Fighting back in the low wage economy!

People’s Forum

Organised by Bristol People’s Assembly

Fighting Back

TUESDAY 16 October 7pm
TSSA, Newminster House,
29 Baldwin St, BS1 1LT

Speakers include:

📢 Lauren Townsend, TGI Fridays worker & Oct 4 strike leader (Unite)
📢 Paul Shanks, striking Deliveroo rider (couriers network)
📢 Susan Newman, political economist and anti-austerity activist
📢 Rob Wotherspoon, Communication Workers Union Bristol branch secretary

The last year has seen a series of successful and news-grabbing strikes and protest campaigns by groups of workers ranging from social care workers, fast food workers, university cleaners, Uber drivers and delivery workers.

On Oct 4th workers at McDonalds, TGI Fridays, UberEats and JD Wetherspoon workers went on strike for a living wage in over a dozen workplaces and eight cities across the country, including Bristol, for the Fast Food Shutdown!

All were highlighting issues of poverty pay, precarious contracts, insecure working and lack of union recognition.

Bristol People’s Assembly has invited workers from these sectors to talk about their experiences and where they’re planning to take their campaigns next.

Unless explicitly stated otherwise any commercial advertisements appearing on this page aren’t endorsed or supported by Bristol Trades Union Council.

CND Public Conference comes to Bristol!

CND protesting

Sunday 21st October 2018
Wills Memorial Building, Bristol, BS8 1RJ

CND’s public conference is on Sunday 21st October 2018 and will include a series of workshops and plenaries focusing on grass roots activity for peace, as well as a peace history walk.

The full Public conference programme can be found here CND’s conference 2018

CND will be working with the local group Remembering the Real World War 1 to understand the reality of war in this centenary year, as well as paying tribute to conscientious objectors.

Winning the defence diversification argument

The day will also offer an opportunity for trade unionists to attend the workshop Winning the defence diversification argument which starts at 1:30pm. This workshop will provide an overview of the defence diversification argument in the Trade Unions and what we can do to create support within them. A local Labour Party activist will share their story of pushing for defence diversification action within the local and national agenda of the Labour Party. Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West will discuss green employment alternatives. Alex Kempshall will give an overview of the positions adopted by various trade unions.

Public Conference administration

For more information about the Public conference, which is open to all, go to CND’s conference 2018.

To register for the Public Conference head down to the bottom of CND’s conference 2018 and click on the link to Eventbrite. Registration will enable CND to get an idea of numbers of people likely to turn up on the day. If you don’t want to register feel free to turn up on the day!

Unless explicitly stated otherwise any commercial advertisements appearing on this page aren’t endorsed or supported by Bristol Trades Union Council.

Well done Fast Food Shutdown

Well done Fast Food Shutdown

Bristol Trades Union Council congratulates Bristol’s Food Delivery Couriers for their successful strike on 4th October 2018 with hundreds rallying outside Bristol’s premier McDonalds outlet in Broadmead.

Flags and banners were flown including those from Unite, PCS, the IWW and a number of hand made banners and posters calling for a minimum of £5 per drop.

Protest songs were sung and messages of solidarity were listened to including one from an executive member of Bristol Trades Union Council.

RMT members sang “I’d rather be a picket than a scab” whilst strikers remonstrated with those still working.

After the rally there was a “motorcade” around the city centre led by couriers on their mopeds, followed by more couriers on bicycles and in the rear their supporters walking at a fairly brisk pace to keep up.


And the photos are below

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Public meeting: Corbyn, Antisemitism and Justice for Palestine

Corbyn, Antisemitism and Justice for Palestine public meeting

Monday 17th September 2018, 7.00pm
The Kitchen, Silver St, Bristol, BS1 2AG

The introduction to the meeting from Stop The War Coalition states “Criticism of Israel is being conflated with antisemitism in ways that threaten free speech and the right to protest while silencing Palestinian voices. We must vigorously oppose all forms of antisemitism, but we can’t let smears be used to silence criticism of the Israeli state.”

– Lindsey German, Convenor of Stop the War Coalition
– Bernard Regan, Palestine Solidarity Campaign national committee
– Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, British-Palestinian human rights lawyer
– Rob Ferguson, Jewish anti-racist
– Jay Blackwood, Jewish Voice for LabourChair: Michal Nahman

The introduction goes onto explain that –

“Jeremy Corbyn – a lifelong anti-racist in all respects and prominent figure in the Palestine solidarity movement – is being labelled an antisemite and a racist by those who oppose his politics and leadership of the Labour Party.

“This meeting will discuss the importance of challenging any attempt at a witch hunt, strengthening the struggle for Palestinian freedom while maintaining zero tolerance for antisemitism and all forms of racism.

“In order to cover the costs of the venue we will be asking for donations on the door for those who are able to afford it. The venue has a large capacity so let’s make it a big meeting.”

This event is organised by Bristol Stop the War Coalition.

Annual Conference of Trades Union Councils – 2018

Trades Union Councils logo

At the 2018 Annual Conference of Trades Union Councils Bristol was represented by Sheila Caffrey. Her report of Conference was presented to the July meeting of Bristol Trades Union Council which approved the report and the actions. The report can be found below.

As I had never attended before, I wasn’t sure what to expect… I was pleased to discover a weekend that was motivating, interesting and full of representatives who were trialing lots of ideas to build and develop their local Trades Councils.

Motions and discussions around deaf workers; fracking; zero-carbon industries; Football Lads Alliance, spying and blacklisting. There also was a big discussion around Heart Unions week. Everyone was in favour of the principle; however, many were questioning the timing and the literature produced.

