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The magazine for GMB members

Pulse The

www.gmb.org.uk | Winter 2012

Hope Not Hate and GMB get together for

Gold STAR! Mary Tu

rner honoured by TUC

WIN

an Apple iPhone! Se

happy hour! e page 10

Use your smartphone to bring this issue to life! See p9


Get elected to

l a n o i g e r council GMB Yorkshire and North Derbyshire 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.

get ready for

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ss 2013... To attend GMB Congre by your branch You must be nominated B member for 53 weeks GM p -u id pa a en be ve You must ha t reach regional office us m ns io ot m ’s ch an Your br by 31 January 2013 outh, 2-6 June 2013 ym Pl in e ac pl s ke ta ss GMB Congre

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02 www.gmb.org.uk

FIND YOUR GMB BRANCH

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In this issue...

Tim Roache d North GMB Yorkshire an l secretary na gio Derbyshire re

Members stand up for Remploy factories Page 26

Regional

National

4 Hope with Heaton

9 Get elected with GMB

5 Asos SOS

12 TUC cracker!

6 Showing Pride

13 Paul Kenny

8 Thorne again

14 The heat is on

25 Hammer time

15 Pensions for all!

26 Remploy round-up

16 Paul Routledge

28 Justice league

18 Better off with GMB

29 Raising the bar

20 The best you can be

30 Taking action

22 Watch your wages!

31 Contact GMB

24 The Full Monti

Beautiful South star plays GMB-backed gig

Workers join GMB to fight nightmare shifts

All the action from Pride across the region

Join GMB’s very own financial cooperative

GMB wins £100,000 for blacksmith

How GMB is fighting for disabled workers

Rugby team joins GMB-backed campaign

Members pull pints at Reading and Leeds

Sheffield recycling workers go on strike

Names and numbers you can call on

Front cover: Peter Dunwell/Rex Features/Andrew Wiard

Mary Turner gets a TUC gold badge Page 12

GMB regional editor Caroline Jones: 01924 887 266 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

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

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

Would you like to advertise in GMB Pulse magazine? Please contact Debbie Blackman on 01225 442 244 (ex 2243)

Tory cuts hurt every one of you and your families I try to avoid talking politics in my intro, as I know it can be a turn-off. I’m afraid, however, it’s just not possible in this climate, because the impact of what this government is doing is hurting every one of you and your families. Firstly, we’ve seen a return to employees needing two years’ service to even apply to an employment tribunal. If it takes an employer more than a year to decide if you’re any good, they shouldn’t be in business! Then to rub salt in the wound, you will have to pay £250 just to register a claim. If you then have the audacity to pursue to a hearing, that’s another £750. How can anyone afford this when they’ve just lost their job? The Tories say this will encourage employers to hire more people. Yes – after firing some first! Then you’ve got their obsession with cuts, which are certainly hurting, but definitely not working. Their priority cut was in the top tax rate – giving every millionaire a £40k pay rise. Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said the govenment’s cuts programme is like medieval doctors “treating illness by bleeding their patients, making the patients even sicker, and leading to more bleeding!” And to top it all, the Tories have launched owner-employee status where, if you apply for a job, you will be encouraged to give up ALL your employment rights. If you say no, then the cynic in me thinks you won’t get the job, because the next person will say yes! All of this is designed to return us to the days of employers having it all, and workers fighting for the crumbs. The only hope for us is the return of a Labour government which I, for one, will be fighting for with all I have. GMB membership in the region remains fantastically high and our finances are even stronger than predicted, so we continue to go from strength to strength under strong and clear leadership. Please take time to look at the many fantastic successes throughout this edition achieved by GMB reps, staff and officers whom I remain proud to serve. Thank you for your membership which I value so highly.

www.gmb.org.uk 03


l a n o i reg

ATE D P U

B M G m o r f s All the new

beautiful

south

Yorkshire!

