In this issue:
Plans are beginning to firm up for the march on October 20th. Trade unions in the northern region are principally focusing on travel arrangements and making sure that the region has a strong presence on the march. The TUC will coordinate transport arrangements where it can and we ask all unions and others to let us know of what travel arrangements are being made plus any surplus places that may be available for others to take up.
It is the intention that all travel arrangements will be posted on the False Economy website falseeconomy.org.uk and that updates about the march itself will be posted on a new website for this event afuturethatworks.org.uk
Leaflets and posters are in the process of being distributed to trade unions to support engagement.
The march is likely to follow the same route as the 'march for the alternative' last year, with assembly taking place from about 11am on the embankment. Trade Unions are being asked to form up behind union banners where possible, but it is recognised that not everyone will arrive at the start or depart at the same time. All of the usual safety and organisational arrangements will be in place as last year. There is a plea for many more stewards than we had on March 26th, unions are being asked to coordinate stewarding nationally, but if anyone wishes to volunteer to be a steward they can through either of the websites above or by contacting the TUC.
More detail and information will follow as it becomes available.
The Northern TUC and unions have been lobbying MPs in the North East and Cumbria with great success. Now 35 out of 35 MPs in the Northern region have voiced concerns or outright opposition to regional or localised public sector pay. We have been encouraging local councils to table 'Pay Fair' motions against regional pay ensuring that councils pass them write to local MPs and the Treasury outlining their official opposition to the plans. These debates have often won cross-party support and have highlighted how Treasury proposals could impact on different areas.
On June 20th MPs from all parties across Northern region took part in an Opposition-led House of Commons debate on regional pay. Many spoke forcefully against the plans using TUC facts and findings. The Hansard transcript can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/c9ukgx7
We have been concerned that the Government has conducted no economic analysis on the economic fallout from regional pay, merely asking the Pay Review Bodies how it can be implemented. That is why the TUC has commissioned a leading independent economic think tank to examine the risks of regional pay for relatively low wage economies such as in the North East. This will be published in early July.
Union members and campaign supporters are urged to visit www.tuc.org.uk/payfair where they can find model motions, campaign resources including new Pay Fair posters to download for workplaces, a handy tool to quickly write to MPs and local newspapers and other facts and figures. Free leaflets against regional pay are also available from the Northern TUC. For more information about the campaign contact Neil Foster on 0191 227 5554 or at email@example.com or follow @payfairnow on twitter.
The Northern TUC and northern region unions played an active role in the Back on Track campaign led by Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson to bring train manufacturing back to the North East of England. In March 2011 it was finally announced that we had succeeded and that a £4.5bn Intercity Express Programme order would go ahead and be built by Hitachi at a new site in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham. It is estimated that this will create over 500 direct jobs as well as an estimated 3000 jobs in the supply chain.
On 28 June 2012 Hitachi held an open day at Newton Aycliffe outlining the £77m of initial construction orders linked to the Intercity Express Programme and new site. The majority of the 400 construction firms attending were from the North East and there is clear commitment from Hitachi to build a robust regional supply chain. This is particularly important since Northern TUC analysis shows that 84,000 construction jobs in the North East have been lost since the Coalition government was formed two years ago.
Hitachi has confirmed it will make its Newton Aycliffe base its European Manufacturing Centre which will mean the North East benefits from future orders won within Europe. The firm has said it will be investing heavily in skills and training and will be visiting local colleges and schools to highlight the potential opportunities. More information about the Hitachi development in the North East including presentations from the construction open day can be found at http://www.hitachirailproject.co.uk/
Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead has tabled a House of Commons Early Day Motion in support of cleaners employed by Churchill.
The RMT have asked the TUC to encourage regional MPs to support the EDM and anything affiliates can do to promote this would be appreciated. The motion tabled reads as follows:
'That this House commends the work undertaken by the cleaners employed by Churchill Contract Services on the Tyne and Wear Metro; notes they are paid minimum wage rates for the vital work they do; believes that the recent decision to freeze their wages was unmerited considering company profits had doubled over the last five years and directors' pay had risen up to 18 per cent; calls on the company to return to negotiations with Tyne and Wear Metro cleaners to resolve this pay dispute to prevent further industrial action; supports the cleaners and their fight for fair pay; and congratulates those councillors who are campaigning for a living wage in the North East region.' Full details at http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/291
As part of the debates around tackling and opposing austerity, the TUC hosted a seminar focusing on concerns around youth unemployment. Currently 1 in 5 young people are not in work or education, described as a national scandal. Generation Lost is available for download as a touchtsone pamphlet and highlights the picture of youth unemployment today; its causes; trends in the youth labour market; international comparisons; the role of welfare; and some policy recommendations.
