Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Reel News videos of CoP23 and linked events

Reel News videos of CoP23 and linked events

Here's the final versions, all public now -  

Just Transition (26 min version):

Just Transition (13 min version):

BiFab Occupation as a stand alone film (6 min):

They'll also be going up on the Reel news Facebook page over the next few days.

Greener Jobs Alliance submission on the Clean Growth Strategy

Greener Jobs Alliance submission on the Clean Growth Strategy
The Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA) is a partnership body inclusive of trade unions, student organisations, campaign groups and a policy think tank. It is active on the issue of jobs and the skills needed to transition to a low-carbon economy
The GJA welcomes the decision to publish a Clean Growth Strategy. It is intended to complement the UK Industrial Strategy published in November, 2018.  Many of the policies will make a positive contribution to the transition to a low carbon economy. However, taken together they fall well short of what is needed to meet UK commitments under the Climate Change Act, the Paris Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals
In the absence of a consultation pro forma we have used the headings in the strategy proposals to frame our response.

1.       Accelerating Clean Growth
The ambition is to ‘develop world leading Green Finance capabilities’. The proposal to ‘set up a Green Finance Taskforce to provide recommendations for delivery of the public and private investment we need to meet our carbon budgets and maximise the UK’s share of the global green finance market’ is the main mechanism for doing this. Surely if we are going to drive the investment at the scale required we are going to need more than an advisory task force. The composition of this taskforce is crucial, including engagement with the workforce and union representatives. Public funding is crucial to support green technological innovation.  The Green Investment Bank could have provided this but the Government sold it off to Macquarie, an asset stripping investment bank, in 2017.
A state-owned investment bank that operates in line with both the industrial and clean growth strategies could play a crucial role in financing key sectors of the economy. A ‘taskforce’ with no powers to directly intervene will not be able to leverage the huge sums needed. This will be compounded by the uncertain future predicted for the UK in the global financial market.
A proposed £20 million fund to support clean technology is better than nothing, but falls far short of the amount needed to transform how we use energy. Far from ‘accelerating clean growth’ the proposals contained in this section wont even get us out of 1st gear.  We are at the point in climate change science when developing the proposed ‘voluntary’ finance management standard will be too little, too late.

2.       Improving business and industry efficiency
The range of measures proposed maintains this blind faith in the voluntary approach. For example, voluntary building standards to support improvements in the energy efficiency performance of business buildings. Legally binding standards that are effectively enforced are what is required.
There is not a single reference in the whole document to engagement with the workforce and union representatives. Even though the Paris Agreement is mentioned there is no commitment to the principle of just transition. This lays a requirement on governments to ensure that their low carbon strategies do not adversely impact on employees. There should be effective consultation procedures in place to consider the needs and views of workers in the context of business efficiency measures. This will be particularly important in the 7 priority sectors identified by the Government.
The view of the GJA is that recognition rights for Workplace Environment Reps would help to drive energy efficiency and sustainability at work through support effective employee engagement, and comply with UK responsibilities under the Paris Agreement.
3.       Improving the energy efficiency of our homes
The track record of the government on this is very poor. The strategy was an important opportunity to provide a clear commitment to make all new homes carbon neutral. The Zero Carbon Homes Regulations due to start in 2016 was an attempt to provide this but the Government scrapped them in 2015. Unsurprisingly there is also no reference to the disastrous Green Deal.  The UK still has the least energy efficient housing stock in Europe. There is a wealth of research that highlights how a large-scale energy efficiency programme could create a huge number of jobs, dramatically reduce emissions, and significantly alleviate fuel poverty. There is probably not a single other clean growth measure where the advantages so completely outweigh the disadvantages.
Despite this the strategy fails to offer the infrastructure change needed to address this so that all homes, currently around 2.3 million households, are removed from fuel poverty by 2025. The proposal to consider ‘options with a view to consulting in 2018’ lacks any sense of urgency as does the caveat of only if it is ‘practical, cost-effective and affordable’ by 2030.

4.       Accelerating the shift to low carbon transport
The GJA has previously commented on the Government’s Clean Air strategy. This section of the strategy suffers from the same limitations. There is a focus on longer term measures rather than properly funded initiatives that can be taken in the short-term to tackle the scandal of pollution levels generated by transport. Waiting until 2040 before ending the sale of petrol or diesel vehicles underpins this lack of urgency.
The balance between improving public transport and conversion to electric vehicles is not right. Electric cars generate significant levels of particulate matter so simply replacing petrol and diesel with electric is not going to address some of the most dangerous aspects of air pollution. If the electricity is not generated by renewables it will also fail to effectively address greenhouse emissions. Far more power to raise money needs to be provided to local authorities to improve public transport and introduce mitigation measures. The mass public transport sector also needs to be brought under public control to address the fragmented nature of the infrastructure.

5.       Delivering clean, smart, flexible power
The strategy makes positive references to renewables. It does include a bizarre claim that the ‘power sector has seen dramatic falls in the price of renewable energy due to government policies, with global investment estimated at $2.8 trillion since 2007. This has driven down the cost of solar cells by 80 per cent since 2008, meaning we are now beginning to see solar deploying in the UK without government support.’ (Page 24) In fact it is R+D decisions made by the Chinese Government that has brought down the cost and increased efficiency not UK government policy.
We are particularly disappointed in the lack of reference to support for solar power and community energy. Not surprisingly the strategy maintains a blind faith that the private sector will up its game. ‘We will continue to work with Ofgem and the National Grid to create a more independent system operator which will help to keep household bills low through greater competition, coordination and innovation across the system.’ As with other challenges in this strategy it is the GJA view that the energy sector needs to be brought under democratic ownership if decarbonisation is going to be consistent with future carbon budgets.

6.       Enhancing the Benefits and Value of Our Natural Resources
This section covers a wide range of different issues – agriculture, farming, food, forestry, waste and resource use. We are currently failing to meet voluntary targets set for reducing agricultural emissions and the urgent need to tackle livestock emissions. The UK reliance on food imports also raises the issue of carbon leakage and imports. If we maintain or even increase our imports of high carbon emission foodstuff we are contributing to carbon emissions elsewhere. This is of course not acknowledged in the strategy.

7.       Leading in the public sector
There has been a missed opportunity to provide a framework for the public sector to play a major role. The £255 million promised for energy efficiency improvements is a fraction of the amount that has been stripped away from public sector finances in the last 7 years. A voluntary emissions reduction target of 30% by 2020-21 is unlikely to deliver especially in the absence of much clearer targeted support.

8.       Government leadership in driving clean growth
In some ways the 3 proposals in this section are the most disappointing. The ‘big idea’ is a ‘Green Great Britain Week’. This is no substitute for a concerted campaign throughout the year to engage the public. Skills is mentioned once (Page 37) in relation to technical education. The strategy would have been a perfect opportunity to show how the UK intended to implement Article 12 of the Paris Agreement on Education and Training.
‘Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under this Agreement.’
This requirement is not mentioned in the strategy. Even the Industrial Strategy which is designed to complement the Clean Growth Strategy fails to reference this obligation and the section on Skills is far too narrowly focused.

9.       Conclusion
There is not a single reference to engagement with the workforce who will have to deliver this strategy. It means an opportunity to implement this part of the Paris Agreement has been missed -‘Taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities,’
This is compounded by the lack of civic engagement referenced above. The Government has admitted that it is currently not on target to meet the 5th Carbon Budget’s 57% target reduction. Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change has warned against using “the use of accounting flexibilities or reliance on international carbon credits to make up the difference. The strategy refers to the importance of the Stern Report yet fails to draw the lessons from it on market failure. Only 30% of the emissions reductions identified have been counted according to the Government Minister, Claire Perry, which underlines the problems with a document high on aspirations but low on policy detail.

GJA 11/12/17

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Village School in Kingsbury

As Green Party Trade Union Liaison Officer for Brent and for the London Federation of Green Parties, I wish to send support to the teachers at The Village School in Kingsbury who have voted to take strike action against the proposal to turn the school into an academy. If this retrograde step takes place it means the loss of a substantial educational asset for the people of Brent which large amounts of council resources have been paid to develop. I would like to second the questions of NEU (National Education Union) reps who ask why Brent Council is not opposing this proposed academisation, inspite of the reported opposition of Brent Central Constituency Labour party which the council purports to represent on behalf of the communities of Brent.

P.Murry 10/12/2017

Sunday, 3 December 2017

PCS DVSA strike on the 4 and 5 December

To unions and trades councils in the SERTUC region

Dear Colleague

Are you able to show support for PCS driving test officers on Monday and Tuesday in Morden, Enfield, Oxford or Gillingham?

Either at the picket line, or in the form of a solidarity message? Please see below for details

All best wishes, Megan

Megan Dobney
Regional Secretary
London, East & South East Region of the TUC

SERTUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS
020 7467 1291    07879 631 785


From: Sharon Leslie []
Sent: 30 November 2017 15:38
To: Megan Dobney <MDobney@TUC.ORG.UK>
Cc: Darren Lewis <>; Richard Edwards <>
Subject: PCS DVSA members to Strike over Safety on the 4 and 5 December
Importance: High

Dear Megan 

Please can you arrange for the press release below regarding the PCS DVSA strike on the 4 and 5 December to be circulated to affiliate unions and SERTUC’s MP contacts?
We particularly welcome solidarity support at our picket lines and encourage messages of support to be sent to:
Thursday 30th November   
 Strike action disrupts new driving tests   
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will take 48 hour strike action on Monday 4th December ending at Midnight on the 5th December. This adds to the action short of a strike which began last week (23rd) in a dispute over the new driving test and also working patterns.
This action has already led to hundreds of tests being cancelled in the first week of the action.
In a perverse move DVSA has withdrawn overtime from striking workers and also imposed leave schedules meaning that an even greater backlog of thousands of tests is inevitable due to the imposed reductions in service. 
A ballot in October saw an 84% vote for strike action on a 70% turnout.
The strike action across the DVSA which begins on the 4th December will see up to 14,000 driving tests cancelled on the day the new driving test is launched.  
Other effects of the action include reduced roadside checks on vehicles, reduced enforcement checks on lorries and other vehicles coming into the U.K and a significant reduction of tachograph testing. 
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka commented
“PCS members in the DVSA have tried to negotiate around their concerns but the door has been slammed shut in their face. They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are. No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test but the Government could avoid this strike even now at the 11th hour by agreeing to serious talks and withdrawing their most damaging proposals. I have today written to the Transport Minister Chris Grayling urging him to intervene.”
For information contact PCS National Press Officer Steve Battlemuch on 07515 605755 or via email
Picket lines in the SERTUC region will be from 7:30 am – see details below:
·         Morden DTC, 10 Tudor Drive, SM4 4PE
·         Enfield MPTC, Solar Way, Enfield EN3 7XY
·         Oxford, James Wolfe Road OX4 2PY
·         Gillingham MPTC, Unit 1 Astra Park, Courteney Road, Gillingham, Kent ME8 0EZ
Mark Serwotka is available for interviews on Monday 4th Dec from 1pm at Millbank studio.
PCS is one of the UK's largest unions and represents civil and public servants in central government and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Mark Serwotka is the general secretary and the president is Janice Godrich – on Twitter @janicegodrich
Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union
Many thanks

Sharon Leslie
PCS London & SE Regional Secretary

Thursday, 30 November 2017

New research shows trade unions getting to grips with climate change

New research shows trade unions getting to grips with climate change

Despite being faced with many immediate battles to fight, it is to the credit of many trade unions that they are also addressing the long term wellbeing of their members, and of future generations, by introducing policies to tackle climate change. A new report providing the first ever overview of the climate change policies of 17 major UK trade unions could help raise wider awareness of this important work.
The author, Catherine Hookes, is studying for a masters degree at Lund University, Sweden, and her research drew on a comprehensive web review of policies in these unions, going into more depth for many of the unions, interviewing key figures and activists. The research was facilitated by the Campaign against Climate Change.
For anyone within the trade union movement concerned about climate change (or for campaigners wishing to engage with trade unions on these issues) this report is of practical use in understanding the context, the diversity of different trade unions' approaches, and the progress that has been made in the campaign for a just transition to a low carbon economy.
While every attempt was made to ensure the report is comprehensive, and accurately reflects union positions, there are clearly controversies and different viewpoints over issues such as fracking and aviation. Trade unions with members in carbon intensive industries will always have a challenging task in addressing climate change, but their engagement in this issue is vital. And, of course, this is a rapidly changing field. It is very encouraging that since the report was written, Unison has voted to campaign for pension fund divestment. This is an important step in making local authority pension funds secure from the risk (both financial and moral) of fossil fuel investment.
Anyone attending TUC congress this September is welcome to join us at our fringe meeting, 'Another world is possible: jobs and a safe climate', to take part in the ongoing discussion on the role of trade unions in tackling climate change.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Motions passed by UCU retired members conference Wednesday 15 November 2017

NB I have omitted some motions that were concerned with internal UCU matters and not included some amendments as I have lost my notes, but my recollection is that these concerned points of detail .
Motion 1              Railway System           
Proposer              Northern & Scottish Retired Members Branch

UCU Retired members note with dismay the effects of this Government’s continued austerity drive, and its support of the disastrous policy pursued by Southern Rail, of allegedly trying to modernise its Railway System at the expense of the most vulnerable travellers. Southern Rail’s abolishment of staff, stations and ticket offices has an adverse effect on older people and those with disabilities. This means in practice, that by abolishing train guards they are removing any vestige of health and safety for the disabled, on both train and platforms. How are the seriously disabled going to get on and off trains? Who is going to provide the assistance for getting wheel chairs on and off trains? What about the many stations that will no longer be staffed? How are the disabled expected to cope with that situation, or will the train driver be expected to help? Of course there will be ticket machines. How will the partially sighted cope; the disabled and older people manage, with this new technology?
Many rail stations have toilets for handicapped people, where you are required to find someone who can give you the key, this can be very difficult for some to achieve. Why can’t we have ‘smart’ train tickets, which could be used to enable travellers to access ‘closed’ toilets on trains and stations? We have noted the series of strikes that have taken place on Southern Railways and fully support the trade Unions involved.
Motion: This AGM of Retired Members Branches notes that the Conservative Government has made cuts to the Rail system, which seriously affects all disabled UCU members, and UCU retired members. We therefore call upon our National Executive Committee to fully support the National Pensioners Convention, and the Rail Unions in their efforts to fight against the closure of stations, and the introduction of driver only trains. The closure of Stations will make it impossible for disabled UCU members and UCU retired members to travel late at night, and even during the day when stations are only ticket machine operated. If Southern Rail win this dispute then all the other train operators will be quick to jump on the band wagon. We also ask that the NEC raise their concerns within the Labour Party and the TUC and seek support to ensure a successful outcome to this very important issue

Motion 2               The Rise in the state Pensions Age
Proposer              Northern Retired Members Branch

This AGM of UCU retired members branches notes with concern the raising of the State Pension Age and supports the campaign against this by the National Pensioners Convention.
We further note that owing to the rise in levels of stress and decline in levels of job-satisfaction, many members of UCU will be forced to stop working, many years before the retirement age officially designated by USS, TPS and our employers.
The consequence of these developments is that there will be an increasing gap between the age at which the State Pension begins and the age at which our members actually cease employment. As a result, retirees will face increasing levels of financial hardship.
This AGM calls on the NEC to develop policies and negotiation strategies designed to improve the USS and TPS pension schemes in order to mitigate the effects of the increase in the State Pension 
We note that many other trade unions in the public sector who have occupational pension schemes, will be similarly affected who therefore urges the NEC to liaise with our sister unions to achieve aims.

Motion 3               Climate Change, Airport Expansion and Fracking
Proposer              London Retired Members Branch

We recognise that the motion on Climate Change passed at this year's TUC makes progress towards UCU retired members resolution 7.6 of our 2016 annual meeting. However, we regret that there is no mention of opposition to fracking or airport expansion. We therefore call upon the UCU NEC to continue to campaign within the trade union movement in support of all the demands raised in UCU Congress 2017 resolution 17: Climate change, jobs and airport expansion.

Motion 4               Universal Benefits
Proposer              London Retired Members Branch
Conference believes that the old age (universal benefit) pension should be paid to all over the age 60 and be equivalent to at least half the average wage or 200 pounds, whichever is the greater. Conference commits to the defence of the triple-lock. Conference notes that to achieve this will take a number of years and the first step should be the increase of the present pension by a yearly increase of RPI + 2%. Conference therefore resolves for UCU to express our view on the relevant bodies.

Motion 5               Support for research-active retired members
Proposer              London Retired Members Branch
Recognising that many retired members wish to continue with their research or conduct research for which they did not have time due to pressures of work while they were employed, calls upon UCU to do all it can to secure access to facilities such as libraries and email for retired academic staff. This would also be in the interests of their previous institutions although many are too stupid to see this.

Motion 7               NHS
Proposer              West Midlands Retired Members Branch
This Retired Members AGM deplore the government's funding attack on the NHS and the consequent pressure on Trusts to abandon the NHS founding principles.  For example, Shropshire has declared that the planned reconfiguration of two hospitals is for the "greatest good for the majority": utilitarianism has replaced universalism despite Para 14T of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

We deplore the consequent limitations on access and especially the negative impact on retired people.

We urge retired members' branches to engage in local campaigning to protect the NHS.

We request UCU head office to set up a national web-based forum to assist all branches to work on national NHS campaigns using College and University campuses to promote the importance of a universal health service.

We call on the NEC to pay the £500 to affiliate to the Health Campaigns Together pressure group.

Motion 10            Raising of the State Pension Age
Proposer              Yorkshire & Humberside Retired Members Branch

This meeting notes that:
•        the proposed raising of the State Pension Age will present financial difficulties for many UCU members retiring some years before receiving a State Pension
•        many workers in all areas of employment, especially those with inadequate occupational pensions, or no other pension, as well as those who are willingly or unwillingly unemployed will face the same difficulties many years before reaching the State Pension age.
•        The raising of the State Pension Age will add to pressures to raise the qualifying age for occupational pensions.
•        many workers in precarious employment are particularly dependent on the state pension because they have little opportunity to accrue a decent quality occupational pension.
It therefore calls for UCU to support the NPC campaign against raising the SPA, and to work actively in the TUC to raise wider awareness of these issues among existing workers, awareness of the risk of poverty in old age and to develop a campaign with all other unions.

Motion 11            Supporting the NPC Pensioners’ Manifesto
Proposer              Yorkshire & Humberside Retired Members Branch  

This meeting calls on UCU to agree to support the NPC Pensioners Manifesto:
• A state pension set above the official poverty level, around £200 a week and linked to the triple lock of the higher of earnings, prices or 2.5%.

• Greater funding for the NHS, an end to privatisation in the health service and a national social care system funded from general taxation, free at the point of delivery and without means-testing.

• Maintenance of universal pensioner benefits such as free bus travel, a £500 winter fuel allowance, free prescriptions and a free TV licence for the over 75s.

• More homes that are both affordable and suitable for everyone, whilst recognising the specific barriers to downsizing that older people face.

• New legal protection for older people from all forms of elder abuse, to ensure dignity and raise standards of care.

• A Brexit deal that safeguards the payment of pensions, protects EU care workers and the rights of UK pensioners living abroad.

Motion 12            Discussion of extending the Equality Act 2010 to include single people as a protected group
Proposer              Yorkshire & Humberside Retired Members Branch  

 This meeting notes:
•        Under the Equality Act 2010 married people and people in civil partnerships are protected from discrimination on grounds of marital status, but single people are not.
•        Therefore it is still lawful to treat single people less favourably than married people and those in civil partnerships.
•        That lack of legal protection can give scope for expression of negative attitudes towards single people.
•        As people become older, they are more likely to spend a period of their lives as single people as a result of bereavement.
•        That if health and social care services are organised on the assumption that people have or ought to have a ‘next of kin’ family member who can look after them in periods of illness and disability, this disadvantages single people.
•        That there are various forms of existing discrimination against single people, such as single person supplements charged by holiday firms often for inferior accommodation.
•        That the current discussion of loneliness as a health problem, while valid in itself, could foster negative stereotypes of the lives of single people, especially if there is a confusion between ‘loneliness’ and ‘living alone’.
This meeting calls upon UCU to discuss in its Equality Committee and any other relevant bodies the case for extension of the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 to include single people, so that they too are protected from discrimination on grounds of marital status.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers' Group DWP protest 20/11/2017

Clarence Jackman

1:23 AM (8 hours ago)

Attendees CJ, Pam, Nik, Geraldine, Abby, Sumaya, Angela, Giselle from kuwg and Pete Brent Green Party. 

Apologies from Helen2, Paul K, Mira and Tulip Siddiq Hampstead & Kilburn Labour MP

5 coppers & 5 security guards awaiting us.
We did ask to see David Gauke and Damian Hinds but told they were not in. Then asked for Janice Hartley CBE and Neil Couling CBE (Universal Credit Implementers) also not in. Not allowed to come in to see their Pas, as no appointment made, not allowed in to book an appointment, not given the promised phone number to phone to book!
Read out support letters from Tulip Siddiq, and Dawn Butler Westminster Labour MP. Also read out Guardian and Brent Times articles about our protests. And finally read a Metro article about Phil Hammond stating there is “no unemployment.” 70 leaflets handed out plus Unite community Universal Credit advice sheets.
Couple of workers stated they didn’t want to push through these policies, and a couple of charity workers coming out of building took leaflets. Coppers stated that Police Stations and Training Centres being shut like job centres for Land Developers’ profits.
We ended up with Angela taking a group photo with us singing Gerry’s “Gauke for the walk!!” Put away Banners placards, megafone & went for coffees after.
Planning a Xmas-time revisit with up-to-date Alternative Carols!! 
Kilburn Unemployed Workers' Group DWP protest 20/11/2017