Heaton show ul Pa t hi at te Ha t No pe Ho s ck GMB ba s around 50th birthday by cycling 2,500 mile good cause,” said GMB

G

MB was proud to welcome Paul Heaton to Sheffield on Thursday 6 September, for a rip-roaring concert sponsored by the North Derbyshire region. and shire York

The sardonic singer-songwriter rolled back the years to play some classic Beautiful South and Housemartins hits alongside more recent solo material, in support Not of anti-fascist organisation Hope gig. the d nise orga who , Hate for “Paul agreed to give his time for free h Nort and shire York this concert, and the it sor spon to d prou was on regi Derbyshire

in support of a very regional secretary, Tim Roache. for the Plenty of GMB members turned out el Rach and son gig, including Robert Carl ce advi ing offer stall GMB a Harrison, who ran and outlining all the great reasons to join. Hope Not Hate volunteers were also on hand to spread the word about their work standing up against far-right hate groups such as the British National Party and the English Defence League. y Paul Heaton is a campaigner on man the ding inclu t, hear ’s GMB to e issues clos t gian by threat posed to locally run pubs his ed brat cele ntly ‘PubCos’. In fact he rece

“I’m pleased GMB has contributed to such a great night.”

04 www.gmb.org.uk

ls! the UK to do gigs at much-loved loca union e trad of r orte supp l As such a voca it ed), Unit ield Sheff tion men to (not causes in orm perf to ed was no surprise when he agre set ing storm His . Hate Sheffield for Hope Not was rapturously received and included favourites such as Dumb, Blackbird On The Wire and the number one hit, Caravan Of Love. “I’m very pleased GMB has contributed to such a great night,” said Tim Roache. “Not just for those who came, but for everyone who values the vibrant, multicultural Britain that Hope Not Hate promotes.”

Peter Dunwell/Rex Features

The


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

JOIN US! GMB members spread the word at the site.

Downtrodden depot workers call on GMB

W

orkers at the Unipart Asos distribution centre in Barnsley are flocking to join GMB following the introduction of a nightmare new shift system. GMB officers and activists are working with the employees to gain official union recognition from management, which would mean trained GMB representatives being able to negotiate wages, terms and conditions on their behalf.

regional

At issue is a new annualised shift system, where workers can be called in with just an hour’s notice, and where shifts can be extended, shortened or even cancelled at the eleventh hour. On a flex day, some workers have seen their shift reduced down to four hours even after they have arrived at the depot. One worker at the site, who wished to remain nameless, said, “I have no problem with flexibility, but this is outrageous.” GMB has already represented members over grievances and disciplinaries at the depot, where workers also complain they are treated with a lack of respect and have no voice in matters that affect them. Since the workers called on GMB for help, officers and activists from the Barnsley branch have camped outside the depot for days on end, flying GMB banners and handing out membership forms, making sure the union presence is seen and heard. “Workers are joining us in droves,” said GMB organising coordinator Caroline Jones. “I am hardly surprised, as these NOT TWEEDY changes are horrific. This company r Cheryl Cole is just one sta is stretching people’s work-life balance . les sty os As ars who we to its breaking point.”

First defence Leeds defence workers join GMB to fend off pay attack

GMB is the frontline of defence for workers facing severe pay cuts at Hesco Bastion in Leeds. Workers at the firm, which builds rapidly deployable barriers for the military, have seen earnings fall by up to 50 per cent since new management took over, following the death of the previous owner.

camp bastion GMB officers outside the Hesco depot.

Faced with such drastic cuts, the previously unrepresented workers fought back by joining GMB and organising their workplace. In a matter of weeks there were enough new members to secure GMB recognition at the firm, giving them vital protection. At first, Hesco managers resisted formal recognition, but GMB officers organised a rally outside the depot gates, applying some pressure and encouraging management to rethink its position. GMB has now met with the company to begin talks on a recognition agreement at the site. “These workers are a great bunch of guys,” said GMB membership development officer Bill Chard. “Their wages have been attacked, but we are organising in order to fight back.”

