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The magazine for GMB Winter 2013

Come to Congress Your chance to see GMB in action

0 0 0 , 0 3 2Jobsatrisk GMB defends teaching assistants from Tory threat

“I won a car with GMB! Could you be next?” See p17

How you can make a difference and have your say! GMB’s Purpose

“We work to improve the quality of life and provide new opportunities for all our members and their families. We aim to improve the lives of GMB members and make sure that their achievements lead the way for working people in Britain and across the world. . . We will aim to end exploitation, discrimination and injustice.” Taken from the GMB Rule Book

art of this? p e b o t t n a w u o y do

sionate about, tell us about • If you have an issue you feel pas what you want to change. ut the workplace, it can be about • Your issue doesn’t have to be abo es that affect you and your family. the wider political and social issu

FOLK HERO GMB Congress 2014 will take place d. in Nottingham, home of Robin Hoo

You can help GMB shape a better future and make a real difference ed? How do I get involv

r chance to be part of • What you have to say could be you or GMB campaigns influencing GMB decision making them about your ideas • Contact your GMB branch and tell into a motion for debate at • Your issue could even be turned GMB Congress in June 2014 ch Regional Office by • Your branch’s motions must rea 31 January 2014 For more information please go to GMB Congress 2014 takes place from Sunday 8 June to Thursday 12 June 2014 in Nottingham. To attend you must be nominated by your branch, and be a paid-up member for 53 weeks.


In this issue…

Joe Morgan and West GMB Birmingham secretary al on gi re ds Midlan

Stephanie Peacock reports on political issues Page 26

Get GMB in your pocket with the new mobile app Page 16



4 Save our TAs

9 Employer hostility

GMB is defending 230,000 teaching assistants from the axe

7 Best foot forward

GMB secures compensation for a member who suffered a crushed foot at work

8 Become an organiser

Learn how you can get involved with GMB

25 Pension protection

GMB pushes for a fair deal on pensions

26 The big issues

Your political officer reports on key issues

28 Aiding first aid

GMB is taking steps to ensure that first aid standards don’t slip under the coalition

29 In sickness and health

Learn about GMB’s sickness and burial fund

30 Win a night in London! You could win tickets to The Mousetrap

31 Contact GMB

Names and numbers you can call

GMB regional editor Samantha Jones: 0121 550 4888 Editorial director Stephen Pierce Editor Matt Robinson Art editor Johnny Goddard Contributors Victoria Ford, Ed Holden Advertising manager Steve Hulbert Account managers David Parker, Lisa Dunham Production and procurement manager Matt Eglinton Production co-ordinator Tracy Nugent Art directors Stuart Hobbs, Dermot Rushe Director, Future Plus UK Jayne Caple Printed at St Ives Direct

Anti-union hostility should be against the law

12 A Living Wage

GMB demands an extra £1 an hour

13 Paul Kenny says

The latest from your general secretary

14 Wealth of the nation GMB reveals the UK’s economic performance by region

16 Get online with GMB! Get the GMB app for your smartphone!

17 Win a car!

Switch to Direct Debit for your chance to win a Toyota Aygo worth £9,000

18 Eyes on the NHS

GMB is fighting for workers’ rights in the NHS

20 Put Labour in power Why you should vote Labour in 2015

23 Worldwide solidarity

How GMB’s International Solidarity Fund is winning justice in Latin America

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

We are the voice and the muscle of the working class Welcome to the autumn edition of Centrepoint. At the time of writing we are in the midst of party conference season and the strongest of views are coming from the political leaders. We have already heard the hypocrisy of Clegg claiming that he will give free school meals to all primary school children in their first three years. He stated that it has always been a priority for him to do this! Amazing considering his party actually did their best to scupper this when Labour-controlled councils introduced it. He must have forgotten about that, as he did his pledge on tuition fees. Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Party Conference was certainly well delivered and the promise to freeze energy bills will be welcomed by people struggling to pay their household bills. We wait with baited breath to hear what the Tories say at their party conference. But whatever promises they make, it is certain that if they are returned to power they will attack the trade unions for one reason and one reason alone and that is because we are the voice and the muscle of the working class. They know the only true resistance to their ideological attack on ordinary men and women is represented by the trade unions. That is why they hate us so much. Therefore it is our duty to do everything we can to kick them and their Lib Dem lapdog cohorts out of office in 2015. If you don’t think it is ‘really’ that important as it doesn’t ‘really’ affect you, read this issue’s report on the Tory attack on teaching assistants (page 4). It shows why we need the return of a Labour government. 03

l a n o i g e r


GMB m o r f s w e n All the

m o o r s Clas

HELPING HAND Teaching assistants are key to classrooms.

e g a carn GMB steps in as 230,000 teaching assistants face the sack

TA’s petition The threat to teaching assistants’ jobs concerns everyone who values quality education. GMB is therefore asking everyone to sign its new petition. If you work in a school, ask your 04

colleagues, including teachers, governors and head teachers, making sure parents have a chance to sign too. This will enable us to show the government the strength of support for these valuable TAs and the work they do. Please support TAs by taking the petition that came with this magazine to your school, getting as many signatures as possible and returning it to GMB Halesowen Regional Office. Alternatively, download and print the petition at

Tell us what you think ey to collect GMB has also published an online surv teaching for ort supp er gath and ions opin people’s plete the com to tes assistants. Please take a few minu paign to fight cam our with lved questionnaire and get invo education. ren’s child our and tants assis for our teaching Please see attached link: ngAssistantWM

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ore than 230,000 teaching assistants (TAs) are facing the axe as ministers have started talks to phase them out. The Treasury and the Department for Education are considering getting rid of the skilled classroom assistants in a bid to save some £4 billion per year that is spent on the classroom staff. At GMB Congress, members pledged their support for the school teaching assistants facing the sack. GMB has now launched a campaign to save these valuable workers. TAs are not a ‘mums’ army’ as education secretary Michael Gove so insultingly referred to them. GMB believes they are a vital part of our education system.

Join us on facebook search GMB West Midlands ta road show The GMB Birmingham and West Midlands Region also held a roadshow throughout the West Midlands, visiting different areas to build support for TAs and getting the ‘SAVE OUR TAs’ message heard loud and clear! The fantastically fun and successful road show took place in October and went to Coventry, Stafford, Birmingham and Worcester.


Save our


GMB teams up with teachers to free schools of asbestos SIGN TO SUPPORT GMB is backing up classroom staff.

“Without a teaching assistant, not all children will benefit from the lessons being taught.” school visits

GMB has joined forces with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) to campaign for the removal of asbestos in all schools and public buildings within the region. The campaign will start with Birmingham City Council, the largest authority in Europe controlling a region with many schools and public buildings that date from the Victorian era when asbestos was highly used. The campaign will then move on to other authorities in the region.

scale of the problem In March 2012, a report from an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) warned of the hidden killer in our schools (that everyone should be aware of), seeking for schools to have it removed by 2028. Over 75 per cent of schools across the UK contain some asbestos. This is

If you work in a school you could soon be receiving a visit from GMB. Officers have been visiting schools to discuss the threat of Michael Gove axing all teaching assistants. Officers have been standing outside school gates to encourage parents and carers to sign the petition and complete GMB’s survey. These are just some of the schools we visited: Conway School, Sparkbrook, Birmingham Firs Primary School, Castle Bromwich, Causeway Green Primary School, Oldbury.

because all schools built or refurbished between the Second World War and 1990 would have used materials containing asbestos.

schools with academy status GMB members are concerned that schools moving out of local authority control will not see the removal of asbestos as a priority and therefore might put the lives of GMB members and pupils at risk by failing to tackle the issue.

get involved GMB has put together a questionnaire which will be sent to all head teachers so we can identify schools that contain asbestos. If you work in a school, you should have received a copy of the questionnaire with this magazine. Please fill it in and return it to help Birmingham and West Midlands become asbestos free.

Updat your GMe Prof B www.gmb ile .or

more find otout keep up to date with

If you would like paign within the the progress of this cam dlands region Mi st Birmingham and We estmids b-w gm w. ww it please vis aff tst or

LEARNING LESSONS GMB members are stepping up for schools. 05

SIGN up for the GMB eNEWSletter AT FAIR DEAL Equal pay for women at Birmingham City Council.



t n e m e l t t se

GMB wins compensation for injured member

Fair pay for women


GMB wins equal pay for 11,000 at Birmingham City Council

GMB has reached an agreement with Birmingham City Council (BCC) to settle its outstanding equal pay claims. This will avoid lengthy and costly employment tribunal hearings affecting approximately 11,000 cases in BCC which could have continued for several more years, further delaying payments to GMB members. If you are affected you will receive a letter from GMB solicitors in the very near future. Gill Whittaker, GMB organiser, said: “This is great news for women who have suffered an injustice in their pay. “After long and difficult negotiations, GMB and other trade unions reached an agreement. This means there is light at the end of a long, dark tunnel for all those women who have worked hard doing an equivalent job to men while earning less than their male counterparts. “It should never have happened. Women doing an equivalent job to men deserve the same pay. Hopefully it’s a message for employers going forward that this will not be tolerated.”

injured ? orgk atwww .uk .gmb.or w


MB has won compensation for a lorry loader from Oxfordshire who was left with tendon and ligament damage after an accident at work. The GMB member was loading the back of a lorry at Bidvest Logistics when a colleague driving a powered pallet truck crashed into him and trapped his left foot, crushing it and causing considerable pain and damage.

unable to work The GMB member was left with damage to his foot and heel and was unable to work for four weeks. He immediately contacted GMB, who instructed personal injury specialists to investigate his case. He said: “I was very grateful for the legal expertise I received as part of my GMB membership. Everyone involved in the accident was very apologetic but when you’re off work for so long, an apology doesn’t get the bills paid and they soon mount up. My money worries combined with the pain I was in after the incident meant it was a difficult and stressful time for me and my family.”

Safety standards Joe Morgan, GMB regional secretary, said: “Employers have a duty not just to set safety standards but to enforce them. In this case the employer failed and they have taken responsibility. GMB membership ensures that employers whose safety standards fail are brought to account and members don’t lose out.” Amie Jeffcott, the solicitor who represented the GMB member, said: “Our client was known to be a committed employee who was injured through no fault of his own. The practical consequences of his injury were pain and financial loss and our job was to get him proper compensation for that.”

injured at work? Call the legal department on 0121 550 4888. 07



from GMB All the news

t a y a d a y c Fan

? 4 1 0 2 s s e r g n Co Don’t miss your chance to come and see what it’s all about


MB Birmingham and West Midlands wants to encourage anyone that wants to get more involved with GMB’s processes and decision-making bodies to attend a day at GMB Congress 2014. The region would like to invite any new representative who has completed their GMB@Work training in the last year to apply

for a place to attend Congress for the opening day in June 2014. The day will consist of leaving the regional office on a minibus at 7.30am to get to Congress, held in Nottingham, for 9.30am. You will then spend the day in Congress with a guide who will take you through the process. The morning’s meetings will be followed by a tour of the hall and an opportunity to walk

the congress stage. There will also be a chance to meet members of the panel. Lunch will be provided. Opening day at Congress is a Sunday, so those who work on weekdays have no excuse! Sign up now! To find out more, contact GMB senior organiser Amanda Gearing at GMB Halesowen regional office on 0121 550 4888.

Become a



You could be part of the engine that drives GMB To GMB members, the workplace organiser is ‘the union’. Sometimes workplace organisers are called ‘shop stewards’, ‘union reps’, or ‘staff representatives’. Each organiser is the first point of contact for GMB members and potential members. They are vital to the union’s work. GMB members come from all walks of life. They work in the public and private sectors and it is the members that elect a workplace organiser to represent them and offer advice. GMB@Work Training Programme For New Representatives. The 10 day programme, which is compulsory for all GMB workplace representatives, aims 08

to guide workplace reps, giving them straightforward advice on how the GMB works and how to represent members of the union effectively. The course will cover: • Effective internal and external communications including how to write letters effectively and produce reports. • Understanding your membership and workplace logistics, mapping workplace demographics to help understand equal opportunities issues. • Health and safety legislation and understanding your role as a workplace health and safety representative.

• An introduction to the new equality legislation and training in equal opportunities employment. • Ways to work with your employer effectively in communications and meetings. • Leadership skills.

contact us now!

If you would like to becom GMB workplace represent e a or would like more inform ative please do not hesitate to ation, get in touch with GMB Hales owen Regional Office on 0121 550 4888.

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

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

’ s r e k r o w h it w g in r Interfe union rights should be a B M G s y a s , e c n e ff criminal o

Rex Features/iStock


he TUC Congress has backed a GMB call for laws to make it a criminal offence for hostile employers to interfere with the civil rights of workers who seek the support of a trade union when they have problems at work. Martin Smith, GMB national organiser, said: “So hostile are employers like Amazon, Next and Sports Direct that union organisation is driven underground and union members are forced to adopt the tactics of the French Resistance or a human rights campaign under a totalitarian regime. The blacklisting of 3,214 construction workers across the country shows that

GET ON THE CASE! We need a Leveson-style inquiry into blacklisting.

corporations are unafraid to take this kind of action.” Martin’s comments come at a time when unions are unhappy that companies who have blacklisted workers have still not been held accountable. GMB wants a Levesonstyle inquiry into the practice. Martin added: “Oppressive activity at work that denies our members their basic human rights should be against the law. GMB calls on the next Labour government to make it a criminal offence for an employer to deny workers their basic right to organise themselves and seek the support of a trade union when they have problems at work.”

SEE YOU IN COURT! GMB activists protest outside Swansea Crown Court.

are you On the Blacklist? Contact Phil Read, GMB r blacklisting Liaison Office or 7 99 on 07840 897 k




from GMB All the news

s i h t s s o b r u o is y


Daily Mirror columnist Paul Routledge on how GMB is fighting employer hostility

very employee is free to join a trade union – and not get the sack just for doing so. That’s the theory. The reality on the shopfloor can be very different. As too many workers are finding, employer hostility is spreading throughout industry. Two hundred years after the Tolpuddle Martyrs were transported to Australia for daring to organise themselves against starving wages, history is repeating itself. Employers are targetting workers who seek to bring the benefits of trade unionism to their place of work. They might not be clapped in leg-irons and shipped off to Botany Bay, but they do face discrimination and even dismissal. It takes a brave man or women to stand up for our rights supposedly guaranteed by law. Thankfully, there are brave men and women in every workplace willing to take up the challenge. But they shouldn’t be left to fight alone. They need legal protection from employers like Next, Amazon and Sports Direct who actively prevent employees turning to unions when they have problems in the workplace. Working people have a theoretical right under international law to free association and combination with whoever they choose. But hostile employers deny this right by intimidating or victimising anyone who turns to a union for help. It’s time such intimidation was outlawed by making it a criminal offence interfere with workers exercising their civil

right to organise and seek the support of a trade union when they have problems. The 2013 TUC Congress has endorsed this strategy after GMB national organiser Martin Smith urged that the next Labour government must do more than repeal old anti-union laws. They must deliver protection from bully bosses who strike fear into workers who join a union.

