Monthly Archives: March 2014

Solidarity with National Association of Probation Officers

Manchester Trades Council stands in solidarity with the National Association of Probation Officers who are taking action on 31st March and 1st April. They are fighting the latest attempt by the Tory-Liberal coalition to privatise the justice system and hand over the vital work that probation officers do to incompetent outsourcing companies such as G4S.

Trade Unionists across the public sector have faced waves of oursourcing and privatisation over many years and it has always led to an inferior service, attacks on staff working conditions and a higher cost to the taxpayer.

As a NAPO member from Manchester states:

“I am passionate about fighting for the Probation Service to be part of a ‘not for profit’ criminal justice system. I believe Justice must be held within the public sector. I’m angry that a Probation Service that I feel proud to be part of is being pulled apart purely for private companies to make a profit.”

We are proud to stand with NAPO in their opposition to the privatisation of the justice system and we urge all trade unionists to support their demonstration in Crown Square at 1.00pm on 1st April.

Alex Davidson
Secretary, Manchester Trades Union Council

Tony Benn

Manchester Trades Union Council notes with great sadness the death of Tony Benn.

Tony was a lifelong ally of the trade union movement and unfailingly stood with workers in struggle. He was a Member of Honour of the National Union of Journalists.

In disputes such as the Upper Clyde shipbuilders’ work-in, the miners’ strikes of 1972 & 74, Grunwick, the heroic struggle of the NUM in 1984-85 and countless others, Tony Benn stood shoulder to shoulder with workers.

Tony continued to campaign right up to the end of his life, eloquent testimony to his character and the strength of his belief in a better world.

The trade union movement will miss Tony’s inspiring presence and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

Bob Crow

Manchester Trades Union Council notes with sadness the untimely death of RMT general secretary Bob Crow. His time in office saw his union win many key battles and his death is a loss to the trade union movement. Our thoughts today are with his family and all RMT members.

MTUC President Annette Wright said: “Bob Crow was a working class trade union leader who was an inspiration to me.  He provided leadership to his members through his personality, his knowledge of his industry and his understanding of the balance of forces between his members and their employers. His death is a huge loss to the union movement and our task now is to follow his example and fight for the type of gains he was able to achieve with RMT members.”

MTUC Secretary Alex Davidson said: “All trade unionists will be deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Bob Crow.  At a time when the trade union movement seemed to be on the retreat everywhere he provided inspiration to many of us looking to organise a fight-back against unremittingly hostile employers. Whilst his death is one which every trade unionist will mourn, the test of every union leader is whether their legacy survives them and Bob Crow’s certainly will live on with every trade unionist inspired by his example.”

MTUC President Annette Wright speaks at anti-fracking rally

Sunday 9th March, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester

“Welcome to Manchester if you’ve come from outside our city and welcome if you’ve come from Salford, a city with which we share a great deal of history of working class and trade union struggle.

The trade union movement is against fracking.

The Trade Union Congress, which represents 54 trade unions nationally, has a position, that when they are developing new sources of energy, companies should put the good of the environment and the health of people before their own profits.

The TUC believes there should be a suspension of all fracking activity until the time, if there ever can be such a time, that fracking can be proven to be harmless for people and for the environment.

There is not a shred of evidence that  that fracking is harmless but it is clear that Igas is concerned with its own profits rather than for the environment or for people, like the people who live and work and go to school near fracking sites like the one at Barton Moss.

I want to say to you that we can win against greedy companies.  Last year at Hovis in Wigan, the trade union took action against the employer’s use of zero hours contracts and agency workers.  The tactic they used was to go on strike and to picket the factory at 2.00 and 3.00 in the morning and to walk slowly with their supporters  in front of the bread lorries to stop the bread getting out of the factory on time, to get to the supermarkets on time, to make Hovis a profit that day. They won that dispute.  All of us who went there helped them win that dispute and we all won it together because of the tactics we were able to employ.

It is disgraceful that people at Barton Moss are effectively being arrested by the police for walking in the wrong place or walking too slowly. We have a right in a free society to walk as slowly as we need,  or we want to, for whatever reason we want to walk that slowly and  as we have done today, we must all continue to walk together to defend that right.

We have a right to peaceful protest, we must  continue to stand together on this issue, we can win it if we do so, let’s keep going and stop fracking at Barton Moss.”

Press coverage

Salford Star: 1,500 march against fracking in Manchester

Manchester Evening News: Biggest ever fracking protest

International Women’s Day: Honour past struggles, organise for the future

We are privileged to be part of a Manchester tradition that has seen radical campaigns led by women throughout the city’s history.

Manchester gave birth to the women’s suffrage movement and has seen female trade unionists play a hugely important role in our city’s trade union movement.

Today we see female trade union campaigners leading the way in the fast food workers’ wage struggle in the USA, the garment workers’ struggle in Cambodia and locally in the Rochdale care workers’ strike. Women are also on the front line against fracking at Barton Moss.

The savage austerity policies of the ConDem government have hit women hard and with the worst of public sector cuts still to come, International Women’s Day serves as a reminder that the fight for gender equality must continue to be a central principle of trade unionism.

We salute and stand in solidarity with all women struggling for justice and equality.

Alex Davidson, Secretary, Manchester Trades Union Council