Tuesday, 28 March 2017

London Metropolitan University UCU: preparations for the implementation of academic boycott

London Metropolitan University UCU: preparations for the implementation of academic boycott

Branches will be aware of a number of live issues at London Metropolitan and the many challenges facing the hard pressed UCU branch officers as they try to deal with a number of simultaneous disputes.

Last autumn, the union’s higher education committee (HEC) approved the move to ‘censure’ the university as the first stage in the agreed process that can result in moving to full academic boycott.

The HEC also set up an executive team that met with the branch officers and developed an agreed strategy centred on giving management the opportunity to negotiate a resolution to the disputes or face the implementation of a full academic boycott. UCU’s censure and academic boycott process can be found here. 

At its most recent meeting, the HEC made an assessment of the progress of negotiations and agreed to give management a final opportunity to resolve the disputes through time-bound negotiations.

At the time of writing the negotiations are ongoing. However, branches and members are now advised to make preparations for a full academic boycott of London Metropolitan University.

This will include boycotting:
·  applying for any advertised jobs
·  speaking at or organising academic or other conferences
·  giving lectures
·  accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers
·  writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by the institution in question
·  accepting new contracts as external examiners for taught courses
·  collaborating on new research projects.

Please watch this space for more updates in relation to this issue.

Best wishes

Paul Bridge
UCU head of higher education

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Universal Credit: Claimants ‘stealing food’ to eat due to benefit delays

Universal Credit: Claimants ‘stealing food’ to eat due to benefit delays

Alan Wheatley


At Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group's weekly business meeting on Thursday 23 March, though we warmed to the page 2 prominence given to your news story 'Universal Credit: Claimants "stealing food" to eat due to benefit delays: Finance chief warns people are being forced into new debt',(1) we were very concerned at what to us seems a fundamental error in one sentence of your report.

That error concerns the length of wait for Universal Credit payments to be processed. You report, 'In some cases, people are waiting up to six weeks before claims are processed.' Waits as long as six weeks for benefit claims to be processed and "unacceptable" telephone helpline service standards are nothing new and pre-date Universal Credit and even the 2010 General Election. In November 2006 Community Care magazine reported: "MPs slammed Jobcentre Plus for leaving 21 million calls unanswered. Despite government claims of improvements, stories of poor service continue to mount."(2)

Where our 'experts by experience' would disagree with your report is that we believe your report should state, 'People wait a minimum of six weeks for claims to be processed.' Those delays are exacerbated by the income fluctuations caused by processing of Universal Credit claims in zero hours economies; and the DWP's deepening reliance on 'pay-as-you-go' call-centre service delivery that  penalises economically vulnerable people for their vulnerability.

Now, as you report, 'Telephone calls [to the Universal Credit helpline] can cost up to 55p a minute from pay-as-you-go mobile phones, which are commonly used by people with lower incomes. Wait times to speak with an adviser can be very long – one claimant in Camden has reported that their phone bill for a month was over £140, used almost entirely on calls to the DWP.”' That is an all-too-common experience, leading in many cases to rent arrears and subsequent evictions.

This sickening system leads more and more people to sickness and suicide, while the DWP refuses to take lessons from coroners courts and insists instead that disability benefit claimants be reassessed every six months as standard.(3) Against that backdrop, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group will be highlighting local benefits-related suicides on Monday 3 April as follows:

12 Noon: Assemble outside Kilburn Jobcentre, Cambridge Avenue, NW6 5AH for rally with local Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, PCS (jobcentre workers union) National Executive Officer Zita Holbourne and Brent Trades Council Executive Committee.
12:45: Black Flag march to Paddington Cemetry via Kilburn High Road.
13:30: Address at Leon Burmont graveside by Dawn Butler MP and RMT Political Officer Cat Cray.

14:00: Prince of Wales PH, Willesden Lane NW6 for Tea & Sandwiches

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

National Day of action against benefit sanctions.

Philip Fletcher

Hi Folks,

In case you didn't know, Thursday 30th of march is the National Day of action against benefit sanctions.

This is what Barnet Unite are planning.  It would be good if the Green Party could show a strong presence.
this is what is happening in Barnet:

Barnet Unite - No Sanctions, No Targets, No Closures !! https://www.facebook.com/events/702892836556590/ 
10.00 am to 11.00 am - Finchley Job Centre, 40 Ballads Lane, N3 2BL. https://www.facebook.com/events/702892836556590/ 
12 noon to 1.00 pm - Edgware Job Centre, 29 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7DX. 
Contact Branch Secretary Janette Evans - Janette876@hotmail.co.uk - See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/#sthash.2QK3vtqo.dpuf

If you can't make it, to any of the Barnet events, then in Central London there is:
1.00 pm - Outside Westminster Tube: Banner Drop, Balloon Release 
1.45 pm - March to DWP at Caxton House 
2.00 to 3.00 pm - Demo at DWP Caxton House - See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/#sthash.2QK3vtqo.dpuf

Afterwards there will be a lobbying session of MPs in the Commons.

Please pass around.

Phil Fletcher

(Barnet Green Party)

Monday, 20 March 2017

Liberating Arts conference and arts festival


The inaugural Liberating Arts conference and arts festival will take place on the 3rd -5th November 2017, at the University of Exeter.

The 3-day event aims to connect the trade union movement with public educators, cultural workers and creative activists and explore the role of the arts and culture in the ongoing struggle for equality and social justice.

We invite interested trade unionists, cultural workers, activists and educators, to propose workshops, performances, media screenings, exhibitions, discussions, lectures and networking events that they would like to host at the event.

If you are a trade unionist, cultural worker or creative activist and would like to propose a session for Liberating Arts 2017 then please email the event Producer, Chris Jury, on

If you wish to present an academic paper or other research-based event please email Dr Rebecca Hillman r.a.hillman@exeter.ac.uk
Please share far and wide across your networks!
Chris Jury
Producer, Liberating Arts 2017

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Inspiration and solidarity: Durham Lions pay tribute to the Grunwick Lions

Pictures courtesy of Grunwick 40
Amazing how the Grunwick dispute that took place 40 years ago is inspiring struggles today. All credit to the local activists here in Brent who got together to organise an exhibition, a mural and other events to commemorate the Grunwick workers' strike with the intention of making it relevant to current struggles around working conditions, women workers, migration and race - not just dry history.
Their success in doing so was summed up when the exhibition was visited by the Durham Teaching Assistants who are mounting a terrific campaign of their own LINK. They have spoken of how their struggle has been inspired by Jayaben Desai and her fellow workers and they deserve Aditya Chakrobortty's LINK description of them as the 'Durham Lions'. The photographs speaks for themselves - pride and solidarity.

The exhibition finishes on Sunday March 26th (closes at 5pm) so if you haven't seen it get down to Willesden Library as soon as possible.

Link to other Wembley Matters coverage of Grunwick HERE

Thursday, 16 March 2017

March Against Racism March 18 2017, UN Anti-Racism Day:climate block

National demonstration: March Against Racism March 18 2017, UN Anti-Racism Day
London: 12pm, (BBC) Portland Place - 
Meet for the climate block, All souls church portland place 12 pm

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Trump and May's Climate Disaster: Rise Up! - 22, 29 April and more

There are some exciting events coming up in April -  opportunities to show solidarity with our friends in the US fighting their government's climate denial; to tell our own government that their dismal record of cuts to climate action is a poor response to the escalating climate crisis; and to take practical action.
Scientists in the US have responded strongly to the Trump administration's plans to slash climate science budgets, as well as rejection of facts and evidence in a range of other areas (including the choice of a climate denier to head the key agency in charge of tackling climate change).

On 22 April, Earth Day, they will march in Washington, and in other cities in the US and around the world. We'll be joining the March for Science in London with a climate change bloc. (Facebook event). There are also science marches planned in EdinburghBristol, and Manchester.

On 29 April, as the People's Climate March takes place in the US, we're taking a message of solidarity to Westminster Bridge and rallying for UK campaigners to rise up for climate action! Find out more on our website and on Facebook.

So far we're aware of other UK solidarity events in ReadingCanterbury and Huddersfield. If you're organising something locally, do get in touch!

Londoners can join our planning meetings, the next one is this Thursday - details on Facebook and our website.
We want 29th April not just to be a symbolic action but an opportunity to facilitate people's involvement in further practical campaigning  - and in that spirit wanted to flag up a couple more events...
With AGM season coming up soon, join ShareAction on 5 April to find out how you can help hold companies to account, taking your climate change questions to CEOs. 

And further ahead, there's a global week of divestment action 5-13 May. In the run up to this, 350.org and People and Planet are running training events round the country for this from now until 9 April.
Hope to see you soon, and let us know about events coming up we may have missed!
Claire and all at CCC

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A message from Grunwick 40 and mural artist Anna Ferrie

News from Grunwick 40
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A message from Grunwick 40 and mural artist Anna Ferrie

Hello, especially to those who came to our mural workshops in Willesden last year.

We wanted to let you know about progress with the Grunwick 40 commemorative mural as many of you have been asking for an update. We had hoped to have the mural up by now but issues with site permissions and bureaucracy have meant that we can't yet move forward to install the panels. However, the mural composite designs are done and incorporate all of the artwork that was produced in the workshops. We are working hard to speed up the process to ensure the mural can be installed and unveiled within the next few months and we hope be able to bring you a firm date soon. In the meantime, you may be interested in The Art of Protest event later this month where we'll be discussing the different ways that art can be used to remember radical histories. We hope to see you either there or when we launch the mural!

Anna Ferrie and the Grunwick 40 team

SERTUC Regional May Day and Workers' Memorial Events 2017

SERTUC Regional May Day and Workers' Memorial Events 2017

* Bedford May Day - Monday 1 May 2017
* Chelmsford Workers’ Memorial Day - Friday 28 April 2017
* Chelmsford May Day Celebration - Wednesday 3 May 2017 
* Ipswich May Day Festival - Sunday 30 April 2017  
* London (Central) March and Rally - Monday 1 May 2017
* Oxford May Day Celebration - Saturday 29 April 2017 
* Southampton May Day Celebration - Monday 1 May 2017
* Southend May Day Celebration - Monday 1 May 2017
* Waltham Forest Workers’ Memorial Day - Friday 28 April 2017
More information: sertucevents@tuc.org.uk 

SERTUC - Trades Union Congress
Other update

Monday, 13 March 2017

SERTUC activities and events

SERTUC Pensioners Committee Seminar

Hold the date Friday 17 March at Congress House. With Alex Cunningham MP Shadow Pensions Minister and Neil Duncan-JordanNational Pensioners Convention. Register at sertuc@tuc.org.uk and more details soon.

SERTUC Creative Leisure Industries Committee Conference with Show Culture Some Love

Saturday 25 March at Congress House. Register at sertuc@tuc.org.uk and see the flyer here https://sertucresources.wordpress.com/sertuc-events/

Levellers Day 2017

·        Friday 19 May 2017 Levellers Night at the CWU’s education centre and Alvescot
·        Saturday 20 May 20117 Levellers Day commemoration, march and debate at the Burford Recreation Ground

Burston Strike School Rally 2017

Sunday 3 September 2017 – note the date now! First confirmed speaker: John Hendy QC

Workers’ Memorial Day events

Chelmsford trades council Friday 28 April

12.30pm at Central Park (near the lake and viaduct at the Memorial Tree). Speaker: Dan McCarthy NASUWT

Waltham Forest trades council Friday 28 April

·        1pm at Waltham Forest Town Hall with speakers from Unite, WF trades council, London Hazards Centre, NUT, Thompsons Solicitorswftradescouncil@gmail.com
·        5.45pm at Low Hall to remember the worker killed on the A406 a couple of years ago
·        After that: a commemoration to remember Marian Nemit, a building worker killed nearby

London details to come

Norwich details to come

May Day events

Bedford Monday 1 May details to come

Chelmsford Wednesday 3 May

A musical celebration with Robb Johnson and Rick Christian at the Asylum Club. With speakers and raffle. acoburn@blueyonder.co.uk

Ipswich Sunday 30 April details to come

London Monday 1 May details to come

Norwich details to come

Oxford details to come

Reading details to come

Southampton Monday 1 May

11am to 3pm in Palmeston Park. More details to come ellarobertanoyes@gmail.com

Southend Monday 1 May

12 noon High Street stall, 2pm music at O’Neill’s Rachel.heemskerk@gmail.com

Waveney details to come

Trade Union actions

PCS National Gallery protest

Monday 13 March 6pm Support the demand for last year’s agreement to be implemented. https://www.facebook.com/events/305401203196359/


New advice for H&S reps on workplace stress

3 day course for TU admin and support staff

Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April Manchester. To provide support staff with the understanding and skills required to effectively support their union’s organising strategies and campaigns https://www.tuc.org.uk/events/tuc-organising-academy-award-supporting-organising-course

Unionlearn ULR survey

Complete the short survey so unionlearn has a better idea of what you’re up to! https://www.unionlearn.org.uk/news/2017-union-learning-survey-now-open

Other actions/events

Orgreave Truth Justice Campaign Make some noise for justice Monday 13 March

To add to this newsletter contact mdobney@tuc.org.uk

SERTUC activities and events

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Third Show Culture Some Love Conference

Dear Friend,
(A) Show Culture Some Love Conference
We are pleased to be able to announce the provisional programme of speakers for the Show Culture Some Love Conference - which is taking place on Saturday 25 March in TUC Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS. To register for the conference, please email sertuc@tuc.org.uk
Conference Registration
Registration on the day will take place between 12 noon to 1.00pm. Free sandwiches and refreshments will be provided in Room 1.
Conference Programme
Megan Dobney, (SERTUC Regional Secretary) will open the conference.
(a) Main Session (1.00-2.30pm)
Chair: Clara Paillard (President, PCS Culture Sector)
·         Julie Ward, MEP
  • Alan Gibbons (The Library Campaign)
  • Hamida Ali (Equalities Officer, Equity)
  • Hannah Bagua Lawson (National Museums Wales), BECTU Picturehouse campaign and Tate campaign (from the floor) + any other “live” campaigns will be speaking from the floor.
(b) Equality Workshops (2.30-3.30pm)
(1) Race, Racism, Art & Culture
Chair: TBC
·         Zena Edwards (Shake!)
  • Emily Porter (Artists’ Union England)
  • Mitty Ranagavigan (International Slavery Museum)
  • Jennifer Lim, (“Yellowface”)
(2) Disability, Culture & Art
Chair: Mark Leopard (TUC Disabled Workers Committee)
·         Ellen Clifford (DPAC)
  • Ruth Gould (DadaFest)
  • Mik Scarlet (Equity)
(3) LGBT, Art & Culture
Chair: Theresa Easton (Artists Union England)
·         Matt Exley, PCS Branch Chair, National Museums Liverpool and Pride & Prejudice
  • Queering Museums – invited
  • John Shortell (Musicians’ Union) 
(4) Gender, Art & Culture
Chair: Rosie Hilal (Equity)
·         Andrea Cunningham, (V&A, Museum of Childhood) - invited
  • Bridget O’Conor, (Kings College, London)
  • Emma Reeves (WGGB)
The TUC Young Workers conference is being held on the same day in Congress House and a speaker has been invited to address our conference.
(c) Issues Workshops (4.00-5.00pm)
(1) Arts & campaigning
Chair: Shenagh Govan (Equity)
·         “Professionally Made, Professionally Paid” (Emmanuel de Lange, Equity)
  • “Work Not Play” (Dave Webster, MU)
  • “Free is NOT an option (Chris Jury, Writers Guild)
  • Artists Union England: invited
(2) The Arts & “Brexit”
Chair: Tracy Edwards (PCS Culture Sector)
·         Equity speaker: invited
  • Tony Lennon (BECTU)
  • Dave O’Brien (Edinburgh University)
(3) Developing and taking forward the Show Culture Some Love programme
Chair: Tom Taylor (SERTUC Creative & Leisure Industries Committee)
·         Clara Paillard (PCS)
  • Mike Quille (Culture Matters campaign)
  • Culture Unsustained campaign speaker – invited
  • Hannah Bagua Lawson (National Museums Wales)
(4) National Libraries and Museums Campaign
Chair: Candy Udwin (PCS)
This will be an open forum to discuss the next steps for the campaign following the demonstration on 5 November 2016.
(d) Closing session (5.00-5.30pm)
Chair: Tom Taylor (Secretary, SERTUC Creative & Leisure Industries Committee)
Speakers: Each workshop to appoint a speaker to report back the two action points agreed by the workshop.
(e) Social (5.30pm onwards) - Details to be confirmed.
(B) Other issues
(1) National Gallery Protest
PCS has organised a protest at the National Gallery on Monday 13 March from 6pm. This is in response to the failure of private contractor, Securitas, to honour an agreement reached with the union to offer “broadly comparable” pay, terms & conditions as part of the settlement of the 2015/16 dispute.
(2) Bread & Roses Poetry Award
Cultural Matters has announced details of its “Bread and Roses Poetry Award”. Prizes are £500 award for first place, £250 for second and £100 for third. Entries are invited by 31 May 2017. For full details see:
With best wishes,
Tom Taylor
Show Culture Some Love Campaign

Subject: Third Show Culture Some Love Conference

Dear Friend,

Please find attached the text of an announcement that has been made on Facebook (FB) in respect of the third Show Culture Some Love conference – which is being held on Saturday 25 March in TUC Congress House.

Pre-booking is essential – and you can reserve your place by emailing us at:

We are currently working to confirm speakers – and updates will be sent out in due course. Please note that we are also intending to organise a pre-conference “happening”, (further details to be confirmed), and a social at the end of the conference.

Details of the event on FB can be via the link below. Please feel free to share and to invite people to attend:

Please let me know if you need any further info.

With best wishes,

Tom Taylor
(Secretary, SERTUC Creative & leisure Industries Committee)