GPTU Slam Government Benefit Sanctions Policy

The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) urge people to get involved in the campaign against the Tory’s cruel and vindictive benefit sanctions policy. Whilst issues such as Brexit and the state of the NHS are rightly in the news at the moment, the government quietly continues to pursue a policy that has caused untold misery for many. GPTU co-secretary and former benefit claimant, Lee Burkwood had this to say:

“Whilst claiming Jobseekers Allowance myself, the Job Centre threatened to cut my benefits unless I agreed to do unpaid work at Tesco for four weeks. I literally had no choice but to work for less than the minimum wage at a multi-billion pound company. It was deeply humiliating.”

Benefit sanctions were set up to catch people out who cheat the system. However, the evidence clearly shows that many legitimate claimants are caught and punished unfairly. In the past year, half a million people have had their benefits stopped for reasons such as: being minutes late for a Job Centre appointment, not applying for work whilst waiting to start a new job, and even missing a meeting to attend the funeral of a family member. Furthermore, the evidence shows that this dysfunctional policy costs the taxpayer more to administer than it saves. Analysis from the National Audit Office shows that the DWP spend £30-50 million yearly in applying sanctions and around £200 million a year in monitoring the terms it sets for jobseekers – yet these measures only reduced the benefits bill by £132 million in 2015.

This is why we are supporting Unite Community’s day of action on Thursday, urging the government to scrap their policy of benefit sanctions and instead investing taxpayers’ money into genuinely helping people to secure and sustainable work, rather than punishing them for minor indiscretions and pushing them into poverty. See the website below to find out how you can get involved and use the hashtag #No2Sanctions to share your stories on this issue.

http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/

London Greens reaffirm support for safely staffed tube stations

London Green Party urges everyone to support the RMT’s campaign to make sure our tube stations are safely staffed.

Former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson cut over 800 staff from TFL, meaning ticket offices were closed and stations are now dangerously understaffed. it seems Sadiq Khan isn’t rectifying this and has condemned the industrial action that RMT and TSSA have been forced to take in recent times.

Green Party Assembly Member Caroline Russell said “With TFL staff saying they feel unsafe working on the underground and with passengers frustrated at lack of assistance, it is important that this situation is quickly resolved.

With the recent introduction of the night tube, it is more important than ever that our stations are safely staffed and that staff and passengers’ voices are heard.”

Green Party Trade Union Group co-secretary Lee Burkwood added this. “On a personal level, I have seen what it is like when underground stations are understaffed. As a passenger I needed assistance recently and to get the help I needed, it took a lot longer than it should have done because the station only had two staff present. Whatever action the RMT and TSSA have to take in future, we as a Trade Union Group will be supporting.”

There is a public rally in support of RMT’s campaign at 6:30pm tonight and Green Party representatives will be there and urge everyone reading this to go. The details are below and hopefully this will be the start of a widely supported campaign to make sure that the safety of staff and passengers on the Underground is guaranteed by the Mayor.

NB: Details of the rally are on the link below. 

http://www.rmtlondoncalling.org.uk/event/public-rally-staff-our-stations

GPTU supportive of action taken by UCU members at the College of North West London

The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) express solidarity with University College Union (UCU) members at the College of North West London College (CNWL) that 5 days ago voted for strike action over a planned merger with the City of Westminster College and over the suspension of their colleague, Indro Sen.

The plans to merge CNWL with City of Westminster College were first announced back in 2013. Despite CNWL saying it was consulting staff over the merger, several staff have been made redundant since, with no guarantees over current staff jobs and no guarantees that both current campuses will stay open. Indro Sen, Branch Secretary of UCU at CNWL and a vocal critic of the merger plans, was suspended back in October 2016 whilst representing a former CNWL employee at a tribunal.

A GPTU spokesperson has said “It is obvious that the reason the colleges are merging and staff are being made redundant is because of severe cuts to further education from, firstly the coalition, and now a Conservative majority government. Sadly this is happening all across the country and shows the callousness at the way the Tories are endangering young people’s future and education for all local communities. ”

“Whilst we understand the College is in a difficult position with funding cuts, we support strike action voted for by 95% of UCU members as they are doing all they can to protect the CNWL from going under.”

To find out how you can support UCU members involved in this action, please visit their website. https://www.ucu.org.uk/

GPTU support TSSA and RMT unions taking strike action over safety concerns.

The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) express complete solidarity and support for members of the RMT and TSSA unions having to take strike action today. Whilst this has caused a lot of disruption for commuters travelling into central London, the fact that 800 jobs in the last year have been lost (Source: TSSA) means that safety has been compromised to unacceptable levels. RMT AND TSSA union members have sadly had to take action since last night because the deal offered by TFL does not guarantee enough staffing levels to ensure a safely run tube and does not offer more staff in control rooms which are dangerously understaffed and in some cases empty.

