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PROFILE Magazine for Prospect members • • Issue 4, October 2013

PLUS First woman leader of the TUC Prospect tribunal win for sacked BT worker Human chain to defend the arts

Turning the tide for women at work



Prospect talent shines at TUC THIS YEAR’S Trades Union Congress provided cause for both inspiration and concern. We heard the stories of workplace representatives who are in the vanguard of defending members and promoting their interests. Perhaps the highlight was the TUC decision to give a Congress Award for Youth to Debbie Wilson from Sellafield branch for expanding our young professionals’ network. I am privileged to be the general secretary of a union whose members have such talent and imagination. Our fringe meetings on women in male-dominated industries and green work were also a success. Our energy fringe meeting provided a platform for a healthy debate on the future of nuclear (story, page 22). At the meeting on women in male-dominated industries, Prospect reps Ele Wade, Intellectual Property Office, and Lindsay Chapman, National Physical Laboratory, shared their experiences and successes as representatives and in their careers – truly inspiring role models. This Profile devotes the three centre pages to the way women are making a difference. Prospect intervened in several debates – seeking to redress the balance for women in male-dominated industries; highlighting the cumulative effect of government attacks on employment law; opposing politicisation of the civil service; and tackling mental ill health in the workplace. Amirul Haque Amin, of the Bangladeshi Garment Workers’ Union, reminded conference of the civilising role of unions, as he shared the experience of the most vulnerable workers in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy. The TUC offers the chance to showcase union successes, promote diversity and explore our challenges. But sadly, these were not the issues picked up by the media, which focused on the relationship between some larger unions and the Labour Party. This is despite the fact that of 54 unions in the TUC, only 15 are affi liated. The issue of a general strike was also revisited. Prospect reiterated its stance that while unions may wish to co-ordinate actions where there are common issues, and that where appropriate we will protest and campaign, the focus on a general strike continues to divert us from the real issues that matter in the workplace. As part of the TUC community, Prospect will continue to focus on the day-to-day issues affecting our members, rather than be diverted by headline-grabbing distractions.

Prospect General Secretary

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

PROSPECT CALENDAR – In 2014 for the first time Prospect will be producing a calendar featuring members at work. The theme will be women working in male-dominated industries – and will feature photos from sectors including air and road transport, fisheries protection, defence, energy, telecoms, science and fire and rescue. The calendar will go on sale in November, but you can register your interest now by emailing with your name, membership number, workplace postcode and number of copies. Please put ‘2014 calendar’ in the subject box. Money raised will go to the union’s project with Oxfam to empower women working in Nairobi’s slums.

‘The TUC offers the chance to showcase union successes, promote diversity and explore our challenges’

rofi le magazine P Editors: Marie McGrath and Penny Vevers Reports: Graham Stewart, Katherine Beirne, Boc Ly Published by: Prospect New Prospect House 8 Leake Street London SE1 7NN ✆ 020 7902 6600 Fax: 020 7902 6667 Printers: Wyndeham (Peterborough) Limited Design and origination: Simon Crosby (Prospect) and edition periodicals Subscriptions: UK £37 per annum Overseas £54 Free to Prospect members ISSN: 1477-6383 Pictures/distribution: Tracy Thornton ✆ 020 7902 6604 Advertising: Century One Publishing Ltd Alban Row, 27–31 Verulam Road St Albans AL3 4DG ✆ 01727 739182 e-mail: d.murray@ Change of name, address or employment details: Membership Department ✆ 01932 577007 email: membership@ eProfi le: To receive Profile by email, log in at Acceptance of advertisements does not imply recommendation on the part of the union. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Prospect.






BT member wins his case


Boost for Prison Service psychology staff


TUC debates highlight unfairness in government’s changes




Are we too dependent on the internet?


Professor Elliot Shubert’s cancer breakthrough discovery


Prospect members fundraising in their communities





The human and environmental costs of the cocaine trade

16 WOMEN...

Making a difference at work







Members’ letters, emails and texts




Cover pic by Leonora Saunders: Beshlie Pool, fisheries officer for the Marine Management Organisation, Plymouth

Prospect • Profile – October 2013



Government’s mesothelioma proposals under fire; legalease – your questions answered



Lobbying bill is a threat to campaign organisations

Following pressure from charities and other opponents, Commons leader Andrew Lansley announced a partial climbdown in September, saying the government would no longer seek to change the definition of political spending, which is limited during an election campaign. However, he refused to back down on other measures, including reducing spending limits and extending the definition of campaign spending to include rallies, transport and press conferences. Other compromises were expected via proposed amendments. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said the retreat had been made inevitable by the “poor drafting, muddled justification and expert condemnation that brought together perhaps the biggest-ever coalition in public life”. However, the bill’s problems had not gone away. “It still limits campaigns against extremist parties, breaches the privacy of trade union members and fails to open up lobbying. If ministers think that opposition will now melt away, they have another think coming.” ■■ Prospect’s submission: http://library.

Parliamentary and campaigns officer Parmjit Dhanda outlines a Prospect campaign to seek politicians’ backing for the key issues affecting members


Release Colombian trade unionist

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

THE IMPRISONMENT of Colombian trade union leader Huber Ballesteros, who was due to address the TUC conference in September, was condemned by delegates (above) who held up placards in protest at his treatment. Ballesteros was arrested in Bogota in August on charges of ‘rebellion’. TUC delegates carried a motion expressing ‘outrage’ at the arrest and pledging to campaign for his release. The motion also pledged to support the

work of Ballesteros’s Colombian agricultural workers’ trade union and the Patriotic March protest movement, as well as reiterating continued financial and political support for Justice for Colombia and its peace campaign. ●● Huber Ballesteros’s detention, Syria’s humanitarian crisis and the latest on the Bangladesh textile factory disaster are some of the issues touched on in the latest international briefing from Prospect. See

ON 6 November we are launching the Prospect Pledge campaign by inviting MPs to a special event in parliament. With just over 18 months to go to the next general election, the union has been defining the issues that we believe politicians should be taking up in their manifestos. Working with the national executive, Prospect has drawn up policy pledges on the following themes: ●● increasing the number of women in science and technology careers ●● improving public procurement processes to ensure good quality jobs and graduate and apprentice opportunities ●● promoting independence in setting specialist pay in the civil service ●● cutting CO2 emissions and creating green jobs, including in the nuclear industry ●● developing relationships between local politicians and Prospect members. The full pledges will be unveiled at the parliamentary launch. But that will only be the start of this campaign. The next issue of Profile will include postcards carrying the pledges. By encouraging members from across the country to engage local politicians directly in a postcard campaign, we can build more awareness and support for the issues that matter most to us, on a cross-party basis. The Prospect Pledge campaign will build over the next 18 months with events around the country, as we look to help shape the debate for the 2015 general election. ■■ To stay in touch with the campaign visit

Political fund

Prospect needs its political fund to campaign on a range of issues on behalf of its members. Nearly nine out of ten members choose to pay into the fund, but any member may choose to opt out at any time, without being disadvantaged. You can download an opt-out form from id/2013/00351. The law is different in Northern Ireland, where members need to opt in.


PROSPECT HAS joined the chorus of opposition to the government’s illstarred lobbying bill alongside MPs of all parties, charities, other unions and even the Electoral Commission. It warned in a submission that new legal requirements on trade unions to provide a membership audit certificate would create a “further and costly administrative burden” as well as representing “an unwarranted invasion of privacy”. The Transparency of Lobbying, Nonparty Campaigning and Trade Union Administration bill also plans to: ●● introduce a statutory register of consultant lobbyists ●● set up a registrar to enforce the requirements ●● regulate election campaign spending. Sue Ferns, Prospect director of communications and research, said: “The Electoral Commission has warned the bill will create uncertainty, raises questions of workability and will be impossible to enforce – and we agree. “If passed, the bill will seriously limit the campaigning activity of many charities, unions and other organisations.”




Call to put pensions deal on a legal footing ELEANOR BENTALL

THE GOVERNMENT’S New Fair Deal pension arrangements should be underpinned by legislation, says Prospect. New Fair Deal allows members of public service pension schemes who are contracted out of the public sector to retain membership of the scheme they were in before privatisation. The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 provided the legislative underpinning for the new policy, though New Fair Deal remains a policy rather than a statutory protection. Trade unions and ministers have been discussing the detail of changes to legislation and regulations required to implement the new package. There have also been consultations by the Treasury and the Cabinet Office on the regulations required to implement New Fair Deal. Prospect pensions officer Neil Walsh said: “Overall the provisions meet

The New Fair Deal is a policy not a statutory protection

the commitments made to members when the agreements on public service pensions were concluded. There will always be areas where we will seek to make improvements.” The main points made by Prospect in its response to the government’s latest consultation include: ●● the policy should be established in statute ●● the policy should apply to the widest

■■ Prospect’s responses to both consultations are on the website. ■ HMT consultation: http://library. Cabinet Office: http://library.prospect.


Cuts threaten free entry

Human chain defends the arts

reduced access for the public and even closures. Prospect national secretary Alan Leighton said: “People from all eight unions turned out for a good-humoured demonstration with an important political message. “The creative industries employ 2.5 million people in the UK and account for at least £865m of tourist spending every year. “Yet the government is continuing to slash budgets and fails to recognise the true value, contribution and importance of access to arts and culture.”

Free admission to national museums and galleries could be in danger if government funding cuts to the arts continue, the TUC heard in September. Prospect vice-president Denise McGuire reminded conference of the successful scrapping of admission fees in 2001. “Let’s make sure that no one can use lack of funding to reopen that discussion,” she said. McGuire said staff costs in museums and galleries made up most of the budget so, “when there are funding cuts, there are job cuts. This is tragic for our members and their families – but we all lose out as well. “We are already losing irreplaceable expertise, galleries are closed for part of the day, school outreach activities have been cut – our heritage is being lost.” McGuire urged the TUC to push political parties to improve funding for the arts, particularly libraries, museums and galleries funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and devolved bodies in Scotland and Wales. The successful motion also called for local authority support for the arts to be a statutory obligation throughout the UK.

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

Around 200 protesters formed a human chain (above) in front of the National Gallery in London in a symbolic gesture to protect funding for arts and culture. The event in September was organised by Lost Arts, an umbrella group of eight unions including Prospect, whose 5,000 specialist members in heritage are directly affected by cuts to the arts. Since 2010, the budget of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has been cut by over a third and local government spending on arts and culture has fallen by £124m, leading to staff cuts,

definition of transfers possible ●● proper monitoring to ensure that members’ rights are protected ●● allowing access to new entrants should be considered ●● flexibility in determining whether staff remain “wholly or mainly” engaged on a public service contract. Walsh said the biggest problems likely to be faced in the implementation were around two-tier workforces when new entrants are excluded from public service pension schemes; problems with continuing eligibility if staff are moved from their current duties; and issues about restrictions to pay increases before retirement.



A PROSPECT member has won his claim for unfair dismissal against British Telecom. Graham Vare was dismissed on grounds of poor performance, but an employment tribunal found the dismissal was unfair because BT failed to take sufficient account of medical advice and offer alternative employment. Graham had worked for BT for over 20 years and been promoted several times. In June 2010 BT started criticising his performance and began formal performance improvement plans. Graham became ill with stress and depression and was signed off work for nine months. While absent, at the request of Graham’s Prospect rep, he was referred to the company’s occupational health adviser. The OH doctor recommended that he be moved to an alternative role with less pressure and not face performance proceedings for at least six months after a return to work. However, shortly after, Graham was sent a further OH report that had changed significantly. It no longer recommended a role change or a delay to

“I am delighted with the settlement, which could not have been achieved without Prospect’s help”


BT worker was ‘unfairly dismissed’ after medical advice ignored

performance management proceedings. The tribunal noted that between the first and second reports BT had contacted the OH service raising queries about the original report. When Graham returned to work he was placed in the same role on a phased return, increasing his hours to full time. A couple of weeks after that, BT began a new performance monitoring period. Graham was dismissed within months for failing to meet performance targets, despite acceptance that his performance was improving and he had achieved many targets.

