Saturday, 30 September 2017

Councillor Furlong may be praying for rain!

YESTERDAY, after appearing before an independent panel, the Middleton Labour Councillor Chris Furlong  confirmed that he has not been reselected to stand in the May 2018 local election.
 
Councillor Furlong has said:  'I will not be standing anywhere next year.  I will continue as Labour councillor until May 2018 for the people of North Middleton.  I will continue to work hard and stand up for the people of North Middleton as best as I can, which I have done since 2014.'

The councillor continued to say:
'There has been speculation regards the reason of why I did not appeal the decision not to allow me on the Labour selection panel for next year’s local election.  I did originally appeal, and it was an appeal I thought that I would be successful with.  However, I decided to withdraw that appeal.'

All of the above was reported on Rochdale online, but what was not reported was Councillor Furlong's final paragraph:
'I have been informed that there may be information that may be made public during the forthcoming Cambridge House/Knowl View Inquiry about an individual.  I would like to point out that the individual in question is not me or anyone actually connected with me and this information was not even provided by me, however, this information has helped me come to the decision to withdraw my appeal.  I cannot say any more until after the inquiry when I will expand further on why this information helped me decide not to appeal and I will not be making any further comment until then.'

Given the continuing dire speculation surrounding the position of the Labour leader of Rochdale Council, Richard Farnell, with regard to what may come out of the forthcoming enquiry into Knowl View school, it may be that Councillor Furlong is being a trifle tactical here, and even, dare one say it, praying for rain?
******

Friday, 29 September 2017

Problems of Selection in Rochdale Labour Party?

Editorial remarks:

THE statement of appeal below was sent to N.V. a few days 
ago by Stefan Cholewka, Secretary GMATUC and Secretary 
of  Rochdale TUC.  Both Mr. Cholewka, and Middleton Councillor Chris Furlong, both who haven't been selected for the 2018 Rochdale MBC elections, were critical of the municipal gravy train established under the leadership of the current Labour Party council boss Richard Farnell earlier this year.  
We could not possible comment as to whether this has anything to do with them failing  to get selected to stand in next year's local elections.  Hence, we have decided to produce Stefan's introduction and appeal statement below without comment.

******
ALONG with Cllr. Chris Furlong from Heywood & Middleton CLP I have been rejected from the panel to stand in the LA elections in 2018.  I have formally appealed the decision to Andy Smith at NW Labour. An appeal panel will be held on Monday 2nd October.
I am posting my Appeal Statement see below
If comrades from Rochdale CLP support my statement / my candidature to be included on the panel please will you agree to sign the statement in order to support my appeal process.
You can email your support to: stefan.cholewka@btinternet.com. 

 Please include which  TUC / CLP ward you are in if applicable.

APPEAL STATEMENT
Stefan Cholewka: written submission for the Appeal that will take place on Monday 2nd October 2017 at 7.45pm
Venue will be: 45 York Street, Heywood, and Lancashire, OL10 4NN
On Sunday 17th September at 12.00 noon at Liz McInnes MP’s office at 45 York Street, Heywood, Lancashire, OL10 4NN I was told to go upstairs and await my panel interview as they were running late.  Three candidates were already in the upper office when I entered.  A further candidate arrived after me.
All four candidates preceded me in very quick succession.  I was the last candidate to be interviewed even though the fourth candidate turned up after I had arrived.  It seemed that I had been deliberately set up to be interviewed last.
Three Labour party members from Tameside council, one being the CLP secretary, interviewed me.  From the get-go I was subjected to hostile questioning that went on for nearly 50 mins.  This was in sharp contrast to the very short time it took to interview all the other candidates.
For every question I answered there were three to four hostile supplementary questions. It seems that being the secretary of GMATUC and local Rochdale TUC secretary can lead to a conflict of interest with LP policy.  I was asked specifically the question in different forms: What if TUC policy and Labour Party policy conflict?
These are extremely disquieting questions to be asked when it is Labour Party policy that all candidates and sitting Labour councillors have to be a member of a registered trade union to be eligible for office.
It seems that being a Co-operative Party member, more specifically: NW Regional Co-operative Party secretary and Rochdale Co-operative Party secretary can also lead to a conflict of interest with Labour Party policy.  I was asked specifically in different forms: What would I do if Co-operative Party policy conflicts with Labour Group policy?
I had already told the interview panel that I had already been included on the Greater Manchester Co-operative Party panel of candidates to be a Labour-Co-operative candidate for 2018.  I had also explained and that I had previously stood in Rochdale in the Spotland & Falinge ward, Balderstone ward and in West Littlleborough in 2016 as a Labour-Co-operative candidate in local government elections.
If there was not a conflict of interest then, why should there be a conflict of interest now? If I had been selected to stand on the panel at least seven times previously why was there no conflict of interest in all these instances?  I would like to know why questions concerning any conflict of interests - because I was a trade unionist and a co-operator - had not been raised in all previous occasions I had been interviewed accept this time?
Finally, being community activists can mean a conflict of interest with Labour Party policy as local residents may have different priorities from the Labour Group.  It seems that being Director Rochdale Community Energy CIC was an issue and that would conflict with Labour Group Policy.  This despite the fact that two serving Rochdale Labour Party councillors are also fellow directors.  Despite that fact that for two years a council environmental officer attended monthly meetings and reported back to the Council to develop joint collaborative projects.
I had already told the interview panel that I had already been included on the Greater Manchester Co-operative Party panel of candidates to be a Labour-Co-operative candidate for 2018.  I had also explained and that I had previously stood in Rochdale in the Spotland & Falinge ward, Balderstone ward and in West Littlleborough in 2016 as a Labour-Co-operative candidate in local government elections.
If there was not a conflict of interest then, why should there be a conflict of interest now? If I had been selected to stand on the panel at least seven times previously why was there no conflict of interest in all these instances?   I would like to know why questions concerning any conflict of interests - because I was a trade unionist and a co-operator - had not been raised in all previous occasions I had been interviewed accept this time?
Finally, being community activists can mean a conflict of interest with Labour Party policy as local residents may have different priorities from the Labour Group.  It seems that being Director Rochdale Community Energy CIC was an issue and that would conflict with Labour Group Policy.  This despite the fact that two serving Rochdale Labour Party councillors are also fellow directors.  Despite that fact that for two years a council environmental officer attended monthly meetings and reported back to the Council to develop joint collaborative projects.
So being trade unionists, a co-operator and a community activist far from making me an ideal candidate in the eyes of the panel interviewers was somehow perceived as negative attributes that cast suspicion upon myself.
It also seems that standing up to fascists marching in Rochdale is a bad thing as well.  The Tameside CLP secretary told me, immediately I had answered the very first question, that Rochdale MBC councillor's where banned from attending the two anti-fascist counter demos on two consecutive weekends in Rochdale.  So, I was asked why I had broken Labour Group policy, despite not being a councillor subject to the whip or even selected onto the panel at that stage.
They also did not like my campaigning on-line in support of the Palestinian people; specifically they did not like an on-line article I posted on the proposed changes to LP policy on Palestine coming before LP Conference.  I was told that I was attacking Labour Party policy.
Given that the article was discussing proposed changes to existing Labour Party policy and supporting the current policies I was rather puzzled as to why I should be accused of attacking Labour Party policy.
Clearly, these lines of hostile questioning had very little to do with answering the 20 prepared questions that were written down for the panel to ask me.
At the end of the interview process, or should I say inquisition, I asked the panel if they thought that I had actually broken Labour Party policy, and if so which ones, given that they seemed to be very strongly suggesting that I had already done so.  The answer I received was “NO”.

Stefan Cholewka
Secretary GMATUC - Secretary Rochdale TUC
Secretary NW Region Co-operative Party Secretary Rochdale Co-operative Party
Director Rochdale Community Energy CIC

Rochdale Chief Executive & the Abuse Scandal

LAST week, Steve Rumbelow the Chief Executive of Rochdale Council apologised for 'the events that took place at Cambridge House and Knowl View and other establishments in Rochdale' decades ago from the early 1960s.  
Mr Rumbelow said:
'The council acknowledges that there were significant failings, both in the way that Knowl View School was managed, and in the council’s response to concerns about sexual abuse within and outside the school.'
Rumbelow declares:
'That was, frankly, unforgivable. On behalf of Rochdale Borough Council, I would like to apologise sincerely to anyone who was failed by the council during those years.'
He then concludes:
'We cannot turn the clock back. But as the current chief executive of the council, working with the director of children’s services and partner agencies such as the police, and through the Rochdale Safeguarding Children’s Board, I can make sure that we continue do our level best to safeguard our children and young people now and in the future.
'The council is doing everything it can to support and work with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in its task and I hope that it can help us fully understand what happened in Rochdale all those years ago.'

This tearful, contrite apology by the Rochdale Chief Exec. Rumbelow comes on the eve of the IICSA hearing into evidence about Rochdale for three weeks, beginning on the 9 October.  Yet one can't help but think of it as an attempt at damage limitation, in order to draw the poison that may be expose on the body politic of Rochdale, when and if, all the evidence comes out in the near future.

Since 2012, and all the revelations about Cyril Smith promoted by the former Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, it has been the fashion owing to the Danczuk book, to blame the old Liberal Party for what happened at Cambridge House and what is alleged to have happened at Knowl View.  Sources inside the Labour are now suggesting that the findings of the current inquiry will be uncomfortable for the Rochdale Labour Party.

Afterall, Cyril Smith was a leading Labour Party councillor at the time he is said to have abused the lads at Cambridge House.

Over a year ago, a participant in the Operation Clifton told N.V. that the current leader of the Rochdale Council, Richard Farnell, had reason to be concerned if the evidence came out about his awareness of what was happening at Knowl View in the early 1990s.  Souces close to the Rochdale Labour Party are now confirming that he could well have had access to a report expressing concern about conditions at Knowl View during his term in office as leader of the Labour Party in the 1990s.

Knowl View residential school was what is called a total institution by sociologists:  prisons, hospitals, asylums, holiday camps and private schools are all forms of total institution.  Yet, Paul Rowen, another former leader of Rochdale MBC, has admitted to seeing a report on conditions at Cambridge House, and has told N.V. that it was really only a part-time total institution in so far as the lads went home at weekends.  We need to understand the context of the institution in which the abuse is alleged to have occurred.
******

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Charles Mowbray - anarchist revolutionary &

  Forest Gate-unemployed champion
by John Walker
CHARLES Mowbray (1856 - 1910) can lay claim to fame to be one of Forest Gate's most controversial political figures. He was an anarchist, who mixed with the Who's Who of the British political left in the last two decades of the nineteenth century and married the daughter of a Paris communard. 

He was imprisoned for inciting riots and spent some time politically agitating in America, from where he was deported.  He ended up in Forest Gate, with his third wife and children, working on Tariff Reform for the Tory party. This is his story.

Charles Wilfred Mowbray was born at Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham in  late 1856 and as a young man served in the Durham Light Infantry. He worked most of his life as a tailor. He married Mary, with whom he had five children (Charles, John, Richard, Grace and Frederick) in 1878.  Mary Mowbray turns out to be a minor political celebrity, being the daughter of the French Communist Joseph Benoit, who'd been active in both the 1848 revolution and the 1871 Paris Commune. She ended up with a huge funeral, locally at Manor Park cemetery - see later.

Charles Mowbray  didn't leave much record of his first contacts with revolutionary ideas, although his obituary in the Shoreditch Observer in December 1910 sheds some light. It described him as:

Once a sinewy, athletic black-haired determined man with the blazing eyes of a fanatic and a tempestuous eloquence that stirred many an open-air meeting. He became a socialist nearly thirty years ago, and joined the Socialist League.
He read widely and moved to London, living in the notorious Boundary Street (the Old Nicol) slum in Whitechapel, in the 1880's.  It is there his revolutionary politics began to flourish, as he came into contact with socialists, anarchists and communists living in the area, greatly politicised by many of the Jewish immigrants who had fled the pogroms in Russia and were determined to organise politically - from afar.

 As his obituary mentions, he joined the Socialist League at its foundation in 1884 - the organisation most closely associated with Walthamstow-born William Morris - and he described himself as an "anarchist/communist".  He became a prominent street corner speaker/political agitator, calling for rent strikes and fairer treatment of workers. He was popular with fellow tailors in the area, and has been called: "One of the greatest working class orators who ever spoke in public".


Walthamstow's William Morris, with
 whom Mowbray joined political
 forces with in the 1880's
When the police began to harass open-air meetings in 1885, he was one of those involved in a major agitation in Dod Street and Burdett Road in Limehouse in September of that year. 

On 20 September, following this meeting, he was beaten by the police there and arrested for obstruction along with other speakers.

William Morris felt that Mowbray "had done the most" but he was set free.  The publicity and outrage created by the arrests meant that 50,000 people turned out in support at Dod Street the following Sunday.


A court sketch of Mowbray,
 at one of his trials
He was again arrested at a free speech rally in Trafalgar Square on 14 June 1886 and was fined £1 with costs.

