The magazine for GMB members
Freeze e? EAS Fair questions on fair pay
an Apple iPhone! See page 10
TUC celebrates our ! r e n r u T y r a M n w o y r e 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 Scotland 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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brand new, a as h d an tl o Sc B M G ! easy-to -use website B campaigns • Get the latest on GM otland team • Contact the GMB Sc vice • Get legal help and ad ws stories • Submit your own ne rveys • Have your say in su n materials • Download campaig • And much more!
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In this issue...
Harry Donaldson ary et GMB Scotland secr
GMB wins a wage increase in Ayrshire Page 5
4 It’s a living thing
9 Get elected with GMB
5 Breaking the ice
12 TUC cracker!
6 Beat the blacklist
13 Paul Kenny
8 GMB fights for jobs
14 The heat is on
25 Regional pay risk
15 Pensions for all!
26 Spot the scammers
16 Paul Routledge
28 Helping Hope
18 Better off with GMB
29 Richard Leonard
20 The best you can be
30 GMB cares!
22 Watch your wages!
31 Contact GMB
24 The Full Monti
GMB members demand a living wage
An end to the local government pay freeze?
Labour backs GMB Carillion campaign
Steel and knitwear workers under threat
GMB defends national wage agreements
Don’t be a victim of scam letters
GMB stands up to racism in Glasgow
Your GMB Scotland political officer writes
GMB gets justice for care home members
Names and numbers you can call on
Front cover: Andrew Wiard/ Rex Features
Mary Turner gets a TUC gold badge Page 12
GMB regional editor Brian Johnstone: 0141 332 8641 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 right
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Would you like to advertise in GMB Insight magazine? Please contact Debbie Blackman on 01225 442 244 (ex 2243)
This coalition even makes Thatcher seem less severe The most significant question of this generation will be asked of the Scottish people in 2014, and GMB Scotland has started the process of meeting with our members across Scotland to hear what impact you believe Scottish political independence would have on your workplace, your community and your family. Make sure your voice is heard as part of the consultation process, by coming along to one of our meetings. After the government’s announcement in July that it was closing 27 Remploy factories, our members in Springburn (along with those in Chesterfield, Yorkshire) took a week of strike action against the deplorable decision to put thousands of disabled people across the country out of work –the latest casualties of their so-called austerity measures. The support from the public and our colleagues in other unions has been overwhelming. Decisions such as these show the true colours of this coalition government. When they can do this, they are capable of anything. The march and rally for A Future that Works in Glasgow and London on 20 October was about ensuring workers, communities, churches and faith groups from across civic Scotland raised their voices along with their colleagues in London, to make it clear that “there is a better way”. This is the most right-wing government Britain has had in modern times. It is so radical in its attacks on working people that it even makes Margaret Thatcher’s policies seem less severe. GMB is part of the fight-back, setting out a credible, compelling strategy to get our country back on track – protecting hardworking people from the impact of these measures and providing a vision of change, fairness, and a future brighter for us all, united in our commitment to social justice.
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MB Scotland members joined with other trade unions on 20 October for the Future That Works march, sending a clear message to Westminster that austerity isn’t working, and calling for all workers in Scotland to receive a living wage. GMB is a major partner in the Scottish living wage campaign, which is calling on public and private sector employers to go beyond the paltry minimum wage requirements and pay their staff at least £7.20 per hour. By going straight to employers, rather than calling for a change in the law, the campaign has begun to win real change, especially in the public sector. So far, seven local authorities in Scotland have adopted the £7.20 living wage as a minimum, 4 www.gmb.org.uk 04
benefiting around 15,000 workers. However, there is still a long way to go, as a similar number of public sector workers in other local authorities still earn markedly less. When the private sector is taken into account, as many as 350,000 workers across Scotland are thought to be scraping by on less than the living wage. At the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, Labour, the SNP and the Green party all supported the living wage to varying degrees, and with the backing of GMB members, the campaign can only go from strength to strength. We’ll have a full report on the Future That Works demonstration in the next issue. For more about the living wage, see opposite.
These local authorities already support the Scottish living wage:
• Dumfries and Galloway • East Renfrewshire • Glasgow City Council • North Ayrshire • Scottish Borders • South Ayrshire • South Lanarkshire • West Dunbartonshire
Marchers make case for living wage
ENOUGH TO LIVE ON Workers should be able to afford food for their fam ilies.
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5 answers ABOUT Fair Pay
The public sector pay freeze might be thawing – but there’s still much to do The public sector pay freeze in Scotland could be at an end, after Scottish finance secretary John Swinney announced that pay for government staff will rise by an average of one per cent from next March. The announcement puts local authority workers in a strong position to negotiate similar increases, after a biting two-year pay freeze that has seen public sector wages fall dramatically in real terms.
That leaves many GMB members in local authoritiy jobs with a great deal of ground to make up, despite this promising news. As a result, GMB is stepping up its Fair Pay for local government workers campaign, and is calling on all its members to roll up their sleeves and join the campaign for a living wage (see left). To find out what you can do to help, call the GMB Scotland organising department on 01324 637 246 today!
A winning wage
GMB scores wage increase in Ayrshire Workers are celebrating a significant victory in the campaign for a living wage, after South Ayrshire Council bowed to GMB pressure and agreed to pay all staff a minimum of £7.20 per hour. GMB launched a petition calling for a living wage at the council after it identified several hundred workers who were being paid less than £7.20. Almost 500 council employees have signed the petition, along with 25 MPs, MSPs and councillors from all the main political parties. “The massive show of support sent a strong signal that the council had to move quickly on this, rather than avoid its
responsibilities,” said South Ayrshire Council branch secretary, Georgie Hawkes, who was instrumental in the campaign, along with branch president Alex Thomson. “We are extremely grateful to everyone who signed the petition, which has resulted in council staff getting the living wage from October 2012 onwards.” Paul Arkison from GMB Scotland added: "South Ayrshire Council has had to accept that hundreds of its workers were attempting to survive on poverty pay. The introduction of a living wage will help them to get by. “Rather than a cost, the council should see this as a valuable investment."
How can a pay freeze be a pay cut? For the second year running, local government workers are facing a so-called pay freeze, though inflation has risen five per cent, food prices have gone up seven per cent and energy has increased by 15 per cent a year. As these essentials get more expensive, a freeze is a cut in real terms. Is my pay really that bad? Local government workers are among the lowest paid in the public sector. Three quarters of them are women, who face a part-time gender pay-gap in Scotland of 33 per cent. That means for every £1 earned by men working full-time, women working part-time earn just 67p. Shouldn’t I be more worried about losing my job altogether? A continued pay freeze doesn’t guarantee continued employment. While GMB is working with other unions to protect jobs, we need to make a stand now if we are to protect standards of living and show that we value what we do for our local communities – even if our employers don’t. How can councils afford pay more when they are facing cuts? It’s not down to local government workers to clean up the mess made by the economic crisis, and it’s unjust and unreasonable to expect them to do so while the people who caused it continue to take home big pay packets and hefty bonuses. Cuts in budgets don’t have to mean cuts for the lowest paid. What about the £250 pay rise that was promised to low-paid workers? This commitment applies only to those workers employed directly by the Scottish government or by Scottish government agencies. GMB has pursued the matter directly with COSLA (the convention of Scottish local authorities), and they have refused to pay it.
5 www.gmb.org.uk 05
from GMB All the news
Labour backs GMB call to name names Scottish construction workers are a step closer to finding out if they were among the 3,200 builders blacklisted by Carillion and other firms, after a GMB campaign won the backing of the Labour party. GMB is demanding that the information commissioner reveals the full list of workers who were illegally shunned by companies using a secret blacklist. The firms checked the list to see whether workers had trade union connections, then denied them work as potential ‘troublemakers’. GMB already knows of eight construction workers in Scotland blacklisted by Carillion.