With Prospect’s support Graham submitted a claim to the tribunal for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. The case was heard in June. Prospect rep David Evans gave evidence and Graham was represented by barrister Stephen Marsh. The tribunal held that BT had been unfair in saying it could not comply with the OH doctor’s original recommendations. It had been unreasonable for BT to attempt to influence the OH adviser, denying Graham the opportunity to seek an alternative role. The tribunal found a 30 per cent chance of Graham being dismissed if no other job had been found for him. It did not find Graham disabled within the meaning of the Equality act, so the discrimination claim was dismissed. The case was then settled before a remedy hearing. “The tribunal’s finding demonstrates how employers must look at all alternatives when considering dismissal,” said Prospect legal officer Marion Scovell. “Where there is evidence that the employee’s health has an impact on their ability to perform in a particular role, employers should proactively make adjustments.” Graham said: “I am delighted with the settlement, which could not have been achieved without Prospect’s help.”

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

UNION MEMBERS are being urged to support Bangladeshi garment workers by pressurising UK clothing retailers to sign an accord maintaining minimum standards in textile factories. At the TUC in September, Amirul Haque Amin, president of the Bangladesh National Garment Workers’ Federation, said: “Please, raise your voice and send a very clear message to the companies to stop killing workers, end the death traps, come forward and sign the accord, and ensure a safe workplace for Bangladeshi garment workers.” A TUC fringe meeting

discussed safety and employment rights in Bangladesh’s 5,000 textile factories, where 85 per cent of the 3.6 million workers are women on a minimum wage of just £24 per month. Phil Jennings, general secretary of UNI global union, said: “We must stay the course and make a real difference to the workers who make the clothes our families wear.” In April, over 1,100 people were killed and 2,500 injured when the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka collapsed. Around 500 children lost parents and over 100 injured workers are still in hospital. No compensation has been paid. In November 2012,



more than 110 workers were killed during a fire at the Tazreen fashion factory. BBC Panorama revealed in September that there have been at least 50 fires in Bangladeshi clothing factories in the last ten months. Local unions, supported by international labour groups, have initiated the

■■ Children at a mass funeral in Dhaka, Bangladesh, following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building that left 1,129 dead

Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord to set basic standards in factories. It has been signed by 86 multinational companies but those not yet signing include Matalan, Peacocks, Jane Norman, Bench, Bank Fashion and Republic. ■■ Urge them to sign via http://action.goingtowork.



Speaking out on stress

It’s not easy to stand in front of hundreds of people and tell them that you are recovering from mental health conditions. But speakers from a range of industries – from rail to rugby union – shared their stories with TUC delegates in Bournemouth in September to help de-stigmatise the taboo. They also highlighted the crucial role that union reps play in supporting members with mental health problems. Prospect deputy vice-president Craig Marshall (below) outlined the union’s work to train health and safety reps to push for prevention, encourage them to use their rights and raise awareness through workplace events and campaigns. He proposed four strategic solutions – joinedup government-wide policy; resources to update the Health and Safety Executive’s stress management standards; stronger duties on employers to have mental health policies; and tailored training for union reps. Marshall identified a disconnect between the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Department of Health and the HSE. “We need a coherent government approach to tackling mental health that puts prevention first and recognises the business benefits,” he said. The HSE’s management standards for workrelated stress were a welcome tool for assessing how work organisation and management impacts on employee mental health, he said. But the HSE itself was constrained by funding pressure from the government. Marshall added: “Employers are duty-bound to develop policies setting out their arrangements for managing risks to their workers’ health, safety and welfare, including recognising the growing problem of work ill-health for psychological reasons.” Reps were often the first point of contact for staff struggling with stress, anxiety or depression, he said, and should be given training as ‘mental health first aiders’. ■■ See


Member wins payout after tractor accident He suffered three seizures and has A PROSPECT member at the Ministry of needed anti-convulsant medication Defence in Northern Ireland has won a ever since. He was also left with substantial payout six years after being scarring, a loss of smell, some memory seriously injured at work. loss and personality changes. The union took up a case on behalf A Health and Safety Executive of William Nicholl, now 68, against investigation found some safety plates MOD after the accident in 2007. that would have prevented He was cutting grass objects being thrown up at Magilligan army camp, and out were missing from using a tractor pulling a the grass cutter. grass cutter. The weather William sought help was good and the tractor’s from Prospect, and a rear window open for personal injury case was ventilation. William was lodged on his behalf raising the grass cutter by Prospect’s Northern behind the tractor – looking Ireland solicitors Edwards out of the window to see & Co, which was settled what he was doing – when on the eve of the he was struck by a metal court hearing. “Prospect has object. It penetrated his Solicitor Dennis Hamill head through his right been brilliant said: “We were delighted to eyebrow. and it really get such a great result for He went to hospital William and that Prospect but no serious injury was brought home was there to support suspected and he returned the value of him. It took longer than to work. Later that evening being in the we wanted because the he noticed clear fluid defendants denied liability. coming out of his right union” This serious accident could nostril. He returned to have been much worse.” hospital the following morning and an William said: “I feel great about the X-ray showed up the metallic object. outcome of the case. Prospect has been William was transferred to the Royal good to me – brilliant – and it really Victoria Hospital 75 miles away for brought home the value of being in the urgent surgery. His skull was opened union.” and the metal object removed.

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

PROSPECT TUC delegate Mike Hardacre backed a call for free access to educational psychologists for all children and young people who need them. He was supporting a motion from the Association of Educational Psychologists, which welcomed recent proposals to enable young people with the most complex needs to continue to have an education, health and care plan up to age 25. But the motion warned that there is no funding system in place for training to provide newly qualified educational psychologists after 2016.

■■ The tractor that caused William’s injury and the aftermath of the operation to remove the metal from his head




■■ ■Prison■psychology■staff■ celebrating■Prospect’s■ equal■pay■win■in■2010,■ triggered■by■the■lodging■of■ hundreds■of■tribunal■cases■

Fair pay for 600 psychology staff STEFANO CAGNONI

MORE THAN 600 trainee psychologists and psychological assistants in the Prison Service will see a major boost to their pay by the end of September, thanks to Prospect. The union has negotiated a groundbreaking agreement, arising from its victory on equal pay in 2010. Around 370 staff earning £21,000 or less benefited from the change from April 2012. Because of the civil sector pay freeze, another 270 had to wait until April 2013, but are also receiving a non-consolidated lump sum of £750 to compensate for the delay. The mechanism for the change was a new grading structure known as ‘Fair and Sustainable’. The F&S structure resulted from a job evaluation exercise, and applies to

■■ ■Vicky■Smith:■ ‘thrilled■that■ so■many■will■ benefi■t’■

all new recruits to the Prison Service. Existing staff were given the choice of opting in or remaining on their existing terms and conditions. Branch secretary Vicky Smith said: “For most existing staff, opting in to F&S was not attractive. But for trainee psychologists and psychological assistants, the new pay scales are an improvement.” Outside London, a psychological assistant previously earning £17,510£21,000 will now be on a scale of £19,125-£24,290. The old trainee psychologist scale was £21,000£24,000, compared to a new scale of £24,250-£27,710. Smith said those moving to the new scales will not have to start at the bottom. For example, a person

Prospect urges National Trust to adopt living wage Prospect • Profile – October 2013

SOCIAL REFORMER Octavia Hill, one of three founders of the National Trust in 1895, once wrote: “We must not suppose that our gifts will do instead of adequate wages.” Over 100 years later Prospect is reminding the charity of its obligations with a campaign to persuade it to adopt the living wage, benefiting around 1,500 permanent and 3,500 seasonal employees. Preliminary discussions have begun between the union and the trust on using the living wage to underpin salary levels throughout the organisation.

Negotiator John Stevenson said: “Discussions have been positive and we remain hopeful. Given the economic challenges, a certain amount of realism is needed. However, with the goodwill of all parties, the aims of Octavia Hill can be achieved.” According to the Living Wage Foundation, a worker needs to earn £8.55 an hour in London, and £7.45 an hour elsewhere in the UK, to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. From 1 October the national minimum wage for those aged 21 and over will increase from £6.19 to £6.31 – well short of the living wage.

already halfway up their existing scale will be assimilated at halfway up the new scale. Most people have switched, with only a handful staying on their old terms because of location allowance payments. The deal was achieved because trainee psychologist and psychological assistant grades are around 90 per cent female. Prospect argued successfully that placing them at the bottom of the new scales would have created fresh equal pay tensions compared to higherpaid male-dominated grades. “We are thrilled that so many people will benefit,” said Smith. “It is a great example of how Prospect can improve members’ working lives. We hope this success will inspire anyone who has not yet joined us to do so.”

Real-terms value of pay down by 6.3% Inflation has eroded the real-terms value of UK workers’ pay packets by an average of 6.3 per cent in the last five years, the TUC said in September. Research for its ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise’ campaign showed an average real-terms weekly loss of £30.30 in the pay packets of employees working a 40-hour week. The findings were revealed in TUC analysis of official figures. The North West is the hardest hit region, with average hourly pay worth £11.43 in 2007 compared to £10.52 in 2012 – an 8 per cent real-terms drop. In Yorkshire and the Humber, workers have seen the value of their pay reduced by 7.6 per cent, and in the West Midlands by 7.2 per cent.


The government’s approach to employment law is rooted in ideology not logic, and will do nothing to stimulate corporate investment or economic growth, Prospect president Alan Grey told the TUC conference in Bournemouth in September. “There is very little evidence from employers that they need more regulation or fewer rights to be successful businesses,” he said. Grey warned that reduced protection for unfair dismissal, shorter periods for redundancy consultation and fees to present claims to employment tribunals will all weaken access to justice for working people. He said recent legislation, including the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, would undermine workplace equality and make it harder for workers to claim compensation for injuries at work. The Growth and Infrastructure Act introduced the widely


Employment law attacks ‘blatant and unprovoked’


discredited ‘shares for rights’ proposals, despite lack of employer support for them. Grey said the proof that the changes were all ideologically driven was demonstrated by the way the government ignored the results of its own consultation exercises: just five out of 209 submissions supported shares for rights. And 83 per cent of respondents opposed changes to equality act questionnaires. “The UK is less regulated than other countries in Europe. We need a positive legal and regulatory framework for employment relations, drawing on evidence and good practice internationally.” Grey said it would be worth publicising the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s index of employment protection. “A key part of the opposition is to publicise the change in legal rights and to promote the need to be in a union. Taken in the round, these changes are a blatant, unprovoked and serious attack on members’ and non-members’ rights.”

