Monday, 30 December 2013

COUNCILLORS MUST LOBBY GOVERNMENT TO AXE THE TAX


Protest against the bedroom tax
Bridgwater & Somerset People's Assembly will present their petition against the Bedroom Tax to the full meeting of Sedgemoor District Council on Wednesday 8th January, at 2.30pm

The petition calls for the Council to lobby Government for the abolition of this unreasonable and unworkable tax, which is causing evictions and homelessness across Britain.

It also asks the Council to agree that no-one shall be evicted from any council property due to arrears caused by the Bedroom Tax.

Said spokesman Gwyn Holland: " Councillors know this tax is unworkable. It is increasing  the cost of housing benefit by forcing people into high-priced private accommodation, because of the shortage of one-bedroomed accommodation in the social housing sector. This is against the aim of the Tax which the Government claims will reduce the cost of housing benefit. This is apart from the misery and stress caused to people faced with rent arrears and possible eviction.Many of those targetted by this wicked and vicious tax are disabled people. 

It is not enough for Councillors to wring their hands. It's time they stood up to a government which is clearly incompetent at introducing reforms to the benefits system. Councillors are elected by local people and paid for by local people. it's time they acted in our interests.

There will be a lobby of councillors as they enter the meeting on 8th January. This will start at 1.30pm outside Sedgemoor District Council Offices, King Square, Bridgwater.

Information: Gwyn Holland: 07919676156  Glen Burrows 07813 562 869

Thursday, 12 December 2013

SOMERSET PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY TAKE TO XMAS STREETS WITH ANTI AUSTERITY MESSAGE

Campaigners from Bridgwater People's Assembly will be following up their successful Bonfire Night of Austerity event with a Christmas street protest this weekend bringing home the anti-austerity message to Christmas shoppers.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

SOMERSET PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY:Plans for Day of Action Gain Momentum


SOMERSET PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY
DEMOCRACY?
They’re having a laugh!
In 2010 a majority of the British electorate voted NOT to have a Tory government.
Since then, aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats, Cameron and his gang have used the economic collapse, caused by bankers, to cut welfare and jobs, while giving even more tax cuts to the rich.


The list goes on – there will be more if we don’t stop them....
BIN THEM!
Join us at the Cornhill, Bridgwater, Nov. 5th,  
5-6pm
Show this government of the rich, for the rich what you think of their plans for destroying Britain
FURTHER DETAILS:   pasomerset@inbox.lv/ 07813 562 869

Monday, 30 September 2013

Save our NHS March at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester


Members of Bridgwater Trades union Council and North Somerset UNISON attended this weekend's march in Manchester where 50,000 people marched against the cuts and privatisation of our NHS.


One of the highlights was The Farm doing All Together Now - here's a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7MwXniOD44

The Manchester Evening News also gave the march some great coverage -
http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/happened-manchester-anti-cuts-protest-6110929#.Ukg-oORZetI.twitter

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Bridgwater Trades Council & Postal Workers support Firefighters

Workers Solidarity

Members of Bridgwater Trades Union Council, along with Bridgwater postal workers supported local firefighters on their picket line on Wednesday 25th   September, and are proud to offer 100% solidarity in their continuing fight to protect pensions. The solid support for the strike shown by firefighters across England and Wales demonstrates their anger and determination to keep a fair, safe and workable pensions scheme
The government’s proposed changes to firefighters’ pension rights are unsafe, unfair and unworkable, and will result in firefighters’ health and public safety being put at risk, as firefighters are forced to work longer, for a lower pension.

The general public appreciate the hazardous work done by firefighters, and their courage. It’s a pity the government doesn’t. They must ditch these ridiculous proposals and get back into talks with the Fire Brigades Union.