The recommendations include:
South Shields MP David Miliband spoke at the event and will be following it up with local and regional meetings on this key issue.
For trade unions it is key that we are seen at the forefront of this challenge and that the bargaining agenda includes training, apprenticeships and opportunities for young workers.
A copy of the pamphlet can be downloaded from http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-20703-f0.cfm
The Select Committee overseeing the Department for Business has initiated an inquiry into the progress of Local Enterprise Partnerships, the local bodies charged with influencing economic regeneration following the abolition of the RDAs, and the effectiveness of the Regional Growth Fund. There are three LEPs covering the northern region, Cumbria, Tees Valley and the North Eastern LEP. The TUC has submitted written evidence to the Inquiry (full copies can be supplied on request) including the following key points:
16th May was National Learning at Work Day and Adult Learners Week fever gripped workplaces all over the land. The northern region definitely embraced the concept with union-employer partnership events happening all over the North East and Cumbria.
The variety of employers was extremely diverse, ranging from manufacturing and Local Authorities to Housing Associations, Government departments and food and drink and Utilities suppliers! Some of the employers/workplaces taking part via their union-led/partnership learning projects were: Caterpillar in Peterlee, South Tyneside Council, Nestle, EDF Energy, Sunderland City Council, East Coast trains, Vela Group, Sunderland City Council, Cavaghan and Gray and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - to name but a few.
It is anticipated that over the week around 800 people were engaged in some form of learning and over 3000 have attended events.
'New Challenges, New Chances: building a world class skills system' strategy paper sets out clear aims and objectives for the £210m per year Community Learning budget in England and announced an intention to pilot a range of community learning trust models to deliver these new, agreed objectives more coherently from August 2012.
The Government is planning to select between ten and fifteen pilots to begin work in August. The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) will support the pilot trusts as they test this way of working within communities.
The Trusts are to be funded through community learning providers who are already directly funded through the Skills Funding Agency's Community Learning (previously Adult Safeguarded Learning) budget. The organisations, mainly local authorities, are invited to work collaboratively with other community partners to submit proposals to become part of the 2012/13 Community Learning Trust pilots in England.
Unionlearn has been invited and included as part of Newcastle Council's bid. The first meeting of the 'Learn 365 Newcastle' project was held on the 27th June. Bids will be approved early July.
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) - a team within the Department of Culture Media and Sport - was set up to deliver the Government's broadband strategy, bringing superfast broadband to all parts of the UK - in an attempt to break down the barriers for those who are digitally excluded and increase the number of people who don't and can't use the internet or even a computer.
BDUK's main role is to allocate and distribute £530m of funding to bring superfast broadband to the third of UK homes and businesses which won't be provided for by the broadband market and would otherwise miss out.
County Councils, Unitary Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships can apply for a share of the money by developing a local broadband plan setting out how access to superfast broadband will be provided.
In our region, Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside and South Tyneside have had approved bids. Natasha Innocent, Broadband Stimulation lead has met with all concerned and is a real advocate of trade union involvement in this agenda. Newcastle Council is the most advanced at this point and the first meeting of the stakeholder group took place on the 29th June.
Leading industrialists from across the North East recently launched a new campaign to boost the number of apprenticeships.
The newly-formed North East Skills Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing is aiming to almost double the number of apprentices recruited in the sector this year while also taking on more graduates and upskilling existing workforces.
The group is made up of representatives from all 12 local authorities, champion employers, business membership organisations, training providers and the National Apprenticeship Service and TUC unionlearn who have joined forces to speak with one voice on the issue.
They want to get the message across to employers - especially small and medium-sized firms - that there is unprecedented support, including funding, to help recruit and train young people as well as adult apprentices, and make the process of hiring apprentices as easy as possible for businesses.
The Alliance is being co-ordinated by Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies. As an indication of the job opportunities available for young people, Semta research shows around 8,500 skilled workers are due to retire in the next six years and a further 15,000 employees need to improve their skills to ensure the North East can continue to perform as a world-class region.
On the 2nd April, a Panorama report highlighted blatant abuse of apprentices at Morrisons, the supermarket chain, involving a training contractor. The apprentices were poorly trained, often existing employees on very short training programmes, while the contractor was making substantial profits from their government funded contract. This and other such abuses have led to BIS and NAS introducing tougher standards to drive up quality. A recent BIS report also found that some 20% of apprentices were not receiving statutory minimum wage apprentice rate and the same proportion were not receiving the minimum number of hours training.
