Orgreave: Media Conference & OTJC Statement

640x-1Following today’s (12th June) announcement by the IPCC the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) and the national Union of Mineworkers will be hosting an open press conference at 12.00 noon in the NUM main hall at 2 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley S70 2LS.

Press and public all welcome. Light refreshments available. Members of the audience will include miners present at Orgreave on 18th June 1984. They will be available to answer press questions afterwards.

Priority will be given to questions from members of the media and press, who should identify themselves to Mark Metcalf (07952 801783) by signing the press entrance form that will be available at the entry to the main hall.

Statements will be made by Chris Skidmore – Yorkshire Area NUM president , who was present at Orgreave in June 1984; Granville Williams – OTJC; Arthur Critchelow – Orgreave veteran

The conference will be chaired by OTJC chair Joe Rollin.

There will be regular updates on twitter at @orgreavejustice

There will also be photographs of the event on the OTJC Facebook page

In advance of the press conference the OTJC has issued the following statement:

“Whilst disappointed, OTJC members are not surprised that the IPCC will not be conducting a full investigation into policing at Orgreave on 18th June 1984. It was back in November 2012 that South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC, which ever since has acted slowly and conducted little independent work in assembling and collating information.

The fact that the IPCC, described – rightly in our view – by many prominent individuals as ‘not fit for purpose’, is stepping aside on Orgreave affairs will not therefore be deterring the OTJC from continuing its campaign. OTJC notes that the IPCC itself recognises in its report the limitations of what the organisation can do and that only a Hillsborough style public inquiry can eventually get to the truth.

The OTJC continues to gather increasing support from organisations and individuals for a full public inquiry into why it was that on 18th June 1984, 95 miners were arrested at Orgreave after thousands of police officers – many in riot gear, with others on horseback – brutally assaulted miners participating in a strike aimed at defending jobs and mining communities.

An inquiry will help reveal exactly why, when the subsequent court cases took place, all of the charges, including riot were abandoned. It must inevitably lead to two things. Some officers being charged with a series of offences – assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office. Secondly, a paper trail that would indicate that the actions of the police at Orgreave were influenced by political pressure from within the highest ranks of the Government of the day”.

THE FIGHT FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE GOES ON. 

Press enquires to Mark Metcalf: 07952 801783 @markmetcalf07

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Global union network formed to fight back at Huhtamäki

huhtamaki_1Unions from paper products plants owned by the Finnish multi-national Huhtamäki met in Helsinki recently to establish a global trade union network. They also slammed the behaviour of the company Vice-President, Sami Pauni, who refused to answer questions from US workers and walked out of the meeting with union reps from across the globe.

There are currently a number of disputes between at Huhtamäki’s packinging operations, in countries including India, Turkey, and the United States.

Participants at the global network meeting spoke about bad relations between management and unions within the company. Union representatives have no right even to enter the factory, and in many countries health and safety rights are violated frequently.

Workers at the Commerce, California plant faced harsh working conditions with temperatures often reaching above 40 degrees Celsius. When they decided to organise  the company refused to meet with them and brought in anti-union consultants who held mandatory meetings urging workers not to unionize.

In 2014, the company spent US$430,000 on anti-union consultants.

Huhtamäki’s Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct for Group Suppliers recognize all fundamental ILO Principles, including the right of employees to associate.

However Huhtamäki’s Vice-President, Sami Pauni, told union representatives that in countries that have not ratified ILO Conventions the company follows national law, even if it is weaker than the Conventions. In fact, more than 75 per cent of Huhtamäki’s workforce is found in countries that have not ratified ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association.

Pauni gave a brief presentation on the company situation. However, after a question on why Huhtamäki spends a lot of money to fight the unions instead of establishing social dialogue with them, he became annoyed and left the meeting.

Commerce worker Levi Ross, who participated in the global network meeting on his holiday time, said on the incident: “I came all the way to Finland hoping to have a serious dialogue with the company, but I feel like they turned their back on me and the workers in Commerce”.

Jon Geenan International Vice President at the United Steelworkers in the US said: “Huhtamaki, shame on you for sending a senior company official to a meeting who would show such blatant disrespect for American workers by his stated refusal to take questions from Americans. The same Americans who buy your products when they buy Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, who use your products when they eat at Chipolte, use the cup and food carriers at McDonalds, use Chinet plates etc. and in this case, the same Americans who are your employees who make the products.

“Your demonstrated willingness to adopt the customs and laws, no matter how exploitative, in the nations where you operate when it comes to workers rights to organize brings great shame on the historic legacy of the Huhtamaki family and tradition.

“Yet we remain committed to a dialogue, a real dialogue, to discuss the right of free association, and hear your justification for the enormous expenditures that Huhtamaki is making to prevent workers from organizing. This human right we cannot back away from, because it doesn’t only affect organizing in America-it affects workers in most nations where Huhtamaki does business. Some in which slave labour is still perfectly acceptable.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina said: “This meeting was only the first step in the fight to restore the rights of the workers and trade unions at Huhtamäki plants. The struggle will continue as long as the owners of the company will not agree to respect the workers’ rights and start a serious dialogue with their unions.

The global trade union network meeting was held on the initiative of IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union and attended by workers’ representatives from Huhtamäki plants in Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, UK and USA.

The participants of Huhtamäki Global network meeting adopted a statement, proposing steps to improve conditions for Huhtamäki workers and establishing a dialogue with management.

Hash tag: ‪#‎shameonHuhtamaki‬

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UK union membership ‘broadly unchanged’ – but it pays to be in a union.

images-1The latest trade union membership figures and statistics published by the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) in its statistical bulletin shows union membership for 2014 in the UK is ‘broadly unchanged’ on the figures for 2013.

The report shows that 6.4 million employees in the UK are union members. “The level of overall union members was broadly unchanged from 2013, with a non-statistically significant reduction of only 40,000 over the year (a 0.6% decline)” says the bulletin.

The report shows that the numbers of UK employees increased between 2013 and 2014 so the proportion of employees who were union members fell slightly to 25.0% in 2014, from 25.6% in 2013.

One interesting statistic is that female employees are more likely to be union members with the proportion of female employees who are union members standing at 28% compared with 22% for male employees.

Another interesting statistic is that union membership in the private sector fell from 3.4 million in 1995 to 2.5 million in 2010, but the new 2014 data continued to show a reversal of this trend, with union membership levels in the private sector rising for the fourth consecutive year.

The report describes the increase of 38,000 in 2013 to 2.7 million as “non-statistically significant”.

A worrying trend is that older workers account for a larger proportion of union members than younger workers. 38% of trade union members were aged over 50 but just 28% of employees are in this age group, which shows that unions are still failing to reach out younger workers and the proportion of union members aged below 50 has fallen since 1995, whilst the proportion aged above 50 has increased.

Employees in ‘professional occupations’ are also more likely to be union members than other employees. Employees in the professional occupations account for 36% of union members, but only 20% of employees in the UK worked in these occupations.

The bulletin highlights the fact that middle-income earners are more likely to be trade union members, that employees in professional occupations are more likely to be trade union members.

Among the detailed analysis the BIS bulletin shows a number of other facts: UK born and black ethnic employees are more likely to be union members; “highly educated employees” are more likely to be union members and not surprisingly the bulletin says that “larger workplaces are more likely to negotiate pay through collective bargaining”.

Equally, employees in permanent jobs and full-time work are more likely to be union members.

The bulletin also states that employees with disabilities are more likely to be union members and that employees in the devolved countries and in the north of England more likely to be trade union members.

The trade union premium known as “trade union wage gap”, (defined as the percentage difference in average gross hourly earnings of union members compared with non-members), is 21.6% in the public sector and 8.1% in the private sector. This is an increase of 1.7 and 0.9 percentage points respectively when compared with 2013.

Which shows it pays to be in a union.

 Read the full report by clicking here 

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Support Phil Turner NUJ FoC Rotherham Advertiser

nujlogo_burgundyPhil Turner NUJ Father of the Chapel for 30 years at the Rotherham Advertiser needs your support. He was made for “compulsory redundant”. Phil is a well-respected and hard-working union rep, elected by his NUJ members to represent their interests at his company. He is active outside his workplace in the wider trade union and labour movement consistently standing up for justice and fairness on a range of national, local and international issues.

The Sheffield Trade Union Council is calling for your support.

On Wednesday 27th May, the Sheffield Trade Union Council added its voice to the growing number of protests at the singling out of NUJ FoC, Phil Turner at the Rotherham Advertiser for “compulsory redundancy”.

Phil Turner has been the NUJ FoC for nearly 30 years, has been sacked after the company was taken over and hit with redundancies. This is clearly an attack on the NUJ and trade unionism at the newspaper.

Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC Secretary, said: “We roundly condemn the management at Rotherham Advertiser for singling out their leading trade unionist Phil Turner in the company for compulsory redundancy. In anti-union Tory Britain can it really be fair game to  single out the senior trade union rep for sacking at the first opportunity? We call on Rotherham Advertiser’s management to take note of the protests and reverse this appalling decision without delay”.

Tweet Your support with the following: 

Or send an email of support to Rotherham Advertiser

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Unions Furious As Obama Gets Approval For ‘Fast Track’

tpp-not-againPresident Obama may have got his way on ‘fast track’, the legislation he needs to drive through approval of a new generation of free trade agreements but US unions have vowed to continue to fight on against the deals.

‘Fast track’ will allow Obama to drive through the Transatlantic Trade Agreement known as TPP between the USA and twelve Pacific Rim countries and also the controversial proposed agreement between the EU and the USA, TTIP, by limiting debate in the US legislatures on the controversial process.

The US Senate voted 62-37 on May 22nd to cut short debate on ‘Fast Track’ allowing him to drive through new trade deals without line-by-line scrutiny by US lawmakers a victory for Obama and Republicans in Congress.

The vote marked a defeat for Democrat senator Elizabeth Warren who had clashed with Obama in recent weeks criticising the secrecy of trade negotiations as well as the lack of guaranteed labour rights in the trade deals.

US unions are furious. Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers said: “Senators who voted to stifle debate and approve fast track so quickly have undermined rights of working Americans. With less than one full day of debate, and refusing to consider hundreds of important amendments, the Senate essentially took a big step to provide this and future presidents with the authority to negotiate trade agreements any way they choose. In addition, Congress abdicated its responsibility to fully engage in the process.

“Republicans in so many areas have criticised the President but, when it comes to trade, the majority of them are beholden to corporate backers who are salivating at the prospect of increased profits at the expense of workers here in America and around the globe.

“Trade deals like NAFTA (the previous North American Treaty) have constricted economic growth, contributing to stagnating and declining wages, while fueling off shoring and outsourcing of production. All of this contributes to our country’s rising income inequality. But, rather than fully debate those issues and provide effective measures to reform and update our trade policies, the Republican-led Senate shoved fast track through the Senate.

“Unfortunately, a handful of Democrats joined with Republicans in this effort. The majority of their Democratic colleagues voted on behalf of U.S. workers. Those who voted for cloture and for final passage fully share the blame.

“The approach taken by the Senate will damage U.S. production and jobs. No one voting for fast track should laud this bill. More than 150 objectives were included in fast track, but the administration has already said that they do not intend to pursue all of them. Senators who voted yes may try and take cover behind the lofty rhetoric, but the substance gives them nowhere to hide. Workers want good jobs and wages, not more false promises”.

1tppfasttrack-620xauto-1Jimmy Hoffa President of the Teamasters union described the vote as a “legislative setback”, and that “The war is far from over. We will continue this battle in the House of Representatives, where we know opposition to fast track is strong. A bipartisan collection of lawmakers in the House understand it makes no sense to give a quick up-or-down vote to bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will only ship jobs overseas and lower wages in the U.S.”

The Communications Workers Union (CWA) said: “The limited discussion just this week in the Senate showed the serious concerns that surround Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Senators should not give away their right to amend a trade deal that has been negotiated in secrecy and is virtually complete.”

“There is strong opposition in the House to moving forward on Fast Track. Currently, the Democratic opposition in the House is overwhelming, and rejection there remains a real possibility.”

US and European unions (including the German trade union confederation the DGB and the powerful metalworkers union IG Metall, along with the British TUC and unions such as Unite, Unison, GMB and others) argue the new generation of trade agreements such as TTIP, CETA (the EU deal with Canada) and TPP will benefit multi-national corporations and the expense of working people, undermine employment rights, and allow for the take over of public assets by multi-national corporations, without any possibility of them being returned to public ownership.

Download the Campaign For Trade Union Freedom notes on all things TTIP, TPP, CETA & Fast Track by clicking here.

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Morning Star Appoints Youngest Ever Editor

Ben Chacko, aged 31, the new editor of the Morning Star.

Ben Chacko, aged 31, the new editor of the Morning Star.

Ben Chacko has been appointed the editor of the Morning Star making him the youngest editor of the co-operatively owned socialist daily newspaper since the legendary William Rust in 1930.

