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The magazine for GMB members

Star Northern | Winter 2013

Pedal Power GM B members raise £1,500

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

In this issue…

Billy Coates GMB Northern y Regional Secretar

Members march at Durham Miners’ Gala Page 5



4 TAs in trouble

9 Employer hostility

GMB is fighting for teaching assistants threatened by Tory cuts

6 Duty of care

GMB political officer Chris Jukes explains why Labour must back GMB’s care policy

7 Cold cuts

Coalitition policies mean a gloomy forecast for public sector employment

8 Labour links

Labour’s obsession with trade union ties is weakening its chances of election

25 Christmas advice

Avoid clashes with your boss this Christmas

26 We’ve got your back Injured workers secure compensation.

28 On the run!

GMB’s Nigel Hepplewhite takes on the Great North Run

30 Thank you Jon

Veteran GMB rep Jon Edwards recognised for 25 years of service

Cover image iStock

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

GMB regional editor Nigel Hepplewhite: 0191 233 3930 Editorial director Stephen Pierce Editor Matt Robinson Art editor Johnny Goddard Contributors Victoria Ford, Ed Holden wwAdvertising 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 Northern Star magazine? Please contact Steve Hulbert on 01225 442 244 (ex 5205) Accepting of advertising and inserts 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.

Our members want real-life policies August saw a fundamental change in employment law. This revolution in the employment tribunal service is a major attack on the rights of working people. These changes mean that if workers are dismissed from their job or believe that they have been harassed, discriminated against or bullied, they will have to pay a fee to the government. Let me be clear. This is daylight robbery from this coalition government and a blatant attack on working people and the trade union movement. To force those who have been unfairly treated at work to pay to exercise their human right is absolutely scandalous. GMB has been exemplary in ensuring our members get access to a free legal service for exercising their employment rights. Let me assure our members and their families that this will continue despite these attacks. The Lib Dem Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable has attacked his own Tory colleagues in government for being anti trade union. Yet the employment law changes I refer to originate from his department. It shows that neither the Tories nor Lib Dems understand the modern day world of work. This hypocrisy has a familiar ring to it. At the end of the 19th Century the Tories and Liberals were a Hobson’s Choice for working people. It led to the trade union movement setting up the Labour Party. Therefore, when Labour leader Ed Miliband came forward with proposals to reform the trade union link it beggared belief. Our members don’t want the Labour Party indulging in naval gazing. To concentrate on inward looking debates at a time of continuous government attacks on our members is a perilous course. Our members want real-life policies. Ed made a good speech to the Labour Party Conference and some excellent policies were unveiled. This is the way forward to defeat the real enemy, the Tories and their Lib Dem apologists.

I would also like to remind members wishing to submit a motion to Congress, that they should contact their GMB Branch before 31 January 2013. 03

l a n o i g e r


GMB m o r f s w e n All the

230,000 t a s b o j A T


y r t s e i r o T s a n i GMB steps s t n a t is s s a g in h c a e t e x to a Let us know

about your experience

GMB has also published an online survey to collect people’s opinions and gather support for teaching assistants. Please take a few minutes to complete the questionnaire and get involved with our campaign to fight for our teaching assistants and our children’s education. Go to TeachingAssistantWM If you have any concerns about issue s in your school or workplace then please speak to your local rep or GMB office, we’re here to help. You can also email us at 04


MB is campaigning to save more than 230,000 school support staff facing the Tory axe. The campaign started earlier this year when Education Secretary Michael Gove revealed his plans to save money by cutting these vital jobs. GMB is the largest trade union in Britain for school support staff, representing over 120,000 members employed in schools including HLTAs, teaching assistants, cover supervisors, midday supervisors, nursery nurses, administrative and finance staff, technical staff, cleaners, kitchen staff, facilities and premises staff.

tory attack Michael Gove has attacked teachers, school support staff, governors parents and pupils. He has trashed teaching and learning in equal measure. The truth is the quality of teaching and learning has never been higher.

To GMB, teaching assistants are an integral part of schools, often assisting children with additional needs (among a raft of other duties), and allowing teachers to spread their teaching across pupils. Recent reports show that teachers and head teachers value the work of teaching assistants, so why doesn’t the government? The coalition government is supposed to be protecting front line education budgets but is slashing local government budgets, where many school support staff are accounted for. The thinktank involved in recent discussions suggests that schools could increase ‘value-formoney’ by axing teaching assistants and increasing class sizes – a simple mathematical equation that doesn’t take into account the need for teachers to be able to handle increased class sizes and be safe while doing so. It’s just another government cost-cutting exercise with total disregard for employees.

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major miner gathering The Durham Miners’ Gala was a roaring success in 2013 GMB had a large and successful gathering at the 142nd Durham Miners’ Gala earlier this year. An early start at the Market Place saw the crowd of members make their way through the cobbled streets of Durham, past the Royal County hotel and on to the racecourse in record time! Led by new GMB Regional Secretary Billy Coates, the march was a roaring success and the GMB tent at the racecourse was full of fun and intrigue for all who went inside.

Speeches carried the day forward with TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady among those speaking. With banners flying above the crowd, the sense of history at the Durham Miners’ Gala is clear. Miners have been gathering for this famous union event since 1871.

We look forward to many more successful events in the years to come. For more information about Durham Miners’ Gala visit

PROUD TRADITION The Durham Miners’ Gala is 142 years old.


BECOME A GM HealthB safety & rep www.gmb


GMB wins recognition with key care providers

iStock x 2

Social care is a key industry for GMB members and we are pleased to confirm that in the last 12 months GMB has won recognition with several important social care operators. GMB is now recognised at the following institutions: • A  kari Care • Roseberry Care Group • Donwell House and Day Care Centre, Washington (part of the Bondcare Group) • Four Seasons Care Homes

These are great achievements but GMB is still campaigning for CARRY ON CARING GMB is recognised by recognition in other top care operators. care companies and fighting for members. said: “It is hoped that those operators GMB is clearing up a number of issues who have shown hostility to GMB will want to relating to the demise of Southern Cross in talk with us in a spirit of co-operation rather 2011 and the subsequent transfer of than what appears to be a ‘bury the head in members. Several care operators are being the sand’ type attitude.” We will keep litigated against for matters relating to the members updated in Northern Star. transfer. GMB Political Officer Chris Jukes, 05



from GMB All the news

Whlopay for wil

your care? G

the cost of care

the cost of care annual room cost is now

erodes the The social care sector is MB believes opportunity essentially a minimum wage residential home to reduce industry, with clients care should be poverty as increasingly paying more for funded by the cost of people on their care. Thanks to this taxpayer so we have a care rose very modest coalition government’s comprehensive health and means are austerity programme, local social care system in having to pay authorities are increasingly England. Under the current in two more for their seeking to pass on the effects system, people have to pay residential care. of budget cuts by asking social ever more for care when they years Social care is something that Labour could care providers to absorb a are too frail or vulnerable to lead on if it had the will and the bottle to do real-terms reduction in fees. stay in their own home. It is so. The opposition party need to recognise With Westminster politicians bad enough that this Tory-led that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has still no nearer reaching a coalition government is been a failure as a direct result of the consensus, the sector is left to receiving advice from right way it has been run by those at the operate in a vacuum. The Dilnot wing think tank, The top. Labour must also recognise Report was at least an attempt Policy Exchange, to that more of the same in the to look at the problem anew. suggest moving the neglected political issue of But that report is gathering elderly out of homes social care policy will not do. A dust somewhere on a where they have room Got more complete re-appraisal of the Whitehall shelf. Social care spare rooms. What cost is than social care system and the way is one of the key policy is worse is that the it links in with the health areas for this generation. elderly and the service is required. The cost of Making individuals pay vulnerable have to pens io care faced by elderly people in more for their care flies in sell their homes to n incom their twilight years at present is the face of a society taking be able to e unacceptable. GMB’s policy of a stand on care quality, care contribute to the social care paid for by taxation still provision and decent care they need in stands the test of time. conditions for staff. It also their later years.



t the cos e of car

£23,500? You pay! 06

the cost of care

doubl e

iStock x 2

Figures sourced from research by Prestige Nursing + Care

GMB Political Officer Chris Jukes on why Labour must back GMB’s social care policy

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

600,000 public sector jobs lost since the coalition came to power and yet more cuts are on the way


MB’s latest research has exposed the devastating impact of the coaliton government’s austerity measures. Job losses have taken their toll on local economies and the pay of public sector workers has been held down in the past few years with widespread wage cuts being imposed. Our study shows that 631,000 public sector jobs have been cut across the UK since the last election, with up to 400,000 expected to be axed in the next two years. The hardest hit regions have been the South West (13.9 per cent of jobs cut), followed by the North East (13.8 per cent), West Midlands (11.5 per cent) and the North West (11.4 per cent). GMB National Officer Brian Strutton said: “These new statistics show the devastating effect of this Government’s austerity cuts on total public sector employment. In particular,

some parts of the country that are most dependent on the public sector to support their local economies have been hardest hit.” “The tragedy is that the worst is yet to come. The Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast for total public sector job losses during the lifetime of this parliament tells us that the prospect for the next two years could be up to a further 400,000 job losses. “The evidence on the ground supports this gloomy forecast, with our feedback from the current round of council budget reviews for next year suggesting accelerating cutbacks. As a result, many communities in some of the most deprived regions will find their local economy in tatters. “GMB representatives from around the country are reporting that public sector workers are fed up with being told they have to accept pay restraint and amendments to

s “The coalition doe not understand the public sector.”

their terms and conditions to protect their jobs and their local services only to find that the jobs and services are threatened anyway.” GMB Northern Regional Political Officer Chris Jukes said: “These figures just show that the coalition does not understand the importance of the public sector in the everyday lives of our members, their families, their communities or indeed, their employers. “The fact is that we need more public sector infrastructure projects to build growth and employment across this region. Areas like ours need the public and private sectors to help drive communities. That is something that this coalition government just does not believe in. They want small government and free market economics. “Our members want to work and live in communities that are sustainable; places in which everyone has an opportunity for a job and a decent income. The free market can’t provide that. That’s why the public sector is so important to the future of the Northern region. Politicians would do well to remember that. We certainly do.” 07



from GMB All the news

! e t a d Up

al politic

ukes J s i r h C r e ical Officr links are t i l o P B GM Labou nversation y h w s u tells t the co u o g n i n drow


he last few months have been a turbulent period politically. This time should have been about introducing three newly-selected Labour MEP candidates, all of whom are GMB members who have championed the work we do to help constituency Labour MPs. But, regrettably, the main topic of conversation has been the Labour Party’s links with trade unions. The only reason this subject is on the radar is that the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has put it there.

proposing a change to the way trade unions affiliate themselves with the Labour Party. In political terms this is known as an opt out to an opt in. The last time legislation was in law on a trade union opt in was 1927. That legislation was passed to hurt organised Labour and to prevent trade

“The Labour leadership is

the Tory-led coalition government machine and their many friends in the media.

PRIORITIES To make matters worse, Ed Miliband has called for a special Labour Party conference in Spring 2014 to push through his proposals before the start of the next general election campaign. When Westminster’s full attention turns to electoral grappling, the big issues will be jobs, the economy, the bedroom tax, austerity, tax and spend, national debt, zero hours contracts and many more. Sadly, only a year before we start voting, Labour wants to talk about a subject that is so far down the public’s list of priorities that it has fallen off the page.

taking us back to 1927”


join the labour party

for just £21.50 a year

Join the Labour Party, because if we want a party that we can really support, then we need to do something about it ourselves. As a GMB member you can be part of the Labour Party for just £21.50 a year – sign up now and start making a difference! trade-union-join