GMB in Amazon This corporate bullying is widespread. Take Amazon, the hugely successful online shopping firm. It takes billions of pounds in sales every year – on which they pay as little tax as possible. GMB is committed to organising and representing workpeople at Amazon. Two thirds of the company’s 15,000 workers in this country are agency workers. And the agency isn’t even a UK operation. It’s a Dutch agency, so they’re not protected by even the inadequate regulations applying to agencies here. They need a union, but they live in fear of what might happen if they dare let Amazon know they have joined and are organising support to resist a bullying management. Being a trade unionist at Amazon is like being in an underground movement, like the French wartime resistance. It’s as bad as that. I can’t even tell you where these brave GMB members work

“Left to their own devices employers spy and they lie.”


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Bring these pages to life! because they might be identified and their jobs put in jeopardy. Or take Next, another shopping chain that makes handsome profits. Earlier this year, GMB members employed in their stores fought and won a campaign to stop the company from imposing a cut in hours worked for all workers to less than twelve and a half hours a week. The aim of this management trick was to avoid the company paying the employer’s share of National Insurance contributions, saving money and diminishing workers’ rights.

What we NEed That battle was won, but at a cost. There is a constant anxiety that Next will exact revenge and find pretexts to force them out of work because they forced the employer to back down – and that some of them have no protection from unfair dismissal. Since April this year, if you want to challenge your employer for unfairly sacking you, you have to have worked for the company for two years – double the time under Labour. You have no rights if you’ve been there a year and 364 days. How many workers in retail are given jobs that last as long as that? What’s more, if you go to an industrial tribunal, you’ll be required to pay as much as £1,200 – 200 hours working at the national minimum wage up front before they will hear your case. That’s the price of justice under the ConDem government. It must be nervewracking to try to organise under such conditions. But it shouldn’t be like that. The shadow of fear must be lifted from the exercise of this basic freedom to turn to a union for support when you have a problem at work. With the demise of

INTIMIDATED AT WORK? GMB is tackling bosses who victimise union members.


traditional industries like coal and steel, employment has shifted to retail, distribution, information technology, call centres and similar workplaces. They almost always lack representation, because business bosses are hostile and resistant to unions. They don’t want workers to exercise their legal rights, meagre as they are. They hate the very idea of collective bargaining. They want to hire and fire without restraint. But NEXT UP Next workers vote for that’s where trade unionism the right to have a union. is most needed, and where it must go, to help those who into workplaces to deal need it most. with problems they face at work – if need be The demand is there. When GMB asked with sanctions against recalcitrant companies Asda distribution depot workers across the who refuse to toe the line. UK what they want in recognition ballots an It can be done. A Labour government in overwhelming majority per cent voted in Wales has taken action to halt the scourge of favour. Even workers who didn’t want to join blacklisting by threatening to withhold themselves voted for the right for everyone contracts from firms proven to be engaged in to have representation. this obscene practise. Nothing persuades the This basic civil right should be enshrined in private sector faster than a possible ban on a new legal framework, within which bidding for lucrative public contracts. workpeople can feel confident of getting The blacklisting scandal shows that left to together for the common good without their own devices employers spy and they lie. looking over their shoulder for the boss What the companies say and what the bearing down on them with a P45. companies do are two different things. For any worker to be represented by a trade t Labour Suppor union in their workplace is a civil right that must be protected to the highest level, with new That’s why GMB took the issue of employer legislation backed by imprisonment and hostility and the coalition attack on trade unlimited fines for anyone who interferes with it. union rights to the Labour conference. For the Labour Party, these should be bread Delegates backed a call for the party and butter manifesto commitments right now. leadership to convene “as a matter of And if it can be done, it should be done. As urgency” a commission on employment Maria Ludkin, GMB’s legal officer, told the 2013 rights. The purpose of this body will not just Labour Conference : “We live in a country be to redress new anti-trade union policies with one of the most flexible Labour markets brought in by this government, but to give an in Europe. But at the same time some of the active right for workers to be able to turn to weakest employment rights in the western unions when they have problems at work. world. But this government is not content This is vital to winning the war for job with that. They have mounted a sustained security. As of now, firms like Amazon can just attack on the rights of working people, with a slam the door in the face of anyone seeking to systematic casualisation of labour, and organise a union presence. They can – and do comprehensive destruction of legal aid. – put a Chinese wall around the workplace, “This is about millions of working people sealing off their employees from help. having the protection from a Labour A Labour government must change that, government that they will never get from the legislating to give employees total freedom to Tories or the Liberal Democrats. No more turn to unions when they need help. Nobody prevarication – but protection for the workers. is forced to join a union. The closed shop was “After all, how much more protection do ended years ago. Instead, we have closed employers need from working people?” minds – on the other side. Hear, hear! Ed Miliband has shown he Ed Miliband has shown a willingness to take is willing to take on the might of the energy on the big battalions in the energy industry. barons with a gas and electricity price He’s ready to force firms to employ freeze. Now, he should listen to the voices apprentices. He should bring the same of ordinary workers who demand the right courage to the issue of employment and to join and organise without fear of trade union membership rights, compelling employer intimidation. employers to enable workers to bring unions 11


Move Directo t D e b i t www.gmb .o


from GMB All the news


MB is seeking a minimum pay increase of £1 an hour for local council workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to raise their pay level to a Living Wage hourly rate. GMB believe the same £1 an hour increase should also apply to all pay points above the bottom rate as well. Local council workers in Scotland are currently considering an offer for a Living Wage of £7.58 an hour from April 2014. 200,000 GMB members are covered by these agreements. It is a scandal that 500,000 local government workers are paid below the current Living Wage of £7.45 (£8.55 in London) an hour. This rate will increase in November. Politicians from all parties have recently called for action to deal with low pay and are encouraging individual local authorities to pay a Living Wage. 85 councils in England and Wales are now paying or are committed to paying a Living Wage.

All 32 councils in Scotland are currently paying the Living Wage or will be within a year. Brian Strutton, GMB national secretary for public services, said: “One and a half million council workers have seen their living standards cut by 18 per cent and 400,000 of their colleagues have lost their jobs. I don’t believe any section of the economy has taken such an austerity hit as local authority staff. Street cleaners, school dinner staff, social workers, gravediggers, classroom assistants and all the other unsung heroes serving their local communities deserve a decent pay rise. GMB’s claim for £1 an hour is not a king’s ransom but it will go some way towards restoring the real pay cuts that council staff have endured. Politicians have been right to call for action on low pay to end the hardship facing those on poverty wages and boost demand in the economy. Low pay and poverty pay are endemic in local government with too many members now reliant on tax credits and pay day loans.”

We d deman

An extra

r u o An h 12

Which councils pay a Living Wage? • Ashfield • Barking and Dagenham • Barnsley • Bassetlaw • Blackpool • Birmingham • Braintree • Brent • Brighton and Hove • Bristol • Bromsgrove • Burnley, • Caerphilly • Calderdale • Camden • Cambridge • Cardiff • Carlisle • Cherwell • Chorley • City of London • Coventry • Crawley • Croydon • Dartford • Deal • Ealing • Enfield • Exeter • Gedling • Gloucester • Greenwich • Haringey • Harlow • Harrow • Hastings • Hessle Town • Hounslow • Hyndburn • Ipswich • Islington • North Kesteven • Lambeth • Lancaster • Leicester • Lewisham • Malvern Hills • Mansfield • Manchester • Melton Mowbray • Merton • Newark and Sherwood • Newham • Newcastle under Lyme • Newcastle upon Tyne • Newport • Norwich • Nottingham • Oldham • Oxford • Plymouth • Preston • Redcar and Cleveland • Rossendale • Salford • Sandwell • Scarborough • Sheffield • Slough • South Gloucestershire • South Hams • Southwark • Stroud • Surrey • Swindon • Swansea • Tamworth • Thurrock • Tower Hamlets • South Tyneside • Walsall • Winchester • Wirral • Worcester • Wolverhampton • Wyre Forest • York • All 32 councils in Scotland now pay or are soon to begin paying a Living Wage.


£1 an hour pay rise to achieve Living Wage for local government workers

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Paul kenn y



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

The determination to fight blacklisting is among our finest achievements


he recent startling revelations that the police and other state controlled bodies have been found to have provided information to the anti trade union blacklisting company “The Consulting Association” may have come as a shock to MPs, journalists and some others in the world. But for many of us this was just confirmation of what we always knew but could never prove. This company, now defunct, was funded and controlled by a large number of private sector companies whose intent was to discriminate and thereby victimise trade union members whose only crime was to ask about health and safety or attend meetings. Many victims of this evil intrusion into the most basic of our civil rights were denied employment and suffered huge damage to their personal lives and that of their families.

The truth Will out GMB has been fighting to uncover the truth for years and now, working with the Blacklist Support Group and others, we are beginning to see the layers of lies and corruption peeled back to expose the rotten core of how employers and state

conspired to interfere with and destroy the right of working people to organise. What has also shocked many is the extent of the blacklisting: lawyers, journalists, peace campaigners, environmentalists and the latest victim to be uncovered – the comedian and campaigner for freedom Mark Thomas. The whole story of this disgraceful episode would take more column inches than I am allowed but thousands of ordinary men and women were blacklisted and 2,768 still don’t know they are on the list because the government department responsible for dealing with this has failed to contact them! This in itself raises huge questions about the role government has played in seeking to cover this up. The so-called Information commission seems to be anything but when it comes to giving people information relating to behaviour from employers and the state. In recent days, eight of the largest companies involved in organising, funding and controlling this blacklisting operation have admitted their involvement and offered an apology and a compensation scheme for affected victims. GMB’s position has been that tough measures must be taken with these companies, though these may be far from

enough to stop this all happening again. New tough laws to protect the rights of workers trying to organise a union in their workplace or in their community must have protection from discrimination and victimisation. The work done in exposing this evil conspiracy will all count for nothing if the law continues to fail ordinary people exercising their civil rights.

Deleting the list In the coming months, GMB will continue to campaign for a public inquiry into the collusion between the state and certain employers which not only allowed this blacklisting to exist but actually encouraged and supported it. GMB has done many things of which we can be proud during our history but I believe the determination shown to fight and expose blacklisting will rank among our finest achievements. The right of people to exercise their civil freedoms to organise, demonstrate or just question those who govern us at work or in society is such a basic right that it cannot be given away by apathy. On page 9 of this magazine you will find details of GMB’s campaign and how to find out if you or anyone you know is on the list and may be liable for compensation. 13



from GMB All the news

e h t n o w u o Have y

l a n o i Reg lottery?

GMB map reveals economic activity across the UK and Ireland

Northern Ireland 86%

Border, Midland and Western 85%


key map (opposite) sums up how much economic activity there is per resident in all the 39 sub regions of the UK and Ireland where GMB members live. The result for each area is shown as a percentage of the average across all 27 countries in the European Union (EU). It will come as no surprise that inner London has the highest level of economic output per resident at nearly three times that of the European average. It will be a surprise that for the South East of England, far from all of it being an 14

economic success story, there are areas below the average. The latest figures are for 2010 but there has been little or no recovery since then. Few will realise that the economies of the North East of Scotland, Southern and Eastern Ireland and Cheshire or those areas off the M4 corridor are stronger than Essex or Kent. In fact in 26 of the 39 sub regions in the UK and Ireland, regional gross domestic product per resident is below the average per resident in the EU.

Southern and Eastern 145%

Gross domestic product (GDP) in an area is made up of all economic activity including farming and fishing, mining, oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, construction, utilities, transport and commercial and public services. GDP is a key measure of an area’s economic development and is often used as an indicator of living standards.

Rex Features x 2

POWER HOUSES London’s financial districts host the wealth of the nation.

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NATional Upda your GtMe Prof B www.gmb ile .or

Highlands and Islands 87%

Eastern Scotland 109%

North Eastern Scotland 162%

“This GMB map should sound a clarion call for investment.”

INDUSTRIAL HEART Fossil fuel extraction props up regional economies.

The map confirms that Mrs Thatcher’s legacy to the old industrial heartlands in the UK is that they have fallen far behind 88% the EU average in terms of output and living standards. Tess Valley In West Wales and the Valleys gross and Durham domestic product per resident is the 77% Cumbria lowest of the 39 areas in these islands 94% West Yorkshire at 70 per cent of the EU average. North The next ten lowest are: Cornwall Lancashire Yorkshire and Isles of Scilly (72 per cent), East Yorkshire and 93% Tees Valley and Durham (77 Northern Lincolnshire Greater Manchester per cent), Lincolnshire (78 per 83% 81% cent), Merseyside, East South Yorkshire 95% Merseyside Yorkshire and Northern 96% Lincolnshire, South Leicestershire, Rutland 81% 81% Yorkshire and Shropshire and Northamptonshire Lincolnshire and Staffordshire (all on 81 78% Cheshire Derbyshire Bedfordshire and per cent), Lancashire (83 118% and Notts Hertfordshire per cent), Border, Midland 92% and Western in Ireland (85 Shropshire and Staffordshire per cent) and Northern Ireland 81% West Midlands (86 per cent). East Anglia 95% 104% Herefordshire, This GMB map should sound a 100% Worcestershire clarion call for investment that and Warwickshire 94% will bring jobs and prosperity to East West Wales Wales the old industrial heartlands and the and The 100% 113% rural areas that desperately need it. Berkshire, Valleys Essex Politicians must heed that call with 70% Bucks and 89% regional policies. The devolution of Oxfordshire economic powers to local and regional 115% Gloucestershire, 143% level is essential. GMB will lead the calls Wiltshire and for action. Bristol/Bath Kent 109% New jobs and investment has to be Dorset and 90% 114% the top priority for national and Cornwall and Somerset Isles of Scilly local governments and the EU. The Devon 92% 87% public and private sectors must Inner London co-operate to achieve this growth 328% 72% and development as neither can Hampshire and Surrey, East and Outer London do it on their own. Isle of Wight West Sussex 95% South Western Scotland 109%

Northumberland and Tyne and Wear 15


UPDATE get online with GMB from GMB All the news GMB’s website lets you manage your membership and keep up to date


f you’re not registered online, it’s easy to sign up. Go to and click GMB ‘member login’. You’ll just need your GMB membership number.

Visit www. • Update your GMB profile • Switch to Direct Debit • Access the latest news • Download exclusive extras • Get support for your workplace

Get the GMB App Get the latest from GMB wherever you are with the new GMB app. Since the app was launched a few months ago, thousands of members have downloaded it to their smartphones. It’s available to download now from or from iTunes and Google Play for Android.

Download it now to: • Update your GMB profile • Get the latest news from GMB • Switch to Direct Debit • Find your nearest GMB office • Find your nearest GMB post holder • Become a workplace organiser

case study Gavin Palmer “I’m really glad I have it. It’s so convenient and easy to use – it puts all your membership information at your fingertips. I talk to a lot of members and I always recommend the GMB app.” Gavin Palmer is a GMB workplace organiser at Barking and Daggenham Local Authority. Representing members across the borough, he doens’t always have access to a computer, so getting the GMB app on his smartphone has proved invaluable.

Site Update! Fresh tools online! Are you looking to up-skill or organise your workplace? We’re updating the GMB@Work resources online so GMB post holders will be able to download everything they need. From training information to health and safety regulations, you’re just a couple of clicks away from making your workplace stronger and safer.

Go to 16

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regional NATional exclus ive to


membe rs prize dra w

“I won a car with GMB – now it’s

your turn!”


iStock/ Car winner Kevin Nixon

irect Debit members will be in with a chance to win this gorgeous Toyota Aygo worth £9,000. You can be a winner regardless of whether you already pay by Direct Debit or are switching now – all you have to do is enter our prize draw. The draw closes at midnight on 31 December 2013. Reasons to switch to Direct Debit • As some employers frown on trade unions, paying your GMB subscription by Direct Debit means that your membership is a matter for you alone. Your membership is not made known to your employer. • You won’t lose your GMB membership as the result of an administrative slip-up in your payroll office. • Your membership will follow you if you change jobs with your current employer. • There’s no need to go through any boring admin to keep your GMB membership up to date. It’s all handled for you!

Last issue’s Toyota Aygo winner Annette Kay said: “I went to the GMB website to update my details and pressed the button to enter the competition. Now I’m a winner.” Use the Layar app to see the full interview on your sma rtphone. Runners up: Yorkshire and North Derbyshire Region’s Mrs K Hibbet won an iPad . Birmingham and West Midlands Region’s Mrs R Wils on won an iPhone.

Switch to Direct Debit to enter this exclusive GMB prize draw to win a Toyota Aygo worth £9,000

Reasons to switch away from check-off • GMB pays an administration fee on this. • Help GMB make that saving by switching away from check-off to Direct Debit.

design a new banner for gmb

how to enter Simply go to competition and click the link to switch to Direct Debit. You can also use the ‘Move to Direct Debit’ button on the GMB app, which you can download from You can still enter the prize draw if you already pay by Direct Debit. Simply go to and press the button to enter the competition. You can also enter by post. Just write to Freepost RSTL-ULCH-JBET GMB, 22 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD, and request to switch your payment to Direct Debit – good luck!

TERMS & CONDITIONS The winning entry will be drawn at random from GMB members who pay their GMB subscription by Direct Debit. It will be drawn after midnight on the closing date of 31 December 2013. The winner will be notified by GMB. No purchase necessary. The winner’s name and photo may be published in future issues. The GMB prize draw is open to GMB members who are signed up to Direct Debit at midnight on 31 December 2013. This prize draw is not open to any GMB employees or family members. The result of the draw is final. All entrants agree to publicity in GMB material. Only one entry per eligible GMB member.

FLY YOUR FLAG You could create ou r new GMB banner. This is your chance to be part of GMB history and win £1,000 by designin g new GMB banners. Designs should cele brate what it means to be a GMB member today. Entries will be judged by Mar y Turner, GMB President, who is look ing forward to seeing your ideas! Enter now at gmb-banner-competition but be quick! The draw closes at midnight on 31 December 2013. 17



from GMB All the news


NHS staff told to join GMB before it’s too late


housands of NHS employees are facing a grim future as the Tory-led coalition opens the health service to private companies. GMB has concerns that, as well as inviting profiteers to take over our NHS, the government is allowing the all-important TUPE regulations to be eroded. GMB is telling those who want to protect their pay, holidays and rights at work to join now before it’s too late! The TUPE (Transfer of undertakings and protection of employment) regulations were set up to ensure that employees’ rights are not infringed upon when their employment is passed from one employer to another. As the coalition continues to allow private profiteers to take over sections of the NHS, thousands of GMB members are relying on TUPE to ensure their interests are protected. Employment relations minister Jo Swinson said: “TUPE rules are essential to making sure that when a business is transferred from one

ON THE LOOKOUT NHS staff should be wary of new employers.

company to another, it happens in a fair and efficient way. There have been some areas of uncertainty and confusion for businesses trying to comply.” GMB members have been victims of the employment practices of private companies who are buying up sections of the NHS. Maria Ludkin, GMB legal and corporate affairs officer, said: “It is the major companies that profit NHS UNDER THREAT from work paid by public funds who GMB members have made clear . are the primary movers behind their objection to NHS privatisation these attacks on the protective concerned about their pay and TUPE legislation. These employers are also employment conditions is to join GMB. Your major donors to the local GMB branch and representative will be Tory Party. Therefore it able to offer vital assistance if any difficulty is no surprise to GMB with your new employer arises or if you are members who have involved in an incident at work. If you have been victims of the any colleagues who are yet to become GMB employment practices members, make sure they join up. of these companies The more members we gather in that they successfully threatened workplaces, the better equipped pushed through these we will be to fight any injustices. changes to the rules Tell your colleagues to join GMB now at and regulations.” The best first step for NHS staff who are


iStock x 2

“These private companies are also major donors to the Tory party.”




from GMB All the news



the new

gas et’s put L man labour

GMB stalwart Aubrey Thompson takes over as industrial side chair Aubrey Thompson joined GMB on his first day at British Gas back in 1975. Having established himself as a reliable and dedicated GMB rep and member, Aubrey is proudly stepping up to the role of GMB industrial side chair. Aubrey became a rep before the age of 25 when he was asked to represent his service and repair colleagues at the Macclesfield British Gas depot. Shortly afterwards the distribution engineers in the same area asked him to be their rep. Within a few months he was looking after more than 60 colleagues. In 1999 he was asked by his GMB colleagues to become their regional steward and within a month was elected to be the area joint secretary, starting work immediately on the 2000 Agreement. We congratulate Aubrey and wish him even more success in his new position. 20

in power

Labour’s new policies could bring about a Labour government in 2015


he new Labour manifesto demonstrates that a Labour government will be on the side of ordinary families. There is a real difference between a Labour government and the incumbent Tory/Lib Dem coalition. The last Labour government set up the National Minimum Wage (NMW), increased pensions and child benefit, introduced the right to paid holidays and brought in the pension protection fund, which protects pensions when firms go bust. There was an outcry from the energy companies about the freezing of energy bills proposed by Ed Miliband. They say

this would result in power cuts and the lights going out. But this is just scaremongering born of their concerns over their profit margins. The same tactics were used when the Labour government announced the introduction of the National Minimum Wage. The Tories said it would cost a million jobs. In fact it raised two million people out of poverty. We must stop the attacks that this government is inflicting on society. To do that we need Labour Party policies we can campaign on. The ConDem politicians continue to blame the last Labour government for the 2008 economic meltdown. In fact the

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tacts political con

Get in touch with your regional political officer GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region Stephanie Peacock 0121 550 4888

GMB London Region Gary Doolan 020 7391 6748

GMB Midland & East Coast Region

Richard Oliver 0115 960 7171

GMB Northern Region Chris Jukes 0191 233 3930

GMB North West & Irish Region Neil Smith 0151 727 0077

GMB Scotland

Richard Leonard 0141 332 8641

GMB Southern Region Michelle Gordon 020 8397 8881

GMB Wales & South West Region

Rex Features x 5/iStock

Labour’s new policies global economic crisis started in America and spread throughout the developed world. It was the action taken by Gordon Brown and the Labour Government, ploughing money into the economy, that ensured that the UK’s ATMs remained full. Otherwise our economy would have crashed. It was this action that actually saved the UK economy and, yes, it’s created a deficit that needs paying back. The best and quickest way to pay it back is to stimulate growth and create jobs.

Freezing energy bills for 20 month s to sort out the m arket and the energy compani es and introduce a tougher new regu lator. An increase from 15 to 25 hours of free child care fo r three and fouryear-olds to help working parents make it worthwh ile going out to work to provide for their families. A commitment to abolishing the ‘bedroom tax’ th at is making life so difficult for disabl ed people. A pledge that 20 0,000 new hom es will be built, pena lising developers that hoard land an d freeing council s from planning re gulations.

Mike Payne 029 2049 1260

GMB Yorkshire & North Derbyshire Region Steve Jennings 0845 337 7777

GMB Euston Political Team Cath Speight, national political officer 020 7391 6746 Heidi Benzing 020 7391 6749 Gary Doolan 020 7391 6748 Hilary Perrin 020 7391 6753

e! get onrtylin what you

Tell the Labour Pa esto at want in the Labour Manif k g.u .or ain rit rb y ne mo ing giv Find out who’s at s rie To to the 21



from GMB All the news

GMB SUPPORT GMB members have raised the profile of the ARC.

0 0 0 , 3 €2 is just a start


Grainne Griffin on how GMB members are helping the Irish Abortion Rights Campaign


he Abortion Rights Campaign This is a terrible injustice to the women and (ARC) is a movement for choice families who have suffered the indignity of and change in Ireland and Northern travel to access an abortion. The bill is also Ireland. It campaigns for free, safe problematic for women facing emergency and legal abortion. The ARC has joined forces medical situations like those faced by Savita with the Workers Beer Company (WBC) and Halannapavar, who died when she was denied GMB’s members to an abortion. raise money to fight The Irish ARC’s for Irish women to relationship with the have the same rights WBC started earlier as women in Britain. this year when it was The results have been approved to be a amazing! The volunteer group. relationship has led to Asking for volunteers an influx of volunteers to work at bars and a huge fundraising proved a hit with ARC UNION BONDS boost, helping the ARC The Workers Beer Company supporters, attracting take its message to an a large base of young joined forces with the ARC. even wider audience. people only too The legislation recently introduced in happy to work at some of the biggest music Ireland, ‘The Protection of Life in Pregnancy events in Ireland this summer. Bill’ does not establish safe and accessible Working with GMB members from the abortion. The bill means that a person can North West and Irish region and WBC brought have a termination if they are dying, and their some unexpected bonuses. Our request for life can only be saved by having an abortion. volunteers brought hundreds of people into However the fact remains that a clear contact with ARC’s campaign for choice. We majority of people in Ireland support wider received nearly 500 applications in just three access to termination. hours after posting the request on Facebook! 22

We now have hundreds of new recipients for our email bulletin too. The bonds built behind bars this summer will help build an active campaign. Indeed, many WBC volunteers helped steward this year’s March for Choice! 172 volunteers, five concerts and three festivals later, WBC volunteers raised €23,000 for ARC. Even more significantly, strong relationships have been built. Strong union support will be essential to bringing in constitutional change in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Our work with WBC and GMB was a great step on the road to full union support of a pro-choice agenda. The Abortion Rights Campaign look forward to working with all unions across Ireland and Northern Ireland to develop their policies on abortion rights.

get involved

to the To volunteer or sign up it: vis ter let ws ARC’s ne www.abortionrights


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BECOME A GM HealthB safety & rep w ww.gmb

GMB members have donated £33,000 to the International Solidarity Fund


he International Solidarity Fund was officially launched at GMB Congress in June, 2011. Since then GMB members from 42 branches have shown their support for union members across the globe and donated more than £33,000 towards trade unions in Latin America’s agricultural sector. GMB works with the Latin American Coordinating Body of Latin American Banana and Agro-industrial Unions, known as COLSIBA, part of the International Union of Food Workers (IUF). Despite the global reach of international trade union bodies, GMB members’ help is vital in their fight for bargaining rights and in giving their union organisers the power to get decent work for the men and women who produce the pineapples and bananas sold in UK supermarkets.

FAIRER FRUIT GMB is helping Latin American farmers get a better deal.

War on want/Jim Peterson

Who we’ve helped

GMB members’ donations to the International Solidarity Fund have already helped: • Nicaraguan union, FETRABACH, to get a 30 per cent pay rise for its members in one of Central America’s poorest countries • New Peruvian union SITAG, representing over 5,000 workers in the production and export of bananas, to train workers about women’s leadership, health and safety, HIV/AIDS prevention and collective bargaining • SITAG to get jobs back for 33 sacked workers and recruit hundreds of new fee paying members that strengthen the organisation and make it financially independent.

SHOW OF HANDS Who’s been helped by GMB’s International Solidarity Fund? Workers on tropical fruit plantations endure harsh conditions. Union-busting firms operate in most producer countries and some activists are in fear for their lives. Giant supermarket chains in Britain make upwards of a £1million a week surplus from the sale of bananas. Their suppliers can get as little as one per cent of the retail price but supermarket executives and shareholders benefit from profits measured in the billions. Latin American workers sometimes don’t earn enough to feed themselves and their families. They and their unions are on the front line of the struggle for a social and economic justice. Their fight is our fight and GMB members can continue our support.

find out more

it For more information, vis t/ ou /ab .uk rg b.o out and gmb-international/ab officer, al on ati ern int contact GMB g ur nb we ou sch bert. 23



Putting the T

from GMB All the news

back in lgbt GMB Shout! launches project to stamp out transphobia

figures are growing,” said Sarah Hurley, GMB London region Shout! organiser at the GMB National Equality Conference. “From 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2011 there have been approximately 816 reported killings of transgender people across 55 different countries.” Shockingly, recent reports indicate that more than three quarters of gay, bisexual and lesbian hate crime victims did not report these incidents to the police, so the real number of attacks could be much higher than the number logged. Life at work is not easy for transgender people either. Many face discrimination and, as an example, a survey conducted in 2000

rk Make it wo

of tively raising awareness GMB Shout! has been ac T the g ttin tly launched Pu trans equality. The recen B GM ll ensure that all Back in LGBT project wi to equipped with the tools are workplace organisers at mb co d ns members an fight for the rights of tra lace. rkp transphobia in their wo

Trans facts

lete lace organisers to comp GMB Shout! asked workp e Th e. lac rkp ness in their wo surveys on trans aware en be ve ha ys tastic as 704 surve response has been fan press. returned at the time of

kit GMB reps’ tool from these

The information surveys has been used to produce a toolkit for GMB reps. The toolkit will be launched on 20 November, International Trans HQ Memorial Day, at GMB il with vig it lel nd followed by a ca and ers mb me trans community s. ive political representat



EQUALITY FOR ALL Discrimination of trans people is still a problem. found just one in four transgender people were allowed to use the toilet of the sex they had transitioned to. This is why GMB workplace organisers will be given the tools they need to protect transgender members.

transgender agenda At the National Equality Conference , GMB Shout! raised motions on trans equality, includin g: • Increasing the knowledge and awareness with all stewards and equality officers so that they are aware of trans rights in the workplace and can challenge employers to implement policy and bes • F ully supporting all trans members in thet practice. workplace and looking to ensure those who wish to take part in their region’s equality networks can do so in the gender they identify as. • T o support campaigns that seek to change the views of countries that consider transgender people mentally ill. • T o support campaigns that are pushing for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to brin g forward the date of the reclassification of transgende r people as not mental ill from 2015.

olvedon get inv r more information

Fo BT email Putting the T Back in LG .uk .co ail otm @h gmbshout B GM the for rch or sea k. Shout! page on Faceboo

iStock x 2


iscrimination is wrong. Violence is wrong. That is why GMB stands up to those who would oppress us, whether at work, in our homes or on our streets. GMB Shout! – the self-organised network of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) GMB members – has launched a campaign calling for an end to attacks on transgender people and offering GMB workplace organisers support in addressing the needs of transgender members. “In the world there are reported to be at least 18.6m transgender people, while here in the UK there are approximately 65,000 people who are transgender and these



UPDATE from GMB All the news

GMB Birmingham and West Midlands region Retired Members Association (RMA) is campaigning for all pensioners currently drawing a state pension (basic and second) of less than £146 a week to be included in a new Bill before Parliament. From 6 April 2016, those reaching state pension age with a minimum of 35 years of National Insurance contributions will receive a single tier state pension of at least £146 a week (estimated to be around £150 by 2016). For this group of retirees the current basic and second state pension will no longer exist. However, those who retire after April 2016 will have a combination of the existing state pension and the new single tier state pension. Many will have already built up an entitlement to more than £146 a week, and they will still receive this higher amount. As the state second pension is being abolished and merged with the basic state pension, employees in defined benefit (final salary) occupational pension schemes will no longer be able to contract-out of paying full National Insurance. This means that already struggling employees and employers will have to pay an extra £6 billion. Legislation is already in place to

raise the state pension age for men and women to 65 by 2018, 66 by 2020 and 67 by 2036 (although the coalition plan to bring this forward to 2028). This new Bill proposes a review of the retirement age every five years. GMB RMA believes these reviews should be based on the life expectancies of those who rely most on the state pension. GMB RMA believes the level of the basic state pension should be at least £178 a week, which is the official poverty level. RMA also considers that the second state pension should continue in a simplified form and that the number of qualifying years for a full state pension should remain at 30 and there should be no further increases in state pension age beyond 65 until increases in life expectancies are more consistently enjoyed by all and are not linked to income or location. RMA will join a parliamentary lobby on 27 November called for by the National Pensioners Convention to push for these changes. Those currently in receipt of meanstested pension credit will continue to do so after the new system comes into force. The table below shows the number of pensioners in all parts of the region in receipt of pension credits in addition to the maximum basic state pension of £110.15 per week and an additional £66 per week for a couple.

“RMA will join a parliamentary lobby to push for changes.”

Retired members r lobby government fo fairer state pensions

who gets it? Sandwell

% of all people receiving state pension

Pension credit average weekly payment £

% of all people receiving state pension

Pension credit average weekly payment £



Telford and Wrekin


































Herefordshire, County of





How many people are benefiting in your area? 25



from GMB All the news

! e t a d Up

l a c i polit

ional ’s g e r B M ock, G you on what c a e P e i Stephanl officer updates est Midlands politica ing within the Wet involved happen how you can g area and IT STOPS HERE

GMB members call for an end to payday loans.


rom fighting against payday loan companies to campaigning for a Living Wage, GMB members across the region have been getting active and demanding action from their MPs on issues that affect working families. As the government announces economic recovery, life is still difficult for working families, who are feeling the brunt of the coalition’s austerity policy. GMB members are getting politically active, and learning how they can make a difference to the political landscape. For more about how you can get involved and make a difference, read the article on political training and contact me on 0121 550 4888 or by email at


free speech

sign the petition

Go online and make your voice heard:


The government is trying to rush this legislation through and the outcry is increasing. Take two minutes now to email your MP and ask them to stand up for free speech.



GMB Dudley MP Ian Austin and national campaigner against payday loans Stella Creasy MP launched a campaign against unscrupulous payday lenders. Legal loan sharks are making huge profits on the back of people struggling in tough economic times. Research shows that 80 per cent of payday loans taken out are to pay for basics like food and rent; it’s outrageous that more isn’t

being done to tackle these firms. These payday lenders trap people into cycles of debt with outrageously high interest rates that quickly become too much for borrowers to cope with. They operate in high streets up and down the country bringing misery to lenders and putting huge strain on local families. There should be legislation where the payday lenders cap the cost and increase credit checks.

Dudley News/iStock x 4

The government has introduced plans to gag charities and campaigners from working during elections. If the plans go through, from next May, GMB and a whole host of other organisations will be banned from holding politicians and political parties to account as we do now. On the big issues, from the NHS to the environment, we’d all be gagged.


Bring these pages to life!

I have been lobbying West Midlands MPs campaigning for a Living Wage. Nearly five million workers are paid less than the Living Wage – even though experts believe this is the minimum families need to live on. The Living Wage has been calculated as £7.45 a hour for people living outside London. While these working families struggle to get by, at the top, boardroom pay continues to soar far above inflation. Pay inequality is one of the factors that helped cause the crash. For almost all of the 1960s and 1970s the share of the UK economy going to wages was between 58 per


MAKE WORK PAY GMB campaigns for a Living Wage.

political school

cent and 61 per cent. But from the early 1980s it has only gone above 56 per cent in one year. To keep up with this imbalance people started to borrow far more – the root of the credit crunch. And it’s not just about wages. Pensions are deferred pay, and unions will defend, and work to extend, decent workplace pensions in the private and public sectors. GMB supports a decent state pension for current and future pensioners, and opposes unjustified increases in state pension age. To find out more about the campaign. please visit

SCHOOL OF THOUGHT GMB Political School prepares members for politics. Over the last few months a number of GMB activists have completed political training, finding out about campaigning, how to get involved in the Labour Party and what to do if they are considering becoming a candidate.


re a h s your views your

ear nt to h We wa s on what’s d view ves an your li ant to g n i t c uw affe on. ues yo the iss ampaigning c B es see GM a few minut rvey e u k s a T line our on to fill in martsurvey ay .s S at www BHaveYour M G / /s

Another course will be running in the New Year, if you are interested in completing training please get in touch.

Case Study: er Scully Katherine Bak

wallet www.gmb

political training

“I represented Birmingham and West Midlands Region at TULO Political School where we embarked on an intense two day training course learning valuable skills from speech writing and public speaking to the Labour Party process. “As unions joined forces, it became clear how individuals would utilise this new knowledge to encourage more active stances politically. Union teaching and perspectives gave an insight into the future possibility of becoming either a local councillor or MP.

THE GRADUATE Katherine Baker Scully has completed training. “Guest MP speakers gave true insight into political life and a Q&A session helped delegates to learn how to be proactive while supporting members and those in our local communities”.

olved!in politics and get invget more involved

If you would like to s you can do so – from campaigning there are lots of way ns to considering standing paig cam l loca and political training or for political office. Visit www.g nie Peacock on 0121 550 pha Ste cer contact political offi 4888 or email stephanie.peaco 27



from GMB All the news

Move tto Direc Debit k .org.u www.gmb

GRATEFULLY RECEIVED Charity representatives thank former GMB members.

First aid standards are at risk under changes to health and safety laws From 1 October 2013, the 1981 health and safety (first aid) regulations were amended to remove the requirement for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to approve first aid training and qualifications. Originally scheduled for April this year, the new guidelines mean HSE will no longer approve first aid training and qualifications. The new guidance documents redefine what the law requires and provide practical help to businesses in assessing and understanding their first aid needs. Where a first aider is required, the new guidance documents make it clear that the employer is free to select a training provider who is best suited to their needs. Employers must ensure training providers are competent and have the right quality assurance systems. Worryingly, businesses can shorten the checking process by choosing training delivered through an approved awarding organisation regulated by the qualifications regulators (Ofqual, SQA and the Welsh government) or by using one of the voluntary aid societies (St John’s Ambulance, British Red Cross and St Andrew’s First Aid). The concern here is that GMB members’ safety will be compromised by employers seeking cheaper first aid solutions from profiteering organisations. Should any disputes arise from a workplace safety or first aid issue, members should not hesitate to contact their GMB representative. 28

