Monday, 18 February 2013

ACT NOW! Defend Mexican Trade Unionists - A Labourstart Campaign

PKC, a Finnish auto-parts supplier, sacked more than 100 union supporters including the entire union committee in December 2012 for campaigning for the election of an independent trade union at their plants in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. 

Eleven sacked union leaders are fighting for reinstatement and representation by a democratically elected union. The workers want to be represented by independent union Los Mineros, so as to win higher wages (most make $55 US per week), improved health and safety, and an end to arbitrary treatment and sexual harassment.

PKC, operating by totally different standards in Finland, has refused to negotiate with Los Mineros, instead signing a contract with a company controlled union. Despite threats and intimidation, Los Mineros came close to winning an election in October and is now organizing for a new election. 

Los Mineros and IndustriALL Global Union call on trade unionists from around the world to send a message of protest to Matti Hyytiäinen, PKC President and CEO in Finland.

Support the campaign:

Friday, 8 February 2013

Exercise you democratise right and VOTE in the national ballot

The PCS National Ballot runs from the 8th February until the 4th March 2013.

The ballot papers for the latest strike proposals by the PCS leadership will start arriving on your doormat over the next few days. 

4themembers believes in a membership led union, where members endorse our unions industrial strategy. It is after all, our union's members that will be taking industrial action and losing pay.

Industrial action must always be apart of any unions arsenal, but should only be used as a last resort when all else fails and in defence or promotion of our members interests.

The question we would ask is whether this ballot is being run for our members or in support of a politically driven agenda.

The leadership of PCS is dominated by the Socialist Party which has been pushing for a General Strike for months.

The ballot asks you to take industrial action over three issues; Pensions, Pay and Conditions of Service.

These are all critically important issues that effect us all in our working lives; however, 4themembers believes the dispute is flawed both industrially and politically from the start.

Pensions: PCS won the argument and even the court cases before the government changed the primary legislation, effectively removing our members legal argument. There is little chance of overturning the imposed and detrimental changes and the argument now is around the contribution rate. 

Pay: The demand for 5% or £1,200 pay increase in support of financially hard pressed members is right but unrealistic; with people losing their jobs left, right and centre the Government are not going to move on pay whether we like it or not and industrial action will simply lose members money they cannot afford.

Conditions of Service: The proposed changes are a disgrace and our union should be fighting against the introduction of a two tier workforce; however, they will not in the main affect any current members of staff. The leadership of PCS cannot in all seriousness believe that current members will strike about something that will not effect them. 

The demands made by the union will not be agreed by this despicable government, especially when they include demands framed to ensure a settlement cannot be achieved and instead, drive our union towards industrial action.

We are not advocating rolling over, PCS must protect and promote its members interests. The issue that our members have to consider is whether this action is driven by that need or by a separate political agenda. If members believe this call to action is in their interests there will be an overwhelming majority voting for it. If members believe that the action is politically driven as we do, it risks failure.

What we are advocating is that members need to vote, ensuring a majority vote not a minority one decides the industrial strategy of PCS.

Exercise your democratic right and VOTE in the ballot.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Nominate and support 4themembers candidates in 2013 PCS elections

4themembers - Fighting to return PCS to its members

·       4TM is a network of independent minded trade unionists (from across the political mainstream and none) committed to returning PCS to being what it was set up to be; a Trade Union.

·       4TM opposes the misuse of PCS by outside political organisations for their own agendas through the so-called Left Unity/Democratic Alliance organisation.

·       4TM believes PCS should be a politically neutral Civil Service Trade Union, run by individuals who put their members interests before any outside allegiance.

·       4TM stand for Democracy, Free Speech and openness within the PCS Union. 4TM opposes political extremism whether it comes from the Far Left, the Far Right or Religious Fundamentalism.

·       4TM stands for the rights of the individual and believes these rights in the workplace can be enhanced through the collective approach of the trade union movement.

 4themembers Candidates for the PCS National Executive Committee

President: Di Breen (DWP)

Vice-Presidents: Rachel Barrowclough (DWP), Lynda Frankland Barber (HMRC), David Hunter (Scottish Government), Rod West (BIS)

NEC: Rachel Barrowclough (DWP), Di Breen (DWP, Rob Bryson (DWP),  Joe Cox (CSA),  Owen Dodd (UKBA), Lynda Frankland Barber (HMRC), Christine Galligan (DWP),  Martin Gault (HMRC ),  Hubert Gieschen (MMO), Ravi Kurup (HMRC), Howard Fuller (DWP), Gurmit Kang (DWP), David Hunter (Scottish Government), Andy Magee (HMRC), Winston Murray (FCO), Robert Mottershead (HMRC), James Reynolds (BIS), Willie Samuel (MyCSP), Rod West (BIS),Angie Withers (CSA)

Plus Independent: Jake Wilde (HMRC).

