhere is heading up the campaign within GMB, and has already held a pledge event at the annual regional equality conference, which took place in October. “We are well on the way to 10,000 pledges,” Tyehimba said after the event, “and the support we got at the regional conference really sends the message that when GMB says no to domestic violence, it means no!” Nottinghamshire’s Man Enough pledge is part of the national White Ribbon Campaign, the UK branch of the global movement to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. The pledges gathered in the county will be added to the national tally. “We are delighted to support this campaign, demonstrating GMB’s leadership on this very important issue,” said GMB regional secretary Andy Worth. “One in every four women will suffer domestic violence and abuse at some point during her lifetime. We are asking all GMB members to pledge their support and to publicise the campaign wherever they can.”
If you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, call the National Domestic Violence helpline (24-hour) on 0808 200 0247 or, in Nottinghamshire, call WAIS on 0808 800 0340 (24-hr freephone helpline). You can also find help, advice and information at: www.wais.org.uk and www.womensaid.org.uk
To pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about men's violence against women in all its forms, go to www.whiteribboncampaign.co.u k/ makepledge (in Nottinghamshir e, go to www.man-enough.org) Though the campaign is focused on getting support from men, women are enco uraged to pledge their support, too. Wom en’s names will be added to a separate list.
LEAP FOR MANKIND Andy Worth and Tyehimba Nosakhere with men from the Midland and East Coast region. www.gmb.org.uk 25
from GMB All the news
Charity fun day puts GMB members in the driving seat
sda Distribution workers and other GMB members enjoyed a terrific day of transport-related fun with their families at the On Your Marks charity day on 11 August. The annual event is organised by Asda at the Bruntingthorpe proving ground near Lutterworth, and since 2011 has been open to all GMB members, as well as Asda Distribution staff. The warm, sunny day saw GMB’s pitstop marquee kept busy with visits from existing members keen to win
a Ferrari F1 (well, a scale model!), as well as lots of non-members keen to find out more about the people behind all the orange flags and banners around the showground! “It was great to speak to so many GMB members and see them enjoying a lovely day out with their families,” said Sian McClarence, GMB regional lead officer for Asda Distribution. “And by making contact with employees who have yet to join GMB, we had an opportunity to let them know what we are all about.” The day included a motorcycle stunt show, hovercraft racing, aircraft display teams and chances to ride in high performance sports cars and huge Asda lorries. After the event, organisers predicted that the money raised for good causes would exceed last year’s total of £170,000. “Every year I think we can’t surpass the previous show,” said Jonty Moore, Soar Valley branch secretary. “But it just keeps getting better and better!”
“It was great to speak to so many GMB members”
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ACCESS ALL AREAS GMB and Asda work together for members Officials from the GMB Midland and East Coast region have undertaken a three-day store visit at Asda in Long Eaton to identify ways the good NOW IN STORE working relationship between GMB Rachelle Wilkins, lead and Asda can be further improved. organiser for Asda. The retail access trial was carried out in August by Rachelle Wilkins, GMB’s lead organiser for Asda stores in the region, regional organiser Tye Nosakhere, and Elaine Barratt and Stephanie Goodwin from the regional action team. “This was a really exciting opportunity for our region to take part in a store trial and develop local relationships with management,” said Rachelle. “By working closely on common benefits, we can build an even wider understanding between Asda and GMB for broader arrangements in the future. “The visit was a huge success and we were given a really warm welcome. We had plenty of opportunity to speak with colleagues about the benefits of GMB, and recruited 13 brand new members in the process. “We now hope to build on the success of the Long Eaton Trial and continue to improve ways of working with Asda stores throughout the region.”
PAY DEAL UPDATE GMB workplace organisers are keeping a close eye on the treatment of members who are struggling to hit new targets imposed by Asda. Though higher productivity was understood to be part of the historic pay deal signed by GMB and Asda at this year’s GMB Congress, some workers need extra support to meet the new pick rates, and GMB is working hard to make sure Asda keeps its promises to them. “I think we all realised that a period of adjustment would be necessary,” said GMB member Tim Rendchen from Lutterworth, who sits on the Asda Distribution national joint council. “Asda promised to make it easier to achieve these increases in productivity with training, job rotation and regular breaks, and we will continue to hold them to that.” Some distribution sites have also experienced problems with ghost picking and stoppages to sick pay. If you work at an Asda Distribution centre and have any concerns over productivity or any other issue, contact your GMB workplace organiser straight away for help. You can find their details on the GMB noticeboard at your site.