Ben, who 31, has been active on the left since his teenage years — when he edited Young Communist League magazine Challenge and later represented fellow students on the student union council at Oxford, where he studied Chinese. He lived in China for several years before joining the daily paper of the left in 2010.

Bob Oram, chair of the People’s Press Printing Society management committee which appoints the editor, said he was “Proud to have been part of such a historic announcement. The future of our paper is in great hands.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady stressed the unique role of the paper in the labour movement.

“The Morning Star has consistently championed the cause of working people and has done a terrific job in exposing the devastating impact of cuts and inequality,” she said.

“The paper is essential reading for many union activists, breaking stories often not covered by the corporate media.

“Congratulations to Ben on his appointment. He is taking over at a critical time for workers and their unions but I’m sure it is a job he will relish.”

Left Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn called the paper “the most precious and only voice we have in the daily media”.

Ben Chacko said it was an “enormous privilege to be appointed editor of the Morning Star in its 85th year.

“This is a make or break moment — how the labour movement responds to a Tory government determined to permanently abolish the welfare state and cripple trade unions for good will be crucial.

“Already we’re seeing some really exciting developments in terms of community resistance and renewed industrial activism.

“I want to put the Star at the heart of the debate about how our class can start winning.”

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Keith Ewing: Where Do We Go Now?


timthumb-1.phpTrade unions face a crisis like no other as 5 years of Tory rule beckon. We need a new vision — and we need it now, by Keith Ewing.

 Shortly after the general election in 2010, I wrote in these columns that David Cameron would win the 2015 general election (Morning Star June 18 2010).

The reason for this was largely historical. In this country Tory governments typically get at least two terms.

Indeed since the end of the second world war only one Tory government — that elected in 1970 — has failed to do so.

But history was not the only factor that led me to this pessimistic view. The concern I expressed then was that the 2015 election would be fought on territory chosen by the Tories and the right-wing press.

This was an agenda that would be misinformed by selective memories of the deficit in 2010 and claims about Labour’s alleged economic mismanagement.

What I did not anticipate of course was the eruption in Scotland, which provides an opportunity for a different explanation of the defeat.

Nobody could have anticipated Labour’s grave mistake in swallowing the Cameron agenda during the independence referendum.

It may have won the referendum vote, but Scottish Labour died on September 18 2014.

Nor could anyone have foreseen the impact of the Scottish Question on the English electorate.

Terror stalked the land about the danger of Scottish influence in a British government, stoked by voices since curiously mute about the fact that a Tory Party now governs Scotland with only one MP at Westminster. The Scots, it seems, just have to put up with it.

Trade unions will now pay a heavy price for Labour’s defeat. Tory plans are set out clearly enough in their election manifesto, including the much-trumpeted proposals for yet more restrictions on strike ballots, most notably a requirement that strikes in certain sectors will need the support of 40 per cent of those eligible to vote, as well as a majority of those voting.

As has been said many times before, this is a requirement that offends democratic principle, and it has been rightly condemned.

At the 2015 general election the Tories won about 37 per cent of the vote nationally, representing only about 25 per cent of those eligible to vote.

The legitimacy of the Tory mandate will of course make no difference — but the hypocrisy is clear and complete.

Nor will a lack of legitimacy stop the proposed attack on trade union facility time or the use of the check-off to collect trade union dues.

The attack spearheaded by the coalition against PCS seems about to go viral. Nor will the lack of legitimacy stop the proposed attack on the trade union political levy and the right of unions to an effective political voice.

Yet it will get worse — much worse — before it ever gets better, if only because of the European Question.

Whatever happens in the forthcoming EU referendum, the referendum will split the movement.

Just as importantly, whether we are in or out, it will lead to further erosion of employment rights — paid holidays, Tupe and redundancy consultation.

For trade unions, this is a crisis like no other, and it is one that catches us ill-prepared.

Membership is in decline, leading to a loss of authority and income; collective bargaining coverage is at historically low levels, so that we are touching the lives of fewer and fewer workers; and we are about to have zero political influence, as civil war breaks out in the Labour Party.

Yet my fear now is that the present government is embedded for another 10 years and that we will have at least a three or four-term Tory hegemony, as in 1951-64 and 1979-97.

Labour will not be ready for government in 2020 and in any event there are about to be boundary changes and fewer MPs, handing another 20 parliamentary seats to the Tories in the process.

But even if Labour is ready for government, Scotland will almost certainly not be ready for Labour.