They come from Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Irvine and Livingston. In 2009 the information commissioner revealed that 44 companies had paid to access the database. These included Carillion, Balfour Beatty and Mowlem. GMB is now calling on all local authorities not to give any new public contracts to Carillion until it apologises to the affected workers and pays them compensation. The Scottish affairs committee is currently investigating blacklisting in Scotland, and took evidence from GMB Scotland secretary Harry Donaldson in September.
TAKING SCYTHES GMB took the Grim Reaper to the Labour Party Conference to highlight Carillion wrongdoing.
Scottish Labour leader connects with GMB care workers Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was back in GMB Scotland’s Glasgow office in September, this time to talk to members working for care provider Cordia. Much of the meeting was devoted to the impact of budget cuts on the care sector and the introduction of self-directed support on the provision of home care. Members called on Ms Lamont to back GMB Scotland’s fair pay campaign (see
p25), and secured a promise that she would pursue COSLA (the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) and Glasgow city council over outstanding equal pay claims, some of which go back to 2005. When asked about the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, Ms Lamont said, “Poverty is not geographical. We need a Labour agenda of education and access to health, but which also promotes the case for the redistribution of wealth and greater equality.”
“Market forces have no place in care services.”
The visit was part of Scottish Labour’s drive to meet GMB members and re-connect with working class voters. It followed Ms Lamont’s address to GMB retired members at their annual conference back in March. After the meeting, GMB Scotland political officer Richard Leonard said, “Scottish Labour needs to adopt a distinctive political agenda, standing for public ownership of public services. Care services should be built on continuity and quality, and be democratically accountable. Market forces have no part to play.” To arrange a meeting between your branch and Scottish Labour, send an email to email@example.com
FOLLOW THE LEADER Johann Lamont with GMB members from Cordia. 06 www.gmb.org.uk
from GMB All the news
Historic manufacturer to swap Scotland for Slovakia
MB is fighting for jobs at the historic Carron Phoenix factory in Falkirk. Bosses at the sink manufacturer have announced plans to move production to Slovakia, losing 80 jobs and ending more than 250 years of Scottish skills and expertise. “It is our intention to fight for these jobs and keep the Carron name in Falkirk, where it rightly belongs,” said GMB regional organiser, John Kelly. “This news could not come at a worse time as manufacturing continues to decline.” Carron Phoenix is one of Scotland’s oldest manufacturing names, tracing its roots back to 1759 when The Carron Company started an iron foundry in Falkirk. At the height of the industrial revolution, it employed 5,000 people, making flat irons, baths, range cookers and even the cannons used by the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo. Later, the company made the iconic red phone boxes and pillar boxes that can still be seen across the UK. “Moving production away from Scotland will hit workers who have given a lifetime’s service to Carron Phoenix and to this country,” said Mr Kelly. “GMB is already enlisting the help of local politicians in support of its members, and will be meeting with SEEING RED Carron management to discuss the Carron workers have created full extent of their plans.” icons that survive to this day.
“We will fight to keep the Carron name in Scotland.” PULLING THE PLUG Workers could be washed up if Carron drains sink production to Eastern Europe.
stitched up? GMB fights for 180 jobs at Barrie Knitwear Cashmere company Dawson International went into administration in August, putting 180 GMB members’ jobs at risk at the company’s Hawick subsidiary, Barrie Knitwear. The decision to call in administrators came after Dawson failed to reach agreement with regulators over a sizeable deficit in its pension scheme. “The failure of Dawson International to come to terms over the pension scheme meant that administration was always a threat,” said GMB senior organiser Alex McLuckie. “The real fight now is to save the 180 jobs at Barrie Knitwear.”
Borders-based Barrie Knitwear remains profitable and last year returned pre-tax profit of more than £1 million making cashmere garments for some of the world’s top fashion houses. “If ever a group of workers deserved a future it is our dedicated and highly skilled members at Barrie,” said Mr McLuckie. “GMB will do everything it can to make sure these jobs are saved, not just for today but for years to come.”
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. . . y l r e prop GMB is helping its members get elected to public office – and you could be one of them!
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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YOUR FACE HERE! election With GMB behind your ere wh ws kno o wh , campaign you might end up?
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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.
