Saturday, 12 December 2009

The Blacklist & My Part In Its Downfall by Brian Bamford, Secretary of Tameside TUC

Overshadowed by the DAF dispute and the findings of the Manchester Employment Tribunal; in 2005, at the National Conference of Trade Union Councils (TUCs) in Liverpool, Alec McFadden, North West Rep. of the TUC Joint Consultative Committee, moved an emergency motion against the blacklist, which he argued was mainly being perpetuated by employers in the private sector. I, as the delegate of Tameside Trade Union Council, seconded this motion pointing out that one of the DAF managers, Michael Fahey, had stated under oath to the Tribunal that an officer in what was then Amicus had been involved in deliberations about the blacklisting of certain Manchester electricians. These were subsequently dismissed and took part in a picket against DAF in Piccadilly and later in Crown Square. The motion before the National Conference was overwhelmingly supported and it was referred to the Trade Union Congress in London for its consideration.

At the next National Conference of TUCs in Torquay, in 2006, the Trade Union Congress replied, as I recall, to the effect that since evidence for a blacklist in the UK was only 'anecdotal' the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), as it then was, would not act. About that time in 2006, Alan Wainwright, a former manager in the British building trade who had by then become a whistle-blower, had published a blog showing over a thousand names of individuals in UK construction, who, he claimed, had been on a national blacklist. Construction News had just run a front page article on the issue Mr Wainwright had exposed. Late Pat McFadden, of BERR which replaced the DTI, was to argue in a letter to a MP for one of the blacklisted Manchester electricians that though the Government was aware of Mr Wainwright's allegations and his use of the list to exclude people from employment, it seemed that he couldn't define the criteria used to by the firms to put people on the list. Hence nothing further was done.

It was only this year, with the raid of the Information Commissioner in February, that Ian Kerr was caught with a smoking gun and a list of 3,213 names on an illegal database held by the Consulting Association that things started to happen. Confronted with this evidence the Government at last had to act and Lord Mandelson issued a statement to this effect soon afterwards. Last Wednesday (2nd December 2009), the Government issued its response to its consultation on the outlawing of blacklisting in the UK. A week later Employment law pundit Professor Keith Ewing has given his verdict that the Government's proposed new regulations are not much to write home about.

Is this just another Government fudge? Just more cosmetic laws to cover up inaction against the bosses' discrimination against safety reps. and shop-floor activists?

Free-lance journalist, Phil Chamberlain, claimed on his blog [December 8th, 2009]: 'In fact the Government's consultation document appears to give the green light to employers to blacklist in certain circumstances.'

Chamberlain argues: 'The difference is clearest in event of workers stopping work due to serious safety concerns. This is considered to be unofficial industrial action. Such unofficial action, which is legal, would not be covered by the proposed regulations and companies could continue to discriminate [against] workers who took part in such a stoppage.' Mr Chamberlain thinks the Government doesn't do anything to discourage such blacklisting when it says: 'The Government believes such [unofficial] industrial action is especially disruptive and injurious to orderly industrial relations because, by definition, the trade union has not endorsed and controlled it.'

Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of the union UCATT, said of the proposed new regulations: 'Not only are these regulations entirely inadequate, the Government's consultation response favours the continuation of blacklisting in certain circumstances.'

It seems the Government's 54-page document fails to deal with the everyday blacklisting of safety reps. and activists; and Phil Chamberlain says: '[this] was a notable feature of the Consulting Association's blacklisting practices.' UCATT is anxious about the proposed law's failure to protect safety representatives and its allowance of 'vetting' by bosses for activities other than trade union matters, meaning that workers who the boss considers to be troublemakers will still be blacklisted.

Maybe I'll just have to wait a bit before I can blow my own trumpet about my part in the downfall of the UK blacklist.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Keystone Kops in Clean-up Bury Campaign

Terry Nieland and other managers from the Bradley Fold Depot, Bury, Lancashire, have been running round like blue-arsed flies in an effort to clear up rubbish left as a result of Bury Council's introduction of a new scheme for waste collections thought up by Waste management supremo Glenn Stuart. It all started last month when Councillor Dorothy Gunther, Bury's Executive Member for Environment & Transport, justifying the new changes in refuse collection, declared: 'We all know about the threat of climate change. These changes will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the environment and improve recycling opportunities for more residents.'

Two weeks into the new scheme the benefits to the environment and the taxpayers are far from clear; with the local binmen struggling to complete their new rounds on time and bin wagons having to be tipped on Saturday morning by specially employed Agency workers instead of Friday night by the regular crews. The Head of Waste Management in Bury, Glenn Stuart, had promised:
'... the crews are making sure they are up to speed by familiarising themselves with the new more effective routes' and reassuring 'local residents that we will be working hard to make sure the changes take place smoothly ...'
Two days ago, it is reported, a Bury binman chipped a tooth while emptying an overfull bin whose lid was raised so that it blew into his face. We must wonder if in the anxiety to bring in new schemes designed to run the waste service more cheaply, but sold under the guise of a greener service with a reduced 'carbon footprint', the council is putting the safety of its workforce at risk: especially with management chasing round like Keystone Kops. Meanwhile in nearby Bolton, a new scheme of waste collection introduced in September, has brought claims that there is a risk of rat infestation owing to rubbish being left around. An enterprising company called GSD Pest Repeller is already advertising its services in Bolton based on the claim that Leeds residents suffered through the refuse collectors' strike, which, they say, has 'led to a marked increase in the area's rat control problems'.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

One Of The Great Blues Guitarists - Check This Out

Chumbawamba eat your heart out! This is blues music at its best. Walter Trout playing his version of the Elmore James song Dust My Broom. I saw Walter Trout a while ago when he was playing a gig at Manchester University. He`s without doubt one of the best blues guitarists of all time having played with the Father of British blues John Mayall, Canned Heat, and the legendary, John Lee Hooker. The next time he comes to Manchester, go and see him.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Greater Manchester serves-up Festive Season of Demons of Anarchy to go with the Angels of Anarchy

While the Manchester Art Gallery has an exhibition on 'The Angels of Anarchy' representing the female artists that contributed to the Surrealist movement; down at the Bury Met Theatre, this Wednesday night, at 7.30 pm, the notorious band Chumbawamba is teaming up with the radical theatre group - Red Ladder - to put on the 'Adult Panto': RIOT, REBELLION AND BLOODY INSURRECTION (see promo video at the bottom on this post).

The anarchist credentials of Chumbawamba are solid and the anarchist lead writer on Northern Voices says they performed a benefit for him when he was editor of 'Libertarian Education'. They did much more than that: at the Brit Awards they famously threw water over the then Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and his wife. The Manchester Evening News journalist, Kevin Bouke, claims that 'in that late Nineties ... the band turned down a reported $1.5million from Nike to use the song Tubthumping in a World Cup advertisement.'

The great thing about this performance is that it features a series of mostly one night stands at various venues only in the North of England (apart from one date in Somerset):

Wednesday 2nd December, 7.30 pm, - Bury Met, in Bury
Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th December, 7.30 pm, - The Viaduct, Halifax.
Saturday 5th December, 7.30 pm - Bradford Playhouse.
Monday 7th & Tuesday 8th December - Holmfirth Picturedrome.
Wednesday 9th December, 8.00 pm - Barnsley Civic.
Thursday 10th December, 7.30 pm - Oldham Coliseum.
Friday 11th December, 7.30 pm -  Sheffield Greentop Circus.
Saturday 12th December, 8.00 pm - Kirkgate Centre, Cockermouth.
Monday 14th December - Irish Centre, Leeds.
Tuesday 15th December - Balne Lane Working Men's Club, Wakefield (phone 01924 212335 for tickets).
Wednesday 16th December, 7.30 pm - Art Centre, Washington
Thursday 17th December, 7.30 pm - The Mart, Skipton
Friday 18th December, 7.30 pm - Queen's Hall, Hexham
Friday 4th January, 7.30 pm - The Octagon, Hull
Saturday 5th January, 8 pm - Pacific Road Arts Centre, Wirral
Monday 7th January - Bridgwater Arts Centre
Tuesday 8th January - Civic Theatre, Oswaldtwistle
Wednesday 9th January, 8 pm - The Sage, Gateshead

Friday, 27 November 2009

Blacklist: is the Employment Tribunal the proper arena?

