Archive | December, 2011

Thousands taking on extra part-time work to make ends meet

27 Dec

Unite the Union – Scotland’s largest union – has today (Wednesday 28 December) released polling data which shows that thousands are taking on extra work to pay the bills.

The poll of 1501 Unite members discovered that twenty-four percent of those surveyed had been forced to take a part-time job to cope with the increased cost of living. The poll also established that ninety per cent of those who had taken on part-time work done so to supplement their existing salary.

The poll found that the group’s disproportionately taking on part-time work included people living in medium-sized and smaller towns who have very strong ties to their local area and families and couples in affordable homes in areas historically reliant on manufacturing.

The latest unemployment figures for Scotland illustrated that 8.5 per cent of the population were out of work – higher than the UK average of 8.3 per cent. Part-time work has increased from 624,000 (April 08-March 09) to 670,000 (April 10-March 11). This means an estimated 97,000 workers have a second job.

Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, said:

“The level of workers taking on a part-time job to make ends meet is astonishing. Due to the rising costs of living, entitlement reductions and real terms pay cuts tens of thousands of workers in Scotland are working round the clock to pay the bills and provide for their families.”

“This is the untouched story of the financial crisis. It’s clear from our poll findings that the Scottish and UK Government’s need to do something about the scale of this issue. If we do not, then we are going to have a workforce which is stressed, burnt out and with little time to spend with their families.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Andrew Brady (andrew.brady@unitetheunion.org) on 07810 157922 and Peter Welsh (peter.welsh@unitetheunion.org) on 07810 157931.

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Lock out at Cooper Tire, Ohio

15 Dec

Over 1,000 members of the USW – our partner union in Workers Uniting, have been locked out by Cooper Tire in Findlay, Ohio. In the increasingly bitter dispute the USW are taking legal action against Cooper Tire for unfair labour practices and imposing a lockout.

USW members were locked out when the company demanded that workers ratified a new contract without the full details of an incentive plan been agreed that could possibly result in major wage cuts.

Cooper have insisted that its proposal would have to be accepted, ratified and implemented before necessary studies would be finalised.

That meant workers would vote on a proposal not knowing if their wages were increasing or decreasing.

Cooper is now a profitable company. They have hired a scab workforce to run the Findlay plant.

Unite represents workers at Cooper Tires in the UK and our members have sent messages of support and solidarity to locked out workers in Ohio.

Unite members and branches should please  send messages of support and solidarity to our USW-Workers Uniting brothers and sisters via Adam Lee at the USW – email alee@usw.org. You can also show your support by signing the petition on the new website, and sharing the campaign through social media.

Please take a few seconds to send messages of support to our brothers and sisters in the USW and Workers Uniting through this new website.

Unite will be placing advertisments in local newspapers in Ohio supporting the United Steelworkers and over 1,000 of their members locked out by the global corporation Cooper Tire this weekend to coincide with demonstrations in the area. Below is a PDF advert which is appearing in the local press in Ohio explaining the dispute.

Your help is much appreciated.

USW-CooperLockout-ad

New union branch for hospitality and bar workers

15 Dec

The bar and hospitality workers’ branch is now up and running in Glasgow. It was kick-started by young Unite members who work in the sector and who felt that unionisation was necessary for such precarious workplaces.
Workers in the hospitality sector are often under-paid, over-worked, disrespected and expendable. They are often graduates, migrant workers, students and women, and are typically aged 16-24.

Being a member of a union is crucial for people who need support and representation in their workplace, who want to improve pay and conditions and who want to ensure a fair deal in all areas of work. Unionised workers have more collective bargaining power than non-unionised workers, meaning they are usually better paid and work under better conditions.

Unite is the UK’s biggest trade union. It has already fought successfully for supermarket workers, particularly against Sainsbury’s with the Family Friendly and Decent Wage campaigns.

The bar and hospitality branch in Glasgow is linking with campaigns around wider issues such as youth under-employment and a living wage. We want to come together to fight not just for better conditions for ourselves but for all those who work hard but receive little, and those who cannot get a job or enough work to make ends meet.

Join us. Contact: glasgowbarandhospitality@gmail.com

Twitter

Website

Please download our latest newsletter and distribute it in the bars and restaurants you visit.

Bar and Hospitality Workers’ newsletter

 

Unite releases phone bank results for Scottish Voluntary Sector

14 Dec

Unite Scotland has today (14 December) published results from an online phone bank showing that eighty-three per cent of workers in the sector face cuts. The phone bank spoke with 423 Unite members in ten voluntary sector organisations across the length and breadth of Scotland. This is largest representative survey done by a trade union in the sector.

Key findings:

  • 423 of the 468 members contacted completed the survey. Of those respondents eighty-three per cent said their workplace was being directly affected by cuts.
  • Nearly half of those who responded to the question: ‘are you affected by any of these issues’ stipulated that they were at risk of redundancy – a huge figure.
  • Worryingly seventy-four per cent stated that they had their terms and conditions changed and nearly a quarter stated that ‘bullying’ was an issue in the workplace.

Recommendations:

As a result of the startling findings in our representative survey of voluntary and third sector workers Unite is calling for the following:

  1. A Scottish Parliament Inquiry into voluntary sector funding based on these results.
  2. A sector forum to be set up for areas of the voluntary and third sector in consultation with the relevant bodies which can help put in place and coordinate sectoral training, funding, investment, and, terms and conditions.
  3. For the Scottish Parliament to enforce that public procurement is used as a lever to ensure quality service provision and fairer conditions for the workforce.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said:

“For many years we have been aware of the precarious situation of the voluntary and not-for-profit sector. However, even we were taken aback by the crisis in the sector.”

“The results portray an extremely worrying picture for the sector and that organisations and the workforce are on the brink of breaking point. A workforce who have had their terms and conditions eroded, a sector that is being dragged to the bottom, and, people fearing whether they will have a job this time next year.”

“The Scottish Government on the back of these results must intervene and all of us have a collective responsibility to ensure that we protect this vital sector which delivers a fantastic public service.”

Unite for our Society report

 ENDS

Notes to Editor:

  1. For a copy of the report please visit our website here or can be obtained by contacting Andrew Brady and Peter Welsh.
  2. The phonebank was conducted between June and September 2011.
  3. Unite members were selected randomly.

Protesting Youth in Greece

13 Dec

Alexandra Koronaiou, Alexandros Sakellariou Irini Chiotaki-Poulou and Vangelis Lagos, members of the Greek MYPLACE team at Panteion University Of Social And Political Sciences on the protesting Greek youth, the current socio-political crisis, memory and their relevance to the work of MYPLACE.

The Greek society has, for the past three years, been experiencing an unprecedented economic, social and political crisis that has profoundly affected both the majority’s living conditions and the functioning of the entire institutional apparatus. The deep recession and the harsh austerity policies that have been continuously implemented within this period have influenced all aspects of social life as large parts of the population have suffered great losses in their income and they have been living in a climate of insecurity, fear, anger and pessimism regarding the future. In this context, social conflicts have sharpened and protests, strikes, and clashes with the police have become an everyday phenomenon, some of the most impressive instances of which have been covered extensively by (inter)national and global media.

The social unrest had begun after the agreement between the Greek government, and the so-called E.C, ECB I.M.F troika regarding the first Greek bailout and the austerity measures announced by the socialist government in2010. Inthese protests participated people of almost all social groups, classes and age-groups, particularly the middle-aged. The protests included strikes, marches, the occupation of the Syntagma square in the centre ofAthensas well as the occupation of public buildings mainly by the public sector’s syndicates. Similar protests had taken place in other Greek cities too likeThessaloniki, Ioannina, Heraklion, etc. Young Greeks had been participating actively in these conflicts and protests, although no distinctive youth or students’ movements have emerged so far.

To read the whole article click here 

For more information on the MYPLACE project, visit the project’s website: HERE

The Courageous State by Richard Murphy

8 Dec

What is The Courageous State?

The Courageous State is a new book published in November 2011 by the economics and tax blogger, Richard Murphy. Amongst other things, Richard has done much of the work on the tax gap for the TUC, PCS and other unions including Unite Scotland on Corporation Tax.

What does The Courageous State say?

Three things. First it argues that neoliberal economics, of the sort we’ve suffered for thirty years, has given us cowardly politicians who think anything they do will be worse than the market outcome, so they do nothing. Richard argues we need a strong mixed economy with proactive government leadership of the public services instead.

Second, Richard doesn’t just reject neoliberalism, he offers whole raft of new economic thinking that shows why it’s wrong and then explains the theory of how it could be put right.

And thirdly, because theory is useless if it cannot be put into practice, Richard proposes a whole new range of economic policy proposals that Courageous politicians could adopt to get us out of the neoliberal mess we’re in. There are six chapters devoted to that practical stuff. That’s stuff like defending the NHS and freeing it from the market, delivering the investment needed to create jobs, ensuring we have the education we need, funding real care for the elderly and ensuring we have decent homes for real people to live in.

Why buy it now?

 Because everyone says that we’re living with the problem of there being no alternative ideas to counter neoliberalism – and now there are lots of them and The Courageous State is part of the answer.

For more information visit Richard’s site here on the book and on wider Tax Justice issues.

Construction workers protest in Glasgow

6 Dec

Construction workers will be protesting outside Balfour Beatty Engineering Services’ Head Office in Glasgow on Wednesday, 7th December over the de-skilling and pay cuts being imposed by a group of rogue construction firms, Unite, the UK’s largest union, has learnt.

The protest is part of a national day of action by hundreds of workers who are angry by an attempt to de-skill their industry and a move by seven companies, led by Balfour Beatty Engineering Services and Spie Matthew Hall to tear up five long-standing industrial agreements and impose new contracts.

Over 50 construction workers will be staging their protest outside BBES’s Head Office, Lumina Building, Hillington Industrial Estate, Glasgow at 7am. BBES has been targeted as Unite believes it is the ring-leader of the group leading construction companies, intending to withdraw from five long-standing agreements and impose new semi-skilled grades resulting in massive cuts in pay. The attack will hit electricians, plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers working at sites around Wales.

Unite regional officer, Rab Sherry said: “Skilled craftsmen are angry that their employers are attacking their skills and trying to impose semi-skilled grades into their industry without any negotiation with their unions. Workers have been told, sign new contracts of face the sack.

“Construction workers in the Scotland cannot afford to take massive pay cuts that these firms are proposing.”

Unite is preparing to re-ballot its members in Balfour Beatty Engineering Services for industrial action. Unite members voted by over 80 per cent for strike action at BBES, but rather than listen to the voice of their workers BBES used anti-union balloting laws to challenge Unite ballot.

Unite will announce the dates of the re-ballot in BBES in due course. The union also intends to ballot two of the other companies involved in the dispute.

The protest outside BBES head office is not a call for unofficial strike action by Unite. It is Unite’s understanding that those involved in the demonstrations are doing so outside of work hours to avoid any suggestion that this is unofficial strike action.

ENDS
The seven major break-away contractors currently involved are: Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Limited; N G Bailey Building Services; Crown House Technologies; Gratte Brothers; Spie Matthew Hall; Shepherd Engineering Services (SES); and T.Clarke Plc.

Unite has been told by these major employers that they will no longer be party to the following agreements: SJIB (Scottish Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting Industry);JIB (Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting Industry); SNIJIB (Scottish and Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board for the Plumbing Industry); JIB-PMES (Joint Industry Board for Plumbing Mechanical Engineering Services in England and Wales); HVAC (National Agreement for the Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning, Piping and Domestic Engineering Industry); MPA (Major Projects Agreement).