“I’ve no problem with flexibility, but this is outrageous.”

5 www.gmb.org.uk 05


regional

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

The pride of

leeds

GMB bus joins big day out

L

eeds city centre was awash with colour on 5 August as Leeds Pride kicked off in style. And adding a dash of orange to this year’s rainbow parade was the team from GMB, all aboard an open-top bus! The annual celebration of Leeds’ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities started in Victoria Gardens before the parade of floats and flag-waving revellers moved down The Headrow and into Lower Briggate and The Calls – home to one of the best gay scenes in the UK. Throughout the day, GMB added to the party atmosphere by giving out vuvuzelas and whistles. GMB representatives were also on hand to give advice on workplace issues and spread the word about the benefits of GMB membership. This year’s event had an added sports theme to mark the UK’s hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to wipe out homophobia in sport.

“It’s vital that GMB has a presence at events like this,” said Leeds Civic branch secretary, Neil Cole. “Our goal is to drive equality in the community and workplaces across the region. It’s a scandal that discrimination continues

PROUD AT PRIDE GMB members met the crowds, taking important campaign messages with them. in this day and age, and we will continue to represent members who encounter such discrimination until it is fully stamped out.” To find out more about GMB’s work on equal rights in the Yorkshire and North Derbyshire region, call equality and inclusion officer Joan Keane on 0845 337 7777.

ALL ABOARD! GMB members joined the parade in an open-top bus,

brit award Member gets British Empire Medal

FRANCE FOR THE WIN! Medal-winner Michele with her husband, Mick. 06 www.gmb.org.uk

GMB workplace organiser Michele France joined the likes of Take That’s Gary Barlow and Hollywood stars Kenneth Branagh and Kate Winslet when she was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June. Michele has raised more than £70,000 for breast cancer research since overcoming the disease herself, and was nominated for the British Empire Medal by her boss at Sheffield Hallam University, where she has worked in catering for 19 years. She began her fundraising by organising a fancy dress ball with her family and

friends. It was so successful that it attracted more than 500 people, and has now become an annual event. “It was an honour to receive the award, but it’s not all about me,” Michele told The Pulse. “Credit must go to everyone who has worked so tirelessly to help make every year’s ball such a success.” Michele received the British Empire Medal for services to higher education and charity work for breast cancer research. Everyone in the Yorkshire and North Derbyshire region sends her their congratulations.


regional

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

THORNE ON YOUR SIDE GMB’s very own financial co-operative offers fair savings and loans exclusively for members and their families

T

horne Credit Union (TCU Money) is a financial co-operative established by GMB in 1999 to offer fair financial services to GMB members and their families. It is 100 per cent owned by GMB members, and run for their sole benefit. As a member organisation, it returns all surpluses to its members, and has much to teach other banks and loan companies about responsible saving and lending. In these times of austerity, TCU Money has a vital role to play in our members’ lives, helping them with the management of increasingly stretched household budgets. The banking and financial services industry has increasingly shown itself to be incompetent and dishonest, undermining standards of living through scandals such as PPI and rate-fixing. By contrast, mutual member organisations are flourishing as more and more people seek an ethical alternative to the capitalist banking system that has so far been bailed out with more than £65 billion of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

As a result, TCU Money is trading very successfully and growing stronger with every new member. It provides competitive savings and loan products exclusively to GMB members and their families, and guarantees a very high-quality, personal service. GMB Yorkshire and North Derbyshire region is delighted to give TCU Money its full support in launching a recruitment drive for new members, including a ‘member get member’ reward scheme. Under the scheme, TCU Money members who get new people to sign up will receive a £10 reward – so join up today, then start recommending TCU Money to your family and your friends in GMB! “TCU Money is a member benefit that is right for its time,” says GMB Yorkshire and North Derbyshire regional secretary, Tim Roache. “I encourage all our members to

MONEY MATTERS Regional secretary Tim Roache has signed up for his account! open an account, just like I have, then spread the word about the service. “It’s a positive way to take action against those greedy bankers and loan sharks who have conspired to chip away at our members’ financial security. We now have our very own financial institution. Let’s take full advantage of that fact for the benefit of our existing and future members.” You’ll find a leaflet telling you more about TCU Money and the £10 reward scheme bagged with this issue of The Pulse.

Find out more by calling 0161 486 1777 email info@thornecreditunion.com or go to www.thornecreditunion.com 08 www.gmb.org.uk


l na O I NAT

E T A UPD

B M G m o r f s All the new

g n i o d b o j a t n a w u o If y

. . . y l r e prop GMB is helping its members get elected to public office – and you could be one of them!

I

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

Rex Features x 2

Bring YOUR mag to life!

YOUR FACE HERE! election With GMB behind your ere wh ws kno o wh , campaign you might end up?

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

1 Download the Layar app for iPhone and Android devices.

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

3 Watch as it comes to life on your screen.

www.gmb.org.uk 09


national

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

Name :

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

www.gmb.org.uk

WIN an iphone 4s! Register online to enter

E

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 hilary.perrin@gmb.org.uk 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.

10 www.gmb.org.uk

Case study 1

100+

UPDATE


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

NATional

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

2

Call GMB national political officer Hilary Perrin on 020 7391 6749, or email her at hilary.perrin@gmb.org.uk and tell her which seat you want to stand for.

3

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

285

Get elected, then get online for full support from GMB

G

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

Name:

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 clive@clivelewislabour.org.uk

www.gmb.org.uk 11


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

Over seas

AID

GMB and Maggie Hughes win change in EU law

golden girl Mary Turner honoured at TUC Congress

C

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.

Rex Features

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.”


Paul kenny

speaks

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

A

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


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

ON THE UP Help stop rising prices with GMB.

T

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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regional NATional

PENSIONS FOR ALL! New rules guarantee a workplace pension for millions of workers

I

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

iStock

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


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

cooking with

H

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.

16 www.gmb.org.uk

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.

NATional

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


national

UPDATE

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

A

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

18 www.gmb.org.uk

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.


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Bring these pages to life!

gmb nation

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.

+18.1%

£14.18

average hourly wage for union members

£12.01

average hourly wa ge for non-union members

amount that union members earn above nonunion members

of GMB members are women

2.5m 6.4m

48%

union members in the private sector

21.6%

of asian and british asian workers are union members

people in work who are union members

+£3.23

56.5%

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

87.1%

of public sector workers have a union in their workplace

n. ireland

wales

scotland

England

33.6% 34.9% 29.8% 24.8% percentage of workers who are union members (by country) www.gmb.org.uk 19


national

UPDATE

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

20 www.gmb.org.uk

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

I

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.


NATional

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

1970s

• Started work at Sellafield and joined GMB on his first day.

• Became a shop steward while

working for BNFL in the Magnox reprocessing plant.

1980s

• 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.

1990s

• 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


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

watch

your

Government proposals for regional pay spell disaster

wag s

LOOK OUT! The government wants to slash your pay. 22 www.gmb.org.uk


regional NATional

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

% of workers employed in the pu

blic sector

££££££££££££££££££ ££££££££ 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

Northern Ireland

London

££ 21££ .3 20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

% of people

iStock x 2

T

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.”

29

30

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.”

www.gmb.org.uk 23


national

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

The Full Monti

EU drops plans opposed by GMB that would have restricted workers’ rights

I

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


regional

UPDATE

regional

from GMB All the news

s n i w n a m n o Ir

0 0 0 , 0 0 £1

in compensation case ith m ks ac bl ld ie eff Sh s ck ba B GM Tim

A

former council blacksmith who developed asthma when he was exposed to dangerous fumes in his workplace has won more

than £100,000 compensation with help from GMB. Sheffield City Council initially offered Simon Litherland just £16,000 in compensation, even though his condition meant he trade. could no longer work in his chosen rland Lithe Mr ber, mem GMB a as , ever How nd behi itors Solic s had top lawyers Thompson was he t, cour to t wen him. When the case awarded £104,000 in damages. ield was Mr Litherland from Darnall in Sheff sed expo was he diagnosed with asthma after to used s fluid rking alwo to fumes from met knowing help cut metal, despite the council . lems prob ry irato resp ed caus they my “I had never had any problems with “but d, rlan Lithe Mr says breathing before,” king with in 2005 I was required to start wor to suffer n bega I and n, ofte e mor s fluid the from a cough. I thought it was just my age but my condition got progressively worse.” After he was diagnosed with

nd was occupational asthma, Mr Litherla n all his know had he e trad the quit to ed forc the for king working life, and is now wor role. cal cleri ry council in a tempora cent His condition, classed as a 35 per respiratory disability, makes it difficult for him to walk and climb stairs, and he has had to give up his hobbies of golf and amateur dramatics. “I have two inhalers which I’m likely to rland. need the rest of my life,” says Mr Lithe my re whe role a in now “Fortunately, I’m it is but rol, cont er und less or e mor asthma is to es com only a temporary job, and when it n. an end I’m unlikely to ever work agai I have 47. only am I as , “I find that terrifying day a had ly rare and life my worked all off sick. It’s a great relief to have this compensation in case things get worse.”

“I’m unlikely to ever work again and I’m only 47.”

y After the case, GMB regional secretar d coul ncil Cou City ffield Roache said: “She e mak to e plac in s sure mea had easily have nst agai d ecte sure that Mr Litherland was prot these noxious fumes. thought “When they failed to do that, they ma Asth 00. £16,0 for off him buy d they coul has case this can be truly life-changing, and in and d ihoo livel th, severely restricted the heal g man.” future prospects of a relatively youn itors Solic s pson Thom from y Duff Anthony tcomings added: “The council had serious shor meant in its health and safety procedures that icals chem s erou dang to sed our client was expo l lega GMB how s show case This every day. very the to services will fight for its members end, to ensure the best possible outcome.”

cast iron case GMB’s legal team hammered home Simon’s suffering in court.

www.gmb.org.uk 25


regional

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

Remploy Leeds

HUDDERSFIELD GMB members on the picket line.

Remploy Huddersfield

Remploy Pontefract

Remploy Sheffield Remploy Chesterfield

SHEFFIELD Members braved bad weather to stage their strike action.

remploy round-up

GMB fights for disabled workers across the region

M

embers from the region’s Remploy factories have joined GMB’s continuing fight to stop government plans to sell-off or close factories that employ more than 1,500 disabled workers. Disabled workers from Remploy sites in Chesterfield, Huddersfield, Leeds, Pontefract

26 www.gmb.org.uk

and Sheffield took part in strike action, just days after all but one of the factories was confirmed for closure. Only Chesterfield will stay in business, with an unsure future under private ownership (see right). “To close these factories in the present economic climate is a sentence to a life of unemployment and poverty,” said GMB

national officer Phil Davies. “These strikes are a rallying point, giving for each local community the opportunity to stand behind disabled workers.” GMB continues to fight for its disabled members in the face of growing ferocity from the coalition government. Find out how to show your support at www.gmb.org.uk


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regional

REMPLOY CHESTERFIELD Workers’ weeklong strike over sell-off Workers at Remploy Chesterfield staged a five-day strike in September in defence of their terms and conditions. The Chesterfield factory is the only Remploy site in the region that is being sold off rather than closed, but this has brought no comfort to workers, as potential buyers are not expected to abide by existing agreements, and may want to make redundancies based on specific disabilities. Despite having a legal right to know, GMB has been given no information

about the potential buyers for the factory, knowing only that the Department for Work and Pensions) has removed the obligation for them to provide a pension. Remploy workers followed the strike with a march through Chesterfield town centre on Saturday 8 September. More than 100 workers and supporters,

including Labour MP Dennis Skinner, were met with applause as they waved banners and handed out leaflets. The members took further strike action in October and, as we go to print, a private firm in Chesterfield is set to take over the site.