In response, unionlearn are stepping up the campaign to highlight and tackle these abuses. An apprentice campaign plan is being developed, including: a bigger web profile explaining apprentice rights and asking them to contact us or their unions if these rights are not being met; actively seeking examples of poor practice which we will directly take up with NAS; supporting unions to do the same as regards their members and employers; and pressing the Minister, NAS and BIS for a strong and concerted response, involving the SMW Inspectorate and ACAS, as well as unionlearn. Interestingly, our efforts in this area are welcomed by NAS and BIS, who see unions as a key potential ally in driving up quality and employer engagement.
Almost 100 attendees made their way to the Centre for Life in Newcastle on Wednesday 27 June to participate in a very practical seminar on building rep capacity and embedding learning into wider union work.
Unionlearn Development Co-ordinator, Beth Farhat, began by setting the scene and context of this work and crystallising the direct link between union learning, skills and development, union organisation and economic growth.
Carl Roper, TUC National Organiser, also highlighted the very effective nature of the learning and skills agenda at raising awareness around the good work of trade unions and altering perceptions: 'There is no better story than that of learning and skills to promote the benefits of trade unions and re-set the narrative.' This coupled with some very salient points about people with positive experiences being the best exponents of what we do, and Reps being the most valuable - and often underrated - resources that unions have also illustrated the need for increased capacity.
Unionlearn's purpose is to continue to add value to the work of trade unions in relation to learning and skills at an individual, workplace and community level, and there is ample evidence that this is the case. The three ULR case studies delivered to the seminar by Tracy Maddison, Simone Lampon and John Clark respectively demonstrated this perfectly - each emphasising the far-reaching benefits of trade union learning and partnership working to build both partnerships and capacity across the public and private sectors.
Rheged in Cumbria was the perfect setting for a Cumbria Forum focussed on health and wellbeing on Thursday 28th June. Over 40 reps attended the seminar and heard at first-hand what practical steps unions are taking to promote health and wellbeing in the workplace.
The Forum provides an opportunity to bring together trade union representatives from across the County, picking up issues of interest or concerns in workplaces or the broader community such as health and wellbeing and delegates were warmly welcomed to the event by Alan McGuckin, Chair of the Forum.
Speakers included TUC Project Worker Tom Ross, now qualified to provide Mental Health First Aid briefings to union reps and members; Phil Hanns from Macmillan Cancer Support; Charlotte Chorlton and Paul Musgrave, from Cumbria Public health; and a case study from Angela Harrison and Glen Palmer, PCS, HMRC.
A full report and copies of presentations are available at www.tuc.org.uk/northern
For more information contact the TUC Regional Office 0191 2323175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the summer term of bite-size briefings come to a close, we are already busy organsing the next round of regional briefings which take place from September. Topics covered in the autumn term include:
6th - Pensions Advisory Group, TUC Regional Office, 10.30am
7th - Women's Group Meeting, Unison Office, Newcastle, 10.30am
9th - PSA Steering Group, TUC Regional Office, 5.00pm
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
12th - South Tyneside PSA, South Shields Town Hall, 5.30pm
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
8th - Durham PSA, County Hall, Durham, Room 1a, 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
6th - Representing Carers at Work Bite-Size Briefing, TUC Regional Office, 1pm-4pm
10th - Gateshead PSA, Civic Centre, Gateshead, 5.30pm
12th - Environmental Awareness and Greening the Workplace Bite-Size Briefing, Cumbria (venue tbc), 1pm-4pm
17th - Northumberland PSA, Council Chamber, Blyth Civic Centre, 5.30pm
18th - Executive Committee, TUC Regional Office, 10am
18th - Newcastle PSA, Unison Office, 5.30pm
18th - North Tyneside PSA, Wallsend People's Centre, 5.30pm
19th - Sunderland PSA, Civic Centre, Sunderland, 5.30pm
23rd - Sunderland Pride
24th - Community Learning Champions. A five day course over five weeks, 10am-3.30pm, TUC Regional Office
25th - PSA Steering Group, TUC Regional Office, 5pm
26th - Mental Health First Aid Bite-Size Briefing, TUC Regional Office, 1pm-4pm
28th - Health and Safety Forum on 'Noise', Thistle Hotel, Newcastle, 10am-3.00pm
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
Newsletter (3,200 words) issued 13 Jul 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/union/tuc-21218-f0.cfm
printed 25 May 2013 at 09:10 hrs by 18.104.22.168