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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
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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
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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
from GMB All the news
31.8% dUNdee cit
WEST SHIRE dUNBARTON
ARGYLL AND BUTE
EAST SHIRE dUNBARTON
HARDEST HIT a much higher These areas have entage of public rc pe e ag than aver d will be among sector workers an gional pay. the worst hit by re
GMB Scotland fights to keep national wage agreements
ith politicians in London giving real consideration to regional pay in the public sector, where you live and been more important. The never work has government is planning to scrap the local government national agreement, which ensures that 662,200 Scottish workers are paid the same as other workers doing the same job elsewhere in the UK. This agreement was negotiated by GMB and other unions and protects all Scottish public sector workers – almost two thirds of whom are women. The agreement is particularly important here in Scotland, because more than a quarter of our workers are employed in the public sector. Every
one of these hard-working people will lose vital pay if the coalition government gets its way, plunging local economies into poverty. Scottish workers already earn less than workers in the rest of the UK – just £29,848 on average, versus £32,659 in England. If pay agreements are scrapped, the Westminster government will be free to cut pay even further, doing immense damage to the local economies that most need help. “Tories want to cut the pay of 662,200 public sector workers in Scotland to the lower
levels that sadly now prevail in the country, following the devastation by the same Tories of our manufacturing and mining,” said GMB Scotland secretary Harry Donalsdon. “National agreements mean earnings in the regions are fair and equality-proof, and allow public sector employees to move around the UK. “Regional pay would reduce the amount of disposable income in each of our local communities and drive them even further into recession.” Seethe full national picture on page 22
“Regional pay would hit local communities.”
from GMB All the news
Every year, thousands of people fall victim to scam letters. Make sure you know how to spot the signs This happens because scammers work together, selling lists of so-called ‘suckers’ to each other, further isolating their victims from reality as they all fire off letters to the same addresses that have proved productive in the past. Right now, silent victims are receiving 40, 50, maybe even 100 criminal letters every day, from bogus lottery officials, solicitors, bankers and clairvoyants, creating a fabric of lies that becomes a chronic victim’s entire world.
A CATALOGUE OF LIES Dozens of catalogue scams operate from overseas, each guaranteeing a prize to anyone who orders overpriced goods from a respectable-looking brochure. Instead of a prize, however, all that ever arrives
are more letters and phone calls, promising more tempting offers. Some of those targeted by catalogue scams have spent more than £40,000 on goods worth very little. Here are some of the names to look out for:
Overwhelmed by skilfully written and personalised messages, they can only focus on the fictitious rewards they are promised, not the money they are sending in order to claim them. Most victims do not understand
POST APOCALYPSE Just some of the letters t to and ‘gifts’ that were sen ily. fam er’s mb me B GM a
Biotonic Delices Gourmandises Fredrich Mueller Vital Beauty Vitamail
iStock x 3
f you think people who fall for scam letters are stupid – think again! Criminals worldwide are targeting the most vulnerable members of our society, including bereaved, superstitious, socially isolated and depressed people, and those with declining mental health and dementia. Every day, these criminals send millions of scam letters to the UK, making money that is used to fuel the drug trade, human trafficking and many other crimes. Scam mail is designed to shut down normal thought processes and dazzle the victim’s mind. Many of those who are taken in are chronic scam victims, who, after responding to one ‘tempter’ letter, are now bombarded with letters every day.
SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT www.gmb.org.uk
7 WAYS TO STAY SCAM SAFE 1 2 Stop, think, and be sceptical. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be rushed into sending money to someone you don’t know, however plausible they might sound, and even if the approach is personalised. Ask yourself how likely it is that you have been specially chosen for this offer – thousands of other people have probably received the exact same letter. Think about how much money you could lose from replying to a potential scam – it’s not a gamble worth taking. If you are unsure of an offer, speak to your family or friends and seek advice before sending any money or giving out any bank or credit card details. If you receive a suspicious phone call, just say “No thank you, I’m not interested,” then hang up straight away. Remember, you do not have to give out personal information such as bank or credit card details. These could be used fraudulently.
