Gaza War: TUC Says Stop Trade Talks With Isreal

The TUC has written to Tory Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch in response to the news that the UK is set to continue active trade talks with Israel.

The Tory government concluded the latest round at the end of February.

The TUC which has a longstanding policy on Palestinian rights says trade negotiations must be used to ensure respect for human rights and international law.

Since the UK launched trade talks on an updated trade agreement with Israel in  March 2022, the TUC has consistently stated it does not believe the government should engage in these negotiations, given Israel’s persistent violation of international law, UN resolutions and systematic violations of Palestinian labour and human rights.

In light of the Israeli government’s military operations in Gaza in recent months where these violations have intensified.

The TUC letter calls for the government to:

  • End trade talks with Israel
  • End arms sales and military collaboration
  • End UK trade in good from the Occupied Palestinian Territories

On 26th January the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found it ‘plausible’ that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza and issued binding provisional measures.

The UK government also has an obligation as a party to the Genocide Convention to take measures to prevent genocide.  It is therefore incumbent on the government to ensure Israel acts in accordance with the ICJ ruling.

The TUC letter follows the TUC’s General Council statement unequivocally condemning the shocking attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas, calling for the immediate, unconditional release of all hostages unharmed, and calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

In February the TUC wrote to the Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron calling for an immediate ceasefire accompanied by a political process. It expressed disappointment the UK government had so far failed to support such a ceasefire.

The TUC has called on the government to support genuine efforts towards a just, lasting and comprehensive peace that is consistent with international law, and is based on a two-state solution, which promotes equality, democracy and respect for human and labour rights.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Trade Unions | Leave a comment

Don’t Bank on Apartheid : Bedford PSC Demo Barclays Bank March 23rd

Bedford Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) will be demonstrating outside Barclays in Bedford High Street this Saturday 23rd March to draw attention to the role the bank is playing in arming Israel. 

Financial institutions in the UK provide investment, loans, and other financial services to companies supplying Israel with weapons and military technology used to oppress Palestinians.

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has uncovered that Barclays Bank holds over £1 billion in shares, and provides over £3 billion in loans and underwriting to nine companies whose weapons, components, and military technology have been used in Israel’s armed violence against Palestinians.

By providing investment and financial services to these arms companies, Barclays facilitates the provision of weapons and technology for Israel’s militarised repression of Palestinians.

Bedford PSC Chair Rosie Newbigging said: “We urge all fellow Bedfordians who are horrified by what is happening to innocent people in Gaza, to join us on Saturday at 11.30am outside Barclays Bank in the High Street”. 

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Solidarity, Trade Unions | Leave a comment

AI: Threats & Opportunities For The Media

Register now for the South Yorkshire Festival Of Debate (in partnership with Media North) panel debate on the Threats & Opportunities for media & digital workers of Artificial Intelligence.

‘AI – Threats & Opportunities For The Media’

Thanks to Matt Kenyon for use of this graphic

Free online event: April 25th 6pm – 7.30pm.

The disruptive power of artificial intelligence worries people working in the media. Threats to the media from AI hit the headlines with two long-running strikes in Hollywood last year. Now the New York Times has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, two of the most prominent names in the AI industry, accusing them of using its articles without permission to train their artificial intelligence systems.

This event will explore, with an expert panel of speakers, exactly what AI is, the ways it will impact the media and the challenges posed for media workers.

Louisa Bull, National Officer Unite’s Print, Graphical, Media and IT Sector. Louisa has spoken on AI at national and international events and on organising workers in the digital and tech industries.

Nabila Cruz de Carvalho is a PhD researcher at the University of Sheffield. Her research is focused on how generative artificial intelligence may affect the trust of young audiences in digital news media. She wrote ‘AI Is What We Make It’ in Now Then.

Alexis Gunderson a leading member of the US National Writers Union’s Generative AI working group that produced their policy on AI.

Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists. The union is running a campaign: Artificial Intelligence: Journalism Before Algorithms.

This is a free event  – Please register here.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Employment Rights, International Trade Unions, The Digital Economy and Unions, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

Bedford PSC Demands Ceasefire & An End To The Gaza War

By Linda Jack, Chair of Unite Health and Local Government Branch

Over 200 supporters of the people of Palestine joined a march and rally from Bedford Park to Castle Mound to call for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza. 

With International Women’s Day and Mothers’ Day this week the focus was on the impact of this war on women and children. All our speakers were women, all passionate about doing what they can to demand a ceasefire, raise awareness of the horror that is unfolding in Gaza – and make their voices heard.