Please nominate these at your Branch Annual General Meeting, and Vote for them in this years PCS Elections.

Monday, 7 January 2013

To Conference or Not to Conference

National Delegate Conference the sovereign body of PCS and Group Delegate Conference’s appear to be under threat as groups are told to hold off booking group hotels.

Though there is nothing on the PCS website, the lack of electoral time scales leading up to conference 2013 is adding weight to the rumours floating around many social networks that this years conference is under threat.

One possible reason for any alteration to conference 2013 is being sited as the coalitions attack on our facilities agreements and special paid leave.

While using our own time to attend conference will prevent many representatives from attending, we all know that conference is the annual gathering of activists from across the union to catch up, network and plan for the future.

While the numbers attending might go down, we believe that the majority would still attend.

If the majority of activists would attend in their own time (we are a dedicate, die hard bunch), the question needs to asked, is there some other reason for amending or altering conference 2013?

Is the financial situation PCS faces more sever than we have been led to believe?

Have we gone from a strong, solvent union to one that cannot afford to hold conference, the policy making, sovereign body of our union?

If we have then every single member should be questioning the current leaderships ability to run our union and represent our members interest; plus, every branch should be considering what any alteration to our democratic structures and processes means?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

PCS calls for co-ordinated strike action

The national executive committee (NEC) has agreed plans for a campaign for fair pay and working conditions. The union will be writing to employers setting out our demands and calling for immediate formal negotiations.
The NEC will meet in January to assess the government’s response. If employers do not respond satisfactorily then it was agreed to move to a national ballot for a programme of industrial action - possibly in February 2013.

Strike action is the last resort of any trade union and should be taken to protect and promote their members interests.

4TM is completely opposed to austerity and the continuing idealogical attacks on civil servants and supports membership endorsed strike action; however, we have to ask who is really calling for a general strike and what are their motives?

Fight in British unions for solidarity, not boycotts - Eric Lee

In the course of just a few days, three news stories came across my desk that highlighted one of the problems we face in the British trade union movement.

As I write these words, the Israeli nurses’ union is engaged in a major fight with the Netanyahu government. Netanyahu is the health minister (as well as prime minister) and his government stands accused of starving public hospitals, while coming up with millions to construct new illegal settlement housing. The nurses strike deserves the support of unions everywhere, in particular unions which organise nurses.

Israel’s public sector unions solidified a major victory early this month. An agreement that ended February’s general strike has now been translated into results on the ground. The general strike had been fought over the question of precarious employment and the Histadrut won a substantial victory. This week, contract workers in the public sector will get huge wage gains and back pay thanks to the solidarity of unionised workers who shut the country down and compelled the government to make concessions.

Both examples show an independent, and sometimes militant, Israeli trade union movement that deserves the solidarity of trade unionists in Britain. Indeed, the Israel public sector unions may even have a thing or two to teach their British counterparts about how to win on issues like contract labour.

But unfortunately Unison and the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), unions which should, in theory, be promoting solidarity with the Israeli nurses and indeed with all the Israeli public sector unions, have played a rather different role recently.

Unison and PCS were among the leading unions which actively pushed the recent congress of Public Services International (PSI) to adopt a new policy supporting boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targetting Israel. PSI is also now on record supporting the slander that Israel is an “apartheid state”.

It is unusual for a global union federation like PSI to take such a strong position in opposition to Israel, even if its BDS call was limited to “firms complicit with the occupation”.
The pro-Hamas Palestine Solidarity Campaign hailed the decision as a breakthrough. I want to step back here and try to understand what is going on.

Israel is the only country in the region with a strong, independent trade union movement. It is not a perfect movement and there is much to criticise about it. But when Unison sent a delegation over to meet with Israelis and Palestinians, everyone they spoke to — including the Palestinians — encouraged the British union to keep up its relationship with the Histadrut.

No one, not even the far-left critics of the Histadrut, suggested to Unison that it disengage.
But when the report of the Unison delegation was put to the national executive, it was rejected and Unison carried on with a policy supporting boycotts of the Jewish state and its trade union movement as well.