REMPLOY PONTEFRACT Labour listens to workers’ woes Yvette Cooper, the Labour MP for Pontefract, Castleford and Normanton, visited Remploy Pontefract in August, hearing about the sham consultation process experienced by workers, and their fears for the future without Remploy. “The chance that these workers will be able to find full-time, meaningful employment is slim, especially with the present state of the economy and rising unemployment,” said GMB organiser and Wakefield councillor, Darran Travis. “These closures are mindless butchery, and will condemn thousands of disabled workers to a lifetime of benefits.” The councillor thanked Ms Cooper for taking the time to listen to workers’ concerns, adding: “Remploy workers don’t want handouts. They want dignity and respect and to contribute to society. The council will work with all agencies to see what support can be given to Remploy workers.”

REMPLOY leeds Olympic torchbearer keeps the flame alive York General branch secretary Clive Warley lit up the picket line at Remploy Leeds when he joined striking workers in his official Olympic tracksuit and carrying an Olympic torch! Clive took part in the Olympic torch relay in June, after he was nominated by GMB. If that wasn’t enough to get the government’s attention, a bagpiper also joined the striking workers, playing a stirring lament for the closure of the factory. A number of Leeds councillors and other GMB members also joined the striking workers to show their continued support. “Our members are not only fighting for their jobs, but also for the dignity that comes with bringing home a wage,” said GMB regional secretary Tim Roache. “The stark reality is that these workers are unlikely to find work ever again.”

www.gmb.org.uk 27


regional

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

JUSTICE league Rugby team boosts GMB-backed cause

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orth Village amateur rugby league football club have joined with GMB to support Justice For Jane, a charity that campaigns for the rights of women who have been raped and assaulted. The GMB-backed campaign began in 2010, after Jane Clough was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Jonathan Vass. Vass had been charged with raping and assaulting Jane eight months before he killed her, but had been released on bail by a judge who declared him not to be dangerous. The campaign has been instrumental in changing the law regarding bail, which, from

April next year, will give prosecutors the right to appeal against bail decisions where they think the defendant could be dangerous. Worth Village re-formed this year to promote health and wellbeing for former rugby players and to campaign on wider issues, especially breast cancer and testicular cancer. Team members have experienced the fear and distress that both these cancers cause, and their distinctive strip includes pink and yellow flashes and logos to represent breast cancer and testicular cancer respectively. For more details about Justice For Jane, go online at www.justiceforjane.co.uk

IT’S NO GAME Worth Village back Justice For Jane.

LEE’S

GO NORTH Lee with his medal after the run.

DREAM RUN GMB member’s charity challenge

Congratulations to GMB member and workplace organiser Lee Mosby, who completed the 13-mile Great North Run in September. Lee, from Castleford, has lost eight stone in the last two years, after doctors told him that he needed to lose weight dramatically if he wanted to live beyond the age of 40. He ran in support of the Make A Wish Foundation, a charity that makes dreams come true for young people fighting life-threatening conditions. “It’s a privilege to run for such a great cause,” said Lee. “Thanks to Tim Roache and GMB for all their support, and to Pellacraft who sponsored my running top and made a donation.”

good

health

Here’s to a great year for the education and health and safety team!

It’s been a great year for our region’s education and health and safety department! The number of people attending GMB training courses has continued to grow, and our workplace organisers are getting better and better at dealing with members’ issues, to provide a real first-class service. Our health and safety forums have been a resounding success, and the region has continued to get important messages out

28 www.gmb.org.uk

through its health and safety network. We have begun an asbestos in schools campaign, and six of our safety reps benefited from attending the first GMB national health and safety forum in London. Here are just a few of the ways that the education and health and safety department has helped GMB members this year: Workplace organisers at Sheffield’s S38 branch have taken legal training;

• 

raise your (safety) glasses! 2012 was a year to be proud of.