4 LETTERS’ PREY Many people are too embarrassed to admit they have been conned. modern technology or how it allows criminals to mass-produce mail and make it look like important and individual correspondence. The scammers use the voice of authority, swear people to secrecy and make threats to snare victims from a generation taught to respect officialdom, ask few questions and suffer their problems in private. In a recent case, more than 20,000 victims replied to one scam mail shot in one day, sending a total of £500,000. The Serious Organised Crime Agency estimated the gang behind that letter was making as much as
£35 million a year, yet there is little the Post Office can do to stop letters getting through. The vast majority of those targeted do not recognise themselves as victims, therefore never report the crime. If you have vulnerable relatives, a few well-placed questions could save them from losing thousands of pounds. GMB recently spoke to a member whose relatives were systematically fleeced of their life savings. The fraud only became apparent when the member noticed how much post, and how many ‘gifts’, they were receiving. By following the advice on this page and by taking the time to check on vulnerable people you know, you can protect yourself and others from this despicable trade and put all these fake officials, businessmen and bankers out of business once and for all.
BAG OF TRICKS A bag full of scam catalogues, received over a short period.
Remember, silence is the scammer’s best friend. If you have been the victim of fraud, or are worried you might be being tar geted by scammers, call Telepho ne Action Fraud on 0300 123 20 40 or email the Think Jessica camp aig email@example.com n at om www.gmb.org.uk 27
from GMB All the news
Backing hope GMB supports Hope Not Hate in Glasgow
MB Scotland helped launch a new branch of Hope Not Hate in Glasgow during September. The launch event was chaired by GMB Scotland political officer Richard Leonard and organised by Glasgow 29 branch activist Robert O’Donnell. Hope Not Hate is an anti-racist, antifascist organisation that aims to mobilise people in opposition to far-right groups such as the British National Party and the Scottish Defence League. It is not aligned to any political party and adopts a broad-based, collective approach. “Racism, that most primitive prejudice, is still to be found in all parts of Scotland,” said Richard Leonard, “and we know that it is an
issue in schooling, housing and employment in cities like Glasgow. “History warns us that racism and fascism can flourish during an economic recession. We need to guard against complacency, and the formation of this new group is a first step in building the more equal, tolerant city and country in which we all want to live and work.” Addressing the launch meeting were Muzaffar Hussain, vice chairperson of the STUC Black Workers Committee; Vicky Burns from Show Racism The Red Card; Glasgow councillor Bill Butler; and Matthew Collins from Hope Not Hate.
“History warns us racism can flourish in a recession.”
GMB has scored a victory for members at whisky plants across Scotland. The members, who work as cleaners on several Diageo sites, had previously been employed by the Compass Group, but their employment transferred to another contractor, called Mitie, in November 2011. When they received their first pay packets from Mitie, just before Christmas, they were shocked to find they had all been underpaid by a whole week, leaving them out of pocket at one of the most expensive times of the year. GMB questioned Mitie about the shortfall in members’ wages, but the company failed to acknowledge there had been a
Mr Collins said that while BNP support has dropped since 2009 and the English and Scottish Defence Leagues are dead on their feet, the far-right refuses to go away. “There is still the potential for an antiimmigration party”, he said. “Make no mistake: that means an anti-immigrant party.” Robert O’Donnell added, “This new group will challenge all forms of discrimination, using educational and community work to dispel the myths and lies peddled by the far-right and some sections of the media. The trade union movement has a major role to play in this and I would urge all GMB members to get involved.” To find out how you can take action, go to www.hopenothate.org.uk
mistake. The union then lodged a claim with the Dundee employment tribunal, citing breach of TUPE regulations and unlawful deduction of wages. On the eve of the tribunal, Mitie caved in, agreeing to an out-of-court settlement of £100 for all affected GMB members, and promising to pay the missing wages in full. “These low-paid, part-time workers were clearly short-changed,” said GMB organiser Richard Leonard, who led the campaign for the cleaners. “To experience a week’s lost earnings just before Christmas is unjust as well as unlawful. “I am delighted that we have secured this important victory, which sends a message to employers that they cannot treat workers in this way, and to all workers that they do have rights, but joining GMB is the only sure way to get them enforced.”