Update! Lead officer for equalities Tyehimba Nosakhere looks back on a great year for the region
t’s been a fantastic year for the regional equalities forum. Following our successful signposting leaflet for victims of domestic violence, the region endorsed our proposal to support the Man Enough campaign (see page 25). We want everyone to get behind this campaign in 2013, and our aim is to help deliver 10,000 men’s signatures by Valentine’s Day next year. This year also saw the launch of our Facebook page, which has already been a big hit with GMB members and non-members. To find out why, and to lend your support to the cause, search for GMB Midland and East Coast on Facebook and ‘Like’ our page!
A FORUM FOR ALL What is the REF? The regional equality forum represents seven equality strands: disability, race, LGBT, gender, young members, retired members and migrant workers. It is the body that represents our region’s commitment to progressing GMB’s agenda for equality. Who gets to be on it? The forum comprises two representatives from each of the seven strands, one of whom is elected to represent the region on the national equality forum. The forum elects a chair and vice chair, with meetings facilitated by the lead equality officer. What does it do? The forum meets at least four times a year to start new equality campaigns and develop existing ones, covering issues that improve our workplaces and our communities. It holds an equality conference every October, where all branches can send delegates and present motions. Here, delegates and motions are chosen to go forward to the national equality conference. How do I get involved? Email tyehimba.nosakhere @gmb.org.uk to find out how you can help drive equality in your workplace and local area. If you would like to attend next year’s regional equality conference, contact your branch and ask about being nominated.
MAN power Regional secretary Andy Worth and Tye Nosakhere get behind the Man Enough campaign. www.gmb.org.uk 27
from GMB All the news
GMB fights for member hurt at Cape Industrial Services boilers at Drax power station. He was easing a heavy metal trolley full of equipment down a scaffolding ramp provided by Cape, when the trolley ran out of control, pinning him against a metal frame. Thompsons argued that the ramp was not suitable for the job, because it should have had foot grips to help control the trolley. “Cape is a large employer which has years of experience in the industry and routinely works in dangerous environments,” said Joanne Hankey from Thompsons Solicitors. “The inspection and maintenance of its work equipment should be second nature to them. It’s appalling that this ramp was allowed to be used when
“It’s appalling this ramp was allowed to be used.”
GMB stands up for injured member A GMB member from Nottingham whose leg was hurt in a fall at work has won more than £2,000 in compensation. The member, who works for Eon, was pushing a trolley of supplies from one office building to the next when its wheels became caught in a gap in the paved road surface. This pothole caused the 38year-old member to fall onto the trolley, causing severe bruising to her left leg.
“My leg was really painful after the accident,” the member said. “It stopped me doing lots of things for a number of weeks, such as going to the gym.” The member contacted GMB, who arranged her claim for compensation. It identified that responsibility for the road belonged to Nottingham City Council, but when the council refused to accept liability, the case went to Nottingham County Court.
LAX AT DRAX and Cape skimped on health n. tio sta r we po x Dra safety at important safety features like foot grips were missing.” Cape admitted liability and settled the claim for £70,000. Though Colin still works for Cape, he has been left with ongoing pain in his leg, and can no longer undertake heavy industrial work, which is better paid. “Our members in heavy industry rely on being fit and healthy to work,” said GMB regional secretary Andy Worth. “Colin was badly injured through no fault of his own, in an accident that could have been easily avoided. He is now limited in the type of work he can do, causing huge financial impact in his life. It is only just that he is compensated for his employer’s negligence.”
In court, GMB argued that the council’s programme of inspection should have highlighted the pothole and arrangements should have been made to repair it. In the meantime, the hazard should have been cordoned off. Judge Hale ruled that Nottingham City Council was liable for her accident and awarded the member £2,000 in compensation. “We gave Nottingham City Council every opportunity to admit liability and settle this claim,” said GMB, “but they were determined to take it to an expensive court appearance. “There was no doubt in our minds that the court would agree that the council should have done more to ensure this accident could have been avoided.” GMB regional secretary Andy Worth added, “This member was minding her own business when she ended up being injured. It is right she is compensated.”