• Branch secretaries attended a course incorporating educational provision;

• Convenors have benefited from a new

course on leadership skills. We’re now looking ahead to an even better 2013 – and you can help us! Become a workplace organiser and we’ll offer you the training you need to make your workplace better for you and your colleagues. Find out more at www.gmbyorkshire.org.uk


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

regional ALL BAR NONE The GMB team, ready to serve thirsty punters!

young members

BONE IDOL Kasabian’s Tom Meighan whipped up the crowds.

rock

festival!

GMB gets in tents at Leeds

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MB young members raised money for vital campaigns while enjoying the likes of Foo Fighters, The Cure and Kasabian at this year’s Leeds Festival in August. The 12 members were volunteering at one of the onsite bars run by Workers’ Beer Company (WBC), which was set up in the 1980s to fundraise for the labour movement. Union members volunteer to staff the bars, and the WBC donates their equivalent wages to the relevant union. This year’s festival was the tenth in a row to have bars staffed by GMB members, raising funds that enable GMB to carry

out important work. In recent years, the money raised has boosted strike funds including Leeds Refuse and Street Cleansing and Remploy, and enabled anti-fascist and Love Music, Hate Racism events. The GMB team worked three six-hour shifts over the three-day weekend, enjoying secure camping, hot showers, and free meals and drinks, with the rest of the weekend free to enjoy some of the world’s biggest and best bands. To volunteer for the next festival season or to get involved in our young members’ section, email rachel.dix@gmb.org.uk

FIELD MUSIC The main stage is just one of many at Leeds.

Have your say! Download our survey A big thank you to everyone who filled in our recent young members’ survey. The response so far has been fantastic, but we want more! If you’re a young member, go to www.gmbyorkshire.org.uk to download the survey and let us know what you want from GMB and which issues are most important to you. Your views will make sure our fantastic track record of empowering working people continues into the future.

YOUNG MEMBERS FOR THE WIN Nathan Dainty, Music Pics, Rex Features

Campaign ideas earn stuff! Congratulations to George Cheetham from East North East Homes who won Leeds Festival tickets after GMB invited young members to suggest campaigns to raise the profile of the union with young people. His idea for an age discrimination campaign took first place, followed by

Abigail Mitchell’s social media initiative, and Daniel Eden’s plan to give out GMB info at music festivals. Abigail, who works at a children’s centre in Leeds, won a WiFi camera, while Daniel from Monkton Coke and Chemical got an iPod Nano!

Get involved! www.facebook.com/GMB.YorkshireNDerbyshire.YoungMembers

YOUTH CLUB GMB young members’ officer Rachel Dix (centre) with prize winners Abigail and Daniel. www.gmb.org.uk 29


regional

UPDATE

from GMB All the news

! t u o d Sova an

Sheffield recycling members strike

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MB members employed by recycling contractor Sova in Sheffield have gone on strike, after a council decision to cut opening hours at recycling sites across the city. Many workers across the five sites have suffered severe reductions in working hours that have slashed their take-home pay. The workers were already among the lowest paid across the council, earning just minimum wage plus a 72p bonus. But in a double whammy, Sova, which operates the sites on behalf of Veolia, has increased the hit-rate for bonuses from 65 per cent to 90 per cent, making it almost impossible to hit. “These workers have been on strike for 36 days now and are set to continue their fight into the winter,” said GMB organiser Peter Davies. “They need the extra hours in order to earn a living wage. Without them, they will struggle to feed their families.”

