Issue date
14 Nov 2017
A round-up of union news from across the South West

Public pay and services

The Budget is coming up on Thursday 22nd November and public sector workers are hoping for a pay boost by the chancellor. It is time he ended the public sector pay gap completely.

Even Conservative MPs are now calling for the end to austerity with public services, especially the NHS, desperate for more investment.

For more click here


NHS underfunding in the South West

The TUC-backed NHS support federation has produce an app that allows you to check what funding your local NHS needs and to compare it to what it will get. The TUC is urging people to lobby MPs asking them to call on the Chancellor to use the Autumn budget to fully fund the NHS.

Local NHS check

Best beds are safe beds

Tuesday 21st November 7pm, Paignton Baptist Church, 43 Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ

A public meeting organised by Save Our Hospital Services open to all who care about healthcare provision and the future of our NHS.

No more cuts to beds and wards

Saturday 2nd December 11am, The Plains, Totnes TQ9 5DL

A march and rally with speakers, music and a bed push. Come along and wear red.

Mayor Marvin Rees

Great jobs agenda

Marvin Rees spoke to the Better Jobs for all Bristol in City Hall on 1st November. The session considered practical actions for the city to address exploitation and promote fair pay, skills at work and mental health well-being. Ideas are now being incorporated into a One City Plan that looks to develop a vision for Bristol.

Plymouth University hosted a conference on Good Work on 10th November. It discussed how good work is defined and how it can be achieved.

Rally for fair pay for Cornwall
Nigel Costley and Frances O'Grady at the Truro pay rally

Cornwall Pay Rally

‘Storm Brian’ blew the proposed march and rally inside Truro Town Hall but the effect was to create a packed and lively rally. Speakers from a range of sectors spoke of the impact of low pay and wages failing to keep up with rising prices. The event ended with a rousing speech by Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary. It boosted the support for the recently relaunched Cornwall Trades Council.

To get involved in Cornwall Trades Council contact Tabitha Stafford on [email protected]

See news report here

Darren Jones nails it in Parliament

Nail It!

The recent campaign by Avon and Somerset Police to highlight exploitation of workers in nail bars provoked a storm of reaction when police officers and supporters painted their nails. Darren Jones the new MP for Bristol North West made his maiden speech with bright red nails.

Modern Slavery debate in Wells

Wednesday 15th November

People are invited to an afternoon event in Wells Cathedral with Bishop Alastair Redfern who is the Lead Bishop of Modern Slavery.

For more contact: [email protected]


Wellbeing in the workplace

16th November 2.30pm - Webinar

Join the TUC's health and safety expert Hugh Robertson as he leads a discussion on how unions can help make workplaces healthier for everyone.
Register here

Young workers and unions

23rd November 2.30pm - Webinar

Just six per cent of 21-30-year-olds working in the private sector are members of a union and increasing numbers of young people don’t know what a union is or how it could be of use to them. This is the biggest challenge our movement faces. Join Clare Coatman, TUC’s Young Workers campaigner, for a live webinar on what unions are doing to reach young workers.

Register for Young workers and unions webinar

Union rep education courses

Health and Safety One – Wednesdays starting 10th January – Exeter

Employment Law – Thursdays starting 11th January – Bristol

Next Steps Health and Safety – Fridays starting 12th January – Bristol

For more click here


On the edge of poverty

A new analysis of people at risk of poverty, by the Guardian, shows the growing crisis in the South West and highlights places such as Torbay. In Torbay, 37% of all households fall into the 'at risk' categories identified by the research, which is around 22,000 households. In the case of Torbay these are: mainly indebted families living in low rise estates; mixed communities with many single people in the centres of small towns; self-employed people living in smaller communities.

More here

Wage squeeze gets worse

Workers in the South West still £38 a week worse off than before the crash. ONS figures show that for the year to April 2017 real wages in the South West were 8.5% below their 2008 level. Inflation has overtaken wage growth for the last six months, so the TUC is concerned that next year could be even worse. The South West TUC issued press releases about local figures:

Forest wages among worst: Average wages for jobs in the Forest are among the lowest in Britain, government figures show.

Forest Families face cold bleak Christmas

Weymouth and Portland has lowest average weekly wages in the country

21% of South West workers below the Living Wage

KPMG, in its annual report on the Living Wage, shows that 21% of workers in the South West are paid under £8.45 an hour. This rises sharply for part-time women workers in the region, to 38%. The Living Wage Foundation has increased the calculation for the Living Wage to £8.75 an hour.

KPMG Report here

Dorset council reorganization goes a step further

Savid Javid, the minister for local government, has said he is minded to give the go-ahead plans to rationalize Dorset’s councils into two unitary authorities.

See more: Dorset reoganisation


Plymouth workers strike back over DWP office closure

PCS members in Plymouth stopped work on 6th November to protest at the closure of the Old Tree Court DWP office. Up to 50 staff are at risk of redundancy and up to 350 staff face relocation across the city. An overwhelming majority of members voted in favour of striking with 76.9% supporting the strike - in protest at the closure. Further action will be considered if the DWP do not reverse the decision.

More details here

Porters’ strike suspended

UNISON porters suspended further strike action after they and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Trust secured an interim deal on shift working. After talks with ACAS, proposals for 12-hours shift working were dropped.

