The return of Falkirk – more skulduggery, same victim, same perpetrators

Ed Miliband & Len McCluskeyThe last few days has seen the sorry Falkirk affair return with a vengeance. Readers may remember that there were two people who had been seeking Labour’s parliamentary nomination for Falkirk who were accused of wrong doing in the recruitment of new members to that constituency party. One was left-wing Scottish Unite activist, Karie Murphy, former nurse and later office manager to Tom Watson MP. The other was Progress-supporter Greg Poynton, then a director of new media campaigning consultancy, Blue State Media, who happened to be married to Gemma Doyle MP, deputy to Labour’s then defence spokesperson and leading Blairite, Jim Murphy. Continue reading

20,000 London bus workers go on strike – with the public on their side

B7Omg--CIAAcsRlPicket lines were in place across London’s 70 bus garages today as over 20,000 bus workers working for 18 bus operators take part in a 24 hour strike to end unfair pay disparities across the capital’s bus network. With very solid support for the strike the bus workers’ union Unite urged TfL and the mayor of London to “bang the bus operators’ heads together” to get them to sit down collectively with the union to resolve the dispute.

There are over 80 different pay rates covering London’s bus drivers, doing the same job, even driving the same route but for different rates of pay. In contrast to tube drivers, there isn’t one collective pay deal for bus drivers in the capital, whose pay is negotiated on a company by company basis leading to pay inequality and disparities.  Unite says a refusal by the operators to address pay inequality has led to pay gaps of over £3 an hour for new starters opening up, with pay varying from £9.30 to £12.34 an hour depending on the company. Continue reading

Jerry Hicks complaint against Unite thrown out

HicksFar left challenger to Len McCluskey in last year’s election for Unite general Secretary, Jerry Hicks, has lost his formal legal challenge to the Government’s Certification Officer. Having lost by144,570 votes to 79,819 in spite of backing from sections of the Right and every disgruntled member, his objection has finally been thrown out after a year of investigation and several hearings this month.

Many UNITE members were shocked and disgusted that Jerry Hicks took his own union to court on spurious charges (using the machinery brought in by Thatcher’s government to regulate trade unions) following the General Secretary election last year. His complaint of so-called “phantom votes” was based on the inclusion in the ballot of a number of members in arrears with their contributions (he claimed 160,000). However UNITE was following the practice as decided in previousCertification Officer hearings,  namely that members in arrears cannot be denied a vote if they have not been contacted  by their union and asked if they wish to remain a member and resume contributions.   Continue reading

A safe, secure, affordable home is a right

Green plastic monopoly houses, by 123rf.comThe following is the text of Unite Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner’s speech to Labour’s conference in Manchester 

We welcome Labour’s policy statements and the clear commitments contained within it to build more homes – and we equally welcome Ed Miliband’s comments yesterday. However, we must never forget that a – safe – secure and affordable roof over your head is a human right – as fundamental as the right to life – to vote or for food on your table.

Many of our challenges pale into insignificance compared to the millions who make up today’s generation rent – and more so – the growing obscenity of families forced from their communities into insecure private rental or bed and breakfast emergency accommodation. Continue reading

Len McCluskey warns now is not the time for heated arguments about Labour policy

len mccluskeyOpening Unite’s policy conference in Liverpool today, Len McCluskey’s planned speech ranged across issues from the severity of Tory attacks on working people and their families (as well as on Unite itself) to the importance of electing a Labour government and the menace posed by UKIP.

But for Labour and union activists keen to use Labour’s policy process to ensure Labour presents a bold and radical programme to defeat austerity and provide new hope, there will be some disappointment. Such activists warn that ‘austerity lite’ has not been enough for PASOK in Greece and the French socialists to avoid decimation in their recent polls. But Len McCluskey warns that now is not the time to have heated arguments within the Labour Party about policy. Continue reading