There were two ‘workshop’ sessions that delegates chose. I chose to go to one about building Trades Councils and one about the campaign ‘Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise’. Both sessions allowed plenty of time for questions and discussion, which I thought was a good balance with the whole-conference sessions with speakers and motions.

Speakers included TUC organiser for the North West, who had clearly built a lot of activities around marking the 150 years of the TUC; Liz McInnes, a Labour MP and the BFAWU organiser for the McDonald’s workers. It was extremely interesting hearing from him how they had used a mixture for traditional methods and new different ways of reaching workers, which led to a strike by 47 workers getting a 6.5% pay rise for 1000s of workers from one of the most well-known companies world-wide!

I also attended a ‘womens’ reception’ Saturday evening, which through a mix-up in ordering, had two bottles of wine each for us! The idea of supporting and encouraging women delegates in a place that is still mainly male-dominated though I thought was a good idea.

Of course, the idea of attending conferences is to bring back ideas and to think how we can build, so I’ve highlighted key ideas below with my suggestions on how what other Trades Councils have done could benefit us in Bristol.

Points of Inspiration and Questions for Bristol Trades Council

Getting more people to meetings:

This was key theme in the building session, but also a discussion that clearly all trades councils are having. In Bristol, our numbers attending are certainly not the lowest; however, many small trades councils appeared to have been successful in building larger meetings and providing a popular and effective working-class hub for local TU branches. The most successful ones appeared to have done this in an organised and structured way, starting with inviting a speaker from all affiliated TUs and asking them to bring along a couple of members. Following this, they repeated this with TUs which aren’t affiliated. This sometimes had been through asking regional officials to speak but also asking them to bring along members. Alongside this, had been a mapping exercise of local branches and large workplaces (both unionised and un-unionised), which allowed them to contact activists, but also offer support to unions for un-unionised places. As Trades Councils should be campaigning and organising on issues that affect all workers, many have also opened their doors to invite in community campaigns, student campaigns and other activists. Although, these wouldn’t have voting rights, they could still be welcomed at meetings to help build a solid network of support to all workers. I thought these ideas sounded really interesting and ways in which we could develop in Bristol.

Suggested action:
  • Map workplaces across Bristol (Sept-Nov);
  • Invite two unions each meeting to have a 15-minute sharing slot for the next 6 months to see if it increases turn-out.


Four campaigns especially stood out for ones that could be developed by Trades Councils, rather than just supporting individual unions’ campaigns. It had become a key focus of the Trades Council work and pulled in activists from unions as they saw the Trades Council as somewhere that organised and fought for workers.

  • Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise sounded an excellent campaign and one that affects all workers. They are happy to share their literature they created, and we could amend it with local facts if it was something we wished to take up.
  • Refugee Rights is an organisation that many Trades Councils had affiliated to and invited speakers from. This could be an excellent campaign to link with, cutting across racist ideology and companies that try to divide their workers on these grounds.
  • Supporting un-unionised sectors/’workplaces’ e.g. Bakers Union is one that we have supported in Heart Union week and one that we could develop further.
  • Stress and mental health is a key issue in all workplaces and something we could campaign around. This could involve convening a meeting for unions or providing training. There is also currently a Mental Health sub-committee in the SW TUC and a conference in Nov in Birmingham, which we could also investigate supporting.>

Suggested action:
  • Choose a campaign to develop as a Trades Council to support other unions and to increase our active delegate base;
  • Invite a speaker from Refugee Rights and look to affiliating.


I think we have greatly increased our visibility and communication with workers in the last few years, and this is an issue that other Trades Councils have also clearly been battling with. One of the key ways that Trades Councils had done this was face-to-face with regular street stalls in different areas and ensuring their banner was at all local political events. Some had been successful at increasing on-line visibility through websites, Facebook and Twitter. This mainly worked when existing networks had grown and so those people then shared things on-line. Some wrote short reports of meetings (not just minutes) which were sent to all unions with photos and encouragement to attend a future event. Others had also had success with socials such as a Banner Theatre production or a film viewing.

Suggested action
  • Send short monthly reports to unions to include on their agendas;
  • Organise at least 2 street stalls before the end of the year around a key campaign;
  • Ensure events that are discussed at the end of each meetings has our banner there if any delegates are present;
  • Consider organising a social event.


Background information about Trades Union Councils can be found here A guide to trades union councils

Tolpuddle – 2018

Tolpuddle Martyrs
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd July 2018

In 1834, farm workers in west Dorset formed a trade union. Unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the union were arrested and sentenced to seven years’ transportation for taking an oath of secrecy. A massive protest swept across the country. Thousands of people marched through London and many more organised petitions and protest meetings to demand their freedom.

By June 1835, ten months after the Martyrs’ arrival in penal colonies, conditional pardons had been granted by Lord John Russell, the Home Secretary.

The Tolpuddle men refused to accept compromises and after further pressure, the Government agreed on 14th March 1836 that all the men should have a full and free pardon.

Trade unions had won and survived their first big challenge. The six farm workers from Tolpuddle were on their way home as free men.

Tolpuddle has become a place of celebration for trade unionists and socialists ever since the Martyrs’ came home in triumph.

Every July thousands of trade unionists and their supporters come to Tolpuddle to celebrate trade unionism and to remember the sacrifice made by the six farm workers of the village.

It has a fabulous atmosphere with a vibrant mix of political debate, speeches, music to suit all tastes, poetry, comedy, stalls and lots of entertainment for children.

The Festival starts on the Friday and the weekend camping is usually sold out so book early. The Sunday – the traditional rally day – attracts thousands of trade unionists from all over the country.

More information about the festival can be obtained from the TUC Tolpuddle Martyrs web page.

For transport details contact your local trade union office.