Thursday, 31 March 2016

UCU London Retired Members Branch: Annual General Meeting Tuesday April 5th 2016 - 2pm - 4pm

Annual General Meeting
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Next branch meeting

Tuesday April 5th 2016 - 2pm - 4pm

This will also be the Annual General Meeting and we shall be electing officers and committee as well as discussing our motion to UCU Annual Congress
Meetings take place in the union office in Carlow Street NW1 7LH, nearest tube Mornington Crescent.

So far I have received notice of 3 motions, on
  • Academic Freedom in Turkey,
  • Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for disabled people
  • Climate Change
It was also agreed at the last meeting that we shall have a discussion on the subject of the EU referendum. Please let me know of any other matters you wish to raise.
I have received some nominations for branch officers, you can let me have any other nominations by email or at the meeting. Please also consider serving on the committee.

All retired academic staff are welcome (as well as those about to retire).
If you have items for the agenda, or wish to be put on the mailing list please let me know.
Copyright © 2016 UCU London Retired Members Branch, All rights reserved.
UCU London Retired Members Branch - members and supporters

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UCU London Retired Members Branch
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Wednesday, 30 March 2016



Conference recognises the following:

1. Keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or below is essential if human civilisation is to be sustained and there is to be a future for our children;
2. Doing so requires sharp cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions on a very rapid timescale;
3. This requires 75-80% of known fossil fuel reserves to be left in the ground;
4. The technology exists to make a transition to a sustainable carbon neutral society with gains in living standards for the majority of humanity at an annual cost little greater than the current cost of annual fossil fuel subsidies, but this is incompatible with high levels of inequality and a society based on aspiration for luxurious lifestyles;
5. That growth will have to be primarily in those areas of the economy that enable this transition to take place;
6. The world’s wealthiest countries will have to make cuts in emissions of 8-10% a year (on top of those made by exporting manufacturing and related pollution to China and other countries);
7. Governments will have to put our economies on a war footing and take charge of necessary investment in sustainable energy, transport and urban planning because the private sector is not doing what is necessary;
8. This will not happen while the needs of our planet and our civilisation are held to ransom by the short-term profitability of the fossil fuel industries; and
9. This has profound implications for the structure and content of our education system, both in terms of content and values.

Conference instructs the Executive to call on the Government for:

i. The production of national plan for the most rapid possible transition to a carbon zero economy, including an immediate reversal of the current Government’s withdrawal of support from wind and solar energy;
ii. The most rapid possible retrofitting of all school buildings to make them as carbon neutral as possible (as part of a concerted plan for all publically owned buildings);
iii. An end to restrictions on solar panels by heritage considerations;
iv. A re-examination of the curriculum to put sustainability and the values of a sustainable society at the heart of it;
v. An immediate abandonment on fracking domestically and an embargo
on the import of any fracked gas or tar sand oil from any other country;
vi. The most rapid possible transfer of fossil fuel subsidies to sustainable energy generation and the phasing out of coal power without Carbon Capture Storage by 2023; and
vii. The most rapid possible socialisation of power generation.

Conference further instructs the Executive to:

a. Negotiate with the DFE on a new curriculum and seek support from other education unions;
b. Convene a working party of all interested teachers to work with relevant campaigns, like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Campaign against Climate Change, to find all the aspects of the current curriculum that can be developed to draw out a sustainable content and to examine those areas or values that need to be challenged and changed and produce model alternatives; making 2016-17 the year of the Green Curriculum;
c. Work with these campaigns on developing termly themes that link educational content with active citizenship and encourage our members to push them in schools;
d. Encourage union bodies at all levels to support national and local demonstrations and campaigns against fracking and climate change, negotiate with local authorities to make our schools carbon neutral solar power stations and press governing bodies to adopt a green school plan of action;
e. Take this issue up with other unions through the TUC, our international counterparts bilaterally and through Education International, supporting initiatives like the German TUCs new ‘Marshal Plan’ for Europe; and
f. Affiliate to the campaign against climate change:

Don’t use living wage as excuse to cut pay & benefits

This week the National Living Wage goes up by 50p an hour. It should be good news for staff but store manager Kevin* says some businesses are using the National Living Wage as an excuse to cut overall pay and rewards for the staff.
74,000 people have signed Kevin's petition asking his employer not to cut pay and other benefits for staff when the new living wage is introduced. Will you add your name to Kevin's petition?

Don’t use living wage as excuse to cut pay & benefits

Kevin Smith 
United Kingdom
I have worked for B&Q for over 5 years, I started in the business working as a part time customer advisor and have worked my way up to a management position. I live and work in a high cost living area of London. The past month has been one of the most difficult for me personally and as a manager.

In early February 2016, after the Government announced that the minimum wage would be increased to a new ‘national living wage’, B&Q ran a consultation of its pay and rewards framework. They proposed the following changes:
  • removal of time and a half pay for working Sundays,
  • restructuring of allowances for working in high cost of living areas of the UK
  • removal of double time for working bank holidays (now proposed to be 1.5) 
  • Removal of a summer and winter bonus equating to 6% of annual salary 
The full time customer advisors are being hit the hardest. Those who have worked within the business for over a decade and know our customers and our business the best are losing thousands of pounds a year. B&Q are asking people to sign their new terms and conditions of employment or they will be dismissed.

As a manager it has been incredibly difficult conducting consultations with people that are set to lose thousands of pounds and telling them that if they don’t sign by March 24th they will lose their job.

Big businesses like B&Q are using the national living wage as an excuse to cut overall pay and rewards for the people that need it the most. I feel ashamed to work for a business that treats their employees with so little respect. I feel ashamed to work for a business that proposes to pay neighbouring stores two separate rates of pay. I hope that there are others out there that feel the same and support this petition.

I hope that with the support of others, through signing this petition, we can influence B&Q and other businesses to reverse these changes. I also hope they acknowledge that treating people in this way will have a negative impact on their business in the future.

*I've written this petition under a pseudonym to protect myself at work
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The People's Assembly Against Austerity: Doctors & Teachers to strike - Support on 16 April

Sometimes things can change very quickly in politics. After 6 years of an aggressive Tory led government it sometimes felt like there was no way to stop them. However, in the last few weeks, we've seen the wheels start to fall off the austerity train and it's not looking so good for the Tories any more. 

Over the last few days the teaching unions held their annual conferences. The National Union of Teachers voted overwhelmingly to ballot for strike action following the governments disastrous decision to force all schools to become academies. Christine Blower General Secretary of the NUT said "if there is scope to take action with junior doctors, you can be sure we will." Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, was humiliated as she made a disastrous speech at teaching union NASUWT conference > watch here

The British Medical Association also announced last week they would be escalating the junior doctor strike action taking place on 26/27 April to an all out strike. 

Support the strikes: Join the demonstration

This makes the national demonstration on Saturday 16 April more important than ever. That demonstration is the place to be to show solidarity with the strikes, to give confidence and strengthen further action in our workplaces, and to demonstrate to the government that we are united against austerity.

Saturday 16 April 2016 | National Demonstration
March for Health, Homes, Jobs, Education 
Assemble: 1pm, Gower Street, London NW1 
March to Trafalgar Square
We're pleased to announce that the demonstration will be marching to Trafalgar Square. Christine Blower and striking Junior Doctors will be amongst those that will address the rally - alongside student nurses, housing campaigners, trade unionists, MPs and celebs (details to be announced soon).

Don't just come - get involved! 
The demonstration needs to be massive, and that means it's up to everyone to make sure it becomes as big as possible. We have no big media or corporate backers so we need your help

If you can help with any of the suggested activities in your area (or have any other ideas of other things you can do), please email so we can compile a list of actions, get you publicity, & put you in touch with others who can help. 

1. Weekend actionsBig leafleting sessions & street stalls to publicise the demonstration on 2 & 9 April. Targeting shopping centres, high streets, markets and more.

2. Leaflet your local train / tube station - weekdays
Leaflet at train stations either before or after work. Let us know your nearest station and what day / times you could do in the next couple of weeks. Just half an hour at rush hours will reach hundreds of people. 

3. Leaflet your street / estate
Put leaflets for the demonstration through every house or flat on your street or estate. Doesn't take long and is an effective way to publicise the demo! 

If you are able to do any of these things please contact us so we know what is being planned. We can also put you in touch with others in your area who are helping out too. We can send you fliers, posters, stickers & more.

Useful demo links:

The People's Assembly Against Austerity

Saturday, 26 March 2016

The People's Assembly Against Austerity is holding a march for health, homes, jobs and education on Saturday 16 april 2016, why should greens support it?

Climate change and the human-driven forces behind it are spreading new diseases. As eco systems all over the world are disrupted and destroyed to extract raw materials and to create the infrastructure for this extraction; and then also, for manufacturing and expanding human settlement, some organisms will move into new environments. This is nothing new, it has been happening for centuries, it is a process accelerated with and by increasing international trade. It causes climate change which alters the geographic ranges of organisms and it impacts human populations and/or their food animals and plants as diseases and pests may encounter species that have historically evolved no resistance to them.

Additionally the exploitation of new environments, coupled with climate change can bring about increased catastrophic events: floods, droughts, landslides wild fires and storms to name a few.

The icing on the cake, or the shit in the sandwich, may be loss of biodiversity, many species will be made extinct. This has moral implications, raising the question of what right homo sapiens has to give its existence, comfort and cultural needs precedence over the existence of some other animals, plants and slime moulds. It has practical implications as well; we may not know of the potential medicinal value of a threatened species until after it has gone; and we may not know the importance of species for others in its ecosystem. An example being the Mauritian tree whose seeds could only germinate if they had been swallowed by a dodo and had their casing softened in the dodo’s crop.

All this means we need our Health Services, and the scientific research on which they are based, more than ever. We will also need our emergency services more. These services need to be available to as many as need them, publicly provided and free at the point of use.

Climate change produces refugees because it will destroy some peoples’ habitats; their housing and/or the lands or waters that they need for food. It also generates resource wars, which often have the effect of making human survival in some areas perilous in the extreme and degrading environments so that they are no longer habitable. Refugees tend to up in very low grade housing, at its most extreme in tents, shacks and shipping containers. One step up from that, in Britain, they’ll likely end up in an underprivileged and vulnerable position in a housing market rigged by the government against poor people in general.

Social housing provision In Britain is being squeezed out of existence and as precedence is given to profit-motivated developers of housing for the rich, a process of ’social cleansing’ is taking place in some areas. The effects of this are to create a housing distribution which is almost exactly opposite to one which makes any kind of environmental sense. Instead of housing people near to their work, it maximises the amount of commuting that they do, and the amount of carbon emissions, whilst minimising the potential for using low carbon forms of transport such as walking and cycling. As this travelling time cuts out large slices of what could be leisure or family time a more sensible policy of providing affordable housing near people’s’ work could be an issue where housing activists could make common cause, since travelling time is effectively often work time being given to employers for free.

Then there is the question of what kind of housing we need as well as who it’s for and where it is. Often when climate change is discussed, the building of new energy providing devices is emphasised, but emission reduction also entails using less energy.  This could mean a shorter commute but it must also entail far better home insulation, possibly incorporating forms of micro generation, roof top solar panels being an obvious example. Other means of energy saving in housing could be possible, such as sharing some facilities between households, but other technical innovations may be possible or could be invented and developed. These possibilities have implications for jobs and education.

Creation of a low carbon economy could involve the creation of millions of jobs, maybe more than the 1m initial target in the ccc pamphlet, expansion of the health and housing sectors have already been mentioned, but there are many other areas which could expand: renewables, recycling, alternative transport modes, a renovation of a canal system as transport, the re-extension of rail, wind power for shipping, localised agricultural production  and yet again more scientific research.

Education could be added to the list of job sectors that should be expanded to create and maintain a low carbon economy. The school sector has a role to play, but so does adult, further and higher education both in educating and training workers for new and expanded industries; and if the transition to these is to be just, workers in those industries that will decline may well need retraining. Since the creation of a low carbon economy, will involve continuing innovations based on scientific and technological research the education it needs is a flexible one where people can move in and out of work to retrain as the economy develops and changes.
Achieving this is not just about expanding that which now exists, it is about redefining, the relation of education to industries, communities, science and to the local and central state. In many ways education needs to be autonomous, the types of teaching and research should not be dictated or restricted by commercial or sectional interests, which are now far too easily able to purchase the types of education and research that suit them. However education needs to have some accountability to the communities where it is located which means elected representation for trades unions and community organisations, (including the parents of school students), precisely to prevent  education institutions only serving one part of a community or one firm.

The public education needed to develop a low carbon economy is now under attack and needs defending.

Friday, 25 March 2016

No to Academies: NUT demo London 23/3/2016

The demo assembles


BMA Junior Doctors' speaker calls for unity of Doctors and Teachers

More Agitators

The demo moves off

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Disabled People Against Cuts protest March 23rd

From Disabled People Against Cuts


 Dear friends,

Protest at Parliament
10am onwards Wednesday 23 March
London SW1A 0AA
Westminster tube

Please come to this protest called by Disabled People Against Cuts to press MPs against cuts to disability benefits.  We’ll be there! And we don’t want them to put the squeeze on pensioners now instead...  Please let us know if you can come, email back or call us on 020 7482 2496.

From Disabled People Against Cuts:

URGENT Call Out for Wednesday March 23rd

Many apologies for the very short notice which we know will make it impossible for some people to get to this. Due to the unexpected events of the last few days and the sudden resignation of IDS and what seems to be an increasing number of Tory MPs that the attacks they’ve made against disabled people for the last 6 years are unjust means we feel it is important we have a presence in parliament before PMQs.

Please meet at visitors’ entrance to parliament at 10 am or inside the main lobby if arriving later.

If you can definitely get to this could you please drop us an email to

Later on Wednesday there is the prptest against forced academies 5pm Assemble, Westminster Cathedral

acknowledgements to Wembley Matters