With more than 80% of staff reportedly feeling more unsafe due to a sharp spike in abuse from passengers and a passenger survey reporting lack visibility of staff on platforms and stations (Source: TSSA), it is bizarre that London Mayor Sadiq Khan chooses to call the Strike today “Pointless”. Surely he should be focusing his attack on the government for cutting the funding that TFL is getting rather than turning his anger on staff who are doing their best in an awful situation.

A GPTU spokesperson, Lee Burkwood, said “I find it disheartening that a Labour mayor would choose to attack ordinary workers fighting for jobs and worker and customer safety. Sadiq got a lot of support from Trade Union members when he first ran to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor and this is how he repays them. Meanwhile I’m pleased to see the Green Party’s former Mayor candidate and current London AM Sian Berry express her support and solidarity with the staff. On a personal note I recently had to get help from staff at South Woodford station with a particular issue and they were absolutely brilliant yet clearly overworked as there were only two of them. So I completely empathise with many underground workers that have taken this action today.”

To find out more about why the strike is happening and what you can do to support the campaign for a TFL system that puts #SafetyFirst, please visit the RMT and TSSA websites.

Green Party Trade Union Group show support for Post Office workers on strike.

The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) unequivocally support the Post Office workers who went out on strike today. Thousands of Post Office workers have been walking out on strike from workplaces across the country in response to continuing attacks by company chiefs on their job security and pensions. 

The Christmas walkouts follow previous Days of Action earlier this month and in October and September, and have been forced on the union by the company’s continuing refusal to negotiate with the CWU on their plans to close branches across the country and make sweeping changes to pensions. CWU are calling on the Post Office management to pause its closure and privatisation programme and commit to meeting with other key stakeholders and construct a lasting vision of the Post Office that serves its staff and customers alike.

A GPTU Spokesperson, Lee Burkwood has said this. “When the previous Coalition government proposed privatising the Post Office, The Green Party spoke out against this. Sadly, what we feared about job losses and branch closures is coming true. Profit for the shareholders is the main aim now, rather than providing a universal post service and having secure jobs and decent conditions for staff. We urge the management to listen to the concerns of Post Office staff to prevent further walkouts. Unlike the Conservative Party, we do not believe the Post Office staff on strike are showing contempt for other workers. Indeed we believe it’s the Post Office management who have shown contempt for its employees.”

Another crucial point to make is that not only will this affect staff but also members of our community such as the disabled and elderly who rely on the Post Office as a form of social interaction and to access vital services like banking and posting letters. 
To find out how to support the staff on strike, please visit http://www.cwu.org

Green Party Trade Union Group launch campaign for Young Workers Month

739844_1053342461355880_1861173796112610886_oImagine waking up one morning and getting a text from your employer saying that you didn’t have work that day. Well for over 300,000 young workers this is sadly too often the case.

According to the latest statistics from the ONS, workers between the ages of 16-24 make up 36% of zero-hour contracts. That means many young workers are not guaranteed the basic rights at work that a lot of people take for granted such as paid holiday, sick leave and maternity/paternity leave.

With youth unemployment at 624,000 more needs to be done to get young people into work. However with a significant level of young workers in zero hour contracts and an average wage for young workers being £6,700 less then the average salary of all workers (£27,600), this is where trade unions need to come in. Workers that are members of Trade Unions get 14.1% more on average than non-unionised workers. Indeed a young worker we spoke to said this about how their union helped them in the workplace.

Paul Valentine, Equity Branch Secretary and Young Greens executive member, said: “Unions are vital in the workplace. My union, Equity, actively campaigns for equality and diversity, and has had great success in getting Young Workers like myself onto contracts, when previously we would have been unpaid. Our ‘Professionally Made, Professionally Made’ campaign has been vital in securing us wages in an ever squeezed arts sector. ”

As part of young workers month, the Green Party Trade Union Group are doing our bit to encourage young people to join trade unions. Only 585,000 young workers out of 3.9 million are members of a trade union, so this is a very important campaign. With the Tory government renewing their attack on workers with the pernicious Trade Union bill now being enforced, the importance of collectively standing up for our rights at work has never been more important.

So as part of our campaign we are asking people to send a photo of themselves with a sheet of paper having written down why they believe unions are important for young workers with the hashtag #YWM16 as we will be sharing this on social media. If you’d like to take part, send us your picture to info@gptu.greenparty.org.uk or tweet us @GreenPartyTU.

NB: All the figures above can be found at www.gov.uk and www.ons.gov.uk

GPTU October Newsletter

Want to receive these monthly updates to your inbox? Click here to join GPTU – it’s free and open to any Green Party member. Joining GPTU simply means you will receive our monthly newsletter and will have the right to attend our meetings.

 


It’s been a while since our last mailout, but it’s been a busy couple of months!

 

Next GPTU committee meeting – WEDNESDAY 26th October, 7pm

Our next GPTU Committee meeting will be held next WEDNESDAY 26th October at 7pm. We will be meeting in Central London and members can also participate online via Google Hangouts.