The corpse of Scottish Labour will still be decomposing in 2020. Indeed, Scotland may be a sovereign state by then. At least for now, the SNP — and some of its impressive candidates who speak about workers’ rights — are the authentic voice of the working class, whether sceptics like it or not.

In this bleak political landscape, the challenge for trade unionism is huge, now facing a challenge of leadership, a challenge of purpose and a challenge for survival.

How are trade unions to deal with the ideological onslaught about to overwhelm their members and their organisations? And how are we to deal with the fresh legal onslaught that is about to hit us?

The movement is about to be tested like never before. It would be a serious mistake to baton down the hatches until the next general election and hope for a Labour government.

We need a new, clear vision to lead the movement not for the next five years but for the next generation — a vision that questions organisational activity, as well as industrial and political strategies.

We will need it soon.

  • Keith Ewing is professor of public law at King’s College London and president of the Institute of Employment Rights.
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Support Unite Engineers At Finnish Company Kone – On Strike Next Week

images300 Unite engineering staff employed by the Finnish company Kone across the UK will be taking strike action over the next two week. Unite engineers at Kone service lifts, doors and escalators across the UK, including at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

The dispute is related to the use of a ‘spy in the cab’ tracker system known as VAMS which Unite members say is an unreliable method for measuring workloads.

Unite argues that VAMS should not be used to verify time sheets, and site arrival and leaving times as it is unreliable – for example, one driver was alleged have driven 1,000 miles in one day without refuelling. Unite is not against the principle of VAMS when used for health and safety purposes.

Unite has put forward proposals to resolve the dispute via Acas but talks broke down after 10 hours when the Kone UK based management walked out.

The strike action commencing is due to start at 06:00 hours on Wednesday May 27th and ending at 06:00 hours on Tuesday 9th June.

Unite National Officer for general engineering Linda McCulloch said: “The Acas talks with the UK management of Kone have proved to be fruitless, after they walked out after 10 hours. Due to this unreasonable behaviour, Unite is calling on the top executives of this Finnish-owned company to intervene and sort out the intransigent stance of their local UK management.

“Evidence has shown the mileage recorded by VAMS for business or private use is not accurate and exaggerates the amount of mileage being completed. It is ‘a spy in the cab’ that does not function properly, so it is understandable that our members are angry. “Unite members by 81 per cent for strike action and by 91 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

The main Kone sites are at Chertsey, Gateshead, Glasgow, Keighley in Yorkshire and Warrington.

Please send messages of support to our members in dispute via Linda McCulloch.

All messages of support are appreciated.

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Turkish Car Industry Hit By Stoppages

n_82576_1A wave of stoppages across the Turkish car industry is taking place as workers demand better pay and conditions – as well as demanding to join a union of their choice and elect their own union reps.

Over 7,000 workers are taking part in strikes and demonstrations against poor working conditions and are abandoning the ‘yellow’ trade union known as the Metal Workers Trade Union of Turkey (Türk Metal) a union many workers were forced to join and be registered with. Türk Metal is seen as a stooge union.

The protest started last week at Turkey’s largest car factory, a plant in the northwestern city of Bursa run by Oyak Renault. The factory is a joint venture between France’s Renault and the Turkish army pension fund.

On Friday last the stoppages had spread to the neighboring Tofaş plant. Tofaş, owned by Italy’s Fiat and local conglomerate Koç Holding, said it had halted production until the dispute was resolved.

Workers are outraged by failures of the Türk Metal union to negotiate decent pay rises and represent workers properly.

In response to major strikes at the Renault and Tofaş plants, workers at the Mako, Coşkunöz and Delphi auto factories followed suit and the Ford Otosan plant was stopped. Ford said this was the temporary stoppage due to a lack of parts caused by the strikes at other firms.

Each day that workers are absent from their factories means a decline in the number of cars produced. Renault was expected to suffer a decline of 5,220 units on the sixth day of the strike, while the loss in production estimated for the Tofaş plant was 3,248.

Together the two automakers, Tofaş and Renault, account for more than 40 percent of Turkey’s annual car output, according to industry data.

The protests highlight the problems in Turkey’s economy. Rapid growth has not been accompanied by improvements in pay and working conditions. Around 40% of Turkish employees still work 50 plus hours a week and the Türk Metal union has done little to persue workers demands on pay and working conditions.

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June 4th : Rally For Venezuela

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