“I know Conservatives are fond of referring to PR man Lynton Crosby as their very own Wizard of Oz. But what does that make Cameron, Osborne and Clegg? When it comes to any vision for a new economy, they are the scarecrow, the tin man and the cowardly lion: no brain, no heart and no courage.” Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary


■■ Clancy – unions are the voice of employment justice

and commitment in this room. But we are banging on about general strikes again. It’s daft, damaging and delusional.” Clancy said that Prospect respected the sovereign right of trade unions to co-ordinate action and that its members may participate in some of those activities. No one could argue with the motion’s message of fighting those who say commercial success must come through exploitation and a race to the bottom. “But leadership is not rhetoric or the spectacle of making ourselves feel good on conference platforms. Leadership is about winning on behalf of our members.” He also called for clarity over whether a midweek day of action would

occur via trade disputes or through members taking a day’s holiday to protest. Community’s Michael Leahy said while sympathetic with the analysis of the attacks on workers rights, he did not back the motion’s recommended actions. “My members rightly view going on strike as a last resort to defend their terms and conditions. It is not the first step for political change,” he said. USDAW’s John Hannett said the TUC had already consulted affiliates on this, and most had agreed a general strike was not practicable. Mary Bousted, ATL, said legal opinion had raised major problems around the legality of any general strike. All it would do was attract hostile headlines.

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

A MOTION on ‘Fighting austerity and attacks on trade union rights’ was the catalyst for revisiting last year’s debate on the practicalities of a general strike. The RMT motion called for the issue to remain on the table, as well as proposing a midweek day of action, with the TUC co-ordinating any strike action by individual unions on the day. Delegates carried the motion but several general secretaries, including Prospect’s Mike Clancy, spoke against. Clancy said: “We defend the most vulnerable. We work with employers who want to work with us. We are the independent voice of social and employment justice. “Just look at the talent, activism





Remember to keep your eyes peeled and email us if you spot anything Prospect related –

Buddha believe it? The diverse areas in which Prospect members work is reflected in the weird and wonderful press releases received by the communications department. They can range from the launch of a trade association for the UK electric vehicle sector, breakthroughs in medical equipment to concrete gravity base foundations for wind farms. But we’re still wondering why we were targeted for the launch of the first memorial Buddha Urn – a smiling statue where you can save the ashes of your loved ones. Are they trying to Buddha-us up?

Are we there yet? Tales of nightmare journeys aided by eccentric and/or misleading satnav directions have passed into motoring legend. Things got so bad that last year the Department for Transport hosted a ‘satnav summit’ in an attempt to stop motorists being led down the proverbial blind alley, or worse, off a steep cliff. Road atlas publisher Nicolson reported a 10 per cent rise in sales on the previous year; the AA has also seen a surge in demand for its atlases. Even Norman Baker, transport minister, admits that he shuns his satnav and uses a humble road atlas. At least that’s one Lib Dem who knows whether he’s turning left or right.

Jargon’s off the menu Civil servants have new guidelines that set out what is acceptable Whitehall language. In short, a ban on jargon. The style guide says more than 30 terms that have crept into government statements and policy documents should be sidelined. So, no more advancing, collaborating, combating, pledging or empowering. Let’s keep an eye on Whitehall statements to make sure the new standards don’t slip.

Treasury ducks out of PFI Prospect • Profile – October 2013

The Daily Mail had fun with another private finance initiative debacle recently involving a couple of loved up ducks. The firm that owns the Treasury building, the paper reported, is so crippled with bureaucracy that it took 24 taxpayer-funded hours, and numerous conflicting messages from internal contractors, departmental staff and animal welfare groups, to decide the best way to remove the ducks which

had made a home in the ornate fountain and produced nine prodigy. In the meantime, the birds left of their own accord.

Meet the Tory trade unionist

A fringe meeting at September’s Conservative party conference in Manchester will discuss whether you can be a Conservative and a trade unionist. Speakers include Robert Halfon MP; Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy and political director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance Jonathan Isaby. Surely it’s a rhetorical question because Robert is a Prospect member... If in doubt see Thatcher_Unions

Stand and deliver

Labour leader Ed Miliband received widespread media coverage for his speech to TUC, which got him polite applause and no standing ovation. Delegates did, however, stand to clap other speakers for inspiring contributions that received rather less, if any, media coverage. They included Toni Pearce, president of the National Union of Students (story, page 18), and on the last day, Baroness Doreen Lawrence. She described how the trust set up in memory of her son, Stephen – who was murdered by racists – is helping young people today, 20 years after his death. Find out more at

Another TUC first

Mohammad Taj, a bus driver and Unite member from Bradford, was elected as the TUC’s first Muslim, and first Asian, president for the coming year. Taj says he is keen to reach out to trade unionists in the Arab world, where people are living and working in extremely dangerous and unstable situations, and help them build strong, independent and democratic unions.

Volunteering’s good

Union reps will be pleased to hear volunteering is good for communities and possibly for you. Research in the journal BMC Public Health found those who regularly help out in the community were 20 per cent less likely to die early than those who never volunteered. But scientists are unsure if this is because healthier people are more likely to volunteer, or volunteering improves your own health.

DAVID BAILEY David is head of outreach at the British Geological Survey in Keyworth, Nottingham. He sets up the environmental science competition for WorldSkills. What is WorldSkills? WorldSkills promotes and drives excellence in workplace skills through competition. Competitions are held every year in the UK and every two years at international level. This year, 74 UK competitions will be showcased at the skills show in Birmingham between 14-16 November. The next international competition will be held in 2015 in Brazil. How did you get involved? Several years ago Dick Crofts, a former rep at BGS, devised the first environmental science competition for Prospect and it is now an established WorldSkills UK competition. I took over the task of setting the competition when Dick retired in 2011. I am fortunate that Dick is still closely involved as a judge and in making sure the standard doesn’t drop! What have you learnt by taking part? That there is no limit to young people’s talent or their relish for a challenge. How many young people in the UK have taken part? Nearly 60 young people studying environmental science or related subjects at sixth-form and further education colleges across the UK have reached the finals of the environmental science competition since it began in 2009. What is the best thing about the project? Watching the young people involved develop maturity and confidence in their knowledge and skills over three tough days of competition. One of last year’s gold medallists, Emily O’Regan, went on to become the British Science Association’s young scientist of the year for 2013, which is some measure of how talented our competitors are. What plans are in the pipeline for 2014? The Skills Show will be back at the NEC in 2014 and so will the environmental science competition. It is still a relative newcomer to WorldSkills, and we are keen to widen participation and get as many schools and colleges as possible to enter the qualification round. How can other employers/ organisations get involved? If you would like to get involved in running or sponsoring the environmental science competition, please contact Sue Ferns, Prospect director of communications and research; email Find out more about all the competitions at: http://



The more we rely on the world wide web, the more exposed we are becoming to its vulnerabilities. Roger Darlington stresses the importance of being prepared


● A three-hour network shutdown paralysed the operation of the Nasdaq stock market in New York on what should have been a quiet day of routine share trading on the exchange. So serious was the fallout that it resulted in a third fewer shares being traded in the US on that day. In the face of these breakdowns, Jaron Lanier, the author and inventor of the concept of virtual reality, warned that digital infrastructure is moving beyond human control. He said: “When you try to achieve great scale with automation and the automation exceeds the boundaries of human oversight, there is going to be failure. “That goes for governments, for consumer companies, for Google, or a big insurance company. It is infuriating because it is driven by unreasonable greed. “In many cases, the systems that tend to fail fail because of an attempt to make them run automatically with a minimal amount of human oversight.” A weakness in human oversight is only one form of vulnerability that

“When you try to achieve great scale with automation and the automation exceeds the boundaries of human oversight, there is going to be failure”

we now face. Another is a deliberate attempt to hack into systems by competitors, terrorists, or states. In their book The New Digital Age, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen – both top executives at Google – talk of the Cold War having been replaced by the Code War. They write: “The logical conclusion of many more states coming online, building or buying cyber-attack capability and operating within competitive spheres of online influence, is perpetual, permanent low-grade cyber war.” And what happens when code war becomes real war? Today the internet is the fi fth battlefield after land, sea, air and space. George Friedman, in his book The Next 100 Years, insists that “electricity will be to war in the 21st century as petroleum was to war in the 20th century”. No electricity means no internet. No internet increasingly means no way of life as we currently understand it. There are some important lessons here. Every home, business, organisation and government should have protection against malware and malcontents appropriate to the volume and the sensitivity of the data on their systems and automatic back-ups of data to secure off-site locations. Also, they should have practical policies for how they would operate if they were offl ine for any significant period of time and effective contingency plans for getting back online as quickly as possible. Oh, and try not to get into a war. ■■ ■Roger■Darlington■is■a■technology■ expert■–■■

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

IN JUST ONE MONTH we we saw a succession of dramatic reminders of how much modern society needs the internet. Without it we face inconvenience, fi nancial loss and at worst, a major breakdown in society. In August: ● There was a two-hour failure of the New York Times website, during which it resorted to publishing articles on its Facebook page. While a malicious attack was initially suspected, the problem was caused simply by a scheduled system maintenance. ● Microsoft customers began to report email failures and the outage was traced to problems with the Exchange ActiveSync service, which serves email to many of the world’s smartphones. When Exchange hit a glitch, the sheer volume of phones trying to connect triggered a ripple effect that took three days to get under control. ● Many of Google’s websites, from email to YouTube to its core search engine, suffered a rare four-minute global meltdown. The unexplained crisis served to illustrate the sheer volume of traffic that Google’s servers process. During its outage, one monitor put the drop in global internet traffic at 40 per cent. ● Amazon’s North American retail site went down for about 49 minutes, with visitors greeted with the word “Oops”. No explanation was given, but one estimate by Forbes put the cost to Amazon at nearly $2m in lost sales. ● Apple’s iCloud suffered a blackout that affected a few of its customers, but lasted 11 hours. Storing the collections of photos, music, documents and address books that would once have been kept on shelves at home, iCloud now has 300 million users.



Professor with his head above the parapet

Professor Elliot Shubert made a discovery linking the behaviour of algae genes to those of a certain type of cancer cell. He tells Boc Ly about his scientific career and why he is a Prospect rep


BY PROFESSOR Elliot Shubert’s own admission, the chance discovery that guarantees his scientific legacy owes more than a little to luck and serendipity. His research found a pattern of behaviour in the genes of algae that are similar to the genes of a particular type of cancerous cell. “People say why is this important? One’s an algae cell and the other is a cancer cell. “There’s a huge chasm between them and millions of years of evolution,” says the professor. “Well, you have to start somewhere and it’s pretty exciting.”

Branch chair

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

In April, Elliot, 70, was elected chair of the Prospect branch at the Natural History Museum, where he now works as a part-time editor of a scientific journal. However, his own story starts in St Louis, Missouri. To pursue his goal of applying to dental school, the young Elliot first needed to study a science. Soon though, biology had become his major interest and he eventually ended up with a PhD in phycology – the study of algae. Elliot was interested in the origins of multi-cellularity. Billions of years ago, we were just single cells floating around in murky

“The British in general are less likely to complain and just keep their head down and get on with things”

waters. How and why did cells start dividing and specialising?

essentially doing research in his own time on the museum’s premises.

The discovery

Journal editor

In the course of his research, Elliot and his colleagues found genes associated with leukaemia that were 80-90 per cent similar to the genes that they had identified. “It was a discovery,”he says. “In science there are very few discoveries and you need to have a very open mind to see it.” He was teaching at a university in the US, but early retirement and marriage to a British woman brought the professor to the UK in 1994. His wife already worked at the Natural History Museum and Elliot soon found himself there as an unpaid research associate –

Since 2007 he has been the editor of the journal Systematics & Biodiversity and a year later he was a Prospect rep at the Natural History Museum. Elliot’s union activism started in his late teens, when he had to join the Teamsters to do summer work as a removal and delivery boy. He remembers asking an elder union official why they treated students, such as himself, so well. “He said ‘We want you to experience a union, so that in later life you will support them even if you’re not a member.’ That was absolutely true. I had a very positive experience and I didn’t hesitate to join a union. It’s protection of my rights.” Elliot says there is still plenty of union work to do at the museum and one issue is unequal pay. “My view is that if you don’t fix it then it’s just going to keep on getting worse and then it’s really going to be difficult to right it,” he insists. “The British in general are less likely to complain and just keep their head down and get on with things. I respect that but sometimes you just have to stand up for what you believe. I am pushing that and they’re starting to listen.”