All of our committee meetings are open to GPTU members. We will be discussing our campaigning over the next few months in the run-up to Spring Conference – so if you’d like to get involved or if you have any ideas, please come along!

Check this page for meeting venue and Google Hangouts details very soon, or get in touch to find out more.

 

Green Party at TUC Congress 2016

The Green Party, and the Green Party Trade Union Group, made an impact at this year’s Trades Union Congress in Brighton, promoting the Green Party and its policies for workers’ rights and Trade Unions.

Green Party co-Leader Jonathan Bartley spoke at the Congress and spoke about both the importance of Trade Unions, and about his wish to work with them to secure a progressive alliance for electoral reform.

Read more

 

Green Party unanimously opposes Trade Union Act and calls for new rights for unions to access workplaces

GPTU made an enormous splash at Green Party Autumn Conference, getting its two policies – which were ranked at the top of the agenda in 1st and 5th place – passed unaminously by Green Party members.

This means that the Green Party has overwhelmingly backed proposals to stand against the Conservatives’ Trade Union Act and to give Trade Unions new rights to access workplaces.

Read more

 

We hope to see you on Wednesday, or at another event very soon!

In solidarity,

The GPTU Committee

GPTU backs RMT workers in Southern dispute

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Greens standing with striking RMT guards at Brighton Station earlier this year

The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) are backing current RMT industrial action over driver-only trains. RMT have been taking strike action over a plan by Southern to move guards off of trains, risking passenger safety.

GPTU Co-chair Clare Keogh has said this. “The way Southern are risking passenger safety with this move, whilst offering cash bribes to their workers to get them off strike and bullying them on social media is nothing short of disgraceful. The fact there is disruption to passenger services is down to Southern conducting a money-saving exercise and risking the safety of their customers. This is yet more proof that privatisation has been a disaster for our railways.”

GPTU welcomes the fact that there were talks today between RMT and Southern Rail after Charles Horton said yesterday that he can guarantee a second member of staff on all Southern services. Sadly the talks broke down this morning after he backtracked on these assurances. The programme of industrial action will continue to go ahead.

Whilst the Tories appear to stand behind the company, the Green Party will stand fully behind workers fighting to protect safety in their workplaces as they have been doing for years. Having previously joined RMT workers on picket lines, Green Party members will continue to do all we can to show our solidarity in their dispute.

Indeed we welcome the fact that our co-leader Caroline Lucas has been invited to speak at a rally on the 1st November on this very issue. The protest assembles outside Parliament from 12:30pm and the rally is in Committee Room 10 from 2pm.

Green Party makes an impact at Trades Union Congress 2016

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TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady with Green Party Trade Union Group activists at TUC Congress

The Green Party, and the Green Party Trade Union Group, made an impact at this year’s Trades Union Congress in Brighton, promoting the Green Party and its policies for workers’ rights and Trade Unions.

GPTU activists promoted the two new GPTU policies passed at the Green Party’s Autumn Conference, as well as its wider efforts to support the Trade Union movement and put workers’ rights at the top of the agenda.

Green Party co-Leader Jonathan Bartley, who spoke at a TUC Congress Fringe meeting, said at the beginning of the Congress:

“Trade unions have a vital role to play in giving people a voice in modern Britain. That’s why we stand with them against attacks from this Government and pledge our continued opposition to the Trade Union Act.

“We are especially keen to involve Trade Unions in discussion and debate about the potential for some kind of one off progressive alliance to secure voting reform, thereby paving the way for government that reflects the value of effective Trade Unions.”

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Green Party Co-Leader Jonathan Bartley with Green Party Trade Union Group activists at TUC Congress

GPTU support Unite London bus workers’ dispute

GPTU logo - vertical - RGB - green backgroundThe Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) unequivocally supports members of Unite the union in Tower Transit buses, who are staging a 24 hour strike today. They are angry because a lack of consultation over roster changes which are leaving them out of pocket, as well as the non-payment of correct rest day working rates. It is the second stoppage in a dispute involving over 1,000 drivers, engineers and controllers at three depots across the Capital.

A previous 24 hour strike on Friday 26 August led to services operating out of the Atlas Road bus depot in Park Royal, the Westbourne Park bus garage and the Lea interchange bus depot being dramatically reduced with 28 bus routes affected. Talks broke down yesterday at the conciliation service Acas as the management refused to budge on basic things such as a single collective bargaining forum for Unite members and trade union representation for individual members.

Kieron Merrett, the Green Party’s Trade Union Liaison Officer said:

“This strike could have been avoided had the management made genuine but basic changes to unfair practices at Tower Transit. If workers were properly consulted in changes to their pay and conditions, Unite members would not have needed to take industrial action.

“The Green Party fully supports workers in dispute to improve their terms and conditions . We are calling for legislative changes to enable more workers to get organised in Trade Unions like the Unite members in Tower Transit, including opposing the Tories’ Trade Union Act. The best way to improve the position of working people is to enable them to get organised.”