Southend Trades Union Council

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Celebrate May Day - Workers' Day 2016

Unions are the voice of Britain at work. More than 6 million people have joined a union – from nurses to checkout assistants to lorry drivers to airline pilots.

Unions help workers get together, stop people being treated unfairly and get a better deal from their employers.

They’re there when times are tough – providing free legal advice if you need it. There are lots of discounts and offers for union members too. And every year they help more than 200,000 people get the training and learning opportunities they need to move on in their career.

Isn’t it time you joined a union?


The original May Day celebrations date back to 1886 when workers in Chicago held a general strike for an eight-hour workday that was then brutally suppressed.

Following this it was decided at an International Workers’ Congress held in Paris in 1889 that the
workers of all lands would demonstrate together for the eighthour day on Mayday. An international protest took place on Sunday 4th May 1890, and in London alone attracted 300,000 protesters to Hyde Park. Across the globe, labour activists sought to make May Day an official holiday to honour labour.

People fought for the rights and dignities we enjoy today, but we can’t take them for granted. We now face the Tory government’s austerity policies, cuts to public services, a crisis in housing and attacks on our trade union rights.

That’s why May Day is still important.
That’s why Southend Trades Union Council campaigns for workers rights, for strong trade unions and for social justice .

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Support for the Junior Doctors

Strike by Junior Doctors – Tuesday 12th January 2016
The Southend TUC has pledged our full support for the industrial action being taken by Junior Doctors, to oppose the government’s attempt to impose an unsafe new contract on the medical profession. 

We attended their picket line at Southend Hospital on this morning.

Southend TUC President Rachel Heemskerk said 

This government is wilfully putting patients' safety at risk, the tolerability of the working lives of NHS workers and the very viability of the NHS as a publicly-funded, publicly-provided service.

Ian Pope, Southend TUC Secretary added

The proposed doctor’s contract is clearly a tool for achieving the destruction of safe terms and conditions throughout the NHS and throughout the public sector.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Secretary’s Report for year ended 31st December 2015

We convened 11 general meetings of the Southend TUC with an average attendance of 8 delegates. It pleasing to note that we had better attendance figures than in 2014
In 2015, we received affiliation fees from 10 branches of the following Unions:
We have maintained our affiliations to the Essex Association of Trades Councils (CATC) and the National Pensioners Convention (NPC). We also affiliated, for the first time, to the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom.
I would express my thanks to the Ambleside Social Club for the use of their meeting room throughout the year.

Work of the Year
Protecting workers’ rights to organise together
At our February meeting, Dave Smith from the Blacklist Support Group spoke on the injustice towards workers perpetrated by the big construction industry companies.
Also in February, we supported the Voice & Vision folk music event at the Squeeze Café in Leigh on Sea organised by Squeezebox Folk and the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU). One of our major events was to be involved in the running of the Voice & Vision Concert, part of the Leigh Folk Festival and held at St Clements Church, at which the singer Dick Gaughan was the headlining act.
With the support of a TUC development grant, we were able to organise a celebration of May Day (International Workers Day) on Saturday 2nd May. In the morning, we held a street stall in Southend town centre to publicise the history and significance of May Day to working people. We also gave support to the campaign by Southend UNISON against cuts in mental health services within the Borough. Whilst in the afternoon, we held a musical event in the O’Neills public house, which also included poetry, interactive art and children’s entertainment. Overall our events were well received and successful. It is our intention to organise similar May Day events in 2016.
As part of our ongoing commitment to trade union involvement in the Leigh Folk Festival, we ran a financial appeal to our affiliated branches. The organisers gave us a prominent position for our gazebo on both the Saturday and Sunday. Through the sponsorship of unions, both nationally and regionally, we have become an integral part of the Festival and we gain an important level of recognition from our involvement.
Some of our members supported and attended the Lobby of Parliament on 2nd November as part of the campaign to oppose the Conservative Government’s Trade Union Bill. Unfortunately, we were unable to run an effective campaign event locally.
As in previous years, we ran a minibus to the Burston Rally and carried our banner on the traditional march around the village.

An end to austerity economics
Southend TUC supported, and a number of our members participated in, the People’s Assembly national March Against Austerity in London on 20th June.

Fighting racism
In light of the refugee crisis, we made a donation to the humanitarian needs of the refugees in Calais.

2015 has seen some successful campaigning by the Southend TUC. We have increased our profile through the cultural and campaigning events that we have been involved in. We stand ready to face the challenges and threats to the trade union movement in 2016.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Celebrate May Day!

Southend Trades Union Council invites you to celebrate
May Day, International Workers Day

The original Mayday celebrations date back to 1886 when workers in Chicago held a general strike for an eight-hour working day that was brutally suppressed.

Mayday has continued to be celebrated internationally ever since along with campaigns for decent conditions and even the concept of the weekend!

People fought for the rights and dignities we enjoy today but they cannot be taken for granted. The sacrifices of so many people cannot be forgotten or we'll end up fighting for those same gains all over again.

Please come and join us in our celebration of Mayday on Saturday 2nd May!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Workers' Memorial Day - 28th April

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. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers.

Workers' Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year, all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activities to mark the day.

The day is also intended to serve as a rallying cry to “remember the dead, but fight for the living”.

Over 20,000 people die every year because of their work. Most of these because of exposure to dangerous substances. In 2015 the theme for the day is "removing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace" Hazardous substances are found in almost every workplace in the UK and many workers have no protection against the possible effects, despite the fact that tens of thousands of workers have their health destroyed by asthma, dermatitis, lung disorders and cancers because of exposures.