Said Trades Council Secretary Dave Chapple: “The government’s attack on firefighters’  pensions is the same attack being made by government right across the public sector, as they try  to recover the costs of the bank crash from the pockets of tomorrow’s pensioners. It is an assault on workers, their future and the vital public services they deliver. "

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Bridgwater Trades Union Council 1913-2013 CENTENARY CELEBRATION SATURDAY 19TH OCTOBER


Join us for a march, with your branch banner, to a rally at Bridgwater Baptist Church, to commemorate the founding of the town’s organised trade union movement by local rail-workers in 1913

12.30pm: Assemble: Cranleigh Gardens, Bridgwater, TA6 5JS
1pm: Banner parade and march  
1.45-2.45: Rally, Baptist Church, St Mary Street, TA6 3EQ
Speakers:
  • Rosemary Eaton, Minister, Bridgwater Baptist Church
  • Nigel Costley, Secretary, South West TUC
  • Rosie McGregor, White Horse(Wiltshire) Trades Union Council
  • Bob Crow,  General Secretary, RMT
3.15 – 4.15pm: Ships, Bricks & Cellophane: a radical view and discussion of Bridgwater’s political and industrial history, with Dave Chapple, postman and secretary of Bridgwater Trades Union Council

Further information: Dave Chapple:  0777 6304 276   davechapple@btinternet.com

“A red ship in a sea of blue!”
Bridgwater Trades Union Council was founded on June 22nd 1913 after a march of over 2,000 workers from Bridgwater and Highbridge proudly wound its way through Eastover, Fore St and High Street to a rally at the Town Hall.

This new West Country trades council was founded by the Bridgwater and Highbridge Branches of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR). The NUR itself had only just been established: a historic joining of several railway unions, including the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (ASRS)

In the militant years before World War One, the new NUR was hailed as a significant step towards achieving a single, strong, industrial union for the whole rail industry-then, as now, privately owned and run. Today’s RMT continues that militant NUR tradition!

In 1913, Bridgwater had NUR, ASLEF, RCA and AEU members working at both Bridgwater North Station (Somerset & Dorset) and the Great Western Railway (GWR): (a goods station at Bailey Street, the carriage works at Colley Lane, and the Bridgwater docks and wharves.)

Highbridge had double the number of Bridgwater’s rail workers: 900 at the huge Walrow carriage, repair and engine works: the engineering headquarters of the Somerset and Dorset Railway.

The Brick and Tile industry was still dominant in Bridgwater, and workers from Ben Tillett’s Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourer’s Union-a forerunner of Unite- were there on the day, with the bakers, printers, tailors, the various building trade unions, the Engineers (AEU), agricultural workers, Co-op workers, and, perhaps, the National Union of Seamen.

Our 2013 centenary celebration also commemorates 100 years of working-class political and industrial organisation: Bridgwater as “a red ship on a sea of blue”: defiance of hostile employers and a counterweight to Conservatism! Bridgwater Trades Council is still fighting the cause of the Bridgwater working-class, so come and join us on October 19th!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

"Definitely undefeated!"


After nine days of strike action postal
workers at the Royal Mail
 Delivery Office in Friarn Street Bridgwater have voted to end their summer-long dispute about oppressive managers and working conditions.
 
This follows a mass meeting of workers last night where a proposed agreement was endorsed by a 3:1 majority.
 
Bristol CWU Branch Secretary David Wilshire said:
 
“Following lengthy and difficult negotiations an agreement has been accepted that places the Union back at the centre of all decisions that are made in Royal Mail Bridgwater.  
Crucially it states that future changes will not be made until agreement is reached.
 In addition Royal Mail must realise that unless the management of the office seriously improves in the near future more disputes are inevitable.”
 
On the basis of the vote taken yesterday evening the planned week of strike action that was scheduled to take place for a week commencing 9 September 2013 has been cancelled.
 
Dave Chapple, Bristol CWU Branch Chair and Bridgwater Rep said:
 
"110 postmen and women have sustained what is possibly-that epic Burslem struggle apart- the longest and most bitter official dispute in a Royal Mail Delivery Office for 20 years. What were we up against? First, up to 150 Royal Mail managers breaking our every picket line; second, our so-called free country's laws that makes solidarity strikes illegal. Had it not been for the amazing financial support from CWU Branches and other trades unionists nationwide, we would have struggled. Thanks to all those who supported us, we remain defiant and definitely undefeated!" 
 
Ends.
 
For further information please contact :
 
David Wilshire on 07909 525740 
 
or Dave Chapple on 0777 6304 276  davechapple@btinternet.com    

Friday, 16 August 2013

Bridgwater Royal Mail strikes: Stronger than ever after eight days!


110 Bridgwater Royal Mail strikers, out on the gate for their eighth day tomorrow, Saturday 17th, are more determined than ever to secure a decent settlement from their employer. They have also welcomed an intervention on their behalf from Len McCluskey of the Unite union.

The Bridgwater postmen and women are in the Bristol Branch of the CWU/Communication Workers Union, which is dealing with scores of local strike ballot requests from all over the country, as the Government prepares for its autumn plan to sell Royal Mail off.

Most of these local issues are the same: excessive workloads; a punitive managerial regime that disciplines staff of up to 45 years service for working too slow; finally, managers breaking local and national agreements with the CWU that protect health and safety, earnings levels, and permanent and full-time job opportunities.

Dave Chapple, Bristol CWU Branch Chair and shop steward at Bridgwater’s Friarn St office, said:
“Bridgwater lads and lasses on strike have reacted with calm and a quiet determination to an extremely aggressive supervisory regime that has been trying to provoke wildcat strikes for a month or more now. Managers have secretly spied on us, peeked under toilet doors, bullied us out of tea and fag breaks, refused legitimate overtime claims, taken us off our own duties, changed duty start and finish times without agreement, chivvied us in public for not walking or cycling fast enough, threatened temporary contract staff with reductions in hours, and banned and threatened CWU Reps with disciplinary action for performing their legitimate union activities. All this because we dared to challenge an imposed and un-agreed summer ‘savings’plan.

Stronger than ever despite your systematic bulling regime, we now have this serious message to send to senior Royal Mail managers at regional and national level: 

You have made a serious mistake in trying to beat Bridgwater by starving us back to work. You have seriously underestimated our strength: after 8 days out, we are stronger than ever, thanks to the support we are getting daily from other Royal Mail workplaces, CWU Branches and trades unionists all over the country. Please can you now admit your tactics are misguided: please pension off your hawks, sit down with us and work out a decent future at Friarn St, where there is no place for bullies, a future that can, together, Save our Royal Mail and Keep the Post Office Public! “

Bridgwater postmen and women are also on strike this Monday 19th, and have requested their CWU HQ a whole week commencing 2nd September.Sympathetic members of the public, our friends in the media, and all our brother and sister trade union members are welcome on our picket lines between 5am and 9am. Postcode is TA6 3XX.”

Dave Chapple also said: “We especially welcome members of the Unite union to our picket line. Up to 150 members of Unite-Royal Mail managers-have been crossing our picket lines during our last seven strikes days, and attempting to undertake our delivery work: we now understand that Len McCluskey himself has written to all these managers instructing them not to come to Bridgwater to try and break the strike. That’s great news for us!

ENDS
For photos, requests to interview, invites to speak, messages of support, further information, and donations to the Bridgwater Royal Mail dispute fund, please contact

Dave Chapple on 0777 6304 276,

Cheques to be sent to Dave Chapple 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU;
and made out to “Bridgwater Trades Union Council.”

The attached photo was taken on 29th June and is credited to “Exeter TUC”: It shows the TUC anti-austerity bus blocking the Bridgwater Delivery Office gate with 60 pickets!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

'PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY SOMERSET' LAUNCHED IN BRIDGWATER




Twenty one people attended the first meeting of the Bridgwater People’s Assembly, all eager to take the fight against the impoverishment and disempowerment of the majority for the benefit of the elite minority back to the Government.

The following points were agreed:
  • As attendance was wider than the Bridgwater area, it was agreed to change the name and scope of the group to the People’s Assembly Somerset.
  • Perry Stevens agreed to keep the contacts list and manage the group email box.
  • All further appointments were put on hold until the next meeting, and it was agreed that some posts, such as chair should rotate. We will evolve the group as we go along rather than being formal.
  • Glen Burrows and Gwyn Holland will look into and publicise travel arrangements for the “Rage Against the Tories”/support the NHS demo outside the Tory party conference in Manchester on 29th September.
  • There will be an interim meeting for your wishing to organise in Bridgwater for the 5th November day of action on 16th September at 19:30, at the Carnival Inn (“Wetherspoons”), 37 St Mary Street, Bridgwater, TA6 3LY.
  • We should support the Bristol People Assembly’s mass sleep out event on 24th August in protest against the Bedroom Tax. Can anyone who wants to do something similar in Bridgwater please email: pasomerset@inbox.lv
  • We agreed to meet every 2 months on the second Monday of the month. Therefore the next full meeting of the Peoples Assembly Somerset will be at Monday 14th October at 19:30, at Railway Club, Wellington Rd, Bridgwater, TA6 5HA  
Our facebook page: 
If you would like more information on the People’s Assembly movement see: 
If you would like to see the broad range of organisations and individuals already affiliated to the movement, see: http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2013/03/peoples-assembly-supporting-organisations/

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bridgwater Postal Workers need your support now


COMMUNICATION WORKERS UNION
Dave Chapple
'call for help'

BRISTOL AND DISTRICT BRANCH

BRIDGWATER DELIVERY OFFICE

 
7th August 2013
Bridgwater Royal Mail dispute: thank you from 110 strikers for your financial support and picket-line solidarity!
Our next four days of strike action are this Saturday August 10th, Monday August 12th, Saturday August 17th, Monday August 19th: please continue your support!
 
