Category Archives: Events

Posts relating to events being organised, sponsored or supported by York TUC.

Trade Unionists set for initial strikes at York District Hospital – more to follow

Union members at York District Hospital have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, officials announced yesterday. A ballot of members of the Unite union returned a majority of 92.6% in favour of a strike, in a dispute over the implementation of a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a private initiative set to be effectively forced on health workers with effect from the 1st of October. With two days of strike action already announced for the 27th and 28th of September – and the possibility of further action under consideration – an escalating row has erupted over the Trust’s lack of meaningful consultation with both the unions and the public.

York TUC President Leigh Wilks, who writing in the York Press back in March publicly urged the Trust to enter into talks, reiterated who should shoulder the blame in a press release issued earlier today: “The so-called consultation process in this case is a joke. York NHS Trust has some serious questions to answer. Agree to talks now, as we asked you to do six months ago. You are barely meeting the legal definition of meaningful consultation, and for a public service that is not acceptable.” He added: “No union member takes going on strike lightly. But by all accounts York NHS Trust has attempted to frustrate the union reps with a campaign of evasiveness and subterfuge. Refusing to show the business plan for the LLC on the basis that it is “commercially sensitive” does not fool anyone, and your written assurances to staff that roles will remain unaffected are clearly not believed by 96% of Unite members. If you fail to act now, that shows a clear intransigence totally inappropriate to a public service provider.”

Unite shop steward and York TUC delegate Mal Richardson, who with colleague Michelle Hartlett has led the hospital workers’ campaign against the Limited Liability Company, was even more forthright: “If they discipline me, I’ll be on the picket line. If they bully me, I’ll still be on the picket line. And if they sack me, I will come back to haunt them.”

Limited Liability Companies (LLC) have been used by various NHS trusts up and down the country as a means of bringing healthcare workers under the auspices of a private company, while still under the public NHS umbrella. In some areas, they have been forced through with very little opposition; however in others, they have met with fierce union resistance, forcing the health trusts to back down and abandon the policy. Part of the problem with the York Trust’s plans is the appalling lack of transparency and the limitation of meaningful “consultation” to a list of “Q&A’s” issued to staff on a piece of paper. The general public – mostly oblivious to the fact that the plan even exists – have been given even less of an opportunity to voice their concerns. By attempting to rush the plan through as quickly as possible, the Trust’s management have shown a contempt to their staff, their union stewards who are there to represent their interests, and the public who rely on the service and who overwhelmingly oppose further privatisation.

The closure of Bootham Park Hospital, which has left York with little to no mental health provision and resulted in vulnerable patients being shipped off to private providers in Darlington and elsewhere, has shown that – at a minimum – the management of York NHS Trust now deserves business serious scrutiny and that – in the case of this proposed Limited Liability Company – they are doing everything they can to avoid being scrutinised. Their cavalier attitude to consulting their staff, and the union reps who represent them, is characteristic of the behaviour of the very worst multinational corporations; the fact that this behaviour should be displayed by the city’s biggest employer, and the nation’s number one public service, is a devastating reflection of the times – and a savage indictment of the free-market policies of one of the most vicious Governments in living memory. “The ball is now in their court,” says Mr Wilks. “They have had well over six months notice of what could potentially happen if they didn’t listen to the concerns of the staff. Let us hope now that they put this plan on hold – or better still, abandon it. But forcing this through is no longer an option – I hope that at the very least is crystal clear. You will not stream-roller these plans through if we have anything to do with it – and if you do, there will be hell to pay.”

Messages of support & solidarity for the strikers can be emailed to:  yorktuc@outlook.com.

 

 

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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:

http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/23084/1/1111.pdf

RG_Poster2

2015 York TUC AGM

The 2015 York TUC AGM took place on Wednesday 11th March with representatives present from many of our affiliated branches.

At the meeting changes to some rules were voted on and an updated copy of the rules will be available via this website shortly. An updated affiliation form will also be made available soon.

The officers were elected for the coming year as follows:

  • Leigh Wilks was re-elected President.
  • Brian Clark was re-elected Vice-president.
  • Krzysztof Rockwell stood down as Secretary. Danny Myers was elected to the post.
  • Karen Millar was re-elected Treasurer.
  • Ian Craven was re-elected Campaigns Officer.
  • Sue Thomas was ineligible for re-election as Equality Officer. The post remains vacant.
  • Sophie Shaw stood down as International Officer. Pete Kilbane was elected to the post.
  • Reece Goscinski was re-elected Minute Secretary.
  • There remains 4 vacant executive committee positions (in addition to the officer posts).

Following the AGM, delegates heard from Labour’s PPC for the York Central constituency, Rachael Maskell, who explained to delegates what she was planning to do for working people and families in the constituency if she were elected, with particular focus on Rachael’s background in the health sector. She asked delegates to take the message back to branches and workplaces and despite needing to rush off for a train to London she stayed to answer quite a number of questions from delegates!

At the end of the delegates’ meeting, I was presented with an award for my services to the Trades Council as Secretary for the past two years. I have to say it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I have been privileged to work with a fantastic bunch of people both within and out-with the trades council. It’s bittersweet for me because I hate leaving, but I get to begin a new chapter of my life in London with my partner so that’s good too. I have agreed to stay on as webmaster for York TUC so you may see the occasional post on here from me still!

Krzysztof