It was encouraging to see so many trade union reps, voluntary organisations and community groups at St Mary's Centre in Middlesbrough on Friday 9th November. Clare Williams, Chair of the Public Services Sub-committee welcomed those attending including keynote speaker Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary and regional MPs from the south of the region - Phil Wilson MP for Sedgefield; Tom Blenkinsop MP for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland and Andy McDonald, Labour candidate for Middlesbrough.
The conference had been arranged during Living Wage Week to look at what trade unions can do to tackle some of the key challenges faced in securing decent and fair wages for all workers and to discuss what can be done to prevent people becoming victims of pay day loans.
Following the keynote speech from Dave Prentis, the chair introduced speakers for the first panel: In Work Poverty and Living Wages.
Short presentations were received from:
During group discussion the issue of Procurement was raised as a major challenge. It was suggested that a clause be included in procurement tenders stating that if awarded a contract, companies must agree to pay employees a living wage.
Following a short break the conference resumed for the second panel: Financial Inclusion in the North East. Short presentations were received from:
During group discussions around the issue of financial inclusion two clear campaigning issues were identified;
The chair then welcomed our final speaker as part of the Kenny Bell Memorial Lecture: Judith Kirton-Darling, Confederal Secretary of the ETUC.
A full report of the conference including speakers' presentations and the full text of Judith Kirton-Darling's speech is available at http://tinyurl.com/wagespoverty
The Future that Works march and rally on 20 October attracted at least 150,000 people onto the streets of London, with thousands more joining events in Glasgow and Belfast.
The region was well represented with huge numbers travelling to London by train and coach. After being let down by the charter firm who cancelled the Northern TUC charter train from Newcastle (as well as trains organised by other regions) - less than 24 hours before the event - ASLEF and UNITE stepped in and we managed to secure another train. This enabled over 500 people to make the 0530 journey down to London.
The mass mobilisation brought together trade unionists, campaigners, workers, families and young people to highlight the huge damage the Government's policies are causing to communities up and down the country.
A particular focus of the demonstration was to secure a better future for young people at a time when one in five is without work. The theme of the day - 'a future that works' - underlined the need for an alternative to austerity measures that will deliver decent jobs, wages and services.
More than 250 coaches and a number of special trains brought protesters to the capital from places as far apart as Abergavenny and York. Hundreds of stewards ensured a safe, family-friendly event, with the police reporting just one arrest by 5pm.
In his address to the rally in Hyde Park, Brendan Barber said austerity 'isn't working' but was 'hitting our jobs, our services and our living standards' with the poorest and most vulnerable worst affected.
The PSA local coalitions continue to campaign hard on local issues including:
Tees Valley PSA used an innovative method to attract attention to the campaign to save jobs in the town. Robin a 'street statue' stood motionless while holding a 'Save Stockton Jobs' placard, drawing attention to the issue while PSA campaigners distributed leaflets to members of the public.
An unusual and effective method of getting the message across.
Members of UNISON, UNITE, the RMT and local community campaigners joined PCS members from the Public Lending Right, Insolvency Service and DVLA which are all threatened with closure.
The number of union reps that attended a late evening meeting on Wednesday 24th October showed that the issue of domestic violence is very much a priority for trade unions. Reps from the POA, PCS, Unison, CWU, Community and the GMB were able to share their experiences in dealing with domestic violence in the workplace and discuss the legal rights of the victims and their families with Emma Hopkins and Melanie Webb of Simpson Millar Solicitors. Vera Baird, Labour PCC Candidate for Northumbria also spoke at the event and was asked what she would do, if elected, to improve the woefully low number of perpetrators prosecuted for such brutal offences.
The meeting discussed what options and resources are available and what union reps can do in identifying and tackling domestic abuse in the workplace. It was recognised that reps are uniquely placed to negotiate specific domestic abuse policies with employers and suggest practical measures to safeguard the welfare of employees.
The full report is available at http://tinyurl.com/invisiblecrime
This is the fifth annual Reclaim the Night event organised by the Northern TUC. Following successful events in Newcastle and Durham this year's event is taking place in Sunderland on Saturday 24th November. Witnessing the abhorrent scenes at the site of the proposed Mosque in Millfield, it is hoped as many people as possible will attend and show their support for the people of Sunderland.
People are being asked to gather at Memorial Garden at Sunderland Civic Centre at 6.30pm for the short walk to Mowbray Park.