110 members at Bridgwater Delivery Office in Somerset, having already taken 5 days of strike action, are now embarking on another four days of strikes with the possibility of a whole week at the beginning of September.
The original issues are still with us and unresolved: un-agreed cuts to full-time jobs and overtime; failure to negotiate with the union; failure to pay money for previous savings;  and too many bullying managers. 
 
Royal Mail, unlike many previous legal official and unofficial strikes at Bridgwater, are digging in and refusing to consider reasonable compromises.

In the last few weeks, in between strikes, many local agreements have been ripped up and CWU members increasingly harassed. CWU Reps have been moved from work areas, isolated, and banned from the office on their days off. Postmen and women have been spied on, followed, harangued by three managers at a time for ‘breaking off’ or being too slow, until they break down or go sick.
 
To complete the hypocrisy, the senior manager remains in charge and un-suspended despite allegations of signing for and opening a Special Delivery letter addressed to a postman who is taking out a bullying and harassment charge against him!

There is a strong feeling in the Delivery Office that the employer is trying to provoke a wildcat walk out on a carefully-chosen issue that might split the office. We ARE trying to keep it legal.

What has restored morale and determination is the magnificent response to the Bridgwater Dispute Fund Appeal, both within the Communication Workers’ Union and the wider trade union movement.
 
Over twenty trades unionists from a dozen unions have addressed our Friarn St picket lines which run from 5am to 9am: ‘solidarity hour’ is between 8am and 9am. Our next four strikes are Saturday 10th August, Monday 12th August, Saturday 17th August, and Monday 19th August. See you there!  Royal Mail, 25 Friarn St, TA6 3XX

A CWU Rep from the dispute or our Bristol Branch is always available to speak at trade union branch meetings, while financial solidarity-as well as picket-line speakers-is as vital as ever. 

Please make any cheques payable to ‘Bridgwater Trades Union Council’ and send to Dave Chapple, CWU, 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU tel. 0777 6304 276   davechapple@btinternet.com

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

BRIDGWATER PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY-JOIN US!


This is a call to all those in the Bridgwater area and further afield who are outraged by the government’s attacks on ordinary people and the most vulnerable.
 
With some 80% of austerity measures still to come and with the government lengthening the time they expect cuts to last, it is time to act and to act together.
 
We are therefore inviting you to attend the launch meeting of a Bridgwater People’s Assembly, to form part of the network of People's Assemblies that is unifying resistance to austerity across the nation.
 
The strategy of the People's Assemblies is to form a broad coalition both of individuals and organisations. We do not want to be dominated by any group or replace any group. Instead, the aim is to massively increase our effectiveness by acting together.
 
  • We call on those enraged by Cameron and co’s deceitful use of the financial crisis, created by their banker friends, to cut taxes for the most wealthy while cutting welfare to the disabled and others most in need. 
  • We call on those angered by the government’s use of the crisis as a cover to advance a failed dogma of public sector cuts, privatisations, including of the NHS, deregulation and crony capitalism. 
  • We call on those simply shocked by a plan to repair public finances by targeting the poorest first.
 
Please join us at the Railway Club, Wellington Rd, Bridgwater, TA6 5HA at 7:30 pm on August 12th.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A bitter west-country pre-privatisation dispute

CWU strikers in Bridgwater
118 members of the CWU/Communication Workers Union at the Royal Mail Delivery Office at Bridgwater, Somerset, are on strike for their second Saturday this coming weekend.

The initial causes of the strikes are CWU accusations of managers bullying staff and breaking local and national agreements.

The background is a state of increasing unrest in many West Country Royal Mail workplaces as the ground is prepared for a possible privatisation later this year.

Wildcat strike

Despite Saturday’s second official strike, a gate meeting of postmen and women yesterday, July 3rd, saw furious CWU members reject walking out on an extra day’s wildcat strike by only a slim majority.

Staff are angry that their senior manager has not been suspended pending a serious investigation into evidence of possible interception and theft of a postman’s mail. 

They are also protesting that during last Saturday’s strike staff were bussed into work illegally-packed into the back of a windowless and seat-less transit van, which ensured local CWU reps were unable to exercise their legal right to picket strike-breakers.

Legitimate trade dispute

Dave Chapple, Bridgwater CWU shop steward said:
"Why have Royal Mail not suspended this Bridgwater manager after 3 weeks, when a postman or woman suspected of the same thing would have been suspended in three minutes?”

Dave Wilshire, CWU Bristol and District Branch Secretary said:
"We would not expect Royal Mail to make fundamental mistakes :there is the question of breaking laws against dangerous driving, the 11-hour rule between shifts and the carriage of people in an unauthorised vehicle. This smacks of desperation and a snub towards the CWU offer of further negotiations”. 

Our members continue to picket peacefully as part of a legitimate trade dispute.

David went on to say “Surely at national if not regional level, there is a Royal Mail director with enough common sense to put a stop to this nonsense and realise Royal Mail will not win this dispute by attempting to bypass the strong union organisation at Bridgwater and the wider Bristol CWU Branch?"


Media friends are invited to a picket-line ‘Solidarity Rally’ at 8.15am this Saturday, 25 Friarn St, TA6 5AU
For further information contact Dave Wilshire on 07909 525740 or Dave Chapple on 0777 6304 276

 
David Wilshire
Branch Secretary
 
You can also follow us on facebook 
http://www.facebook.com/groups/238305296189416/#

and twitter 
http://twitter.com/#!/BristolCWU

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Unemployment not the fault of the Unemployed

Bridgwater unemployed workers getting
organised and on the march in the 1930's

"Unemployment is not the fault of the unemployed, , and we must not allow this government to divide workers by demonising and discriminating against unemployed workers," said Trades Council Secretary Dave Chapple at the March meeting of Bridgwater Trades Union Council. 

"The solution is not for people to allow themselves to be divided by work, race or gender, but to unite and fight for decent wages, more jobs and more investment in the economy."

Speakers included a local unemployed worker, UNITE the union's Regional Officer, Brett Sparkes, and  Youth Officer for UWE. All spoke about the Coalition Government's  attacks on the unemployed, youth, pensioners, migrant workers and the disabled in the name of "austerity" - an economic plan based on savage cuts, which is obviously not working.

Youth unemployment has increased by 100,000 in the last 4 months, making Britain 3rd worst in the OECD league of youth unemployment, and yet the government has no plans to invest in the future of our young people.

Workfare is immoral

A recent report shows that "Workfare" ( i.e. forcing claimants to work for nothing or lose their benefits) apart from being immoral, is counter-productive, hindering claimants from seeking employment and causing them to drop out of the market for jobs. 

The meeting welcomed the initiative of UNITE union in setting up Community branches, open to unemployed workers. For 50p a week, members get all the support, training and resources required to organise campaigns on community issues. Bridgwater Trades Union Council offers full support and assistance to this initiative and looks forward to the setting up of a UNITE Community Branch in Bridgwater.

Next meeting of Bridgwater & District Trades Union Council, will discuss an alternative to the government's failed austerity programme.

For advice and information contact Dave Chapple: davechapple@btinternet.com / mob  07776304276

Monday, 25 March 2013

Rail Union RMT warns of “Beeching Two” as Wednesday marks fiftieth anniversary of the biggest single act of rail vandalism


This Wednesday, 27th March 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the infamous Beeching report which led to the decimation of much of the UK’s railways. Unions and campaigners, under the Action for Rail banner, will be out at railway stations up and down the country ramping up the campaign to defend rail services and to renationalise the entire network.

Rail union RMT is warning that rail services are again under threat from what amounts to “Beeching Two” as the government, Network Rail and train operators seek to make massive staff cuts against a backdrop of private profiteering, huge fare increases and unprecedented demand.

'Beeching Two'

The McNulty Rail Review proposals, adopted by the Government and branded by RMT as “Beeching Two”, would:
· Attack pay, jobs and conditions, casualising work that has been repeatedly shown as essential to public and staff safety.
· Introduce DOO (driver only operation) throughout the system, throwing the guards, and their safety-critical role, off Britain’s trains.
· Closure of signal boxes and reductions in maintenance and renewals staff with associated cuts to maintenance schedules.
· Huge reductions in platform and other station staff – creating the criminals’ paradise of a “faceless” and de-staffed railway.
· Closures and reduction of hours at over 50% of currently staffed ticket offices

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“On the fiftieth anniversary of Beeching, RMT renews the call for a massive expansion of rail capacity, under public ownership, to meet the surge in demand that we know is going to be thrown at services over the coming years, services that are already creaking at the seams. We are still paying today for the reckless axing of rail services during the Beeching era.

“Today we face the threat of Beeching 2, the governments McNulty Rail Review, which again puts savage cuts centre stage. 

Butchery of rail services

“Beeching got it badly wrong half a century ago on the future of rail as a popular mode of travel. His butchery of rail services has been matched by more recent generations of politicians in the fragmentation and exploitation of privatisation. Now is the time to right the wrongs of the past and put an expanded, integrated and publicly owned railway at the heart of future transport policy.

"We are calling on the public to join the RMT backed Action for Rail campaign to let the government, Network Rail and train operators know that RMT members demand a railway that puts people and passengers before profit."

Arriva Trains Wales cleaners on Churchill’s 
contract to strike in fight for living wage

 
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed that cleaners working on the Churchill’s contract on Arriva Trains Wales, some of the worst paid staff in the whole transport industry, will strike this week in a fight for pay and workplace justice.
Following a massive nine to one vote for action RMT members are instructed not to book on for any shifts that commence between:- 00:01 hours and 23:59 hours on Wednesday 27th March 2013

Following the announcement of strike action on Saturday 16th March, the company did come forward with an improved offer and the planned action was suspended to allow due consideration. However, after close scrutiny it has been found that the offer does not meet RMT’s core objective of eliminating the scourge of poverty pay and as a result the union has had no option but to declare a further 24 hour strike.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“Despite the best efforts of RMT negotiators, and following massive pressure from our campaign on this issue and some significant movement, the union has been unable to extract an offer from Churchill’s that secures our core objective of eliminating the scourge of poverty pay on the Arriva Trains Wales contract and as a result strike action is back on.
“Churchill’s, working for Arriva Trains Wales with the train operators approval, has doubled its profits in the past five years and has extracted nearly £7 million from the exploitation of essential cleaning staff on the most basic pay and conditions.
“While the company is trying to enshrine poverty pay amongst the staff who deliver vast returns for the shareholders, its own highest paid director has had a salary increase of more than 18% in the last 5 years to nearly £160,000 making a nonsense of their claims that they can’t afford a decent offer to the front-line cleaning staff.
“ This battle on Arriva Trains Wales is now seen as having national significance in the campaign against low pay and exploitation by greedy companies and RMT will continue to ratchet up the pressure for fairness for this important group of Welsh transport staff as part of our national cleaners’ campaign. ATW, as the host operator, will not be allowed to wash their hands of this exploitation on their watch either.
“RMT has confirmed talks for early this week in advance of the action on Wednesday and it is now down to the company to come forward with an offer that can end this dispute.”

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Class conflict in a Somerset town: Bridgwater 1924-1927

Bridgwater Co-operative Society on the march in 1926

Bridgwater Civic Society for its March meeting hosts a talk by Dave Chapple based on his 2006 book on the General Strike in Bridgwater.

Entitled 'Bridgwater 1924-1927: Class Confict in a Somerset town' Dave's talk will have two parts:

For the first part Dave will describe what kind of town Bridgwater was during the mid-1920's, and in particular its social, musical, religious, politcal and economic life.

For the second part Dave will narrate the sometimes dramatic events of the nine days in May 1926, when local brickyard, railway, transport, dock/wharf, building and engineering workers in this Somerset working-class town struck, not for their own immediate ends,but to prevent the defeat and humiliation of the nation's coal miners at the hands of a Tory Government with Winston Churchill as Home Secretary.
Dave Chapple talking about Bridgwater's radical past
on last years Socialist History walk.
Dave's talk will take place at 7.30pm this coming Wednesday the 27th March.

The venue is the Victoria Park Community Centre, Victoria Park, Bridgwater.

Please note that Bridgwater Civic Society asks visitors for a donation of £3 to help with running costs.

You can also join the society on the night when a programme of events for 2013/4 will be available.

Membership rates are: £10 individual; £15 husband/wife/partners; £2 student.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Somerset Trades Union Members support PCS Budget day Action

"Lets Unite and Fight Together"
Dave Chapple (Secretary SATC)

Trades union members throughout Somerset joined civil service union PCS on picket lines yesterday, Budget Day, to express anger and disgust over the Government’s savage cuts in public sector jobs and essential services, and their refusal to negotiate an end to a four-year pay freeze for civil servants. The Chancellor announced he is extending the pay freeze (a real terms pay cut) into 2015-16. 
 
One quarter of a million public sector workers from job centres, tax offices, courts, ports and airports went on strike throughout Britain. There are more strikes planned, unless the government agrees to negotiate over pay and conditions.

Strike Action
 
At Weston’s County Court, court enforcement staff have been taking strike action over the last 2 months over the threatened privatisation of the enforcement and collection of fixed penalties and unpaid fines, which would put people at the mercy of unscrupulous private bailiffs, and reduce the effective fines and enforcement rates currently achieved by enforcement staff. A 'work to rule' by court staff has lead to a massive fall in fines revenue - proof that civil servants go above and beyond. Privatisation doesn’t work! 
 
 A strike rally in Bristol heard workers from Job Centres describe their daily experience of the misery perpetrated by a government which is slashing jobs and increasing sanctions on the unemployed and disabled. 
 
PCS Vice-President John McInally accused the government of using the economic crisis to destroy public services and shift the balance of wealth and power into the hands of a wealthy minority. “This is the longest recession since the 20s, and forecasts say it will last another 20 years, he said, “but the government’s austerity programme isn’t working and we must bring it to an end.”

General Strike
 
The Somerset Association of Trades Union Councils fully supports the PCS and joins demands for the TUC to call a 24-hour General Strike over the failed economic policies and triple-dip recession of an incompetent government which is punishing the poor, disabled and vulnerable for the greed and blunders of bankers and politicians.
 
SATC Secretary Dave Chapple said: “This government’s aim is the total privatisation of the civil service, along with health and education. Public sector workers deliver services more cheaply and efficiently than the private sector. The railways are living proof of the failure of privatisation. Let’s unite and fight together to destroy them before they destroy our society.”

Friday, 8 March 2013

Bridgwater TUC public meeting on Unemployment


BRIDGWATER & DISTRICT TRADES UNION COUNCIL
Invites you to a public meeting:
UNEMPLOYMENT: CAUSES & CURES
Monday 25th March, 7pm,
Railway Club, Wellington Road, Bridgwater

  • Why does the government care so little about the plight of the unemployed?
  • Why are unemployed people harassed into “workfare”, supplying free labour to employers, rather than creating jobs?
  • Why are employers encouraged to offer only temporary and part-time work?
  • Why do employers use agencies to offer work at lower wages to workers from outside Britain?
What can we do about it?
SPEAKERS
Dave Chapple: Bridgwater Trades Union Council
Glenn Cane: local unemployed worker
Brett Sparkes: Regional Organiser, UNITE union
FURTHER DETAILS: 01278 450562

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS SINCE BEECHING

Baron Beeching of East Grinstead -whose's name is to this day
associated with the mass closure of railways
Friends Of Suburban Bristol Railways (FOSBR)
 
Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways (FOSBR) invite you to join us on Saturday 23 March to celebrate 50 years since the Beeching Report.
Rail Future and FOSBR will subsidise train tickets, hire a meeting room and provide refreshments at Halo Bar, 141, Gloucester Road, BS7 8BA. . If you live in Exmouth, Falmouth, Barnstable, Dawlish or near a station in Wales, your challenge is to find a train which arrives in time to catch the 13.16 from Bristol Temple Meads Station.
We hope you will join us on the scenic round trip from Bristol Temple Meads on Bristol’s only surviving branch line (which is also in Thomas Cook’s wonderful rail journeys) to Severn Beach and back to Montpelier Station. There we will stage a public demonstration on the platform with banners, placards and enlarged maps of the Bristol Metro and the Great Western Franchise areas. From there we will walk to the Halo Bar.
This celebration is an opportunity to show the world that local lines, such as AVOCET, Tarka, the Falmouth and Ebbw Vale, have flourished with community and local authority support. Travelling on the train and meeting at the Halo in a spacious room will give each group a chance to talk about their campaigns and future opportunities. We hope to finish by issuing a joint statement for the media.
Train times 13.16 depart Bristol Temple Meads Station / 14.21 alight at Montpelier Station / 16.50 depart from Montpelier Station/ 17.07 arrive at Temple Meads Station
Train tickets  Group save tickets - four for the price of two –from the same station make train travel more affordable. Please reply to Julie and Tina asap to let us know how you would like to be involved and how many tickets we need to budget for so that we can plan at the FOSBR committee meeting on 20 February. 
Invited:- rail groups, rail unions Bristol RMT,  ASLEF, TSSA, Devon & Cornwall Rail Future, Friends of Bridgwater Station, Portishead Rail Group, Severn Tunnel Action Group, Saltford Rail Group, MPs and councillors near stations, the Mayor of Bristol, Bristol Youth Mayors, Bristol Civic Society, representatives of political parties, Way out West, Secretary@travelwatchsouthwest.org, Pints West Bristol Pubs Group, Ramblers Wessex Walks'
FOSBR campaigns organiser       Julie Boston     julieboston17@hotmail.co.uk
FOSBR secretary                             Tina Biggs    cmbbiggs@googlemail.com
Bristol’s only surviving branch line celebrated 50 years of avoiding the Beeching cuts at its AGM on Saturday 26 January 2013.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

RMT-'Rail Cuts potentially lethal consequences'


RAIL UNION RMT released a shocking new picture which shows six inches of rail head crumbled away to nothing leaving a potentially lethal gap in the track on the InterCity East Coast Mainline at Hambleton South Junction near Selby where normal running speeds are 125mph. The picture, taken last Friday (1st February), follows the publication by RMT of a similar damning photo taken at Colton Junction on the ECML just a few miles away back in December last year.

RMT believes that due to renewals and staffing cuts, an initial crack had crumbled away to a six inch gap in the rail head over a period of two weeks in a mirror image of the incident at Colton Junction, leaving trains, passengers and staff at risk of a serious and potentially lethal incident.
A train could have derailed, jumped the tracks and collided with an on-coming service. Fortunately, the gap was spotted by on-track teams and the section of track has since been replaced but it raises serious questions about the impact of wear and tear on rail infrastructure, with high-speed trains running on tracks that should have been renewed, in a climate of cuts and sub-contracting.


'Potentially lethal consequences'


RMT understands that there is massive pressure to keep the ECML running from the government and the Department of Transport as they look to re-privatise the service. There are also persistent demands on Network Rail from the budget-holder, the Office of Rail Regulation, to cut back on rail renewals work despite the potentially-lethal consequences as exposed in graphic detail by RMT today.

However, pressure from RMT and a high-profile media campaign by the union, has forced RAIB (Rail Accident Investigation Branch) to now launch a full investigation into the condition of the track on the ECML, the latest shocking RMT pictures will fuel the urgency of that investigation which the union says must focus in on the impact of cuts to staffing and renewals and the consequences of sub-contracting core functions.

                                                 Reverse the Cuts!
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

"This shocking new picture highlights the reality on Britain's railways today - staffing, inspections and track renewals have been cut in the dash to save money and there is massive pressure right from the top of Government to keep services running at all costs regardless of the potential human cost. If we don’t reverse the cuts on Britain’s railways another major tragedy is inevitable.

"We are now facing exactly the same set of poisonous conditions that led us to the Hatfield disaster and as this picture, following on from similar evidence exposed by RMT late last year, shows we are dicing with death and risking another major rail tragedy. RMT is demanding action before it is too late and the RAIB investigation must look at the poisonous impact of cuts to staffing and renewals work and the sub-contracting of jobs that should be undertaken in-house.

"RMT has made it crystal clear that we want all cuts to staffing, maintenance and renewals reversed and all track works brought back in house rather than subbed-out to contractors. The current contractor staff should be transferred over to direct Network Rail employment. We also want the pressure from the centre to run services at any costs lifted to enable safety-critical works to take place immediately.

"Finally, we want an end to the further cuts proposed by the Government in its McNulty Rail Review before we end up with another rail tragedy on Britain's tracks with ministers paraded on our screens with blood on their hands. Those ministers have to take responsibility right now for the rail scandal that is unfolding on their watch".