Archive for category Regional Trade Unions

BTUC Delegates Meeting Ravi Subramanian UNISON Regional Secretary Speaking

Derek Robinson Funeral Birmingham Trade Union Leader Nov 22 13:30

Wednesday, 22nd  of November 1:30 pm

Stourbridge Crematorium South Road, Stourbridge DY3 3RQ

TRIBUTES poured in from across the labour and progressive movement yesterday in response to news of the death of former British Leyland convener Derek Robinson.
Dubbed “Red Robbo” by the right-wing press, he led a militant campaign against mass sackings at the nationalised car company in the 1970s and was fired after refusing to withdraw his name from a pamphlet issued by the Leyland combined committee putting a socialist alternative to the cuts demanded by BL’s management.

Leyland’s Birmingham Longbridge was the world’s largest car plant in the 1960s, the centre of an empire employing 250,000 people and taking 40 per cent of the British car industry market. But it ran into financial difficulties in the 1970s and the company was bailed out by Harold Wilson’s Labour government in 1975 — a move that would now be impossible because of EU legislation.

The unions’ plan was to fight for a continuation of mass volume car manufacturing as an alternative to job losses, arguing that if it succeeded it would be a “political victory,” proving that ordinary working-class people could run industry.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said Mr Robinson was a “stalwart of the movement” who was “unfairly maligned by the media” as he sought to find solutions to turn the car company around.

Midlands communist George Hickman called Mr Robinson a “tower of strength for shop stewards everywhere” and Graham Stevenson said communists active in Unite were mourning “their most distinguished mentor and guide.”

Former Communist Party industrial organiser Mick Costello described Mr Robinson as “an outstanding trade union leader” who was “a fighter and a thinker who also knew how to listen to people.” He explained that Leyland conspired with “Thatcher’s guru” industry secretary Sir Keith Joseph, who charged MI5 with gathering — and inventing — dirt as part of a witch hunt against Mr Robinson.

One Sunday newspaper printed notes concocted by one of the spies that were put across as minutes of a meeting of communist stewards at Longbridge. “To their credit, no other newspaper’s industrial reporters used it as they doubted what was, in fact, what these days is called ‘fake news’,” said Mr Costello.

Birmingham May Day Rally Gill Ogilvie GMB organizer speaking

Birmingham May Day Frank Keogh UNITE the Union speaking

RMT in dispute with Railway employers on Guards and safety of train users



RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that guards and drivers on Southern Rail will strike again on the 22nd February in the on-going disputes over the safety impact of the extension of Driver Only Operation and the removal of guards from services. Members will strike for 24 hours between 0001 hours and 2359 hours on Wednesday 22nd February 2017.

The announcement comes after talks between RMT and Southern in the guards dispute were deliberately wrecked yesterday by the company as they made a mockery of the negotiating process and chose to completely ignore the safety issues at the heart of the matter.

Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said:

“The abject failure by Southern Rail in yesterday’s talks to take the safety issues seriously has left us with no option but to confirm further action. These disputes could have been settled if Southern/GTR had listened to our case and given the guarantee of a second-safety critical member of staff on their trains.

“Instead they have shifted the goal posts even further and have now created a “strike breakers’ charter” where one of the numerous new conditions where trains can run driver-only is during industrial action. That is simply scandalous and a measure of the betrayal of our members as a result of the TUC-brokered deal with Southern in the drivers’ dispute.”

“The full detail of Southern’s plan is far worse than anyone could have anticipated. This is dire news, not just for staff, but for passengers who rightly demand a safe, reliable and accessible service. RMT will not walk away from the fight for a railway that puts public safety before private profit.

“It is now down to Southern/GTR to face up to their responsibilities and engage in genuine and serious talks that address our issues.”


Further information:

Geoff Martin

07831 465 103




Referring to the Executive decision of 3rd February 2017, discussions have been held with GTR under the auspices of ACAS where it was confirmed that the deal with ASLEF is as damaging as we thought.

Despite public comments promoting the deal I can advise you that it is not the case that the deal simply repeats the agreement with ASLEF covering DOO operation on the Brighton Mainline. In fact the new agreement significantly expands the number of routes that will now be DOO operation. The number of trains that will operate in DOO mode on Southern will double from 900 to 1800 every day, an increase from 40% to 78% of Southern services being DOO. The company also made it clear that all of Southern could now go DOO and the only factor preventing this was there were insufficient trains with the required CCTV.

Also it is not the case that the list of circumstance in which a train can go without a Conductor on DOO route is the same as previously agreed with ASLEF. The list of circumstances has been increased and there is far more general flexibility to operate trains without OBS than there was with Conductors. Compared to previous arrangements not only has the number of routes on DOO operation been increased, the safeguards to ensure that the trains do not operate without a second person have been reduced. Previously the circumstances when a train could operate DOO without the Conductor did not include industrial action, now it does under the guise of OBS “absence.” contrary to public assertions by ASLEF that this is not a “strike breakers charter”, it clearly is.

Additionally the deal does not guarantee a safety critical person on every train. As described above there are far more circumstances when the train can leave without the second person but it has also been clarified the OBS will definitely not be safety critical. Instead the OBS must take the initiative themselves and can volunteer (it is not compulsory) to be trained in a safety critical task related to dealing with circumstances when there is degraded infrastructure. Therefore, even if the OBS is on a train they will not have the full range of safety critical competencies and if they have not volunteered will not even be trained in certain safety critical tasks.

The deal is essentially the same that was rejected by this union in August and October 2016.

The company informed us that despite the updated collective bargaining agreement agreed in 2009 which recognised the RMT for drivers, because we have small numbers in membership in the driver grade we would no longer be recognised for collective bargaining purposes for drivers, this is in effect a de-recognition of this union. This raises a dangerous precedent for other collective bargaining agreements where RMT is recognised for driver grades which the union may wish to guard against by being more active in the recruitment of drivers.

I would also advise you that as well as our concerns regarding safety the deal has been widely criticised by established disability campaigners who have warned that the extension of routes which no longer have the guarantee of a second person will prevent many passengers from embarking and disembarking at unstaffed stations and who will no longer be able to plan to “turn up and go” on the effected routes.

Finally, the deal reached with ASLEF was announced on Thursday 2 February 2017. The actual content of deal was leaked when it was sent to ASLEF members on 4th February. GTR had agreed with RMT that talks could take place on Tuesday 7th February and/or Wednesday 8th February 2017. It is now clear that the company pushed back the talks to prevent the true facts of the deal influencing the referendum of drivers and in doing so cancelled and delayed RMT pursuing effective negotiations with the company.

BTUC 150th Anniversary, President’s Opening address

Good morning to all Sisters & Brothers,

As President of the Birmingham Trades Union Council I am proud to invite you & share with us the 150th anniversary of the BTUC which has always been one of the largest and most important trades’ union councils in Britain, we have a long and proud tradition in a heartland of British Industry. It has been in the forefront of historic industrial struggle along with the struggle against racism and Fascism.

We are overwhelmed by today’s attendance of 91 people who comprise of T/U members and public celebrating today’s historic event; this is in no short measure positive reflection of all our historic achievements we can proudly share between ourselves……..(of which you will hear more about from our subsequent contributors).

Recognising the importance of the BTUC continues to provide a vital link between trade unions and our communities, we cannot forget that Birmingham was a city of 1000 trades, the challenges that we face today are not necessarily those of the last 150 years, witnessing the current social problems, the economic & political turmoil, it is imperative the BTUC takes a leading role in fighting for the future of manufacturing, social facilities & representations. We must adopt innovative ideas to engage the public with trade union campaign initiatives to secure our role in moulding the future direction of our society.

It is at this point we cannot afford to rest upon our laurels, we must ensure that our initiatives are the incentives that will give our dependants, our children the confidence to achieve their fight for a farer society. I am confident in that they too will proudly celebrate the 200th & 250th anniversary of what the BTUC has done for them today.

Sisters & Brothers I thank you for your attention.

Ian Scott,

President: Birmingham Trades Union Council.