Union support

The professor was recently told that his own post was at risk, but he says he has the full support of Prospect behind him. “Numerous times people have said to me that the Natural History Museum must be a fantastic place to work. Well, it’s a beautiful building with wonderful facilities and good people but believe me, no institution is perfect,” he says. “The problem with any institution is that from the outside looking in you have a very different viewpoint than if you’re working on the inside.”




YOUNG PROSPECT member Amy Caton has successfully completed her challenge to row the Channel. Amy and other colleagues from BT took part in the 21-mile race to raise money for the AHOY centre. The charity in Deptford, south-east London, uses waterbased activities to help

Brave teenager behind Kilimanjaro challenge

■■ Sharon (far right) training at the Old Man of Coniston in the Lake District with Alice’s father Simon Pyne, fellow climber Sam Blundell, and Alice’s mother Vicky Pyne

Amy finally lost her fight for life in January this year, aged 17. Sharon said: “I chose this charity as it is local to home. Alice was far wiser than her years and never understood why people were interested in what she was doing. “She would always just say ‘all I’m trying to do is help people’. We call it the Alice effect, as she was so unassuming.” Sharon’s initial contact with the charity came as a result of her second job – running a bridal and prom dress business. “I emailed her mum in January 2011 to say there was a prom dress here whenever she wanted it. I got a very nice but straightforward email

back saying it would be unlikely Alice would make her prom.” But she did, and Sharon provided her prom dress the following year. By then she had become more aware of the aims of the charity. “With the cost of a holiday ranging from £80 to £2,000 per week, depending on how debilitated or disabled the child, what they are doing is vital,” she said. Sharon has already undertaken a variety of fundraising activities, such as organising a beer festival and auctioning donated autographed items, which she has crammed in between her job, her business and training for the challenge. Sharon, 43, has spoken to climbers from previous trips who could not quite make the summit, so she has no illusions about how mentally and physically gruelling it will be. But she is determined to succeed and grateful for all the support she has had so far. To date, she has raised £3,100 towards her £3,800 target, which is split to cover the cost of the trip and her contribution to the charity. ■■ If you would like to support Sharon’s fundraising bid visit www. ■ Find out more about Alice’s Escapes at

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

young and disabled people. A combination of unfavourable tides and a ban on entering international waters meant the team rowed to a mid-point before turning round and racing back to Dover, eventually clocking up 26 miles. Amy, who had never rowed before, said: “Conditions weren’t favourable and the two other teams looked considerably younger, fitter and better kitted out.” Not only did the team complete the race in four hours and 54 minutes, they beat the other two teams rowing that day and achieved the fastest time for the route this year. In total Amy and her colleagues raised £16,000, including a £250 donation from Prospect’s national executive committee.

THE COURAGE of a terminally ill teenager who campaigned for a reduction in the age limit for bone marrow donors inspired Sharon Platt’s bid to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Flying out in mid-October, Sharon and her partner have seven days to scale the 16,000ft high mountain – six times the height of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. Sharon, a member of the safety case team at Sellafield, is doing the climb for Alice’s Escapes, a Cumbrian charity committed to providing free holidays in the Lake District for families who have a seriously ill child. The charity was started by Alice Pyne (main photo) when she was 16, after it became evident she was losing her five-year battle against leukaemia. During that time she campaigned to get the age for bone marrow donors lowered to 16, after many of her own friends had been prevented from volunteering as a match for her. Alongside her sister Milly, Alice also raised over £100,000 for charity – for which they both received the British Empire Medal – and increased the number of people on bone marrow registers across the world.

Time to sort out your finances but unsure where to start?

Our advisers can help you

achieve your financial goals You work hard for your money but is your money working hard for you? Maybe you know you should be doing something about your finances but don’t know who to turn to for advice you can trust. Yet the sooner you take action, the more likely you are to achieve your financial goals. Complimentary, no obligation consultation As a member of Prospect, you are entitled to a no obligation complimentary consultation with Lighthouse Financial Advice, Prospect’s for financial advice. One of our professional advisers will talk to you to find out whether you could benefit from advice on issues such as:

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LIGHTHOUSE FINANCIAL ADVICE Making your money work harder

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Scottish scientists rock music festivals with drugs message Graham Stewart discovers the connection between Scottish music festivals and the rainforests of Colombia

“It takes four square metres of land formerly occupied by forest to produce just one gram of cocaine” through agricultural expansion, mining activities or climate change. “We have been working on a project to help prevent loss of habitat by informing the public of the environmental consequences of product consumption. In this particular case the product is one that is illegally produced and imported into the UK – cocaine. “More than two million hectares of land have been cleared for coca cultivation and this land is often also contaminated with the chemistry required to convert coca leaves into cocaine,” says James. “It takes four square metres of land formerly occupied by forest to produce just one gram of cocaine. “The profits made from this business are often used to fund illegal activities and fuel Colombia’s long-running civil conflict.” Shared Responsibility is a programme run by the Colombian Embassy, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and

Police Scotland. It aims to educate Scottish schoolchildren on this environmental issue in Colombia. It has visited schools as well as festivals, telling people about the effects of the cocaine trade on the biodiversity of the country and the social consequences of these activities. The programme runs alongside RBGE’s Talking Science project, which focuses on individuals who may have felt excluded from mainstream science in the past. It aims to engage people in subjects like genetics, phenology, cell biology and environmental issues and is supported by leading scientists from the Scottish government and private and university research centres. James says: “The UN office on drugs and crime report for 2013 states that Scotland has the highest per capita consumption of cocaine on the planet. We aim to encourage people to think about the consequences of actions in their own country on countries like Colombia that are the primary producers of many of the products we consume in Europe.” The project is supported by the Scottish government, through the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser. “I never thought RBGE would find itself presenting science at rock festivals but we have discovered that many inquisitive and interested festival goers share our concern for environmental issues,” says James.

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

MUSIC LOVERS at this summer’s Rockness and Wickerman festivals may have come across a chillout zone with a difference. Part of a joint venture between Police Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, it provided drug awareness advice and highlighted the environmental and social devastation caused by the cocaine trade across Colombia. In the festival chillout zones, RBGE scientists, students and educationists provided snacks – bocadillo and Colombian sweet arequipe – and coffee from a supplier who has converted his farm from coca cultivation. Music was provided by RBGE’s long-time collaborators Khantara. “By mixing scientific and cultural research and education, our Colombia programme gives social messages that are important to the citizens of both that country and the UK,” says Prospect member Dr James Richardson. James, a tropical botanist from the garden, says RBGE aims to describe and conserve plant diversity in all parts of the world – particularly those that are the most rich in species. “In 2008 we began a research programme in the second most biodiverse country on earth, Colombia. Our work aims to determine how this astounding diversity has evolved and to protect it. A major cause of biodiversity degradation is habitat loss





The tremendous efforts of those fighting to transform perceptions of women at work were showcased at this year’s TUC in Bournemouth. Marie McGrath reports

Our policies give people confidence

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

FRANCES O’GRADY, the fi rst woman to lead the TUC, reaffi rmed trade unions’ core values of care, compassion and fairness in her keynote speech. Unions are Britain’s biggest democratic membership movement of ordinary people, she said. “We have more than ten times the membership of all of Britain’s political parties put together. It may even be more but we don’t know, because political parties don’t have to account for their members in the way that we have to account for ours.” It was a “testimony to the enduring strength of our trade union values that the right has chosen to put us in the fi ring line,” she added. That fi ring line included the lobbying bill which, “far from dealing with the real dirt in politics, is designed to deny us a political voice. “We are united in defending the basic democratic principle that ordinary people have the right to a political voice. “That union money – the few pence freely given every week, by nurses, shop workers and truck drivers – is the cleanest cash in politics today. And whether unions set up a political fund is a matter for members, not ministers.” Frances challenged those who say it doesn’t matter who wins the next election. “It matters a lot. To the unemployed teenager, desperate

“We have more than ten times the members of all Britain’s political parties put together”

for a decent job. To the young family, hoping for a decent home. And to the elderly, the disabled and their carers, who know there must be a better way. “Ever since the Chartists fi rst lifted their banners, the democratic voice of the people has always been our best weapon against rule by the markets, the rich and the powerful. “We need to win public opinion to our policies. And we need to prove that they are election winners.” She challenged politicians from all parties to say where they stand on decent jobs, paid for by fair taxes; one million new council and affordable homes; fair pay; the NHS and fair rights at work. “We’ve got sensible policies. Good policies. Popular policies. And their importance is that, together, they make a promise of a better future. “They cut through the pessimism, and give people confidence,” she concluded. ■■ ■Read■or■listen■to■the■full■speech■at■ congress_2013


as the TUC coincided with the first Sellafield SELLAFIELD EMPLOYEE and Prospect rep YPN conference, an event she managed to Debbie Wilson (pictured left) was joint winner persuade her employer to part-fund. of the TUC’s 2013 Congress Award for Youth. Debbie is also a STEM ambassador and Conference chair Lesley Mercer praised regularly visits local schools to Debbie for building Prospect’s inspire young people to consider Sellafield Young Professionals’ “I’m chuffed to careers in engineering and Network into a nearly bits and want to maths. 100-strong forum from just thank everybody Through this, she got seven members last autumn. involved in the Babcock Debbie’s skills at reaching who helped and engineering challenge, out to work colleagues are supported me” leading an after-school club central to Sellafield YPN’s for 10 weeks. Her students won success and encouraged her awards for best research and best portfolio of branch committee to introduce a dedicated designs for a wind turbine. young rep position. On top of this, Debbie has been studying She set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to for a foundation degree in nuclear-related promote the network online and represented technology, graduating this summer. Prospect at TUC young workers’ events. She Find out how to get a STEM ambassador said: “I’m chuffed to bits and want to thank into your children’s and grandchildren’s everybody who helped and supported me.” schools at Debbie did not collect her award in person

Transforming perceptions of women at work LEONORA SAUNDERS

Lindsay Chapman (above right), is a senior research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory, where fewer than one in ten senior grades are women. NPL granted her a secondment to work with Prospect. She organised an event attracting 40 women from several organisations. It offered practical careers advice, tips on presentation skills and a space to share experiences, overcome barriers and tap into existing networks. MP Meg Munn, who was equality minister from 2005-07, praised Prospect’s charter for women in STEM. She highlighted an unconscious bias between men’s and women’s jobs, stressing: “Girls need to stop seeing these jobs as men’s jobs.” However, four in ten STEM ambassadors are now women, a sign of change, she added. Leonora Saunders talked about her mission to change perceptions of men’s and women’s jobs, using photographs. She is working with Prospect on a 2014 calendar featuring women in maledominated industries.