In a shocking attempt to break the strike, Veolia and Sova recently opened a private recycling site with backing from the council, but this service was quickly withdrawn after a challenge by GMB. “The support from across the trade union movement, both locally and nationally,

KERBSIDE RECYCLERS Members make a stand against lost hours in Sheffield. has been heart-warming,” said Mr Davies. “But the decision to open a private site while we were deep in negotiations with them clearly shows where their priorities lie.” Talks were continuing as The Pulse went to press, with further strike action not ruled out.

dizzy heights GMB takes off at Leeds and Bradford Airport

THE JET SET L-R: GMB organiser Darran Travis, branch president Mario Papworth and branch secretary John Gibson. 30 www.gmb.org.uk

n Congratulations to Leeds and Bradford workplace organiser Lauren Pell, on the birth of her baby boy!

STAR JUMP Here’s daring GMB young member Liberty-Star Hobson, performing a death-defying bungee jump for Help For Heroes back in July. Liberty from the Sheffield S38 branch took the plunge in a GMB T-shirt, receiving £100 sponsorship from her branch and another £100 from the regional office. Well done Liberty. You’re a falling star!

Sova image: Kevin Meagher

Membership is soaring at Leeds and Bradford Aviation branch, where GMB@WORK is in flying form! “It’s all down to good organisation, good communication, and the commitment of GMB workplace organisers,” says branch secretary John Gibson. GMB branding is also clearly visible at Leeds and Bradford Airport, encouraging more workers to join every day. “It really is a pleasure to work with such a competent group of reps,” says GMB organiser Darran Travis. “They are all working hard every day to deliver the GMB@WORK agenda for the benefit of all our members at the airport.”


Keep on Running Team GMB legs it in Leeds Forget Team GB, here’s Team GMB, who were among 8,000 runners taking part in the Jane Tomlinson Asda Foundation Run For All in Leeds on 8 July. The 13-strong team, made up of GMB officers and staff, plus a few family members, all made the 10km (6.2 mile) distance, recording some very impressive finishing times! The Run For All is Yorkshire’s biggest running event and has raised more than £4.5 million for charity since 2007.

Joining Team GMB for this year’s run were sporting stars including former Leeds United and England defender Danny Mills, and actors from Emmerdale and Waterloo Road. Well done to everyone who took part, especially Team GMB, who are already training for 2013! Find out how you can take part at www.forallevents.co.uk

Recruitment drive rewards members

YORKSHIRE AND HIRE NORTH DERBYS

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

GMB Regional Office

Wilkinson

winners!

GMB

Regional Secretary: Tim Roache. Grove Hall, 60 College Grove Road, Wakefield WF1 3RN T: 0845 337 7777 F: 01924 887272

WINNER! Amanda Smith from the Clowne store snapped-up a digital camera.

Three lucky GMB members have won top prizes as part of a drive for new members at Wilkinson. Every member at the Worksop distribution centre and at Wilkinson stores across the region who recruited a colleague to GMB was entered into a prize draw, along with all those recruited. First prize was an HD TV, won by Seyhan Akyol from the distribution centre, while Amanda Smith from the Clowne store and Julie Arthur WINNER! from the Selby store came second and Julie Arthur from the Selby store third (see right).

bagged a portable DVD player.

Hooray for Desiree! The Pulse is pleased to announce that GMB organiser Desiree Risebury has been promoted to senior organiser, based at the Brighouse office. Our congratulations go to Desiree and we wish her all the best in her new role.

GMB brighouse Office Clifton House, Clifton Road, Brighouse HD6 1SL T: 0845 337 7777 F: 01484 721 222

GMB chesterfield Office 34 Glumangate, Chesterfield S40 1TX T: 0845 337 7777 F: 01246 234521

GMB sheffield Office

Thorne House, 188-190 Norfolk Street, Sheffield S1 1SY T: 0845 337 7777 F: 0114 273 9601

GMB york Office

75 Gillygate, York YO31 7EA T: 0845 337 7777 F: 01904 674045

GMB REGIONAL WEBSITE www.gmbyorkshire.org.uk

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www.gmb.org.uk 31



The Pulse