Message from TUC General Secretary

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This Wednesday is a crucial day for the UK’s trade union movement. Our MPs will be casting their final votes on the government’s dangerous Trade Union Bill.

Can you help by writing to your MP now?

I’m really proud of how our whole movement has campaigned against this bill. The government had wanted this all to have been settled by now, but union members, along with allies in Parliament and across civil society have countered them at every turn. We’ve marched, emailed, signed petitions, joined consultations, staged local events, and held the biggest mass lobby of Parliament yet.

The government have been forced into a series of concessions that have steadily chipped away at the damage this bill will do. They had three high profile defeats in the Lords, and today have published further climbdowns for the last debate in the House of Lords.

But the bill is still a bad bill through and through. It’s undemocratic, striking at working people’s rights to protest. It’s unfair, tipping the power balance in the workplace even more towards the employer. And it’s unnecessary as strikes are at a historic low.

As much as you’ve done already on this, I want to ask you to please do more.

When MPs come to cast their vote on Wednesday, we need each of them to have their constituents’ concerns still ringing in their ears. Let’s make sure the last email they opened before the vote told them how serious that is. As they check their Twitter account in the chamber, let’s make sure they can’t avoid us.
We have to make sure MPs vote to uphold the changes the Lords made – and oppose the whole bill too.

Please email your MP now
(This is especially important if your MP is a Conservative – with a majority of only 12, shifting just a few of them could make all the difference)

And if you’re on Twitter:
Please tweet your MP now
We can help you find your MP on Twitter and send a message that they – and everyone else – will notice.

Thanks for all your support,
Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary

Holiday Snap

Holiday Snap
Just back from a week in the South of France, staying in Menton, a Riviera Town a few kilometres from the Italian border. On our first afternoon my partner John and I decided to see if we could walk into Italy. We could. Actually it was dead easy, although it seemed a bit intimidating walking past armed gendarmes standing a few feet away from equally tooled up carbanieri, but we strolled by unsolicited, neither side asking to see our passports, which we didn’t have with us.
A hundred yards or so past the border we saw a few banners and a collection of tents and realised we had stumbled across a migrant camp. Thus was explained the tooled up border guards. We could not just walk by, or take photos as if it was just another tourist attraction, so we entered the camp and made ourselves known. A young Italian man who spoke good English was brought to us and explained the situation, the migrants (that term we use on his insistence as he refused to call them refugees simply because they were being denied that status) had arrived in June, mainly Sudanese and Eritrean with some Syrians. After a perilous journey from their country of origin they had been denied entry to France and left to survive on the rocks that line the coast, simply sleeping in the clothes they wore. Our interpreter and others from an anarchist group had gone to support them and had returned regularly since, being joined by other volunteers of differing political persuasions.
Our first thought was how well the camp was run and organised. This was nothing like the scenes of Calais assaulting our senses daily, courtesy of our media. It was as clean as it could possibly be and well laid out and structured. Our interpreter explained that the camp was run as a collective with all decisions being made by meetings of both volunteers and migrants. No sense of a threatening atmosphere at all. Close by where we were having our conversation a couple of migrants kicked a ball about, they were the age of many of our students and perhaps even younger.
We explained that we were socialists and trade unionists from Britain and told him about the 100,000 demonstrating in London in support of refugees, something about which he knew nothing but promised to share the news with the camp. During all this we were almost overwhelmed with the sense of humanity within the camp and the fact that people were gladly giving up their time to help. Here were people, mainly young, doing something that made a real difference.
Not wanting to take up any more of their time we made our farewell. We had not gone out with much cash but gave them 20 Euros, which was so gratefully received it was unbelievable. Our interpreter gave us a clenched fist sign of solidarity and left with the words “hasta la vista siempre”. I have to admit I walked out of that camp emotionally shaken and both John and I were glad our eyes were covered by sunglasses.
On our last day we visited again, we had some holiday Euros left so made another donation. This time we spent more time, talking and listening. We were told that at its peak the camp had housed almost 2000 desperate people and that as well as food and water, shoes and blankets are the items of which they are most often in need.
Most impressive was to see 40 or so migrants in a lesson, learning French, all paying strict attention to a young woman whose only technical aid was a flipchart. The nursing students I teach are generally keen to learn, but the expressions on these students’ faces conveyed a concentration and enthusiasm I have not seen before. Unfortunately we could not capture this sight for you. We were allowed to take photos but strictly no faces as these people face repression if identified, both in their country of origin and any country they might reach.
Determined that our last visit would not be the end of it, this time we took contact details in order to raise their plight upon return. This is their FB page, please ‘like’ it and show support – Presidio-Permanente-No-Border-Ventimiglia.
John was a miner and on strike for a year in 1984/5 when the Thatcher government launched its assault upon the mining industry and the trade union movement. One of our young interpreters knew about the strike and had seen the film Pride. John remembers the tremendous solidarity shown to his union, which sustained them through that fateful year. In the name of humanity, if we can do just a little of that to aid people who literally have nothing, then we can show them some of that solidarity. One of the banners said simply that they could not go back because they have lost everything! Please take note of that anyone who thinks we should not help!
I would never have imagined, when planning the holiday that my belief in humankind would be reinforced by being humbled, and seeing, even in the most desperate circumstances, humanity and compassion expressed so vividly.
The irony is that whilst we could stroll between borders without challenge, human beings fleeing war, torture and starvation are left to rot in a no man’s land. A better world has to be possible.
Beverley Norris (Bradford UCU) and John Dunn (Unite Community)

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Bradford College Lobbying Governors

Bradford College UCU Lecturers are once again taking industrial action this week against redundancies. The College is still failing to guarantee no compulsory redundancies. Other colleges in the country have lifted their threat.
So, they are taking strike action. They have been out on the picket line from 7.30 this morning.
They are also going to Lobby the Governors, from 4 o’clock onwards at the college, to hand in their petition and demonstrate their opposition to job and education cuts.
Any support fort bis would be most welcome.

20 June demo:PEOPLES ASSEMBLY AGAINST AUSTERITY.

A reminder that the Peoples Assembly demonstration, against Austerity, is to take place , in London, this Saturday. Various organisations are arranging transport. Details of those in our region below.

Bradford
Departure: Bradford Hotel, Hall Ings, 7am
Contact: Barry: 07971 038 779
Ticket price: £20 standard £10 concessions

Leeds
Leaves Playhouse at 7am
Call 0113 2458442

Huddersfield
Departure: George Hotel Huddersfield HD1 IJA at 7am
Contact: Roger 07814 709 853
Ticket price: £20 standard £10 concessions

In less than two weeks time hundreds of thousands of people will flood the streets of London in opposition to this governments austerity plans.

‘End Austerity Now’ National Demonstration
Saturday 20 June 2015
Assemble: 12pm, Bank of England (Queen Victoria Street) march to Parliament Square
Invite and share on Facebook
Transport from across the country

Route: Queen Victoria Street, Blackfriers, A201, Fleet Street, Strand, Whitehall, Parliament Square

Getting to Queen Victoria Street:
Please use all tube and train stations in the area. Bank station is the closest but it’s possible it will shut if it gets too crowded. Alternative stations include: Liverpool Street, St Paul’s, Moorgate, London Bridge.

Coaches will drop off at London Wall which is a short walk away from the assembly point. If you’re organising a coach, please read this page for info: Info for coach organisers – 20 June demo

[Please note there are closures on the Circle, District lines and DLR services on that day. Mansion House, Monument & Tower Hill will all be shut]

Too far for you? No problem! We have a shorter route for those who don’t feel they can manage the whole thing. This assembles at 1:30pm at Downing Street and will join the main march as it passes. For more information on disabled access please click here

Also…
This Thursday we are organising a London-wide meeting to plan how we maximise the size of the demonstration in the last few days. Please do all you can to make it.

London meeting for the ‘End Austerity Now’ national demo
6:30pm – 8pm, Thursday 11 June
NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9BJ
Please invite your friends on Facebook

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

anti austerity events tomorrow to coincide with the State Opening of Parliament

There are events up and down the country to protest against austerity and to coincide with the state opening of Parliament.

Wednesday 27th May 2015.

On the day of the state opening of the new parliament we will gather in Bradford to peacefully demonstrate our opposition to austerity.

Bradford: 17.00 in Centenary Square..

Leeds: Assemble in Victoria Gardens, outside Leeds Art Gallery & Central Library. 5pm to 6pm.