Solidarity Magazine » Unite Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Unite strikes at Fujitsu Fri, 16 Sep 2011 13:47:31 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Unite workers in Manchester and Crewe have voted to take Strike action this Monday (the 19th).  Work to rule, including and overtime ban is already taking place in response to the victimisation of Crewe Unite rep Alan Jenney who’s contract was breached in order for him to be made redundant by the company. Unite is also concerned that Fujitsu will renege on earlier promises with regards to pensions and redundancy.

Read a leaflet explaining why you should support the workers here.

Unite has organised a public rally at 8 AM at Fujitsu, Central Park, Northampton Road, Manchester

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Unite's reaction to talks between unions and government on pensions Tue, 28 Jun 2011 12:59:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 27 June 2011

Reacting to the outcome of talks held today on pensions (Monday 27 June) between unions representing public sector workers and the government, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail, who took part in the talks, said: “In the key areas, there is still a major gap between where the unions and the government stand.

There was a serious risk that the talks could have broken down after Danny Alexander took the decision to try to negotiate through the media. However, we continue to negotiate in good faith but remain convinced that we must make progress on pension contributions, indexation and pension age for our members to find any changes acceptable.

The government still wants our members to pay more and work longer – it refuses to make any compromises.

There has been no movement from the government on pension contribution increases, the link to the rising state pensions and the unions remain at odds with the government over the inflation link change from RPI to CPI.

The government has at least acknowledged that it has not fully understood the funding basis for the local government pension scheme. We welcome that local government unions will now be holding more detailed discussions with the government.

The unions have taken away detailed proposals from the government that we will look at and interrogate. The talks will now continue beyond June and Unite intends to work hard to try to reach a settlement which is acceptable to our members.”

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Cuts are not the answer – organising and fighting for the alternative Mon, 27 Jun 2011 17:59:15 +0000 Continue reading ]]> UNITE Executive Policy

Adopted by the Unite Executive 19th May 2011

Unite’s Executive Council unanimously confirms its opposition to all Government spending cuts. We commit ourselves to fight this ideologically driven assault on our much valued public services and welfare state.

This assault on our class is designed to shift the blame for the economic crisis to the public sector and make working people pay for a crisis not of our making but caused by the negligent and irresponsible behaviour of financial institutions, gambling for profits in an unregulated market for financial products.

The consequences of these actions, coupled with the failure of both national and international regulators to prevent even the worst excesses of the free market and their promotion of self regulation, are now being felt by workers across the globe. Further, the economic crisis has given government the opportunity to promote and further its ideological attack on collective trade unionism, social and employment protection and the wider social fabric of our society.

Of course there is an alternative;

  • collect the missing tax billions from the banks, multinationals, rich and powerful in our society and close the loopholes and avoidance scams that enable them to opt

out of making their fair and proper contribution.

  • introduce a Robin Hood tax to collect revenue from all financial transactions, bonuses and share options and raise tax rates at the top to ensure a fairer

contribution from those most able to make one.

  • maintain public spending and invest in our future, keeping people in jobs and growing our economy to create new ones. Supporting public services as well as

our private sector, construction, manufacturing and support services is vital to rebalancing our economy.

We congratulate our General Secretary and this Executive Council in promoting our position of opposing all Government’s cuts and the call for co-ordinated industrial action,

but much more needs to be done:

1. Unite’s position on the cuts must be effectively communicated to our officers and staff, our constitutional committees, shop stewards and activists, within our political

structures and to Unite MPs and councillors as well as within our wider communities. We have to end confusing messages being communicated within certain sections of

our union sympathetic to the Labour leadership’s message of “cuts too far, to fast” – the so-called “dented shield approach”.


2. We must do more to inform, inspire and engage with our lay representatives, shop stewards and activists across all sectors of our Union. We must equip them with the

arguments they need to engage our members at work and within local communities if the fight back against the cuts is to be effective. This campaign requires leadership

from the top but also grassroots activity at local level.


3. We encourage all workplaces, branches and constitutional committees to send resolutions to their Regional and National Industrial Sector Committees as well as to

this Executive Council supporting actions for consideration.


4. We firmly believe coordinated industrial action is an essential tool in the fight before us and ask the General Secretary to write urgently to all officers, branches and

constitutional committees with a strong message of encouragement to take up the fight and to initiate a series of communications and promotional materials to support

our activists in developing the arguments for action. While decisions on industrial action will of course be taken by our members in democratic ballots, they must be

confident in an alternative and know that they have their Union?s full support intaking action. When members of any union are taking industrial action against cuts Unite members in workplaces not taking industrial action are encouraged to protest and showsolidarity as far as they can.


5. Industrially, it must be clear that we will support all members fighting back. Unite recognises the importance of advancing our members interests by fighting for improved pay and conditions even in these difficult times, while in our public services specifically our full resources must be given to those fighting against job losses and compulsory redundancy, pay cuts and/or freezes and the privatisation or outsourcing of work.


6. We support the initiative in developing training for our activists. It is critical that we up-skill our officers and activists in preparation for delivering our fight back strategy.

Providing evidence to support the fact that we are not “all in this together” such as the fact provided by recent evidence from the High Pay Commission that chief executives

of FTSE 100 companies earn an average of £3.7 million which is 145 times the average wage.


7. We are seeing an employers’ offensive unleashing itself against all workers – on their pay and conditions, their pensions and their collective bargaining rights. If workers

vote to take strike action, they should be encouraged to co-ordinate strike dates with others in dispute to maximise their effect. We ask the General Secretary to ensure

that mechanisms are put in place to enable such coordination to develop.


8. We particularly urge the General Secretary to ensure that this union immediately engages with other like minded public and private sector unions with a view to our

working together on an urgent programme of co-ordinated strikes over pensions and pay cuts, redundancy, privatisation and outsourcing of work. This should however not

stand in the way of Unite taking a lead or acting alone in the defence of our members interests wherever necessary.


9. We believe we must communicate our position within the Labour Party at all levels and make it clear that Unite cannot support a position based on government cuts

being “too far, too fast”. We must seek urgent dialogue with elected councillors on ways in which, by working together, we can reach agreement on alternatives to

cutting, outsourcing or privatising services and jobs. We are very clear that we will reject and fight any attempt by councils to use the economic crisis in an opportunistic

way to attack and/or undermine trade unionism, our agreements or facilities.


10. We must ensure that Labour MPs and councillors receive an unequivocal message from our union supporting our policy of opposing all cuts. Elected councillors must

know they will receive the full support of this union if they face disciplinary or other action for supporting union policy. We must ensure Unite fully supports councillors

who oppose cuts to local services.


Finally, we are determined that Unite will never abandon those who face the most serious cuts of all; the poor and vulnerable in our society including the disabled, the unemployed and those on low incomes who are now beginning to suffer real hardship as the first £18 billion of Welfare Benefit cuts begin to bite.

Some are our members but many are not, our success in fighting the cuts will require us to stand shoulder to shoulder with those at the sharp end. We recognise that the most vicious cuts of all are hitting those who often have no voice.

We urge and encourage our activists, shop stewards and members to get involved in the fight back, linking up trade unionists with groups coordinating actions locally and nationally such as UK Uncut and the Coalition of Resistance, as well as students, pensioners, tenants associations, community groups, the unemployed and welfare claimants.

This is a fight to defend our class. We must redouble our efforts to ensure we will win that fight. This Executive Council and our unions leadership is fully committed to this

strategy and must now ensure that this message runs through our union, at all levels and in everything we do.

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‘NHS privatisation train has not been derailed by Future Forum report’, says Unite Tue, 14 Jun 2011 11:12:46 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 13 June 2011

The NHS privatisation programme is still on track despite protests by health professionals to the Future Forum ‘listening’ exercise, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Monday 13 June).

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that the NHS had been through an unprecedented year of uncertainty – but the report of the Future Forum, unveiled today, will do nothing to quell the concern of health professionals and patients.

It has been a wasted year that has caused havoc with the NHS which had just received its best patient satisfaction survey for a generation.

Unite said that the Future Forum had done some good work in exposing the flaws in the controversial Health and Social Care bill, but the pace of privatisation had only been slowed, not discarded – which will not meet the concerns expressed by the Liberal Democrats at their spring conference.

The recommendation that Monitor’s duty to promote ‘competition’ should be removed in favour of ‘choice’ for local people still left question marks about what this exactly means in relation to the role of the private sector in the NHS.

Unite national officer for health Rachael Maskell said:

The problem with Monitor is that it will now promote choice, competition and collaboration – all of which are contradictory aims. The hybrid mess that Monitor will become will do to the NHS what other botched regulatory bodies have done to other public services – from rail to social care. Unless patient care comes first, then Monitor will fail patients – and our politicians will have failed them too.”

Unite repeated its call for the bill to be scrapped and that a commission of genuinely independent experts be set up to conduct a proper review of what is needed for the long-term needs of the NHS.

Rachael Maskell said:

The Future Forum has come up with a series of placebos; suggesting tinkering with the timescale, playing down the involvement of private healthcare companies, and the health secretary remaining ultimately in charge of the NHS.

The way that David Cameron and health secretary Andrew Lansley will interpret the Future Forum’s recommendations is that the pace of the privatisation of the NHS will be slowed down, but not abandoned – that’s the crux.

The bill’s troubles will continue if the coalition persists in sidelining the legitimate concerns of health professionals, patients and the public.

The Liberal Democrats have to be aware that the privatisation train – which will turn into the gravy train for private healthcare companies – has not been derailed, but just delayed.”

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Crunch week for NHS as ‘privatisation’ controversy rages over PM's 'pledges' Sun, 12 Jun 2011 19:03:10 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 10 June 2011

As the future of the NHS faces a crunch week, Unite, the largest union in the country, has issued a new briefing saying the prime minister’s pledges on the health service were ‘a personal guarantee of chaos’.

Unite, which has a 100,000 members in the health service, said that David Cameron’s recent speech outlining his five ‘personal guarantees’ would actually make matters worse rather than better.

The briefing can be viewed on the Unite website:

The briefing comes as the Future Forum, which has been carrying out consultations during ‘the pause’ in the progress of  the controversial Health and Social Care bill, is due to unveil its report on Monday (13 June). The government’s response is expected later in the week.

Unite national officer for health, Rachael Maskell said:

This is, indeed, a crunch week for the NHS.  Health professionals have made it very clear that these proposals won’t work – and this was overwhelmingly restated by doctors this week at the British Medical Association’s annual GP conference in London.

Now is the time for the MPs to listen very carefully to what the professionals and their constituents are saying. People really rely on the NHS which they don’t want privatised for profit. MPs, especially the Liberal Democrats, should put the founding principles of the NHS before narrow party advantage.

It is time to scrap the bill and conduct a proper review of what is needed for the long- term needs of the NHS and our nation’s health, rather than rush through a biased, lop-sided listening exercise. It is time for a commission of genuinely independent experts to be set up.”

Unite believes that the prime minister’s ‘compromises’ will neither meet the concerns of his Liberal Democratic allies, outlined at their spring conference in March, nor protect the NHS from rapacious private healthcare companies wishing to gobble up profitable and ‘cherry picked’ health service contracts to the detriment of a joined-up and universal health service.

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The sound of one hand clapping? Thu, 09 Jun 2011 17:03:23 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Jon Rogers

The increasingly prompt and comprehensive official reporting from UNISON NEC meetings continues today, with an entirely appropriate emphasis upon the key debate on the defence of public service pensions.

I will post my personal report here when I get it done but, in the mean time, will share another of those little episodes that makes the experience of life on the UNISON NEC occasionally surreal.

It’s all about “collective responsibility” and how it can be interpreted.

Fifteen years ago NEC members attending UNISON Conference (as we are individually entitled to by Rule) had the right to speak at the Conference (which is also in accordance with Rule). On rare occasions, NEC members would exercise their individual right to speak against the line of the majority of the NEC, as Roger Bannister did in 1997 in support of the Hillingdon Hospital strikers.

Since then, over the years, an ever more stringent interpretation of what is misdescribed as “collective responsibility” of the NEC has been adopted. First, NEC members were prohibited from speaking unless chosen to do so by the NEC and speaking in support of NEC policy (this is not supported by our Rule Book, but as the President formally decides who to call to speak at Conference, it has effectively been imposed).

Then, NEC members were prohibited from attending Conference as delegates from branches (so that they could not speak, in line with a branch mandate, in a way which might not support NEC policy). Because “collective responsibility” is for life, not just for Conference, NEC members are also now subject to a requirement, at meetings of the NEC, not to speak or vote against decisions taken by NEC Committees of which they are members.

Today however we were advised of a further development in UNISON democracy for National Delegate Conference 2011, as NEC members were advised by our President that loud applause from NEC members on the platform for speakers opposing the line of the NEC was a breach of “collective responsibility” and could lead to NEC members being stripped of their Conference credentials and sent home.

In the run up to a Conference at which the NEC is supporting virtually every motion and amendment on the agenda you might think this a bizarre and unjustifiable decision. I (as an NEC member allegedly bound by this strange concept of “collective responsibility”) could not possibly comment.

Perhaps for next year we could replace the NEC with a trained studio audience who can be relied upon to applaud in all the right places?

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GPs not fooled by David Cameron’s pledges – doctors vote overwhelmingly to prevent destruction of NHS Thu, 09 Jun 2011 17:02:16 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 9 June 2011

GPs have voted overwhelmingly to continue to oppose the Health and Social Care bill.

The GPs, including members of the Medical Practitioners Union (part of Unite) were among 250 GPs present at the British Medical Association’s annual GP conference in London today (Thursday).

The vote reflects that doctors are also not convinced that the prime minister’s pledges will safeguard the service.

Ron Singer of the Medical Practitioners Union said:

“GPs were not fooled by the warm words of the prime minister. Today GPs have signalled to the government that their health bill is not acceptable in any aspect. The general consensus is that this bill must go.

It poses the greatest threat to the NHS since its inception. Far from improving the nation’s health, such is the scale of the change the government is seeking to impose, they will compromise the health of the nation and endanger patients.

Whatever the prime minister may promise, the medical experts are telling him this bill will fragment the NHS. Our parliamentarians must now listen.”

Ron Singer added:

“GPs are those charged with putting the government’s plans into action so we need to be convinced by them, but we have been warning for months that they simply will not work.

The government would not listen then, it has shown not to be listening during the pause and we are extremely sceptical that the prime minister’s pledges, however well-intentioned, will make these plans any more acceptable.

GPs are warning again today – this bill is a serious threat to patients’ lives and the future existence of the NHS itself. It must go.”

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PCS and Unite take first action on equalities body Tue, 07 Jun 2011 11:05:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 6 June 2011 PCS, the largest civil service union and Unite, the largest trade union in Britain and Ireland, are taking their first joint action today to save the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

More than 350 PCS and Unite members who work at the EHRC will be walking out of their offices in Manchester, London, Cardiff, Birmingham and Glasgow between 11.30am-12.30pm today (Monday, 6 June). The two unions signed a joint agreement to work together two weeks ago.

The commission wants to more than halve its staff from 460 to 200 within 12 months while retaining many consultants and short term contractors who collectively cost over £6 million a year. The decision is being made to retain these hugely expensive non permanent staff and consultants who specialise in, for example, media relations and PR, while cutting those on the lowest wages who provide direct advice and assistance to members of the public. The commission faces a cut of 68% to its budget compared with that in 2007, when it was first formed.

The government has already announced it is ending the commission’s grant giving function which helps charities, disability groups and community organisations, and it is withdrawing funding for the EHRC’s helpline and a tendering exercise starts in July. The helpline, which received most contacts from disabled people seeking assistance, will not be a continuation of the current service as the government has said it will be a non legal information service, therefore losing its teeth. In addition, regional offices are to be shut and local expertise therefore lost. There has been no attempt by the EHRC to settle and the unions are seeking a meeting with the board. PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka said: “A meeting is urgently needed. We are on the edge of losing our only independent equality and human rights body at the time it is most needed. The commission is in effect being dissolved, not dismantled. We cannot put it back together once the expertise is lost, budget axed and remit cut.” Find out more at

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PCS and Unite – together for the alternative Fri, 20 May 2011 15:12:53 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 20 May 2011


Len McCluskey – leader of the million member Unite trade union – was given a standing ovation after speaking to the PCS annual conference this morniong (Friday 20 May).

The two unions have signed an understanding to work together to fight the cuts.

Here is the full text of the agreement:

Working together to fight the cuts and to unite workers with the communities they support


PCS and Unite are committed to working together to fight the vicious and unnecessary cuts being imposed by Government. We believe these cuts to be ideologically driven in the pursuit of ‘free market objectives’ and the wholesale privatisation of social and welfare services. The impact of these cuts on working people and the communities in which we live will be devastating with the most vulnerable facing a relentless attack on their dignity and social standing.


We are committed to a sustainable and positive economic alternative based on; a fair and sustainable redistribution of the tax burden, the closure of tax avoidance loopholes and evasion opportunities. We are committed to growing our economy; investing in jobs, training, our public services and national infrastructure as well as promoting our manufacturing industries and developing green technologies. This will involve campaigning, co-ordinating and, where possible, taking action in unity and support of each other.


In freezing pay, slashing jobs and attacking pensions the Government is seeking to make working people and those who rely on public services pay for a deficit caused by wholly irresponsible gambling by a minority in the finance sector – whose benefits, bonuses and tax concessions remain largely unchanged.


There is an alternative

The cuts to welfare entitlements and public services will be detrimental to the vulnerable, to the quality of service provided and to the economy. There is an alternative:

  • Protect and create jobs to secure the economic recovery
  • Invest now; supporting our manufacturing sector, public services and communities
  • Tax the banks, big business and the super-rich, with a crackdown on evasion and avoidance
  • End wasteful spending on consultants, agency staff and the costs of privatisation
  • Support collective trade union rights; protecting workers and their families and redistributing wealth across our society
  • Involve workers, unions, service-users and communities in developing an alternative agenda for a sustainable economy and fairer society.


What we will do together

At national level PCS and Unite will establish a liaison group of senior lay and full time officers to promote joint activity and co-ordinate our joint campaign. This liaison group will co-ordinate our approach to TUC campaign activity and will promote, build and co-ordinate alliances with other unions and action groups, and co-operation in terms of a communications and media strategy, including press releases, leaflets and shared resources.


To highlight the alternative, PCS and Unite will work with others to organise a “There is an Alternative” event, bringing together trade unionists, politicians, academics, voluntary and community groups. The aim will be to raise awareness of our alternative economic strategy and develop a broad coalition to fight the cuts.


At regional level the unions will develop practical ways of supporting joint campaigns. This will include twinning officers and organisers, developing regional campaign teams, regional events and road shows, and links with voluntary and community groups. The aim will be to build and support regional alliances.


At local level we will develop and support links between members and activists. This will include joint workplace meetings, public leafleting, locally organised town meetings and joint community activities.


United we stand

The Government’s cuts agenda will devastate public services and undermine the fabric of the welfare state.


Working together close to two million union members will be united to fight the cuts. Working together we can present our economic alternative to the Coalition cuts agenda in the communities we live and work in.


Mark Serwotka PCS general secretary Len McCluskey Unite general secretary

Janice Godrich PCS president Tony Woodhouse chair of Unite executive council


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Unite and British Airways reach agreement on cabin crew Fri, 13 May 2011 17:15:20 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 12 May 2011

Unite the union and British Airways have reached an agreement to resolve the long-running cabin crew dispute at the airline, the union announced today (Thursday). The agreement is to be put to a ballot of Unite cabin crew members over the next month, with a union recommendation for acceptance. In the meantime, the union has decided not to call any industrial action at the airline based on its present ballot mandate.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who led negotiations for the union, said today:

We always said that this dispute could only be settled by negotiation, not by confrontation or litigation. And so it has proved.

We are delighted to have reached an agreement which I believe recognises the rights and dignity of cabin crew as well as the commercial requirements of the company. This agreement will allow us to go forward in partnership together to strengthen this great British company – good news for BA, its employees and its customers alike.

I am particularly pleased that staff travel concessions will be restored in full with the signing of the agreement and the implementation of the new structure for working together that we have negotiated. A customer-oriented business can only succeed with all its employees valued and respected.

And above all I would like to pay tribute to Unite’s BA cabin crew members. Their resilience, discipline and determination to be treated properly has been an inspiration to all who have worked alongside them in this dispute and has been a model of twenty-first century trade unionism. They deserve this agreement and the prosperous future at British Airways I hope it secures.”

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