Docstoc

unite the union

Document Sample
unite the union Powered By Docstoc
					                              GEC REPORT JULY 2009




            Unite the Union




            JULY 2009

 CHEMICAL, PHARMACEUTICALS,
   PROCESS, TEXTILES TRADE
            GROUP



   EXECUTIVE COUNCIL REPORT



Mark Lyon




MARK LYON                                       1
                                                                      GEC REPORT JULY 2009




Introduction

Political issues have loomed large in the country‟s and the union‟s life in recent
weeks, following Labour‟s disastrous election showing and the consequent
speculation about the Party leadership.

Unite has always been clear that Labour‟s only chance of success at the next general
Election – a success we must devoutly hope for in order to avert the disaster of a
Tory return to office – lies in adopting a radically different policy agenda. This, and
not a change in leadership which would not in itself deliver the necessary changes,
has been the focus of our political intervention. Saving jobs (in deeds, not just
words), tackling inequality and investing in rather than privatising the public services
must be the priorities.

Disputes in Visteon, Linamar, the construction industry and elsewhere, while all
caused by different reasons, indicate that working people, including many of our own
members, are not going to accept the consequences of the economic crisis lying
down, and are going to stand up and fight for their rights. Unite can be pleased that
these three disputes all ended in success, proving once again the practical strength
of well-organised trade unionism.

We are making these advances in a context of financial difficulties for our union
which the EC is well aware of. Painful decisions are being taken. However, in all this
we are not only still displaying the strengths of Unite across the political, industrial
and organising fields, we are also laying down a firm and sustainable basis for the
future. In this respect, it is appropriate to start this report by expressing our thanks to
Unite‟s officers and staff for their efforts on behalf of the members in what are
challenging circumstances.


STRATEGY FOR GROWTH
Organising
NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS

In National Campaigns, from January 2009 to week ending 19th June 2009, the
National Organising Department has organised 5,430 new members. We are behind
schedule by 1,500 members partly because of some difficulties that have been
encountered in existing Campaigns and partly because the major strategic priority
that is Logistics has only just commenced and that further major strategic priority
which is the Finance Sector has yet to be launched because of our joint
determination with the Finance Sector to get the planning and preparation right. The
necessary steps are being taken to accelerate the momentum of progress at the next
stages.

The current key National Campaigns are as follows:

   Building Services




MARK LYON                                                                                2
                                                                   GEC REPORT JULY 2009




288 members have come into the main Cleaners branch since January. The
two Cleaners branches combined in London now have just under 2,000
members. 35 contracts now enjoy the London Living Wage. Work is at an
advanced stage on the next stages in the campaign, including:
   Following the decision of the May Executive Council, the implementation of the
    various agreements on Fairshare.

   Developing our organisation by contract, by company and by zone, the City of
    London and Canary Wharf.

   A fresh offensive on winning the London Living Wage for all cleaners

Finally, the Education Department has given outstanding support and that was
manifested at a remarkable cultural and educational event on 12th June 2009,
bringing together cleaners from all over the world who have come to London to build
a new life. The sheer vitality and dynamism of the event brought home how our
Justice for Cleaners Campaign has won dignity and respect for those who were
previously treated shamefully.

 Finance
Led by Director of Organising, Sharon Graham, working in partnership with the
Finance Sector, has continued to take the Campaign Planning Sessions at the
Finance Combine Training in order to be able to meet the deadline of the launch of
the campaign at the end of July 2009. 48 Finance Reps have been part of the
planning process and the various sessions have been very well received. The key
issue emerging is the target driven culture within the priority target bank, Lloyds
Banking Group. Sharon, together with Finance Sector National Officer, Rob
McGregor and the Finance Steering Group are now finalising plans for what will be a
major National Organising Campaign at a Conference of Lloyds Banking Group reps
on 22nd and 23rd July.

 Logistics
Led by Lead Organiser, Dessie Henderson, 759 new members have come in from
January to week ending 19th June. The field Campaign is now fully operational with
members coming into the Union from a number of core logistics hubs. What is now a
fully functioning Logistic Combine has agreed its strategy, in particular, on organising
to win Minimum Standards Agreements. Those Agreements will be tabled with each
company when we reach 65% density along the supply chain. Following a meeting
of the Steering Group on 9th June, the next full Combine will take place on 16th
September.

 Food Processing
Led by the Director of Organising, Sharon Graham, the Campaign has bought in
2,936 members from January to week ending 19th June 2009. We would highlight
two areas in particular:

o   Fresh Produce
    The Fresh Produce industry in Britain and Ireland is almost completely
    unorganised. Firm foundations have been laid, however, for organising a sector
    scarred by shameful treatment and discrimination. The first Fresh Produce
    Combine will be held shortly with 34 new lay members, leaders and stewards in
    attendance.

o   Meat Industry


MARK LYON                                                                             3
                                                                   GEC REPORT JULY 2009



    Remarkable progress continues to be made in what has been a highly successful
    campaign. Crucially, the Campaign has forced most of the supermarkets to the
    table, with the dominant customers for the suppliers in the Meat Industry at last
    starting to accept their responsibility to end the naked abuse of their market
    power, driving down labour standards along their supply chain. For example, in
    what is now a very positive joint initiative with Marks and Spencer, June saw the
    Deputy General Secretary make a presentation at the head office of M&S to all of
    their suppliers in the Meat Industry on moving to equal treatment of agency
    workers and the directly employed, ending exploitation and discrimination. Most
    supermarkets are now engaged in positive dialogue but the biggest, Tesco is
    resisting the inevitable.
    The Equalities and Human Rights Commission is at an advanced stage of its
    Inquiry into structural discrimination in the Meat Industry. At the presentation to
    M&S suppliers by the Deputy General Secretary, the Equalities and Human
    Rights Commission indicated that they have now accumulated a very strong body
    of evidence of abuse and discrimination.

o   Sainsburys
    623 new members have been put on since January 2009.

REGIONAL CAMPAIGNS
1,735 new members have been put on in the Regional Organising Campaigns since
January 2009.

UNITE ORGANISING ACADEMY
Led by the Head of the Unite Organising Academy, Andy Snoddy, we continue to be
proud of our track record of changing the face of the union as we recruit our
Organisers:
 33% of our Organisers are Women
 27% of our Organisers come from black or ethnic minority backgrounds
 The average age group is between 35 and 39, with 18 under 30.

INTEGRATION
The Joint General Secretary, Tony Woodley, will be chairing a meeting on 23rd July
on completing the integration of Organisers from the former Amicus Section into the
National Organising Department.

GLOBAL ORGANISING ALLIANCE
The Deputy General Secretary attended the meeting of the Global Organising
Alliance in Copenhagen in April, hosted by their TUC, the LO. LO has now elected a
leadership committed to Organising.

100% Campaign

Following the tragic death of Mike Brider, an interim report was given to the Council
by Joint General Secretary, Tony Woodley, who noted that there had been a delay in
the appointment of RCO and delivery on this important role had therefore fallen
behind. Where RCO appointments had already been made they would be brought
together along with the Regional Secretaries to give them guidance and support in
accordance with directions already given.




MARK LYON                                                                            4
                                                                     GEC REPORT JULY 2009




Finance Strategy
The finance report was given by Les Bayliss Assistant General Secretary and Ed
Sabisky, Director of Finance and Operations indicating that the financial picture for
Unite in the 1st Quarter of 2009 was about on par with last year. Contribution Income
totalled £36.0 million in the 1st Quarter of 2009 down £900,000 from the same period
of 2008 and with improvements in Total Recurring Expenditure, mainly as a result of
the former Amicus section savings and drop in the number of people employed by
Unite as a result of last year‟s voluntary severance programme. The Union achieved
a £1.1 million surplus from Contribution Income in the 1st Quarter – an outcome
which is marginally improved from 2008.

However, other Income was flat in the 1st Quarter as interest paid and losses on
disposal of securities exactly offset interest received and dividends in the quarter.
Non Recurring Items amounted to a net expenditure of £1.3 million in the period.
The Council approved the recommendations on harmonisation of Unite Members
contributions and benefits, with a number of amendments. The full amended details
will be circulated to the Council as soon as possible.


Membership
The latest paying membership figures for Unite are 1,334,167 as at 30 June 2009,
down 32,000 from year end 2008.


Legal

The Certification Office complaint about the Amicus section JGS election by ex-
officer Mike Cooney was resoundingly defeated by the union.

A small group of members in a workplace in London had put in a claim for age
discrimination which effectively argued against the legal point we won in the test case
against Rolls Royce. These members were upset because they were not selected
for redundancy. The EC confirmed that our priority is to fight for members right to
stay in work, including protecting those who are likely to be at a greater disadvantage
on the labour market if they lost their work, and we would not continue to support a
claim seeking to reverse a test issue which is more beneficial to this priority.

With reference to Metrobus, the Court of Appeal hearing had taken place over two
days the previous week and, even after two days, not all the arguments had been
put. These will be finished in writing but it will be some time before a decision is
received. However it was clear that people needed to expect a decision that the
employer must be informed of the ballot result on the same day as the union receives
it. Officers need to ensure cover over ballot periods as their absence is no
justification for delay in informing the employer. The old T&G guidance that 7 days
are allowed, is definitely wrong. Following the CoA decision the union should adopt
one set of standard guidance and ensure that officers are trained in how to apply it.
Problems have been encountered recently in regard to bus ballot cases (where
officers had failed to follow revised T&G guidance following the first instance decision
in Metrobus).

It was clarified that where the legal advice is that the union might be at risk of loss of
indemnity in relation to any industrial action ballot, it is ony the Joint General
Secretaries (not any other officer) who can authorise that such strikes go ahead.


MARK LYON                                                                               5
                                                                 GEC REPORT JULY 2009



Authority should be sought via the Director of Legal Services in such cases to ensure
full advice to the JGSs.

The Director of Legal Services updated the Council on blacklisting. At the last
meeting, the Council were reminded that the Union had been active in lobbying for
regulations to be brought in to outlaw blacklisting. A consultation document on new
Regulations had been issued today. We will reply and emphasise the importance of
an effective remedy for the heinous practice of blacklisting.

On the issue of ET claims re blacklisting (issued as victimisation on trade union
grounds) Regional Secretaries and the relevant officers had been sent information on
how to make claims and there are now a number of claims with the solicitors. While
the union is doing all possible to prosecute cases for members, some members are
making this impossible by failing to supply information as requested by their
solicitors. We would have to drop cases where this continued.

Still on the issue of blacklisting: under the Data Protection Act, the Information
Commissioners office cannot keep sensitive data for too long and, therefore, had
proposed destroying data after six months. They have now been persuaded not to
do this, due to the cases still to come to court. We understand that the ICO will
review the position after 12 months.

The complaints regarding officers colluding in the blacklisting has been investigated
and Joint General Secretary, Derek Simpson has responded to the complainant. No
evidence was found: only supposition and assertion. There is nothing to substantiate
allegations against existing employees, and it was hoped that colleagues would now
give each other the benefit of the doubt, as to do otherwise is not only hurtful and
insulting to employees who this EC are responsible for, but is also divisive and thus
undermining of our industrial strength. Following a request by some EC members, it
was agreed that Derek Simpson and the Director of Legal Services and the relevant
senior officers would meet EC members and those members who had raised
complaints and allegations on blacklisting.

Following a request by some EC members, it was agreed that Derek Simpson and
the Director of Legal Services and the relevant senior officers would meet EC
members and those members who had raised complaints and allegations on
blacklisting.


Personal Injury Cases
The total number of personal injury cases received for May/June 2009 for Unite the
Union is 2,688. The total for Personal Injury cases settled in £sterling is
£18,841,211.76 with 2,462 cases being settled, the total amount recovered in Euro is
€132,317.00 from 3 cases.

Employment Tribunals

Amicus section:
The total Employment Tribunal cases received were 414 (including member & union
tribunals). The total number of Employment Tribunal settlements were 75 (including
member & union tribunals) with £498,048.28 recovered in compensation.

T&G Section
The following figures relate to settled cases only. The amount recovered by all
Regions during the period was £375,815.85 from 122 cases.


MARK LYON                                                                          6
                                                                   GEC REPORT JULY 2009




POLITICAL
The Executive meeting in May was held ahead of the March for Jobs in Birmingham
and the European elections but also before the Daily Telegraph exposé of MPs
expenses. The political scandal that followed, including Cabinet resignations, a
reshuffle and renewed speculation about Gordon Brown, showed nothing is ever
quiet or easy in politics. All of these developments have direct influences on Unite
and our members.

There is no doubt the MPs expenses scandal has overshadowed the political and
media world of late. Its resolution became, and to an extent remains, a partisan fight
which exacerbated public distrust for politicians and led, in no small part, to the poor
performance of Labour in the European elections. Over 20 MPs from all parties have
now, or so far, announced their intention to stand down from Parliament, including
two certain by-elections in Glasgow North East, where Speaker Michael Martin has
resigned, and Norwich North following the decision to debar Ian Gibson from
standing as a Labour candidate. The Political Department has already contacted the
members of Unite‟s Parliamentary Panel in anticipation of the selections especially
for the Labour seats which are now vacant.

The fall out from this scandal led to significant numbers of Cabinet and ministerial
resignations, a reshuffle and challenges to Gordon Brown to stand down. The timing
of some of those resignations around the elections, and the apparent petulance
shown, left many union and Labour Party members angry and frustrated. The
challenge to Gordon Brown failed. Labour now has to concentrate on the challenges
of dealing with the recession and making sure the right policies are in place to deal
with it. Unite will continue to press for this as being the best way to defend our
members jobs, skills and futures.

The union has backed the increased investment in public spending and highlighted in
the European election campaign the cuts agenda of the Tories. There are clear
dividing lines between Labour and the Tories over how to deal with the recession.

Unite has consistently stressed to our members in all of this that a Labour
government is their best option especially in the light of the proposed 10 per cent
cuts from the Tories. However, as the thousands who marched through Birmingham
showed, we are not uncritical. More still needs to be done to support manufacturing
in general and the automotive industry in particular, as evidenced by the campaigns
to save LDV, the Vauxhall and IBC plants and pressing for a temporary wage subsidy
linked to skills training. The recession continues to have damaging effects but signs
are beginning to emerge, through, for example, the smaller than anticipated growth in
unemployment, always a lagging indicator, that some progress is being made.

Labour‟s performance in the European elections was poor and the election of BNP
MEPs in the North West and Yorkshire & Humberside is a matter of deep concern.
Yet the elections were not as good for the Tories as they would have us believe.
Their vote share of just under 28 per cent was well below the 40 per cent plus they
have consistently scored in the opinion polls, only 1 per cent higher than the last
Euro election in 2004 and well below the 36 per cent they got in 1999. They only
gained one extra MEP. The political report has consistently sounded a note of
optimism for Labour in the sense that underlying the opinion polls the electorate has
not “bought into” David Cameron‟s Tories. The European elections, if anything,



MARK LYON                                                                             7
                                                                  GEC REPORT JULY 2009



amplify the point as Peter Kellner of YouGov noted when he said the Tories had
failed to “seal the deal” with the British electorate. Unite was heavily involved at
national and regional levels in the European elections issuing around 1 million
communications to our members nationally and backing the Hope Not Hate bus tour.

The Unite for Jobs campaign attracted good political support with 165 MPs signing
the Early Day Motion, many joining the march in Birmingham and many more
publicising it and the reasons for it in their constituencies. Work continues in
Parliament to press for action to support our members in the manufacturing, finance
and health sectors. Unite MPs are also working with us to extend the Gangmaster
Licensing Act to the construction industry and to deal with particular problems in the
pub industry and for tobacco industry workers.

The European Parliament will start its real work after the Executive has met. One of
the early priorities for Unite is to work with the Labour MEPs on implementing the EU
Posted Workers Directive in the UK and dealing with the threat to collective
organising and action posed by the Viking Laval et al cases from the European Court
of Justice (ECJ). In the election campaign all the Labour candidates pledged to
produce an action plan specifically in respect of our members in the engineering
construction industry, a campaign which has renewed resonance with recent
developments at the Lindsey oil refinery site. This will form part of our continuing
campaign to tackle the damaging effects of the ECJ rulings which we highlight again
on the Unite website at www.lavalvikingruffert.eu

European Elections
Unite played a significant part in supporting Labour in the Euro election campaign.
This section of the report summarises what we did and provides an initial analysis.

The first and most important point to make is the two main issues of concern from our
members were jobs and MPs expenses. The leadership of the government and the
Labour Party were not significant issues

Unite‟s contribution to the Euro elections campaign focused on contacting our
members in the strong Labour areas and the key marginals. Around 120,000 direct
personal mails went to the key seat areas and 250,000 to the strong Labour areas.
Two email bulletins with a reach of 260,000 each time were issued nationally as well
as regional mailings which reached in excess of 100,000 members. Recorded phone
calls in the North West were made to over 95,000 members in all parts of the region.

Evidence from our phone calling in the North West showed support for Labour
amongst Unite members running at 51 per cent. There is no reason to believe this is
not replicated across the UK from anecdotal evidence garnered. This is above the
levels of strong Labour support we had previously identified in our voter i/d and
surveys. We will do a further analysis when we get the seat by seat breakdown of
vote shares.

The Euro election campaign also linked in to our longer term General Election
strategy and set up a phone bank at Hayes Court to contact our members in the key
marginals and Labour held seats in the South East.

As a direct result of the progress made in this phone bank the union will now give
consideration to operating it on an ongoing basis in light of the strategic importance
of the South East to the union‟s General Election strategy.




MARK LYON                                                                           8
                                                                  GEC REPORT JULY 2009



Policy-wise it was clear that jobs, in manufacturing generally and the car industry
specifically, are key issues. Unite will continue to press for more government support
through increased resources being made available through temporary wage
subsidies linked to skills training and pressure on the banks to increase lending and
credit facilities.

Key points

   1. These elections are always used by voters to register a “safe” protest vote in
      the mid-term of a government. Both Tory and Labour governments have
      suffered reverses in the Euro elections immediately preceding a General
      Election – most notably for Labour in 2004 when the Tories won the Euros but
      lost the 2005 General Election. Many voters switch back in a General
      Election.
   2. The 35 per cent turnout is around half to two-thirds of a General Election. This
      coupled with the above suggests all is still to play for Labour in a General
      Election.
   3. Whilst the Tories have won the elections, 27.7 per cent of the vote and an
      increase of 1 MEP do not represent a breakthrough. In 1999 the Tories won
      36 per cent of the vote. They failed to reach this level this time even in their
      heartland areas.
   4. Further analysis shows their increase on 2004 (excluding Scotland and the
      East Midlands, where special factors involving UKIP were at play) was just
      0.5 per cent. When the East Midlands region is factored in, the gain is only
      0.8 per cent.
   5. There is, therefore, no substantial evidence of the Tory breakthrough in the
      vote share they would need to mount a credible challenge for a General
      Election.
   6. There is certainly no evidence that the opinion polls have worked in favour of
      the Tories. Consistently polling around 40 per cent has not translated into
      votes. In addition to the 27.7 per cent they got in the Euros the local elections
      gave them a projected national share of 35 per cent. This again suggests the
      electorate have yet to be convinced the Tories have, as YouGov‟s Peter
      Kellner said, “sealed the deal”

Conclusions

   1. These elections have been undoubtedly bad for Labour and, when taken
      alongside the success for centre-right parties in the rest of the EU, the results
      do present new policy challenges in terms of the social and employment
      rights agendas.
   2. Action is required from the Labour government on jobs and MPs expenses as
      far as Unite members are concerned.
   3. There is no appetite from Unite for a period of Labour introspection if this gets
      in the way of tackling the recession, keeping our people in work and getting
      others back into jobs, maintaining and enhancing skills and using the
      government‟s position of owning the banks to use this to increase lending and
      extending credit facilities.
   4. The Tories failed to make the breakthrough in the last major tests of national
      opinion before the General Election.