Rosie Newbigging Chair of the newly formed Bedford PSC reminded us: “We must keep marching. We march in peace. This rally, our 7th in the last few months shows our humanity and peace. We are appalled at the rise in anti semitism. We are appalled at the rise in islamaphobia. We are appalled at the hate speech of certain politicians. And we continued to be be horrified and outraged by the UK government complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people. Not in our name. It’s not those of us who call for peace who are extreme or a mob. We need to keep marching, don’t stop talking about Palestine. Keep making your voice heard”.

Rosie also read a message from the National Education Union who said: “We condemn the Israeli state’s campaign of collective punishment of the people of Gaza and call for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and the urgent delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.”

Cathrine Ward of Upenyu Nerwamagwana has just returned from South Africa and reminded us of how important the Anti-Apartheid movement was in challenging injustice and how that related to the importance of us continuing to challenge what is happening in Gaza.

As chair of Unite’s Health and Local Government Branch I, Linda Jack, spoke about the  experience of women in Gaza trying to protect their children with two mothers being killed every hour, with mothers being the last to eat and children being the first to die.

Cllr Lucy Bywater reminded us of how women bear a huge burden in times of violence, war and displacement and are more likely to bear the emotional and physical cost of caring for others – children, the sick, elderly relatives. She called for an end to the sale of weapons to Israel by our government, condemned IDF action against civilians and called for moral leadereship at home. She ended by reminding us that this is about basic human rights and basic humanity which should have “No Borders”.  As Virgina Woolf said, “As a woman, my country is the whole world…”

Lara Philips local businesswoman who led her school, Mark Rutherford, out in protest at the war in Iraq over 20 years ago, spoke emotionally of how she felt every time she looked at her children, imagining how she would feel if she was a mother in Gaza at the moment. She said: “the last time I stood and spoke publicly was at the Stop the War protest for Iraq over 20 years ago. And I really find so difficult that in all the time that has passed it is somehow still acceptable that one group of people in the world can be slaughtered in the most inhumane, barbaric, cruel, evil evil way, whilst other groups of people around the world are able to sit and turn their chair the other way.”

Dr Helen Connolly Chair of Remembering Srebenica, an expert in children, youth and forced migration highlighted the devastating circumstances for Palestinian children in Gaza where one child is killed every 15 minutes and 10 children a day lose one or more limbs. She highlighted the grave human rights violations children are being forced to endure as the main casualties of the atrocities. In so doing she  said: “in situations of mass atrocities, the vulnerability of children makes them an easy target. The killing and harms committed against them deliberately inflicts mental harm on communities and families as they grieve and try to apprehend the cruelty of what their children are being forced to endure.”

Dalia El-Saleh a Palestinian living in Bedford, spoke powerfully of our shared humanity said: “We will channel the power, resilience and love for our Palestinian brothers and sister in Gaza because we want to see peace born of justice and we will keep filling the streets until that happens. We will not allow them to divide us – we will keep coming together, regardless of our ethnicity, our colour, our faith – we will keep calling for a ceasefire and we will keep calling “Free Palestine, Free Palestine” until Palestine is Free!”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in International Trade Unions, Labour Party, Politics | Leave a comment

Hugh Lanning of Labour & Palestine Speech January 18th

Palestine in 2024 – What the World should be doing

For the first time since the war on Gaza began there was a “Labour Members for Palestine” bloc on the march last Saturday, January 13th.

The bloc was organised by Labour & Palestine, CLPD, Arise and Momentum amongst others. 

Hopefully it represents a long-overdue willingness by Labour Party members to be identified as supporters of Palestine and a ceasefire. Apart from the supporting organisations there were constituency and Labour Councillor banners. The intention will be to organise the bloc again on the next national march in February.

We need to translate the support on the marches into political organisation – to make Palestine a ballot box issue. 

Hugh Lanning Labour & Palestine

To quote Desmond Tutu: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in”. Instead, Labour has watched the bodies float by, endorsing Israel’s war objectives. With over 20,000 dead Labour has effectively gone to war on Palestine – just as it has in the Yemen.

In so doing, Labour has morally lost the plot with hundreds of thousands of marchers, with a whole generation of people now committed to supporting Palestine. 

This issue is going to haunt Labour before, during and after the next election. It will not go away with the election of a Labour Government. 

We have seen where the arms and money the West gives Israel are going – we see it every night on the television. They are going to kill Palestinians – whether the ICJ concurs that this is genocide or not, the reality is Israel is trying to literally demolish any serious prospect of a Palestinian state. 

This will require Labour to commit to global pressure on Israel to comply with international law. This will not be easy – but Netanyahu gives us the clue in saying he needs 3 things:” munitions, munitions, munitions”. 

As with South Africa, sanctions will be the key – Labour needs to call for an arms embargo and commit to immediate recognition – not backtrack from its established policy. It also should publicly state it will repeal the anti-boycott bill should it become law. 