To register please contact Melanie Lowden - email@example.com, 0191 232 3175.
Leading up to the elections for Police and Crime Commission on the 15th November the TUC Regional Council heard from one of the Labour Candidates, Vera Baird, who is standing for Northumbria. The two other Labour Candidates in the region are Barry Coppinger (Teesside) and Ron Hogg (Durham).
The PCC area for Northumbria covers some 2,500 square miles, includes the whole of Northumberland and has over 1.1 million voters.
The PCC is responsible for setting the force budget and reporting annually on the progress in a Police and Crime Plan, setting the police and crime priorities for local areas in consultation with the Chief Constable.
The TUC has been involved with the Anne Frank Trust since 2008. Working with trade unions we are proud to sponsor the exhibition that was on display at the meeting on the 13th October. Grace Dunne, North East Regional Coordinator for the Trust attended the meeting and spoke about the new exhibition currently on display at Newcastle Library.
Witnessing the scenes recently surrounding the proposed mosque in Sunderland, it is evident that there is still a great deal of hatred levelled at minority groups. Grace has been working with schools on educational programmes to challenge prejudice and hatred, using the exhibition and Anne's own words, as well as young ambassadors to encourage people to embrace positive attitudes and respect for others. Funding has been secured from the Big Lottery Fund for the next three years and Grace is hoping to do some future work in the Sunderland area.
The Durham Miners Gala was 141 years old this year. It has survived numerous strikes, lockouts, depressions, two world wars and the destruction of our coalfields. If it is to survive into the future it needs the help of many friends.
Each year the cost of organising the Gala increases while the finances of the Durham Miners' Association diminish. To help safeguard the future of the Gala, Durham Miners' Association are asking people to become Friends of the Gala by donating £2.00 or more per month by standing order. Friends of the Gala will receive an A4 glossy magazine packed with photographs of the Gala and a report of the speeches each year.
Please help ensure that the Gala, which is so important for our sense of friendship, community spirit and social justice, will continue by becoming an official Friend of the Durham Gala.
Please contact Dave at Durham Miners Press firstname.lastname@example.org for an affiliation form.
The TUC has produced an excellent 36 page bargaining guide to the European Temporary Agency Worker Directive. It is intended as a resource for union reps and officials involved in organising, representing and negotiating on behalf of agency workers. It includes a handy four page insert summarising the Agency Worker Regulations 2012. The guide explains the rights that agency workers have, with particular reference to the new rights to equal treatment on pay, holidays and working time.
The guide and the summary can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/agencytreament. Copies can also be purchased from TUC publications.
The 2012 TUC annual climate change conference, Green is Good for Growth, took place on 23 October and focused on how to deliver a greener and stronger UK economy.
The conference included keynote addresses from the Business Secretary Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP and Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary Designate. The event also included expert-led workshops and panel debates between business, trade unions, campaigners and politicians. Footage from the conference and resources are available for downloading on the TUC website http://tinyurl.com/green4growth
There are two parliamentary proposals going through at the moment which are of concern to union members and hopefully you will be able to use your parliamentary contacts to help oppose them.
An amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will remove the ability to claim compensation after an injury in cases where existing regulations impose a strict liability on the employer.
The TUC strongly opposes the amendments and provided a short brief to a number of MPs on the Bill Committee prior to the debate.
A TUC briefing is available at http://tinyurl.com/strictliabilitybriefing
In addition the government has revived its attempts to cut compensation for victims of crime. Proposals to change the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) which were withdrawn in September after cross-party opposition, are to be reintroduced and were discussed by the Delegated Legislation Committee on Thursday 1st November. The changes to CICS were debated in the House of Commons on 7 November, where a Labour bid to block the cuts was defeated.
These changes will have a huge effect on many union members who would be unable to receive compensation from any other course following an assault or attack at work.
The TUC is fundamentally opposed to the government's proposals permitting employers to trade key employment rights for shares in a company. In the TUCs opinion, these proposals represent an unjustified attack on employment rights and strip workers of basic employment rights in return for potentially worthless company shares, turning working parents into second-class staff.
A copy of the report is available at http://tinyurl.com/rights4shares
In the latest issue from the TUC dated 30th October:
The rise in employment and fall in unemployment have not been uniform across the regions. In the North East the unemployment rate for 16+ was down -0.9 over the previous quarter.
