Thursday, 27 November 2014

NHS strike photos in Bridgwater

Today's Bridgwater NHS picket saw strikers from Unite and UNISON outside Bridgwater Hospital, joined in solidarity by trades unionists from Unite Community, the CWU, Bridgwater Trades Union Council (and banner), the Labour Party, and the Senior Citizens' Forum.Photos by David Pearce.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Cinema of Dissent Season Starting on July 24th

Films about Justice & Equality
COST: £4 or whatever you can afford
7pm for 7.30pm start

Thurs JULY 24TH      
·       Banner Theatre: “ “Wild Geese & “Burning Issues”
video ballads for our time
·       Bring out Your Banners “  film of the Bridgwater TUC 2013 centenary celebration, featuring the late Bob Crow

Thurs SEPTEMBER 25th
“The Lottery of Birth” dir. Raoul Martinez
Do you shape the world or does the world shape you? ‘The Lottery of Birth’ will make you think again about what it means to be free. 

Thurs NOVEMBER 27th
“Don Beard & the Red Borough of Bridgwater”
Travel back in time via 8mm cine-film to Bridgwater’s Labour Party in the 60s and 70s: you might spot yourself (or your parents) on a coach trip to Weymouth or at a social with Tony Benn in the Town Hall!

Bridgwater Trades Union Council
Further details: Dave Chapple 01278 450562

Monday, 7 July 2014


Up to 2 million members of Unite, National Union of Teachers, Public and Commercial Services Union, Fire Brigades Union, Unison and GMB are taking strike action together on Thursday 

Because all these public sector workers are sick and tired of pay freezes, below-inflation wage increases and of seeing the services they work in hived off to private companies, offering worse pay and conditions. 

This is the biggest co-ordinated strike action for years. That so many workers have voted to strike together exposes the failure of the Con-Dem government policies.
Cameron and Clegg are not just wrecking public services. Their “austerity” policies are ruining the lives of millions of people. The Office for National Statistics has revealed that, last year, the number of adults living in absolute poverty jumped from 7.7 million to 8.7 million.

Meanwhile, Britain's richest people have managed to DOUBLE their wealth in the five years since the financial crash, with a combined fortune of £519billion.

Why should workers pay the price for the greed and incompetence of those who control the economic system?

Why should we bail out banks, while fire stations, libraries and youth centres are being closed all around us?

Bridgwater Trades Union Council is proud to support the strikers! You should be too! 


Bridgwater Trades Union Council Tel. 07707 869 144

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Argos Unite picket line 5.45am Monday 17th June: solidarity by ARGOS agency workers!

This photo shows ARGOS Homebase agency workers who would normally clock in early before 6am on a Monday morning-when the strike ended this Monday-refusing to cross the Unite picket line. This resulted with agency workers cars double parked and blocking lorries coming into the depot.

This display of solidarity by agency workers who, even if they are Unite members, were legally not included in the strike ballot, was a tremendous boost to the Unite pickets at the very end of their 24-hour strike.

Does working-class education have a future?

A day conference for all trades unionists including Union Learn reps, trade union branch officers, TUC/ Trade Union Studies tutors, WEA/adult education lecturers, and mature students, organised by Trade Union Solidarity magazine and Bridgwater Trades Union Council

11am to 4pm, Saturday 2nd August GWRSA/Railway Club, Wellington Rd, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5HA

Dave Chapple
(Bridgwater TUC)
Marie Hughes South West TUC Regional Education Officer
Trish Lavelle CWU National Education Officer
Becca Kirkpatrick Co-editor Trade Union Solidarity
Shan Maidment TU studies tutor, City of Bristol College
Carole Vallelly GMB Southern Region/TUC tutor
Nigel Costley, Secretary, South West TUC
Dave Chapple, Bridgwater TUC
Ian Manborde, Ruskin College
Richard Ross London Metropolitan University

Cost is £5 per person which includes buffet lunch. Places are limited: please register in advance if possible, make cheques  out to “Bridgwater Trades Union Council” and send to Dave Chapple, Conference Organiser, 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU. Further details phone 07707 869 144 or e-mail