Rex Features

unions from helping the Labour Party. The rulings were rightly repealed by the great SILENCED Attlee-led Labour government of 1946. In a Let us be clear: the sense, the current reason there is a link Labour Leadership is between GMB and taking us back to 1927, Labour in the first place when Stanley Baldwin is that the trade unions was the Conservative started the Labour Prime Minister and Party when working Winston Churchill was the people found that the Conservative Chancellor of people in government were the Exchequer. always either Conservatives or OUT OF FOCUS Labour’s front bench is This proposal in Labour Liberals (sound familiar?). The missing the big issues. policy is being made under the Labour Party was and still is the assumption that more trade political wing of the Labour union members will want to join the Labour movement. Further to that, under Tory trade Party. Unfortunately there is no evidence that union laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s, such a demand exists. Our members will join trade unions have to conduct a full ballot of the Labour Party if they see the Labour Party their members at least once every 10 years to front bench speaking up for them. The maintain their political fund. Not all trade relative silence of the Labour front bench unions are affiliated, but GMB is and it is during the Summer months was very telling backed up by that ballot of our members. and this lack of dialogue has allowed the Now, as part of a policy review called The airwaves and the newspapers to be filled by Collins report, the Labour leadership is

l na O I T NA


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.”


iStock x 3

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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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


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“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



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

from GMB All the news



survival guide

From snow days to party etiquette, GMB unwraps some legal dos and don’ts to help you through the festive season


is the season to be jolly, but Christmas can pose some serious problems for employees. Before the season gets started, make sure you’re aware of all the potential pitfalls so you can be merry rather than miserable.

Holidays First of all, there is no guarantee that you’ll get Christmas Day off. Only those with a contractual right can take bank holidays off and many contracts still allow for bank holiday working. A bank holiday falling on a day which a part-timer doesn’t normally work does not give rise to an automatic entitlement to a day in lieu. Similarly, an employer has discretion about when an employee takes their holiday and they don’t have to agree to let you take holidays around Christmas to make up a week off.

iStock x 3

ty Christmas par Increasingly, bosses are cancelling Christmas parties for fear of being sued. As alcohol removes inhibitions, good sense can slide away too. A Christmas party is still a work

there after all. The employer will event and employers are still also think that it is not their fault obliged to prevent sexual you’re not there, however. harassment of Currently the law is with attendees. Staff also employer. Keep in mind, the risk disciplinary action. that if you do though, Additionally, any in and find the struggle food or drink provided you can still closed, place so must suit attendees as you paid be to expect consideration needs to and you work to willing were be given to those with . couldn’t simply dietary needs such as SNOWED IN? An employee is expected to diabetics or allergy You might not make reasonable efforts to get into get paid. sufferers, as well as to those and if they don’t then it could be work who have religious reasons for diet uct. If your Facebook wall miscond as seen . Muslims such as Jews or shows that the only reasonable efforts you The Christmas party made were to go sledging you may have sees the downfall of BOOZEY TEXT some explaining to do after the thaw. hundreds of staff every It could cost Employers are encouraged to have bad true your year. Tweeting you your job! weather policies in place ahead of time. This thoughts about your job helps everyone know what is expected and in the taxi home may be what consequences await those who fail to unwise, and you will follow the guidelines. The lesson is to be the with quickly fall out aware of how the policies apply before bad friend who posts the weather strikes. video of you mooning on Facebook. Other sure fire ways to a include calling in ary disciplin . ulgence over-ind to due sick

Snowed in? Dreaming of a white Christmas? You might think that a snowy day equates to a paid day at home. It’s not your fault you can’t get

Get in touch working this Got a query about B on Christmas? Contact GM 0191 233 3930. 25



from GMB All the news

injured ? orgk at w .uk .gmb.or www

GMB WINS Justice for r e mb e m n e k sha s tor win Pneumatic drill opera MB settlement thanks to G


liable for the ill effect of the drilling ateshead Council on Tony’s health. employee Tony Sweeney “I’m back at work now and am tial has received substan really careful about what tools compensation after I use to make sure the condition developing vibration white finger doesn’t flare up,” said Tony. (VWF) at work. An industrial illness, “The council had introduced arm and VWF affects the hand, wrist light system a number traffic a tools vibrating of use e due to excessiv of years earlier which gave – the type used by workers like Tony guidance on how long we almost every day. should spend using drills “I was using various hammer particular bits of vibrating kit, at regularly tools hand and vibrating including the pneumatic drills. work. As I was driving home at the end The problem was that by that of the day I started to notice my hands time I’d already spent years Tony. were feeling a bit numb,” said working with them, often off it shook just I g, “At the beginnin under pressure to get work because the numbness would go away completed quickly so that after a while. Then things started to get targets could be met.” work worse and I’d end up leaving Commenting on the and hands numb with most days introduction of the council’s tingling fingers which bothered me traffic light system, GMB Regional well into the night.” Secretary Billy Coates said: “It’s a to s Despite reporting the symptom case of too little, annual the during r his employe too late for our vibration member. The risks surveillance associated with process for a using vibrating years, number of power tools have his concerns were been well known not taken for decades. It is seriously until he unacceptable that advised was finally it took the council to visit his doctor. 2008 to get a until After being workers telling place in system formally diagnosed with vibration use for to safe were tools which GMB of member a – Tony white finger, extended periods. for more than 20 years – contacted “Our member’s concerns GMB for advice. GMB’s legal service have been taken more should and were quick to pursue his claim during the annual seriously win justice. vibration surveillance activity. When Tony’s employers argued that I hope that this case will make his condition was not caused by work, employers pay more attention le Newcast the dispute went to trial at to occupational health issues judge the where County Court, instead of chasing targets at the accepted GMB's lawyer's case and expense of workers’ health.” found that Gateshead Council was

“The council was liable for the ill effect of the drilling.”


BAD VIBRATIONS Pneumatic drills can be a workplace hazard.

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GMB to the rescue

GMB wins compensation for member after workplace slip


member who needed knee surgery after slipping on a chemical that had leaked onto a workshop floor has secured compensation with the help of GMB Northern region. The member from Newbiggin by the Sea was repairing a large crucible pot used at a factory in Lynemouth, Northumberland. He had been using a fork lift truck when he stepped on residue causing him to lose his footing and twist his knee painfully. The unfortunate accident caused the cartilage in his knee to tear. The member sought medical advice. He underwent surgery and an intensive course of physiotherapy to correct the damage but was unable to work for six weeks.

The member said: “Two years on and I’m still suffering; my knee has been permanently weakened by the accident and it’s had a real impact on me. “I used to play a lot of football and enjoy running, neither of which I am able to do now. it could all have been avoided if the workshop floor had been kept clear.” GMB Northern Regional Organiser Valerie Scott said: “Cutting corners is not an option where the safety of workers is concerned. We stepped in to support our member in his case and hope that by recognising where its health and safety procedures had not WHAT A MESS been adequate, the GMB member injured employer will also ce. kpla wor in an untidy benefit as a result.”

After the member contacted GMB for advice, GMB’s legal service took up the case. When his employers denied liability for the accident, GMB’s legal team issued court proceedings, which led to a settlement.

Injured at work? Call GMB’s legal service for Free* help

You’re better off with GMB

iStock x 3

GMB legal service is here to support GMB members and their families.

• FREE cover for any workplace accident or personal injury • FREE cover for work related disease or illness • FREE cover for road traffic accidents • FREE legal advice on non work issues • FREE advice for clinical negligence cases

Family members are also covered for: • FREE cover for accidents or personal injury outside the workplace • FREE cover for road traffic accidents • Reduced rates for wills • FREE cover for non work related disease or illness

Call now on 0808 100 9119 *Subject to rule 27



from GMB All the news

LACED UP! Nigel Hepplewhite (right) readies himself for the run.

On the run! Your Regional Editor Nigel Hepplewhite takes on the Great North Run to support a worthy cause


or years I have wanted to take part in charity work to raise funds for a variety of causes. I always said that I wanted to do this before someone close to me was affected by something like cancer, heart disease, stroke or any of the other causes I had considered raising money for. Like so many, I never got round to it and as it turns out I waited too long. In July 2012 my other half Sophie was diagnosed with breast cancer and, as you can imagine, our lives changed forever. Thankfully, Sophie is the strongest-willed woman that I have ever met and I’m sure many of her friends and colleagues would say exactly the same. After the initial shock