NATIONAL UNION of Students president Toni Pearce outlined the vision behind a partnership between the NUS and TUC. It highlights a shared belief in social justice, collective organisation and democratic participation, and sets out ten ways to work together. A feeling of powerlessness and instability was rife among the rising generation, Toni told delegates in Bournemouth. Where previous generations looked upon the labour market as an opportunity, today’s college and university leavers saw an abyss. Two-thirds of students were also working people, often badly paid and with poor conditions. “That’s why we’ve been working with you to tackle the scourge of unfair, unpaid and illegal internships and to campaign for the living wage in colleges and universities and our communities.” But too few young people were union members – just one in ten 20-24 year-olds. Toni welcomed Frances O’Grady’s election and said she was proud to work with the TUC to mentor women. “I am committed to maintaining this union link and building a future together, based on opportunity, not hopelessness – with good sustainable jobs and quality public education.” ■■ NUS/TUC agreement: en/news/news/nus-and-tuc-agreement/

Time to listen

The government must address the under-representation of women in the economy, Sue Ferns, Prospect director of communications and research, told the TUC. She was moving a motion on women in male-dominated industries. The government had shelved mandatory equal pay audits, and equality impact assessments were no longer required, she pointed out. Given its own lack of positive ideas, the government needed to listen and learn from unions, decent employers and other experts, she said. ●● Read her speech at http://library.

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

FROM WINNING equal pay to breaking down barriers in the workplace, women in Prospect are making a difference, a TUC fringe meeting heard in September. Delegates heard MP Meg Munn, freelance photographer Leonora Saunders and two Prospect reps discuss women in maledominated industries. Ele Wade (above left), a rep at the Intellectual Property Office, helped win equal pay for 180 women and men. Patent examiners are technical specialists. The senior examiner grade was maledominated, with women at the bottom of the pay scale and a pay differential of up to 25 per cent for people doing the same work. So Ele gathered and analysed pay data, using two senior examiners to build and test a case to bring to an employment tribunal. IPO settled two days before the hearing. The pay span was shortened for patent examiners and non-technical staff in a parallel grade. Existing staff were assimilated into the new pay span with a flatrate increase of £8,000.


Debbie reaches young workers





Giving voice

to professional women

The Women’s Room website provides female experts for the media. Penny Vevers speaks to the journalist and campaigner who launched it

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

A FREELANCE journalist has come under fi re from Twitter trolls for her high-profi le campaigning on behalf of women professionals, including setting up a website to provide female experts for the media. Caroline Criado-Perez founded the Women’s Room after realising that while 79 per cent of victims receiving media coverage are women, a staggering three-quarters of the media’s ‘experts’ are men. The website aims to prove wrong media claims that there aren’t many female experts around. It has already signed up more than 3,000 of them, and received 300-400 media requests for comment. Caroline is encouraging women in Prospect to add their names to the site. The union has more than 14,000 female members working in the male-dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and maths. Caroline won widespread media coverage earlier this year when she objected to a Bank of England decision to remove a picture of Elizabeth Fry – the only female historical figure on UK banknotes – from the £5 note. She threatened to sue the bank under the 2010 Equality Act, which states that in every decision a public body takes, they must pay due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality. The bank climbed down by agreeing to put a picture of Jane Austen on the back of the £10 note and Caroline appeared on Newsnight to talk about her achievement. But within days she was inundated with hostile messages via Twitter containing rape and death threats. Police arrested two people and questioned one other, all of whom are now on bail. In September Caroline removed her Twitter account after receiving further threats. The day before, she spoke to Profile about her website.

“Our aim is to provide people who have interesting things to say so that we don’t just hear the same voices over and over again”

■■ Caroline■(white■coat)■with■ fellow■campaigners■dressed■as■ famous■historical■women■outside■ the■Bank■of■England■last■July■ to■deliver■a■petition,■signed■by■ over■30,000■people,■calling■on■ the■Bank■of■England■to■ensure■a■ woman■appears■on■banknotes.■

She said that in October 2012, for two days in a row, the Today programme ran stories on breast cancer and teenage contraception – both female issues. But in each case, the issue was discussed exclusively by men. When challenged by Caroline, the BBC told her they had been unable to find female experts despite their best efforts. That was the catalyst for setting up the Women’s Room. “The way I see it, women have a huge problem declaring themselves as experts,” says Caroline. “For example, one of our experts had ten years’ post-doctoral experience as a psychiatrist, yet still didn’t consider herself an expert.” The Women’s Room often gets asked what the difference is between experience and expertise, she said. Women are reluctant to blow their own trumpets, and many who claim they are simply experienced are genuine experts. “Our aim is to provide people who have interesting things to say so that we don’t just hear the same voices over and over again.” Caroline, who runs the website voluntarily from her kitchen table with help from other supporters, added: “I am not aiming to make money from the site. However, I think amazing things could be done with the right funding, so I would like to become set up as a social enterprise.” Sue Ferns, Prospect director of communications and research, said: “We are shocked that Caroline has been treated so harshly in the public domain for raising these serious and important issues. “It is a sign of how far we still have to go to achieve equality for women. “Our own members tell us that they enjoy doing work that provides solutions and makes a difference. But they are frustrated by a lack of leadership, inconsistent treatment and being side-lined. Around a third of respondents to our own research felt that their career had been hindered by their gender. “We strongly welcome the Women’s Room and encourage Prospect members to get involved.” ■■


Abolishing census could cost more in long-term

New protocol for staff surpluses

Civil service unions have agreed a new protocol for handling

staff surpluses in government

departments and relevant nondepartmental public bodies.

The protocol reflects changes to

the minimum statutory consultation periods for redundancies introduced by the Department for Business

Innovation and Skills from April.

It also changes the ‘period of

reflection’ process to match the new arrangements – now known as the

redundancy mitigation review. The Cabinet Office says the protocol:

●● does not diminish departmental responsibility to redeploy surplus staff

●● reflects the civil service’s

commitment to be a good employer redundancies.

■■ Download the statement of practice on staff transfers; procurement of bulk transfer agreements and good practice for managing consequences of outsourcing from:■

Abandon attack on pay progression GETTING RID of pay progression is simply another way of cutting public sector pay, Prospect deputy general secretary Leslie Manasseh told TUC delegates in September. He was seconding an FDA motion stating that the government should abandon its plans and engage with unions to deliver a meaningful longterm reward strategy. It also urged unions to share best practice on potential legal challenges. Manasseh said progression was a straightforward and transparent route to fair and equal pay, enabling employees to “develop the necessary knowledge and skills over time – and only receive the proper rate for the job when they have done so.” This was particularly important to Prospect specialists who needed to constantly acquire new skills and

■■ Manasseh – ■ share best practice

whose work was becoming ever more demanding and complex. The public administration select committee had highlighted the inability of the civil service to develop, recruit, and retain key skills as “a fundamental failure”, he said. Many Prospect members’ pay lagged behind their counterparts in the private sector by as much as 30 per cent.

Plan ‘not fit for purpose’

Prospect has backed a select committee’s finding that the current civil service reform plan is inadequate and not fit for purpose. The union says fundamental civil service reform is long overdue, but called on government to take the process seriously as well. The public administration committee’s report, Truth to Power: how civil service reform can succeed, calls for a parliamentary commission to look at the nature, role and purpose of the civil service. See:

POLITICAL NEUTRALITY UNDER THREAT POLITICAL NEUTRALITY and the separation between ministers and their civil servants are vital to effective stable government, but threatened by reforms. That was the message from Prospect deputy general secretary Leslie Manasseh to the TUC in Bournemouth.

“We may like to be with people who agree with us or share our views,” he said. “But for a government minister to demand that is a dangerous path. Policy ideas and plans need independent scrutiny and objective testing. They need to be challenged and

deconstructed, not simply embraced,” he warned. He was seconding an FDA motion condemning proposals to allow ministers to surround themselves with an “extended, personally appointed group of civil servants.” ■■

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

●● will help avoid compulsory

Negotiator Ben Middleton said there were mixed implications. The consultation could result in greater certainty of workload for methodologists who currently face a staffing see-saw, as numbers rise and fall in line with the current census 10year cycle. “Potentially demand for interviewer staff could increase, but accompanied by detrimental changes to working patterns, terms and conditions.” Demographers, statisticians and historians have concerns that new ways of gathering data may fail to provide the detailed snapshot of life in Britain needed to plan future expenditure. The 2011 UK census cost £480m and employed 35,000 people. Middleton said the UK census was three times cheaper per head than the one in the US. “The cost is a drop in the ocean when you compare it to the trillions of pounds that will be spent by government in the following decade on health, education and housing. It may be a case of penny wise, pound foolish.”


THE COLD hand of austerity has reached out to a 200 year-old statistical beacon, the census – and if the Cabinet Office gets its way the UK will have to manage without it. Prospect members at the Office for National Statistics are concerned at how this uncertainty could affect their own jobs, terms and conditions. ONS has launched a consultation that rules out the status quo. It proposes either: ●● an internet survey or ●● collating various data sources from electoral rolls, health and education records.





GENERAL SECRETARY Mike Clancy travelled to the far north of Scotland in September to meet members, representatives and community leaders and find out more about the work they do. He visited the Dounreay nuclear site and Wick Airport, where he saw at first hand the importance of the air bridge for local communities. Clancy said he understood the frustrations of young people who want to leave the area for job opportunities elsewhere. “I am very aware of the impact on a community when it loses its main employer. I lived through it in my home town of Liverpool,” he told a meeting of community leaders in Thurso. Clancy said the skills and capabilities developed by the

■■ Mike Clancy (right) with national secretary Alan Denney checks out one of the fire engines at Wick Airport to get behind one or two major proposals to replace jobs being lost at the site. “We will use our influence in

workforce must not be wasted when the decommissioning programme comes to an end at Dounreay. He urged Caithness

NTS introduces zero hours contracts PROSPECT HAS called on individual National Trust for Scotland members to insist that all employees are paid at least the Scottish living wage – currently £7.45 an hour. The call was timed for the NTS annual general meeting, which took place in Stirling at the end of September. Prospect national secretary Alan Denney said: “It is an absolute disgrace that a charity with the large financial reserves of the NTS continues to pay its staff nearly £1 an hour below the Scottish living wage. “I am sure NTS members will be disturbed to learn of the

poverty pay that the NTS board and remuneration committee endorsed this year. Indeed, they could not even guarantee to move staff to that level of pay by 2017.” The low pay position has been made worse by the introduction of zero hours contracts for hundreds of staff who rely on seasonal work for

the NTS at remote locations. Alongside the move to zero hours contracts, NTS is also attempting to eliminate seasonal workers’ employment rights by no longer accepting their continuity of employment. Many of these workers have traditionally returned to NTS year after year and have skills and experience that are vital to the longterm future of the organisation. Prospect will also ask the Scottish government, which provides public money to the trust, to insist that its commitment to the Scottish living wage is endorsed and applied across the NTS.

COUNTING DOWN TO THE REFERENDUM Prospect • Profile – October 2013

PROSPECT’S SCOTLAND committee is preparing to launch an e-forum on the union’s website for members who want to ask questions and join the debate about next year’s referendum on Scottish independence. The committee has created working groups covering aviation, defence, education, energy, environment,

government, health and safety, heritage, science and telecommunications that will draw up questions for the two campaign groups – Yes Scotland and Better Together. The questions will draw on members’ concerns about how their work may be affected by independence or otherwise. National secretary Anne Douglas said: “Prospect

all political arenas to put forward the case for investment in infrastructure and in high quality jobs for the area. It’s important for the union to listen to its members, especially in areas where their jobs play a significant role in the health of the local economy. “At the meeting with socio-economic stakeholders we explored the challenges of ensuring a future for the local community that builds on their contribution to an industry that has a potentially bright future.” Clancy said he was welcomed everywhere: “I want to thank colleagues who took the time to explain their work and inspire me with their enthusiasm.” Prospect represents hundreds of members working across the Highland and Islands: in airports, Scottish government and in the agriculture, environment and heritage sectors.

is determined to provide neutral, impartial advice and information to its members in Scotland. We hope the e-forum will provide that or direct members to where they can find it. The forum will also include links to relevant reports from all interested parties. Prospect will be there for members whatever the outcome.”