Nigel Costley
10.30am to 11am: registration tea and coffee
11am: welcome: Vicki Nash, Somerset NUT and President Bridgwater TUC
11.05am: First session: Chair, Andy Newman, GMB, White Horse (Wiltshire) TUC
Speakers: Marie Hughes, Trish Lavelle, Dave Chapple
11.50am: discussion
12.30pm: Second session: Chair, Glen Burrows, RMT, Bridgwater TUC
Speakers: Nigel Costley, Shan Maidment, Richard Ross
1.15pm: discussion
2.40pm: Third session: Chair: Richard Capps, PCS, vice-Chair South West TUC
Speakers: Carole Vallelly, Ian Manborde, Becca Kirkpatrick
3.25pm: discussion including conference follow-up
4pm: Close of conference

The last few generations have seen, overall, both a crisis and decline in the general field of what used to be called working-class education. Despite substantial government Union Learn funding, now of course under severe pressure, and some impressive internal trade union shop steward programmes, the subsidised and ‘liberal’ ‘adult education sector where many of us learned the theory and practice of socialism has almost disappeared.

This conference is a ground-breaking attempt to address this crisis, asking these questions amongst many others:  would the internet have destroyed adult ‘liberal’ education without any government cuts? Do any trade unions educate their members for socialism or merely effective trades unionism? Can a volunteer/community-led strategy restore cuts to Union Learn and adult evening courses?

What about the left-wing political parties, including Labour and the Greens? What are the strategies to restore a once-thriving Independent Working Class Education as part of the workers’ emancipation project? Do TUC courses succeed in teaching solidarity between workers in different unions? Could local trades councils play a new educational role?

These of course are only a few possible ways of approaching our conference subject: make sure you raise yours! Our speakers will all, hopefully, give us personal reflections of all their years teaching workers, as well as their own ideas for future education campaigns.

Bridgwater GWRSA/Railway Club is 100 yards from Bridgwater rail station at the east end of Wellington Rd. Car parking in adjacent station car park. Bridgwater station is served by an hourly train service throughout the day, arriving from Bristol at 40 minutes past the hour and from Taunton at 15/20 minutes past the hour. Bridgwater is also easily accessible from the M5 motorway with two junctions: north (Dunball/Junction 23) and south (Huntworth/Junction 24). The GWRSA/railway club itself is one of the national network of railway clubs which in themselves are an important part of working-class history-they were funded by the employers, and so can be understood both as social concession or dangerous palliative.  However, you will find the Bridgwater GWRSA a friendly, thriving but last-surviving local working class club. We look forward to seeing you on 2nd August!

Thursday, 8 May 2014


Anti-Ukip campaigners 'adapt' Farage's
'hate mongering' posters 
Workers considering voting for UKIP in the forthcoming European elections would be voting against their own interests, says Bridgwater Trades Union Council.

Workers should think very hard, and read the small print on UKIP's manifesto, before giving UKIP their vote.

Disillusionment with the failed promises, self-interest and greed of some politicians from all the main political parties is understandable, but workers voting for UKIP would be like turkeys voting for Christmas, say representatives of trades unions in Bridgwater.

Apart from their offensive and racist scapegoating of foreign workers - as if migrant workers, instead of bankers and corporate tax dodgers, are to blame for our economic problems - UKIP have said they want to abolish all workers’ rights, including maternity pay and maternity rights.

Point made.
They want to privatise the NHS and scrap state pensions. Their proposal to introduce a flat rate of tax would mean that the rich would pay the same as those on lower incomes. They also want to scrap rules to curb tax avoidance by big companies. UKIP and its policies are dangerous for British workers! UKIP and its backers are friends of big business and opposed to the interests of working people.

Zero hours, part-time contracts and low pay, combined with attacks on benefits in the name of “austerity” are the evils which are destroying the standard of living of British workers. To combat these attacks, we need more workers’ rights and strong unions. UKIP is no friend to workers in Britain.

CONTACT: Secretary Dave Chapple 07707 869 144 Press Officer: Glen Burrows

Thursday, 24 April 2014


On Tuesday 22nd April a packed Bridgwater Railway Club hosted a very special event. Bridgwater Trades Union Council invited all sections of local communities, including farmers and others affected by the recent floods, to reflect on their experiences and discuss what the future holds.
Unlike some unfortunate and high-profile party-political posturing, including those by the local Bridgwater MP, the wide raging discussion gave ample time and space for Environment Agency workers, firefighters, farmers and flood-affected residents to show their anger at what happened, gratitude for delivered solidarity, and reflect on their own and others' feelings a few months on.
Tam McFarlane of the Fire Brigades Union spoke of the 1,000 Levels’ residents rescued; Kevin Warden-Prospect Union- and others from the EA workers on how they had been physically threatened and spat at, following ignorant politicians attacks on the EA; Theo Simon spoke eloquently and passionately about Somerset’s future in an era of rapid climate change; while Julian Taylor, Bridgwater Labour Councillor, and flooded Fordgate resident, informed, persuaded and moved a rapt audience in equal measure.
It was unanimously agreed to hold another similar retrospect in a few months time: watch out for it!
Certainly an unusual trade union-hosted event, when one conservative Levels farmer was spotted at the bar deep in friendly conversation with a notoriously militant local shop steward!”
For further info please contact Dave Chapple on 07707 869 144  or

Sunday, 13 April 2014

AFTER THE FLOODS What Future for Somerset in an era of climate change?

Tuesday 22nd April at 7.30pm
GWRSA/Railway Club, 
Wellington Rd, Bridgwater TA6 5HA

Massive floods in Somerset and on the Thames; record-breaking rain; a nation battered by wave after wave of storms; ruined fields; shattered homes, roads and railways; climate change; fracking, Hinkley Point ‘C’, the critical need for green energy. All against a background of government cuts in the Environment Agency, the Fire Brigade and other vital services.

How shall we cope with these environmental challenges?

Can a government committed to permanent austerity really live up to its commitments to deal with these issues?

Concerned? Then come along, listen to different points of view and join in this important discussion

• Julian Taylor (Labour Cllr and Fordgate resident )
• Fire Brigades Union
• Environment Agency
• Kevin Warden(Prospect union & EA workers)
• UNISON speaker (EA workers)
• Theo Simon (Somerset environmental activist )

Meeting organised by Bridgwater Trades Union Council
For further details please contact Dave Chapple: 07707 869 144 /

Saturday, 15 March 2014


Vicky Nash (NUT) Dave Chapple (CWU)
Brian Smedley(UNITE)from Bridgwater
Trades Council

Teachers have been taking to the streets of Somerset to protest against Coalition Government policies that they say threaten the standard of education in all our schools and colleges. Last week the NUT had a stall in Taunton and today it was Bridgwater. They were joined by sympathetic Trades Unionists as they handed out leaflets and balloons , collected signatures of a petition and explained their case.

NUT rep Vicky Nash was on the town’s Cornhill for over 5  hours urging people to contact their MP, send a letter to the local paper and to keep in touch with the campaign as it develops. Vicky explained that the key issue was to try to make Michael Gove, the Tory Education secretary, change course. “Our education system is being undermined. The Coalition say they no longer require schools to employ qualified teachers, they’re rushing through a new curriculum without resources and against the advice of many teachers and introducing expensive and unnecessary new tests for 5 and 11 year olds. They’re reducing young people’s opportunities by trebling tuition fees and abolishing the EMA;and wasting the olympic legacy by undermining sport in schools.They are also creating chaos of parents by allowing neighboruing schools to have different terms dates and school holidays.”

Every Classroom should have a qualified Teacher

Many young mothers were stopping at the stall clearly concerned at stories of their children having to stay at school until late afternoon s  and at the same time worried at the plummeting moral the changes are causing in the teaching staff. Vicky added “We need to ensure that every classroom has a qualified teacher, that councils are allowed to open new schools where they are needed, that changes to the curriculum and to exams are positive and planned, that schools are working together and properly funded and that there are enough new teachers.”

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Bridgwater Trades Union Council welcomes the National Union of Teachers announcement of a national teachers’ strike on Wednesday 26th March and offers full support and solidarity on behalf of all unions in the Bridgwater area.

The dispute is over pay, pensions, conditions of service and the Government’s refusal to listen to teachers’ concerns over excessive workloads and removal of working time limits.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:“Strike action is always a last resort for teachers and we deeply regret the fact that we have been put in a position whereby we have no alternative. The strike action can, of course, be called off. For this to happen, the Secretary of State needs to give reassurances that he will not go ahead with any changes which worsen teachers’ working conditions. "

NUT is organising a street stall in Bridgwater on Saturday 15th March, from 11a, - 3pm at the Cornhill, to inform the public about the reasons for the strike. Please come along to show support .


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Somerset Tories vote through £10,000,000 cuts

Predictably and appallingly the Tory led Somerset County Councillors have agreed that £10,000,000 should be cut from public services. There has been no evidence of any objections from any Tory in the council to this Government sponsored cut- they have been craven in totally accepting what the Tory Party has told them.

            I read in that Linda Vijeh says ‘if we do not tighten our belts we cannot go forward’ WE??? How many of this Tory led council are dependent on busses, home, nursing  and residential care? How many of them are amongst those that will lose their jobs? How many of them are in sheltered housing, or need mental health care or help with learning disabilities?  We?  As always its the poor, disabled and disadvantaged that suffer. I’m reminded by her remark of the discredited ‘all in it together’ fantasy. And how could a proposed amendment to modify these cuts be described as ‘reckless’? And how can these cuts be fair when the Tories do nothing about the billions avoided in tax and keep the billions in unclaimed benefit.

            The council needs to be more transparent. If they are challenging the Government about these cuts then they ought to tell us. And also tell us why they can’t ‘comment’  on the ‘Wheelergate ‘ business, about the CEO’s inflated salary and pay many thousand pounds? And who pays? We need to know. Was it a tiff? A coup?  Incompetence? What?

            This council in this instance  seem determined to ignore serving the people who voted for them and more inclined  to be in thrall to the Nasty Party.
Dave Walsham
NUT Retired member

Monday, 10 February 2014


Bridgwater members of the Somerset People's Assembly will join a lobby of Somerset County Council on Wednesday 19th February at 9.15am, outside Shire Hall, Taunton, organised by Taunton's Anti-Cuts Community Campaign Group.

Councillors will meet to discuss proposed cuts of £30 million to Council services, followed by 3 more years of similar cuts. "Soon there will be nothing left" said People's Assembly spokes-person, Sarah Shaw. "These cuts will mean more job losses, more privatisation, further reduction of services, and closure of facilities, but we'll still go on paying council taxes for non-existent services. What a con!"

It's time for councillors to stand together to call the Government to account. These cuts aren't the result of local councils squandering money, or because they don't know how to cost and deliver services. They are due to continued cuts and underfunding of local councils by central government.

Lobby Government for increased funding

Instead of continuing to be the Government's spineless "hatchet-men", it's time councillors remembered why they were elected in the first place. Local councillors should represent local democracy and carry out the wishes of local people. They must refuse to carry out the proposed cuts and, through the Local Government Association, lobby Government for increased funding for local councuils.

The People's Assembly calls upon the people of Somerset to join the lobby on 19th February, and support the national campaign against cuts and austerity.

CONTACT: G BURROWS 077813 562 869 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bridgwater MP under attack from Trades Unionists over Flooding, Fracking and Under-Funding

ILG gets down and damp amongst his people

Delegates to Bridgwater & District Trades Union Council reacted angrily to the sight of local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger joining flood victims protesting outside the Environment Agency in Bridgwater on Friday. Said a spokesperson:  “Liddell-Grainger would be better off protesting against his own Government which has helped to cause this devastation. How dare he focus the blame on Environment Agency workers, who have struggled to carry out their duties in the face of Government cuts? The Tories have slashed £800 million from the country’s flood defence budget. Why doesn’t Liddell-Grainger protest about that?"
A recent appeal from Somerset County Council for more funding to deal with the devastation to flood-hit communities has been refused by the Government. Why doesn’t Liddell-Grainger sort that out first?”
Proposals recently announced to cut Environment Agency staff levels by a further 15% will mean the Environment Agency will be even less able to protect the public from flooding and pollution risks.