For more go to:   www.E7-NowAndThen.org, @E7_NowAndThen 

Computer Fraud, Sunday Post & The Bank

by Les May
YOU do not expect to find the most penetrating and insightful journalism in a newspaper published by a company which also produces ‘Oor Wullie’, ‘The Broons’, ‘My Weekly’ and ‘The Peoples Friend’.  But yesterday ‘The Sunday Post’ carried a detailed article about a computer fraud which needs to be more widely known.

Briefly, one of the paper’s columnists, Donald MacLeod, had had what he described as a ‘six figure sum’ filched from his account in the space of a few hours and his bank had not considered it ‘unusual activity’ and halted further transactions..

MacLeod had received a phone call from his mortgage provider.  Or at least he thought it was his mortgage provider because the caller knew his roll number, monthly payment, type of mortgage and term left.  Fairly convincing stuff.  On the basis of what the caller said MacLeod decided to take up a cheaper mortgage option.  To set things in motion a copy of his driving licence was requested.

Because his bank had insisted having his driving licence number as a ‘third level’ security check MacLeod had unwittingly given the fraudster the key to emptying not only his account but the savings accounts of two of his children.  All it required was for the fraudster to apply for online banking facilities using the ‘third level’ security check and then use this facility to make a series of electronic funds transfers to…  No one knows where.

I’d probably have just mentally filed the article had a security conscious friend not shown me a letter they had just received from their bank, HSBC.  This requested that certified copies of two separate documents be sent to a PO Box Number.   One was to prove the recipient’s identity, the other to prove their place of residence.  Plenty here for a determined fraudster to steal someone’s identity.

The icing on the cake was that for ‘speed and convenience’, you could do it online with their ‘Jumio’ tool, (at least they didn’t call it an app).   And the information would go precisely where exactly?

The ostensible reason for asking for this information is to protect customers’ accounts. But it’s not clear how this offers any protection to people who bank with HSBC.   The only beneficiary is the HSBC.   It’s the bank’s way of protecting itself from further accusations that it has a sloppy attitude to the prevention of money laundering.  In 2012 it had to pay £1.2 billion because it had inadequate controls against money laundering.  Type the words money laundering hsbcinto Google or any other search engine, and see watch the hits roll up.

If HSBC was serious about protecting customers’ accounts it would go about this exercise in a different way.  First it would be honest about why it wants the information.  Second it would use what remains of its branch network to process this information for all its customers, not just the few who spot the danger in sending identification to a PO Box or over the Internet.   Determined fraudsters with access to a colour printer can easily produce fraudulent copies of letters purporting to come from HSBC and then harvest the identification documents which flow in.  They are unlikely to go to the trouble of opening a fake bank branch.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Birmingham Bin Strike Suspended

WHEN the Unite union took the Birmingham council to the High Court, claiming the move to make workers redundant was unlawful, it resulted in a judge granting an interim injunction against the council's actions.  As a consequence Unite suspended its strike action immediately from last Thursday.

A trial will now take place in November to determine if the council has acted against the law, yet Mr. Justice Fraser urged all parties to come to an agreement before the prospect of an expensive court case.
Council Leader Quit

Former council leader John Clancy resigned following criticism of his handling of the action, which came after Labour councillors proposed a no-confidence motion in their leader.
After workers had been on strike for seven weeks, Mr Clancy struck a deal with them saying no jobs would be lost and the action was suspended.
But two weeks later a council report said the deal was 'unaffordable', and redundancy notices were issued - sending workers back to the picket lines.
Mr Clancy said a deal had never been fully agreed with the union, but days later resigned from his position saying he accepted he had made mistakes 'for which he is sorry' and took 'full responsibility'.
Reasons why the Council is making people redundant
Basically, it's all about saving money.  The council says it faces 'significant financial challenges' and needs a 'high-quality, value-for-money and reliable refuse service'.
Due to government funding cuts, the authority says spending on waste management has reduced from £71m in 2011 to £65m in 2017, and it says if it does nothing the overspend will be £5.2m in future years.
It also says that compared to other councils, Birmingham is not meeting national productivity levels and it needs to improve.  Failing to improve productivity and efficiency is 'not an option', according to the local authority.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

MPs demand blacklisting mastermind be stripped of Big Ben public contract!


Book Review - by Derek Pattison
Blacklisted: The Full Story The Secret War Between Big Business and Union Activists
Author: Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain
This is the second edition of Blacklisted with the full story to date including the 
historic High Court victory and new revelations. Now with photographs.
* Buy print version:
 New Internationalist
The Old Music Hall
106-108 Cowley Rd
Oxford, OX4 1JE  UK
01865 403345

IT’s now over two-years ago since I first reviewed ‘Blacklisted – The Secret War Between Big Business and Union Activists’ by Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain.  This new, second edition, ‘The Full Story’, deals with two major developments in the 18-months since the first edition of ‘Blacklisted’ was published.   One is the outcome of proceedings in the High Court against the so-called MacFarlanes Defendants and the other, is the ‘Pitchford Public Inquiry’, which is investigating undercover policing.  During the High Court proceedings, further evidence of blacklisting was disclosed and some of this has now been used in this book.

For people who are unfamiliar with this story of blacklisting of workers in the construction industry, which involved collusion between the state and the construction industry, it is perhaps necessary to say something about how this grossly illegal operation was discovered and exposed.

On 11 May 2016, in the High Court, in London, a public apology was made and an agreed joint statement was read out on behalf of a group of major British construction companies including – Balfour Beatty companies, Carillion, Costain, Kier Ltd, Laing companies, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Skanska UK, Vinci and Taylor Woodrow, and various individual defendants including, Cullum McAlpine, Danny O’Sullivan, David Cochrane and Stephen Quant. 

All these companies and individuals, known as the ‘MacFarlanes Defendants’ were apologising for having set up a secret and unlawful ‘Vetting Operation’ and database, also known as a ‘Blacklist’, to vet particular workers applying for jobs in the construction industry. 

We now know that the in-house lawyer for Laing O’Rourke, Paul Field, resigned his job on 9 March 2009 shortly after the discovery of the blacklist describing the operation as ‘Orwellian’ and ‘third-rate McCarthyism’.  In a witness statement, Field said that “he found the idea that people were denied work simply because they had joined a safety committee ‘repugnant’.

A large number of construction workers, in a group litigation, who were members of the trade unions UCATT, GMB, or clients of the law firm, Guney, Clark & Ryan, brought claims against them for “breach of confidence, misuse of private information, defamation, conspiracy and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.” 

Although liability had been initially denied by the Defendants, they admitted to having set up a secret scheme for vetting construction workers who were seeking employment in the industry between the early 1970s and 2009.  The secret operation went under the name of the ‘Services Group’, which was part of the notorious ‘Economic League’ and later, it became known as the “The Consulting Association.”   The database included details on individuals such as:


“Names, dates of birth, addresses, NI numbers, trade, employers’ names, alleged employment history, suspected political affiliations or sympathies or perceived militancy, trade union affiliation and activities, and complaints about health-and-safety or breaches of employment rights. "

This database was seized following a raid on the offices of The Consulting Association (TCA) in February 2009, by officers working for the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). Over 3,000 files were confiscated which included details of construction workers and other individuals, including academics, lawyers, politicians and environmental activists.  These files represented only around 5 to 10 per cent of the information held by TCA at their office in Droitwich, Worcestershire.  In July 2009, the ‘data controller’, Ian Kerr, was fined £5,000 by Knutsford Crown Court, for operating an illegal database.  Kerr’s fine and legal costs were all paid by the construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine, who had set up this blacklisting operation. 

We now know that British Telecom (BT) had provided details about the location of Kerr’s address, only after being threatened with legal action by the ICO.  The ICO had previously raided the offices of Hayden Young – part of the Balfour Beatty group - in Watford in August 2008 and had obtained a fax number. When, following the raid at the offices of TCA,  Kerr’s wife, Mary Kerr, had asked why her husband had not been tipped off about the raid at Hayden Young, six months previously, she received a solicitor’s letter asking her to desist in her questioning. 

In a witness statement that was submitted to the High Court by Gerry Harvey, HR director for Balfour Beatty and a TCA contact for the firm, he disclosed that both he and his colleague, Armar Johnston – another TCA contact at Balfour Beatty – had been ordered not to disclose details of the raid at Hayden Young to Ian Kerr, by the Group Human Resources Director, Paul Raby, because he feared legal repercussions.  Both Harvey and Johnston were told to have no further involvement with TCA.

Gail Cartmail, a trade union officer with Unite the Union, told MPs at a Select Committee of the House of Commons that Gerry Harvey “has form on blacklisting.”   Despite being a TCA contact at Balfour Beatty, Harvey wrote to an Employment Tribunal in 2008, denying there was a ‘blacklist’ and suggested that the litigant, Colin Trousdale, was “paranoid.” Never the less, on the first page of Trousdale’s blacklisting TCA file, it was noted: “Trousdale is taking us to the Tribunal.”  Outside the offices of Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES), in Glasgow, Trousdale told protestors: “Being a trade union member is not a crime: perjury is.”


An email found on Gerry Harvey’s laptop (exhibit in High Court), from Elaine Gallagher of Balfour Kilpatrick, dated 16/3/2009, a month after the ICO raid on TCA, says: 
'The email includes attached list of workers recorded as Not Required or code 11 ‘do not employ’ and an internal database kept by Balfour Beatty.'
In his witness statement, Harvey went on to name:  
'Andrew Alison, Michael Shortall, Colin Trousdale, Danny Regan, Steve Acheson, Graham Bowker, Tony Jones, Sean Keaveney, Robert McKechan and Howard Nolan, as workers who appear on the internal database as unsuitable for employment.   
'They are also all blacklisted by TCA for their union activities… Harvey does reassure the court that ‘regardless of the Consulting Association checking service neither I nor my staff would have employed Acheson, Bowker or  Jones, given their very high profile’.'
(Exhibit for High Court – see also “Boys on the Blacklist” by Derek Pattison and Brian Bamford).

Despite three separate instructions to retain potentially relevant documents in March 2009, March 2013 and April 2013, Dinah Rose QC, told the High Court in January 2016, that the defendants were responsible for the deliberate destruction, non-provision and concealment of evidence.

“We can show that the defendants have destroyed documents systematically from the date of the ICO raid onwards in an effort to conceal their guilt.”

In a note of a telephone conversation he’d had with David Cochrane, Chairman of TCA at the time of the raid, Kerr records that he was instructed to: “Ring everyone, cease trading, close down. We don’t exist anymore, destroy data, stop processing.”

Although a multi-million pound compensation settlement was shared between 771 workers - Unite £10.5m, UCATT, £8.9m, GMB £5.4m and GC Ryan £6.6m, with costs paid by the companies estimated at between £75m and £250m, many blacklisted construction workers do not feel that they ever received justice.  There was no trial and none of the construction bosses was ever put in the dock or cross-examined.  To this day, not one of the construction bosses or so-called HR professionals who engaged in a prolonged period of illegal activity in running a secret blacklisting operation, have ever been prosecuted  for their squalid activities.  The only person to be prosecuted was Ian Kerr, who told the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in November 2012 – “I took the flak so they wouldn’t be drawn into all of this. They would remain hidden if you like…”  Nor has there been much appetite on the part of the Conservative government, for a public inquiry into this matter.  Many of these construction companies are major financial backers of the Tory Party.  Only five blacklist cases ever reached a full employment tribunal and only three won their claims.  Most cases were dismissed as being ‘out-of-time’ or on the grounds of employment status such as agency workers.

Likewise, many people who found themselves ‘blacklisted’, remain convinced that blacklisting is still going on. Since the TCA raid in February 2009, there has been evidence of blacklisting taking place at Crossrail and the Olympics and workers like the electrician Dan Collins, continue to get sacked for raising concerns about health and safety. In December 2016, Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, re-opened the file on the construction industry stating that she feared that the 'malpractice' (blacklisting) was still taking place. She said her staff and been put on a 'watching brief.'

In July 2015, the Home Secretary announced the terms of the ‘Pitchford Inquiry’ into undercover policing and the ‘Blacklist Support Group’ (BSG), have been given ‘core participant’ status.   In March 2012, David Clancy, investigation’s manager for the ICO and a former police officer, told The Observer that some of the information held in the TCA files could only have come from the police or security services. The police watchdog, the IPCC, have already told the BSG that Special Branch had “routinely provided information about prospective employees” and that, “It is likely that all Special Branches were involved in providing information that kept certain individuals out of work.”  This was denied by the police inquiry ‘Operation Herne’, who said there was no such evidence.

In October 2014, John McDonnell MP, named detective chief inspector Gordon Mills, head of police liaison at the ‘National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit’ (NECTU), as a senior officer who had given a power point presentation at a meeting of TCA held in Oxford in 2008.  Although Mills admitted his attendance and presentation, he said it was a ‘misunderstanding’ and that he hadn’t realized it was a meeting of TCA.  Following a newspaper article in the ‘London Evening Standard’, Mills: 


“sent letters via his lawyers, Slater and Gordon, who represent the Police Federation, threatening to sue McDonnell, the Guardian, the GMB union (*) and two small websites, Union Solidarity International and Northern Voices. None of those who received threatening letters apologized for linking DCI Mills with the blacklisting meeting or paid him any money. All legal actions subsequently ran out of time.”

If Mr. Kerr was the monkey behind the Consulting Association, then, Cullum McAlpine was the organ grinder.   The Association was run under his leadership and guidance to “provide a blacklisting service” (Scottish Affairs Select Committee – Blacklisting in Employment, sixth report). In January 2016, Dinah Rose QC told the High Court:
“Cullum McAlpine is a very senior, very important man. It is very important that he should not be seen to have got away with what was clearly a protracted period of unlawful activity which it is plain that Mr. Cochrane was seeking to cover up.”

This is why some MPs and blacklisted construction workers are now demanding that Sir Robert McAlpine be stripped of the £29m four year prestigious refurbishment contract of the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben. Shadow minister for labour, Jack Dromey, said: 


“There has to be consequences for historic blacklisting, it is scandal that the iconic Big Ben contract has been given to that company (Sir Robert McAlpine).” 

(*) Editors note: since publishing this book review we have been made aware of the following:
'In August 2017, GMB posted a clarification on their website stating that union "did not intend to suggest that Mr Mills was directly responsible for the Consulting Association's blacklisting" accepting that "he was not knowingly involved in" information passing between the police and the Consulting Association used to blacklist workers'. http://www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/newsroom/gordon-mills-crocodile-tears.html


Thursday, 14 September 2017

“Alternative Libertaire”

 by Anna Jeffery

AS the centenary of the Somme and the Soviet have been marked in the media I’ve been struck by how much the role of women has been ignored.  Not so by the French magazine “Alternative Libertaire” whose current issue prominently features the activities of Ukrainian anarchist Maria Nikiforova (1885-1919).

“Banditka Maroussia”
During the Russian revolution Maria proved an irrepressible insurrectionary organiser but at the outbreak of the Great War she backed the Allies, along with Peter Kropotkin, against the overwhelming tide of international anarchist opinion.
What especially interests me about her, as the magazine explicitly recognises is that Nikiforova was, “an anarchist, orator, indomitable fighter, tossed about by the contrary winds which blew in the Russian revolution”.  So much anarchist “history” purports to eschew heroes whilst in reality erecting alternative plaster saints.  Nikiforova is an outstanding revolutionary character with feet of clay who held fast to libertarian principles whilst navigating her way through the treacherous waters of revolutionary warfare.  Sometimes she fought in alliance with the Bolsheviks, sometimes against.

“Bezmotivnii”
The daughter of an army officer, Maria became a revolutionary at the age of 16. Although generally claimed as an anarchist-communist Nikiforova practised the “propaganda of the deed”, committing indiscriminate acts of violence against the rich attributed to the “Bezmotvnii” (Motiveless).
In 1908 Maria was sentenced to 20 years hard labour for murdering a state official but escaped from prison the following year.  For almost a decade she travelled from country to country evading the authorities and in 1913 attended the London Conference of Russian Anarchist-Communists. Returning to Russia in 1917 she organised anarchist militias forces to liberate the Ukraine from all authorities of whatever colour.  Often she fought alongside the forces of the better known anarchist insurrectionary, Nestor Mahkno but even this alliance didn’t always run smooth.

“Joan of Arc of Anarchism”
Nikiforova was twice put on trial by the Bolsheviks but it was the “Whites” that finally did for her. Captured by Deniken’s army in August 1919 she was tried and shot a month later.  With recent access to previously closed Russian files, Maria Nikiforva’s full story is still being unearthed and much remains shrouded in mystery.  Masters of black propaganda the Bolsheviks subsequently disparaged Maria’s politics and even her appearance and sexuality in a systematic and determined campaign to diminish the revolutionary contribution of all but the Party.
The magazine concedes, Maria Nikiforova, “wasn’t the harpy caricatured by Soviet propaganda, she wasn’t the Joan of Arc of Anarchism of her English biographer” yet she emerges an inspiring figure and a reminder of countless un-recorded female activists who struggle alongside more celebrated male comrades.

Anna Jeffery (Especial thanks to my friend Martin Gilbert of Ulverston for drawing my attention to this edition - no. 234, July/August 2017 – of “Alternative Libertaire”)

GEORGE ORWELL & SOCIALISM

Saturday 16th, September, 1p.m. at the RED SHED, 
Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1.
Invites you to
GEORGE ORWELL & SOCIALISM
Speakers:
Brian Bamford*:
(Secretary of Tameside TUC & Secretary of Unite Bury Commercial NW 353 Branch).
Alan Stewart:
(Convenor of  Wakefield Socialist Hisoty Group).
Robin Stocks:
(Author of 'Hidden Heros of Easter Week')

FREE ADMISION.
FREE LIGHT BUFFET
ALL WELCOME. 
*****
 Les Hurst of the George Orwell Society, and Quentin Kopp (the son of George Kopp, George Orwell's POUM commander in Spain) will be attending the GEORGE ORWELL AND SOCIALISM event at the Red Shed. 

Comrades,
*  Brian Bamford (Sec of Tameside TUC and Sec of Bury Unite Commercial Branch) will be one of several speakers at the GEORGE ORWELL AND SOCIALISM event at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1 on Saturday 16th September.   The event starts at 1pm.
The area Brian will be covering in his talk is outlined below.
Fraternally
Alan Stewart
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group





Prof. Preston and George Orwell: The varieties of historical investigation and experience
A couple of years ago, at a gathering of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, Professor Paul Preston, describing George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, said: ‘It is not a bad book but the trouble is, it is the only book many people read on the Spanish Civil War’ or words to that effect. Pro. Preston suggested that ‘Homage to Catalonia’ was a book written about the Spanish War from the narrow perspective of someone who had only spent six or seven months involved in the conflict on a quiet front in the North of Spain – Aragon & Catalonia – and, that it left out much which the professional historian could now encompass supported, as he is, by the enriched ‘body of scholarship which has been published in Spanish, Catalan, English … since 1996’ (see Preface to Preston’s The Spanish Civil War [2006]). Is a modern history, written in a library by a professional historian such as that of Professor Preston’s, to be preferred to a first-hand account of the conflict written almost in the heat of battle, or shortly afterwards? Will not the professional historian and scholar’s account be more objective than that written by the former combatant and novelist? Is not the one clearly superior to the other? If not, how do we judge and value these differing contributions?
Brian Bamford is an ethno-methodologist/sociologist, who formerly worked as a maintenance electrician. He is at present Secretary of Tameside Trade Union Council and Secretary of Bury Unite the Union. He helped to edit the Tameside TUC booklet on the 75th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War [3rd Edition],...

*****

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

War of the Words: Guardian vs Mail

ON June 22nd, this year, Dominic Ponsford writing in the PRESS GAZETTE remarked that 'The Daily Mail has launched its most savage ever editorial attack on long-time critic The Guardian accusing it of “fake news” and being a “purveyor of hatred”.'
Mr. Ponsford claimed at that time that:
'Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre appears to have been spurred into action by a Guardian cartoon which depicted the van which attacked mosque worshippers at Finsbury Park with the words: “Read Sun and the Daily Mail” on the side of it.'
 It seems that the Guardian had run a few stories in which it had compared the Daily Mail to an 'open sewer' and a reader’s letter which said it was an 'organ of hate speech'.

The Mail editor Paul Dacre responded that it wouldn’t matter if The Guardian’s 'infantile lies' were confined to the pages of a 'little-read dying paper'.
'But in this age of social media, they are spread and amplified through the great distorting echo-chamber of the internet, where the mob really does rule…'


In May, The Observer, from the same stable as the Guardian, had run a piece by the journalist Tim Adams in which he asked 'Is this the most dangerous man in Britain?' in an headline over a photo of Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre. 
Mr Adams claimed that 'Paul Dacre had never had much time for what he christened Cameron’s “chumocracy”.'
Tim Adams describes the intensity of Dacre's work ethic thus: 

'Each weekday evening between about seven and 10pm he leaves his office to sit on the paper’s back bench and remorselessly rehash that day’s offering, all the while delivering what staff call “the vagina monologues”, heated critical assessments of his journalist’s efforts, with scattershot use of his favourite word, “cunt”.  Though the Mail’s website, with its sidebar of celebrity shame, is the most visited news site in the world,  Dacre has little interest in technology.  He edits with a blunt pencil, often apparently with enough vitriol to shred his page proofs.'

Meanwhile, the current issue of Private Eye's 'Street of Shame' column describes how the great dictator Dacre seeks to deliver a 'style guide' to his paper's sub-editors on how to use the English language 'to ensure that [his] readers will perceive the world the way editor Paul Dacre prefers to see it...'.  The Eye asks 'DO YOU SPEAK DACRE?'.

It's a woman's world!

by Les May
THERE was an interesting juxtaposition of articles in the ‘i’ newspaper this morning.   On the left hand side of page 19 was a piece headed ‘Women to direct every show of RSC summer season’.  On the right was a piece headed ‘Fatberg found in London sewers a total monster’.

Gushingly we were told ‘The Royal Shakespeare Company’s entire summer 2018 season will be directed by women, with strong parts cast for women of a variety of ages’.  And ‘… artistic director Gregory Doran said he would not follow the example of Michelle Terry the new boss of Shakespeare’s Globe, who has committed to to gender blind casting between men and women’.
Ooh goody!  Women of the world rejoice!  It will lift the hearts of the women who clean the toilets at the RSC to see how well their more fortunate ‘sistas’ are doing for themselves.

The ‘fatberg’ found in an east London sewer is twice the length of the pitch at Wembley, is rock hard, weighs 130 tons and will be shifted by eight workers using high-pressure hoses in nine hour shifts. For some reason the article did not mention whether Thames Water operate a ‘gender blind’ policy in recruiting sewer workers.
******

Birmingham Bin Strike Latest

THE Birmingham bin strike has eight days more to run in theory, yet the unions are balloting for yet more action.
Rubbish is piling up on the city streets and has been since the strike began eary in the summer, but the current strike - which finished off Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy - expires on September 21 .
However, a ballot for more action is expected to complete on September 18 - and union leaders have previously threatened strikes could go into next year.
Meanwhile, union Unite is due in the High Court tomorrow seeking an injunction against the 113 redundancies handed out by Birmingham City Council on September 1.
The staff affected are currently on three months notice from that date - meaning they lose their jobs at the end of November.  Unite's legal action is aimed at blocking those redundancies.
The union is arguing it made a deal with the city council through ACAS and it should be bound by that.
Unite’s bin workers are currently striking for a total of three hours a day. Workers are also returning to the depot for all lunch and tea breaks in line with Birmingham Council’s hygiene policy.
Unite is currently re-balloting its member for further strike action, as required by anti-trade union laws, the ballot will close on September 18. If as expected Unite’s members renew their strike mandate the industrial action will continue until the New Year.
Unite’s bin workers are currently striking for a total of three hours a day.  Workers are also returning to the depot for all lunch and tea breaks in line with Birmingham Council’s hygiene policy.
******


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Banned but not Gagged!

Health campaigner - Paul Broadhurst

A local pensioner and health campaigner from Dukinfield, in Greater Manchester, has received an invitation to a 'community open day' at 'Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust', despite being banned from entering hospital premises since November 2016.

Last September, Paul Broadhurst, received a letter from Weightmans solicitors of Liverpool- who act on behalf of Tameside Hospital - advising him that he was banned from entering any Trust premises unless his attendance was for a medical emergency or a pre-arranged medical appointment.

In October 2016, Mr. Broadhurst, who suffers from a serious heart condition, was escorted off the hospital premises by security staff while accompanying his wife who was attending the hospital for emergency medical treatment. He was told by hospital security staff that he'd been 'ASBO'd' and would have to leave the premises immediately. The CEO, of Tameside Hospital, Karen James, subsequently apologised for the way Mr Broadhurst and his wife had been treated, but the ban was not lifted. The letter form Weightmans solicitors, warned him:

"If you attend for any other purpose then you would be trespassing and action could be taken to remove you from the site and/or legal action could be brought against you."

To justify their actions in excluding Mr Broadhurst, the hospital alleges that he had called for the resignation of Paul Connellan, the Chairman of the hospital Board, and had disrupted meetings and intimidated staff. While Mr Broadhurst acknowledges that he's called on Connellan to resign, he says that many of the allegations made against him by the hospital are malicious, defamatory and unsubstantiated.  He says that in spite of seeking specific details about the nature of any complaints that have been made against him, neither the hospital or their solicitors, have been able to provide him with any "hard evidence." He also points out that his membership of the hospital Trust, has never been rescinded, although he cannot attend hospital meetings because of the ban.

It has often been cited in official reports on Tameside Hospital that hospital staff frequently feel bullied and harassed, not by Mr Broadhurst, but by Tameside Hospital management. Even though the hospital as a policy of "if in doubt speak out", many hospital staff have indicated in these reports that they feel at risk if they speak out about their concerns. Mr Broadhurst, alleges that one public governor from Droylsden, was forced to resign in February 2016, after raising concerns about "NHS Improvements." In his own particular case, he feels that the ban imposed by Tameside Hospital, is a crude attempt to silence him and to stop him asking awkward and critical questions and attending hospital meetings.

Tameside Hospital is massively in debt and this is a major reason why it was recently announced that Shire Hill Hospital in Glossop, is to close. The hospital are also planning to cut 246 beds at Tameside Hospital by 2020. Although the official spiel from the hospital is couched in terms of 'improving services' and 'reconfiguration', the financial considerations are inescapable. In 2010, the official regulator 'Monitor', declared the hospital to be "Clinically and financially unsustainable." In 2015/16 compensation claims hit £9m and we understand that five hospital board members, have recently "jumped ship."

Last year, the Trust balance sheet showed a deficit of £14 million plus a loan from the NHS for hospital improvements (including the new Darnton Unit at the Hospital) of £55 million. By  the end of the current financial year the estimated deficit will be £24 million and the loan will have risen to £78 million. At the declared interest rate of 3.6%, the repayments on the loan alone, will be at least £2.8 million per year.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group (TGCCG), held at Dukinfield Town Hall on 26 July,  Mr Broadhurst - who was the only member of the public to attend the meeting - asked if the debt of the Trust would affect the ability of the TGCCG when funding or setting up with other service providers for the needs of the community. Kathy Rose, the Chief Financial Officer for TGCCG replied that this would have no bearing on money that the TGCCG allocates, as the hospital deal was directly with NHS Improvements. We understand that Paul Connellan, the Chairman of the Board at Tameside Hospital, who was at the meeting, declined to comment.

While Paul Broadhurst may have been banned from attending meetings at Tameside Hospital, it doesn't appear that the hospital have managed to gag him. He can now be found most weeks at the hospital car park, with placard and T-shirt proudly proclaiming, "THE TRUST THAT HIDES THE TRUTH!"

We understand that after receiving the invitation to attend the Tameside Hospital AGM and the "Open Day", Mr Broadhurst sent an email to the hospital on 23rd August, asking if his ban had been lifted. At the time of writing, we gather that the hospital have yet to respond.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Storm in Naples on Florida Peninsular

BELOW is a report sent today at 11.34am English time from my younger sister describing the conditions for her family following the consequences of hurricane Irma in Naples on the Florida Peninsular:
Hi,
We are safe! Spent the night on the floor upstairs in a neighbours apartment because of flooding. Seems like our place will be okay but can't go out yet. Looks like it may have gone straight over Laura's but not sure when we will get to their place. Everywhere is a mess!! Will let you know more when I can. No power so saving phone batteries.
Love Lynn & the gang here xxx
--

Sir Robert McAlpine & the truth on blacklist?

THE Speaker of the House of Commons and the Sir Robert McAlpine chief executive both joined the war of words about the £29m contract to refurbish Big Ben being awarded to the blacklist company.  On Tuesday 5th September during a Westminster Hall debate on blacklisting MPs including Labour and SNP frontbenchers, Jack Dromey and Chris Stephens, joined Chuka Ummuna in calling for the company that was at the very heart of The Consulting Association human rights scandal to be stripped of the Big Ben contract. 

The former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna went further on Thursday 7th by raising a 'point of order' on the floor of the House of Commons asking the Speaker, his "views and advice with regard to the matter of Big Ben" adding, "what message do you think it sends to the victims of this gross injustice for this House to award a contract to a firm that not only funded the Consulting Association, but provided its first chair and another chair?"

John Bercow replied: that the question was "perfectly legitimately and reasonable" adding that although the company had been awarded the initial contract to provide scaffolding, the full contract had not yet been officially awarded to McAlpine.  The Speaker of the House of Commons summed up by confirming:
"It is important.   We are sensitive to it and we will be conscious in the days ahead of the reputational importance", and told MPs that he would make enquiries and make a further statement.

Stung by the ongoing criticism, the chief executive of Sir Robert McAlpine Limited, Paul Hamer wrote a letter to a number of newspapers claiming that "blacklisting has no place now or in the future” at his firm and that the contractor was committed fully to "a zero-tolerance policy towards blacklisting, illegal or unfair recruitment practices”.  Adding that “I am pleased to confirm that Sir Robert McAlpine complies fully with all legislation to prevent blacklisting and is committed to fair and transparent recruitment.”

Roy Bentham, blacklisted carpenter from Liverpool and Blacklist Support Group, joint secretary responded to the McAlpine statement:
"Paul Hamer might be the CEO but Cullum McAlpine owns the company and I sat behind Cullum McAlpine when he gave evidence to the select committee investigation. Upon advice from his lawyer who was sitting next to him throughout, the blacklister in chief smugly refused to answer questions put to him by MPs. 
"The select committee report stated that they were 'far from certain that all of our witnesses have told us 'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth', despite many of them being under oath'.  Blacklisted workers completely agree with that assessment by MPs".
"30 years ago Sir Robert McAlpine Limited* denied blacklisting people as part of the Economic League, 10 years ago they denied blacklisting people as part of The Consulting Association.  And now they assure us that they've given up blacklisting completely.  Given the company's previous honesty on blacklisting, how could anybody possibly not believe them now?"

Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said workers were “continuing to have their lives ruined simply for being a member of a union”.

In May last year, Sir Robert McAlpine Limited was one of eight multi-national contractors that made a public apology alongside a record breaking multi-million pound compensation payout in order to avoid prosecution at the High Court. 
Eight contractors – Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska and Vinci.

Wrapping up Identity Politics


by Les May


I HAVE little liking for Tony Blair’s politics but I am inclined to agree with him that the only way to make Brexit a ‘success’ is to turn the UK into a Singapore style low tax, low regulation economy to compete with the EU.

After a quarter of a century of scepticism about the EU I realised that at the heart of the project was a desire to produce a ‘level playing field’ and prevent economic competition between countries leading to a ‘race to the bottom’ which is why I voted to remain in the EU.

Blair is not the first to point out that a Singapore style economy is a possible outcome of the vote to leave the EU.  Vernon Bogdanor made exactly this point in a wholly non-partisan way in a lecture broadcast on the Parliament Channel (Freeview 232).

A shift to a Singapore style economy would result in profound changes not just in our economic relationships but in our social and democratic relationships. Singapore has been described as a ‘flawed democracy’ and ranks 70th in the Democracy Index tables. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index

Where I disagree with Blair is his claim that ‘voters would not back such big shake up to the economy and society. In reality no-one is gong to ask the voters for their opinion until it is too late.

The fact is that there is little interest in economic matters amongst the public which take its lead from what appears in the press and on the electronic media. A shift to a Singapore style economy seems to be entirely consistent with the policies being pursued by the politicians in charge of negotiating the UK’s leaving the EU and the line of the Brexit supporting papers.  Even the supposedly more ‘liberal’ papers rarely put the case for a fairer economic system.  Commentators can pass themselves off as ‘left of centre’ by holding forth on the ‘right’ views about sexism, racism, and the ‘alphabet soup’ of ---phobias.

If you remember what attracted most attention from these commentators after both the leadership elections won by Corbyn wasn’t his economic policies but whether he had the right number of women in the shadow cabinet and whether the posts they held were sufficiently prestigious.

Much attention has been given to the fact that younger people tended to vote for Labour at the recent election but was it Labour’s economic policies which attracted them?

Speaking to students at the Cambridge Union during a book promotion tour of the UK earlier this year Bernie Sanders said “If I give a speech about combatting racism people would say ‘that’s great we cannot tolerate racism or sexism or homophobia’ and people respond to that. But what is harder for a variety of reasons for people to deal with is the fact that increasingly in this country, and Corbyn makes this point, and in my country, we are looking at oligarchic forms of government where the people on top have increased power, increased wealth, while the middle classes shrink and why many people live in desperate poverty. That is an approach that makes certain people uncomfortable. They feel uneasy about that, but I applaud Jeremy Corbyn for raising those issues”.

At the Oxford Union he said, “There is an area which is not nearly so sexy as dealing with race, as dealing with gender, as dealing with homophobia and that is the economic struggle and in that struggle we are not only not making progress, we are losing ground”.  As if to emphasise his point the applause came when he made reference to ‘gay’ marriage in the UK.

The anti Labour press knows how to exploit the politics of identity for its own ends. See for example http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4804176/MP-hyprocrisy-Naz-Shah-accused-racism-herself.html So let’s not play their game.

Sander’s point was that economic issues and the increasing influence of the super rich on our political life, ‘wrap around’ these questions of identity politics. Identity politics plays to the interests of a few.   How we organise our economy and how fairly the wealth it creates is distributed affects us all.

Piddling Programs

by Les May
SPEAKING on Al Jazeera’s ‘Inside Story’ programme after the BRICS summit meeting a Chinese commentator suggested that the North Korean leadership’s policies were primarily directed at preventing any moves towards a closer relationship between China and the USA.

The idea of a closer relationship is not so strange as it may seem. China has abandoned any pretence of being a socialist country and is best described as a country which practices authoritarian capitalism.

Perhaps we should be grateful that Kim Jong-un is preventing Trump and China piddling in the same pot.

Birmingham Labour Leader Quits


BIRMINGHAM City Council leader John Clancy has resigned following the city's bin dispute disaster  admitting he has made mistakes.
The Labour leader’s resignation comes as a direct result of his handling of the bin strike - in particular the recriminations following the aborted deal he struck with the Unite union in mid-August.

When his efforts to end the damaging dispute failed he tried to shift blame to the Unite union, claiming there never was deal.
This was then contradicted in both a leaked email he sent to bin depot staff and a statement from the conciliation service Acas.
He was accused of overstepping his authority, souring relations with unions and senior council staff and ignoring crucial legal advice in trying to force through the deal.
A string of Labour colleagues, both in private and in public, called for him to go.
But in his resignation statement Councillor Clancy blamed what he called the ‘frenzied media speculation’ for his decision to go.
He added: 'I wish to stress that the actions I took along with my cabinet to negotiate an end to an extremely complex and difficult industrial dispute were done with the best of intentions. None of us are perfect, and I made some mistakes, for which I am sorry and take full responsibility.'
It was his bad management of the bitter bin strike, which began on June 30, that prompted direct intervention of the Government and senior Labour Party figures which finally led to his downfall.
Unite says Chief Executive should go!

Meanwhile Howard Beckett, assistant general secretary of the Unite Union says that the council chief executive Stella Manzie, who he blames for the collapse of the deal, should follow the leader and resign.
He said:  'The interim chief executive has lost the trust of Birmingham city council’s workforce and the people of Birmingham. Time and again through her action Stella Manzie has shown herself to be dishonourable.'

A key element in the collapse of the deal is the threat of costly equal pay action had the council agreed to allow 113 redundancy threatened binmen to remain on their current pay grade. Unite argue that extra duties can be added to justify the grade, but council lawyers said that such a move would be rejected by the courts.

The council’s deputy leader Ian Ward, has taken over as interim leader.
******

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Stop Rohingya Massacre in Burma

from John Wilkins:
Thanks for signing to stop another genocide.

Now forward this to friends and family -- let's build a massive one-million person call before the UN summit begins:

https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/rohingya_crackdown_73/?tfSMhib&v=500348176&cl=13114816663&_checksum=9f6fd5b335d25988f21d8948917ed478cadfdfc6d9d39ffb70461008f2de4b45 

-------
Dear friends,

In the last week, Myanmar’s army has hacked hundreds to death, beheaded children, and driven thousands of families from their homes -- just because they’re Rohingya, a hated indigenous minority.

The man responsible, General Hlaing, doesn’t face any consequences -- in fact, this murderer gets red carpet treatment and millions in military aid from countries from the UK to Russia, Israel to Germany!

This army can’t survive without our governments' support, so let’s build a global outcry now, as media attention has put the Rohingya crisis on leaders’ agenda -- and roll back the red carpet for the murderer. Add your name:

Click to stop the Rohingya massacre

Governments around the world have engaged with Burma’s military -- hoping to prevent massacres like we’re seeing right now. It’s now clear that policy has failed, but they have massive leverage by breaking ties with these butchers!

The Rohingya are a peaceful, poverty stricken community who are denied citizenship of Burma, because of their darker skin and different religion. They’ve been persecuted for years -- but this is the worst crisis they have ever faced.

Burma’s generals don’t care about human rights, but they do care about their army. They rely on aid and alliances with other governments -- and if these countries start cutting ties they’ll stop the slaughter to save their future. Add your name now to demand our leaders stop supporting Burma!

Click to stop the Rohingya massacre

We’ve helped the Rohingya before -- when thousands fled a previous crackdown and were stranded at sea, our global community donated to support rescue missions to save them. Now they need us again -- more than ever. Let’s rise to their call.

With hope,

Bert, Rewan, Ana Sofia, Danny, and the entire Avaaz team

More information:

Rohingya: "Even a baby was not spared by the military" (Al Jazeera)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/rohingya-babies-spared-army-170827192311109.html 

UN reports "devastating cruelty" against Rohingya (UN)
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56103 

UN official says 'crimes against humanity' could be unfolding in Myanmar (CNN)
http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/21/asia/myanmar-un-crimes-against-humanity/index.html