The full report is available on the TUC website
Leftspace and the TUC have developed a dedicated area of unionsinthecommunity for trades union councils all around the country which, once activated, will give each trades council or county association a unique web address and an area of the website for any number of articles and pictures. The cost of this service, which includes a domain name and training on setting up and publishing on the site, is £50 which trades councils can claim for through the development grant.
Information will be circulated to Trades Councils and County Association and is also available on the TUC websitehttp://tinyurl.com/unionsinthecommunity
Two years ago the Equality and Human Rights Commission carried out an Inquiry into employment in the meat and poultry sector. The Commission's review published on the 14th November highlights clear signs of progress, particularly in light of the difficult economic environment.
However, the report also reveals that significant problems still exist within some firms, for example, management coercion of workers and threatening behaviour. To ensure that the industry continues to make progress, the Commission's review contains a series of recommendations for firms, agencies, supermarkets and the government on issues.
The full report and guidance document is available on the Commission's Website at http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/
Coca-Cola in the Philippines has replaced collective bargaining over wages with arbitrary individual wage increases as part of a broader assault on workers' rights. Unions representing Coca Cola workers have taken to the streets in protest. The IUF has launched a global campaign to back these workers.
In Zimbabwe, a member of the Executive Committee of the newly-formed IndustriALL global union, Angeline Chitambo, has been dismissed from her job. This follows the sacking of 135 workers by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Company (ZESA) in July 2012. Full details about this latest attack on the union can be found on the IndustriALL site.
The Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights, was established by the union Industri Energi (in Norway) in 2010. In its first three years, the prize has been granted to Wellington Chibebe, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Shaer Sae'd, Secretary General of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and the C.CAWDU (Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union).
The prize will be granted annually to a worthy winner, based on proposals from trade unions around the world. The prize money is NOK 500,000 (approximately $US 87,000). The deadline for the 2013 nominations is 31 January 2013. Nominations can be made in Norwegian, English, French or Spanish by writing to the Committee Secretary, Espen Løken at email@example.com
Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila al-Salman, the leaders of the Bahraini Teachers' Association, have just lost their appeal against the unjust sentences against them. Please sign the labourstart petition calling on the Bahraini government to release these political prisoners.
Further information on the above is available on the Labour Start Website http://www.labourstart.org/
The latest edition of the TUCs International Development Matters is available on the TUC website http://tinyurl.com/intdevmatters
Included in this issue:
In the last quarter 196 workplace visits have taken place, 11 of the workplaces had little or none learning activity and 6 were to new none unionised workplaces. 424 people participated in some form of informal and adult learning.
Over 50 ULRs attended the September Forum to hear an update on functional skills from Gillian Middleton, Community Engagement Manager at Newcastle College. Gillian talked through the key drivers for change and explained what this means in practice for adults in relation to GCSE's, functional skills and national test replacements.
Unionlearn have worked closely with Sunderland College to broker flexible learning opportunities that meet the needs of learners. Since 2011, 936 adults have completed a Skills for Life qualification through a collective funding agreement with Sunderland College and ULF workplace projects. Real progress has been made in encouraging adult take up of English and Maths. At none-unionised firm Alex Smiles, 27 adults have signed up to English and Maths courses working with a learning advocate.
Newcastle City Council has been successful in its bid to provide superfast broadband to thousands of residents and businesses in the Newcastle conurbation. As a result, Newcastle will become one of 10 super-connected cities in the country.
There are 69,000 adults in Newcastle who have never used the internet. People with ICT skills can earn between 3% and 10% more than those who do not have the appropriate skills. As part of a targeted digital inclusion campaign learners were given USBs to allow them to practice their skills and gain confidence in the use of technology.
Bite size briefings continue to be very popular with 424 learners taking part in some type of informal adult learning in the last quarter. Briefings ranged from Mental Health First Aid and Stress busting sessions to Representing Carers at Work and ways to achieve an environmentally friendly workplace.
Much work is being done to develop the learning and skills agenda within the voluntary and community sector. This quarter saw the first Community Learning Champions course take place with 14 learners attending a five day course over five weeks, delivered by the WEA at the TUC Regional Office. Learners came from Age UK, Polish and African Community Groups, Newcastle Residents Association and Crossings, a refugee support organisation. Another course has been arranged for 2013 and is already recruiting well.
As part of the Health and Wellbeing initiative, 12 none-unionised employers have been given support to train health advocates and encouraged to work towards the better health at work award. Employers include the Hilton Hotel, Eversheds Solicitors, Just Learning Nurseries, Prima Cheese and Alex Smiles - Skip Hire.
Stress busting workshops continue to be successful with 66 adults participating in stress buster sessions. 21 people also took part in health and wellbeing workshops and 9 people have completed the first two day mental health first aid course.
In an effort to increase take up of UK Online courses an incentive package has been developed to encourage existing centres and projects to sign up to UK Online. The offer includes:
To qualify workplaces / centres have to commit to a minimum of 25 learner registration, 2 digital champions and sign up as a UK Online Centre if they had not already.
The Unionlearn Quality Award for Information, Advice and Guidance was awarded to seven organisations this quarter. Presentations were made jointly with MPs from across the region and one of the Awards went to South Tyneside Homes in recognition of the work they are doing with trade unions to deliver their apprenticeship programme.
There have been a number of successes around the apprenticeship framework this quarter. Support given to Unison Hartlepool Branch helped them to secure funding of £1,200 to support a welding apprenticeship. We are also working with South Tees NHS Trust and Unite, supporting the development of a medical physics level 4 to level 6 apprenticeships.
Continuing to push the apprenticeship agenda a conference on 'Increasing Apprenticeships and Reducing Youth Unemployment' has been arranged for Friday 23rd November at the Centre for Life in Newcastle. We are delighted that David Miliband MP has agreed to attend and speak about his work with the ACEVO in promoting measures to tackle youth unemployment and the role trade unions can play to support these ambitions. We will also hear from the North East Regional Youth Work Unit about their experiences.
Unionlearn is also working with the North East Skills Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing to look at ways to boost the number of apprenticeships in the manufacturing sector.
As part of the low carbon skills agenda, Energy Coast in Cumbria is in the process of developing a green skills construction centre at Lakes College, Lillyhall, Workington. Energy Coast is keen to engage with trade unions, in particular trade union learning reps and have invited the TUC to organise a site visit which has now been arranged for Wednesday 5th of December. A bite size briefing on the environmental factor and what reps and employers can do to promote green skills in the workplace was held at the HMRC in Lillyhall attended by 12 reps.
19th - Cumbria ULR Forum, Harraby Community Centre
19th - Northumberland PSA, Council Chamber, County Hall, Morpeth, 5.30pm
20th - Executive Committee, TUC Regional Office, 10am
20th - Newcastle PSA, Unison Office, 5.30pm / North Tyneside PSA, Wallsend People's Centre, 5.30pm
21st - Sunderland PSA, Civic Centre, Sunderland, 5.30pm
22nd - South Tyneside PSA, South Shields Town Hall, 5.30pm
23rd - Pensions Advisory Group, TUC Regional Office, 10.30am
23rd - Increasing Apprenticeships & Reducing Youth Unemployment Seminar, David Miliband MP Keynote Speaker, Centre for Life, Newcastle 12.00pm-4pm
24th - Reclaim the Night, Sunderland. Marches held throughout the country on the nearest Saturday to the 25th of November to mark the UN day to end Violence Against Women.
27th - PSA Steering Group, TUC Regional Office, 5pm
28th - Teesside PSA, St Mary's Centre, Middlesbrough
30th - nomination forms distributed to unions and trades councils for bi-ennial conference, 13th and 14th April 2013. Closing date 25th January 2013.
6th - Northern TUC Asbestos Support Group Trustees Meeting, TUC Regional Office, 4pm
10th - Gateshead PSA, Civic Centre, Gateshead, 5.30pm
12th - Mental Health Awareness Briefing for Newcastle City Branch of Unison, 12.30-3.30
12th - Durham PSA, County Hall, Durham, 5.30pm
12th - Sunderland PSA, Civic Centre, Sunderland, 5.30pm
18th - Newcastle PSA, Unison Office, Newcastle upon Tyne, 5.30pm
18th - North Tyneside PSA, Wallsend People's Centre, 5.30pm
The TUC office is closed for the Christmas break from Saturday 21st December to Tuesday 1st January inclusive.
19th - Regional Council, Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, 10.30am
24th - Community Learning Champions Course. Five days over five weeks starting 24th January followed by 31 January and 7/14/21 February 2013.
29th - Northern TUC Asbestos Support Group Management Meeting, TUC Regional Office, 2pm
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 firstname.lastname@example.org - 0191 232 3175.
Newsletter (3,800 words) issued 20 Nov 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/union/tuc-21690-f0.cfm
printed 20 May 2013 at 15:31 hrs by 18.104.22.168