Issue date
29 Jun 2017

e-newsletter of the South West TUC

To receive the newsletter direct to your inbox in future please email your details to [email protected] and ask to subscribe to South West e-news.

If you have news that you want to share with the trade union movement in the South West, please contact Nigel Costley, South West TUC Regional Secretary on [email protected]  or call 0117 947 0521

News from the TUC 

UBritain still needs a pay rise nions lead the case for a pay rise

Pay, or the lack of it, looks set to become the top political issue over the months ahead. ONS figures show inflation at 2.9% in May which continues to far outstrip wage growth at 2.1% in March. The South West TUC calculates that workers across the South West are some £1,500 short in real terms since the crash in 2008. The parts of the region alreadying sufferening some of the lowest wages have seen the sharpest falls in income. Real wages in the Forest of Dean have lost £3,300 a year while Torbay average earnings are just £303 per week meaning that workers have lost £2,821 a year. Plymouth workers are £2,587 down, Bristol £1,750 and Cornwall £1,118 worse off.

The situation looks set to get worse without drastic action. OECD analysis revealed that UK workers will face the biggest real wage fall of any advanced economy in 2018. The figures showed that real wages will fall by 1.1% in 2018 – putting the UK and Finland at joint-bottom of the league for wage growth among OECD countries.

The TUC is calling on the government to respond urgently to the crisis with:

  • a big boost to the minimum wage,
  • end the unfair pay cap on public sector workers,
  • support unions who give workers a real voice to employers over pay and productivity, and help who provide skills development at work.


Pay rise rally in London - 17th July

Cornwall needs a pay rise

Tuesday 27th June 6pm - Railway Club, Truro
Cornish trade unions are to step up their campaign for a new deal for local workers and declare now is the time for a pay rise.

Nigel Costley, South West TUC Regional Secretary, spoke to trade unionists from all over Cornwall:

"The policies of cuts to wages and services have hit low paid workers in Cornwall harder than most. The General Election has fundamentally changed the balance of political forces in Cornwall.  Over the months ahead, the case must be made for an alternative to a low wage economy. MPs, especially those who won by a margin, must listen to the voice of working people who are fed up with paying the price for a crisis not of their making."

Tabitha Stafford, Secretary of the new Cornwall Trades Union Council said:

"Cornwall trades union council is working on behalf of unions and employees to promote fair pay and solidarity for all throughout Cornwall. We want to see an end to austerity in the county."  


How does your job and workplace measure up? 

Take the great job quiz

Take the great job quiz and see how your workplace measures up. 

Cornwall Trades Council take to the streets

Cornwall trades council picture

Activists from the newly-established Cornwall Trades Union Council held their first street stall at Lemon Quay in Truro City Centre recently. Properly-funded local authority-controlled  education, an end to cuts in the NHS and Social Care, rights at work including decent wages, housing that is really affordable and an end to privatisations were some of the TUC policies that local trades unionists addressed.



Unity in the Community

Yeovil Trades Union Council held a stall at the Unity in the Community festival in the Quedam shopping centre as part of the national Great Get Together on the anniversary of the murder of MP Jo Cox. Attractions included: the Bristol Red Notes socialist choir, Pete the Poet, Yeovil Town goalie Artur Krysiac defending his goal against all comers; minority ethnic community foods and the Yeovil Town Band. 

Get Together

There was a good turnout for tea and cakes when Tolpuddle marked the anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox MP. The barn, used for the children’s area at the festival, was festooned with bunting to welcome local residents.

Green Man Day union stall

Saturday 15th July 10am-5pm
Ilfracombe and Barnstaple Trades Union Councils are to run a union recruitment stall at the very popular Barnstaple Green Man Day.
For more information or to volunteer to help contact Mike Creek on [email protected] 


Apprenticeships are union business

Monday 3rd July
TUC Congress House, London WC1B 3LS
With Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary, Mike Brown, The Commissioner of Transport for London, Ann Cleeves, award winning crime writer and Jess Green, performance poet and more. The event will showcase union learning achievements and present a series of awards to Union Learning Reps. Workshops during the day will look at workplace learning and give practical information and updates.
Book your place here

News from trade unions 

40 years of trade union health and safety reps

The TUC plans to mark the achievements of union health and safety representative forty years after they were first legally recognised in 1977. To do that we need case studies showing the difference that safety representatives have made. Are you, or do you know, a safety rep who can tell a story of how you have made the workplace safer? References to safety reps training and joint safety committees would be helpful. Case studies should be between 200 and 500 words.
It would also be useful to get testimonies from reps who were safety reps/safety stewards before 1977 to talk about the difference that the regulations made.
Send the stories to [email protected] by the end of July.

150 stories to mark 150 years

The TUC shall be 150 years old next year and plans to mark the anniversary by showing what unions have achieved.

We want to gather 150 stories, historical and forward-looking from reps, offices and activists. If you’ve got a good story to tell please let us know: [email protected]

Stamp Sheet

The Royal Mail has decided to mark the TUC’s 150th anniversary by producing a special commemorative sheet – one of only two to be produced by the Royal Mail in 2018.

Picturehouse appeal

Members of the BECTU sector of Prospect, employed by Picturehouse Cinemas, part of the Cineworld Group, have been campaigning for the last eight months for the Living Wage. Despite 14 days of strike action and significant media publicity the company still refuses to negotiate with the union. Cineworld made a profit of £93.8m in 2016, an 18% increase on the previous year, and the Chief Executive’s pay package was worth £2.5m. Further strikes are planned for next month and thanks to BECTU/Prospect and the generosity of members of the public the union has paid those members suffering hardship some payment to make up for loss of earnings.  The Hardship Fund is now running low and the union is making a wider appeal for funds.

Cheques for donations should be made payable to BECTU (write ‘Picturehouse’ on the reverse) and posted to:

BECTU Finance Department: 373-377 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9BT
Bank transfer to Unity Trust Bank, BECTU 33045388 Sort Code: 60-83-01
Reference: Picturehouse Hardship Fund

GCHQ victory remembered

Delegates to the recent PCS Conference marked the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the ban on unions at GCHQ. On 25 January, 1984, all workers at the government’s communications headquarters in Cheltenham were ordered to leave their trade unions or face dismissal. The Tory government’s ban came out of the blue and was the start of a 13-year struggle. 130 GCHQ workers refused to sign away their union rights but it wasn’t until late 1988 that the government sacked the last 14 workers who were still holding out. For the next 4,860 days, until the ban was overturned by the incoming Labour government in May 1997, the GCHQ trade unionists campaigned tirelessly against the ban.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told conference: “I want to take inspiration from what happened at GCHQ in the work that we all do to fight injustice, to fight any attacks on trade unions and trade union members.”

South West Union Directory

The latest directory of union officers covering the South West is now available from the South West TUC. Copies are being sent to unions and will be posted online at or you can order one from [email protected]


Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival 2017

Tolpuddle festival

"Ooooooh Jeremy Corbyn"

After Jeremy Corbyn’s inspiring speech from the main stage at the Glastonbury Festival, people coming to the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival will be practicing the Jeremy Corbyn chant. He is due to speak to the annual festival after the march on Sunday 16th July. The road closes at 1pm for the march at 2pm so anyone coming to hear him needs to arrive in good time.


Smoke, gas, strikes, metal and slums

Thursday 29th June 6.30pm
The Hydra Bookshop, BS2 0EZ
Geoff Woolfe will lead a two hour historical walk through St Philips and the Dings where Alfred Jefferies, the only man from Bristol shot for desertion, and his family lived and worked, including his brother Arthur who was killed in action on the Somme. Learn about the forgotten industries, back streets, schools and social history of Bristol in the early 1900s. 

The Somme 1916: from both sides of the wire

Monday 3rd July 8pm
The Cube, BS2 8JD
This BBC series uses original research in German military archives to interrogate long-standing assumptions and prevailing myths about what happened in the most iconic battle of the First World War.
The programme will be introduced by Michael Poole, its executive producer, who recently retired from the BBC. Price: £4/£3

End Austerity now – equality for all

Wednesday 5th July 6.30-8pm
Malcolm X Centre, 141 City Road, St Paul’s Bristol BS2 8YH
A Bristol People’s Assembly/Union Community and PCS meeting with Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary and others.

Freedoms of the Forest

Sunday 8th July 2-5pm
Hopewell Colliery, Speech House Road, Forest of Dean
It is 800 years since the Forest of Dean was granted its charter which gave local communities some rights over the forest. The event to celebrate this and other occasions when local people fought against enclosures and attempts to sell-off the forest will be at the Hopewell free mine.

Morning Star five-a-side football

Sunday 30th July 1-6pm
Filton Sports and Leisure Centre, Elm Park, Filton, Bristol BS34 7PJ
The Bristol, Bath and Gloucester Morning Star Readers' and Supporters' Group, ever innovative, is organising a five-a-side football competition. Teams must be of mixed gender with a maximum of eight players (substitution allowed). Entrance fee £25/team (applications by 20th July). Each team is guaranteed three matches. Team sponsorship is welcomed.
To enter a team or get further details, contact Steve Strong on 079 9055 0724 or [email protected]

Morning Star Summer Garden Party

Sunday 6th August from 12.45pm
Pound Farm Cottage, Priddy, nr Wells, Somerset BA5 3BE.
Programme: Welcome
Tickets from 01749 870078. £10 waged, £7 unwaged (includes lunch and tea). Please book in advance to facilitate catering.