'Crazy Short term thinking'
These cuts follow 20% cuts to flood defence staff between 2010-2013, and come despite growing evidence of the impact of climate change, and the fact that Environment Agency staff dealing with pollution risks are now faced with the challenges of climate change, fracking and new nuclear build. A spokesperson said: "This is crazy, short term thinking."
Across the country, these cuts could end up costing £7.88 billion in flood-related damage.
Instead, Liddell-Grainger reserves his ire for Environment Agency flood defence staff, many of whom have been called out to help flood victims for the second Christmas running. Despite years’ worth of real-term pay cuts, Liddell-Grainger, a direct descendant of Queen Victoria, who owns his own castle and has in the past been criticised for claiming over £100 000 in expenses, calls Environment Agency staff “feather-bedded” on his personal web-site!
The targets of Mr Liddell-Grainger’s action are ordinary workers, many his own constituents.

Public Apology demanded
Bridgwater & District Trades Union Council request that Mr Liddell Grainger issues a public apology for his attack on the staff of the Environment Agency.  Furthermore, we fully support Environment Agency workers in their campaign to stop the cuts, draw attention to the way these cuts may endanger the public and call upon anyone concerned to write to their MP, or email via http// expressing their worries.
A public meeting is being arranged in Bridgwater on 27th February. For details contact Secretary D Chapple 01278 450562

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


A day of action against racism has been called for across Europe on Saturday March 22nd to coincide with the marking of UN Anti-Racism Day in 2014, with eyes on the European elections in May.
Across Europe the fascist and populist racist right are on the rise. From the violent Golden Dawn in Greece, the anti-Roma Jobbik in Hungary, the Islamophobic Freedom Party of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to the success of the Front National in France, these currents are encouraging hatred, fear and prejudice in a frightening wave across the continent.
In Britain the far right is hoping for gains in the Euro elections. The British National Party (BNP) is seeking the re-election of Nick Griffin in the North West and Andrew Brons is seeking re-election in Yorkshire and the Humber. The mainstream political parties look set to capitulate to UKIP in their calls for draconian ‘anti-immigration’ policies and promoting a ‘Little Englander’ anti-foreign, anti-Europe mentality.
This all encourages currents like the English Defence League, which turn their Islamophobic prejudices into real attempts to terrorise the Muslim population – attacking Mosques, assaulting veiled women, insulting religious sensitivities with vile slogans and throwing pigs’ heads, and organising intimidating marches into Muslim communities.
Following the rising violence of Golden Dawn and the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, (also known as Killah P), the Greek anti-fascist and anti-racist movement has proposed that next year’s UN Day Against Race Discrimination on March 21/22 should be the focus for actions against racism and fascism across Europe.
Unite Against Fascism has therefore initiated this call for a demonstration and rally to Stand Up to Racism in London on Saturday 22nd March. The event has been backed by the TUC and most trade unions in the UK.
WE appeal to local trade unions in Bristol to support this rally. In particular we would like to co-ordinate transport from Bristol to London for the day, and to raise money from unions to pay for coach(es). If your union wishes to book a coach please let us know so that we can co-ordinate. Alternatively, if your branch wishes to donate money towards a coach, please forward a cheque made payable to ‘Unite Against Fascism’ and send to PO Box 68229 l London SW1P 9WZ
*Note this account is managed by the CWU HQ (HSBC Bank plc, King’s Cross, 31 Euston Road, London NW1 2ST, account name Unite Against Fascism. Sort code: 40-04-07 account number: 51336460, for the credit of Unite Against Fascism.
Yours fraternally,
Martin Upchurch (Convener, Bristol Unite Against Fascism)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


You are invited to Bridgwater Trades Union Council's screening of "The War on Democracy" on Thursday 30th January ( this is rescheduled from 12th December)

As part of its "Cinema of Dissent" series, Bridgwater Trades Union Council will show John Pilger's film: " The War on Democracy" on Thursday 30th January, at the Engine Room, High Street, Bridgwater.

In this powerful documentary, Pilger travels Latin America to uncover the consequences of the United States' greed and exploitation there. For decades, the US installed presidents in South and Central America who kept the rich in palaces and the poor in slums. Through interviews with former CIA chiefs, and people from Latin America, including the late president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, Pilger sets out to prove that you can never believe anything until it's officially denied!

Doors open at 7pm,  and the film starts at 7.30pm. Admission is free. Refreshments will be on sale. Seating is limited, so please let me know if you will be coming.

Glen Burrows 01278 450562/ 07813 562 869