Bristol International Workers Memorial Day April 28th 2021 – Report

IWMD 2021

Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right


IN MEMORY OF
BRIAN, RAY, MIKE + LUKE
FROM YOUR COLLEAGUES AT
GMB WESSEX BRANCH
FOREVER IN OUR THOUGHTS

Click on the first photo for the timeline

South West TUC Facebook page recording the event – SWTUC at Bristol IWMD 2021 includes a Zoom video of the Bristol and Plymouth events.

South West GMB Facebook page recording the event – GMB at Bristol IWMD 2021

South West Unite Facebook page recording the event – Unite at Bristol IWMD 2021

 

 

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Bristol International Workers Memorial Day April 28th 2021

IWMD 2021
Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right
Assemble at Tony Benn House
Victoria Street, Bristol
Wed. 28th April 2021, 11:15
March to Castle Park for
wreath laying ceremony

Speaking

Chris Marsh (GMB Rep Wessex Water)
Suzy Cheeke (Vice-President Bristol TUC)
Stuart Davies (Legal Officer UNITE)
Shona Jemphrey
(UNISON member, Labour Candidate for Lawrence Hill and member of NCG of Momentum)

A leaflet advertising the march & wreath laying can be found here – Workers Memorial Day 2021

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) commemorates those workers.

We remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. We renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work.

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. We remember those we have lost. We fight in their memory.

In the South West during 2019/2020 13 workers lost their life’s due to industrial accidents.  It’s still fresh in our thoughts of those 4 workers killed in an explosion at the Avonmouth water treatment plant (December 2020).


The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an occupational health crisis in workplaces worldwide. Workers are routinely denied even basic health and safety protections, including consultation with safety reps and safety committees on ‘Covid-safe’ policies and practices, free access to personal protective equipment and protection from victimisation for raising health and safety concerns. These same problems existed before the pandemic and resulted in millions of deaths each year from work-related injuries and diseases.

The pandemic demonstrates why health and safety must be a right for everyone who works. Illness anywhere threatens illness everywhere. Unions secured agreement at the International Labour Conference in 2019 that occupational health and safety should be recognised as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work – the decent, universally accepted and binding rights protecting all workers, everywhere. The ILO Centenary Declaration accepts “safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work”.

On 28 April 2021, unions can send a message that health and safety protection at work must be recognised as a right for all. Whether it is Covid or occupational cancers, or workplace injuries and industrial diseases, every worker should have a right to a voice and a right to protection. No-one should have to die to make a living.

It’s still too early to know whether we will lawfully be able to attend the memorial events which usually take place on IWMD. Whatever happens trade union members will be taking part, respecting legal requirements, in this collective day of remembrance and solidarity.

Wherever you are at 12:00 on Wenesday 28th April 2021, take part in the minute’s silence. It will be a moment to pay tribute to the sacrifice made by so many workers during the pandemic, to remember those who’ve sadly lost their lives, and to thank all those who continue to do vital work at great risk. The initiative is supported by the government, and reps may wish to request employers to mark it, by asking the workforce to cease work for one minute at 12:00. Help spread the word about the minute’s silence, by encouraging as many friends and colleagues as possible to take part, whether in their workplace or at home.

Other events will be organised by Bristol Trades Union Council, Bristol Unison, Bristol FBU and South West TUC. Add a comment here to tell us about your Bristol and South Glos. event.

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Bristol Nina Franklin Fund sponsored Walk 2021

Walk for Palestine

in aid of the Nina Franklin Fund
Sunday 2nd May 2021

Following the successful and enjoyable Walk for Palestine in October 2020,  the Nina Franklin Fund are holding a second fundraising walk.  A beautiful 5 or 10 mile walk across Purdown and through the Frome Valley, with good company, food and drink at the end.
You are welcome to join them – to register your interest at eventbrite Nina Franklin Fund where you can find links to the their blog and the how all funds raised are used to support schooling in Palestine.

If you can’t walk yourself or sponsor anybody who is, you or your branch can make a donation at Nina Franklin Fund

Nina Franklin, who died last summer, was a National Union of Teachers (NUT) national president (2010/2011) and was a committed campaigner against injustice. Nina was a member of the NUT and the NEU for more than 40 years. Nina was a leading member of Bristol NUT/NEU, and of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Supported by Bristol Trades Union Council Trades Union Councils' emblem

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May Day March & Rally 2021

Workers marching

A long with millions upon millions of working people Bristol workers will be raising the Red Flag, on Saturday 1st May 2021, in honour of the international working class day that is the spirit of determination, solidarity and resistance.

Mobilise your members, families and friends to join this major day for workers. Bring your Trade Union and labour movement banners.

Assemble at 12:00
on Saturday 1st May 2021
at Castle Park
March through Broadmead
followed by a Rally in Castle Park, Bristol

Sheila Caffrey (President Bristol Trades Union Council)
Mike Wollacott (Labour Candidate for Frome Vale)
Brendan Kelly (RMT Regional Organiser)
Hannah David (SWTUC)

  • JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE ANTI-UNION LAWS
  • CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE POLICE, CRIME, SENTENCING AND COURTS BILL
  • FIGHT THE SLEAZE
  • 15% PAY RISE FOR NHS EMPLOYEES
  • CELEBRATE THOSE WORKERS WHO KEEP BRITAIN WORKING
  • END UNEMPLOYMENT
  • OUTLAW FIRE & REHIRE
  • CELEBRATE AND DEFEND THE EQUAL PAY VICTORY AT ASDA
  • CELEBRATE THE VICTORY OF THE SHREWSBURY 24
  • VICTORY TO GMB AT BRISTOL WATER
  • MAKE 1ST MAY A PUBLIC HOLIDAY

A leaflet advertising the march & Rally can be found here – May Day 2021

Organised by Bristol Trades Union Council Trades Union Councils' emblem

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Opposes the Police Billl

At it’s meeting on 31st March 2021 Bristol Trades Union Council resolved

This Council strongly oppose the ill-conceived and dangerous Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill being proposed by the Home Secretary. To push through repressive legislation under the cover of the pandemic is awful politics and will make dreadful law.

As it stands, the Bill seeks to:

  • Erode fundamental rights of protest including vital trade union actions and activities that support working people
  • Draw false links between violence and the Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion protests
  • Attack those marginalised from society, such as traveller communities and other minority groups
  • Create a fake ‘culture war’ where moves to establish a more tolerant and diverse society is somehow destroying our history.

 We are saddened by the violent scenes in our city. As a trade union movement, we believe in the right for workers to be able to protest without police harassment or violence. We condemn the police violence towards peaceful demonstrators and members of the press.  Furthermore, we note with concern the reports of police intimidation towards journalists as they are trying to carry out their job, as well as preventing independent media coverage.

These incidents need to be fully independently investigated and those responsible held to account.

 

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Support GMB Bristol Water strike

75% of GMB members have voted to strike and will be striking next Tuesday 6th April as Bristol Water has imposed a pay freeze for 2020/21 and no increase to their pension contributions, despite essential workers working throughout the pandemic putting their health and that of their families at risk.

The GMB members’ pay has been eroded over several years and has not kept pace with the cost of inflation. Last week, Bristol Water presented an underwhelming offer for 21/22 which has been rejected by members. Despite GMB attempting to reopen talks to avoid strike action, there has been no counteroffer from the company.

Bristol Water awarded the second worst pay out for England and Wales’ Water authorities in 2019 (which we had to fight to get) and the 2020 pay deal means they remain bottom of the league for company pension contributions. Meanwhile, Mel Karam, CEO, has received a 2020/2021 bonus of £300,000 on top of his £240,000 annual salary. We have challenged him on this as well as his conduct at meetings, and his only response has been to remove himself from talks with GMB.

The GMB sees this offer as an insult to their hard-working members who deserve much, much better. The GMB members are skilled and dedicated workers who take great pride in delivering safe, clean water to 1.2 million people. In return, they ask to be paid fairly and valued by the company.

The GMB members would be grateful for messages of support.

If anyone wishes to come and support the (Covid-safe) picket line on the day, then pickets will be there Tuesday 6th April 7.30-11am (Head Office, Bridgwater Road, Bristol, BS13 7AT).

For further information: Bristol Water workers set to strike over pay freeze

Shrewsbury pickets’ win appeal – success for the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign

 

The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign announced that they were delighted that after 15 years they have finally achieved victory. The Court of Appeal has today (23rd March 2021) quashed the convictions of the North Wales building workers who were tried for picketing offences in 1973-74. The lead picket, Des Warren was sent to prison for three years and blacklisted upon his release. As a result, he never worked again and died prematurely in 2004, aged 67.

The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign’s Researcher and Secretary, Eileen Turnbull, paid tribute to the eight pickets who stood firm,
I am particularly happy for the eight pickets who stood with the Campaign, through all the tough times: John McKinsie Jones, Malcom Clee, Michael Pierce, Terry Renshaw, Kevin Butcher, Bernard Williams and the families of the late Des Warren and Ken O’Shea. Their tenacity and belief in our case was an inspiration. Their quest for justice for all the pickets never waned.

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One per cent pay rise “is the worst kind of insult”

Pay us what we deserve

Commenting on the publication of the recommendation, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:

“No wonder the chancellor had nothing to say about the NHS yesterday [in the budget speech]. A one per cent pay rise is the worst kind of insult the government could give health workers who’ve given their absolute everything over the past year.”

Sara went on to say that “The public will be horrified. Staff will think it’s some kind of joke.”

Unite accused the government of being callous when Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The government’s evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body, due to report in May, saying that it wants the pay of NHS staff pegged at one per cent is callous and takes no account of the public mood.”

Gail went on to say that “During the pandemic, NHS staff were on the frontline 24/7 saving patients’ lives and caring for the dying. More than 620 NHS and social care staff lost their lives to Covid-19.”

Continuing Gail said that “Unite will continue to make the case strongly that NHS staff, deserve an immediate pay rise of £3,000-a-year or 15 per cent, whichever is greater.”

Though she pointed out that “Even this figure won’t start to make up for the 19 per cent decrease in pay in real terms that many NHS workers have lost since the Tories came to power in 2010.”

Bristol Trades Union Council says that Department of Health and Social Care recommendation was one of shame for a morally bankrupt government.

Bristol Trades Union Council and the entire NHS workforce demands that the pay review body, reporting in May, comes up with a much more sensible and realistic recommendation than this laughable suggestion by the government.

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Schools reopening March 2021

The two meter rule

Bristol Trades Council extends solidarity to education staff across Bristol as schools allow all pupils back on site on Monday and will continue to support and share any action taken.

As 10 million, pupils and staff are herded back into school buildings this Monday, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), GMB, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), NASUWT, National Education Union (NEU), National Governance Association (NGA), Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), Unison, and Unite have all signed a statement that although all staff want pupils back in school as soon as possible, this must be done in a safe and sustained fashion.

Student wearing masks

To ensure that this is safe, and doesn’t lead to a further spike in cases, we need further mitigations, and the key thing is to have smaller class sizes. That means more social distancing, less viral load testing the ventilation of the room, and less mixing of households. Calls for this have been backed by scientists in SAGE and Indie SAGE, who have warned of a third wave with virus rates of transmission increasing by 10-50% from schools reopening, even with the vaccination roll out as far as it is, and they argue that things should be relaxed later.

It could be easily achieved by opening Nightingale classes, ran by supply staff, many of whom haven’t been able to access furlough and so have been living off very little for the past year. Or by putting in rotas, with students spending part of the week in school, and part of the week learning remotely. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t wish to take these obvious steps. Instead, they insist that by all pupils facing forwards and if they’re over 11, maybe wearing a mask, it will be safe enough. This is an appalling shirking of a duty of care for staff and students by the government, and one that won’t be forgotten quickly by education staff.

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Celebrating International Women’s Day March 8th 2021

Women's Day

Bristol Trades Union Council celebrates International Women’s Day and sends greetings to sisters everywhere. We continue to place equality at the heart of our work.

In 2020 Women’s Pay Day – the day when the average woman starts getting paid compared to the average man – was Wednesday 4 March.

In parts of the UK where the gender pay gap is wider, women work for free for longer.

And in some industries women have to wait until April or even May for their Women’s Pay Day.

The average woman effectively works for free for two months of the year compared to the average man.

The gender pay gap for all employees is 17.3%. Gender pay gap reporting was introduced in 2017 and aimed to ensure that larger employers took responsibility for tackling the gender pay gap in their organisation.

It made public the pay inequalities that are ultimately responsible for the persistent gender pay gap in this country.When the legal requirement for employers with over 250 employees to report their gender pay gap was suspended in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the trade union movement raised concerns about how this would set back equality and disadvantage women at work.

It is therefore of significant concern to all who are committed to achieving gender equality that the UK Government is considering removing the visibility of employers’ performance on pay equality for another year.

At a time when the UK’s economy is under threat, suspending gender pay gap reporting is not the right decision.Bristol Trades Union Council calls on the UK Government to urgently reinstate enforcement of gender pay gap reporting, and to require all larger employers to report their gender pay gap in 2021.

Though important gender pay gap reporting is not enough. The trade union movement has won notable victories for equal pay and at this year’s Women’s TUC conference has mapped a way forward in the fight for equal pay.

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