richard l eonard
c vision ti ra c o m e d s r’ e ic ff o Your political
A new vision is something we badly need in Scottish politics
t was the great James Keir Hardie who said that “without vision the people perish.” Vision is something we badly need today in Scottish politics. What kind of society do we want to live in? What kind of economy do we want to work in? There is much discontent in society and a crisis in the functioning of our economy. Last year in Scotland, two of the 20 most prescribed drugs were for high blood pressure, three were for cardiovascular and hypertension and two were antidepressants. In recent years, workplace stress has overtaken injury to become the biggest cause of occupational disease. There are also huge inequalities in life expectancy. According to official statistics, Glasgow has the lowest life expectancy in the UK, with the average male in inner city districts likely to reach just 54. Some years ago the Glasgow Centre for Population Health concluded that high levels of chronic ill health in the city may be linked to a heightened response to stress which, in turn, results from feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. Big changes are clearly needed – and GMB has a key role to play. Our goal is
a humanisation of the economy – meaning more democracy in the workplace and a shift in power from those who happen to own the economy to those who work in it. But we also need to keep up our historical goal to secure liberation from work itself, too. That means shorter working hours and a decent retirement – not longer hours and shorter lives. To achieve this, we need to challenge the centralised private ownership of the means of production. Larger companies (with 250 workers or more) make up only 1.5 per cent of all enterprises in Scotland, yet employ as much as half the private sector workforce and generate almost two-thirds of turnover. They make their decisions based on the London Stock Exchange and increasingly come from overseas. CO-OP COMMONWEALTH So what is our vision of the future and what do we need to do to secure it? In the public sector, we need to replace outsourcing and contractors with in-house delivery. We need to extend common ownership not in the direction of an old, centralised command economy, but towards a new co-operative commonwealth.
Energy and transport – most obviously the heavily subsidised railways – should be placed under common ownership. The pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex, even agri-businesses and big landowners are feeding from the public purse – and then there are the banks! It’s time we had the confidence to use the power we have. In Italy, the law gives workers the right to bid for their place of work if it is facing closure. Why not give workers in Scotland that exact same right? In the private sector, we need a dose of democratic accountability and limits on the tyranny of the few over the many. These limits should be enforced directly by government, but also through extended workers’ rights – including control of pension and insurance funds and an end to the master-and-servant relationship that still underpins our employment laws. THE GREAT GREEN CHANGE This vision also demands a sustainable economy where there are not just some green jobs, but where every job is green. An economy which cares little about the environment cares little about its people, too, and a conversion underwritten by a ‘just transition programme’ would protect incomes and opportunities for everyone affected by the great, green change. In short, we need a democratic socialist future, built on a decentralisation of power, and based on the principles of community, co-operative ownership of the productive base, and the subordination of economics to social, ecological and ethical concerns. It will be a society built on peace not war, on the advancement of knowledge, and on education, international co-operation and an end to inequality and poverty. This other world is not just possible. It is also absolutely necessary. Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.gmb.org.uk 29
from GMB All the news
GMB helps members clear their names in Southern Cross case
MB always stands by you in times of need, as hard-working GMB members working for the now-defunct Southern Cross care home chain found out recently. Staff at Heatherbank Nursing Home in Glasgow had faced false allegations in the press, after a sheriff’s inquiry was launched into the death of a resident late in 2011. But with the support of GMB and its top law firm Digby Brown, all GMB members at the home have now been cleared of blame. “I do not consider that the evidence justifies criticism of any named individual,” said Sheriff Bill Totten in his determination. “It was gaps in the system which allowed
this to happen, not individual failure.” Throughout the inquiry, GMB made clear that its members at the home had always done their best to maintain standards, despite serious failings in the systems put in place by Southern Cross. After the inquiry, GMB members at the home expressed gratitude for the GMB legal representation and support they had received, all as a result of being with GMB. “If GMB had not helped these members to clear their names, they could easily have become scapegoats for Southern Cross,” said
SYSTEMS FAILURE The inquiry took place at Glasgow Sheriff Court. GMB Scotland secretary Harry Donaldson. “They had feared they might be wrongly stripped of their jobs and their professional registrations, and they might even have faced criminal prosecutions. But by being GMB members, they had ensured that they would be expertly represented at work and in court. “These hard-working carers’ names have been cleared and they can now get on with their work with unblemished records.”
