The binstrike in Birmingham is back on, after the Labour council reneged on a deal agreed with ACAS and ratified at a full council meeting. The binmen stand to lose £3.5K – £5K a year in the dispute, which will only save the council £400,000 a year – while the dispute is costing the council £312,000 a week. Demonstration: Sunday September 17th at 11am, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1DB.
Read Squawkbox article on the dispute
And another one on the scapegoating of council leader John Clancy
The first ever McDonalds strike in the UK was a huge success as workers in Crayford and Cambridge walked out to join thousands of other fast wood workers protesting around the globe in co-ordinated action. They and their union, the Bakers Union (BFAWU), are now calling on all supporters to help them get more restaurants out on strike, inspired by successful campaigns in the U.S. and New Zealand. More info and to get involved: https://fastfoodrights.wordpress.com/
Ahead of a Parliamentary debate on blacklisting, the Blacklist Support Group demanded answers over the awarding of the Big Ben contract to notorious blacklisters Sir Robert McAlpine.
The Speaker of the House of Commons and the Sir Robert McAlpine chief executive both joined the war of words about the £29m contract to refurbish Big Ben being awarded to the blacklist company. On Tuesday 5th September during a Westminster Hall debate on blacklisting MPs including Labour and SNP frontbenchers Jack Dromey and Chris Stephens joined Chuka Ummuna in calling for the company that was at the very heart of The Consulting Association human rights scandal to be stripped of the Big Ben contract.
The former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna went further on Thursday 7th by raising a ‘point of order’ on the floor of the House of Commons asking the Speaker, his “views and advice with regard to the matter of Big Ben” adding, “what message do you think it sends to the victims of this gross injustice for this House to award a contract to a firm that not only funded the Consulting Association, but provided its first chair and another chair?”
John Bercow replied: that the question was “perfectly legitimately and reasonable” adding that although the company had been awarded the initial contract to provide scaffolding, the full contract had not yet been officially awarded to McAlpine. The Speaker of the House of Commons summed up by confirming “It is important. We are sensitive to it and we will be conscious in the days ahead of the reputational importance” and told MPs that he would make enquiries and make a further statement.
Stung by the ongoing criticism, the chief executive of Sir Robert McAlpine Limited, Paul Hamer wrote a letter to a number of newspapers claiming that “blacklisting “has no place now or in the future” at his firm and that the contractor was committed fully to “a zero-tolerance policy towards blacklisting, illegal or unfair recruitment practices”. Adding that “I am pleased to confirm that Sir Robert McAlpine complies fully with all legislation to prevent blacklisting and is committed to fair and transparent recruitment.”
Roy Bentham, blacklisted carpenter from Liverpool and Blacklist Support Group, joint secretary responded to the McAlpine statement:
“Paul Hamer might be the CEO but Cullum McAlpine owns the company and I sat behind Cullum McAlpine when he gave evidence to the select committee investigation. Upon advice from his lawyer who was sitting next to him throughout, the blacklister in chief smugly refused to answer questions put to him by MPs.
The select committee report stated that they were ‘far from certain that all of our witnesses have told us ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’, despite many of them being under oath’. Blacklisted workers completely agree with that assessment by MPs”.
30 years ago Sir Robert McAlpine Limited denied blacklisting people as part of the Economic League, 10 years ago they denied blacklisting people as part of The Consulting Association. And now they assure us that they’ve given up blacklisting completely. Given the company’s previous honesty on blacklisting, how could anybody possibly not believe them now?”
Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said workers were “continuing to have their lives ruined simply for being a member of a union”.
In May last year, Sir Robert McAlpine Limited was one of eight multi-national contractors (the others were Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Skanska and Vinci) that made a public apology alongside a record breaking multi-million pound compensation payout in order to avoid prosecution at the High Court.
Eight contractors – Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska and Vinci.
