Friday, December 18, 2009

British Airways Dirty Tricks department

The British Airways dirty tricks department have won a victory for every bullying employer and few are more prone to bullying than our employers. Every action we take against SATS, over workload or the proposed attack on teachers' pensions runs the risk of being declared illegal on one technicality or another.

On the decision of one judge and at the behest of British Airways bosses, the workers of Britain and their trade unions have been told that the democratic right to strike has been cancelled.

This "disgraceful legal judgment" as the union Unite correctly called it, makes voting in any union ballot almost irrelevant if it does not suit the wishes of the bosses and their friends in the judiciary. Any strike can be declared 'illegal'.

Every commentator has admitted that the so-called ballot irregularities would not have made a blind bit of difference to the outcome of the strike ballot. Unless the whole trade union movement faces up to what is required then the unions face the danger of being put back in legal terms to the infamous Taff Vale judgment of 1906 which made unions liable for commercial damages following the effect of any strikes they organised.

It was the Taff Vale judgement which convinced the trade unions that they need a political voice. That is something what is laughingly called "the Labour Party" will not provide. We need a new workers' party.

Let it snow

Well missing the last day of term because of snow was not the worst tragedy in the history of education :)

On the whole closing the school was probably the right move. Snow is educational.

My pupils did miss seeing me in the school panto (and the opportunity to hiss) but they were all out throwing snowballs at each other - unless there is a Wii snowball fight by now.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The ambiguity of "Don't go into a fight you can't win"

Martin Reed made a rather telling point at the WSTA meeting . His father was a miner and always used to say "don't go into a fight you can't win". This is the kind of argument the right wing always use when the union is faced with an attack like the one over pensions and actually we have no choice but to fight.

What Martin Reed's quote probably means is "if you don't go into a fight you can't win". You can certainly lose by not fighting the erosion of the public sector.

The WSTA meeting overwhelmingly supported Kevin Courtney.

Unity against Academy at Weston Favell School

Members at Weston Favell School in Northants are striking against the proposed academy. In this NASUWT and NUT are working together.
Messages of support would be very welcome.

The NUT rep is Paul Cutts
pcutts@weston.rmplc.co.uk

You can also copy to the NAS rep, Amanda Brett
abrett@weston.rmplc.co.uk

If you want to support them there is a model letter:

I am writing in regard to the teacher’s strike at Weston Favell School. As a parent/member of staff/local resident/member of the public/local councillor I feel that the school is a brilliant and improving asset to young people in the local area.
I disagree with plans for Northamptonshire County Council to allow United Learning Trust to take over the school, and as a result take the funding, curriculum and working conditions into their control. Those changes lead to high staff turnover at the Academies.
I am proud that we have a community school here which focuses on the needs of all its students. Academies are at best an unproven system, which have not yielded the high results that have been suggested.
Indeed ULT has recently been told it can not open any more Academies anywhere else because its standards are not high enough. However it appears the Government thinks they are still good enough for Weston Favell.

I am concerned that Academies are not holistic or cooperative, and that they attempt to ‘cherry-pick’ students and leave disadvantaged children behind – despite selective entry being against the rules. I wholeheartedly support the strike of the NUT and NASUWT unions, and am pleased that UNISON has instructed its members not to cover the work of striking workers. While Roger Webb, the chair of governors, is correct that a strike is disruptive to the students, I believe that it is Northamptonshire County Council who is responsible for the much greater disruption in stretching this consultation and uncertainty over a year. The changes any transfer would bring would also disrupt our children’s education.
The teachers unions have made it clear that if these part-privatisation plans are withdrawn they will not strike. The teachers, after all, are striking to save fully accountable local education provision, and they should be supported by all in the community.

Yours Sincerely/Faithfully

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spooks

Spooks is described by the BBC as a “tense drama series about the different challenges faced by the British Security Service as they work against the clock to safeguard the nation.” It began life as a rather transparent attempt to rehabilitate the “spooks” after their role in compiling a pack of lies to justify the Iraq War.

It is a very well-written series of thrillers with a cast of interesting characters with rather more depth than you would expect in the oddly named “intelligence community.” Like its distant predecessor “The Professionals” it portrays them as human beings with a social conscience about the jobs they are asked to perform for the safety of the nation. And there you were thinking they were all old Etonians with a conscience bypass!

In a recent episode (Episode 3 of Series 8) the whole issue of hostage taking and negotiating with terrorists is explored in an exciting narrative in which a group of high-powered capitalists (a thinly disguised fictional version of the Bilderberg group) are kidnapped by terrorists who have no intention of getting a ransom but instead put the capitalists on trial for mass murder in the third world and video the evidence, while uploading incriminating documents on the internet. . The Spooks are powerless as tens of thousands vote “guilty” on the internet and the terrorists carry out the death penalty online.

This feeds the common fantasy that anti-capitalists are all potential terrorists and of course justifies the 'spooks' real life policy of monitoring everyone to the left of Peter Mandelson – about half the population,

The plot also showed that the anti-capitalists were actually naïve tools of a russian gangster-capitalist (definitely not called Abramovich , there are libel laws after all!) who wanted to eliminate his rivals.

The program definitely does not whitewash the dirty tricks the Spooks get up to but seeks to justify them. One scandal of the last decade has been the use of torture by the British secret service “by proxy”. They have been accused of using evidence provided by third parties such as the Americans at Guantanamo. In the show Lucas North (played by Richard Armitage) is shown torturing the Russian Mafioso in his own swimming pool in order to save the lives of the hostages. This is a far cry from the real life “Spooks” torturing Omar Deghayes for five years at various camps with no realistic prospect of getting any information or saving any lives. Nevertheless it is the justification of torture.

Spooks is an excellent program which maintains the tension and excitement all through. It does deal with the real life issues in the secret service. You might want to take its representation of the real life “Spooks” with a pinch of salt though!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holocaust Education Development Programme

The Holocaust Education Development Programme (HEDP) seeks to transform teaching and learning about the Holocaust. It is leading world-class research on Holocaust education, delivering targeted and effective teacher education across England and building an interactive community of enquiry and exchange.

The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme in Holocaust Education, launched in the autumn term of 2009, is delivered by internationally recognized experts through innovative workshops in every region across the country. It will be supported by the highest quality teaching and learning materials through multiple channels of ongoing support.

Underpinned by the latest developments in learning theory, leading edge research and scholarship in Holocaust education, the CPD programme addresses students’ key questions about the Holocaust and the challenges and opportunities faced by teachers exploring this subject in the classroom. The programme takes a historical, disciplinary approach but can also help teachers address issues of diversity, social cohesion, and social and emotional aspects of learning.

Click here for more information

Monday, October 19, 2009

Primary review: a 'damning indictment' of Government policy

Ever since New Labour was elected, they have sought to dictate to schools what to teach and even how to teach it. Policed by the threatening machinery of OFSTED inspections and league tables of SATS and GCSE results, schools have been bullied into following each new instruction imposed by Ministers and Whitehall officials.

To see more visit
http://electmartin1.blogspot.com/2009/10/primary-review-damning-indictment-of.html

Friday, October 09, 2009

Socialism 2009



Click here to book online

General Dannatt


General Dannatt

General Pinochet


General Franco




The history of generals in politics is not a happy one!

Dannatt's only solution to the unwinnable war in Afghanistan
is to send in more troops. At the time when George Osborne
wants to cut teachers, nurses and firemen we need more
soldiers like a hole in the head.

It cannot be denied that Dannatt has guts but it is a pity
that 18-20 year old soldiers will have to spill theirs in
the sand of Helmand province to prove it.

And "politicising the army" at a time when the corruption of
politicians has reached an all time high is a clear message
that the rich and powerful are toying with the idea of
ditching democracy altogether.

They expect the working class to roll over and let them.
They have another think coming.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Chess in Concert

Chess in Concert was on in Horsham yesterday.

Although it is a concert rather than a musical it presents the plot in a non-realistic way and has some great performances in it.

The plot is based on the goings on in the chess world in the 1960s and early 1970s. At the height of the cold war, chess became a non-violent battlefield mined with dirty tricks and brinkmanship.

Josh Groban plays the lead role of Anatoly Sergievsky - who defects to the West but is persuaded to return to the USSR to get the father of his girlfriend (Idina Menzel (Florence Vassy)) and there is a plot twist which will take you by surprise.

Adam Pascal is so good as the obnoxious American Frederick Trumper it makes you wonder what he is like in real life!

David Bedella (Anatoly Molokov) plays a sinister Stalinist to perfection

The music (Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson) and lyrics (Tim Rice) are excellent.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Banksy at Bristol Museum


Banksy who has gone from being a graffiti artist to the quasi-respectability of having an exhibition at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. His picture of a spiky-haired anarchist having his mask adjusted by his mum probably suggests what his attitude towards this is.

When you first approach the Museum you can see a figure of Ronald McDonald on the facade. If you think another public service has succumbed to corporate sponsorship - the clown cries tears of blood and has a bottle by his side and a clear intention to commit suicide.

Some of the pictures are lighthearted such as the Wizard of Oz picture of Dorothy saying "I don't think we're on Canvas any more."



Others are less so with a KKK member hanging from a tree to comment on the fine old Southern Tradition of lynching.


The exhibition is thought-provoking and interesting and well worth a visit. It is also free.

Edinburgh Fringe and all that Jazz


On Saturday we went for lunch at a jazz venue to listed to Ian Millar (tenor sax) and Dominic Spencer (piano) for a relaxing time with the best pop video ever - evidently Dominic Spencer is a keen photographer and the video was videos of the highlands and islands.

The big Cambridge University Jazz band were completely different - very fast paced and engaging. The MC said they were not music students, "many of us are scientists....and one is a biochemist!"

And the Oxford Gargoyles were an a capella jazz group - a highly original performance including a take on Austin Powers.

"Four Poofs and Piano" might sound like a show about furniture but in fact it is the much underused band on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Their repertoire is extensive and varied and at times absolutely outrageous. They have a song about the question you need to ask on a third date ("Do you take it up the ****?") and then said they wanted some audience participation. In the event they only wanted us to sing along.

Shappi Khorsandi's show was well worth seeing. She adapeted it to the audience and toned it down a bit because of the 12 year olds in the front row.

The street performers were a mixed bunch - the most spectacular act was Frankie G who also does a different act under the name Derek Derek - his act included escaping from bondage while balancing a lighted torch on his nose.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Brighton Pride


Members of WSTA attended Brighton Pride. This is the first time WSTA has attended this event and we have learnt some useful lessons for next year.

The morning started sunny and we set up the stall (which was fortunately covered) before the rain set in in the afternoon.

When we had exhausted our supply of whistles and pens we got a good response from the public to the anti-SATS petition. There were a lot of good discussions about SATS and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

They sited us next to the Conservative Party who were handing out sweets to children (shades of the gingerbread house!)

Other groups in our area included HM prison service, the inland revenue, the NASUWT and Unite the Union.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tolpuddle 2009

The Tolpuddle Museum is an educational resource supported by the NUT. As you can see many teachers' organisations take part in the annual Tolpuddle Festival. Crawley Trades Council organised a coach this year.

Friday, July 17, 2009

118800 Keep your mobile phone private

118800 is a proposed directory of every mobile phone number. If you don't want every pupil in your class to get in touch; if you don't want every paedophile in Sussex getting in touch with your child then you want to stop 118800.

Following pressure from the public 118800 have - very late in the day - made some assurances.

For example they claim they will not publish the mobile phone numbers of minors. This is very odd because they have no way of knowing whether people are minors or not.



Their website says "If someone wants to get in touch, and we have your number, we contact your mobile and tell you who they are. If you reject the call, they don't get through - and they don't have your number." So an unlimited number of unsolicited texts could be coming your way and they have conveniently disabled their website to prevent you from making your number ex directory. Incidentally they still take £1 from everyone who uses their service whether they actually get through or not.

You can still email their address which is contact@118800.co.uk and I suggest you go on emailing them until they respond. Do not phone their number because they will charge you a fortune for doing so.

If you have a blocking facility on your phone you can block them.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Most Sun readers think The Sun prints lies

“You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist,
But seeing what the man will do,
Unbribed there's no occasion to.“


(Humbert Wolfe, poet 1885-1940)

Journalists unleash periodic attacks on teachers and
teaching. “Falling standards” every time the exam
results are better than last year, “failing schools” if
the results are not as good and of course “no progress”
if the results are the same. “Failing teachers” become
“greedy teachers” when we put in for a pay rise.

However the public trust in journalists has been low for 25
years at least, according to the nation-wide face to face
surveys carried out by MORI (now Ipsos MORI) since 1983. In
1983 19% of the British public said they trusted journalists
to tell the truth. Now it is 19% again.

At the top of the scale 92% said they trust doctors
Teachers (87%), professors (79%),
judges (78%) and clergy (74%) completed the top five of
those the public rated as the most trustworthy.


In every one of the last six years overall trust in
journalists has been at 18%, plus or minus the usual margin
of error of 3%.

It is worth remembering that government ministers (24%) and
politicians in general (21%) just come ahead of journalists
at the bottom of the table of sixteen occupations measured.

Interestingly only 30 percent of News of the World and Sun
readers say they trust their newspaper to tell the truth
even "somewhat". Rupert Murdoch sells the newspaper on the
slogan “Lots of fun in the Sun” but it is not seen as a
reliable source of information, even by Sun readers.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Socialist Alternative in America

Socialist Alternative and "Justice" Newspaper Needs Your Help

Help us raise $10,000 to make "Justice" newspaper a monthly!

In the United States great opportunities for socialists are opening up because of the manifest failure of the capitalist class in their stewardship of society. Our assistance will help make the Socialist Alternative in America more powerful.

You can donate by clicking here. Every penny or every cent counts.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

LA Teachers End 24-Day Hunger Strike

In Los Angeles, a group of teachers have ended their twenty-four-day hunger strike to protest budget cuts. The teachers said they will now organize a campaign to recall some members of the Los Angeles Unified School Board. Thousands of Los Angeles teachers may soon be fired as the district faces a $700 million budget gap.



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hope or Despair?

The BBC built up the BNP as a "protest vote" so it is hardly surprising that many people misguidedly voted for them as a protest against the corruption of politicians. It was a gesture of despair.

The Labour Party responded not by attacking the BNP but by attacking immigrants - "we have to pay attention to the public concern over immigration" - and perhaps ignore the public concern over MPs with snouts in the trough?

A gesture of hope was the 150000 votes for the left wing "No2EU Yes to Democracy" campaign in the UK and the election of a workers' MEP on a workers wage - Joe Higgins - in Ireland.

In the end education and tolerance will be the death of the BNP ..... and vice versa of course.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NEW EU HEALTH DIRECTIVE WILL PAVE THE WAY FOR PRIVATISATION OF NHS

NEW EU HEALTH DIRECTIVE WILL PAVE THE WAY FOR PRIVATISATION OF NHS

Britain’s newest political grouping, No2EU-Yes to Democracy, warned today that Britain is sleepwalking into the wholesale privatisation of the NHS after the European Parliament approved the extension of EU “internal market” rules to cover healthcare services, paving the way for private companies to take over the UK’s national health service.

No2EU is warning that this EU diktat is the biggest single threat to the founding principles of the NHS as a service “free at the point of need regardless of the ability to pay” since it was set up by Aneurin Bevan and the post-war Labour Government in 1948.

The approval of the Commission’s Health Services Directive has been bulldozed through despite assurances from the Party of the European Socialists, which includes the British Labour Party, that they would “defend public services”. Come the crunch they abstained on the vote, without any explanation, allowing it to be bundled through.

Labour MP Gisella Stuart has been quoted this week as saying, “I bet you my wages that in 10-15 years, if this Directive goes through, we cannot have a generally tax-funded NHS system".

No2EU is calling on everyone who supports the principle of a public National Health Service to turn out and vote for them on June 4th. No2EU is running a slate of candidates in every region of the UK, with the exception of Northern Ireland, on a platform of opposition to the Lisbon Treaty and the EU gravy train and in defence of public services and workers rights.

Bob Crow, No2EU convenor and RMT general secretary, said today: “Anyone who believes in the principles of the NHS and public services should be voting No2EU on June 4th. We are fighting to stop the break up of the National Health Service which is being driven by the EU and their backers from the banks and big business. The political elite in the UK are conspiring with this destruction of our public services and we have to mobilise over the next three weeks to stop them.”

Further information:
Geoff Martin 07818 513 435
Brian Denny 07903 376 303

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Matter by Iain M Banks

Iain M Banks' Sci Fi novels novels are a romp through the ideas of Science Fiction – always interesting and always surprising. In that he resembles E E Doc Smith for the sheer exuberance of his writing. Fortunately he does not have Smith’s obsession with projectile weapons.

Banks’ novels often centre on a socialist society – known as “The Culture”. It is a society of abundance in which there is no poverty or war. "Matter" concerns how The Culture relates to the rest of the galaxy where war and poverty have not been abolished.


The Culture is a society where artificial intelligence has reached its highest expression and is regarded as equivalent to human beings – or vastly superior depending on your viewpoint! The wit and wisdom of the AIs and their relationship with the human members of the culture is part of the novel’s attraction.


The Shell Worlds are a theme of this novel. They are artificially created worlds which host a variety of life forms. One character from a shell world joins The Culture and then returns home to the relatively primitive society into which she was born when her father is assassinated. However in her absence she has become a member of the part of the Culture called “Special Circumstances” – an organisation of humans with enhanced powers. Special Circumstances alternately upholds and violates The Culture’s principle of non-interference with other life forms at every turn.

Instead of going back to grieve for her father she ends up with a mission to save the world. This is a book for science fiction fans and socialists. Iain M Banks is always good value for money.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

God for Harry, England and St George

The high street looked very festive with all the flags
flying this morning. For a minute I thought the National
Front had taken over but then I realised it was St
George’s day.

The right-wing writer Evelyn Waugh said the typical English
response to a catastrophe was to "put out more flags". Well
we certainly have the catastrophe and Gordon Brown with his
blather about lessons in Britishness and flags on public
buildings seems to be following Waugh's prescription.

I stopped believing in saints and dragons some years ago but
at least in the myth St George killed the dragon. These days
he would given him billions of pounds and made sure he got a
big fat bonus.

I was amused to see a local shop advertising “celebrate St
George’s day” with a special offer on German lager. I
didn’t know St George was into binge drinking in a big
way:)

Cheers!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Have supply teachers been sold down the river?

The phrase "sold down the river" comes from the days of slavery in America when escaping slaves were sold back into slavery by those who were pretending to liberate them.

So when we saw that an unholy alliance of the SWP, CDFU, STA, the right wing and possibly the people's front of Judea were arrayed against the interests of supply teachers in the debate on the West Sussex amendment then supply teachers could legitimately feel they had been sold down the river. The policy the STA et al were advocating was that cover supervisors should be "used for no more than the first three days of absence in secondary schools and no more than the first day of absence in primary schools." Imagine how heads in schools where the members have held the line over teaching on the cheap will crow at that news. "Your own union says you have to accept (the criminal exploitation of) cover supervisors"

During the conference the president interrupted precisely two delegates - supporters of Classroom Teacher who were speaking in that debate.

"A teachers' job on a cleaner's wage" was how the conditions of cover supervisors were described at NUT conference.

The WSTA amendment which would have outlined a strategy to end the exploitation of cover supervisors and seek to reinstate teachers' pay and conditions for supply teachers was not carried.

This will not stop WSTA and Classroom Teacher seeking to support supply teachers. We will use email, facebook and more traditional methods to contact our supply teacher members. We will publicise the conditions of supply teachers to the rest of our membership. We will continue to seek alternatives to agencies and the scandalous policy of "teaching on the cheap."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Euro Elections

I am aware that merely mentioning the Euro Elections can send most audiences to sleep in short order.

However there is a concern that the BNP of all people may use the Euro Elections to gain a "respectable" platform from which to propagate their sick doctrine of hate.

And the only alternative in the past has been to vote for the Tories (come off it) or New Labour (Now I did say come off it!) - the very parties responsible for the mess in the first place.

That is why I welcome the initiative of the RMT in standing candidates in the Euro Election.
The No2Eu - yes to democracy campaign does at least give someone to vote for in the Euro Elections. If their vote is greater than the BNP vote then voting for them will fulfil the NUT policy of keeping the racists out.

Their website:
http://no2eu.com/keepoutthebnp.html

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ian Tomlinson died inside a police cordon - no confidence in the police complaints authority

Ian Tomlinson died yesterday inside a police cordon, witnesses are calling for information about his death and for an independent public inquiry. He died inside a police cordon. He was supposed to be under the care of the police and the police have a responsibility for the people they cordon in.

We can't accept that people can die inside a police cordon and for us to receive no information about it.

The police have a habit of surrounding protestors and then insisting that they disperse - how? - this was an inevitable consequence.

The official complaints procedure cannot be relied on. That official procedure pronounced the killers of Kevin Gately and Jean Charles de Menezes "not guilty".

Monday, March 23, 2009

Campaign against Youth Unemployment in Crawley


Youth fight for jobs
Photo shows campaigners in Crawley, including National Organiser Sean Figg. The public response was generally sympathetic and a lot of concern was expressed over the future of Crawley if youth unemployment means school leavers feel they have no future. There was also a lot of anger at the public money being handed out to feckless bankers.

Young people march against fees and job losses at G20, 2 April

Youth Fight for Jobs takes up fight for this generation’s future

The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign fights against fees and job losses, and will be launched through a march for jobs, in the tradition of the Jarrow Marchers, to the G20 on 2 April. This march will visit all 4 of the poorest boroughs in London, assembling at Camberwell Green at 9am, marching past parliament and the Bank of England, through Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham and finishing at the G20 meeting.

(there is a facebook event for this march here http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/event.php?eid=55020156172 - invite friends!)

Sean Figg, national organiser for the Youth Fight for Jobs, says “The numbers of unemployed are expected to reach 2 million in official figures tomorrow. So far, as a result of the recession, 40 percent of job cuts have taken place amongst 18 – 24 year olds.

“This news coincides with Universities UK launching their campaign for an increase in university fees. This is a cynical move to take advantage of young peoples fears for their future. Young people face a choice – to go to university and get into debt, and hope to escape the recession and improve their job chances, or take their chances looking for a job and end up on the dole.

“How come there’s money to bail out the failed bankers whilst young people pay for this crisis with unemployment and debt?

“Our campaign calls for the right to a decent job, for training to gain skills, and for the right of all young people to got to university without student debt. That’s why we are marching on 2 April”

The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign has gained the support of prominent activists since its launch in mid-January. Bob Crow*, RMT general secretary, Chris Kitchen, NUM General Secretary, Janice Godrich, PCS President, Glenn Kelly, Unison NEC, workers who took unofficial action at the Lindsey Oil Refinery and won a victory, and young people involved in the Prisme workplace occupation in Dundee and many others (all in personal capacity except*). The Youth Fight for Jobs campaign was involved in the protest of 1,000 people against university fees on 25 February, and together with the Campaign to Defeat Fees will be organising further action.



for more information contact 020 8558 7947

Sean Figg available for interviews, along with marchers who are young workers, threatened with job losses, students campaigning against fees and debt and more

see www.youthfightforjobs.com

email youthfightforjobs@gmail.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's capitalism Jim, but not as we know it!

A greengrocer in Balham selling cheap celery labelled it “Credit Crunch”. That is about as close to a serious analysis as I am prepared to go at the moment.

Remember when unreconstructed lefties wanted to nationalise the commanding heights of the economy?

I do – I was that soldier :)

Now capitalists want to nationalise the banks. There is only one caveat. When the banks were making obscene profits they had to remain private. Now they are making a loss they can become public but as soon as they are making obscene profits again the incompetent bankers (rhyming slang) will have them back thank you very much.

And now at long flaming last the trade unions will be standing their own candidates in the elections, but only the Euro elections and they are not quite sure about taking their seats in the European Parliament if elected.

If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs……. You obviously haven’t been paying attention.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Regional Office

The phone number for the new Regional Office is:

01444 894500

As ever you can still contact WSTA on 01403 258222

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Work related stress

There is a reluctance to attribute absences from work to "work-related stress". People feel that employers do not need to know about mental health problems when they are considering who to promote in the future!

However, as John Illingworth pointed out at the West Sussex Teachers' Association Reps training course. "If employees put work related stress as a reason for absence, employers are bound by law to seek ways of reducing that stress." A recent court case saw a Leicestershire teacher receiving a six figure sum in compensation because the employer had failed in the "duty of care" by ignoring stress in the workplace.

We say this not to encourage the "compensation culture" but to warn employers that they need to change their ways. Piling more and more stress on teachers as a short term fix to problems like OFSTED will have long term consequences for the morale of the teachers and the number of teachers leaving the profession.

Fight youth unemployment

In June thousands of young school-leavers will be facing the harsh reality of capitalism - no jobs and no incentive to learn. For many of them this will exacerbate their disaffection. If you think we have disaffected youth now - you ain't seen nothing yet.

Jobs are being cut left, right and centre. More than three million are expected to be unemployed by the end of 2009. Young people are among the first to be thrown on the scrapheap. Even when the economy was growing, most of us had low paid, insecure jobs. Now we are facing a future of mass unemployment. The government has bailed out the bankers to the tune of £550 billion - we demand a bailout for the rest of us!
We are fighting for a future. We demand:

* The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 an hour.
* No to cheap labour apprenticeships! For all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wages, with a job guaranteed at the end.
* No to university fees. Support the Campaign to Defeat Fees.

For full demands see below

While some bank managers are even daring to demand their usual multi-million Christmas bonuses - paid for by tax-payers - Woolworths have given the legal minimum in redundancy pay for those who have lost their jobs so far - a few hundred pounds for many young workers. The story is the same in every sector- whether it is car workers sent home on 30% of pay or BT staff losing their jobs - it is workers who are being expected to pay for the recession.

This is a global crisis. Governments the world over have acted to try and save capitalism, especially by shoring up the banking systems. But this has not been done for the benefit of the majority of the population. These bailed-out banks have made job cuts, and in the case of Northern Rock are the most likely to evict homeowners behind on their mortgage payments.

We are organising a protest at the G20 to highlight our opposition to international efforts to attempt to make workers pay for the bosses' crisis. We demand urgent action to stop the threat of unemployment, to prevent job losses and to create useful jobs for those who've lost theirs. We are holding a conference to launch the campaign on 4 April.

The government is currently campaigning to keep British bosses' right to make us work more than 48 hours a week, longer than any other EU country. So while millions are on the dole - the rest of us have to work 'til we drop! We demand that the work is shared out - with the immediate implementation of a 35-hour week - without loss of pay.

Large-scale government action should be taken to alleviate unemployment and the threat of job losses. There is an urgent need for more social workers, nurses and teachers. Just a fraction of the money used to bail out the banks could take hundreds of thousands off the dole queues and train them to carry out vital public services.

Five million people want decent public housing, but there is virtually none to be had. But currently there are enough bricks sitting idle to rebuild Nottingham, and building workers are losing their jobs by the thousand! Why couldn't the two be combined in a major, publicly owned, house building programme?

A government programme of investment into these vital areas, reversing cuts from the last few decades, could see millions of jobs created and improve the living conditions of the majority of the population.

When industries threaten closure we demand that they open their books to the workforce so we can see where the profits of the last decade have gone. Where companies threaten closure they should be nationalised under democratic workers' control.

Under New Labour young people who lose their jobs face grim prospects. At £60.50 a week, Job Seekers Allowance is not enough to survive on, with the added insult that, along with many other benefits, under-25s receive a lower rate. You don't get a discount on gas bills or rent if you're under 25, why should benefits be any lower? Without a serious programme of job creation, unemployed workers will be forced to fulfil pointless courses to supposedly make them fitter for jobs that don't exist. University is unaffordable, with graduate debts running into tens of thousands of pounds. Modern apprenticeships can pay less than even Job Seekers Allowance, with no guarantee of a job at the end.

Help build the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign in your workplace, school or college. Get in touch for assistance, leaflets, posters, model trade union resolutions and other campaigning material.

For a list of sponsors see here
WE ARE CAMPAIGNING FOR

* The right to a decent job for all.
* We won't pay for the bosses' crisis!
* No to job losses. Open the account books to let workers see where the profits have gone.
* Bail out workers not bosses. Nationalise big industries threatening closure or large-scale job losses.
* For fighting trade unions, involving young workers and the unemployed.
* For training linked to decent jobs.
* No to cheap labour apprenticeships! For all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end.
* No to university fees. Support the Campaign to Defeat Fees.
* No to bullying management. For decent working conditions.
* For a living minimum wage of at least £8 an hour for all. No youth exemptions.
* Share out the work. For a 35 hour working week with no loss of pay.
* For government investment in socially useful jobs. For a massive public programme of house building, renovation and infrastructure projects. No to profiteering private companies running these projects

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Construction site walkouts

The construction site walkouts have shown that when workers have really had enough, the anti-union laws demanding ballots are quickly ignored! Of course, the tabloid coverage suggested that this was driven by racist ‘anti-foreigner’ views.

The demands agreed at the mass meeting in Lincolnshiretoday were:

·          No victimisation of workers taking solidarity action.

·          All workers in UK to be covered by the national agreements.

·          Union controlled registering of unemployed and locally skilled union members, with nominating rights as work becomes available.

·          Government and employer investment in proper training / apprenticeships for new generation of construction workers - fight for a future for young people.

·          All Immigrant labour to be unionised.

·          Trade Union assistance for immigrant workers - including interpreters - and access to Trade Union advice - to promote active integrated Trade Union Members.

·          Build links with construction trade unions on the continent.