END THATCHERITE EXPERIMENT – scrap all anti-union laws says FBU

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FBU members at a TUC rally in defence of the right to strike

IT’S TIME to end the Thatcherite experiment and scrap all the anti-union laws, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) demanded after PM Sunak called the general election last Wednesday.

Speaking at the union’s Annual Conference in Blackpool, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack set out the damage caused by 14 years of Tory rule to living standards and public services.
He said that the Labour Party must be held to its pledge to deliver the New Deal for Working People – which includes commitments to scrap the Minimum Service Levels Act and the 2016 Trade Union Act – within 100 days of a Labour government.
Wrack said: ‘Fourteen years of Tory rule have left working people poor, angry and desperate for change.
‘We have suffered the worst drop in wages in 200 years. Public services, including the fire service, are in crisis.
‘It’s time to end the Thatcherite experiment that wrecked Britain. Decades of deregulation, privatisation and attacks on workers have delivered nothing but misery for communities up and down the country.
‘We need strong trade unions to turn things around. The next government under Keir Starmer must scrap the anti-union laws that stop workers standing up for themselves.
‘The Minimum Service Levels Act bans many public sector workers from striking even when they have voted democratically to do so.
‘Labour’s New Deal for Working People sets out a plan to scrap this authoritarian law, along with the 2016 Trade Union Act, as well as delivering a package of reforms to boost workers’ rights.
‘The FBU will fight to get rid of the Tories and to see this package delivered within 100 days of a Labour government.’
Meanwhile over the weekend, the Unite union warned that the Labour Party is ‘watering down’ its commitment to the scrap the pledge to overturn the anti-union legislation.
General Secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘The again revised New Deal for Working People has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.
‘The number of caveats and get-outs means it is in danger of becoming a bad bosses’ charter.
‘Working people expect Labour to be their voice. They need to know that Labour will not back down to corporate profiteers determined to maintain the status quo of colossal profits at the expense of everyone else.
‘The country desperately needs a Labour government, but the party must show it will stick to its guns on improving workers’ rights.
‘Fire and rehire is abhorrent and must be banned – no ifs no buts.
‘Unite will continue to call out any row backs on the New Deal for Working People, which was a promise made.’

Surrey University UCU – no confidence in Vice Chancellor!

University of Surrey management have been called on to stop the threat of job cuts after staff and students delivered an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Provost and the Executive Board.
Over nine-in-ten voters (97%), in a ballot organised by the University and College Union (UCU) and other campus unions at the University of Surrey, said they have no confidence in Surrey’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof GQ Max Lu, its Provost, Prof Tim Dunne (the architect of the cuts programme) and the Executive Board.
Staff are furious at the axing of more than 140 jobs as part of a radical programme of cuts.
The unions, staff and students fear these moves are merely the thin end of the wedge, with further cuts to jobs, provisions, and course content likely in the future, which may lead to closure of some degree programmes.
Although they are yet to embark on mass compulsory redundancies, over 140 staff have accepted Voluntary Severance. Feedback from members and union caseworkers shows that many staff felt pressured into accepting Voluntary Severance.
The UCU said it ‘wants management to take note of the strength of feeling and commit to working with staff, students, and other campus unions to build a better university for all, rather than tearing down the bedrock of the institution by making staff redundant.
‘There has been no meaningful interaction with the unions, rather, releasing fait accompli measures at the 11th hour under the badge of “consultation”.’
UCU regional official, Michael Moran, said: ‘It is little surprise that staff confidence is at an all-time low given the cuts that Surrey is implementing.
‘We believe there is no business or educational case for further cuts and ask that the VC and Provost rule out any future plans for redundancies and that management listen to staff concerns and commit to building a better university rather than sacking staff.
‘We fear these cuts are the thin end of the wedge and, unless urgent action is taken now, Surrey staff and students will suffer further in the future.’

  • UCU has called on the Chancellor of Edge Hill University to speak out against the attack on arts and humanities jobs at her university. Edge Hill bosses are planning to sack 11 senior academics, part of £1 million cuts in the English and Creative Arts Department.

Dawn Airey, the Edge Hill Chancellor, is an outspoken opponent of cuts to creative arts funding and chairs the National Youth Theatre. Airey recently argued in the Financial Times that the UK’s ‘creative superpower status’ is at risk due to underinvestment.
UCU warns that compulsory redundancy notices for the 11 academic staff will be served in the coming weeks.
Edge Hill is pressing ahead with this attack on jobs despite having had £200 million to splash on capital projects, and in the context of an 8.6% increase in applications for English and Creative Arts courses at the university this year.
Local politicians from across the Liverpool City Region, including Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson, oppose the job cuts and have sent messages of support to UCU members. The union called on Chancellor Airey to join her in defending arts and humanities jobs at Edge Hill.
UCU regional official Matt Arrowsmith said: ‘UCU is doing its utmost to protect jobs and defend high quality arts and humanities courses at Edge Hill.
‘We urge Dawn Airey to use her position as Chancellor to speak out against these cuts, which will needlessly damage the university’s reputation in the arts and humanities, taking an axe to provision even as demand for these courses rises.
‘Any intervention to this effect from Dawn would be a huge boost to our members facing this threat to their livelihoods, and would befit a prominent defender of the arts.
‘We are ready to engage constructively with Edge Hill management and negotiate to avoid these job cuts. To safeguard the future of the university, they should be prioritising jobs and education over excessive capital spending.’

Scotland council workers Summer of Action!

THE Unite union has announced that its representative committee for local government workers in Scotland have rejected outright the COSLA (local government organisation) pay offer.
The offer comprises 2.2 per cent effective from 1st April to 30 September, and then two per cent for a 12-month period effective from 1st October 2024 to 30 September 2025.
Unite rejected the offer, and the proposal to change the pay anniversary date from April to October, on the basis that it is nothing but an attempt to ‘kick the can down the road’.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘COSLA has taken months to put a formal pay offer to our local government membership, and it’s a derisory one at that.
‘Unite’s representatives rightly rejected this offer outright. The fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government will continue. We are clear that our members shouldn’t settle for anything that doesn’t come close to meeting their demands.’
The union has confirmed that it is actively preparing to ballot key groups of its local government membership across Scotland.
Unite will announce the details of the industrial action ballot this week and it warned COSLA and the Scottish government that it is moving ‘full steam ahead’  towards industrial action this summer.
Graham McNab, Unite industrial officer, added: ‘The pay offer doesn’t come close to meeting the aspirations of our members in local government. Unite also opposes the pay anniversary date being moved to October as nothing but a cynical attempt to kick the can down the road.
‘Politicians pretend the cost of living crisis has gone away but that just isn’t the reality for the vast majority of workers in local government who have endured years of low pay, chronic underfunding and record rates of inflation.
‘Unite is moving full steam ahead towards industrial action this summer unless COSLA makes a significantly improved pay offer.’