No To Austerity – Yes To Workers’ Rights: TUC demo at the Tory Party Conference 4th October 2015


Just months after the re-election of a Conservative Government – and without the restraining hand of their previous coalition partners, the Tories are pushing full speed ahead with their anti-trade union, neo-liberal and Right-wing agenda. Following one of the most vicious budgets in living memory, and an administration which singularly failed to get the deficit or the economy under control, they are attacking everything from those dependent on tax credits, to students and the disabled, to the fundamental rights of our members to engage in legitimate industrial dispute.

As the TUC meets this week, and following the election of a Labour Party leadership far to the Left of anything that has been seen in decades, politics is polarising people like never before. The Trade Union Reform Bill, currently working its way through debate in the Commons, is the most vicious piece of legislation we have seen against our movement for decades. From attacking the check-off system and enabling agency workers to break a strike, to forcing unions to reach turnouts which many parliamentary elections do not achieve as a matter of course, the Conservatives are engaging in their usual union-busting skullduggery, with a venom that we have not seen since the Miners’ Strike. At the same time, they have reached a new low with their attacks on the labour movement itself, going as far as to describe the Labour Party as a threat to “our economic security”.

Few of us will know what kind of “security” they are talking about, considering the collapse in wages – and the simultaneous sky-rocketing rise in the cost of living – we have seen since the Tories took office in 2010. Certainly, trade unionists do not feel any level of security at the moment. Not content with driving down conditions and subjecting our members to the most vile and outrageous propaganda, they wish to attack the trade unions’ most fundamental right – the right to withdraw our labour.

This is not something we should allow them to get away with. The TUC has called a national demonstration at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester on 4th October, and it could be the biggest the North has seen in a very long time. York & District TUC are organising coaches to the event from the Memorial Gardens near York Station and we would encourage you and your members to come along. Information about the day can be viewed on the national TUC website at the following link:

While you can purchase tickets (at a cost of £13 waged and £7 concessionary rate) at the following link:

Members of Unite and Unison who wish to access subsidised tickets, should enter codes UNITE1 or UNISON1 in the appropriate field.

Tell your friends and work colleagues about this demo. It is important that we send them a message they will not forget – we will not be criminalised in this way, and no other nation in Western Europe is pursuing such a rabid Right-wing agenda against the labour movement. The Conservatives’ mandate is slimmer than ever – and the public do not agree with them on this Victorian-style attack on our civil rights. It is up to us to remind them of that fact – loud and clear.

A sticky situation

Originally posted on PHMMcr:

A guest blog by Conservator Jenny Barsby

At PHM we collect objects which have a story and this is often told through the physical condition of the piece, if a banner has holes or stains these may be a clue to how, where or why it was used. As is often the case with social history collections we sometimes deal with complex objects made from a variety of materials, many of the textiles I treat show signs of wear and tear or may be disfiguring if viewed in a different context. It is my job as a conservator to preserve this evidence while ensuring that the object is safe for storage and display.

As well as maintaining our existing collection and preparing objects for display we treat new objects as they come in. When a new object comes into the Textile Conservation Studio the first thing I do is a…

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Trade Unionism at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research

York Trades Council member discusses paper at British Conference of Undergraduate Research.

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) is an annual conference taking place at different venues across the UK. This year the conference was hosted at Winchester University and displayed a wide variety of research topics.

It was good to see that amongst the discussions of Chemistry, English and Philosophy that I was not alone in approaching the topic of labour unions. Another delegate held an interesting presentation looking at the role of Chinese labour unions in the global economy. This is encouraging as it not only shows young people getting involved in labour politics, but highlights a shift in attitudes towards trade unionism in higher education.

The presentation I gave was titled Decline of Collectivism in the Labour movement?: Individualism, Neoliberalism and Collective Identification. The title and content was derived from an article published earlier this year in the FIELDS journal.

The presentation was mostly well received. Many delegates discussed the themes within the project as well as their own experiences of work. This included how much the workplace has changed, transformations in the labour movement and individual cases of workplace bullying and mistreatment.

Some delegates were also intrigued by the existence of trade unions in society, having previously being unaware of their existence. This prompted delegates to speak of part-time, precarious work experiences as well as agreeing with the need for trade unions to reinvent themselves for a new generation.

The project of course was not without its criticisms. The research I had conduct was based on the analysis of interview data where participants communicated lived experiences within the movement. Some felt that non-numerical data had no place within the economic statements I was making. I take objection to this as whilst something may make sense numerically its application can have adverse social effects. These social effects are best measured through the analysis of lived experiences.

Another criticism arose from the papers’ observation of increased wealth inequality. Some commentators felt that “a rising tide raises all ships” despite many contemporary researchers – including Piketty, Wilkinson and Pickett – presenting evidence to the contrary. Similarly a trickle down economic theory cannot work when the rich are not investing reflect in George Osbourne’s growth figures this week.

Over all it was fantastic to see trade unionism picking up interest amongst young researchers. It highlights the possibilities of a new and exciting future for the labour movement.

A free download of the original article is available from the link below:



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