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: / 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

Invites you to a public meeting:
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?
Dave Chapple: Bridgwater Trades Union Council
Glenn Cane: local unemployed worker
Brett Sparkes: Regional Organiser, UNITE union
FURTHER DETAILS: 01278 450562