MARK LYON                                                                            9
                                                                    GEC REPORT JULY 2009



   5. There is all to play for in terms of the General Election. Whilst Unite does not
      underestimate the poor Labour vote shares and the losses at local and
      European levels, we remain committed to working closely with our members
      to support the change agenda from government and to deliver a fourth Labour
      election victory.

TRADE UNION LABOUR PARTY LIAISON ORGANISATION (TULO)
In parallel with the Unite Political Department developing the union‟s political strategy
and support for the Labour Party, the union is also affiliated to TULO which bring
together all of the labour party affiliated unions, the national committee which is
chaired by Joint General Secretary, Tony Woodley.

On behalf of all of the affiliated trade unions in the recent period TULO has
particularly focused on two areas of work:

Contemporary Motions at the Labour Party Conference
At the Party Conference of 2007 the unions, other affiliates and CLPs agreed to trail
procedure whereby contemporary motions would not be moved at Party Conference,
motions carried to resolution would become Party policy, but rather contemporary
issues would be moved, issues that received the support of Conference would be fed
into the policy commissions and have the opportunity to become Party policy via the
National Policy Forum. This was to last for two years.

The view across most affiliates is that the trial has not been a success and that the
Party should return to the procedure of allowing contemporary motions, not issues,
and that these should be debated on the floor of conference with an immediate
prospect of becoming Party policy.

In his capacity of Chair of TULO, on behalf of the affiliates Tony Woodley has
submitted proposals to the Party to this effect.

Part Privatisation of the Post Office
TULO has acted as a clearing house for affiliates to offer support to the CWU and to
receive briefings from that union for further dissemination.

Tony Woodley has written, together with Paul Kenny TULO vice-chair as co-
signatory, to all members of the PLP reminding them that a wholly publicly owned
Post Office is Party policy, setting out the affiliated unions opposition to the Bill
together with the CWU‟s constructive counter-proposals.




MARK LYON                                                                             10
                                                                  GEC REPORT JULY 2009




INTERNATIONAL

ETUC – Euro Demonstrations, Demands and Mid-Term Conference Paris 27-28
May 2009
The ETUC organised a series of very successful demonstrations around Europe
during 14-16th May under the heading “Fight the Crisis – Put People First”. The size
of the demonstrations exceeded expectations with 150 000 in Madrid, 100 000 in
Berlin, 50 000 in Brussels and 30 000 in Prague.

The ETUC is demanding a „New Social Deal for Europe‟ and demanding that workers
not be made to pay for a crisis they did not cause. The key points of the ETUC‟s
demands are:

      An expanded recovery programme to provide more and better jobs, to protect
       employment in key industries, to invest in new, sustainable technologies, and
       to maintain vital public services.
      Better pay and pensions, stronger welfare states, higher benefits to protect
       the purchasing power and effective participation rights needed to boost
       economies.
      An end to the recent decisions of the European Court of Justice favouring
       market freedoms over our fundamental rights and collective agreements by
       confirming the social objectives of the internal market, and guaranteeing
       equal treatment and equal pay for „posted‟ migrant workers.
      Effective regulation of financial markets, a fair distribution of wealth, and no
       return to „casino capitalism‟ or to the „business as usual‟ of the past 20 years
       in financial markets.
      A European Central Bank committed to growth and full employment, not just
       price stability.

The ETUC mid-term conference was held in Paris during May. The conference
brought together the leaders of most national centres in Europe and focused upon
the grave economic crisis and the response and demands of the European trade
union movement.

ETUC General Secretary John Monks warned of the need to increase the pressure
on national governments to change the framework and put in place stronger
regulation of financial markets, while warning that the neo-liberals were already
looking to move back to „business as usual‟ once the worst of the crisis was over.

The conference was addressed by former Commission President Jacques Delors
who spoke of the need to reinvigorate Social Europe and move away from the neo-
liberal agenda that had been pursued in recent times.

A copy of the „Paris Declaration‟ is contained in the annex to the full international
report.

Colombia
Unite continues to develop its solidarity work with Colombian trade unionists and
progressive political forces, and continues to work for greater awareness and more
action against the grave Human Rights abuses that are taking place in the country.



MARK LYON                                                                           11
                                                                   GEC REPORT JULY 2009



Building on the block that has been placed on the US-Colombia Free Trade
Agreement (FTA), the proposals for an FTA in Canada have now been withdrawn
from the legislative agenda in the face of stiff opposition from unions and NGOs. As
set out in the Workers Uniting Action Plan on Colombia, UNITE has been at the
forefront of the recent campaign to stop the European Union signing a free trade
agreement with Colombia.