Two actions from Disabled People Against Cuts’ week of action: first at the Department of Transport with the RMT, where they are kept waiting in trying to hand over a petition to keep guards on trains, then at ATOS headquarters to protest the inhumane PIP assessments that have lead to thousands of disabled people dying – even the DWP say 4,000 have died. DPAC are now calling for a boycott of all companies linked to ATOS (such as Santander, Vodaphone and EDF) in order to take the contract away from them once and for all.
John McDonnell pledged full support from the Labour party to striking mixed fleet cabin crew, as a number of Labour MPs joined them in front of Parliament to demand a decent living wage from British Airways. Dennis Skinner in particular was given a big cheer by the striking crew when he called airports “the mines of the future” in terms of militancy and solidarity in the trade union movement. Please donate to the hardship fund (details at the end of the video) to help this epic strike land a significant blow against corporate greed.
Over a quarter of a million people attended a very moving and emotional 133rd Big Meeting in Durham to remember Davey Hopper, who died a week after last year’s Gala. Davey was the General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association for 30 years, and was the driving force behind the ongoing success of the Gala. On the march were British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew, in the middle of a 16 day strike for a living wage – and the biggest cheers were for the Durham Teaching Assistants, who explained why they are rejecting a terrible deal “negotiated” by UNISON which would leave nearly a quarter of them losing up to £4,000 immediately, and everyone else worse off eventually. UNISON should hang their heads in shame at trying to sell the Durham Lions out like this – now it’s down to all of us to give them the support they need to get a proper settlement.
After rejecting the latest pay deal from British Airways, British Airways mixed fleet cabin crew are taking 16 consecutive days of strike action – with another two weeks following on quickly, making a total of 30 strike days in 32 days. More and more crew are joining the union, UNITE, to come out on strike in disgust at a deal which would have imposed sanctions on staff who’d taken strike action previously – withdrawal of staff travel discounts and, most importantly, withdrawal of bonuses which may well take the staff below a living wage. This is blacklisting – an illegal activity. And now, BA are “wetleasing” planes and crew from Qatar Airways to cover the planes grounded by the rapidly strengthening strike – a company and a country with an appalling record on workers rights and human rights. Compare that disgusting behaviour with the pride shown by striking cabin crew at the Durham Miners’ Gala and London Pride in this film.
Management at Ritzy cinema have SACKED three BECTU reps, and suspended another, in the long-running battle for a living wage at Picturehouse cinemas. Shadow chancellor John Mc Donnell was among the supporters on the picket line on July 1st, as he urged the entire labour movement to get behind the cinema workers. Picturehouse workers are calling on everyone to boycott ALL Picturehouse cinemas until their demands are met and all Ritzy reps are reinstated – which means don’t go and see films there, and don’t eat and drink in their cafes. The Human Rights film festival have already promised to move their festival to other cinemas if the dispute isn’t resolved – you can follow their example by going to watch films in cinemas that do pay their staff a living wage.
The BBC are refusing to allow people to say how many dead there might be in the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower, so let’s say what everyone’s thinking – we are probably looking at around 200 bodies. Last night there was a very angry and emotional march from the Home Office, via 10 Downing St and the BBC, all the way to Grenfell Tower, with passers-by and drivers cheering and clapping the marchers all the way, where they joined a vigil of local residents. An amazing show of solidarity by thousands at very short notice. Today (Saturday) there is another demonstration at Kensington & Chelsea town hall at Midday – and then we have to keep doing this. We need justice, we need this disgusting “government” out and we need tory ministers in jail – and that’s just for starters.
The National Pensioners Convention delivered a defiant manifesto at their annual Pensioners Parliament in Blackpool this week. Condemning the Tories plans for the dementia tax, means tested winter fuel payments and removal of the triple lock pension, they called for social care free at the point of need, a state pension at a level of 70% of the living wage, and maintenance of universal benefits – and, alongside Disabled People Against Cuts, vowed to take to the streets to fight for them, whatever the Government.