Thursday, 30 April 2015

Election Special: How the Political Parties stand on 'workfare' a.k.a. State Sponsored Slavery!

We are publishing below a recent briefing from Boycott Workfare:

"It is a disgrace that the three main political parties (and UKIP) support workfare and sanctions.  This consensus has allowed the introduction of policies that are causing ill health, hunger, homelessness and deaths.  All three parties have some responsibility for this and they all have questions to answer.
So today we’re asking you to take action online and help us break the election silence on workfare and sanctions.  It is unlikely that these issues will even get a mention during tonight’s Election Leaders Special edition of Question Time.
Help us to make sure these issues do get talked about, and tweet up a storm about workfare and sanctions using the #bbcqt hashtag.  And tweet your unanswered questions to @Ed_Miliband @nick_clegg and @David_Cameron…
Here’s the low-down on the political parties that support workfare and sanctions:

Vote Labour: Get Workfare
Shamefully it was the last Labour government who introduced workfare with the Welfare Reform Act of 2009.  Under Labour’s Flexible New Deal thousands of hours of unpaid work was handed out to businesses like Primark and claimants were forced to work without pay in hospitals and local councils.  The last Labour government also introduced the hated Work Capability Assessment and extended benefit sanctions to include disabled people and lone parents.  Over the last five years there has been a complete absence of any opposition from Labour to any of the workfare and sanctions policies introduced by the coalition.  Labour’s support for the retrospective Workfare Bill was particularly disgraceful.
Labour’s manifesto promises to introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee for young people and the long-term unemployed. Previous statements indicate that the compulsory jobs would be paid at 25 hours of minimum wage and involve an additional 10 hours unpaid “training” each week. Those unable or unwilling to accept the compulsory jobs will be sanctioned “in line with the existing sanctions regime”.  Labour have also pledged to withdraw unemployment benefits completely from young people and replace them with a Youth Allowance paid at the same rate.  This allowance would be means tested and conditional on young people being in “training”.
Vote Liberal Democrats: Get Workfare
The Liberal Democrats have supported every workfare and sanctions policy introduced by the Conservatives over the last five years (including the retrospective Workfare Bill) and must share responsibility for the ill health, hunger, homelessness and deaths caused by coalition policies.  Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract created thousands of unpaid workfare placements resulting in millions of hours of unpaid work. In their manifesto the Lib Dems say they will expand the availability of unpaid work placements into new sectors.
Vote Conservative: Get Workfare
The last five years of Conservative-led government have seen a proliferation of workfare schemes and a huge increase in the number of benefit sanctions.  Claimants can now be forced to work for 6 months without pay.  Benefits can now be stopped for up to 3 years.  Predictably these policies are having disastrous consequences.  With the introduction of Universal Credit the Conservatives are seeking to extend workfare and sanctions to low paid part-time and self-employed workers.
Their manifesto promises more of the same, with an unspecified £12 billion of cuts to the welfare budget.  There are pledges to send Jobcentre advisors into schools to provide routes into unpaid work; tougher “Day One Work Requirements” for young claimants; the ending of housing benefit for young people; and sanctions for claimants who refuse “recommended treatment”. Like Labour, they say they will replace JSA for young people with a Youth Allowance.  This would be limited to 6 months – after which young people will be forced onto apprenticeships, unpaid traineeships or community work.
And finally…
Vote UKIP: Get Workfare
At the last election UKIP’s policy document on social security was entitled “From Welfare to Workfare”.  This was an incredibly offensive tract which cited the Daily Mail as evidence and described claimants as “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”. Tellingly, one of the workfare proposals suggested was that claimants should be forced to work without pay to build prisons (presumably for themselves).  This time around it seems that UKIP have decided that workfare is no longer a vote winner and have disappeared the policy from their manifesto.  It should be noted though that workfare was endorsed at their last conference and is still listed on their website as one of the reasons to vote for UKIP."

Wakefield Socialist History Group


Manningham Mills dominated Bradford's skyline in the late 19th century.  It employed 5000 low paid non-unionised works. Many were women. In 1890 an 8% dividend had been issued to shareholders.  But on 9 December 1890 Samuel Lister, the millionaire owner, posted a notice outlining reductions in pay of between 15 and 33% for weavers, pickers, spoolers and winders.  Some 1,1000 workers in all would be hit (Dominguez 2013).

Company director Jose Reixach justified the move, saying that the workers concerned had been being paid "unnaturally high" wages. There was outrage on the factor floor. Though few were in a union at this stage they called in officials from the Weavers' Textile Workers' Association.  By the end of March 1891 some 5000 were out on strike.

The strikers faced hostility from Liberal and Tory councillors, from the courts, the press and the police.  But they also rallied massive public support -one mass protest meeting on 19 April attracted up to 90,000 people.
The dispute lasted four months in all.  And although the strikers were finally starved into submission it changed politics forever.  The strike leaders saw the need for the workers' to have their own political party.
The Bradford Labour Union was formed, followed by the Bradford ILP.  And then in January 1893 120 delegates met in Bradford to set up the ILP (Independent Labour Party) as a national party.
Alan Stewart
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group
p.s. the next meeting of the Wakefield Socialist History Group is on Saturday 9 May 2015, 1-4pm at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1.  The topic is THE STORY OF THE ILP -AND LESSONS FOR TODAY.  The speakers are Iain Dalton (Socialist Party) and Barry Winter (Independent Labour Publications).  The chair is Kitty Rees. Admission is free and there will be a free light buffet.

Asbestos in Schools from Joe Bailey

AiS and JUAC Key Recommendations for Asbestos in Schools  #IWMD15 
1. There is a major problem of asbestos in schools. 86% of schools in the country contain asbestos, it is now all old and there is extensive evidence that in some schools it is regularly disturbed so that children and school staff are exposed. The inevitable result is that people are dying. 

2. 291 school teachers have died of mesothelioma since 1980, with 158 dying in the last ten years. School cleaners, cooks, caretakers, teaching assistants and school secretaries are also dying. But they are the tip of the iceberg as for every teacher there are twenty to thirty children who are more vulnerable to exposure to asbestos than adults, the younger the child the greater the risk. It is estimated that each year between 200 to 300 people will die from their asbestos exposure as a child at school. The estimate was made based on exposures in the 1960s and 1970s, but all the asbestos is now old and many schools have not been well maintained – so the exposures continue. 

3. The following are key recommendations of the Asbestos in Schools Group and the Joint Union Asbestos Committee:

* The increased vulnerability of children to asbestos must underlie all future asbestos policies for schools. 

* A risk benefit analysis should be carried out, and made public, that assesses how many staff and pupils are likely to have died and will die from their asbestos exposure at school. It should assess how much it costs to manage asbestos in the nation’s schools and how much a long term strategy of asbestos removal would cost.  As part of that the Government should assess the extent of the asbestos problem in schools.

* Asbestos can be one of the most expensive items in maintaining, refurbishing or demolishing a school. But the Government is unaware of the scale of the asbestos problem in schools and they specifically, and inexplicably, excluded asbestos from the £20 million audit of the condition of school buildings. Because of this any future financial forecasts will be meaningless. AiS has always recommended that there should be an audit of the extent, type and condition of asbestos in the nation’s schools so that long term policy can be set, financial forecasts made and those schools with the most dangerous asbestos can be identified and priority given for the removal of asbestos.  

* Asbestos insulation board that is accessible to children in schools should never be classed as ‘low’ risk. It should at the very least be enclosed, but AiS recommend that it should be removed.  

* Asbestos training should be mandatory for school governors, headteachers, teachers and all support staff with the training tailored to their role. 

* As the majority of schools will have to manage their asbestos long into the future a system must be reintroduced that ensures they are maintaining effective and safe standards of asbestos management. AiS recommends that proactive inspections of the standards of asbestos management in all schools should be reintroduced. They should carried out by HSE. 

* There has always been a lack of openness over asbestos in schools. It is not acceptable that a few should know the facts and for those facts to be kept from others. AiS has always recommended that a policy of openness is adopted so that people are told the truth.

* So long as asbestos remains in schools it is inevitable that it will be disturbed and damaged so that children and staff are exposed. AiS recommends that the government adopts a long term strategy for the removal of all asbestos from schools, with priority being given to those schools that contain the most dangerous asbestos. Only then will the problem of asbestos in schools be finally eradicated.
AiS and JUAC Statement for International Workers Memorial Day  28 April   #IWMD15
Asbestos in Schools, AiS :  Joint Union Asbestos Committee, JUAC:

Wee Ginger Dug & the SNP!

The hope of the wow

Who needs the Vow when we’ve got wow? We’ve not only got wow, we’ve got utter gorgeousness. Eat yer heart out George Galloway. A couple of opinion polls were published on Monday, one a proper actual opinion poll of voters in Scotland with a representative sample and everything. The other was possibly somewhat less scientific, being an online poll of horny Edinburgh gay guys looking for a shag on Grindr.
This is of course tautological, as being on Grindr means that you are by definition a horny gay guy looking for a shag. And these days it’s also getting tautological to state that opinion polls of Scottish voting intentions show that Labour has been totally screwed, nailed to the wall, whammed, bammed and no thank you jam. The poll discovered that 62% of horny gay guys in Edinburgh plan to vote SNP. Proof, as if any proof was needed, that voting SNP means you get sexy, and that the SNP has got the gay vote pretty much in a glamorous clutch bag.
Grindr, for those of you of a shy and retiring heterosexual disposition, is an app for gay men who are looking for a random shag. It doesn’t tend to be used by men who are looking to settle down and get a labrador together. Most guys who use Grindr claim to have unfeasibly large wullies, because profiles on Grindr are about as accurate as Labour party manifesto promises and likewise invariably end in disappointment.
The guy who carried out the poll did a similar poll just before the independence referendum, and got a result which was pretty much spot on in terms of the actual vote. Which only goes to show that horny gay guys are more representative of the population at large than UKIP would care to admit.
The proper poll, carried out for TNS, showed that the SNP currently has the support of 54% of Scotland’s voters. On these figures, and given a uniform national swing, Labour will be left with just one seat in Scotland. Which would mean that Wee Wullie Bain would be Secretary of State for Scotland in a Miliband government because he’d be the only Labour MP left.
Unfortunately for Wee Wullie, the only certain thing about a universal national swing is that it’s entirely mythical. Swings are never uniform, and the swing to the SNP looks like it’s much stronger in the Glasgow area, where some figures suggest the SNP could hoover up 60% of the vote. So Wee Wullie would be out on his ear too. I recently spent some time with Anne McLaughlin, the SNP candidate in Glasgow East, interviewing her for an article for Newsnet Scotland – and it’s fair to say that Wee Wullie doesn’t look like he’s got very many fans on Grindr. This is despite the fact that Labour really does have an unfeasibly large dick in the shape of Jim Murphy.
Jim is now bereft of ideas. He’s tried to bombard us with promises of jam. Whatever happened to the Vow Plus? Gordie gets trotted out with alarming regularity to vow things that get quietly forgotten about a few days later when they’ve been slapped down by the Labour leadership in London. Over the weekend the promise to give a wee bit of jam – quite literally – to food banks in Scotland evaporated like spilt milk in the sunshine, leaving nothing behind but a stain and a bad smell. And the promise to abolish “exploitative” zero hours contracts collapsed in the contradiction of a Labour council which employs 2000 workers on zero hours contracts. So they’re not exploitative when Labour uses them. Labour is the party of do as I say not do as I do. They are out of ideas, out of inspiration, out of hope. Labour is the no-trick pony. They’re just pony.
But it doesn’t matter any more when no one trusts a word you say, and that’s Jim’s real problem, and because of that fact he’s staring an extinction level event in the face. There’s an asteroid on a collision course with the Labour party in Scotland, and the only defence Jim has got left is a tattered umbrella saying SNP bad. The dinosaur complains about the shortcomings of mammals as the fireball lights up the sky.
Jim was at it again today, standing beside Ed Balls and repeating SNP bad to a small audience of Labour activists and press representatives. And this is another example of tautology because Labour never has any other kind of audience these days. If Jim Murphy or Gordie Broon ever did give a speech to an audience of ordinary non-party affiliated Scottish people that really would be news. But that’s as likely to happen as a horny gay guy on Grindr being honest about the size of his wullie.
A part of me weeps that it has come to this. Labour is the junkie child, a product of Scottish communities. But Labour is a part of the family who has gone bad. The only recourse remaining is to kick the badjin out and let it fend for itself without sooking off expenses accounts, because otherwise it just keeps hurting us, it keeps sticking in the knife and turning it. And Labour does that because it takes us for granted like it always has done. Even now, on the edge of extinction it can’t believe that it won’t be forgiven and all its sins forgotten. It’s not like we’ve not given it fair warning. It’s not like we’ve not given it chances, but Labour keeps nicking the cash from our purses and the faith from our hearts. It’s beyond redemption.
Last year the independence referendum showed voters in Scotland that we can still hope of things getting better. We can still hope that our voices will be heard and our opinions count. That is what this election is about for Scotland, hope. We’ve learned how to hope and we’re not going to squander it on Labour’s Grindr profile. Hope is what is driving the opinion polls, but Project Fear is determined to put us back in our shortbread tin. Jim had pinned all his hopes on a late swing, and there is a late swing, it’s just not in the direction Jim was hoping for.
This time it isn’t going to work – there is an army of us spreading the message that hope still lives. We need to keep up the pressure, but we’re in for a rocky ride over the next few days. Let’s keep working, let’s keep hope alive. We’ve got the hope of the wow.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Labour's workfare shame: How Labour abandoned support for the poorest over illegal sanctions!

Jonathan Reynolds MP

In February 2013, the Court of Appeal quashed ‘The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Employment, Skills and Enterprise) Scheme’. The three Judges, Lord Justice Pill, Lady Justice Black and Sir Stanley Burton, ruled that the 2011 Regulations were ultra vires of section 17A of the Jobseeker’s Act 1995 because they failed to prescribe a description of the various schemes launched in August 2011 or the circumstances in which, a person can be required to participate in those schemes or the period during which, participants are required to undertake work on those schemes.

The case centred on whether the Secretary of State was able to create programmes and schemes at a whim rather than issuing Parliament with full details of the myriad of schemes in operation. It was declared that the Secretary of State, Ian Duncan Smith, had not given unemployed people sufficient information about their rights to appeal against being made to work up to 780 hours unpaid and the penalties they would face if they refused. The effect of the ruling meant that almost all of the Government’s work-for-your dole employment schemes were unlawful.

The Court of Appeal ruling meant that thousands of unemployed people (approximately 44,000) who had been unlawfully sanctioned (had their benefits stopped) for not participating in these schemes, were entitled to a refund of their benefits of around £130 million. On 30 October 2013, the decision of the Appeal Court was upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) stated that they would resist paying out rebates until all legal avenues had been exhausted. However, following the Court of Appeal ruling, the Government introduced emergency legislation -  ‘The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Schemes for Assisting  Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013’ and the ‘Jobseeker’s (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013’  that was fast tracked through Parliament with the support of most of the opposition.

What both measures sought to do was to validate the 2011 Regulations retrospectively and undo the decision of the Court of Appeal. This did have the effect of retrospectively making unlawful benefit sanctions imposed under the 2011 Regulations lawful in order to deny people rebates.

When these measures were introduced in Parliament in the spring of 2013, some 44 Labour MPs voted against these measures. However, the Labour Party official line was to ‘abstain’ so the Government could get the legislation through.

One of the MPs, who abstained, was Jonathan Reynolds MP, who represents the constituency of Stalybridge and Hyde. In May 2013, he wrote to a constituent to explain why he’d abstained on the Government’s Jobseekers Bill. According to Reynolds, the DWP’s back to work schemes (2011 Regulations), were struck down – not because they were unlawful – but on a technicality, because the DWP had not provided sufficient information to jobseekers about the penalties involved in refusing to participate in their schemes. He added, “The legal judgement was not about the legality or ethics of so-called workfare schemes (which were introduced by the last Labour government). These will always be political, not legal, matters.” He stated that he thought it only reasonable that people should have their benefits stopped if they won’t try to find work. However, he points out that Labour had demanded two crucial concessions: first, that people can appeal against mistakes by the DWP; “We can’t have carte blanche retrospective legislation of sanctions.” Second, there should be an independent review of the sanctions regime.

What Reynolds fails to mention and must have known at the time, is that in supporting this nasty little bill, money illegally taken from jobseekers who had been illegally sanctioned, would not be paid back to them. Labour’s support allowed the Government to backdate changes to the law so they could steal money from the poor.

Even right-wing think tanks like Civitas,were appalled by this shocking move. They asked, is the Government above the law? Moreover, what is the point in taking the Government to court, when they can simply move the goal posts and ignore the ruling, by introducing retrospective legislation that validates it?

Though Labour and Jonathan Reynolds MP, supported the Tory Government, the High Court subsequently found that retrospective legislation designed to render lawful benefits sanctions that were issued under the 2011 Regulations, was ‘incompatible’ with the right to a fair trial. The court called the move ‘draconian’, stating it was not explained or justified and “incompatible with the European Convention on human Rights.” After the ruling, the Government announced that it would appeal to the Supreme Court.

A Blairite and Labour friend of Israel, Jonathan Reynolds was elected to Parliament at the 2010 General Election, following the resignation of his mentor and predecessor, James (work-or-lose-your-dole) Purnell, who turned the seat of Stalybridge & Hyde into a marginal. According to Labour NEC member, Tom Watson MP, Reynolds was not initially put on the NEC’s shortlist, having failed to impress. However, Watson told ‘The Times’, that Reynolds was put on the shortlist of candidates for the vacant seat, following intervention from James Purnell and Peter Mandelson, who wanted him elected.

Psychobabble to be used by Tories to get people back-to-work. Is this mind control?

We are publishing below a recent briefing received from 'Boycott Workfare':

"On top of punishing claimants with sanctions that leave people destitute, the Government now has plans to use psychological treatments to force people into work.
George Osborne’s budget announced measures to ‘improve employment outcomes’ for people with mental health conditions. These include online cognitive behavioural therapy (change the world by changing how you think) for people on ESA or JSA and putting psychologists in JobCentres.
Unemployment is being redefined as a psychological disorder and the main purpose of psychological therapy will be to force people off benefits.  Or to promote yet another specious reason to cut people off benefits.
Meanwhile, the Tory Manifesto states that claimants who ‘refuse a recommended treatment’ may have their benefits reduced. This is an assault on the human rights of people on benefits and an attempt to co-opt medical professionals as state enforcers.
We’re hearing more and more reports of the misuse of psychology to coerce, bully and punish claimants into ‘getting the right mindset’: “all new starts must attend an initial two week course to develop their confidence”.

Change your attitude
The ‘change your attitude’ message of positive psychology is enforced in mandatory ‘employability’ training courses promising to help with ‘self-esteem, self-confidence and motivation’ and in unsolicited ‘positive thinking’ emails.  Making people take part in various pointless and humiliating psycho-group-activities e.g. building paper clip towers to demonstrate team work, or take completely meaningless and unethical psychological tests to determine their ‘strengths’.
The Department for Work and Pensions issues contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds (Focus the MindAchieve your Potential) designed to ‘address negative perceptions’ and ‘instil a positive attitude to work‘.  A programme for JSA/ESA claimants over 50 aims to persuade people that age discrimination doesn’t exist:
“to challenge perceptions that employers discriminate on the grounds of age”.
These fraudulent programmes don’t result in real paid work you can live on. The companies that run them are making millions out of a big con: that with a total personality makeover, anyone can get a job.  That positive thinking can change the low pay, no pay UK economy.
Psychological resistance to work
In another scheme claimants will have interviews to assess whether we have a ‘psychological resistance’ to work, along with attitude profiling to judge whether we are ‘bewildered, despondent or determined’. If they decide you are ‘less mentally fit’ you’ll be sent on ‘more intensive coaching’, while those who are ‘optimistic’ can be placed on less rigorous regimes. This is how they will decide who is to be punished with ‘extra support’ i.e. forced to spend 35 hours a week at a JobCentre.
The growing use of psychology, with practically every JobCentrePlus manager an expert in the topic, is not helping people with mental health problems whose suffering at the hands of this system has been well documented - with more than 100 people a day with mental health problems losing their benefits through sanctions.
The newly privatised Behavioural Insights Team has trained over 20,000 JobCentre staff in ‘behavioural techniques‘ with DWP managers regularly sending out positive psychology tweets to ‘motivate’ staff to meet targets. Targets that result in escalating sanctions.
Positive psychology
Positive psychology messages are so stupid, they are laughable. But being told day in, day out, that it’s our fault we’re unemployed or in such low paid work that we have to claim benefits  can really get to people. The language of workshy scroungers is a deliberate attempt to put people down and undermine support for hard won welfare rights.  Claimants are expected to show a positive attitude to being exploited or be sent on 6 months Community Work Placement for ‘lack of motivation’ or be referred to a psychologist for questioning your job coach.
BPS inquiry
Before Christmas, the president elect of the British Psychological Society  Jamie Hacker Hughes responded to our concerns by promising to hold an inquiry. That was then. Inspite of repeated reminders, there is nothing on the BPS website about the inquiry. No terms of reference. No information about how people who’ve been through various workfare psycho-interventions can submit their testimonies. All we’ve had from BPS on the issue of psychology, workfare and ethics so far is a press release saying that it’s fine to test claimants for ‘psychological resistance to work‘ as long as the person doing the tests is ‘qualified’.
We’re not holding our breath for the BPS inquiry. In the meantime, we welcome your own testimony on how psychology is used to manipulate, blame, punish and coerce people on benefits.
What you can do
Let the British Psychological Society know we won’t stand for compulsory positive psychology and mandatory psychological treatment. We expect them to speak out. You could also ask them what happened to the inquiry into psychology and workfare promised by their President Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes back in November 2014?
Lobby members of the newly established ‘Mental Health Task Force‘ . This includes MindAge UK(well known workfare exploiters) and Rethink
Ask Psychologists against Austerity to keep up the pressure. Tweet them here "

Blacklist Updates

1. Ed Milliband speech to Scottish TUC this week:
"In days gone by, people didn’t have the right to join a trade union. 
And were thrown out of work if they campaigned for better rights.
But today, we still have the odious practice of blacklisting.
Contractors, companies who block and blacklist those who have a history of trade union activity.
I will not tolerate that in the country I lead.
So that is why we will have a full inquiry that is transparent and public into blacklisting.
With one purpose and one purpose alone:
To put an end to blacklisting right across the United Kingdom.
And throughout the history of this movement, you have fought most of all for people’s right to work."
Blacklist Support Group welcome Labour's public commitment to a full inquiry into blacklisting. If Ed Milliband becomes PM in May, we will be knocking on his door asking for a full public inquiry and asking to be involved in drawing up the remit before it begins. 

2. Special Branch spied on union activists, General Secretaries and MPs at Wapping dispute

3. Blacklisted book - Tour dates this week

Sun 26th  - Bournemouth - (1pm) CWU Conference with Billy Hayes & Trish Lavelle 

Tue 28th - Liverpool  
1pm - Workers Memorial Day event - South Piazza George Dock Building, L3 1DD
6pm - Jack Jones House, Unite offices 
after-party Casa Club

Wed 29th 
1pm - Liverpool - News From Nowhere bookstore
7pm - Leeds - Swarthmore Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square, Leeds,LS3 - with Pete Shaw, Sandy McPherson, Merrick Badger

Thurs 30th (6am) - Teeside, Wilton Centre,  TS10 4RF - in support of the #PaytheRate protests

Fri 1st May (7pm) - Kings Arms, Salford - with Colin Trousdale, Steve Acheson, Tony Jones, Graham Bowker 
Book launch & May Day Celebration    

4. Blacklisting of construction workers in Australia 

Blacklist Support Group

Bolton University Sackings

Justice for Jenny?: All Eyes on the University of Bolton for Appeal Outcome
The University of Bolton has the opportunity to overturn its controversial decision to dismiss Jenny Markey when an appeal hearing is held on Wednesday. 
Jenny was employed as an academic administrator in the health and community studies department until being summarily dismissed last month. 
Jenny’s dismissal followed the sacking of her husband Damien – a senior lecturer at the University and an activist in the UCU union.  Damien’s appeal hearing takes place on Tuesday. 
Both Jenny and Damien were dismissed over allegations that they had brought the University into disrepute after details of the financial affairs of vice-chancellor George Holmes appeared in the media.   The dismissals were highly unusual in that the University did not follow normal procedure – the dismissals were sudden and did not follow a proper investigation. 
The Markeys’ treatment has led to a campaign for their reinstatement that has been well-supported by university staff, students and the public.  An online petition has attracted over 3,000 signatures.
Jenny Markey is a UNISON member and the union will be representing her at the appeal hearing.  UNISON North West Regional Manager Steve Stott said: 
'All eyes will be on the University this week to see if common sense prevails at the appeal hearing.  Jenny and Damien have been very harshly treated by the University and it is rare for a high-profile employer to behave so badly.  UNISON will be supporting Jenny through the appeal process and beyond if necessary in pursuit of a fair outcome.' 

Blacklist Book Launch in Salford


Star date: 26th April 2015
The blockbusting book, Blacklisted: The secret war between big business and union activists, is being launched at the Kings Arms in Salford this Friday 1st May, 6pm, with its co-author Dave Smith, and the Assistant General Secretary of Unite Gail Cartmail.
The book documents the illegal and secret blacklisting of trade unionists in the construction industry by corporations with collusion of the police and secret services. As Dave Smith states, "It is no longer an industrial relations issue: it is a human rights issue".

Writing in The Guardian recently, Dave Smith, co-author of Blacklisted: The secret war between big business and union activists, stated...
"The UK's secret political police are spying on me. I know this because the Metropolitan police have refused to provide a copy of my police file. The reason? To do so `would be likely to prejudice the prevention and detection of crime'. My `crime' is being a trade unionist, campaigning to expose the scandal that led to more than 3,200 people being blacklisted by building contractors..."
...and, no doubt, writing a blockbusting book documenting it all. It centres on a blacklist of trade union activists compiled by The Consulting Association, which formally came to light during a raid in 2009 by the Information Commissioner's Office and the seizure of files with personal details on thousands of people.
As Dave writes, "it became obvious that some of the information in them could only have come from the police or the security services. This was confirmed by David Clancy, head of investigation for the ICO (and formerly a Greater Manchester police officer).
"Peter Francis, former undercover police officer turned whistleblower, revealed he spied on some blacklisted workers because of their anti-BNP activities" he adds "And the same information he collated appeared on their blacklist files. Unions and MPs called for a public inquiry, which was flatly rejected by David Cameron, Theresa May and Vince Cable."
The Consulting Association was funded by some of the biggest construction companies in the country over a 16 year period and led to workers being unable to get employment, with horrific effects on their families. Indeed, Smith calls it a "systematic conspiracy involving the state"...
"Blacklisting" he states "is just the latest in a long history of British state anti-unionism stretching back to Tolpuddle. It is no longer an industrial relations issue: it is a human rights issue. A conspiracy between big business, the police and the security services, and the refusal to disclose information that everyone knows exists amounts to a good old-fashioned establishment cover-up."
Blacklisted: The secret war between big business and union activists
by Dave Simth and Phil Chamberlain (New Internationalist)
Book Launch
Friday May 1st
Kings Arms, Bloom Street 6pm
with co-author Dave Smith, and Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary of Unite.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Miliband gives pledge for blacklisting inquiry. But will Labour make 'Blacklisting' a criminal offence?

We are publishing below a briefing from Boycott Workfare:

1. Ed Milliband speech to Scottish TUC this week:

"In days gone by, people didn’t have the right to join a trade union. 
And were thrown out of work if they campaigned for better rights.
But today, we still have the odious practice of blacklisting.
Contractors, companies who block and blacklist those who have a history of trade union activity.
I will not tolerate that in the country I lead.
So that is why we will have a full inquiry that is transparent and public into blacklisting.
With one purpose and one purpose alone:
To put an end to blacklisting right across the United Kingdom.
And throughout the history of this movement, you have fought most of all for people’s right to work."
Blacklist Support Group welcome Labour's public commitment to a full inquiry into blacklisting. If Ed Milliband becomes PM in May, we will be knocking on his door asking for a full public inquiry and asking to be involved in drawing up the remit before it begins. 

2. Special Branch spied on union activists, General Secretaries and MPs at Wapping dispute

3. Blacklisted book - Tour dates this week

Sun 26th  - Bournemouth - (1pm) CWU Conference with Billy Hayes & Trish Lavelle 

Tue 28th - Liverpool  

1pm - Workers Memorial Day event - South Piazza George Dock Building, L3 1DD
6pm - Jack Jones House, Unite offices 
after-party Casa Club

Wed 29th 
1pm - Liverpool - News From Nowhere bookstore
7pm - Leeds - Swarthmore Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square, Leeds,LS3 - with Pete Shaw, Sandy McPherson, Merrick Badger

Thurs 30th (6am) - Teeside, Wilton Centre, TS10 4RF - in support of the #PaytheRate protests

Fri 1st May (7pm) - Kings Arms, Salford - with Colin Trousdale, Steve Acheson, Tony Jones, Graham Bowker 
Book launch & May Day Celebration    

4. Blacklisting of construction workers in Australia 

Blacklist Support Group

Take action: No voice for workfare profiteers!

We are publishing below a recent briefing received from Boycott Workfare:
"Take action online against the workfare industry conference as part of the Week of Action vs Workfare and Sanctions!

Today, Monday 27 April, the welfare-to-work industry is holding its AGM.  The ERSA – the organisation that does spin and lobbying for workfare exploiters – is meeting to discuss the year in workfare and new ways of making the sector respectable.
We don’t know the location yet.  Since our noise demo massively disrupted their conference at the end of 2013, they’ve been cagier about where they meet.
For the first online action for the week of action against workfare, we want to target the ERSA and spotlight the violence they do to claimants through workfare, ‘training’, and sanctions.   Their work relies on coercion, threats, and the imposition of poverty. So at the AGM we’ll find the Employment Related Services Association talking over new ways of presenting the same lies about workfare.

Their past conferences have been attended by people like Esther McVey (Minister of State for Employment); the head researcher of Iain Duncan Smith’s thinktank Centre for Social Justice; the heads of workfare companies like Avanta, Seetec, G4S and Pinnacle People; the heads of massive charity workfare users like Groundwork and the Salvation Army; and the boss of the company that forced unemployed people to get changed under a bridge for the Queen’s Jubilee.
Contracts to these companies and others that ERSA represents are worth billions of pounds.  Fees for delivery of one part of one workfare scheme, for two years, in England, Scotland, and Wales, are over £250 million.   And all this is money wasted: the schemes don’t do what we’re told they’re supposed to do, they just cause poverty, homelessness, anxiety, and death.
The ERSA’s tagline is ‘giving a voice to the employment support sector’.   But the industry doesn’t need a voice – it certainly has no interest in hearing from the people its members’ jobs exploit.  Why should they be able to sit and calmly discuss ‘employment support’, as if they were unemployed people’s benevolent helpers?
Let’s drown them out.  Tweet to @ersa_news "

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Radical Short Film Awards 2015

Call for entries - Deadline 15 June 2015 - Enter at:
View this email in your browser

Call For Entries

SMALL AXE a short film competition for people with something to say.
No film can be too political.

We accept everything - from direct polemic, to experimental film, from original fiction to observational documentary from complex discussions to 30 second virals.

We want opinion, analysis, personal stories, ideology, vision and fresh perspectives.

In short, any film that will contribute to a culture of positive social change is welcome. As long as it is short (under 30 minutes).

Deadline for entries: 15 June 2015

Full details and entry form on the website:
Awards in the following categories:

Activists and full time film-makers:
Best Factual Film
Best Fiction Film

Best Fiction Film
Best Factual Film

Part of the Tolpuddle Radical Film Festival:
17th - 19th July 2015