In coordination with Justice for Colombia and the USW, UNITE has arranged and
participated in a number of high profile meetings with key people including the ITUC
General Secretary Guy Ryder, the ETUC General Secretary John Monks and the
leaderships of the German (DGB) and Spanish (CCOO & UGT) national
confederations.

In order to move the ETUC into a clear position of opposition to the EU-Colombia
FTA Unite has also submitted motions at a number of European Industry Federations
on this issue. This has put further pressure on the ETUC to oppose the free trade
proposal. It has now been agreed to discuss the matter at the next ETUC Executive
Committee with the Spanish and German confederations likely to push for a broader
international campaign to isolate the Colombian regime.

IMF Congress
A Unite delegation, led by Joint General Secretary Derek Simpson, attended the 4
yearly congress of the International Metalworkers‟ Federation in Gothenburg in May.
The Congress was centred on the theme of precarious work and the need to combat
the spread of this type of employment, but many other issues were debated and
discussed, including the current global economic crisis and the need for a united
trade union response.

The new 4 year action plan included strategies on:

      Organising the unorganised
      Building trade union unity
      Strengthening collective bargaining
      Building a counterweight to the power of transnational corporations
      Fighting for sustainable trade, development and employment

The outgoing President Jurgen Peters was replaced by the new IG Metal President
Bertold Huber, and the outgoing General Secretary Marcello Malentacchi was
replaced by Jyrki Raina from the Nordic Metalworkers‟ Federation (Nordic IN).
Former Unite employee Rob Johnston will be given additional duties and
responsibilities following a review of the activities and priorities of the secretariat.

Miami Five
Despite growing international pressure surrounding the case of the Miami Five, the
US Supreme Court announced on 15th June – without explanation – that it would not
be reviewing the case. A full copy of the response of the Presidency of the Cuban
National Assembly is contained in an annex to the International Report. Unite will
continue its campaigning efforts in order to bring justice to the Miami Five.


DFID Project
Unite continues to deliver the DFID funded project on building capacity for trade
union structures in Southern Africa. Following some difficulties with the situation in




MARK LYON                                                                            12
                                                                      GEC REPORT JULY 2009



Namibia this country has been replaced by Malawi as one of the three target
countries in the project and this country seminar was delivered in early June.

Like the other two countries involved in the project (Zambia and Swaziland) Malawi
suffers from a weak and fragmented trade union movement, the intention is to use
key issues such as HIV/AIDS and gender inequality as the issues around which
organising and capacity building strategies can be developed and implemented.

It is hoped that the project will assist them in achieving this, especially in light of
Unite‟s own progressive strategy on organising. The next stage of the project will be
to deliver training workshops at a regional level within each individual country.

Palestine
Following the recent delegation to see Bill Rammell and the lobbying of the
government to take more concrete steps to stop Israeli aggression against
Palestinians, meetings have taken place in order to prepare the ground for a TUC
motion on Palestine.

Unite has been involved in the preparations and was present at the informal TUC
preparatory meeting. Any motion is likely to contain the main points of the UNITE
NEC statement made in January 2009 which called for a targeted boycott of Israeli
goods as well as an end to arms sales to Israel. In addition it is likely to call for a
review of the relationship between the TUC and the Israeli trade union centre
Histradut.


WORKERS UNITING
The Workers Uniting project has been divided into two distinct areas of work. The
international outreach work on Columbia, Mexico and China is being lead in Unite by
the International department. The second area is industrial work which is being lead
by a separate team reporting to the Joint General Secretaries.

The industrial work so far has concentrated on creating strong links between Unite
and USW colleagues in the specific sectors and organisations where common issues
and challenges exist. These „link-ups‟ focus on the exchange of industrial information
and joint campaigning.

Metals sector – there will be a tele-presence meeting this month between activists
and officials from both unions. The possibility of the first Workers Uniting conference
is being discussed, potentially in November 2009 in the UK.

Health sector – the union‟s health sectors have exchanged some information on
areas such as membership. A tele-presence will be held in the next month to
consider areas of mutual interest such as organising, universal provision of
healthcare and skills.

Chemicals sector – an initial discussion has been set up for activists and officials
from a specific chemicals company – Dow Chemicals. This allowed a dialogue on a
range of issues from: industrial relations, bargaining rights and health and safety. A
separate group from oil refining will meet in the next few months.

Education sector – officials from both unions have discussed areas of mutual
interest in the universities sector. In particular the issues around job evaluation will be


MARK LYON                                                                               13
                                                                     GEC REPORT JULY 2009



the focus of work for Workers Uniting. There is a scheduled discussion between
activists in both unions at the end of July.

Paper sector – representatives from Unite will be attending the USW paper and pulp
conference in Pittsburgh in August. Joint work is well established in this sector and
there is a constant exchange of information between the USW and Unite. Health and
safety will be the new focus over the coming months as competitive pressures in the
industry have resulted in a number of avoidable deaths on both sides of the Atlantic
recently.