This makes absolutely no sense.

If you oppose the right-wing, neoliberal policies of the Netanyahu government, shouldn’ t you support the struggle of the Israeli nurses? Shouldn’t you support the Histadrut’s general strike which resulted in such an important victory?

Instead of engaging with the Israeli labour movement, unions like Unison and PCS are moving away from it.

There was a time not long ago when British unions played a more constructive role. They would bring over representatives of the Histadrut and the Palestinian unions to Britain where they could meet British trade unionists — and each other. British unions saw their role as bridge-builders, taking no sides in a tragic conflict between two nations.

One doesn’t want to get all nostalgic about this — instead, I suggest we try to find ways restore some sanity and balance into the British labour movement’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Above all this means educating activists and members, whose only source of information seems to be the pro-Hamas camp, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Unfortunately, there is no effective alternative voice in the British labour movement today.
If members of Unison, PCS and other unions were to be made aware of the reality of the Israeli trade union movement, its struggles and its victories, I think it might be possible to have a more interesting and productive debate.

At the moment, the agenda in those unions is being dictated by supporters of Hamas, and that, comrades, is not a good thing.

Go to: for further information

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Is the BNP Back? No!

Hope Not Hate Reports:

The British National Party declared it a “great result!” and announced to its supporters that they were again on the road to winning major breakthroughs.”

You would have thought that the BNP had just pulled off an historic victory but instead it was celebrating its third place in the Rotherham by-election. But, given the recent problems of the BNP, it was perhaps something to cheer.

“Not only did we beat both the government parties, achieving a total number of votes which surpassed theirs put together, but we beat the widely-predicted winner Respect in a heavily Islamised constituency,” the BNP crowed on its website and in a fundraising email to supporters.

So, is the BNP back? No, and we will explain why.

The BNP certainly did perform well in the Rotherham by-election and if UKIP hadn’t grabbed the headlines over the removal of children from a foster family because of their membership of the party then it is likely that the BNP would have done better. They might even have been battling for second place and their vote would have certainly have been well above 10%. As it was they came third with 8.5% of the vote.

But let’s not read too much into this. After Barking & Dagenham, Rotherham gave the BNP its highest vote in the 2010 General Election. It has had two councillors in the constituency in recent years and the council has been beset by an awful cover-up which allowed a grooming gang to operate for ten years without hindrance. The by-election was caused by a resignation of an MP for fiddling his expenses and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were always going to struggle. It was a perfect opportunity for the BNP but their vote, respectable as it was, was the consequence of other factors rather than anything the BNP did.

There were two other parliamentary by-elections last Thursday but only one was contested by the BNP. Perhaps they should not have bothered. The party polled just 1.9% of the vote, well down on the 5.8% the BNP received in the 2010 General Election.

Two weeks earlier the BNP contested two other parliamentary by-elections. The party received 3.0% in Manchester Central, down from 4.1% in 2010, and just 1.7% in Corby, well down on the 4.7% it polled in the last General Election.

The BNP have, if anything, done even worse in other elections held over the last month. Of the dozens of council by-elections held over the last few weeks the BNP contested just two. In Ardwick ward, Manchester, the BNP polled 1.7%, while in Branksome East ward, Poole, the BNP's William Kimmet was last with a laughable 28 votes.

The BNP did not even bother to contest the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections. They claimed it was a moral stance against the politicisation of the police service but of course it was because the party did not have the money to stand.

Seen in the wider context the BNP result in Rotherham was an anomaly rather than a sign of an upward trend. If anything, the BNP is in a weaker position now than it was two months ago. The English Democrats did surprisingly well in the PCC elections, saving its deposit in five contests and coming second in South Yorkshire. UKIP, on the other hand, end the month with 13% in the latest national opinion poll and, for the moment at least, it is basking in the limelight of being a respectable right wing alternative.

Also, it should be pointed out that while 8.5% was OK for the BNP it was nowhere near their best parliamentary result. In fact, a quick look back at the records shows the BNP candidates have gained a higher share of the vote than that received in Rotherham on 17 occasions since 2001. Even in 2010 the BNP gained a bigger share of the vote in eight constituencies so let's put Rotherham into perspective.

So while Nick Griffin crows about the Rotherham result the reality, as always, is quite different. The BNP has been on a downward spiral since its European Election triumph in 2009 and nothing in the last few weeks demonstrate that this is going to change in the very near future.