Worthy causes GMB members from long-closed firm donate £2,800 to charity


lmost £3,000 has been donated to charity after it was discovered in a defunct fund. Beans Engineering closed in 1995 but while the company was running, GMB ran a very successful fundraising project there. When the fund was rediscovered, GMB member and former workplace organiser at Beans Engineering, Roger Jones, agreed with colleagues that

the money should be shared between: Compton Hospice (£1,000), The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal (£1,000), The Air Ambulance (£400), and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (£400). The trustees would like to thank all employees who paid into the fund and pass on their hopes that they approve of the four very worthy charities selected for the donations.

enough! GMB supports school members after school knife attack GMB officers were called to Hatley School in Birmingham over health and safety concerns after a pupil threatened children with a knife. When the pupil was allowed to return to school, support staff feared a repeat incident that could threaten their safety and that of other pupils. Gill Whittaker, GMB organiser, said “Our ultimate priority is for the health and safety of our members and the pupils they are responsible for at the school. Our members have contacted us after a recent vote by

teachers of the NASUWT to stop teaching the pupil concerned.” “Knife crime on school children has risen within the Birmingham area. There have been several incidents recently; a school girl was killed on a bus on her way to school, a boy was stabbed on his first day back at school. If knife crime is not taken seriously and no action is taken; where does SERIOUS HAZARD this leave our members GMB must address and the families knife crime in shcools. of victims?”

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How do you turn 15p into £10 ??

GMB’s reassuring Sickness and Burial Fund is now more helpful than ever GMB always puts members first – particularly in their hour of need. The Regional Sickness and Burial Benefit Fund was created to give members financial support when they need a helping hand. The fund has recently been improved so members in need will receive even more support.

Please note that all of these changes will happen with no contribution increase for the sick fund. The contribution rate remains at 15p per week/65p per month. These changes will commence from 1 October 2013 in line with the trade fund contribution increase.

• The length of time a member can claim sickness benefit will be increasing from eight weeks to ten weeks, meaning the maximum amount that can be claimed will now be £100 instead of £80.

If you or any of your friends, relatives or colleagues are GMB members but not members of the Sickness and Benefit Fund, it only costs 65p per month or 15p per week and it’s well worth joining the scheme. Please complete and cut out the application form below and send it to the Freepost address on the form. If you have any questions regarding the Sickness and Burial Benefit Fund, call the Finance and Membership Department on 0121 550 4888.

• Funeral benefit of £200 will be paid out to next of kin for any deceased members who have been in the fund for five years or more. This means that the funeral benefit has risen by £100 and the qualification period has been reduced.

Sign up now!

OUT OF ACTION GMB supports you in sickness and in health.

Sickness and benefit fund application form Return to GMB, Freepost BM 3185 Will Thorne House 2 Birmingham Road Halesowen, West Midlands B63 3HP

Name Address Postcode


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Email address

Tel: 0121 550 4888 Fax: 0121 550 4272 Website: Email:

GMB Membership Number Branch

Terms and Conditions For more information regarding the rules of the Sickness & Burial Benefit Fund, please refer to the rulebook which can be supplied free of charge to members joining the fund. 29


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Rock against racism GMB links with Love Music Hate Racism for free one-day festival GMB is proud to join Love Music Hate Racism in organising a free one-day festival which will take place on Saturday 3 May 2014. The event will take place in Dudley and will welcome a surprise headline act along with a host of local talent and new artists to the stage. An eclectic mix of sounds, sights and musical styles awaits! There will be fairground rides, arts and crafts and stalls serving food and drink. Come along and show that Birmingham and West Midlands are united against racism and that we know how to party! Love Music Hate Racism is a living testimony to the fact that cultures can and do mix. It unites, sends a strong message and offers a vibrant celebration of our multicultural society. Please join us to celebrate diversity and involve people in anti-racist and anti-fascist activities. We promise you it will be an event not to be missed. For more information visit

Obituary Peter Phillips It is with great regret we report the death of ex GMB regional finance officer Peter Phillips. Peter passed away on Sunday 8 September 2013 aged 57. Peter will be missed by friends and colleagues alike. Our condolences go to his family.


Head to the

bright lights

GMB is giving away a thrilling night in London’s West End


MB Birmingham and West Midlands region is giving away three pairs of tickets to The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theatre in London’s West End. The Mousetrap is a cherished jewel of the West End theatre scene. This classic whodunnit from Agatha Christie has been captivating audiences with its suspenseful storyline for over 60 years. It stands as the longest-running stage show in the world. After 25,000 performances, The Mousetrap still pulls in audiences from all over the world. There really is nothing quite like the thrill of peeking into a remote house, sizing up its rum residents and pondering the mounting pile of red herrings as you try to crack one of the most celebrated cases of all time.

1st prize One lucky winner will get a champagne package prize consisting of: A pair of tickets £86.20 A bottle of champagne £47 A brochure worth £10 A souvenir programme £3.50 TOTAL £146.70

2nd & 3rd prize A pair of tickets to each winner worth £86.20. To enter, all you need to do is contact Samantha Jones on 0121 550 4888 or email with your membership number and address before 6 January 2014.

Terms & Conditions Prize to be picked up at the Box Office when the winner has handed over confirmation letter. The prize is only applicable Monday – Thursday with a matinee on Tuesdays and not available on Bank Holidays. The prize should also be used up within three months. Prize draw excludes GMB employees. Winners will be picked at random after the closing date of 6 January 2014.

CARD PAYMENTS rtment can now GMB’s finance and membership depa for your GMB ents paym accept credit and debit card missed a have you on, reas any subscription. If, for keep your payment and need to catch up to e a card payment mak can you ent, curr hip bers mem our reception at into call over the phone or you can have any queries you If ent. paym a e Halesowen to mak act the finance and regarding your payments please cont 4888. 550 membership department on 0121

PINK UP THE PACE! GMB members sweat it out for Cancer Research.

race for life GMB officers and staff from Birmingham and West Midlands region raised a staggering £785 for charity when they took part in the Race For Life. The money raised will go to Cancer Research UK and be used to fight all 200 types of cancer! Well done ladies!

champs of the future GMB Birmingham branch sponsors local U8 football The GMB X13 Birmingham general branch has kindly supported Halesowen Town Colts Football Club under-8s team for the forthcoming 2013–2014 season. The regional secretary PA’s son Luke is on the team so we are hoping for good results in their first season playing in an official league. The lads didn’t do too badly in their first fixture, pulling off an unprecedented 18-0 victory! Not a bad start for a team of league first-timers! Good luck boys!



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 Will Thorne House, 2 Birmingham Road, Halesowen B63 3HP T: 0121 550 4888 F: 0121 550 4272 E:

GMB STAFFORD Office Suite 2, Ground Floor, Mill Court, Mill Street, Stafford ST16 2AJ T: 01785 255 978 F: 01785 255 975

GMB TAMWORTH Office BACK OF THE NET! GMB sponsored team pulled off 18-0 win!

Ventura House, Ventura Park Road, Tamworth B78 3HL T: 01827 66001 F: 01827 312 792


Contact GMB NOW! Got a query? Send us a text!

You can now contact the GMB Birmingham and West Midlands Region by text, all you need to do is type GMB then your message to 81066. It’s that simple! Best of all, texts will be charged their standard network rate for sending a text. We are waiting for your message, contact us NOW!

Ground Floor, Unit C1, The Courtyard, Severn Drive, Tewkesbury GL20 8GD T: 01684 290 650 F: 01684 290 651

GMB CONTACTS Equality Rebecca Mitchell Legal Andrea Austin Membership development David Day Political officer Stephanie Peacock

GMB regional website

search for GMB West Midlands @GMBWestMidlands 31


Centrepoint winter 2013  

GMB magazine for the Birmingham & West Midlands region