In this issue:
There are encouraging signs that public opinion is continuing to shift away from the current government's economic policy toward trade union proposals against austerity.
People are increasingly concerned that the damage from severe spending cuts are leaving permanent scars, impacting on public services, public sector jobs and terms and conditions and also on the private sector too.
The TUC has called a further national march and rally - For A Future That Works - on Saturday, October 20th, in central London, assembling 11-11.30am and marching to Hyde Park. The TUC is calling for an alternative economic strategy, one that invests in jobs and growth, and one that protects good quality public services.
A new website, www.afuturethatworks.org.uk will be launched with further details, and a new twitter feed, @futurethatworks #oct12 will continue to provide updates.
Unions are asked to make early provision for transport and to identify potential stewards in support of the march and rally. Posters and other materials are available for trade unions to promote the march in workplaces and communities.
The TUC has launched a campaign to halt the further erosion of rights at work under the Coalition Government. Employee rights are seriously under threat, the government has already made it easier for employers to dismiss workers and has introduced changes to make it much harder to pursue legal recourse for unfair actions by employers, extending the qualification period before workers can apply to employment tribunals and introducing fees that act as barriers to workers seeking access to justice.
Maternity rights and health and safety safeguards are also at risk as the government slices basic minimum standards for workers a bit at a time.
A new website with campaign materials has been launched, www.stopemploymentwrongs.org and updates can be received through twitter, @TUCrights
Unions are asked to encourage members to sign the on-line petition and to spread the word about the employment rights campaign.
The Northern TUC has being playing an active role in the national TUC Pay Fair campaign against regional pay and for a living wage. The Government's regional pay plans will threaten the real terms pay of 385,000 public sector workers in the North East and Cumbria. The reduced spending power will squeeze living standards and have a direct knock-on effect on businesses in the region. The TUC has been working with trade union members to brief and lobby MPs in the region, providing model motions to councillors to debate regional pay, gathering evidence against it with the media and providing materials and resources for unions and Public Service Alliance co-ordinators. Trade unionists can access materials and write to MPs and newspapers using tools at www.tuc.org.uk/payfair or contact Neil Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0191 227 5554 to find out more.
Copies of the 'Pay Fair - Why regional pay doesn't add up' leaflet are available from the Regional TUC Office.
The 2011 annual trade union membership figures were published in the Labour Force Survey in May 2012 and reveal that despite falling national membership, there is a more positive picture in the North East. Despite an increase in membership of 43,000 in the private sector, union membership fell by 143,000 overall and now stands at 6.4 million. Union membership in the public sector fell by 186,000.
However the North East was one of three regions/devolved nations that managed to increase trade union figures alongside the East of England and South West. Union membership in the North East has increased by 14,000 over the last 12 months jumping from 327,000 to 341,000. Trade union density in the region also increased over the last year from 32.6% to 34.2%. This is the highest in England, higher than Scotland and Northern Ireland and just behind Wales at 34.9%.
These all represent significant achievement by trade unions in the region, particularly in the context of large-scale job losses and industrial challenges resulting from Government policy and a struggling economy.
The TUC is pressing the arguments for an alternative economic philosophy, hosting an 'after austerity' conference with a range of high-profile speakers.
With the country facing a decade of economic stagnation we need real change if we are to secure jobs and living standards for the future. The conference will pose the following questions for debate:
Growth is the only long-term solution to getting our public finances back in shape, but where will it come from?
With another generation scarred by youth unemployment, and job losses in public and private sectors, how can we create more as well as better jobs?
A growing gap between the rich and the rest helped cause the crash, but what can we do about it?
As tackling climate change is increasingly presented as a barrier to growth, can a low carbon economy be part of the solution?
Speakers include a wide range of international economists and political thinkers including General Secretary of the ETUC, Bernadette Segol and TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber. For more information and to register visit www.afterausterity.org.uk
Since its inception in 2010, the Northern Public Services Alliance has consistently argued that not only would austerity measures cause great social harm, but that they would be economically counterproductive too. So it has proven to be the case. The Northern PSA has produced a new leaflet 'Austerity isn't working'. Bulk copies are available from the TUC Regional Office and to download from the website www.tuc.org.uk/northern.
RMT reported fantastic support from the public as union members leafleted stations and key central locations on the morning of 11th June, explaining the background to the dispute - an attempt by contractor Churchill's to demand de-facto pay cuts through a zero % pay offer to staff already on minimum wages while the company rakes in millions in profits.
RMT research shows that Churchill's has in fact doubled its profits in the past five years and has extracted nearly £7 million from the exploitation of essential cleaning staff on the most basic pay and conditions including no sick pay, no pensions and none of the travel concessions rights enjoyed by other NEXUS workers.
While the company is trying to enshrine poverty pay amongst the staff who deliver vast returns for the shareholders, its own highest paid director has had a salary increase of more than 18% in the last 5 years to nearly £160,000 making a nonsense of their claims that they can't afford a decent offer to the front-line cleaning staff.
On the 12th June, RMT members and supporters will be lobbying a 'Community Roadshow' organised by Labour-controlled transport authority NEXUS at 11am at Haymarket in Newcastle where the union will demand that the Labour Party stand with the cleaners and demand pay justice from their contractors.
Since the last report to the Regional Council in October Wear Valley Trades Council has ceased to operate, Barrow and Ulverston Trades Councils have merged and a new Trades Council has emerged - County Durham Trades Council. This information is incorporated into the table below. Although the number of trades councils registered has reduced from 18 in 2011 to 17 in 2012, trade union affiliations have gone up and this figure will further increase when County Durham Trades Council advise its affliations.
The Olympics doesn't run on thin air
Its stadia, merchandise and sportswear come from somewhere and through the work of someone.
Playfair 2012 north east is hosting the alternative Olympic torch to remind us that the games are a workers creation too. And these workers deserve a fair deal.
The workers torch will be calling at:
Durham Tuesday June 12: Assemble 1pm at the Peoples Bookshop Saddler Street.
Newcastle Thursday June 14: Assemble 1pm at Grey's Monument.
More information at http://www.playfair2012.org.uk/
The Ross Pritchard Memorial Fund was established to commemorate the life of one of the Graphical Paper and Media Union's best known rank and file member. The Trustees of the Fund invite entries to the annual essay competition on a subject dear to Ross's heart, this year: 'Is Scottish independence a vehicle for a development towards socialism?.'Young trade union members in particular are invited to submit essays of not more than 1,000 words by Monday 1st October 2012 to: RPMF, 1 Camden Hill Road, London, SE19 1NX or email@example.com. The winning essay will be awarded a prize of £750.00.
Youth unemployment is at a record high with over one million 16-24 year olds unemployed. But although this is a result of the recession, youth unemployment was also rising before the current downturn started.
Research by the TUC has demonstrated the scarring impacts that long periods of unemployment can have on young people's future lives, as well as the importance of drawing on evidence of what works supporting those young people who are struggling to find employment.
This TUC seminar will focus upon both policy and practical solutions, bringing together expert contributors to reflect on young people's prospects now and in the future.
To register and for further information go to www.youthunemployment.eventbrite.co.uk
It's the most controversial change in the 63 years since the NHS was founded and will affect us all. Soon our NHS may not be able to deliver the healthcare we have come to expect and rely upon. Many people are worried and want to find out what's happening and what they can do about it.
This conference provides an opportunity to hear directly from health experts and campaigners who will explain the latest news about the government's NHS changes.
A public conference for NHS supporters takes place on Saturday 23rd Jun, 10.30am at the Friends House, Euston Road, London NW1.
To find out more details and book go to www.nhscampaign.org/reclaiming.
Northern Delegation to Burma
The Regional Council meeting of 26th May were fortunate to hear at first hand the experience of delegates recently returned from their visit to Burma.
A delegation of 10 trade unionists from Unison, UCU, NASUWT and FBU joined the Burmese and Karen trade union federations in celebrating May Day. Much is changing with Aung San Su Kyi recently elected to Parliament and many political prisoners have been released however there are still over 900 political prisoners being kept in captivity. The presentation included moving pictures of day to day life and the challenges faced by the Burmese people to achieve even the most basic human rights such as the minimum wage, health care and decent working conditions.
Plans are progressing to support a Burmese trade union delegation to visit the UK in 2013. If confirmed, sponsorship will be sought from TUC affiliated unions.
It was reported at the last executive committee meeting regarding the decline in representatives attending TUC Education and affiliate courses during 2011 with learner numbers regionally down by some 14.5 % (on 2010). This was about the average (decline) for all UK regions, Scotland and Wales.
The focus of this brief report is to outline current and future responses by the national and regional TUC Education service.
TUC education programmes for reps and union officers continue to attract 'full fee remission' for all courses run via our regional colleges (Newcastle, Sunderland, Darlington Carlisle) and WEA partners (Barrow, Workington and Newcastle). The full range of core training courses; Union Representatives stages 1 and 2, Health and Safety Representatives stages 1 and 2, Union Learning Reps, Disability Champions, Equality, Employment law, Pensions, Environmental / Green reps, etc, training will all be offered at our centres from September 2012. In addition, the individual union affiliate programmes are also currently being finalised in readiness for September.
The regional brochure for the coming academic year, Sep 2012 - July 2013 is currently being finalised and will be distributed to reps and unions during July. Please contact the regional office for further information and to register for the brochure.
As well as maintaining current course provision some new initiatives for September this year will be;
A regional online programme offer, which will supplement the current national offer
Further reps training courses will be offered for Occupational Health and Wellbeing
Further development of the new 'e' notes online training programmes for reps, short, informative on-line briefings, with further training materials being developed. If not already done, all reps should register for 'e' notes access, via the TUC or Unionlearn web sites, or go directly to www.tuclearning.net.
For any further comments / questions do not hesitate to contact Regional Education Officer, Ian West; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The final two briefings for this session are as follows:
Disability Champions - Friday 22nd June, Northern TUC office, 1pm-4pm
Cumbria Forum on Health & Wellbeing - Thursday 28th June, Rheged, Penrith, Cumbria, 1pm-4pm
13th - Durham PSA, County Hall, Durham, 5.30pm
14th - South Tyneside PSA, South Shields Town Hall, Committee Room C, 5.30pm
15th - Health & Safety Working Party with Stephen Hughes MEP, 5.00pm, TUC Regional Office
19th - Newcastle PSA, Unison Office, 5.30pm
19th - North Tyneside PSA, Wallsend People's Centre, 5.30pm
20th - Sunderland PSA, Civic Centre, Sunderland, 5.30pm
22nd - Bite Size Briefing: Disability Champions, 1pm-4pm, TUC Regional Office
26th - PSA Steering Group, TUC Regional Office, 5pm
27th - Learning and Organising Seminar
28th - Bite Size Briefing: Cumbria Forum on Health and Wellbeing, 12.00pm-4.00pm, Rheged, Cumbria
6th - Pensions Advisory Group, TUC Regional Office, 10.30am
7th - Women's Group Meeting, Unison Office, Newcastle, 10.30am
9th - Gateshead PSA, Gateshead Civic Centre, 5.30pm
11th - Durham PSA, County Hall, Durham, Room 2, 5.30pm
11th - Teesside PSA, St Mary's Centre, Middlesbrough
12th - Executive Committee, TUC Regional Office, 10am
14th - Durham Miners Gala
16th - Northumberland PSA, Council Chamber, Blyth Civic Centre, 5.30pm
17th - Newcastle PSA, Unison Office, 5.30pm
17th - North Tyneside PSA, Wallsend People's Centre, 5.30pm
18th - Sunderland PSA, Civic Centre, Sunderland, 5.30pm
21st - Northern Pride
31st - PSA Steering Group, TUC Regional Office, 5pm
8th - Durham PSA, County Hall, Durham, Room 1a, 5.30pm
13th - Gateshead PSA, Gateshead Civic Centre, 5.30pm
15th - Sunderland PSA, Civic Centre, Sunderland, 5.30pm
21st - Newcastle PSA, Unison Office, 5.30pm
21st - North Tyneside PSA, Wallsend People's Centre, 5.30pm
28th - PSA Steering Group, TUC Regional Office, 5pm
For more information check out the Northern TUC website: www.tuc.org.uk/northern
For information regarding the content of this report please contact Melanie Lowden 0191 2323175 or email@example.com
Report (2,500 words) issued 12 Jun 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/the_tuc/tuc-21113-f0.cfm
printed 21 May 2013 at 22:05 hrs by 188.8.131.52