and upset, Sophie took this bad news in her stride, continuing to play netball, visit friends and family and keep all of her usual commitments throughout her treatment. At times you could be forgiven for thinking there was nothing wrong. Sophie and I are fortunate enough to have a strong network of friends and family that helped both of us throughout her treatment and recovery. I was very lucky to find and fall in love with Sophie and we’re fortunate she’s still here when so many are victims of cancer. Pride swallowed at waiting too long, I committed to running the Great North Run to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Having had two knee operations in the last

six years and very little training, it was quite a daunting prospect! My training wasn’t as good as it should have been and the closer the run came, the more worried I was. But nothing was going to stop me (other than my lack of fitness!). On race day, the geordie faithful were out in swathes to support the runners and they really helped drive me on. After two hours and 42 minutes I finally dragged myself over the finish line just in time for the heavens to open. I had completed the world’s greatest half marathon! If anyone would like to donate to this fantastic cause, my online donation page is or you can text NHSF50 £5 to 70070. Many thanks!

GMB’s Rugby Stars Barrow Island’s top talents claim hat-trick of wins at GMB rugby tournament

GMB was proud to host some of the Northern region’s most talented young rugby league players at Craven Park in Hull. Following dominant winning performances from Barrow Island to claim the U12 and U14 categories, it was left to the U16 team to claim the glorious hat-trick in a tense final.


Thanks to three tries from talented stand-off Morgan Knowles, the Barrow Island side were able to overcome the staunch defenders from Askam to pull of a 36-6 victory. GMB is proud to be supporting rugby in the region and we would like to congratulate these impressive performances from Barrow Island.

TRY TIME Barrow Island could not be beaten at rugby tournament.

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Ride of their


PEDAL POWER Nampak employees spent nine hours in the saddle!

GMB members raise ÂŁ1,500 in charity bike ride GMB members working at Nampak in Haltwhistle took on a gruelling coast-to-coast bike-ride to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The members took up the challenge after their colleague Bruce Graves was diagnosed with breast cancer. GMB members Steven Purret, Norman Bates and Paul Henderson were joined by pals Stephen Schollick and Martin Mortimore for the ride from Silloth in Cumbria to Blyth on the Northumberland coast. All five managed the ride in an impressive nine hours despite a faulty wheel which forced them to make a detour via a bike shop in Longtown, where the charitable owner gave them a replacement free of charge. Setbacks aside, the group finished the ride in a day and raised an impressive ÂŁ1,546 for charity.


Happy 65th Birthday NHS Earlier this year the NHS celebrated its 65th birthday. Malcolm Parker, GMB North East Ambulance Service Branch Secretary, celebrated the event with a special GMB cake. As GMB members in the NHS face coalition cuts, this landmark birthday gave us a great HAPPY RETURNS opportunity to celebrate the health NHS birthday is service that we are lucky to have. celebrate

one to

obituary garth mayfield GMB is sad to hear of the loss of Garth Mayfield. Garth joined GMB in 2001 and wanted nothing more than to help people. He joined Northumberland Commercial Services branch and held various posts including Branch President and Shop Steward. Garth was an exemplary branch member and he will be missed by all at GMB. 29




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Star GMB Rep Jon Edwards is recognised for his long commitment to members


ig in stature, big in personality and big in dedication, Jon Edwards has been G50 General Security Branch Secretary for over 25 years. Regional Committee was proud to present Jon with a Long Service Award for his hard work. Jon became a GMB representative as a Security Officer working for Group4 (which is now G4S). In a very tough sector, GMB members needed a strong representative and Jon quickly became Branch Secretary, representing members and giving support

to fellow GMB representatives. He achieved all this while running a local cinema with his wife Brenda! Leigh Savage, who Jon represented, became a representative after being impressed with Jon. Leigh said: “After seeing Jon represent me I knew I wanted to help members get a fair deal. Jon has given me brilliant advice and guidance.” From October, Jon will be retiring from his position as G50 Branch Secretary. He will be hugely missed and we wish him the best as he begins the next chapter.

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Northern Star winter 2013  

GMB magazine for the Northern region