A ceasefire will not be enough to create peace, it will only be a beginning. To establish the conditions for peace it will be necessary to dismantle the Israeli apartheid regime from Gaza to Jericho – that means bringing down the Wall ‘brick by brick’, removing the settlements and settlers, getting the troops out – it means ending the illegal military occupation.

Palestine needs a Labour bloc for Palestine at every level inside and outside the party making sure that the Palestinian voice is heard. As a democratic party we cannot be deaf to the calls for justice or we will come to regret ignoring the calls of hundreds of thousands of Labour Party supporters who are uniting in action for a “ceasefire now” and a Free Palestine.

The air strikes on Yemen and continued support for Israel exposes the Party. We need to not just march and protest, we need to organise.

Take part on in marches on January 20th – get involved, join the bloc on next national march in February.


Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in International Trade Unions, Labour Party, Politics, Trade Unions, Unite The Union | Leave a comment

New York Times To Sue OpenAI & Microsoft; Sports Illustrated Sacks Senior Staff Over Use Of AI

The newspaper and magazine industry is gearing up for a battle over the use of AI in information harvesting and the use of artificial intelligence to create fake articles, fake writer profiles and photos.

The New York Times is to sue  OpenAI and Microsoft accusing them of using millions of the newspaper’s articles without permission to help train chatbots to provide information to readers.

The New York Times said it is the first major U.S. media organisation to sue OpenAI, creator of the artificial-intelligence platform ChatGPT, and Microsoft, an OpenAI investor and creator of the AI platform now known as Copilot, over copyright issues associated with its works.

Writers and others have also sued to limit the automatic collection of data by AI services of their online content without compensation.

The newspaper’s complaint, filed in Manhattan federal court, accused OpenAI and Microsoft of trying to “free-ride on The Times’s massive investment in its journalism” by using it to provide alternative means to deliver information to readers. “There is nothing ‘transformative’ about using The Times’s content without payment to create products that substitute for The Times and steal audiences away from it,” the Times said.

OpenAI and Microsoft have said that using copyrighted works to train AI products amounts to “fair use,” a legal doctrine governing the unlicensed use of copyrighted material. On its website, the U.S. Copyright Office says “transformative” uses add “something new, with a further purpose or character” and are “more likely to be considered fair.”

The New York Times is not seeking a specific amount of damages, but estimated damages in the “billions of dollars.” It also wants OpenAI and Microsoft to destroy chatbot models and training sets that incorporate its material.

Meanwhile the prestigious U.S. magazine Sports Illustrated recently sacked its CEO Ross Levinsohn for using Artificial Intelligence to produce articles and  headshot photos generated by AI.

The company also fired its chief operating officer, media president and corporate counsel after revelations  that the magazine had published articles by non-existent authors with AI generated biographies and headshots.

The magazine’s publisher Arena Group said the removal of Levinsohn had been decided after a meeting on actions to “improve the operational efficiency and the revenue of the company”.

The AI articles were unveiled by an online magazine Futurism, which discovered that articles supposedly written by ‘Sora Tanaka’, a fitness guru was found to be fictitious. Similarly, an article about volleyball by ‘Drew Ortiz’  who Futurism says has no social media presence, no publishing history and who’s profile photo on Sports Illustrated was for sale on a website that sells AI-generated headshots, where he’s described as “neutral white young-adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes.”

Arena denied the allegations, stating the content was from AdVon Commerce, an advertiser, which used ‘pen names’. The group has now severed ties with AdVon.

Levinsohn was replaced by Manoj Bhargava as interim chief executive. Bhargava is the founder of the energy drink ‘5-hour Energy’ who outlawed his staff using Powerpoint presentations telling them to “stop doing dumb stuff” and said the “amount of useless stuff you guys do is staggering”.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Employment Rights, Media, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union | Leave a comment

Ceasefire – Free Palestine : You Tube Film by Unite’s Jamie Bramwell

This YouTube film and song about the genocide now happening in Gaza has been produced by Unite activist and construction section member from Merseyside Jamie Bramwell who releases his songs with his band Coalhouse. Please share widely.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Blogs, International Trade Unions, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union | Leave a comment

USW Slams Nippon Plan To Acquire USS

The United Steelworkers (USW) International President Dave McCall  has issued a statement slamming an announced deal in which Japan’s Nippon Steel will purchase U.S. Steel:

“To say we’re disappointed in the announced deal between U.S. Steel and Nippon is an understatement, as it demonstrates the same greedy, shortsighted attitude that has guided U.S. Steel for far too long.

“We remained open throughout this process to working with U.S. Steel to keep this iconic American company domestically owned and operated, but instead it chose to push aside the concerns of its dedicated workforce and sell to a foreign-owned company.

“Neither U.S. Steel nor Nippon reached out to our union regarding the deal, which is in itself a violation of our partnership agreement that requires U.S. Steel to notify us of a change in control or business conditions.

“Based on this alone, the USW does not believe that Nippon understands the full breadth of the obligations of all our agreements, and we do not know whether it has the capacity to live up to our existing contract. This includes not just the day-to-day commitments of our labor agreement, but also significant obligations to fund pension and retiree insurance benefits that are the most extensive in the domestic steel industry.

“Our union intends to exercise the full measure of our agreements to ensure that whatever happens next with U.S. Steel, we protect the good, family-sustaining jobs we bargained. We also will strongly urge government regulators to carefully scrutinize this acquisition and determine if the proposed transaction serves the national security interests of the United States and benefits workers.

“No union has actively engaged in more acquisitions in its core industries than the USW, and rest assured, our union will hold management at U.S. Steel accountable to every letter of our collective bargaining and other existing agreements.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Trade Unions | Leave a comment

United Autoworkers Commence Strategic Organising Campaign

Following their recent success in the dispute  with the ‘Big 3’ US based car manufacturers (Ford, GM and Stellantis) the United Autoworkers Union strategic organising campaign aimed at recruiting and organising 150,000 non union autoworkers in over a dozen auto manufacturers in the USA has begun with workers at Honda, Hyundai and VW standing up against management intimidation by filing unfair labour practice claims  under US legislation.

The UAW says thousands of workers  inspired by success of the Big 3 campaign which was based on rolling ‘stand up strikes’ workers at at Honda in Indiana, Hyundai in Alabama, and Volkswagen in Tennessee are facing aggressive union busting campaigns,

“These companies are breaking the law in an attempt to get autoworkers to sit down and shut up instead of fighting for their fair share,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. “But these workers are showing management that they won’t be intimidated out of their right to speak up and organise for a better life. From Honda to Hyundai to Volkswagen and beyond, we’ve got their back. The auto industry’s record profits should mean record contracts for these workers, too.”

Fain met with thousands of non-union autoworkers on a Facebook Live broadcast recently where Honda workers reported being targeted by management for pro-union activity at the company’s plant in Greensburg, Indiana. Hundreds of workers at the facility have signed union cards.

At Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant, the scene of previous union organising campaigns over 1,000 VW workers signed union cards in less than a week, and hundreds more continue to sign up. Management has harassed and threatened workers for talking about the union; confiscated and destroyed pro-union materials in the break room; attempted to intimidate and illegally silence pro-union workers; and has attempted to illegally prohibit workers from distributing union literature and discussing union issues in non-work areas on non-work time.

Volkswagen a German company which recognises union across the globe continues to make public claims of “official neutrality” while aggressively pushing an anti-union message in forced meetings and internal anti union literature.

At Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama plant, management has unlawfully confiscated, destroyed, and prohibited pro-union materials in non-work areas during non-work times. Hundreds of workers continue to sign up to win their union despite this illegal interference and intimidation.

Beverly McCall, a team member in engine assembly at the Hyundai plant, was in the parking lot passing out union leaflets on non-work time when a manager told her to stop. “The manager came up and told me you can’t be out here doing that,” said McCall. “I just kept right on doing what I was doing. We have every right to get the word out and they can’t stop us.” 

Among the companies the UAW say they will be targeting are  Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, Volvo,  Tesla, as well as startups Rivian and Lucid.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Trade Unions | Leave a comment

Nordic Tesla Investors Tell Musk: “You Must Obey The Rules”

The pressure on Elon Musk, the worlds richest man and CEO of Tesla who is refusing to reach an agreement on Collective Bargaining and union recognition with the Swedish IF Metall union, (who are being supported by other Nordic unions in the engineering, transport and postal industries) continues to ramp up as sixteen large Nordic investors in Tesla has sent a letter to the company urging Musk to reconsider his rejection of talks with IF Metall.

The investors have expressed their deep concern “about the current conflict in Sweden”, according to Kiran Aziz of Norway’s largest pension company KLP.

If Tesla does not change its mind Aziz says: “It may be appropriate to sell the shares in the company and leave the part ownership”, adding that it would be their “last resort”,

Ms Aziz also warned Tesla that it “must relate to the rules, and the context, that exist where they operate and not bring the American one over to other countries.”

The investors are seeking a meeting with Tesla management in the letter stating: “We seek a dialogue with you about your handling of the highlighted issues and would like to request a meeting in early 2024 to discuss this. This is the last opportunity we have, but we primarily want the company to meet our expectations.”

She also qualified her comments by stating she did not know if Musk was listening or would respond.

In another development, waste collection workers in Sweden who are members of the Transport Workers Union have now refused to service the company’s sites.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Blogs, European Trade Unions, Labour Party, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress | Leave a comment