Communications
The Workers Uniting website is being re-vamped in order to make it more interactive
and „fresh‟ with information on all the work being done across both unions. The new
format will make industrial and international campaigns more accessible and
encourage members to get involved with Workers Uniting. www.workersuniting.org

Linked to the website are the new projects to connect Workers Uniting to activists in
both unions via Facebook and Twitter.

A new Workers Uniting flyer has been launched to give members and activist‟s
information on the work of the global union and how they can participate. As well as
outlining how Workers Uniting will be run, it gives details of how the union will fight
back against multi-nationals. Copies are being distributed in the UK, USA and
Canada. This can be downloaded from the website.

Work is almost complete on a Workers Uniting film to show the work of the global
union. As well as reflecting the industrial work, for example in the joint paper sector
conference in August, the film will include interviews with union officials and activists.
This resource will be available on the website and will be used as part of the
education programme.

The Economic Recovery Plan as agreed by the first Workers Uniting board meeting
has been promoted via a new publication which gives an overview of the Workers
Uniting strategy in response to the economic downturn. This can be viewed via the
website.

Education programme
Two education programmes are being formulated to raise awareness of the important
role that globalisation has on industrial relations. These courses – a weekend course
and a half day course – will be accredited by the TUC. The courses will be rolled out
via the education department and throughout the regions.

Negotiation and bargaining information
A pilot project in underway on a number of joint Unite and USW employers. This
project will include the exchange of information on terms and conditions, agreements,
membership and negotiations. This will form the basis of future work for Workers
Uniting.

Joint campaigning - Bangladesh Denim Workers Victory

Workers Uniting recently joined German union Verdi in a campaign to protect
garment workers in Bangladesh from the most heinous exploitation: on 23rd June we
were pleased to celebrate a victory at the R. L. Denim factory in Bangladesh.
According to the National Labour Committee (NLC), whose work uncovered the
abuses at the R.L. Denim factory, Metro Group has admitted to its failure to monitor


MARK LYON                                                                              14
                                                                   GEC REPORT JULY 2009



and protect its workers. The company said in a statement released late last week that
it will:
   Immediately return all of its orders to the R.L. Denim factory in Bangladesh.
   Institute significant changes throughout its worldwide supply chain to guarantee
    that human, women's and worker rights standards are finally respected.
   Open its factory to the respected Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity and
    National Garment Workers Federation to push for continued improvements.
The National Labour Committee said in a statement to supporters that abusive
supervisors were fired and pay was corrected. The factory also now has child and
health care centres, purified drinking water, a dining area, toilet paper and soap.




INDUSTRIAL BUSINESS
Unite for Jobs – 16 May 2009

The Unite for Jobs March and Rally on May 16th was a great success. Despite the
inclement weather an estimated 7000 supporters took part in the march and rally.
This figure of 7000 is also a figure quoted by the West Midlands Constabulary and
other press reports have put the figure at 5000 and at one point we understand the
BBC were quoting 10,000. However the 7000 figure appears to be accurate.

In addition to the Joint General Secretaries and our parliamentary colleagues,
speakers from CORUS and the United Steel Workers addressed the rally in
Centenary Square.

Of course in the run up to May 16th the Communications And Campaigns Department
undertook a considerable amount of work in giving the campaign the maximum
publicity. Unfortunately the media do not focus on events of this nature until the day.
However in the run up to the May 16th event, press coverage mounted as did media
coverage on the TV, radio and internet.

On the day itself coverage was given to the event in the UK national press, most
notably the Daily Mirror who produced a four page wrap around special edition, the
Morning Star, The Guardian, Independent and Mail also provided coverage on the
day and in their Sunday editions. Broadcast media coverage built up from May 15th
and on the day there was coverage on the BBC‟s main stations, Radio 2, 4, 5live as
well as local radio and the Joint GS‟s undertook both radio and TV interviews before
and after the march. In addition we received numerous calls from independent local
radio who covered the event as well as overseas broadcasters. Internet coverage
was extensive on a wide range of websites. There was also coverage of the event in
specialist trade magazines as well as the political press.

The Regional Co-ordinators appointed by the Regional Secretaries did a good job in
ensuring there was sufficient transport to get colleagues to Birmingham and all of the
coaches from all around the Country were filled or almost full and all the tickets
allocated for trains to Birmingham appear to have been taken up. The only downside
was the coaches coming from Scotland were forced to turn back at midday having
encountered a standstill at roadwork‟s north of Lancaster on the M6 which was very




MARK LYON                                                                           15
                                                                 GEC REPORT JULY 2009



disappointing for our members and our Scottish Region who had worked hard to
maximise turnout.

The key now is to build on the success of the Unite for Jobs campaign particularly as
our own special website generated thousands of enquiries from members as to how
to support the campaign and become involved.

Unite Industrial Sectors
A summary of the key developments across the Unite Industrial Sectors and
Equalities sections was circulated to the EC in the Joint General Secretaries Report.

In addition, Brother Steve Turner and Brian Boyd gave a verbal report to the Council
on developments with British Airways. Also, Brothers Tom Hardacre and Bob
Blackman gave a verbal report on the situation in the construction industry.


TUC
AGS Gail Cartmail has become the TUC‟s lead spokesperson on International
Development.

TUC affiliated membership has been reported to show a drop overall of
approximately 330,000 over the past year. The TUC has tabled proposals to its EC
to address this situation. These include:
    o The TUC initiate a new 12-18 month project aimed at supporting unions to
       represent members effectively in the face of a recession.
    o The TUC public sector liaison group be asked to consider how best to tackle
       union density in the public sector.
    o The TUC commission research to underpin efforts to increase resource base
       and membership of unions in the medium-long term.
    o Re-launch the TUC‟s “Bargaining to organise” campaign in autumn 2009.

Annual Trades Union Congress 2009

The Annual Trades Union Congress will be held in Liverpool from 14 – 17 September
and arrangements are in hand for the Unite delegation.

The Council will be represented at this year‟s Congress by:

Dave Lovelidge               Tony Woodhouse
Jane Stewart                 Mohammed Taj
Mickey Stewart               Patricia Stuart
Jim Kendall                  Martin Mayer
Steve Davison                Allyson Daykin
Louise Cousins               Maggie Ryan


Unite it entitled to submit 4 motions to the TUC. Upon the recommendation of the
JGSs the council agreed that the subject areas should be Public Services,
Redundancy Payments, Manufacturing and Public Procurement, the final motions to
be agreed in conjunction with the Big 4 unions to avoid duplication.

The Council also agreed the following nominations for the General Council and
General Purposes Committee:



MARK LYON                                                                         16
                                                                 GEC REPORT JULY 2009




General Council Section A:
former T&G Section:
Tony Woodley; Len McCluskey; Tony Woodhouse; Patricia Stuart
Former Amicus Section:
To be advised

General Council Section E – Black Member - Mohammed Taj

General Council Section J – Member under 27 years of Age – John Walsh

General Purposes Committee – Linda McCullouch

CENTRAL OFFICE DEPARTMENTS
Integration

Establishment of Constitutional Committees
Following the Special EC meeting held on 11th June which endorsed the proposed
forward for the establishment of Constitutional Committees, Regional Secretaries
have been tasked with setting in train the process for holding Regional Industrial
Sector Conferences and Regional Equalities Conferences and setting up Regional
Area Activist Committees.

Regional Secretaries and National Officials submitted proposals for the
establishment of Regional Committees and National Industrial Sector Committees
which were endorsed by the Council, all outstanding proposals to be agreed within 7
days.

Following on from the decisions of the Council at their 11 June meeting National
Industrial Sector Conferences will be held in November.

PERSONNEL & DEVELOPMENT

Regional Co-ordinating Officers
The RCO interviews are reaching the end of the process with only three
appointments still outstanding – Amicus appointment in Ireland (North); Amicus
appointment in Scotland and T&G appointment in NEYH- the last two being re
advertised due to no appointment being made by the panel. The Executive
confirmed those appointed thus far.

Regional Women Organisers
Following the EC‟s nominations of members for this process one attempt to hold
training for this process was cancelled in late May and a new date is being sought to
enable this to start the process of recruitment

Investors in People
The first stages of this review are now underway with interviews with a cross section
of employees across Unite.

REMITS FROM REGIONS

Layoff Pay – The resolution was submitted by the North West Regional Secretary
who had received it from the Branch Secretary of the 2B 0121 Bolton Branch and


MARK LYON                                                                         17
                                                                 GEC REPORT JULY 2009



called for the Union to call on the Labour Government to introduce a layoff scheme to
cover the cost of layoff pay to the tune of 75% of average earnings from government
funds. In response, the resolution was supported.

NAECI Agreement on the Olympic sites – The resolution was submitted by the North
West Regional Secretary who had received from the Branch Secretary of EPIU
6/1400/1 Branch/Lodge and called on the Union to establish on-site offices, for the
purpose of recruitment and monitoring of the agreement. In response, the principle
was supported, where there is a practicality that it can be done.

BRANCH MERGERS AND CHANGES

The Council were advised of the following Branch mergers and changes within the
Amicus Section:

   Merge Isle of Man NW01 Branch into Douglas 0313 Branch
   Merge NW02 Bolton & Manchester North Branch with 0460M Manchester ISS
    Branch
   Merge Liverpool University Clerical Branch 0158M and Technical Branch 0152M
    and rename branch “The Unite Liverpool University Branch”.
   Merge Manchester University 9601M Branch and Umist 0398 Branch and rename
    branch “The Manchester University Branch 0398”.



This ends my report.


Mark Lyon

July 2009




MARK LYON                                                                         18

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Stats:
views:98
posted:2/3/2010
language:English
pages:18