On Monday 23rd, November, some 30 supporters of the blacklisted building workers and applicants at the next day's Employment Tribunal attended a meeting at the Mechanic's Institute on Manchester's Princess Street. Chaired by Colin Trousdale for the Manchester Campaign Against the Blacklist and Dave Smith for the Blacklist Support Group, it attempted to make people aware of the issues that would be dealt with at the Employment Tribunal's Case Management Meeting on the 24th, November. The barrister for the applicant workers, Nick Tongue, and another solicitor, outlined the probable procedures and legal issues involved. Mr Tongue warned the meeting not to expect the legal profession to bring about social transformation or political change through these cases; social change, he said, could only come about, as ever, through human solidarity and community action via organisations such as trade unions, and recourse to the law was no substitute for this. Asked if the Employment Tribunal was the proper arena to get justice in these blacklist cases, he cautioned against people expecting too much from the civil courts, such as the High Court; judges in the High Court, he said, could be 'conservative' and unsympathetic to trade unionists, as had been shown in some of the decisions of the civil courts in recent times.

The meeting questioned the apparent involvement of AMICUS officials (now part of Unite the Union) in the past enforcement of the blacklist as indicated in The Guardian, last Saturday, by Phil Chamberlain. It was suggested that there should be an internal inquiry into this by Unite the Union. Derek Pattison, President of Tameside TUC, asked about the evidence of the 'blacklist merchant' Ian Kerr's involvement with state intellegence agancies such as MI5. Mick Abbott, an applicant in a Blacklist case and leader of the Campaign for the Shrewsbury Pickets, addressed the meeting and suggested that these two campaigns be linked together.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Meeting to commemorate 25 years since the start of the Miner's Strike

The metaphor that comes to my mind is that Arthur Scargill and the British miners in their strike of 1984-85, have come to increasingly resemble Napoleon and the French at the Battle of Borodino, just before entering Moscow and their historic retreat.  The historic fact is that Arthur Scargill, the brilliant tactician and skilled orator with an overwhelming media presence, made possible one of the greatest retreats the British labour movement has ever experienced. A retreat that, in its length, now rivals that of the one that followed the General Strike. One would have thought such a debacle, such a disaster, in its magnitude would render itself as valuable lesson from which to draw conclusions on how to proceed in future, but the emotions surrounding this dispute are still raw and make this, even now, a difficult endeavour.

A meeting to launch a book edited by the journalist Granville Williams about this miners' strike given at the Working Class Movement Library on the 21st November, demonstrated this dilemma.  It was well attended but full to bursting point with nostalgia, sentimentality and self-righteousness about how the police are brutal, the judiciary unjust and the Tory politicians deceitful.  It was as if Boxer, the cart-horse in Orwell's Animal Farm, had been reincarnated to shout:  'We must work harder Comrades!'  Nobody seemed willing to ask themselves if there was something systematically wrong in the British trade unions and on the Left that led to our failure beyond implying that we were cheated and swindled by the boss-class.

Blacklist Case Management Meeting

In Parsonage Square, Manchester, on Tuesday 24th, November 2009, there was a scene that would have delighted Charles Dickens. About 30 solicitors, representing over 40 firms accused of blacklisting workers in the British building trade, trooped like rats on a treadmill between the windswept shrubs wheeling their portfolios behind them, to attend a landmark Case Management Meeting at the Manchester Employment Tribunal.  The unions UCATT and Unite were represented at the hearing by the barrister Nick Tongue for some of the applicants, others, perhaps non-union members, were employing their own solicitors and the odd ones were representing themselves. The indications are that these cases will weigh heavily upon the Tribunal system in 2010: last Tuesday, in a day-long trudge through the 20-odd separate cases to find a common legal locus on which to focus against over 40 employers, stretched the minds of these lawyers to breaking point as they twisted and turned to find simple solutions and engineer test cases. In the end, it seems, there will be no test cases as most of the cases have unique qualities and it will prove too unwieldy to run them together as one.

Such was the legal gravy train that has now been set in motion, that it seems some of the employers' solicitors ended up arguing with each other as to who was representing whom. On the applicants side if they start calling for Dave Clancy of the Information Commissioner's Office to be asked to bring the 'unredacted' copies of Ian Kerr's files to the Tribunal: that would be dynamite given that the names of some of the spies and informants would become visible for all the see. Northern Voices understand that before this hearing one firm; the Swedish company Skanska, has said it used the information from Ian Kerr's database to get health and safety information because they didn't want to end up employing 'drug addicts' and the like.

It is likely that most of the cases won't be heard before April 2010, but Steve Acheson's recent case against BMS is set for February 9th, 2010.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

How much is Amicus implicated in Blacklisting?

Phil Chamberlain's report in The Guardian on Saturday 21st November contained an item from Ian Kerr's blacklist database:
Mick Anderson, 40, married with 3 children, from Kerry, Ireland.
Submitted 250 job applications and took courses to keep his electrical training up to date but was out of work 16 months... His file includes this extract:
'Information received by 3271/81 site manager at Heathrow T5 that the above is "not recommended" by amicus.'
If officers in Amicus, now merged with the Transport & General Workers' Union in Unite the Union, have been involved in informing on individual electricians this is a serious matter and one that deserves to be investigated. Up to now Tommy Hardacre, a national Unite the Union officer and formerly from Amicus, has asked those fighting the blacklist to 'name the names' of those involved, but, as he knows, the names of the Amicus informers in Ian Kerr's blacklist data files have been blacked-out by the Information Commissioner's Office acting under the data protection laws. Rather than hiding behind the fig-leaf of data protection, Tommy Hardacre should now be more concerned to clear the good name of the Unite the Union by launching an investigation to expose those inside the union who may, in the past, have been guilty of trading in names for Ian Kerr's blacklist.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Today's Guardian - Boys From The Blacklist

Following up on his original story of over two years ago that brought the blacklist in the British building trade to widespread public attention, today investigative journalist, Phil Chamberlain, splashed another report across the front of the 'WORK' insert of today's Guardian.  In it he quoted Bacup electrician, Colin Trousdale, who has only had eight weeks work since last December and is now on the dole, as saying:  'I can only think [it is] because I've raised health and safety concerns - and remember this is an industry in which 53 people died last year - I'm affecting profits and they don't want me doing that.'  Colin Trousdale is a highly qualified spark with one fatal flaw in that he comes originally from Crumpsall, in Manchester, and in common with folk from round there has a habit of speaking his own mind.

Will the likes of him get more protection under the new laws against discrimination at work now being proposed by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary?  Research by Professor Keith Ewing, from the Institute of Employment Rights, suggests he may still be struggling:  such as under the proposed new law he, and others, will still have no right not to be blacklisted as it does not make blacklisting a criminal offence and it puts the onus on the victim to bring a case; also the definition "trade union activity" is tightly drawn in so far as spying information data on other actions could be lawfully collected and held.

The building union UCATT, that commissioned Professor Ewing and is supporting the Campaign Against the Blacklist demo outside the Manchester Employment Tribunal at Alexandra House in Parsonage Gardens on the 24th, Nov. at 9am, through its own blacklisted General Secretary, Alan Ritchie said:  'The regulations need to be stronger in order to eradicate blacklisting'.  He added:  'For example, many of those blacklisted were due to health and safety issues, therefore the regulations should cover all activities associated with trade unions.'   Alan Ritchie told the Guardian:  'These scandals have thrown into sharp focus that the UK construction industry is not fit for purpose in the way it operates.'  Mr Ritchie also claims:  '...many of the biggest blacklisters were multi-national corporations, and their international boards have been shocked at what was happening... we are seeing personal changes at senior level and different approaches to work because of the scandal.'

Meanwhile, Colin Trousdale declared to the jounalist Phil Chamberlain:  'I am not interested in the money, I am just interested in getting back to work.'

NB - you can read Phil Chamberlain's blog about the article and the wider issues here, and all of his blogs on the subject of blacklisting here.

Colin Trousdale, who has long been an avid reader of Northern Voices, has agreed to do an interview with us in our next issue in the New Year.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Booklet on Spanish Civil War and its Aftermath: The Snobbery & Elitism of Professional Historians

In 2006, Tameside Trade Union Council and other North West trade unionists brought out a booklet to commemorate the kick-off of the Spanish Civil War: now in its 3rd edition [Oct. 2009] the book has been extended from 20 to 28 A4-size pages and has a Preface that uses Noam Chomsky's essay 'Objectivity & Liberal Scholarshipto challenge Professor Paul Preston's work 'The Spanish Civil War'.  This 3rd edition booklet by trade unionists defends Orwell's 'Homage to Cataloniaand the value of primary sources, and eye-witness accounts, against the glossing interpretations of professional historians like Preston.  It draws upon the observations, in interviews, letters and journal-form of the foot-soldiers, such as Ralph Cantor, Pedro Cuadrado and Orwell, mocked by Professor Preston.  Preston in the 2006 edition of his own book 'The Spanish Civil War' belittles other historians for being partisan, but makes it clear that he himself has an axe to grind.  This trade unionist 3rd edition booklet of 'The Spanish Civil War - The Aftermath', also includes an interview by Richard Porton with Ken Loach, the director of the film 'Land & Freedom' and a 1995 interview with Jim Allen, the screenwriter on the film.

Further reading - Manchester's Radical History has interviews with Spanish Civil war veterans Sam Wild and Bessie Berry & Bernard McKenna (all Communists)

Spanish Civil War booklet 3rd edition:  Price £4.60/€5.00 post included, cheques payable to 'Tameside Trade Union Council' from c/o 46, Kingsland Road, Rochdale, Lancs.  OL11 3HQ.

To read comments received about this publication, please click through the 'Read more' link below:

New Year 2010 - Northern Voices 11 preview

Contents include:

'Six o' Best: Northern Tea Time Treats' by Chris Draper:
Eccles Cakes from Salford or maybe, Hebden Bridge; Fat Rascals from Harrogate; Sad Cakes from Burnley;  Chorley Cakes from North Lancs.; Bakewell Tarts from Derbyshire; Turd Tarts from the West Riding of Yorkshire; Singing Hinnies from Newcastle and Yorkshire Parkin.  Which is going to be the best that the North has to offer?

Municipal Motoring by Chris the Clippy on the disappearance of the North's regional buses and their unique colour schemes.

'Can tha' keep a secret?: An old Yorkshire tale of class war, conspiracy, murder' by Christopher Draper;  a history of Ned Ludd in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

'On the banks of the River Roach, Jacky Brook, Healey Dell in Rochdale & the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul' by Brian Bamford.

Price £1.50 [£2.00 post included] cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' obtainable from c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10  4AH.

And on sale at a large number of newsagents in Greater Manchester, Rochdale, Tameside, Salford, Swinton, Eccles, Burnley and bookshops in other areas such as News From Nowhere in Liverpool, Bob's Bookshop in Oldham and Bookcase in Hebden Bridge. Northern Voices is also on sale in Glossop at Bay Tree BooksGeorge Street Books and Bestsellers in the Market Arcade.

Buenaventura Durruti 1896-1936

This youtube video celebrates the life of Buenaventura Durruti,the Spanish anarchist revolutionary. A legend within the anarchist movement, Durruti, symbolised the spirit of Spanish anarchism and the feelings and goals of the Spanish anarchist workers who took up arms to resist Franco and Fascism in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).

Northern Voices contributors have taken part in the publication of a booklet commemorating the Spanish Civil War, and you can read more about it here.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Protest lobby against building trade blacklist

A protest lobby against the blacklist in the British building trade is being called by the Greater Manchester Campaign Against the Blacklist and the London based, Blacklist Support Group:  it will be held outside the Employment Tribunal at Alexandra House, opposite Parsonage Gardens in Central Manchester near Deansgate.  This protest lobby coincides with the start of the Case Management Meeting to deal with a large number of tribunal claims by building workers from all over Britain: solicitors for members of Unite the UnionUcatt and members of no trade union, will be presenting their arguments on how their cases for justice should proceed against some of the biggest construction companies in the land.

Brian Bamford, former electrician, Secretary of Bury Unite the Union and Secretary of Tameside Trade Union Council, states:

'I believe that the blacklist is the unacceptable face of the British building trade.  It is like something out of a 19th century novel by Charles Dickens sent to haunt us.  It is a repugnant phenomena; in the same way as slopping-out was a repugnant activity in our jails until recently.  It ruins lives and domestic harmony, and it persecutes people for their honestly held political beliefs and trade union activities.  It has no place in a decent society in the 20th Century.'

This whole matter of blacklist is now the subject of an Early Day Motion promoted by Michael Clapham MP, and now Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, is considering legislation to deal with blacklisting.

For more information contact either Brian Bamford (Secretary of Bury Unite the Union NW 6/353 Branch) on 01706  861793 or Colin Trousdale (EPIU Greater Manchester Contracting Branch - Unite NW 6/1400) on 07792  358697.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Terrorism Act injunction thrown out of Court!

We're happy to report that the Terrorism Act injunction brought against Blacklisted worker and Trades Unionist Steve Acheson has been thrown out of the High Court today.

The Judge dismissed the application by Scottish & Southern Energy, branding their application "fantasy bordering on the edge of paranoia", and added "This court exists to grant injunctions in urgent cases. It does not exist to grant injunctions which might be thought to be convenient to applicants". Acheson was also awarded costs.

Scottish and Southern Energy have now stated their intention to apply to the local County Court, but this would seem foolhardy as a higher court has already rejected this application - a high risk strategy has not paid off so far.

Further reading:
Article on BBC website
Article on Manchester Evening News website

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Terrorism Act 2000 being used against Blacklisted workers

A hearing is pending in the Royal Courts of Justice, London, on Wednesday 21st October at 10.30am, at which Scottish and Southern Energy is applying for an injunction against Steve Acheson, one of the 3 electricians in the class legal action blacklist case against companies affiliated to Ian Kerr's Consulting Association, & also Sec. of the Unite/EPIU Manchester Contracting Branch: this is an injunction sought by the main contractor at Fiddlers Ferry.

This injunction is being brought under the Terrorism Act 2000 & seeks to show that Steve, as the 1st respondent, & others unnamed [as second respondents], by their constant picketing of the site represent "a threat to the energy supplies of this country". Because this application is being brought under the Terrorism Act 2000, Steve will not be able to defend himself at this hearing, as we understand it. The basis of the application is that by picketing the site he is committing a Trespass because he & others are on the Firm's property; that having issued leaflets to workers on the site calling for 'direct action' he is 'inciting' the workforce to commit acts contrary to the national interest which may impact on energy supplies & that he has, at times, acted in a way that might have intimidated the workforce. There is no mention in the company's deposition to the Court that he was formerly employed by them, nor that his picket represents a campaign against blacklisting. One senior trade union leader in the RMT has already said that if this goes ahead it will have consequences for the whole trade union movement.

Friday, 9 October 2009

James Purnell Dumped By Focus Group

Another Youtube offering for NV blog readers. A focus group run by the American political consultant Frank Luntz, were asked about James Purnell`s chances of succeeding Gordon Brown as Labour leader. Nobody in the group could identify Purnell and one person thought he was the mail room boy from Downing Street. After listening to an interview with Purnell, one participant remarked: 'He`s just waisted 3 minutes of my life' Another participant said he thought Purnell spoke in 'soundbites'. Luntz then removes Purnell`s picture from the board and throws it on the floor 'due to his inability to communicate'. Read on!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Northern Voices @ London Anarchist Bookfair

On Saturday 24th October, Northern Voices will have a stall at the annual London Anarchist Bookfair. This is the biggest annual event for Anarchists (of all persuasions) from all over the country.

On the day, you can chat to us about the magazine, buy current and back issues and perhaps, if you feel you have something to say, talk to us about contributing to the next and subsequent issues.

The Bookfair is being held at Queen Mary & Westfield College, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS (click here for a map) between 10.00 am and 7.00 pm on Saturday 24th October. There are lots of meetings happening all day, as well as films and cabaret, and a list of stalls (who have websites) can be found here.

We look forward to see you there.

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Workers' Next Step

Shock! Horror! Lucien Freud's portrait of 'Big Sue' Tilley: 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping' graces the cover of a new discussion booklet for the National Shop Stewards' Network published by The Workers' Next Step group. Featuring an attack on New Labour's managerialism & the 'New Workers' Party' idea, it is based on the 'Miners' Next Step' and the critique of Geoffrey Ostergaard 'The Tradition of Workers' Control'. It features essays on the New Deal & an interview with a former inmate at a Government training camp down south; Asbestos, contaminated land, and Health & Safety issues treated by Jason Addy, researcher in occupational and environment diseases at Manchester Metropolitan University; Rachel Whittaker attacks the 'carbon footprint' & the 'prole-cult' in the Vestas dispute.

Direct sales price £1.99 or £2.49 (post paid); Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices'. Available c/o 46, Kingsland Road, Rochdale, Lancs. OL11 3HQ

To read comments received about this publication, please click through the 'read More' link below:

Hi-De-Hi Jobseekers: New Deal Scam at A4E

Training and Work opportunities on the NEW DEAL - what a joke. We thought our readers might like to see this video taken from the channel 4 TV programme 'Benefit Busters'. This form of modern day slavery 'work for your dole' was thought up by James Purnell the MP for Stalybridge and Hyde. If the voters of Tameside have any sense then this is where they ought to send him and vote him out at the next election.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Blacklist Support Group - House of Commons meeting, 6th October 2009

Our friends over at the Blacklist Blog are advertising a meeting to be held at the House of Commons at 6 p.m. on Tuesday 6th October. Speakers at the meeting include:
The background to the meeting is a debate to take place in Parliament about the proposed outlawing of Blacklisting. We'll keep readers up to date with any developments.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Northern Voices #10 still available.

The 10th issue of Northern Voices (Summer/Autumn 2009) is still available.

Inside you'll find articles on Bolton art-forger Shaun Greenhalgh, Blacklisting in the building trade, the hunt for the grave of Ashton lad James Keogh murdered by Fascists in the Spanish Civil War, as well as local gossip in Burnley, Bury, Tameside and Salford. We also look at Liverpool in the 'Capital of Culture' year and you may have already read the article on 'welfare to work' that we've posted here.

The reviews section has features on the 'six of the best' top Northern towns, a review of 'Gangs of Manchester', a new book by Andrew Davies, plus restaurant reviews of Mitton Hall in Clitheroe and Ramsons of Ramsbottoms, and the letters page is livelier than ever.

Sending us a cheque for £4.00 (made payable to 'Northern Voices') will get you a two-issue subscription. Send cheques c/o 52 Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire, BB10 4AH.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Northern Voices @ Manchester Anarchist Bookfair

This time of year is the time for Bookfairs, and a week on Saturday, Northern Voices will have a stall at the annual Manchester Anarchist Bookfair.

On the day, you can chat to us about the magazine, buy current and back issues and perhaps, if you feel you have something to say, talk to us about contributing to the next and subsequent issues.

The Bookfair is being held at the Jabez Clegg, which is located at 2 Portsmouth Street, M13 9GB (opposite Manchester University Students Union on Oxford Road - click here for a map) between 11.00 am and 5.00 pm on Saturday 26th September. There's food and talks too (as well as lots of other stalls), so plenty to keep you occupied if you're in town.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Motivating the Workshy: New Deal or Bum Deal? by Alfred Doolittle

We thought we'd reprise an article from Northern Voices 10 which seems to be doing the rounds on the internet (currently featuring on Indymedia, New Deal Scandal and the site of the The United Socialist Party). So here it is in all its glory:

I’ve just finished a 10-month sentence. Although I wasn’t an inmate in a prison or a mental institution, at times it certainly felt like it.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Protest against blacklisting on Laing O'Rourke 'The Rock' Project in Bury

Over 20 members of Unite the Union and their supporters came to demonstrate and unfurl banners in their protest against the blacklist in the construction trade at the The Rock in Bury on Thursday 27th August 2009. The Rock project is one of the biggest building jobs in the UK, if not in Europe and Laing O'Rourke is the main contractor on the site. Laing O'Rourke has also been unmasked as an affiliate of The Consulting Association run by Ian Kerr. Last month, Mr Kerr admitted in Knutsford Crown Court to managing an illegal database or blacklist with the names of over 2,000 building workers on it. For this he was fined £5,000 + costs.

The demo was widely covered by the regional media and last night, BBC's North West Tonight ran a feature on the issue (see the video embedded i this post). Radio Manchester and the Bury Times is also giving coverage, not to mention the Morning Star. Workers on the site took leaflets and applauded impromptu speeches from the protesters. One worker reading a protest leaflet was warned by a gaffer that if he didn't get back to work he'd end up on the blacklist. Black humour, no doubt, but it sheds light on the degree of nervousness now prevailing on the nation's building sites owing to the recent exposure of the blacklist.

Yesterday, both Laing O'Rourke's spokesmen and the subcontractor NG Bailey (another affiliate of the Kerr: Consulting Association) denied discriminating against workers on grounds of their trade union and political membership.

After 4 hours of picketing the site some of the protesters moved to Bury Town Hall where they requested to speak with Mark Sanders, Chief Executive of Bury MBC. Mr Sanders it was claimed was 'in a meeting' and not available for comment. Later the Council issued a statement saying that 'to their knowledge none of the contractors on the Bury developments were blacklisting people'.