Stress: you’re not alone

Prospect Scotland has launched a campaign to help employees across its heritage sector tackle stress. Join the Club draws on materials from the union’s Work Time/Your Time and Stress Stigma campaigns. It aims to give heritage sector employees the tools they need to identify, manage and avoid stress. Prospect reps will hold recruitment days, stress management workshops and body and workplace mapping sessions with members. Events took place in September and more are planned for World Mental Health Day on 10 October. To take advantage you must be a member so encourage colleagues to join. Look out for the campaign leaflet with an application form on the back. ■■ More information from organiser john.sinclair@


■■ The Welsh government has released £625,000 to the National Library of Wales, for repair work on the damaged roof following the devastating fire in April. Work, including a refit of the upper floor, begins in early October. Pictured above are library workers who gave up their weekend to help clean up the damage and get the library open again

Wales commits to union equality reps across the public sector A NETWORK of union equality representatives across the public sector will be created, thanks to an agreement between the Welsh government and Wales TUC. The Welsh government has provided funding to Wales TUC for a project officer, Rhianydd Williams, to promote the network and develop the role of the equality reps. “We hope the network will become a fulcrum of equality expertise,” said Prospect negotiator Gareth Howells (pictured, right). “By regularly sharing information and case studies, the network can also become a vital resource for employers and employees.” Jeff Cuthbert, minister for communities and tackling poverty, has written to public sector bodies in Wales, such as NHS trusts, universities and fire authorities, urging them to support the work of the equality reps. He wrote: “Well trained and established trade

union equality representatives can make a real difference within the workplace by resolving issues quickly, avoiding bullying cases, reducing sickness absence, improving staff morale and reducing staff turnover.” The proposal was originally a Welsh Labour manifesto commitment, which was later included in the Programme for Government. The programme declared that Wales would “work towards creating the fairest and most diverse public sector workforce in the UK”. Wales remains the only nation in the UK to commit to a network of equality reps across its public sector bodies. The Welsh government’s workforce partnership council is overseeing the project. The TUC will be offering an initial five-day training course for all the new equality reps and details will be available soon. Project officer Rhianydd Williams can be contacted at or 02920 347010. ■■ Find out more: programmeforgov ■■

■■ Public sector to ban blacklisting companies Companies who have blacklisted workers for their trade union activities will be barred from lucrative contracts with public bodies such as schools, hospitals, and councils, the Welsh Government has announced.

Welsh finance minister Jane Hutt told 103 public sector bodies that they could exclude these companies until the firms have ‘self-cleaned’ by taking measures such as compensating blacklisted victims.

The initiative is a significant response against the construction companies using blacklists provided by the Consulting Association in 2009. Construction accounts for a quarter of Wales’ £4.3bn annual procurement spending.

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

PROSPECT HAS commended the Welsh government for becoming the first civil service department in the UK to scrap bonus payments for senior civil servants. Reacting to the news, negotiator Gareth Howells said: “We welcome the fact that no more bonuses will be paid to a select few. It’s a good decision, and fits with the David Cameron and George Osborne line that ‘we’re all in this together’. “The Welsh government has set a good example and it would be excellent if other civil service departments followed suit.” The issue of bonuses for senior civil servants hit the headlines recently after figures in the Wales Office’s annual report prompted suggestions that the bonus system was being used as a means to get around the government’s pay restraint. The BBC reported that almost one fifth of the 50 or so staff at the Wales Office received a bonus last year. The average was worth £2,004 but in one instance the payment amounted to £7,500 – considerably more than the 1 per cent increase across the public sector as a whole. Following the decision to stop the bonus payments, the Cabinet Office issued a statement saying: “It is entirely up to individual departments whether they make bonus payments or not. “Under the rules bonuses may now only be paid to 25 per cent of the senior civil service – previously they could be paid to 65 per cent of the senior civil servants working for a department. “Other than that we have not changed the guidance on bonus payments. If the Welsh Government has made a decision not to pay bonuses, it is absolutely entitled to do so. Other departments will do as they see fit.”






Nuclear must be part of the energy mix COURTESY OF EDF ENERGY

A LIVELY TUC fringe meeting in Bournemouth in September heard why nuclear new build must contribute to a balanced energy policy, and debated the challenges this poses. Setting the context, meeting chair Sue Ferns pointed out that the UK’s carbon emissions increased by 3.5 per cent last year. The UK’s carbon footprint had grown by 10 per cent since 1993, and recently Ofgem had predicted power blackouts by 2015 due to underinvestment in low carbon energy. Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said the energy market needed interventions from government to create a sustainable energy mix. It must include the production of base-load electricity, which did not rely on the wind blowing. “Policy stability is crucial for the energy sector,” Clancy stressed, otherwise companies would not want to invest. While the government had made some progress on energy market reform “we haven’t quite got there.” Even though the energy industry was in private hands, people working within it still had a strong sense of public service, a commitment

to ensuring the lights stay on, and ensuring things were done safely. Safety had moved forward a long way and independent trade union backing for civil nuclear energy should give confidence to communities. Kevin Coyne, Unite national officer, highlighted the important role of unions in campaigning for new nuclear build. Though Unite and Prospect had been called scaremongers over the last decade for raising concerns about the shortfall in energy supply, “it remains a constant threat.” Coal-fired power stations were rapidly running down, with wind power

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unable to bridge the gap, gas prices spiralling out of control and fracking also fraught with problems. Nuclear power was uniquely placed to reduce carbon emissions, and “we are nearly there in terms of announcing the first new nuclear build.” Unions had agreed a ground-breaking partnership with EDF Energy over the construction of a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. There was a lively discussion from the floor, with questions about the safety of nuclear power, what to do with waste and whether the right skills existed within the industry. Responding, Clancy and Coyne pointed out: ●● advances in technology had reduced the amount of waste produced by new nuclear power stations and enabled more waste to be re-used ●● more radioactive waste was produced by the NHS than anywhere else ●● although Germany had abandoned nuclear power for coal after Fukushima, it was still compelled to import nuclear power from France ●● all energy technologies had inherent risks.

Prospect won my job back began to build my defence. At this low point it made a massive difference that Rose believed in me, and being a fighter, it felt

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Then in October 2010 the company halved the offer to six months’ salary and threatened to terminate my employment if I did not resign. It was at this point that I really valued the power of membership as, in Richard’s words ‘an insult to one is an injury to all’. Richard was able to galvanise support across the company and the branch and national executive committee authorised a ballot for industrial action in protest at my treatment. I was never going to quit and would have been prepared to take my case to an employment tribunal if necessary. But it was so good to know that I was not alone and messages of support continued to flood in. In short, my case appeared to be placed in a ‘too hard to do’ file and despite correspondence with managers at the highest levels – I even wrote to chief executive officer Vincent De good to have something positive Rivaz – the stalemate continued to focus on. until November 2012 when my Due to shocking delays and a employment was terminated and I persistent failure by the company received my P45. to follow well-documented I appealed with Prospect’s full policies and procedures, a backing. disciplinary process that should The appeal hearing was held have taken 25 working days finally on 9 January this year; two days came to a conclusion in June 2010 later, national secretary Alan when I was cleared by a senior Leighton, who director at an had accompanied appeal hearing. “If you have any doubts me, phoned to Breathing about the value of say I had been a huge sigh of union membership, and successful relief, I waited and was to be to hear from the collective support reinstated with the company that comes with it, no loss of service. as to when I perhaps my story will I have now could return been back at to my job. But persuade you” work, facilitated despite frequent by mediation, for almost three requests for information, I heard months and I can’t thank Prospect nothing. enough for its unwavering The company had resolved support over the last four years. previous difficult cases by offering If you have any doubts about a compromise agreement and a the value of union membership, financial incentive to resign. On and the collective support that several occasions over the next comes with it, perhaps my story few months I was offered one will persuade you. year’s salary – around £40,000 – Incidentally, once my case to quit. was taken out of the ‘too hard But I was determined to return to do file’ I received tremendous to work. Friends, colleagues support from the company. I must and the unwavering support of also thank all those people in EDF negotiator Richard Hardy, who had Energy who made my return to taken over my case, strengthened work possible. my resilience.

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I AM a professionally qualified management accountant with over 30 years’ experience working in industry. I have worked for EDF Energy for just over 10 years. In 2008 my local rep persuaded me to join Prospect – although, at the time, I could not envisage a situation where I would benefit from individual support. Then in November 2009 I was subjected to a complaint of bullying and harassment by a colleague and suspended on full pay with immediate effect, which was a huge and distressing shock. The local rep called on a fulltime officer to assist me and I met negotiator Rose Willis who went through all the ‘evidence’ and we


Prospect • Profile – October 2013

Energy professional Charmian Heaton never thought she’d need a union. But when she did, the support she got gave her the strength to fight her corner. She told her story to Katherine Beirne




Defence chief spells out cost of losing specialist skills


Prospect • Profile – October 2013

DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY company QinetiQ will close its defined benefit pension scheme from 31 October. Existing members will be automatically enrolled into a defined contributions section of the QinetiQ pension scheme – separate ■■ Luxton –■ from, but identical collective to, the current Group action works Pension Plan run by Zurich. Prospect understands that automatic enrolment to the new scheme will be at a contribution level above the minimum 3 per cent, with individuals able to change their contribution or opt out of the scheme within the first month. Prospect members managed to

secure several important concessions from QinetiQ: ●● the closure of the scheme was delayed by nine months, allowing significant further accrual in the defined benefits scheme and enabling some members to retire without having to leave the scheme ●● compensation for the additional National Insurance costs arising from the closure of the defined benefits scheme ●● a defined contributions section within the QinetiQ pension scheme, which potentially allows some members to take their entire DC pension pot as tax-free cash. National secretary David Luxton said: “This deal underlines the value of collective action and the importance of expert support from Prospect.”