More details here

Hannover DGB delegation in Bristol City Hal

Hannover unionists link with Bristol

Bristol was the first city in the UK to twin with a German city, Hannover. The two cities are marking the 70th anniversary this year. Dirk Assel, from Hannover DGB (German TUC) young members officer brought a dozen young activists to Bristol. They were trade union members and activists from Young Environmentalist Network and the Hannover Anti-Racism Alliance. Dirk would like to organize an exchange of knowledge next year.  

Kathleen Pittman welcomes the Hannover TUC young activists group to City Hall.

Paddy to lead USDAW

Paddy Lillis, who was the Divisional Officer for USDAW covering the South West and a member of the South West TUC Executive, went on to become the Deputy General Secretary. He has now been elected unopposed as General Secretary to lead the shop workers’ union following the retirement of John Hannet. USDAW has been the most successful union with consistent membership growth for many years but Paddy takes over at a time when retail jobs are being cut. Good luck Paddy.

Roving safety reps

In celebrating 40 years of union health and safety representatives the TUC is looking at ways to can expand the legal role that representatives have. It is keen to look at examples of where health and safety representatives have agreed with their employer that they can cover a range of workplaces or workers employed by other employers (such as contractors). Any examples, with details of a local contact, would be very welcome to Hugh Robertson [email protected]

Jeremy Corbyn and Candy Atherton

Candy Atherton RIP

Candy Atherton, the former Labour MP for Falmouth and Camborne has died at the age of 62. Elected in 1997, Candy was Cornwall’s only Labour MP and fought to bring investment and better jobs to the area. She was a great supporter of unions in Cornwall and was instrumental in making the case for European Funds.

Guardian Obituary


Equal pay Day

Friday 10th November was Equal Pay Day when women effectively began to work for free, based on a comparison of the gap between earnings for male and female workers. The date is calculated from analysis by the Fawcett Society. There is little progress being made towards equal pay and even a widening gap for young women workers. South West figures show the pay gap at 11.4%, higher than the UK average of 9.1%. It is highest in areas where there are concentrations of jobs with good earnings dominated by men. The top pay gap in hourly pay for full-time employees is in Christchurch in Dorset at 26% of men’s pay, followed by Swindon at 23%, North Somerset at 22%, Sedgemoor at 21% and Stroud at 20% (ONS ASHE 2017).

Get a new guide on Gender Pay Gap reporting form the TUC here

Deal with it

Dealing with cases of sexual harassment in the workplace is a key task for many union reps. The TUC has produced a useful online guide or ENote to help challenge attitudes to sexual harassment and provide guidance on how to deal with it.

Deal with sexual harassment ENote here



Thursday 16th November 6.30pm, Tony Benn House, Victoria Street. Bristol BS1 6AY

Unite Community South West offers a free showing of Belonging: The Truth Behind the Headlines. The investigative feature documentary film looks at events around three industrial disputes, three governments and over three decades to show the impact of government and corporate power on democracy and human rights in the UK. Following the film there will be a short Q&A session with Director Morag Livingstone; Kevin Terry, Chair of South West TUC, Chair of South West Unite; Tim Lezard, NUJ; Cathryn Davies, Thompsons Solicitors and Brett Sparkes, Unite Regional Community Coordinator.

We are the Lions, Mr Manager!

Thursday 16th November 8pm, The Lighthouse, Poole

We Are The Lions, Mr. Manager! is the story of the Grunwick Strike of 1976-78 and the inspirational strike-leader Jayaben Desai who led a group of workers in the backstreet London factory. Their stand kick-started one of the longest and most important industrial disputes.
Poole Box Office: 01202 280000 / Website

Mission-led business: towards responsible capitalism?

Wednesday 22nd November 1-6pm, University of Bristol Law School, Wills Memorial Building, Bristol BS8 1RJ

The event is free and open to the public – everyone is welcome. As space is limited, we require participants to register via the above Eventbrite link.

Details and registration are available here

Mental health at work

Friday 1st December 10am-1pm - Bristol

Nearly fully booked – Another date is being arranged for Exeter

To see more click here.

Bristol Street Harassment

Tuesday 5th December 2-5pm 

Venue details to follow

A roundtable meeting has been called to discuss the findings of the Bristol Street Harassment Project, and how to take action as part of creating a Zero Tolerance City. This is an opportunity to hear about the experiences of street harassment that happen every day and how decision makers can address this.

Find out more about the Bristol Street Harassment Project here

Bristol Beira calendar

Several unions along with the South West TUC have sponsored the 2018 Calendar to raise funds for the work with community groups in Bristol’s twin town of Beira.

The new calendar is now available at the bargain price of £5 plus £1.50 p+p. Cheques to ‘Beira Fund’ for £6.50 to Steve Strong, 168 Paxton Drive, Bristol BS3 2BN or make a bank transfer to the Beira Fund account no 65077803 Sort Code 08-92-99 and state ‘Beira calendar’.


Christmas gifts from Tolpuddle

If you are struggling to choose the perfect gift, check out the Tolpuddle Martyrs online shop. There is now a wide range of gift ideas.

Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Museum Shop