In addition to hazardous substances many unions and trades councils will be campaigning on the general theme of demanding better regulation, greater inspections and an end to the anti-health and safety rhetoric from the government and their allies in the press.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Mick Connolly - an appreciation

MICK CONNOLLY’S early life was not calm. He was one of five children (four sons, one daughter) to mother Ellen and father Danny — a Communist Party member.

During the tail-end of the Blitz in 1941, Ellen moved her children to the relative safety of Swindon, where Mick was born in July of that year.

Returning soon to London, Ellen would again move the children to safety, this time to Lancashire, where they saw out the war.

Danny became a university lecturer of politics and economics while Ronnie became a Transport and General Workers Union (T&G) official, and Terry attended Hull University on a T&G bursary.
Patsy however was evacuated to Wales with their nan, where sadly she was killed in a road traffic accident in 1944 aged just 4.

After the war the family would return to their native Wapping.

Mick (pictured) attended Wapping’s St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Primary School — now demolished and redeveloped — after which he followed his father and brothers into employment in the London docks and joined the Communist Party.

Political education started in the home and continued at work and Mick was quickly elected as a T&G shop steward to defend the interests of his co-workers. During this time he was a contemporary of well-known communist dock and river workers such as Jack Dash and Harry Watson.

Mick married Paula in 1962 and they had two sons, Sean and Mark. The family grew, and Mick’s love of his grandchildren was well known in the Southern and Eastern Region TUC (Sertuc) office. Sean and Tricia had Chloe and Sam, and Mark and Tania had Thomas, Joe and Zak.

While a dock worker he benefitted from the structured support for working-class activists (that hardly exists now) to further their education, going to the London School of Economics and graduating in 1966 with a politics and economics degree.

He was then a T&G full-time officer, based in the union’s Stratford district office and working and organising in east London.

The Stratford office became a hub of organising and political mobilisation as Mick was joined by a number of key young left-wing officials, many of whom went on to hold senior office in our movement.

One of these, Barry Camfield, who was later Unite assistant general secretary and is now with the Australian Nurses & Midwives union, said on learning of Mick’s death: “I was 24 when I met Mick and he was head and shoulders above everyone. Confident, strong, principled and so supportive. I thought he would live forever. Very sad. A big part of my life has gone, he was a rock, a mate, a comrade. Makes you more determined to fight for union freedom and socialism.”

Mick was later appointed by Ken Livingstone, leader of the Greater London Council (GLC) as director of the Greater London trade union resource unit (GLTURU).

The unit’s work was wide-ranging and cemented Mick’s reputation as a leader in anti-racist campaigning. While at GLTURU Mick also commissioned work on London’s manufacturing base, questioning the over-reliance on defence industries and the arms trade.

Mick was a great internationalist. He had an enduring affinity with the Spanish republic and unions, particularly the Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO) in Catalunya. He was quick to draw the lessons for London from the experience of economic regeneration enjoyed by Barcelona when the city won the right to stage the 1992 Olympic Games.

Mick of course lost his job when Thatcher abolished the GLC in 1986 and he returned to the role of lay activist. He eventually became vice chair of T&G region 1 (London, South-East & East Anglia) regional committee, one of the key left regions in the union.

London taxi driver, T&G executive council and TUC general council member Peter Hagger, who died too young in 1995, was a close personal and political friend.

During the miners’ strike the T&G established a special unit in the region 1 office staffed by Mick and Peter to track the movement of coal across London and the south-east. It mobilised trade unionists to try to stop the coal getting to power stations. Both Mick and Peter’s powers of persuasion and motivation were legendary.

Barry Camfield recalls a visit to South Africa with Mick in 1989, at the invitation of the South African T&G, a couple of months before Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

They went to a bus depot with South African T&G president Vivian Zungo, who worked at the depot, and union general secretary Jane Barrett.

Vivian and Jane were called inside to deal with a major dispute, leaving Mick and Barry in the car outside. The clouds formed and it began to rain. Mick’s comment on this turn of events: “I don’t know about you, but I didn’t need to fly 6,000 miles to sit in the pissing rain outside a bus garage during a strike. I could have done this anywhere in London.”

In 1993 Mick was appointed Sertuc regional secretary, a post he held until his retirement in 2006. He made sure that Sertuc led the TUC’s anti-racism campaigning and was instrumental in gathering a popular front of anti-racism organisations under the banner “Unite Against Racism,” following the election of the first ever BNP councillor.

Mick organised the TUC’s Unite Against Racism march where over 40,000 people marched through Tower Hamlets in March 1994. Campaigning continued and the BNP was defeated in May.
In 1997 Sertuc put on an organising conference and Mick invited as keynote speaker the then US Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern.

He was ahead of the game as usual and 350 delegates heard the call to build our unions by recognising the difference between organising and recruitment.

Working with mayor Ken Livingstone, Mick again showed his international credentials by mobilising the unions to support and engage with the European Social Forum held in London in 2004.

Mick strode the Sertuc stage like a colossus. Full-time permanent TUC regional secretaries were a new-ish phenomenon and Mick created and coalesced Sertuc as the TUC’s leading progressive region — always with the breadth of working-class interests at its centre. That meant anti-racism and women’s equality was, and is, at its heart.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes described Sertuc as “the TUC’s broad left.”
Mick liked that.

Written by Megan Dobney (SERTUC) and Adrian Weir (UNITE)