Workers at the Longtown munitions depot in Cumbria are refusing to give up their eight-year campaign to save almost 300 jobs. The members of Prospect and other unions have won the backing of four local MPs, Cumbria and Carlisle city councils and Dumfries and Galloway county council. They have lobbied chambers of commerce, local enterprise partnerships and even the prime minister. The Ministry of Defence wants to close Longtown and put 85 per cent of the UK’s general munitions – shells, explosives, ammunition, small arms and the like – in Kineton in Warwickshire. The unions and MPs contend this is a risky strategy that would leave the country vulnerable.


employment and reward flexibilities A SENIOR official in the Ministry of to recruit and retain the specialist Defence has warned that he is losing staff it needs to deliver its equipment his most talented people to the private programme and maintain its intelligent sector because they are “between a customer function. quarter and three-quarters underpaid “What is needed is a flexible HR relative to industry”. framework that actually supports those Bernard Gray, chief of defence competencies and skills within the materiel, told a commons committee organisation. Surely we can achieve that examining the defence reform bill: in the public sector? That is what our “Depending on the particular job and members are seeking to achieve,” he skill level and so on, we are something told the committee. between a quarter Graham also and three-quarters “I am losing my most doubted if there underpaid relative talented people to was a market for the to industry. That industry, particularly at GOCO because of the means that I am losing my most a level in their 30s when paucity of bidders for the organisation. talented people to He said the union industry, particularly they start to have family at a level in their 30s responsibilities and bills” had concerns over the length of the when they start to proposed contract, the burden of risk have family responsibilities and bills.” and the fact that no other Western The defence reform bill paves nation was pursuing the route set out the way for a government-owned by MOD. contractor-operated arrangement for Bernard Gray’s warning on pay and the Defence Equipment & Support skills was stark: “I am losing significant organisation, which employs over numbers of people to [the private] 16,000 staff – 2,000 of them Prospect sector so I am trying to negotiate on members. The union believes that the behalf of the government with people challenges faced by DE&S should be who are paid substantially less than tackled in-house rather than by handing the people on the other side of the over crucial defence work to the private table and industry is coming along and sector. cherry-picking the best of my team. Prospect deputy general secretary That is not the best way to drive value Garry Graham, who also gave evidence, for the public purse.” said MOD must urgently develop

Plan to relocate munitions endangers jobs and public

The 1,111-acre Longtown site has 252 buildings but without investment, 237 will have to close by the end of 2014, endangering nearly 300 jobs. The campaigners have drawn up ideas for the future use of spare capacity at the site, which has excellent road and rail connections. They hope to make a presentation to the government proposing a joint MOD/commercial operation, using any income generated to offset the costs of repairs to the explosives storehouses. Longtown is central to supplying ammunition to firing ranges and training grounds in the north of England and Scotland, where much army training takes place. Longtown workers currently load about 800 vehicles every year – most of which require a police escort. Moving to Kineton will add 240 miles to every journey from the site. “Storing munitions so far from where they are needed poses a risk to the public and will waste taxpayers’ money,” warned Neil Scott, Prospect branch secretary. “Kineton is 350 miles away from the nearest northern site to Longtown. We believe Longtown’s location makes it a strategic asset.” In 2005, MOD’s chief inspector of explosives said if money wasn’t spent on Longtown’s buildings its licence would be withdrawn in December 2014. The campaigners wrote to the regulator questioning the decision to withdraw the licences, when there had been no degradation to stocks. “MOD has had eight years to tackle this and has done nothing about it,” said Scott. “Cutting the number of licences for storehouses at the site from 237 to 15 by the end of 2014 would be devastating. It amounts to MOD closing the base by stealth.” Defence minister Philip Dunne is expected to decide on the depot’s future by Christmas.




‘Trowelblazers’ blog celebrates role of women

■■ Research staff at NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Winfrith, Dorset which closed in 2007

Fears over NERC bodies shake-up MEMBERS AT the Natural Environment Research Council are preparing for an ownership battle in the coming months. NERC launched a stakeholder consultation process in July over possible changes to ownership models for four of its research centres: ●● National Oceanography Centre ●● British Geological Survey ●● Centre for Ecology and Hydrology ●● National Centre for Atmospheric Science. Ownership models being considered include: limited company; trading fund status; takeover by academic institutions; or full privatisation. Dr Helen Snaith, chair of Prospect’s NERC branch, said: “We are worried about financial stability. Whatever the outcome, most of the research centres in question will continue to be funded by public money – as there is not a wealth of untapped commercial funding out there.” She said the exercise was not so

■■ Snaith – ‘the government risks losing control of what these centres do’

much about private funding but issues such as increased flexibility for staff pay and progression arrangements, flexibility in financial management and the function of the research council. “The government’s continued squeeze on public sector pay is hurting UK research. They cannot pay its top people the market rate,” she said. “We have argued that it isn’t just the top people but a problem throughout the various centres. “It doesn’t make sense for NERC to cast off its highly-respected research centres because it doesn’t have the flexibility to pay the market rate. The government risks losing control of what these centres do and that is a fundamental problem.” The consultation is complicated and will be overseen by an external advisory panel that will look at all submissions and assess the benefits and risks for possible ownership models. No decisions are expected until next year.

EQUALITY TEST FOR SCIENCE JOURNALISM This resulted in the ‘Finkbeiner test’, where an article can be read and judged on the number of times it mentions any of the following: ●● she is a woman ●● her husband’s job ●● childcare arrangements ●● she was shocked by the competitiveness of her field ●● that she’s a ‘role model’ for other women

●● how she’s the ‘first woman to…’. An article that scores above zero fails the Finkbeiner test. Try it next time you read a story about a woman in science, engineering or any other male-dominated industry! ■■ ■■

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

THE MEDIA’S unequal portrayal of men and women in science has led one journalist to establish criteria that judge an article on its egalitarian merits. Science journalist Ann Finkbeiner set out her frustrations in a blog about the number of profiles on women in science which talk about how they juggle their career with family life.

FOUR FEMALE scientists are using social networks to highlight the contributions of women in geology, palaeontology and archaeology. Their ‘Trowelblazers’ Tumblr blog was launched in May and each post celebrates the achievements of an individual woman in her field of science. They have also set up pages on Twitter and Facebook. Prospect member Dr Victoria Herridge, a palaeontologist from the Natural History Museum, started Trowelblazers with archaeologists Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes and Dr Suzanne Pilaar Birch and dental anthropologist Dr Brenna Hassett. Dr Herridge said: “We want to bust the myth of the pioneering woman researcher as an anomaly – albeit a heroic one – in man’s world, and by doing so highlight how shockingly slow the move towards gender parity has been. One woman can be dismissed as a quirk of history, hundreds cannot.” All three write and edit posts and Trowelblazers has an open submission policy so that the whole community can share their stories of unsung, and sometimes forgotten, female scientists. To highlight the importance of a proper archive, the team is also placing a great emphasis on sourcing images and obtaining the necessary permission to use them. They hope Trowelblazers will become a positive and supportive community for all professionals engaged in the history of science. The blog has featured over 40 trowelblazing women and Dr Herridge says they have a growing list of 200 more to feature in the future. Among those featured so far are: ●● Eileen Guppy, the first woman geologist in the British Geological Survey ●● Marie Tharp, who mapped the ocean floor ●● Margaret Rule, who led a team that raised Henry VIII’s ship, Mary Rose, from the Solent. There is a TrowelBlazers Wikipedia editathon at the Natural History Museum on 19 October. Sign up for the free event at https:// ■■ ■■ ■■



Government’s mesothelioma proposals under fire A Mesothelioma Bill and reforms to how claims are made could be detrimental to victims and their families, warns Simon Allen of Prospect lawyers, Slater & Gordon

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

the payment to the sufferer will be ABOUT 2,400 people in accepts that cases are “complex and less if no insurance record is found. the UK contract sensitive”. But she seems unaware The process is limited to mesothelioma every of the recent history of asbestos mesothelioma claims. But almost half year – despite the litigation in the UK, where insurers of the 4,000 deaths from asbestosreduction in the use of have taken every opportunity related conditions in the UK in 2010 asbestos since the mid to prevent those suffering from were linked to asbestosis and lung 1970s. The government recently mesothelioma from recovering cancer through asbestos exposure. introduced a bill to address situations damages. The reform of mesothelioma where sufferers cannot trace an This arguably started with the claims is even more worrying. employer or its insurers, and a decision in Fairchild v Glenhaven consultation paper on Funeral Services Ltd in reforming how 2002. Two employers “People diagnosed with mesothelioma and their mesothelioma claims who had both families merit the technical expertise and care and are processed negligently exposed through the civil the mesothelioma sensitivity of a lawyer to advise on all aspects of court process. victim to significant the consequences of the illness” The Mesothelioma levels of asbestos fibres Bill seeks to address each argued that it The government currently seems an age-old problem – employers who was impossible for the victim to show obsessed with shunting complicated have gone out of business in the time which of the two of them had caused accident and illness claims through between the worker’s exposure to his condition. portal systems in an effort to asbestos fibres and them contracting While the House of Lords accepted reduce legal costs at the expense of mesothelioma some decades later. that it was “scientifically unprovable”, maintaining access to justice for the Unfortunately, the bill has a they felt that it would be “deeply injured person. number of flaws – not least that the offensive” and “morally wrong” to Now it wants to put mesothelioma average payment an individual would rule in favour of the defendants. claims through a similar online have received if their claim had been Further challenges on different system. It says this will ensure that decided within the court system will issues culminated in a battle between the claims are settled “quickly and be reduced by 25 per cent. insurers over who should meet the fairly” and “ease the suffering of the This reduction acts as a claim. The employer’s insurer at the victims”. disincentive to insurers to properly time of the exposure to asbestos fibres Justice minister Helen Grant trace the insurance history because sought to interpret the wording of


It could be you, so register Prospect’s asbestos register can make all the difference to helping to win a compensation claim. Members on the register agree to supply evidence of exposure at workplaces where they worked, in order to support claims for those suffering from asbestos-induced disease. So far more than 1,200 people have volunteered to put their employment history on the register. Evidence from the register, which covers all Prospect employers, has frequently helped to win settlements. Members who have taken cases advise that anyone contemplating a claim should be prepared to produce as much supporting evidence from

insurance policies created to suggest that the insurer in place when mesothelioma was contracted – some decades later – should meet the claim for damages. The case took almost two years to pass through the court system – during which time many mesothelioma sufferers died.



the past as possible. Any contact with asbestos during a career is well worth registering. Such evidence can prove vital for people who lose contact with former colleagues or workmates, or who have difficulty remembering specific locations or names. Registering may also insure members in case they themselves are affected by the disease.

Prospect legal officer Marion Scovell answers your questions about the world of work SHARES FOR RIGHTS I work for a small IT company and have been told that I can become an ‘employee/owner’ with shares in the company. What does this mean?

■■ ■Members■who■ have■worked■at■power■ stations,■dockyards■ or■any■other■affected■facility■ can■add■their■details■to■the■ register■by■emailing■asbestos@■or■downloading■ and■completing■the■form■at■ id/2009/00095■

expertise and the care and sensitivity of a lawyer to advise on all aspects of the consequences of the illness – not simply within the context of the legal claim. Suggesting such claims can be dealt with by fi lling in a form electronically totally misunderstands the nature of mesothelioma and its impact on those sadly diagnosed with the condition. One cannot help but conclude that this proposal has been designed to address insurers’ fi nancial concerns – but dressed up to give the impression that the government cares about, and seeks to help, the people suffering from this awful cancer.

CASEFILE Benefi ts to members

Jan-Sep 2013

PERSONAL INJURY SCHEME Applications approved On books Number won Value of awards

158 431 218 £2,405,348

BENEVOLENT FUND Number granted Total granted

9 £9,300

DEATH BENEFIT Number granted Total granted

51 £51,719

SINCE 1 September 2013 there has been a new type of employment contract, under which employers can offer workers shares in the company in exchange for signing away their legal rights to bring claims for unfair dismissal or redundancy in the future. You would also have to give up the statutory right to request flexible working and be required to give longer notice on return from family leave. In exchange for these important and potentially valuable rights the employer only has to offer a minimum of £2,000 in shares. In some companies the shares may quickly become fairly worthless. Workers on these contracts will be exceedingly vulnerable to dismissal, with very limited legal rights to challenge any abuse by the employer. If you are considering your employer’s proposal do seek detailed personal advice on the implications from your Prospect full-time negotiator before making any decision.

WHISTLEBLOWING I am very concerned about data protection breaches in my company. I mentioned this to my line manager but she said I had nothing to worry about. I want to raise it with the CEO, but I am anxious that my line manager will victimise me for going above her head. What can I do? UNDER EMPLOYMENT law, workers have protection against being subjected to any detriment because they have disclosed information in the public interest. Not all whistleblowing is protected; only where the matter relates to an issue of public interest or concern – including breaches of legal duties, health and safety, or environmental issues. Disclosure must be made to an appropriate person, usually internally within the organisation. As you believe there is a breach of the Data Protection Act and you are proposing to raise the issue within the company, you should be protected under these provisions and not be victimised by your manager for bringing it to the attention of the CEO. The law is complex so seek individual advice from Prospect. Also check if your company has a policy on whistleblowing. Prospect has a Members’ Guide to Whistleblowing These are brief answers to the issues raised and should not be taken as a definitive outline of the law. In all cases you should seek advice from your Prospect full-time officer. Follow Prospect legal officers on Twitter @LegalProspect for up-to-date news and information on workers’ rights and employment law

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

The government does not understand that a ‘cheap and cheerful’ system will result in the very straightforward claims being admitted and resolved promptly, but any case that is less straightforward will invariably fall out of the system back into the court process. As things stand now, the insurance industry can already deal with straightforward cases swiftly if it chooses to. From the perspective of the injured person and their lawyer, we have to decide whether to delay preparing for trial on the off-chance that the claim will be settled within the portal system. Considering that in some instances life expectancy is relatively short, wasting even two or three months while the insurance company makes a decision is potentially significant. The government also fails to understand that these are not whiplash claims or cut fi nger cases. People diagnosed with mesothelioma and their families merit the technical




ViewPoint Shutters put down on saving energy


write to

the Editors, Profile, New Prospect House, 8 Leake Street, London SE1 7NN


020 7902 6665

star letter

receives a £10 book token

When rebuilding a house in 200708 we found the local planning authority completely uninterested in either micro-generation or energy saving. They refused to allow an east-west roofline so that we could add solar panels, and insisted on the north-south ridge being extended “to maintain the linear appearance.” We did include a large French window in the new south wall, and had considerable difficulty sourcing a continental-style roller shutter to be built into the lintel.

A winning start for new style Profile It was great to see the new-style magazine and with such diverse content. It illustrates the amazing breadth of Prospect membership. For example, the interview with Marc Watson from BT provided a fascinating insight into the operation of one the UK’s biggest corporations and how it approaches a new business venture. Plus it will provide new recruitment opportunities for the union. Some may see it as a plug for the BT sport package, but Marc Watson did say that “the people who represent our people are important to the success of this project.” Can’t say fairer than that. Maybe Marc should join! Keep up the good work. ■Matt■Wilkinson,■Forest■Hill,■London

Mixed messages

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

After reading the new look Profile magazine two issues jump out. The two-page article on the new BT Sport TV channel reads like a free advertisement for BT, yet on the View Point letters page two Prospect members complain of ‘performance management’ practices by BT making working conditions unbearable. The prize for this month’s Profile photo competition is an Apple iPad, produced by a company that has faced criticism over alleged conditions in its manufacturing partner’s factories in China. This sends out the wrong message

Whatever the direction of climate change, shutters would improve from a union tasked with protecting workers’ rights. ■Alan■Jackson,■Great■ Yarmouth,■Norfolk

Thanks for supporting run for Oxfam project I want to thank all those who supported me in the Great North Run. Support came in many forms – generous donations, keeping me out training, as well as colleagues putting up with my bad humour and managing to remain awake during my constant updates on the state of my illiotibial band. A few weeks ago I developed a serious knee problem which threatened my participation. Thanks to physio, painful sessions with a foam roller (not a euphemism), and colleagues’ encouragement, I made it to the finish line, clocking 1 hour, 55 minutes. What matters is the money I raised for Oxfam/Prospect’s ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ project, now past £700. Donate at MikeCollins1 ■Mike■Collins,■Whitley■ Bay,■Tyne■and■Wear

Union leaders’ pay A Daily Telegraph article about the pay of union leaders (13 July) quoted Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy as saying that his predecessor Paul Noon’s pay-off was “simply a

■■ ■Please■note■–■letters■ may■beedited■

energy conservation, but they’re “not British!” Apart from solar, we are in a valley so wind is more limited and big white windmills on the hilltops are intrusive. But we are also adjacent to a fast-flowing river, downstream from at least two disused water mills, each of which could be feeding the grid. While there may be lip service to energy generation and conservation, central and local government are as usual at loggerheads and the opposite of ‘joined up’. So-called support provided no practical help to a willing client. ■R■Allan■Reese,■Dorchester,■Dorset contractual payment made to Paul in relation to the completion of his contract.” The 2012 accounts in July’s Profile confirm the extent of Mr Noon’s salary and benefits. His pension contribution for the year is shown as £19,725, a fairly large sum by the standards of most union members’ pension benefits. What confuses me is the cost of giving Mr Noon an additional pension augmentation of £88,855 because he stepped down one year early – not four or five years early. Surely Mr Noon’s pension augmentation should have reflected a value of something like £20,000, in alignment with his previous year’s £19,725? How can Prospect justify something like this, especially at a time of economic downturn that is affecting the membership so harshly? Perhaps the wording of contracts given to Prospect senior officials needs to be reviewed by a random selection of Prospect members before they are agreed? ■Philip■Poulton,■Knutsford ■EDITORS’■REPLY■– The■former■general■ secretary,■Paul■Noon,■decided■to■ leave■his■post■early■in■order■to■secure■ a■smooth■transition■for■the■organisation■as■a■whole. ■The■national■executive■committee■agreed■to■offer■Paul■a■severance■ payment■equivalent■to■ten■months’■ salary■(the■remaining■portion■of■his■ contract).■After■discussion■between■



Paul■and■the■NEC,■it■was■agreed■that■ instead■of■taking■the■payment■as■a■ lump■sum■it■would■be■paid■into■Paul’s■ pension.■No■extra■contributions■were■ made■by■the■employer. ■All■Prospect■staff■contracts■operate■ under■the■authority■of■the■NEC,■and■ the■NEC■has■just■reviewed■and■updated■the■general■secretary’s■contract.


Geothermal energy rocks Richard Phillips (ViewPoint 2/13) states that “no renewable technology can generate electricity in response to demand.” There are two exceptions – hydro, where there is an ample supply of water, and geothermal energy. There is little opportunity to develop more hydro power, but geothermal energy has much potential. According to the Open University, “the hot dry rock energy resource base in south-west England alone might match the energy content of current UK coal reserves.” Why are we not developing this resource? ■Martin■Beaney,■Shaldon,■Devon

Build power stations near demand


I read with some interest Graham Stewart’s article, Piecing together the past, covering the work of the Imperial War Museum and Commonwealth War Graves Commission, not least because I actively support the work of both these bodies and have contributed material to the archives of both organisations. It would have been appropriate to illustrate the piece with some of the war graves that the CWGC continues to care for in perpetuity rather than use an uncaptioned view of an American war cemetery cared for by the American Battle Monuments Commission. The ABMC is a worthy and respected organisation, but has little relevance to the work of the CWGC and IWM. The article talks of Phaleron War cemetery as the main CWGC cemetery in Greece. While it may be the principal World War Two cemetery, there are two larger Great War ones – Lembet Road Cemetery, Thessaloniki, and Mikra Cemetery, Kalamaria, near Thessaloniki. The first of these is a focus of the 1918 Bulgarian armistice commemoration at the end of September and the second might better be regarded as the ‘main’ cemetery as it is adjacent to the CWGC’s main base in the Eastern Mediterranean.

CWGC staff there have always made us very welcome when visiting and attending the September ceremonies. ■Martin■Wills,■Northampton ■EDITORS’■NOTE■–■We■received■ several■letters■pointing■out■that■ the■photo■used■to■illustrate■the■ article■was■of■an■American■war■ cemetery.■Pictured■above■is■the■ Athens■Memorial■in■the■CWGC-run■ Phaleron■War■Cemetery■in■Greece.

CWGC’s work is invaluable Having made numerous trips to visit the last resting place of relatives and other members of our armed forces who have lost their lives in service, I was glad to see a piece on the invaluable work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. While not being one of those people who complain about Routemaster buses shown on TV dramas when they were not yet in use, I was dismayed that the photo with this piece showed an American cemetery rather than one of the equally pristine and more characterful (to my mind) cemeteries maintained by the CWGC. Apologies for this small criticism, keep up the good work. ■Tim■Heptonstall,■Southsea,■ Hampshire

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Prospect • Profile – October 2013

John Riddington is absolutely right (ViewPoint 3/13): electricity supply is far too important to be left to chance in foreign investors’ hands. It should be returned to a public accountable authority like the old Central Electricity Generating Board that owns and operates power stations and distributes to consumers. We have to get away from depending on fossil fuels, which only leaves the green options of wind, water, tidal and nuclear. Nuclear has a major part to play but it needs to be a comprehensive industry, from fuel manufacture to waste disposal and not one in the hands of a decommissioning agency! For security of supply, and to reduce transmission losses, power stations should be built close to areas of maximum demand, not 100 miles away. The Thames Estuary, possibly next to the new container terminal, would be a good place for a nuclear power station. As for financing such changes, if the Bank of England can produce £350bn to bail out the banks it should able to look after our electricity needs.

Remembering the war dead in Greece




Puzzles WORDWISE You have 15 minutes to fi nd as many words as possible using the letters shown in the grid. Each word must contain four or more letters, one of which must be the letter in the central square. No letter can be used more than once in each word. No proper nouns, plurals or foreign words allowed.


WordCount 17 average 23 brilliant 28+ amazing

There is one nineletter word. Today’s clue:



OCTOBER 2013 7

Guard for detective getting into disarray (10) Unknown fellow first joined group of people (4)

9 Orangeman? (8) 10 Cunning animal had shortly followed (6) 11 Diet of pears? (10) 14 Resonant lad had nothing that could be ours (8) 15 Moves not east close to the ground during industrial action (2-4) 16 What to do with car in garage (4-2) 18 First person in truck had tonic (4-2-2) 20 Lacking variety when under the weather (3,2,5) 23 Old Portuguese settler (6) 24 Transfer representative (8) 25 Extra run included in farm accommodation (4)


Stick article in the way (4)


Note I would be in season (4)

4 You are, it appears, in tree with liqueur (7) 5

Games period (7)

6 Gets gen about money saved (4,3) 7

Part load first that is oppressive (10)

8 Early morning air? (4,6) 12 Fair target, milk containers on both ends of highway (7-3) 13 What kings have to do -- minimum of labour (4-2-4) 17 Force someone to leave, leave the shore (4,3) 18 Father takes another 2 down before ten – that’s a contradictory statement (7) 19 Made a move on board when actors went first (7)

THE MIND MAZE Divide a cube into 27 smaller cubes, then, arrange the number 1 to 27 inclusive so that each cube contains one number only only and in no matter what direction, each straight line of three cubes adds up to the same number. What is that number?

21 A rag placed at random on seaweed (4) 22 Romeo tickled part of ear (4)

CROSSWORD ANSWERS – ACROSS: 1 Protection 7 Body 9 Mandarin 10 Shrewd 11 Conference 14 Sonorous 15 Go-slow 16 Lock-up 18 Pick-me-up 20 Out of sorts 23 Escudo 24 Delegate 25 Byre 26 Fixed-price. DOWN: 2 Road 3 Tide 4 Curaçao 5 Innings 6 Nest egg 7 Burdensome 8 Dawn chorus 12 Coconut-shy 13 Work-to-rule 17 Push off 18 Paradox 19 Castled 21 Agar 22 Otic.

Prospect • Profile – October 2013

26 Costs on this menu cannot be changed (5-5)










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Prospect • Profile - October 2013


October 2013  

Inside this issuue: News round-up; performance management – BT member wins his case; mental health; Pay – Boost for Prison Service psycholog...

October 2013  

Inside this issuue: News round-up; performance management – BT member wins his case; mental health; Pay – Boost for Prison Service psycholog...