MB has won £70,000 in compensation for a member whose leg was crushed at work. Colin Fletcher from Immingham, North Lincolnshire, had to take eight months off work after suffering a depressed fracture to his left tibia while working for Cape Industrial Services. He needed an operation on his fractured leg, including a skin graft from his hip, and a metal plate was inserted into his knee. “After the accident, I was extremely worried about my future,” said Colin, 45. “The only work I know is manual labour and I was no longer fit to do the type of job I’m experienced at.” Colin got in touch with GMB, who instructed top law firm Thompsons to investigate a claim for compensation. The accident happened when Colin was working on a contract to chemically clean
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GMB backs strike as pork butchers face chop in Preston
MB members at Cranswick Country Foods in Preston have gone on strike after the company announced changes to terms and conditions that will mean massive pay cuts. The members, who are all skilled butchers, got letters from Cranswick seeking to terminate their contracts and re-engage them on contracts paying up to 30 per cent less. None of the affected workers
has had a pay rise for eight years, and all have seen their workload increase in that time. “At no stage has the company justified these cuts,” said area GMB organiser Dave Oglesby. “Cranswick has enjoyed consistent growth in profits, with a £37.5m surplus in the last financial year.” The members voted to reject the new terms and conditions and began strike action on 30 August, following protracted negotiations with the company, “Working conditions at Cranswick are not dissimilar to an 18th Century mill,” said Mr Oglesby. “Staff have to make an appointment to use the toilet, and anyone who arrives late is disciplined and sent home without pay. Workers with repetitive strain are not taken seriously and, thanks
“Conditions are not dissimilar to an 18th Century mill.”
knives out GMB members strike at ds. Cranswick Country Foo
CLOSE TO THE BONE Butchers are being asked to take a 30 per cent pay cut. to the speed of the production and the lack of breaks, staff have even fainted on the job.” Despite these concerns, Cranswick has continued to pile on more work while trying to cut pay, saying that failure to meet new productivity levels will result in further cuts. “Cranswick is trying to use the economy to frighten our members into accepting their terms,” said Mr Oglesby. “One member told me it would mean selling his home. Some of our members have more than 20 years’ service, so Cranswick’s behaviour feels like a massive slap in the face. “The only positive side is that solidarity has been excellent, as postmen, milkmen and other delivery drivers have refused to cross the picket line. Drivers hired to bus-in agency workers have turned away and vowed not to return. The camaraderie is great to see and shows that when the chips are down, you can count on GMB.”
Recruitment takes off at RAFA
GMB members seek recognition at Royal Air Forces Association When the Royal Air Forces Association recently announced a raft of major changes to employees’ terms and conditions, members quickly got in touch with their local GMB office in Leicester. GMB regional organiser Jed Purkis got straight on the case, coordinating a national campaign for recruitment with the aim of gaining recognition for GMB at the RAFA, and a role in the consultation about the changes. With the help of current members, numbers soon shot up, and an approach was
made to RAFA. Talks are now at an advanced stage and recognition is anticipated in the very near future. In the meantime, RAFA has made a very welcome offer for GMB to sit in on the consultation meetings, alongside an existing panel of employee representatives. “This is a positive sign for our future relationship with RAFA,” said Mr Purkis. “The employee representatives have been doing
an excellent job in very difficult circumstances, and they now have the support of a professional trade union behind them. GMB will do everything it can for them and the wider membership.” www.gmb.org.uk 29
from GMB All the news
Manage your money with GMB HAPPY RETIREMENT! L-R: David Shamma, Andy Dooley and Geoff Burch.
Retirement and recognition for long-time member in Lincolnshire
oston 1 branch has awarded lifetime membership to Andy Dooley to mark his retirement after more than 40 years working at the same timber yard, throughout which he has remained a loyal GMB member. When Andy began work at the yard in the late 1960s, he had just left school, and a company called Harrison and Lewin was in charge. In the 1990s, it was bought by Finnforest, and is now known as Metsä Wood UK. GMB regional organiser David Shamma met Andy on a workplace visit to Metsä Wood UK earlier this year, and spoke to workplace organisers and branch secretary
Mick Wilcock about ways to mark the longserving member’s retirement. “When Andy joined GMB, his wage packet was just £7 per week, and union subs were half a crown,” says David. “It was amazing to hear from him how things have changed between then and now. Back then, the branch secretary was Ron Smalley, who used to cycle round Boston to collect all the subs from different workplaces!” At a presentation to mark his retirement, Andy said, “I’ve only needed to use GMB’s services on a few occasions, but when I did they were always there for me. Everybody who works should join GMB. You never know when you might need them.”
