Issue date
22 May 2018
A round-up of union news from across the South West



342,000 workers have insecure jobs in the South West

342,000 workers in the South West are in insecure work: 12.3% of the regional workforce. As well as economic hardship and disruption to family life, many workers in the ‘gig economy’ are being denied key workplace rights including:

  • protection from unfair dismissal
  • family-friendly rights
  • rights to be represented by a trade union

Bosses are falsely labelling staff as self-employed, outsourcing work to agencies or using zero-hours contracts to drive down costs and dodge their employment and tax responsibilities, says the TUC.

Agency staff and workers on zero-hours contracts can be hired and fired at will, and have no right to return to their job after having a baby.  And ‘gig economy’ workers forced into bogus ‘self-employment’ by their boss are not guaranteed the national minimum wage, paid holidays or sick pay.



Ordinary Giants

Singer-songwriter, Rob Johnson is hoping to get sponsorship from unions and Left organisations to help manufacture and promote Ordinary Giants, a song suite based on his father's biography. The story deals with the 1930s, the fight against fascism, the creation of the Welfare State, and subsequent attempts by the Right to destroy the social gains made by that generation. 

The songs and spoken word pieces are performed by a variety of contributors, including Boff Whalley, Tom Robinson, jazz diva Claire Martin, as well as from Dennis Skinner and Frances O'Grady. Last year's Tolpuddle was key in assembling contributions from Steve White, Maddy Carty, and teenager Louise Michelle Martin on tuba.

For more information, samples contact Robb on [email protected] or use the kickstarter link here:

Dying to work

City College Plymouth has added its name to a voluntary charter aimed at helping employees who become terminally ill whilst in work. The College is the latest employer to sign up to the TUC’s Dying to Work Charter, which part of a campaign to win greater protections for terminally ill workers currently at risk of being dismissed due to loop-holes in legislation.

See more about the Dying to Work campaign at

Bring out your banners

There is a new gallery of trade union banners from the South West here. Arranged in the family tree of unions, the photos show the range of baners at various events. If you have a photo of a banner not list please send copies to [email protected]

South West Banners



Women’s Democracy in a UK Brexit Environment

24 May 10-4.30pm

University of Bristol, Lady Hale Moot Court Room, 8-10 Berkeley Square, Bristol BS8 1HH

The symposium will bring together researchers, activists, voluntary organisations and unions, public sector specialists and policy makers from different nations and regions seeking to influence policy around gender equality, anti-discrimination and women’s rights.

Attendance free. Places limited. Booking essential Contact: [email protected]

Just an Ordinary Lawyer   

Saturday 26 May

Merlin Theatre, Frome BA11 2HT  
The show charts the remarkable story of Tunji Sowande, who left Nigeria to study law in Britain to become, in 1968, the UK’s first black head of a major barrister’s chambers and later this country’s first black judge. As the leading man starts to carve out his career in 1968 it was also the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy as well as the famous iconic ‘black power’ salutes by the US winners at the Mexico City Olympics.  Meanwhile Tunji Sowande was at the Oval watching Basil D’Oliveira score 158 against the Australians! Described as: “Every socialist, anti-racist and ­anti-imperialist will love this”.

Tickets 01373 465949 or 

Yeovil Women’s Day

Saturday 2 June 12-4pm

Yeovil Baptist Church, 8 South Street, Yeovil BA20 1ND

Stalls, speakers and lots more, hosted by Yeovil Labour Party

Honour Kamil Ahmad

Saturday 29 June 2.30pm

City Hall the procession to We the Curious

Kamil Ahmad was a disabled asylum seeker who was brutally murdered in Bristol in July 2016. The event will honour his memory and contribute to a positive change for those seeking asylum who are disabled. It will bring refugees and disabled communities closer together.
A memorial to Kamil and others who have been failed will be unveiled at City Hall. A March with banners to We the Curious with banners and music will be followed by discussions.

More details here


Save Teignmouth Hospital

Saturday 2 June from 12 noon

Triangle opposite WH Smiths, Teignmouth

Bring your banners, family and friends to save the first NHS Hospital from closure.

Palestine speaker

Monday 11 June at 6.30pm

Palestine Museum and Cultural Centre, 27 Broad St, Bristol BS1 2HG

Dr Aqel Taqaz, the Vice Chair of the World Peace Council and Secretary of the Palestinian Committee for Peace and Solidarity will be speaking at the Palestinian Museum and Cultural Centre on.  Dr Taqaz is a member of the Palestinian People's Party, a component of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and a party within the Palestinian Authority government coalition. All welcome.

The future of work

Saturday 16 June 10am-4pm

FaithSpace, Prewett Street, Bristol BS1 6PB

The South West Trade Union Liaison Organisation is running a policy development day for trade unionists in the Labour Party.

Kate Bell TUC Head of Economic and Social Policy will be one of the speakers.

Register here

Walk for Southern Africa

Sunday 17th June registration 10am walk starts at 10.30

Pound Cottage, Priddy, Somerset

A 10k circular fundraising walk organised by Bristol ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) to raise funds for projects including those: working with women; on HIV; on democracy and human rights.

For more information, sponsor form, transport etc. contact Sheila [email protected]

Tackling Labour Exploitation Together

Thursday 5 July 11am-1pm

Holiday Inn Taunton, Deane Gate Avenue, Taunton TA1 2UA

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority is holding a conference open to stakeholders. Delegates will have the opportunity to meet key GLAA colleagues, share information, network and find out more about the issues facing the UK labour market when it comes to labour exploitation.

For more: [email protected] or call 0115 959 7075


Tolpuddle in London

From 21 to 31 May the letters written by Thomas Warren in 1834 to his nephew will be on display in Congress House, London. Warren was the vicar of Tolpuddle who betrayed the local farm workers and in one of the letters he describes how he tried to mitigate the punishment of the Tolpuddle unionists for “the sake of their miserable wives and children”. But he stresses that: “These unions must be put a stop to or the country will be together by the ears”. The display will include the exhnibition from the Marx Memorial Library who hold the original newspapers that carried news of the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

The Martyrs’ story in print

The Tolpuddle story in words, pictures and song

Wednesday 30 May 7pm

General Council Chamber, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS

The story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs will be brought to life in words, pictures and song when Nigel Costley joins singer-song writer Graham Moore, cellist Gill Redmond present an evening at the TUC’s HQ.

Register for the free event here.

Festival Programme out

20-22 July

The programme for this year’s Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival is out and weekend tickets are on sale. Billy Bragg, Misty in Roots, Captain Ska and Steve Knightley are amongst the confirmed acts. The Radical History School has a full list of sessions around the TUC’s 150th anniversary and the menu of debates is filling up well.

Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival