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 February 2019 (PDF)



11-17 February

Show unions some love! They have won us all benefits and rights we sometimes take for granted. Let's celebrate our achievements and campaign to improve the lives of people at work. Union reps and oficers will be talking to people in workplaces across the region about the benefits of trade union membership. key theme shall be the campaign to end the abuse of zero-hour contracts and unions will use the week to press employers to end the use of zero-hour working.
The week will help make the case for a new deal for working people including proper funding of public services, decent pay rises for all and give assistance to union campaigns.
Trades Union Councils will be out in high streets across the region with stalls and activities.
Read and share the special edition of our West Country Workers magazine.
Show your union some love by tweeting and add @TUCSouthWest to your tweet.


Reactions to Airbus No Deal warning

Responding to a video message to workers by Airbus Chief Tom Enders, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “No deal Brexit fantasists should pay heed to this strongest warning yet from Airbus, a powerhouse of UK manufacturing and a central support to local and regional economies across the UK. The consequences of a no deal Brexit on the future of the UK’s world leading aerospace sector, its integrated supply chain and wider manufacturing would be catastrophic.
Business West, the largest business group in the region has reinforced the warnings about the dangers to aerospace in the region.

Read the response here

Universal Credit Briefing for Unions

Universal Credit is causing severe hardship. In areas where it has been rolled out, there are more people turning to foodbanks, falling into rent arrears, getting into problem debt and suffering from physical and mental health problems. Fundamental problems still remain with Universal Credit hitting people in and out of work. The TUC has produced a new guide for unions and it highlights some key problems:

  • There is a substantial gap for the first payment and delays in receiving it are common.
  • The complex online application process is difficult for claimants.
  • The model is based on the idea that people get paid monthly - which many do not in real life.
  • The rate at which benefits are reduced as income from work rises needs to be improved.
  • Families with a self-employed earner face reductions in support they receive.

Universal Credit – Briefing for Unions here

A Doomsday Book for public service contracts

The TUC has calculated that private outsourcing firms are getting an annual average of £3,530 from every household through taxes to run public service contracts.

The Carillion scandal confirmed the dangers of relying on private firms to carry out a substantial amount of public service with no proper coordination and control.

The TUC proposes a new public body at arm’s length from central government to maintain a ‘Domesday Book’ of all contracts including their performance on the outsourcing of services. This new body should have a clear mandate to assess value for money, efficiency, effectiveness and equity when services are outsourced.

Read more here

Measuring inflation – how it’s done matters!

The way wage rises are calculated or argued over, the way benefits rise each year, pension increases and other aspect of economic life are determined by the rate of inflation. Yet the basic calculation is flawed says the TUC and now the House of Lords agrees! The rigged statistics were designed to show a lower rate of inflation to surpass wage demands and cut public funding to welfare support.

Differences between RPI and CPI may be complicated but it’s important that the figures are challenged.

Read more here


Clarks may give Somerset production the boot

The Quaker family started making Clarks shoes in Somerset in 1825. All production went abroad some years ago but the firm invested in a vast robotic warehouse at its HQ in Street to cover its European business, In 2017 the firm opened a new manufacturing unit to make 300,000 pairs of its desert boots. But the firm is now consulting on its closure after those targets were not met.

Read more here

Mitie refuse to pay Living Wage

Royal Cornwall Hospital staff, employed by the outsourcing giant, Mitie, are threatening to strike over the firm’s failure to pay the living wage. UNISON area organiser Michael Auguste told Cornwall Live: “This shows the utter contempt that Mitie hold their employees in, and when it comes to pay their actions have been disrespectful and shameful. Furthermore they are not just insulting their employees they are also insulting the people of Cornwall, as it is clear that Mitie are unwilling to pay the Foundation Living Wage.

More here

Prison Officers’ union calls for radical prison overhaul

The appalling state of the country’s prisons has been in the news recently. Despite some fresh recruitment the service is still seriously under-staffed and injuries between prisoners, and prisoner suicides, are reaching epidemic proportions. Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the Prison Officer's Association spoke to Bridgwater Trades Council and explained that prisons are workplaces of danger, not of rehabilitation.

The Prison Officer's Association is calling for a radical overhaul of how we lock people up, and they have no confidence that this government is capable of coming up with the right answers.

Steve Gillan said: We need a Labour Government that will untie the laws that still make any industrial action in prisons illegal, a government that will begin to work closely with the POA to find solutions that will benefit prisoners, prison staff, and society as a whole."

Creative unions plan South West Culture Manifesto

The South West TUC has called the creative and culture unions together to coordinate their campaigns around matters such as the level of local arts funding, decent pay and conditions for arts professionals, lobby for arts education and diversity in arts.

For more information contact


National Education Union, Exeter

Clerical Administrative Assistant

£22,833 per annum (pro-rata for part-time) - Full time

Closing date: 14 February 2019 12:00


TUC Courses in Bristol and Cornwall

Health and Safety Stage One

Essential training for new health and safety reps. Learn how to get members involved in safety issues, and how to negotiate for improved workplace safety. If you are a newly appointed safety rep, this is the course for you.

Newquay - Ten Thursdays from 2 May - Newquay Community Fire Station, TR7 1QT.

Next Steps for Safety Reps

This course is designed for reps that have already completed the Stage One course, or its equivalent. The course helps reps identify, prevent and control risks helping to build a safer and healthier workplace.

Bristol - Ten Wednesdays from 1 May - City of Bristol College, BS7 9BU.

Union Reps Stage One

The essential course for new reps. Find out what it means to be a union reps and how to take up issues with your employer and represent your members effectively.

St. AustellTen Wednesdays from 1 May – St. Austell Community Fire Station, PL25 4LD.

Bristol Ten Fridays from 3 May – City of Bristol College, BS7 9BU.

Menopause in the Workplace

Both an equality and health and safety issues – learn more about the menopause and how unions and employers can help.

BristolThree Wednesdays from 8 May – TUC South West, BS34 7BD.

Social Media and Trade Unions

Update your social media skills and help the branch use social media in organising. Also covers representing members around social media issues and monitoring by the employer.

Bristol Three Wednesdays from 5 June – City of Bristol College, BS7 9BU.

Mental Health Awareness

Mental health in the workplace is increasingly important. This course covers why it is important and how reps can deal with mental health issues.

Bristol Three days 9-11 July – City of Bristol College, BS7 9BU.



Learning Rep e-magazine - Spring 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of the Learning Rep e-magazine!



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

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

It can be read online or downloaded from here



Protest and Place

The National Trust has launched a project around Protest and Places including commissioning the artist Bob and Roberta Smith for Tolpuddle. The project will examine how ordinary people achieve change, inspired by the six labourers who were transported to Australia for forming a union to protest against their poor working conditions.

See Guardian article here

Festival Volunteers

19-21 July

The success of the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival has been achieved thank to the support of lots of volunteers. Volunteers receive free entrance, tent or campervan tag, vehicle pass, crew t-shirt, food/drink vouchers, Sunday evening crew meal and the opportunity to work with some amazing people.

If you would like to help please apply via this link.

Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival

19-21 July 2019

Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival