Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Gagging & The Guardian

ROCHDALE's Council has said that legal action may be taken against the Guardian which recently breached the ban on reporting the Serious Case Review report into Rochdale's sexual grooming scandal.  The report was distributed to all the media last Thursday with the strict guidelines that it could not be made public until 10am on Saturday.  Yet the Guardian informed the Rochdale Council that it would publish details from the report on Thursday night.  Last Saturday's Rochdale Observer reported:  'This prompted calls from Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board and the council "ferociously" defending the embargo and threatening legal action.'

Union Poachers Turned Gamekeepers!

UNITE North West Regional Committee adopted a motion in November for the consideration of the union's National Executive expressing concern at the number of its former trade union officers who leave the union owing to their failure to 'uphold expected trade union pronciples'.  It notes also that 'without shame [they] take up prominent positions within a short space of time with companies that our union negotiates with'.

Furthermore, it seems, that 'many of these former full time officers end up with lucrative union pensions and extremely generous pay outs'.  This North West Committee of Unite the Union feels that Unite 'should not allow former officers to use the knowledge gained of our activists or organisation' to use while working for an employer directly opposed to the interests of our union.  This Committee feels that 'legal and binding clauses must be put in place to deter such practice happening in the future.' 

Of course, this observation of 'poachers becoming gamekeepers' is not unique in the British trade union movement.  In recent years we've become increasingly aware of well paid union bosses in the British building trade who fed information on trade union activists and militants to the illegal firm of blacklisters The Consulting Association.  Earlier this month George Tapp even tried to raise this matter at a meeting of the Greater Manchester County Association of Trade Union Councils but was ruled out of order.

Happy New Year from Eddie Sabino

Happy new Year everyone, this could be the year that see’s the Blacklisters get their true desserts.........................Eddie

Monday, 30 December 2013

Men, Massacres & Monuments

Image of James Keogh by Clifford Harper on N.V.13

AROUND 2008, Tameside Trade Union Council applied for a blue plaque for James Keogh, an Ashton-under-Lyne lad who was killed in action fighting with the International Brigade for freedom and democracy in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39. This initial nomination was rejected by the Arts & Events committee of Tameside MBC on the grounds that Mr. Keogh's contribution may not have been unique, and that there may have been other local people who fought in Spain. It turned out that there had been a number of others but that James Keogh was the only one, so far as we know, who was actually killed in action. The research involved in finding out about Mr. Keogh, who died in March 1938 near Calaceite in the northern Spanish province of Aragón, and investigating the other residents of Ashton who went to Spain, was onerous and it was not until 25th November 2011 that a Blue Plaque was unveiled to James at Ashton-under-Lyne library. This followed a long campaign by Tameside TUC, and his family for recognition; this despite the fact that Mr. Keogh fitted all the criteria.                                                                                                
In contrast, Rochdale Council wasted no time in awarding a blue plaque to Sir Cyril Smith, the former Rochdale MP 1972-92, after he died in 2010: his blue plaque was erected outside Rochdale Town Hall in October 2011, even though it turned out that he didn't fit the criteria set down by English Heritage having been dead for just over a year. The person responsible at that time in the Rochdale Tourist Bureau, when asked, told Northern Voices that the town didn't need to meet the criteria suggested by English Heritage. Of course, it was revealed in November 2012 that Cyril Smith was very unique by any standards of human conduct, and that he had molested young lads in the 20th century on a significanr scale. Now four empty screw holes is all that remains in the grey stone wall of Rochdale Town Hall, where the commemorate blue plaque to Sir Cyril was once affixed. Fear of vandalism was the reason given by the Council Leader, Colin Lambert, for the removal of the plaque, and yet, I understand that a picture of Cyril still adorns' the inner walls of the Town Hall and that there is still a 'Sir Cyril Smith Room' within to remember the great man.

This business of commemorating significant figures, men or women, is tricky.   Last Saturday's Spanish paper El Pais had an acticle reporting on a meeting this month at 26, Kutuzuvski Avenue in Moscow, at which an event took place with the motive of remounting a plaque to commemorate Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev (Russian: Леони́д Ильи́ч Бре́жнев, IPA: [lʲɪɐˈnʲid ɪlʲˈjitɕ ˈbrʲeʐnʲɪf] who led the Soviet Union for 18 years till his death in 1982.  The original plaque had been taken down in 1991.  The ceremony, according to El Pais, was 'solemn' and took place 'thanks to the inniative of one of the most polemical deputies in the State Duma (Russian Parliament) Alexandr Jinshtein'.  There is also talk of reinstalling a statute of Felix Dzherzhinski, founder of the Checa, the organisation that preceeded the KGB (Soviet Secret Police outfit):  this statue of huge dimensions, was originally pulled down, El Pais reports, 'by a furious mulitude  in 1991 when it adorned the Lubianka Square in front of the headquarters of the secret police' - today it can be viewed in an exhibion at a museum of sculptures.  El Pais further reports that the Russian President Putin at a press conference recently said that he didn't see much difference 'between Stalin and Cromwell'

Meanwhile, it seems that before the edifice of the KGB in a nearby garden there now stands a simple monument, which El Pais says is 'much more simple:  a stone commemorative of the Solovki concentration camp, in the north of Russia, in rememberance of the 11 million people who died during the years of the Soviet Terror'

Taking Sides: Artists and Writers on the Spanish Civil War

TAKING Sides:  Artists and Writers on the Spanish Civil War.    Saturday 1st March 2014.  11am-5pm.   The Manchester Conference Centre, Sackville Street, M1 3BB.    The IBMT Len Crome Memorial Lecture.   

The programme includes.   Republican Education and the Arts:  Carl-Henrick Bjerstrom.    The Representation of the International Brigades in Spanish Cinema.   Dr Carmen Herrero.    Gerda Taro and Robert Capa.   Photographing War:  Jane Rogoyska.    We saw Spain die.    Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War:  Professor Paul Preston.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

NEW YEAR MESSAGE from Blacklist Support Group

A massive THANK YOU to everyone for your support of the past 12 months. None of us could have done this on our own. It's been a very busy year in the fight against blacklisting. There are too many people to name individually but 2013 has seen impressive action on Crossrail, the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, the High Court, Local Authorities banning firms from public contracts, Shrewsbury Pickets, Fiddlers Ferry hardship fund, press exposure of police collusion, TUC Day of Action, environmental activists, union conferences, Carillion banned from Labour Party conference, BBC Panorama documentary, Reel News video activism, construction safety, Employment Tribunals and Leverage. We have seen international solidarity from Australia, USA, Sweden, France, Spain, Holland, Canada, Belgium, Brazil, South Africa and beyond. Blacklisted workers exercising our democratic right to protest have been assaulted by company thugs - George Tapp suffered two fractured knees and was hospitalized for months - fortunately he is now fit again. But we continue our fight in court, in parliament, in the media and most importantly on building sites. We have closed down Oxford Street, Park Lane and Earls Court in the biggest wave of mass civil disobedience in any UK industrial dispute for decades - and we will continue until we win justice and fully expose the blacklisting conspiracy. End of year round up by Hazards magazine: http://www.hazards.org/victimisation/actup Wherever you are in the world - Happy new year

No Building Site Deaths in 2014!

Seasons greetings to you.

Thank you for allowing us to have your e-mail address to keep you in touch with the Construction Safety Campaign.

We are hoping to really get this campaign moving in 2014 because there have been enough lives ruined because of lack of proper health and safety on construction sites.

We now have a facebook page and we hope this will be used to reach new people, keep everyone in touch with what's happening, including demonstrations or lobby's and will be a useful forum for members to flag up any issues you may know about, share information and advertise your safety campaign events. Find us at www.facebook/ConstructionSafetyCampaign and 'like' the page.

Lets make 2014 the year that no construction worker is killed or seriously injured due to lack of care by the employers.

Best wishes,

CSC Secretary.

Girl Killed in Gaza!

Charles Edward Frith‏@charlesfrith to the BBC: 
A three-year-old Gaza girl has been killed by Israel. BBC says it was retaliatory but doesn't say what she did
Trevor Hoyle (Rochdale).

The Wolf of Wall Street

NEXT month the highly anticipated 'The Wolf of Wall Street' hits the big screen on Friday 17th, January.  Tickets are now on sale so book yours today and get to see a Golden Globe nominated film for 'Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical'.
'The Wolf of Wall Street' is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

At the centre of this whirlwind is Jordan Belfort, a bent stock broker played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who A.O.Scott in the New York Times says 'has recently become the handsome cinematic face of extreme capitalism'.  From 'The Great Gatsby', earlier this year, where DiCaprio had a 'chance to explore the romantic side of wealth' to Jordan (a real person whose memoir is a source of Terence Winter's screenplay, he has what A.O.Scott says is 'a kind of superhuman shallowness'

The Voices hopes to review this film shortly after its release on the 17th, January.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Cops Alleged Backsliding over Sex Grooming

Industry of Child Exploitation in Rochdale
POLICE held back for six years after learning that Asian men were grooming young lassies in Rochdale a report has revealed. A Serious Case Review exploring the abuse of seven girls in Rochdale by mostly Asian men including some of the nine men grooming mob jailed for 77 years last May discovered:
i) Local police, Social workers,and the Crown Prosecution Service continually fell down the size of the child grooming abuse taking place in Rochdale.

ii) The authorities 'struggled to empathise' with the victims, to some extent because the lassies came from 'poor backgrounds', giving them a skewed picture of their behaviour'.

iii) Professional in the town 'repeatably' claimed the victims had it 'in their power' to stop the abuse 'suggesting this was something they could chose not to do'.

These lapses led to at least seven teenagers and possibly dozens more later identified by the police to be prayed upon by the gang of men and put through vicious sex abuse and exploitation.

The journalist Chris Jones in last Thursday's Heywood Advertiser, writes:
'And even when the authorities did recognise the problem, their slow reaction allowed the abusers to carry on exploiting their victims for years.'

The report shows that the police were tipped off that one of the victims was being sexually done over by older men as early as 2004, and that police were 'frequently contacted' by members of the victims' families and developed a 'sense of apathy' to the warnings because the lassies would eventually return home. The father of one girl said on Radio Four that, in desperation, he even turned to the British National Party (BNP). The Heywood Advertiser reports: 'In one shocking incident, police were told that one of the victims had been raped. Despite reporting a serious crime, the police failed to investigate.' According to the report 'the fact that she returned home appears to have been sufficient for the police purposes to treat the incident as having been concluded.' (Heywood Advertiser)

Four years after the alarm bell was first rung in 2004 two teenage lassies were found by police at a takeaway and they said they had been sexually abused, but even then, according to the report, the lassies were failed because the Crown Prosecution Service didn't think they would make reliable witnesses in court.  This failure was put right in 2011 and the vicious industrial gang of  sex groomers were convicted a year later the report says:
'the failure to progress criminal charges (in 2008/09) left the young people distrustful of the police and more vulnerable to being exploited.'

Sadly the report concludes:  'it should have been possible to have prevented a significant part of the abuse that took place' if the changes that the reports recommend had been implemented earlier.

Greater Manchester Police are at present conducting their own separate enquiry into the grooming scandal.  The Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, has urged the police to give the Crown Prosecution Service more attention following this recent critical report.

The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale at all our usual outlets in the North of England and beyond - see below. This issue N.V.14 has a piece by John Walker, the former editor of RAP (the Rochdale Alternative Paper), on the Sir Cyril Smith scandal, and the political cover-up in Rochdale and beyond:  entitled 'Cyril Smith:  Our part in his Downfall'
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Should Simon Danczuk Shake the Nail?

SIMON Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, has tried to clarify his postion on sexual grooming in last Saturday's Rochdale Observer.  He writes: 
'To be clear, sexual abuse is a universal problem.  It cannot be confined to any creed, colour, religion or gender.  Sexual abuse happens in all communities and we continue to see evidence of that in the courts.  But the phenomenon of on-street grooming has seen a disproportionate number of men involved from the British Asian community.'

On the 14th, December 2013, Gillian Tett, writing in the FT Weekend Magazine drew attention to what she entitled 'A secret history of women's freedom', in this article she refers to an essay by Greg Massell, an American historian, called 'The Surrogate Proletariat:  Moslem Women & Revolutionary Strategies in Soviet Central Asia, 1919-1929'.  Oddly, Massel's seemingly esoteric essay may shed some light on the predicament Mr. Danczuk now finds himself in relation to on-street grooming of young girls by mostly Asian men, in that it opens up a significant debate on the position of women in society as much as a play by Ibsen.  What is noticeable about the Danczuk defence is that he is defending himself against Asian men, like Mr. Imam Chishti of the Rochdale Community Forum (RCF), and, as he says in last Saturday's Rochdale Observer:  'Some people, including councillors, [who] have told me to stay silent on the issue (of on-street grooming) too.'

Why are 'some councillors' urging Simon Danczuk too shut up?  Because they know that elections in some northern towns like Rochdale and Bradford are decided largely by the Asian vote.  On Friday March 30th, 2012 after the victory of George Galloway in a bye-election in Bradford I wrote in a post entitled 'Bradford:  The traditional parties have failed this city', and I asked:
'Could it have been Galloway's clever networking and manipulation of the Asian Clan system ('Braderies') in Bradford?'

I later found out at a Northern Radical History Network event from a member of the Socialist Workers Party who lived in Bradford that this was not the case, but that on the contrary Galloway had called on the Asian communities to 'Smash the Braderies' and vote for him, and that he had appealed to Asian women to help him do this because they are one of the victims of the Asian Braderies/ clan system. 

There is a fear of the power of the Asian Braderies among the politicians in the north.  In Rochdale, it seems to me, that in 2010 Cyril Smith somehow lost his hold on the Kashmiri clans and that this resulted in at least one of the influential Asian Braderies - a Kashmiri clan - to convert from the Liberal/ Democrats to Labour resulting in a victory for Simon Danczuk over Paul Rowen at the General Election in that year.  I know that in the 1990s the Kashmiries in Rochdale were solidly Liberal/ Democrat, because, at that time, Paddy Ashdown was sympathetic to the Kashmiri cause when India was arresting people involved in the fight for Kashmiri independence.  I believe that the Punjabi clans in the Tweedale Street area had traditionally supported Labour in Rochdale.

What Mr. Danczuk should consider is that if what has been said about the George Galloway victory in Bradford is true, then the male-dominated Asian Braderies in this country can be placed on the back foot by politicians like him appealing to Asian women over the heads of their husbands and men folk.  This was what happened according to Gillian Tett and Greg Massell in Soviet central Asia when those Muslim lands fell into Russian communist hands and these old communists, as she says, broke the mold so 'that any society treats its women cuts to the fabric of the whole social group and defines its indentity'.  The old communists looking for allies on the Silk Road in places like Tajikistan and Ubekistan hit on the idea of 'shaking the nail' and decided that the suppressed class in traditional central Asia, was not the labourer 'proletariat' as in Europe but instead it was the women who were repressed most of all. 

Gillian Tett writes:
'But this has a wider implication:  the suppression of women helped to prop up power structures and underscore the cultural identity of (male) leaders in central Asia.  So, if women were liberated, this could "shake the nail" that held together the edifice of these traditional societies - or so the theory went.'

Thus we learn from Ms. Tett:
'Starting from 1929, Russian communist activists roamed across the region, exhorting local Tajik, Uzbek and other central Asian women to attend school, spurn forced marriages and take up jobs. Traditional marriage rituals were overhauled and women were given new legal rights.  Some were even pushed into political office, and campaigns were launched against the Islamic veil.  On March 8 1929, for example, a particular dramatic event occurred when thousands of Uzbek and Tajik women assembled in a historic square in Samarkand and collectively ripped off their veils.'

Hence, none of this is to suggest that communist rule was a good thing, but, as Gillian Tett shows, there are lessons to be learned about what seems to be the male-dominance of Islamic culture not just in Soviet central Asia but in places like Rochdale and Bradford.  Mr. Danczuk writes that 'apart from the excellent campaigning of Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation in Rochdale too many people have been silent.' It seems to me that Simon Danczuk is aware of the danger of male-dominance among Islamic ethnic groups, and how it may be having a knock-on effect on our own streets.  If politicians have the guts to challenge the male-dominance of Asian practices and set the women free it will have healthy results all round. 

Julie Hesmondhalgh in Blindside at Manchester Royal Exchange


BLINDSIDED By Simon Stephens

Directed by Sarah Frankcom

Designed by Anna Fleischle

The Royal Exchange Theatre

St Ann’s Square, Manchester

Thursday 23 January – Saturday 15 February 2014 

Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh is to star in the Royal Exchange Theatre’s world premiere of the new Simon Stephens play BLINDSIDED
Best known for her long-running stint as Hayley Cropper in the ITV drama – which comes to a dramatic end on screen early in the New Year - she will appear on stage in this new production which runs at the Manchester theatre from Thursday 23 January to Saturday 15 February 2014.
She last appeared at the Exchange September 2012 in BLACK ROSES: THE KILLING OF SOPHIE LANCASTER (for which she recently won a Manchester Theatre Award).
A devastating play about families, obsessive love and betrayal, the drama of BLINDSIDED centres on a girl growing up in a battered part of Stockport in a battered time at the end of the seventies. She falls in love with the man who will break her heart into a thousand pieces.
Set in Stockport in 1979 and the Isle of Man in 1997, the play explores the consequences when young love is shattered by suspicion and betrayal.
Simon Stephens is one of the most prolific contemporary writers in the UK. BLINDSIDED is the fourth play he has written specifically for the Royal Exchange and follows the success of PUNK ROCK in 2009. He won an Olivier Award for his recent National Theatre adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME.
The production is directed by Sarah Frankcom. Her recent Royal Exchange credits include A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, MISS JULIE, ORPHEUS DESCENDING and THAT DAY WE SANG.
The cast also includes Rebecca Callard, Jack Deam, Andrew Sheridan and Katie West. The production is designed by Anna Fleischle and the creative team is completed by Lee Curran (lighting) and Peter Rice (sound).
For further information please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager, Royal Exchange Theatre) on 0161 615 6783 /

Production photos for BLINDSIDED will be available for download from the Royal Exchange Theatre Online Press Office from Friday 24 January 2014 at

Link to online information: 




The Theatre: Saturday 1 February: 1pm - 2.30pm 
A panel discussion with playwright Simon Stephens alongside leading theatre professionals and academics from the University of Manchester. 
FREE, but ticketed (tickets available from Box Office: 0161 833 9833) 

Monday, 23 December 2013

'Passion Slave' Painter Pays Price!

Trail Blazing Northern Banksy meets Bury Magistrates
WALTER Kershaw, the Rochdale artist who was first to start the art of 'Banksy style' street graffiti in the 1960s, clearly doesn't know when to stop; because he told Bury magistates' court this month that he was so 'smitten' by a former lover that he couldn't give her up, and that he believed in the English adage 'never give up on love'.   He recently said on a Radio Four that he didn't have the 'wit' of the Banksy, and the modern street artists with their minimalist endeavours.  Indeed not, Walter had a taste for the grand canvass:  big romantic renderings on house-ends, mill walls and brick shit-houses were more Mr. Kershaw's style.  His inspiration seems to have been the Italian muralists of southern Europe, where he once romantically rode a bike over the alps to Florence to go to his sister's wedding.
But you've got to take account of where you live, and Rochdale is not Florence or Verona or even Benedorm.  People up here don't take kindly to folk, especially men, who show their passionate side - being 'smitten' in a place like Rochdale is almost a sin.  'Don't be being daft!', they would say up here in a kind of Grace Field's accent.
Walter can't complain, he has had repeated warnings from the police, but still he would loiter about outside their local church, or trail them round the supermarket.  He had had a relationship with the lass Catherine Mitchell for almost two years, but this had ended after a serious accident some years ago which left Catherine with brain and leg injuries.  They had first met when Walter painted her, at her request, in 2007.
In court Mr. Kershaw admitted to bombarding Catherine with unwanted attention, gifts and phone calls.  He was given a restraining order to stop him from making any contact with Catherine or her mother or going to their addresses.  Furthermore, he must not display any art, portraits, drawings or photos of them in public.
He was given a community order and must pay Catherine and her mum £250 each in compensation as well as £85 costs.
Shakespeare had a character say in one of his plays:  'Be not passion slave'.  Seventy-three-year-old Walter, who is still hard at work outdoors painting murals, and once illustrated a front cover of an issue of Northern Voices (see picture), said:  'I would like to thank those who have inundated me with messages and calls of support.'

Thursday, 19 December 2013

'Blacklister' faces grilling before Parliamentary Select Committee!

We are publishing below the latest press release from the Blacklist Support Group (BSG).

"Campaigners celebrated yesterday (Wed 18 Dec) claiming the bitter year long blacklisting dispute on Crossrail and protests at Olympics were totally vindicated following evidence given by Pat Swift (pictured) to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in the Westminster parliament. Pat Swift was the head of Human Resources for the BAM - Ferrovial - Kier (BFK) consortium on Crossrail and the manager at the centre of the claims that UNITE shop steward Frank Morris had been dismissed in September 2012 because of his previous union activities. 

In an evidence session lasting nearly two and a half hours Swift admitted being the "main contact" with the Consulting Association between 2004-2009 when he was Director of HR for BAM Nuttall, saying that junior admin staff in his department were in "constant communication on a weekly basis" with the blacklisting organisation. Swift admitted that  the names of every applicant for hourly paid positions were checked on all projects undertaken by the company during his time in charge, including on the Olympics. The claims about blacklisting on the Olympics Park were rigorously denied at the time by the Olympics Delivery Authority and all the major contractors despite protests by blacklisted workers themselves - the Select Committee investigation has subsequently forced admissions from Sir Robert McApline, Skanska, Balfour Beatty and now BAM that they all carried out blacklisting checks on the project. 

Swift claimed the Consulting Association was simply a "general referencing service" but when challenged by MPs as to why the entire operation was carried out in secret he responded "because it was probably a dubious practice" later adding "it was certainly illegal".

When the Information Commissioners Office discovered the blacklist in 2009, BAM carried out the investigation into their own usage of the blacklisting service. To incredulity from the public gallery, Swift admitted that he himself carried out the internal investigation and to this date BAM have not apologised or offered to compensate a single worker. Swift conceded that "I don't think the investigation I carried out in 2009 was that robust" - a comment the committee agreed with. 

It was questions about the dismissal of Frank Morris from Crossrail that caused the most consternation among MPs. Under questioning from Lyndsay Roy MP, Swift originally claimed "I can't recall" stating "Not at anytime do I question Franks ability as an electrician" 
But Swift later admitted that he did have a conversation with Ron Turner, managing director of EIS Ltd (the sub-contractor that Frank Morris was working for). 
When pushed Swift said "I said to Ron Turner he had raised trouble"........ "I pointed out to him that he had caused trouble at the Olympics"
When pressed on what this trouble was, Swift replied "This guy had been on a demonstration" 
Graeme Morrice MP responded "a perfectly legal demonstration against an illegal blacklist?"

Finally the committee chair Ian Davidson MP, asked directly "Did you ask Ron Turner to sack Frank Morris?"
Swift replied "I may have"

Despite saying "I regret" nearly 200 times during the evidence session Swift stuck to his position drawn up after legal advice by Leightons solicitors and paid for by his ex-employer BAM Nuttal that the Consulting Association was simply a referencing service and repeatedly stated: "We didn't blacklist anyone" and "We didn't supply any evidence to the Consulting Association and I never got any information".

It was at this point that the MPs raised the example of Mickey Guyll, a crane driver for Bam Nuttall during the construction of the Docklands Light Railway who was added to the blacklist after he became a safety rep following the death of a co-worker on site. 

At one point, Ian Davidson MP said that the evidence given by Swift "defies belief" and Jim McGovern MP said Swift was "one of the most evasive witnesses ever"

Both Mickey Guyll and Frank Morris were in the public gallery sitting immediately behind Pat Swift during the evidence session. 
After the hearing Frank Morris refused to comment on the Crossrail dispute but said "This time last year, managers were taunting me on the picketline by saying "What are your kids getting for Christmas?" 

The Blacklist Support Group issued the following statement:
"We have been campaigning against the blacklisting of trade union members on the Olympics and Crossrail for over 4 years. We held perfectly legal demonstrations but our claims were totally rubbished by the building firms, the ODA and Crossrail. Those in authority claimed that they were completely unaware of the practice and that blacklisting was a "myth". 
The excellent investigation by the Scottish Affairs Select Committee has completely vindicated everything we have said. We salute all the MPs on the committee for exposing the truth. 
We look forward to the day when the full conspiracy is exposed at the High Court and an independent Public Inquiry". 

Full footage of the evidence can be viewed here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=14508
Attached pic: Pat Swift entering parliament, head bowed 


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Undercover cops attended blacklisting meetings!

We are publishing below the latest press release from the Blacklist Support Group (BSG).

1. Select Committee investigation into blacklisting continues

Pat Swift - evidence session to Scottish Affairs Select Committee
2pm Wed 18th December
Committee Room 6
Houses of Parliament

Pat Swift is a proven blacklister and has been called to give evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting at the Westminster parliament. 

Pat Swift was main contact with the Consulting Association blacklist from the construction firm BAM Nuttall. He was also the HR manager for the BFK consortium on Crossrail where Frank Morris was dismissed after becoming the first union rep on the project.

This wretch actually used to taunt protesters and take photos of us at the Westbourne Park picketline when Frank Morris was unemployed and fighting for his reinstatement. Lets hope the MPs put him to the sword.

This is open to the public - Beer afterwards if anyone fancies coming down

2. Blacklist Compensation Fund

The employers proposals for a Blacklist Compensation Scheme which has gained masses of publicity in the press falls a million miles short of what is required. The list of shortcomings would fill a page alone. To date not a single person has been offered a single penny in compensation and during negotiations the lawyers for the blacklisting companies made it clear that under their proposals the majority of those on the list would only receive £1000. 

The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) along with the 3 main trade unions UNITE, UCATT & GMB have unanimously rejected the scheme. The legal teams involved in the High Court blacklisting cases are now collectively drawing up an alternative set of proposals - BSG, UNITE, UCATT & GMB have co-signed a letter saying we are only prepared to negotiate once our proposals have been submitted.

BSG big issues:
Jobs for blacklisted workers - if the firms have genuinely turned over a new leaf, then positive action recruitment for blacklisted workers on major projects would prove it
Every single person on the blacklist to receive compensation regardless of how many pages or dates etc..
Compensation to fully reflect the crime and the human rights violation - poke your £1000
No gagging clause - we want full disclosure of documents and a fully independent public inquiry

There are a lot more issues but these are the key ones for us. 

3. Undercover cops collusion with blacklisting

BSG has put in an official complaint to the IPCC about the police collusion in blacklisting. We are the only organisation to have done this. 

The police have now admitted to our lawyers that senior officers from an undercover police unit called NETCU attended the Consulting Association meetings. Other undercover police posed as construction workers and attended our picket lines, campaigning activities and even chaired some meetings. These are the very same undercover police officers who spied on the Lawrence family and had long term sexually relationships with female activists they were sent to spy on. Many of the environmental and anti-racist activists spied on by the undercover police also appear on the blacklist. Our repeated attempts for various documents to be released under FOI requests have been turned down by the authorities including the Met Police. 

Operation Herne has been set up as an internal police inquiry to investigate the role of undercover police spying on activists; blacklisting is part of that investigation. The Lawrence family and the other groups involved are all boycotting Operation Herne and demanding a fully independent public inquiry instead. Blacklist Support Group is supporting that demand. The launch meeting for the campaign is being held on:

4. Request for information on a blacklisting manager

John Edwards - former head of security at Carillion - has been identified in parliament as attending Consulting Association meetings as late as 2008. 
Does anyone know him or his whereabouts? http://www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk/

5. Shrewsbury Pickets

Well done to the Shrewsbury pickets for handing in a petition to Downing Street today calling for the release of all government papers linked to their case. The original conspiracy trial saw building workers including Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson sent to prison for conspiracy - they have always argued their innocence and accused the state of being in collusion with the building employers to target peaceful trade union picketing. 

40 years after the original trial, the Home Secretary is still refusing to release the papers on the grounds of national security. Covering up the involvement of the security services more like it. Shrewsbury pickets were all blacklisted for their trade union activity - they are genuine heroes of the working class movement - we saute you. 

6. Steve Acheson Defence Fund

Blacklisting is not just about politics, it is about how it affected our families. 
This week is the 5th anniversary of Steve Acheson's dismisal from Fiddlers ferry due to the blacklist - he is still protesting outside the main gates. 
The appeal to save Steve Acheson's home from repossession after years of unemployment due to blacklisting is now just a few hundred ponds short of reaching its target of £25,000 demanded by the bank. Anyone wishing to make a final Xmas donation:
Cheques please payable to "Fiddlers Ferry Hardship Fund" to Warrington Trades Council, 6 Red Gables, Warrington WA4 4SB. Thank you to all who have contributed so far.

Everyone involved with the Defence Fund should be congratulated - There are many people involved but special mention to Andy, Jason, Kevin & Stewart.
Top work fellas - they have saved a family home.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Does Grooming have an Ethnic Bias?

THIS week, a row has broken out between Simon Danczuk MP for Rochdale and Imam Chishti, a spokesman for the Rochdale Community Forum (RCF).  Mr. Danczuk told BBC Radio 4 that 'ethnicity is a factor' in the recent street grooming of young lassies in the town, and that there are some who are 'in denial' about this.  What he seems to be saying is that some ethnic groups have an attitude towards women that leaves something to be desired, and that the recognition of this would be helpful in combating the abuse that has been taking place.

Last May, nine men, all of Asian heritage, were sentenced to 77 years in prison after they were convicted for grooming and abusing five vulnerable young girls in Rochdale.  Five other men from Rochdale, three of Asian ethnicity, and two Congolese, are due to be sentenced for sexual exploitation of a teenage girl next week.

Mr. Imam Chishti (RCF) argues:  'To say we, the Asian community, are in denial ... is really unhelpful', and that 'when people like Cyril Smith or Jimmy Savile were exposed as paedophiles people didn't start pointing fingers at that community...'  The two cases are different in so far as the Smith and Savile cases were individual examples of the abuse of power by celebrities, while the sexual grooming cases are collectively organised by gangs of mostly Asians.  In the Smith and Savile cases there were people in positions of influence who appeared to know that something was amiss, and even tried to cover-up for these two men.  How far this cover up went we have yet to discover.

I am not saying that Mr. Chishti is covering up for the gangs who appear to have systematically abused young and vulnerable girls, indeed he suggests that he himself is aware that it applies to a particular community, when he says:
'why would the Council of Mosques have supported the launch of the RCF, openly condemned child sex exploitation and gone to the council... to say if we can help tackle this in anyway then come and talk to us?'

This week the father of one of the Rochdale victims told Radio Four's World at One program that his daughter was only 14 when she was plied with gifts, booze and systematically raped by a gang.  Meanwhile, Social Services he said were part of the problem, and he was told by them that his daughter was 'a child prostitute'. 

In the light of all this I believe we should at least be prepared to listen to Mr. Danczuk.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Bury MBC Boss's Boob Ban at Bradley Fold

Unite Union Reps Rejected at 'near miss' Health & Safety Confab
THIS morning two Unite union officials, Steve Acheson and Lee Lomas, a Unite branch secretary, Brian Bamford, and a former shop steward, Dave Lord, were shown the door at a health and safety get-together called by Glenn Stuart, Head of Waste management at the Bradley Fold Waste depot of Bury MBC.   The meeting had been called at 6.45am prompt by Mr. Stuart to consider the findings of a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into a 'near miss' reversing incident by a refuse vehicle.
In his wisdom Mr. Stuart thought it better that the Unite union officers were not present at the event, at which, he said that he 'needed to communicate these (findings by the HSE)' to the workforce.  The inspector from the HSE had been to Bradley Fold on the 7th, November, to speak to Mr. Stuart, and had interviewed the driver and operative who had been involved in the 'near miss' incident in which a lady putting her wheelie bin out had come close to being run-over.
Fully suited and standing teetering acrobatically on a chair Mr. Stuart treated his staff, all garbed in their yellow high-vis jackets, to a sermon on safe working practices while his sturdy colleague and right-hand man, Terry Nieland, solemnly guarded the door.  The memorandum from Glenn Stuart reminded his men that:
'This is classed as mandatory health and safety training and it is therefore vitally important that everybody working on the collection service attends the briefing.  A register will be taken.'
Perhaps Mr. Stuart was too nervous to have the Unite union reps. present in the room when he gave his treaty on safe working; after all he may well have fallen arse-over-tit off the chair on which he was so deftly standing, and how would that have looked?  In his way he was only setting an example, for he often expects his staff to be equally acrobatic when they go about their rounds.
As for the poor lady who nearly got squashed by the bin-wagon, it seems that she was so incensed and put out by the poor unsympathetic staff response when she called-in to give her complaint, that she felt the need to go to the HSE.  One can well imagine some of those sympathetic functionaries in the public relations office saying: 
'What do you expect, if you don't get your bin out before 7am sharp, you always run the risk of being run-over by a bin wagon.'

The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale at all our usual outlets in the North of England and beyond - see below. This issue N.V.14 has a Tameside Eye story about how Tameside has a history of involvement in blacklisting, it also contains an interview by Barry Woodling with George Tapp - the Salford electrician injured in May on an anti-blacklist picket. The Voices has been in the forthfront of the campaign against the blacklist since 2003 and the DAF dispute at Manchester Piccadilly, its editor, an electrician, was on the blacklist of the Economic League in the 1960s, and there was an attempt to blacklist him while he was working in Gibraltar in both 1964 and 1967, but at the time this intervention by the Foreign Office was resisted by the Gibraltarian authorities, and the Gibraltar Transport & General Workers Union.
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

English Heritage Conservation Appeal

THERE is a dire need for the Heritage Bodies such as English Heritage, (SAVE Britain’s Heritage, Council for British Archeology, Ancient Monuments Society, Victorian Society and all the Heritage Trust’s) to help look after us and our built heritage… I have been sent a letter from English Heritage from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport asking for my response on the “Consultation on the Delivery of English Heritage Services” You may wish to comment yourselves and help the Heritage Bodies help us... 
Silvia Wilson 

Dear Ms Wilson,
Today the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a consultation on proposed changes to how English Heritage delivers its services. This follows on from the Chancellor’s announcement of these proposed changes in June 2013.
It is proposed that a charitable arm will be established whose purpose will be the conservation and public enjoyment of the National Heritage Collection. Supported by Government investment of £80m, it will undertake an ambitious programme of conservation of the collection and make a series of investments to improve the experience of visitors and members. The charity will, through this programme, be able to grow its income and is expected to become self-financing by 2023. The Collection will remain in public ownership.
There will be no changes to English Heritage’s current duties and responsibilities for championing, advising on and helping to conserve England’s wider historic environment. These will be delivered under the new name of ‘Historic England’. It will continue to provide impartial advice to central government, local authorities, other heritage organisations and private owners. It will continue to co-ordinate the National Heritage Protection Plan, to manage the Heritage at Risk register and to provide access to its expert research and extensive archives. Historic England's role in promoting re-generation and sustainable growth, both within rural areas and urban landscapes, has never been more important.
We and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport believe that a charity will provide a more resilient future for the Collection. It is the first time in decades that this level of funding has been dedicated to English Heritage and it will strengthen and protect the role of English Heritage for generations to come. It will also provide distinct visibility for Historic England in the role of delivering a heritage protection system that supports growth, reduces unnecessary bureaucracy and promotes constructive conservation.
On behalf of the DCMS, we invite you to respond to the consultation document itself via the link below. The consultation will be open for nine weeks and close on February 7th 2014. Please address any questions you have about the consultation to Benjamin.Douglass@culture.gsi.gov.uk or call on 0207 211 2053.
Yours sincerely
Sir Laurie Magnus
English Heritage

Adult Care on Zero Hours Contracts?

ROCHDALE's director of adult care, Sheila Downey, claims that a 'stand alone' body to run adult care would provide a more competitive service. Put simply that means a cheaper service at a 'competitive price', and that this could be done more easily than if it remained within the council. In a letter in last Saturday's Rochdale Observer Les May challenged this analysis writing: 'The only reason an 'in house' service would cost more is that the council would be constrained from employing people on the significantly worse terms and conditions of employment that would be open to other care providers.' But Sheila Downey is calling for 'a not-for profit community interest company'.

Surely that would be alright?

Mr. May is not impressed writing: 'Calling something a "community interest company" is not in itself a safeguard against exploitation of its employees.' Les May warns: 'Establishing such a body does not absolve any Labour councillor of the moral responsibility to ensure that this does not happen.'

Then there is the question of who would accountable and who would be responsible? The original article in the Rochdale Observer told us: 'Initially the council had suggested asking Link4Life, the council's sport and leisure contractor, to run adult care services, but these plans were dropped.'
Indeed they were!

What the Observer doesn't tell us is that shortly after Link4Life was put forward as a candidate for running Rochdale's adult care, the Link4Life bosses became entangled in a scandal over the use, or perhaps we should say misuse, of credit cards, and the idea bit the dust. Similarly, in Tameside, a smoldering scandal is building up about the Labour Council there awarding contracts for school meals to a company accused of the blacklisting building workers.

All this arms-length accountability troubles Mr. Les May who writes: 'At least theoretically [now] the actions of the council's adult care services can be questioned by council tax payers, councillors and local MPs, though in practice it can be difficult to do so', because 'appeals to "data protection" are commonly used to obstruct attempts to hold public bodies to account', and he asks: 'Will we also be faced with appeals to "commercial sensitivity" when we try to hold any stand alone body to account?'

Northern Voices on Manchester Radical History

SALFORD born folk legend, Ewan McColl, is remembered today more for his music and songs than his agit-prop plays which he performed during the 1930s and '40s. But it was his membership of the Communist Party and his political activities before the last war that led to MI5 opening a secret file on him in the 1930s and why they kept him and his friends, under close surveillance. Local writer and journalist, Derek Pattison, obtained access to McColl's MI5 file and an article by him was featured in Northern Voices 7 in 2007. An edited version of this article can now be found on Manchester Radical History http://radicalmanchester.wordpress.com/
also on http://northernradicalhistory.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

In Bury safety will be 'some time in the future'

SINCE the 5th, December when we placed the post 'Bury Council Sends Out Mixed Messages', it seems that the Council has admitted that the position on raised bin lids is unclear as the bin men and their union Unite at Bradley Fold have consistently argued.  In response to a formal grievance by the union representatives Glen Stuart, the manager at Bradley Fold, has now issued the following statement:
'Note that the above message may seem to contradict the message communicated to residents , which is that bin lids should always be fully closed.  This message should be viewed as a control measure designed to minimised the number of raised bin lids encountered.'

Apparently to put matters right Mr. Stuart is now proposing the following remedy:
'In the new year the council will be commencing an intensive promotional  and educational campaign designed to improve recycling and as part of this it intends to move towards the adoption of a closed bin policy at some time in the future.'
After years of arguing over health and safety this is Mr. Stuart's reluctant response to a grievance put by the bin men and their union.  Things will be put right it seems in the New Year 'some time in the future'.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Protesters and skateboarders under threat from Tory Anti-Social Behaviour Bill!

Civil liberties groups are up in arms about what they see as truly shocking restrictions on civil liberties posed by the Government's 'Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill', which is currently before Parliament.

Those opposed to measures within the Bill, say that it would give councils carte-blanche powers to allow them to ban everything from protests, to outdoor public meetings and children's skateboarding.

Campaigners point out that under Part 4 of the Bill  entitled 'Community Protection', Town Halls would be allowed to issue 'Public Spaces Protection Orders' (PSPO's) to restrict any activity deemed to have a "detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality." The vague wording, and the failure to define the size of the areas to be covered, have led to fears that measures within the Bill, could be deployed to impose blanket bans on lawful activities. Anyone found to have broken the new laws, would be punished with on-the-spot fines, which could be issued by private security guards working on commissions for councils.

The orders, which would last for three years, would be directed at "All persons or only persons in specified categories", which has raised fears that certain groups such as trade unionists or rough sleepers could be descriminated against.

Clause 38 of the Bill, gives powers to an 'authorised person' (constable, local authority, designated person), to issue 'Community Protection Notices' (CPN), if satisfied on reasonable grounds that (a) the conduct of the individual or body is having a detrimental effect, of a persistent or continuing nature, on the quality of life of those in the locality and (b) the conduct is unreasonable.

Although there is a right of appeal in respect of some of the measures, opponents of the Bill say that processes are so expensive and complex that they will be beyond the reach of most groups. Climate change groups and groups like Occupy London, are likely to be seriously affected by the news laws.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Boycott Workfare. Week of Action Against Workfare!

We are publishing below the latest statement received from Boycott Workfare.

"It's the week of action against workfare and sanctions. Thank you for all your support giving workfare exploiters a hard time online and on the streets!

If you're in London, come and celebrate a great week of action at our social on Friday. 

Please read on for Thursday's online action too!

Boycott Workfare End of Year Social!
From 7pm at LARC, Friday 6th December, 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 1ES. (Nearest tube Aldgate East or Whitechapel).
This year we've thrown a good few spanners in the works for workfare.* Now it's time to party and celebrate a great week of action!
We'll bring cake, snacks, and tunes - please bring whatever you're drinking! All welcome, especially people new to the campaign and interested in getting involved.

(P.S. If you're outside London, we'd love to see you on 15th February for the gathering instead - http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=3031)
*Some of the spanners in workfare's works:
  • Wetherspoons, Argos, Shoezone, The Red Cross, and Superdrug have all dropped out since the start of the year. Homebase has scaled back significantly and Homes for Haringey has started paying people.
  • Despite a court ruling, the government is still refusing to publish the list of organisations exploiting people on workfare. It argued “disclosure [of names] would have been likely to have led to the collapse of the MWA [Mandatory Work Activity] scheme”!
  • The government’s plan to send people leaving the Work Programme from June this year on an automatic six month workfare placement could not be rolled out.
  • The government has had to double the amount of money it pays to workfare contractors like Seetec to find Mandatory Work Activity placements because they say it’s got so difficult since organisations started pulling out.

As part of the Week of Action Against Workfare and Sanctions, on Thursday 5th December 2013, we’re focussing on the Charities that will be handing in their tenders today to access unpaid claimant workers through the new Community Work Placements regime.
Community Work Placements, originally announced by George Osborne as “Help to Work” on 30th September 2013, is a set of new measures that will be forced on claimants who have come through the two year Work Programme without securing employment. The scheme is described as an “intensive option” where the providers will “deliver mandatory work placements for claimants for 30 hours a week for up to 26 weeks, alongside supported jobsearch”. Or put another way, it’s a six month sentence to force claimants work for free or lose their benefits.
Typically the 33 companies who have the option of tendering for this new scheme are the very companies who currently run the Work Programme: the companies who failed to assist the claimants back into work over two years are now being given an extra six months to make even more money off the back of the unemployed! These “Employment Related Supported Services Suppliers” include three charities Boycott Workfare has flagged up before.
Take a look at their finances at http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/find-charities/ by inputting their charity number. Then e-mail or contact them on social media to express your distaste at their continued abuse of the benefits system to line their own pockets!
a.watmouth@tcv.org.uk (261009)
There are also two more charities touting for business as “secondary delivery providers”, seeking to subcontract from the above and the usual suspects such as Ingeus, G4S, A4e and Serco. They are the supposedly christian organisations The Salvation Army and the YMCA. Key in “Salvation Army” or “YMCA” to the web link above to find out how they are profiting in your locality. The details below are for their head offices in London.
Don’t forget to sign the petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions without exceptions:http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/benefit-sanctions-must-be-stopped-without-exceptions-in-uk "

Bury Council sends out mixed messages

BURY Council tell the public not to overfill their bins so that the lids are ajar, but at the same time they urge their refuse collectors to empty bins with raised bin lids.  A couple of years ago a manager over the Bradley Fold Waste Depot, Neil Long, had foremen take photos of wheelie bins with raised bin lids that had been left uncollected, and then spent an afternoon interrogating a binman as to why he hadn't emptied them.  Bury Council has a history of filming its staff while performing their duties, and some years ago this led to an expensive and embarrassing case in which Bury MBC became a public laughing stock after filming three of their staff with a bottle of strawberry volvic, and claiming that they had taken it as a bribe for emptying some trade waste as a favour.  

The bin lid issue is a tricky one and some local councils have a clear policy of refusing to empty bins with raised lids.  In 2011, the Swindon Advertiser reported on a case in which a bin man, Ron Moody aged 52, had been crushed to death owing to a bin being overfilled with waste.  At that time Scott D'Arcy in the Swindon Advertiser reported:
'Dad-of-one Mr Moody, known as ‘Chipper’ to his friends, from Malmesbury, died immediately after the incident on February 18 last year after suffering massive chest injuries including 34 rib fractures. After a jury of seven men and five women recorded an accidental death verdict, the assistant deputy Gloucestershire coroner Tom Osbourne issued a plea to people not to overload bins because of the danger they pose. '

Most people who don't have to contend with the mechanisms of lifting and handling gear on waggons probably think it doesn't matter if a bin has a lid raised an inch or so.  The Gloucestershire coroner in the Mr. Moody case disagreed saying:

'When bins were over full, the machinery on dustcarts could not be operated safely.  Over full bins cause a definite risk to refuse workers.  If, as a result of Mr Moody’s death, people learn that it might be dangerous to put too much in them, there could be a positive outcome to this tragedy.'
A spokesman for Swindon Council also challenged the view that it didn't matter if lids are ajar:
'The bin lifts on the back of refuse vehicles can pose a serious hazard if they are not used correctly, which is why all of our refuse collectors are trained, and given refresher training, in the use of this equipment.  It’s one of the reasons why councils ask residents to make sure the wheelie bin isn’t so full that the lid can’t be fully closed.  Some people think we’re just being awkward when we insist on this, but it’s because it minimises the risk of a horrible accident like this happening.'

Despite these warnings some councils like Bury MBC still send out mixed messages telling the public one thing and their own staff another.  For this reason the union Unite at Bury's Bradley Fold Waste Management Depot are urging Bury MBC to have a clear policy not emptying bins with raised bin lids.