Saturday, 23 July 2016

Uniting for Education: A New Union for Education Professionals

Uniting for Education: A New Union for Education Professionals: Possibly our most significant decision at this week's National Executive was taken in the last few minutes of the meeting, although it f...

Monday, 9 May 2016

Uniting for Education: The Government Climbdown and the NUT Strike

Uniting for Education: The Government Climbdown and the NUT Strike: Yesterday, the government announced a significant climbdown in relation to forced academisation. The white paper will no longer include pr...

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Trades Councils, Mental Health & Liberty: TUC Day 4

Well, it's almost over now!

We've heard the speeches of lots of other unions, and Surprise! ! Surprise!
We all suffer at the hands of Government and their policies, and we all support each other!  There is clearly an under - used resource locally- our Trades Councils

We have places on the Oxford Trades  Union Council, but need to engage with other local towns in Oxfordshire and theirTrades Union Councils/ groups.

We have listened to speeches on Mental Health issues for both children, and adult workers, and how poorly these groups have been served in schools, colleges and universities.

An emotional speech from a young, male  NUT teacher, about his attempted suicide, after the lack of support from his school, when he finally admitted his mental health problems! He is a survivor, and deservedly received a standing ovation!

Other areas covered have been  Child  Sexual Exploitation; shameful new Government rules on benefits for Disabled people, and discrimination at work!; Campaigning for reasonable adjustments at work; time off during the day for ante-natal appointments; the plight of young workers with no future of a decent pension at a reasonable age!!

Violence In The Workplace was a universal concern to unions from many areas, including schools, the Courts, Fire Service, justice, NHS; Police Surveillance; Stop And Search; Later State and TPS pensions, and the issues of resulting old age poverty, due to older teachers being 'got rid of' years before their pensions kicked in! (Resulting in them receiving a Reduced Pension.  And having to live without their State pension, for a number of years!)

Shami Chakrabarti  - the Director of Liberty also spoke about the Government's attack on Trade Unionists and the Movement in general.
Briefly, you might be interested in some of her key quotes as follows: 'Inequality Always Begins With Divide And Rule'
Beware of the Government's line' The Innocent Have Nothing To Fear' re: en masse routine surveillance. Remember Doreen Lawrence!

She spoke of the positive role played by women in Trade Unions, and urged all unions to ' Push them to the front, to the microphones, to the leadership of your unions'

This Government should be working with unions to resolve their concerns, not simply trying to restrict their activities. '

'Women will be the biggest losers in this onslaught! '

'The Government is on the wrong side of Humanity!!' '

'Please Join Liberty!'

I've loved the TUC  Congress. Time to come home to Oxfordshire!!!

Sarah Carter
President of Oxforshire NUT Association

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Defeat the Poverty Deniers: Corbyn speaks at TUC

There was a useful lunchtime joint meeting today, which  I attended, hosted by the  NUT, ATL (and supported by some  private sector non- teacher organisations.) about the value of having a full and  varied curriculum, with arts being encouraged; where getting a 'C' at GCSE isn't the only benchmark worth noting, where the parents of students( and students themselves), who struggle to reach a D, E , or lower grade, aren't convinced that they've failed their GCSE exams!!

Jeremy Corbyn arrived at 2.15pm, and his speech ran through all we hoped for! So in tune with the Trades Unions' views, he covered his views of all the areas that we've covered at this conference.

He talked of:
the  £6 million members of TU's in the UK currently, highlighting the real strength of trades unions . They are therefore an integral part of society. That is why they need to have a voice.
He talked about international TUs. - who haven't decent H &S support. who have died as a result. Such as the Colombian  miners!

'It's a worldwide movement, not just a national movement- never forget that! '

He reminded us of the £30,000 new members of the Labour Party, since Saturday's result!

He explained that on Saturday he went directly to support victims of Human Rights Abuses at the 'Refugees Welcome Here!

The next day, he went to a Mental Health event! He raised his support of 'our' NHS, and is keen for us to help to end the stigma of mental health!

'We have to address the Housing Crisis, as clearly, the free market isn't doing it!.' To do so, we have to create a substantial council housing building programme.

On the strength of the membership, Jeremy noted that he received a lot of votes in his election, in fact, 2x the number of The Conservative Party's entire membership!!

He believes that in his shadow cabinet,, that policy making will be a collective acts, not produced solely by his team, involving branch members. Why? Because
' if you are involved in policy making, then you own it, and will therefore fight to support the policy causes!  So, no surprise from the top!
He offered support to the National Gallery staff, who are in the audience today!
Corbyn noted that the Conservatives ( with only 24% of the electorate supporting them) have declared war on the Trades Unions.  They attack us  purely because we exist!
When Labour wins the next General Election in 2020, we will repeal the TU Bill,  and replace it with proper support for TUs.

He rallied against a government who are threatening the Right To Peaceful Protest, and the Right To Free Speech On Social Media.

On Pay, he talked about the reality that better management makes better and healthy and therefore more productive employees.

He called on David Cameron to support the introduction of the on-line secret ballot for unions.

He asked why shouldn't unions be political, or even choose to use some of their funds for political purposes , if they want to. This government has no problem with Hedge Fund money, but it does have a problem with the cleanest money in the UK, namely TU money, and seeks to control and restrict that!

On the Welfare Reform Bill, Corbyn. spoke about the appalling new aspects of the new Disability Benefits, and The Availability For Work Test, resulting in a number of suicides of claimants , whilst waiting long term for, or being denied essential benefits.

The Controlling of Rents and the Raising of Wages to reduce poverty is something he will introduce in 2020.

He had to leave our meeting after his speech to go to the Commons to vote against proposed cuts to Tax Credits To Parents.

Finally, he said:
The Tories call us ' Deficit Deniers'
We call them 'Poverty Deniers'

Austerity is this Government's choice!

Of his Party:
'We will be proud to campaign with  TUs.

Remember that we are quite a rich, but unequal society.

Workers founded the TU Movement, and we will build on that!'

Nothing I can add to that!

Union Rights & Education Funding: TUC Day 3

Today kicked off with many unions' impassioned pleas to support the TUC's response to the Government's  2nd Reading approval ( narrowly)  of their TU Bill, which greatly limits TU activity, and the Right To Strike, the Right To Picket, and which brings the Police ( already stretched!) into the whole process. Reps' time off to support members ( Facilities time) will be greatly restricted! Supply Agencies to be used to break strikes by covering classes where staff are out on strike! Need I go on?
The new voting system requires an substantial  number of members to send a postal vote for strike action to unions. An Abstention, and even failing to vote, will be taken as a No vote!
And yet, ironically, this Government was elected to power by 24% of the National vote! So, 76% of us don't want the Tories!!  Crime Commissioners were indeed elected to power on 14% of the vote! We'll need 40%!!!
Most businesses elect their Boards on far less!!
Electronic Balloting is surely the 21st Century way forward! But we are denied this option. Young people expect to be able to use this facility. Therefore, We must  'Kill The Bill'. Lobby Your MP!!
'We need to go to Manchester,en masse,  and disrupt the Tory Conference!' urged Malcolm Davies, of UCATT. He quoted Bob Crowe, ' if you fight, you may not always win, but if you don't fight, you will lose! '

The  Education  debates here have backed up everything we knew about education issues locally!

ATL's Shelagh Hirst,  said of the Supply Agencies that there wouldn't be enough agency staff to cover, so would staff there be quickly recruited, not properly CRB checked? No proper handovers between staff? So would vulnerable pupils, those with medical needs etc be put at risk?  Many financially desperate agency staff would be forced to cross picket lines. Future staff relations within schools would then be significantly damaged!
The current Education Funding Crisis was  seen as a disgrace, and a  TUC campaign on Funding was agreed.
6th Forms and FE's were keen to point out the attacks on pay and conditions of staff in all Post 16 institutions, and in universities.  There have been 24% cuts this year alone.

Campaigning by the TUC will follow to reverse the recently cut funding support for disabled students, and those with additional support needs!

Many speakers, including the NUT, spoke of how poverty affects the learning and life chances of vulnerable children today!

The Living Wage was cited as essential therefore, as a start.

The role of fast food chains, Sports Direct etc were mentioned as poor employers, who pay far less, and the use of zero hours' contracts as being a barrier to pulling workers out of poverty!indeed, encouraging poverty for profit!!

Some speakers talked of how some teachers try to help students by paying for their lunches, by getting clothes for them from schools' Lost Property Boxes.

 How, for those on Free School Meals, that lunch will be the only decent meal they'll get all day, and that at the weekend, they'll go hungry again, waiting for Monday, and dreading the school holidays!!!
Powerful stuff!!!

The TUC will campaign, using the United Nations Convention on The Rights Of The Child, which states: ' The best interests of the child must be a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect children' and ' Every child  has the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and social needs and support their development'.

Hold tight! Jeremy Corbyn to speak at Congress this afternoon! Can't wait!!

Sarah Carter
SE Region NUT
TUC Delegate

Monday, 14 September 2015

To whom are you accountable and how can we get rid of you? TUC Day 2

First off today, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow dong a fine impression of the late, great Tony Benn, stating the five questions to be asked of anyone in power!
 “What power have you got? 

Where did you get it from? 

In whose interests do you exercise it? 

To whom are you accountable?

And how can we get rid of you?” 

He also spoke of his efforts to encourage young people to engage with politics; how he chairs the UK Youth Parliament in the Commons.  

How he insisted that a bar in the Commons be removed and replaced by a creche for Commons staff, despite complaints

How he pushed the idea that all contractors. and staff in the Commons should be paid a London Living Wage! 

How his politics have changed dramatically from his early right wing days. He was well received at  the end!! 
You can watch his speech here.

After that, a rousing speech from the TUC General  Secretary ,Frances O'Grady, talking about organising and building the unions and calling ultimately for all workers to join a union, saying 'Together we are stronger!' . 

She also  talked about the joy of seeing that Corbyn"s newly appointed Shadow Cabinet consists of a majority of women ( the very first!).
The text of Frances' speech is available here.
Later on, a lively debate took place about Electoral Reform. 

Emergency Motion 1 Colombia - Christine Blower asked all to support by pushing unions to give practical support to this cause.

  Emergency Motion 2 re: Met Office Weather Forecasting Service For The BBC. Prospect asked for support from the unions. Tony Lennon  of BECU described the new plan as 'a stitch up of one national institution by another!!! ' Support the campaign! 

Today was also the debate on education and I will report more on that in the morning. Anyway, off to bed now...

Sarah Carter
SE Region NUT
TUC Delegate

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Impressive, Challenging & Essential: TUC Day 1

Positive and enthusiastic start to TUC Congress.

Much mention of the vision of hope provided by the election of Jeremy Corbyn! 

In the President's Address, Leslie Manasseh talked of this too, and 
of how Collective Bargaining and Union membership, especially in private enterprise, is on the decline. 

'Unless we grow in numbers, we cannot grow in strength. ' he said. 'We need to understand why many of the working classes voted Tory in the last election. '

He talked about how strong organisation is the key- strong reps - essential!  

We can't change things by shouting; we need to change from within. We must rebuild Trade Unions. We must speak more to non members. Not just talk to activists. That's too safe! 

We need to get out there and do the hard job. The younger generation need to know why joining a TU is a good idea. 

We owe this to those who built the unions!! And to those who come after us! 

There are those who want to destroy the unions, and we must work hard, organise, and stand united in order 
to stop them! '

Impressive, challenging and essential, don't you think? 

Sarah Carter
SE Region NUT
TUC Delegate