TCU Money is a financial organisation established by GMB in 1999 to offer GMB members and their families a competitive, democratic alternative to banks and other savings and loan providers. TCU Money is 100 per cent owned by GMB members and is regulated by the FSA (Financial Services Authority). It employs full-time professional staff to serve members and aims to build long-term, mutually rewarding financial partnerships through quality, friendly service to ensure that money circulates for the exclusive benefit of GMB members. TCU Money offers a range of services to help members manage their household budgets. Members are encouraged to make the most of their money through regular savings, which are fully protected by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) up to £85,000, and through responsible borrowing with fast, flexible loans from £100 to £10,000. TCU Money is governed by a board and committees elected by GMB members. All surpluses generated are reinvested in the organisation. Join today: 0161 486 1777 www.thornecreditunion.com
Here Be Winners HBW United score with GMB
HBW United Under-12’s Football Club have plenty to show off in this picture! Not only have they won the Lincolnshire Echo U12 League Cup, they’ve also scored stylish new kit, courtesy of GMB. The Z60 branch (Lincs TEC General and Apex) sponsored the HBW boys, who come from Heighington, Branston and Washingborough – three villages on the outskirts of Lincoln. We’re sure they’re destined for great things! 30 www.gmb.org.uk
TEAM PLAYERS The HBW boys celebrate in GMB colours.
SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk AT THE COP END GMB branch officer Kerry Humphreys with the team.
boys in BLUE GMB Notts police staff sponsor team
It’s been a great year for Nottinghamshire Police Staff branch! First they achieved recognition for consultation, then their branch secretary, Alan Woodward, was elected to represent GMB on the National Police Staff Council. Membership has increased and is now approaching 200 for the first time! To celebrate its growing influence, the branch is sponsoring the Sherwood FC Under 11s team, which comes from inner city Nottingham and is made up of boys of mixed ability from diverse backgrounds.
“We are delighted with GMB’s sponsorship,” said coach John Carter. “Getting support from a police branch really fits in with our ethos of good conduct and discipline on the pitch.” The boys wore their GMB-branded kit for the first time at a pre-season friendly in Ilkeston, where they beat West Hallam five goals to two. “The new kit obviously had a positive effect!” said branch officer Kerry Humphreys, who watched the match. “We’re very proud to support young people in positive activities. The boys obviously work hard and enjoy what they do. We all wish them the best of luck for the season ahead!”
Are you in the GMB Motor Drivers Fund? Being involved in a driving offence can leave you feeling like you have nowhere to turn for advice and representation. But joining the GMB Motor Drivers Fund can give you the peace of mind you need when driving, even if it’s not for work. Membership costs just 25p per week, and any GMB member can join. Members may be granted legal
assistance and representation and a hardship payment covering the offence may be awarded (subject to rule) if you become involved in a motoring offence. The GMB Motor Drivers Fund is managed by GMB members for the benefit and support of GMB members. Join today by calling 01159 601 113, or email jaime.foster @gmb.org.uk
T MIDLAND & EAS COAST REGION
Please feel free to contact your regional or local GMB office with any questions that you may have.
GMB Regional Office
542 Woodborough Road, Nottingham NG3 5FJ T: 0115 960 7171 F: 0115 960 1100 Email: email@example.com
GMB buxton Office 2 Fairfield Road, Buxton SK17 7DW T: 01298 241 90 F: 01298 246 35
GMB hull Office
62 Russell Street, Hull HU2 9AD T: 01482 218 018 F: 01482 216 285 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
GMB leicester Office
Yeoman Buildings, 18 Rutland Street, Leicester LE1 1RD T: 0116 251 0922 F: 0116 251 8320 Email: email@example.com
GMB lincoln Office
2 Monson Street, Lincoln LN5 7RZ T: 01522 525 579 F: 01522 567 523
GMB Peterborough Office
JEAN CHARLES It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Jean Charles, secretary at GMB’s former Grantham Office, who died suddenly on Sunday 12 August, aged 56. Jean worked for GMB from 2001 to 2011. Our condolences go to her husband, Phillip, and her whole family.
5 Swan Court, Forder Way, Hampton, Peterborough PE7 8GX T: 01733 344 418 F: 01733 891 374
GMB Regional website www.gmbmidandec.org.uk