Issue date
26 Nov 2018
A round-up of union news from across the South West

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West Country Workers is out

The latest edition of West Country Workers, the magazine from the South West TUC is out. Copies are being circulated through unions and copies can be ordered from

West Country Workers November 2018 (PDF)


Defend Veterans Services

The UK Government is looking to outsource Veterans Services without public consultation taking place. The provision of Armed Forces Pay, Pensions and Military HR, Administration Services, MoD Medal Office, Veterans Enabling and Supporting Services; and Maintenance and development of existing Information System and enquiry services.

PCS union is concerned about the impact outsourcing these services will have on the quality of service that veterans currently receive. The contract is worth up to £800 million and an estimated 400 jobs are being put at risk.

Sign the petition

Period Dignity

Unite is demanding that women and girls have period dignity by making changes in workplaces and elsewhere so they can access sanitary products. The campaign aims to change perceptions and help tackle some of the wider issues around periods. The hope is to make sanitary products as normal as having toilet roll.

For more

TUC South West calls on bosses to pay a real living wage

As Bristol City Council and University of Bristol announced they are accredited Real Living Wage employers, TUC South West is calling on other employers to step up and make sure all their workers a proper and decent living wage.

Unlike the Government’s ‘national living wage’, the Living Wage Foundation calculates an independent ‘real living wage’ based on what working people need to earn to afford basic living costs.

Becoming an accredited real living wage employer means the organisation will ensure all workers, whether directly employed or indirectly through procurement lines or supply chains, will earn the UK Real Living Wage.

The Living Wage Foundation has announced that the UK Real Living Wage will increase by 25p to £9.00 per hour.


South West workers lose an extra day a year to commuting

Getting to and from work in the South West now takes 6.2 minutes longer each day than a decade ago, according to new analysis by the TUC. On average, workers in the South West spend 194 hours a year commuting this is one more day lost (23 hours and 15 minutes) commuting to and from work than ten years previously.

The South West has also seen the largest increase to their commuting times in England and is second highest increase after Wales across the UK.

The TUC blames growing commutes on three main factors:

  • Low government cuts to transport infrastructure
  • Employers not offering flexible and home working
  • Real wages falling while house prices have risen, making it harder for people to live close to where they work


Anchor NEWS Anchor

Trade Union Education returns to Bristol College

The centre for TUC Education is returning to City of Bristol College with Alison Foster as the new co-ordinator.

The first menu of courses for reps starting in January is:

Health and Safety Stage 1 - Health and Safety at work is always a major issue for all employees. If you are a newly appointed safety rep, this is the course for you.

Next Steps for Health and Safety Reps - This course is designed for reps that have already completed the Stage 1 course, or its equivalent. The course helps reps identify, prevent and control risks helping to build a safer and healthier workplace.

Union Learning Representatives - ULRs are making a real difference in raising the profile of training and development by providing advice, encouragement and information to members about a range of learning opportunities. This course introduces the role of the ULR, the importance of learning and skills at work and provides the tools and knowledge that will enable ULRs to carry out their role successfully. This will be a blended course with some classroom sessions and the rest online.

Social Media and Trade Unions - The aim of this course is to help union representatives better understand behaviour and disclosure in relation to the contract of employment and the rights and responsibilities of workers in relation to privacy. This course will be three days in the classroom, dates to be confirmed but you can express an interest by registering online.

All the details are here

Details for online courses or eNotes and webinars are here

Helping young players score off the pitch

Exeter City FC first year professional Jack Sparkes is one of a group of young footballers being supported by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) ULF project. Jack started playing for the first team last season but being only 16 and half-way through GCSE exams he struggled mixing football with study.

His union stepped in and gave him help to source a tutor who was willing to travel to the training ground. There are senior professionals at Exeter who have a degree or enrolled on an Open University course via the PFA, so Jack had support from his team mates. Jack said: “It was important that I excel off the pitch as well as on it.”

Read more stories like this in the Union Learning Rep

Talking stress toolkit

The Health and Safety Executive Talking Toolkit on preventing work-related stress has been launched. It is useful in getting line managers to start a conversation with employees on stress, and in some sectors the union might want to promote its use, alongside a wider stress management policy based on risk assessment.

Hugh Roberston from the TUC has written a blog which you will find here .

Mental Health at Work Symposium: the role of trade unions

A mental health training day for trade union members, reps, officers, and organisers to learn more about:

  • how to support members
  • negotiating and enabling better mental health at work practices and policies
  • the role of trade unions in developing mentally healthy workplaces

Get a 'goody bag' of literature to take back to your workplace to use in your day-to-day role and help improve wellbeing and mental health support in their work environments and union roles, including the new edition of the Mental Health at Work Handbook from the TUC.

Sessions on the day include: how a cancer diagnosis can affect mental wellbeing at work, dealing with suicide, bullying and harassment, stress, best practice and workplace policies on mental health

This event is free to attend for all union members, reps, officers, and organisers and lunch will be provided.

This event is sponsored by Unionlearn.

Register here

Bristol Beira Calendar for 2019

Several unions along with the South West TUC have again sponsored the 2019 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’.

Kiptik Calendar for 2019

Full-colour, glossy A4 with beautiful artwork depicting the life and struggle of the autonomous Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico.

Calendars are £8 each and all profits go towards Kiptik's work with drinking water systems and women's health projects in the Zapatista communities. All funds raised go directly towards project costs. No Kiptik members are paid, and their work is entirely voluntary.

Kiptik is a Bristol-based solidarity group, started following an Easton Cowboys solidarity football tour to Chiapas in 1999 and has raised over £100,000 in that time.

Order from and more information:

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

South West Banners


Holocaust Memorial Day

Thursday 24 January 7.30pm

City Hall, Bristol

Meeting to commemorate the Holocaust. Speakers include: Lord Mayor Cleo Lake, Donny Gluckstein, author of A people's history of the second world war, Clllr Hibaq Jama, Sophie Beech a student who will give an eyewitness report from the Unite Against Fascism visit to Auswitz.

Full details can be found on the Facebook page: Bristol Stand Up To Racism



Rouse Ye Women!

Townsend Theatre Productions has announced the tour of its new show Rouse, Ye Women! a play by Neil Gore based on the true story of Mary Macarthur and the women chainmakers

The folk opera tells the true story of the women chainmakers in the Black Country in the 1900s who started work at the forge as children and spent their entire lives making chains.

In 1910 hundreds of women chainmakers held a ten-week strike against their employers. Led by Mary Macarthur, they won a minimum wage which doubled their incomes. The strike was a prelude to the ‘Great Unrest’ of industrial action that swept Britain in 1911, and led to a landmark victory for a fair wage, changing the lives of thousands of workers.

South West Tour Dates

Feb 20 - 8.00pm - Dorchester Arts Centre

Feb 21 - 7.30pm - The Plough Arts Centre Great Torrington

Feb 23 - The Lighthouse Poole

Apr 17 - Rondo Theatre Bath


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

Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival

19-21 July 2019

Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival