Solidarity Magazine » Amicus http://solidaritymagazine.org Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.8 Eye-witness at Staythorpe demo http://solidaritymagazine.org/2009/02/eye-witness-at-staythorpe-demo/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2009/02/eye-witness-at-staythorpe-demo/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2009 18:53:31 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.wordpress.com/?p=248 Continue reading ]]> This report is courtesy of Jerry Hicks.

I thought people might like to hear of my account of the mass protest called by Unite to support the construction workers at Staythorpe power station at Newark yesterday, Tuesday 24th Feb.

According to the Union, Derek Simpson was to lead a mass protest of construction workers.  About 10:15 Simpson turned up with an entourage of aides and publicity people. All the media were present – there were dozens of them. They were crawling all over the place. Mr Simpson took a look at the demonstrators and I guess it was as though he sensed the mood of about 400 construction workers; you would have thought that he would have mixed and mingled with his members. Had a bit of conversation with them, but no. He just looked on with a couple of his loyal aides, sullen, unsure what to do.

Anyhow the march got underway. Simpson was not on it. If he was he was certainly not leading it – I looked for him, but no Simpson could I see. I asked a few of the demonstrators. All said no they hadn’t seen him. One asked me “who’s Simpson”.

At the end of the demonstration at the rally point Mr Simpson just suddenly popped up as though from no-where. The speakers platform had a cordon of police round it with blue tape. I guess to protect Simpson from demonstrators. The first speaker was a labour MP who didn’t seem to say anything at. He was heard in almost complete silence. When he stood down after 2 or 3 minutes no-one said anything – almost silence. Then Simpson started. He started by saying how awful things were. All was quite for a minute or two and someone shouted out, “What are you going to do about it”.

Simpson rounded on this person. Ah, someone who isn’t a construction worker has come to heckle. The same question was put again with the emphasis that the non-construction worker had been a union member for 32 years and he had come to show solidarity. Ah said Simpson, its young Jerry Hicks is it. Then a couple of construction workers took up the original question. “What are you going to do about it”. People could see Simpson starting to get worked up. He tried to bluster something but then more questions and interjections came at him. It was reminiscent of the mobile phone video recording at Cowley; “You are supposed to represent us not the government or the employers.”

At this point when the meeting seemed to be on the edge of mass protest Simpson started to lose it. I’m not going to take this from these, he seemed lost for words, then he said BNP activists and you tossers. He then started to get going but I think an aide must have said something or his own common sense intervened because he just seemed to stop in mid flow and walked off the platform.

Simpson was on the platform speaking for only about 2 or 3 minutes. Then a couple of stewards asked Jerry Hicks to speak but the organisers of the meeting refused and to get onto the platform would involve fighting through the police cordon. So the stewards found a loud hailer and Hicks addressed the construction workers for about 5 minutes to quite spontaneous and loud applause.

Simpson in the meantime was giving interviews to Sky and the media. So there you have it. This mass demonstration would be led by the great Mr Simpson on his white charger as the saviour of the construction industry.

The reality; Simpson was probably too scared to mingle with his members who after all, according to Simpson, were BNP supporters and “Tossers”. Apart from giving interviews to the media he was no-where to be seen. Isn’t it strange that his speech has never been reported on any news channel.

As a final little ironic twist postscript to this very sad and humiliating affair, for Simpson, the only other speaker was a certain Tom Hardacre, National Officer for the Unions construction sector. He spoke for maybe a minute or two. I’m not sure what he said but he did not say that he was the personal appointee of Derek Simpson. It was his job to ensure that the national agreements on wages and conditions in the construction sector were scrapped in favour of local agreements. His job was to oversee the policies that have led directly to foreign workers coming into the country and employed on the minimum wage. He oversaw, with the active support of Mr Simpson, the agreement with the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown the policy of employing agency workers to build the Olympic site. It was his policies that he rammed through that saw foreign workers brought into the country and housed in various porta cabin-type accommodation so that the would qualify as no-foreign for political purposes but would qualify to be paid only the minimum wage or not much better than the minimum wage.

It is said that this arrangement is a nice little earner for ManPower. Whatever Mr Hardacre said I am certain these little home truths were not said. Isn’t it a sad state of affairs that the leader of the biggest union in the country feels unable to lead a demonstration that he called, that he cannot mingle and talk to the people who pay his wages, who feels the need of a police cordon for protection from his members, who considers honest questioning of his policies to be the work of BNP activists and “Tossers”, who then can’t finish his speech and instead of engaging in talks with his member he goes off giving interviews to the mass media.

I just can’t understand why some people question the need for an election for general secretary in Unite – to some it all seems to be all too much of a distraction.

Ray Smith

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Fairclough withdraws http://solidaritymagazine.org/2009/01/234/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2009/01/234/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2009 18:47:27 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.wordpress.com/?p=234 Continue reading ]]> This is a press release from the campaign of Jerry Hicks for General Secretary of the Amicus wing of UNITE.

Laurence Faircloth has announced that he has withdrawn from the election. Unsurprisingly he has not done the right thing. Instead he is calling for his supporters to fall behind Derek Simpson.But the recent press coverage of Derek Simpson’s obscene salary arrangements has left him discredited as a credible voice for the one million members of Amicus and must severely damage his chances of being re-elected. Who will pay any attention to his demands to tackle Fat Cats in the city or the excesses in the boardroom?

But what of Kevin Coyne? In marked contrast to Mr Coyne, who until now has been silent, Jerry Hicks has been highly critical as to the wages of the General Secretary since the beginning of his legal challenge.

Jerry is determined that the General Secretary’s excesses will end. He says “‘Fat cats in the city are despised, why have a ‘Fat cat’ General Secretary in our union with wages of £126,939, a free car and a virtually free £1million house forever, a lifestyle nothing like that of our members.” If elected Mr Hicks would only take the average wage of a skilled worker.

Kevin Coyne must have known about these arrangements and chose to say nothing, despite plenty of opportunity. Now he says he will support an ‘inquiry’ into the General Secretary’s pay. Why does he need to inquire? He could make the same commitment as Jerry that he would only take the average pay of a skilled member. But he won’t. Instead he just wants to wear the crown, sit in the throne and take a king’s ransom!

It is worth remembering that when Jerry Hicks launched his legal challenge against Derek Simpson’s right to remain in office for 8 years without holding an election, Kevin Coyne like most others said there was no chance of success. How wrong he was, which begs the question of his judgement.

Kevin Coyne has described this election as ‘a waste’, a ‘distraction’ and unlike Jerry Hicks would have waited another two years before tackling the very obvious and ever mounting problems, further putting into question his judgement.
Faircloth’s withdrawal presents our campaign with an incredible opportunity, and means that this is very much a three horse race. This election is a fight between Left and Right – Jerry Hicks and Kevin Coyne, and between right and wrong – Jerry Hicks and Derek Simpson.

This is still a David versus Goliath contest and David won that encounter. A better example would be Mark Serwotka, the PCS General Secretary who was a part time clerk in the DSS when he went on to win. This challenge represents the single biggest change within the union and in the union’s relationship with the Government.

If you wish to help or want to know more please Tel: 07817827912 Email: jo@benefield.force9.co.uk

Or write to me: 10 York Road, Montpelier, Bristol; BS6 5QE.

Please consider making a donation cheques payable to Jerry Hicks 4GS

All donations will be receipted. All records will be available for inspection.

For further information visit www.jerryhicks4gs

]]> http://solidaritymagazine.org/2009/01/234/feed/ 1 Unite: why that's precisely what we need to do http://solidaritymagazine.org/2008/10/unite/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2008/10/unite/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2008 15:45:22 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.wordpress.com/?p=198 Continue reading ]]> Gill George reports on a Special Executive Committee meeting of the Amicus wing of Unite (on October 9th) which threatens to block the unification of Unite on Novembr 1st.

Unite has the potential to be a brilliant union. We’re the largest union in the UK. We’ve got real industrial muscle, in a whole number of different sectors. We’ve won some important victories over a short period – Grangemouth and the Shell drivers being the best known. We’re continuing to do some excellent work: on the London buses, and fighting for decent pay for health workers, for example. This is a union that can deliver for members. Even in such a new union, we have the beginnings of a tradition that we can be proud of.

The real danger now is that the union is sucked into a vortex of in-fighting and careerism, and our members pay the price for it. It’s no wonder that our best activists are asking, ‘What the hell is going on?’

A special Executive Council meeting has been called for 9th October. The meeting will be considering two proposals, both placed before us by the Joint General Secretaries.

The first proposal is that we vote for a rule change that delays the implementation of the new Rule Book. If this is passed, we will then vote on a proposal to ‘permit the conduct of an election within the Amicus Section only for General Secretary of the Amicus Section… for a term of office to conclude in December 2010?.

In practice, this means that integrating the two sections of the union will get held up for at least six months, while we have an election that’s intended to re-elect the person who is already in office.

My own instinct – and that of most Executive Council members I’ve talked to – is that there’s no sense in this at all.

There is, of course, a story behind such a bizarre proposal. The deal done as part of the merger package was that Derek Simpson would retire a year late, in 2010, and Tony Woodley would retire a year early, in 2011. In the ‘gap year’, a new General Secretary Designate would be elected to take over as sole General Secretary of Unite as a whole on Tony Woodley’s retirement.

Strong rumours emerged at the TUC, and were repeated at September’s Executive Council, that Derek Simpson doesn’t want to retire in 2010. Rather, it seems that he wants to go on to become General Secretary of Unite as a whole. If true, that’s one strand of what’s going on.

The other strand is that a former Amicus Executive Council member, Jerry Hicks, has made a formal complaint to the Certification Officer that Derek Simpson can’t legally extend his term of office for a year, and that he should retire in 2009 instead. Jerry has also promoted himself as a candidate for General Secretary. Jerry is acting very much as an individual. He’s played no active role in the national left of Amicus for several years. Amicus Unity Gazette – now an independent and genuine left – has distanced itself sharply from Jerry’s actions. My own view is that Jerry risks causing real harm to union members.

Legal opinions on whether or not Jerry has a case are reportedly sharply divided.

However, if Derek Simpson doesn’t want to retire in 2010, he’s even less likely to want to retire in 2009. That’s why he wants to get himself re-elected now, to pre-empt any possible ruling against him.

The stuff with the Rule Book is less complicated that it sounds. The new Rule Book is due to be implemented on 1st November. On 1st November, the Amicus and TGWU sections cease to exist as separate entities, and Unite becomes once and for all a single union. There’s no time for a General Secretary election between now and 1st November. If Derek Simpson is to be re-elected as General Secretary of the Amicus section, the new Rule Book has to be delayed.

Is any of this in the interests of union members? Absolutely not, is my take on it – and I’d need a lot of convincing to support these proposals at next week’s Executive.

Our members have just voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Rule Book. Most people didn’t do this because of the small print of the rules – the content is pretty shoddy, to be honest. The vote was driven by a desire for unity, and a desire to get on with the project of building a powerful union that delivers for its members.

That project is already being derailed. Last month’s Executive Council meeting came close to farce at times. Essential reports were provided late or not at all. Executive Council members arrived at each session on time – but most sessions started late, as our Joint General Secretaries weren’t there. Tony Woodley warned the Executive that there were people who were deliberately delaying integration. Amicus reps have been told we’re not allowed to attend T&G educational events. There are reports of a letter to Amicus Officers telling them they cannot service T&G members. All of this is close to incomprehensible in what is meant to be a single union.

Our members are dealing with the consequences of an economic crisis. We’re already seeing large scale redundancies of members in our Finance sector. Many other members will find their jobs on the line if the recession deepens. The attacks on pension schemes will escalate. The pressure on wages, in an attempt to make us pay for the bosses’ crisis, will increase.

It’s blindingly obvious that we need a strong, united union to defend jobs and pay. Delaying that project while we waste time and money on whether someone retires in 2009 or 2010 is about as irrelevant as it gets.

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Unite say Chancellor’s announcement on three year pay deal will incense trade union members http://solidaritymagazine.org/2008/01/unite-say-chancellor%e2%80%99s-announcement-on-three-year-pay-deal-will-incense-trade-union-members/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2008/01/unite-say-chancellor%e2%80%99s-announcement-on-three-year-pay-deal-will-incense-trade-union-members/#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2008 18:41:36 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/unite-say-chancellor%e2%80%99s-announcement-on-three-year-pay-deal-will-incense-trade-union-members/ Continue reading ]]> 8 January 2008

Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, say that Alistair Darling’s announcement that public sector workers will be subject to three year pay deals rides roughshod over trade unions, employees and independent pay review bodies.

Unite say although it is not in principle opposed to longer term pay deals it is incredibly angry that the Chancellor’s announcement was made without any consultation with the trade unions. It also says that the government’s assertion that public sector pay must be capped at 2% makes a mockery of the pay bargaining procedures and the pay review panels appointed to conduct independent pay negotiations.

The union wants the independent Pay Review Bodies to be given a free reign to propose and agree pay settlements without government interference, as is their remit. If three year pay deals are agreed by negotiation, then a mechanism should be considered that will allow for re-negotiations in the event of rampant inflation.

Gail Cartmail, Unite’s Head of the public sector, said: “We are not in principle opposed to three year pay settlements that would give greater certainty to our members but our members must be protected against substantial increases in inflation within this period.

“What we are absolutely opposed to is the government’s dictatorial stance, not only on pay procedures but in capping the amount that our members will be paid. Our members covered by Pay Review Bodies respect their independence and have never rejected even modest increases agreed through them.

“The government must allow the pay review bodies to do their job without interference. Unions must be free to negotiate in the non Pay Review Body areas and I urge government to stop this macho and bullish posturing, unless of course they are deliberately squaring up for a fight.”

Unite is submitting evidence to the Pay Review Body for NHS workers this week. The union has criticised the government last year for over-ruling pay an offer made by the independent Pay Review Body for health.

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"Putting the 'h' into hypocrisy and the triple 'd' into double standards" http://solidaritymagazine.org/2006/09/putting-the-h-into-hypocrisy-and-the-triple-d/ http://solidaritymagazine.org/2006/09/putting-the-h-into-hypocrisy-and-the-triple-d/#comments Thu, 14 Sep 2006 20:22:00 +0000 http://solidaritymagazine.wordpress.com/2006/09/14/putting-the-h-into-hypocrisy-and-the-triple-d/ Continue reading ]]> Remember Amicus leading the way to a new ‘super union’ which was going to change the world?

Below we post a link to the amicuscc web site where we read of the unusual response of Derek Simpson (the man who wants Gordon Brown crowned as New Labour supremo) to an equal pay grievance by a woman member of staff. The bad news? The five named ‘comparators’ have been sent a letter terminating their contract of employment. The good news? They will be offered alternative employment at a lower rate of pay! This couldn’t be a means of circumventing the equal pay claim, surely? Read what the GMB organisation of Amicus staff has to say. The website reproduces the GMB leaflet explaining the case. Amongst other things they accuse Derek of breaching contract law and the Sex Discrimination Act. Aren’t they lucky they work for a trade union instead of an anti-union employer. www.amicus.cc

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