Striking Remploy staff want to work Members at Remploy in Glasgow have held a four-day strike as part of GMB’s ongoing fight to stop government plans to sell off or close Remploy factories across the UK. The Remploy site at Springburn, Glasgow, is among the few that is likely to be sold rather than shut, but this has brought no comfort to workers, as potential buyers are not expected to honour existing terms and conditions, and may want to make redundancies based on specific disabilities. GMB is legally entitled to know who is in the running to take over the Springburn site, but the Department for Work and Pensions has not told members anything, except that
it has removed the obligation for any new owner to provide a pension. “We have a right to be told who these companies are,” said GMB Scotland convenor Phil Brannan. “We don't want to know their confidential business plans, we just want to know names so we can talk to them about our concerns.” The strike came hot on the heels of this summer’s Paralympic Games, where crowds
booed coalition ministers who tried to present themselves as champions of disability rights. Remploy itself was one of the earliest supporters of the Paralympics, sending teams to compete at Stoke Mandeville after the Second World War. “The government is playing hardball at a time when disabled people are in the spotlight,” said GMB member Alex Robertson. “To be unwilling to negotiate now is more than a bit unfair.”
“We have a right to know who these companies are.”
EVERYBODY OUT! Remploy workers from across the country have been out on strike.
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Learning centre takes the biscuit! McVitie’s learning centre reopens The award-winning learning centre at the United Biscuits McVitie’s factory in Tollcross, Glasgow, has re-opened after extensive renovations to the building where it is based. The centre is run by a dedicated team of GMB union learning reps (ULRs), led by Alan Simpson. It offers a wide range of learning opportunities for members working at the factory, enabling them
to enhance their career opportunities within the company and beyond. Now the improved facilities are up and running, Alan is keen to get a new programme in place and is monitoring demand for learning now and into 2013. For more about learning at work, go to: www.scottishunionlearning.com or visit the McVitie’s learning centre site at www.unionlearning.webs.com
We have one regional and five area offices. This ensures that members have easy access to a local point of contact. Please contact us with any queries at:
GMB regional Office
Fountain House, 1-3 Woodside Crescent, Charing Cross, Glasgow G3 7UJ Tel: 0141 332 8641 Fax: 0141 332 4491 Email: email@example.com
GMB aberdeen Office
59 Dee Street, Aberdeen AB11 2EE Tel: 01224 582367 Fax: 01224 571125
DORA THE EXPLORER g Dora will now be makin . ling vel tra for e more tim
we adore ya!
Regional office secretary retires GMB staff in Glasgow came together recently to celebrate the career of Dora Howie, who has retired from the regional office. Dora joined the office secretarial team in 2005 after a career in sports administration, and, much to everyone’s delight, what was intended to be a short spell with GMB has turned out to be a seven-year engagement! On her last day in the office, Dora was presented with a specially made cake by Willie Slavin on behalf of the Hunterston branch, just one of the many branches that has appreciated her work over the years. In retirement, Dora will be helping out at a local hospice, and making time to enjoy travelling and bowling. We wish her all the best.
GMB dundee Office
Kimberly Buildings, 38 Whitehall Street, Dundee, Angus DD1 4AS Tel: 01382 225491 Fax: 01382 203479
GMB falkirk Office
2/4 Glebe Street, Falkirk FK1 1HU Tel: 01324 670676 Fax: 01324 638576
GMB inverness Office 10 View Place, Inverness IV2 4SA Tel: 01463 233088 Fax: 01463 233124
GMB kilmarnock Office 9 The Foregate, Kilmarnock KA1 1LU Tel: 01563 574455 Fax: 01563 539101 GMB website www.gmb.org.uk