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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 November 2005


Defend trade union rights

MANAGERS HAVE effectively derecognised Mark Cliffe, TGWU senior steward at Morrisons' Gadbrooke Park distribution centre, Cheshire. This is an attack on the union and the right of free trade unionism.

Mark and the other stewards at Gadbrooke Park have a strong record of fighting and winning for the members - including significant pay rises and the ending of a no-strike agreement. Meanwhile the Morrisons' board has through its own incompetence thrown the company into crisis - which they want the workforce to pay for.

Morrisons aim to undermine the union. While admitting that there is "no case to answer" on the bogus charges Mark faces, managers nonetheless gave Mark a written warning. This prevents Mark standing for re-election as senior steward in the union elections this month. The same trick has been pulled on another rep at the same site, currently also fighting his case.

Mark says: "Workers choosing who they want as their stewards is a union matter and the company should stay out of it. We don't pick their team and they shouldn't pick ours. Morrisons can't afford a dispute - share prices are rock-bottom, and having a bad Christmas wouldn't be good for the company!"

The company has recently increased staff canteen prices by 28%. The staff canteen cash cards can only be credited by £1 or £5 and don't give change. Staff buying a £1.01 meal are paying £5, so they're going without.

Sefton's Lib-Lab council sacks UNISON activists

AROUND 50 people lobbied the second stage of the disciplinary hearing for Sefton UNISON activists Nigel Flanagan and Paul Summers on 1 November. Many of the people on the lobby were "key group" strikers, called out on strike on behalf of the branch as a whole.

They heard speakers that included UNISON NEC and Socialist Party member Roger Bannister. He referred to the occasions when he had faced dismissal as a result of union activities, but had held onto his job as a result of the determination of his members in the neighbouring Knowsley Branch.

The two branch officers faced trumped-up charges relating to a peaceful protest against the opening of a shop to promote the privatisation of Sefton's council housing by a transfer of all housing stock.

A hung council, with no overall political control, Sefton is currently run on the basis of a deal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, under which a right-wing political agenda is pursued, and key council positions are shared out amongst the two parties.

Tenants voted against the housing transfer, and this has undoubtedly infuriated councillors. The council leader is Labour's Dave Martin, who has faced opposition at the polls from the Socialist Party's Peter Glover.

This attack on the trade union further calls into question the relationship between UNISON and the Labour Party. UNISON members in Sefton are bound to wonder why UNISON is giving £ millions to a party that privatises public assets and victimises trade unionists. The protest in question is recorded on closed circuit television, which clearly indicates that no misconduct took place, as do the notebook entries of the two police officers on duty at the time.

No decision was made on 1 November, but the sackings were announced three days later. UNISON nationally has pledged £75,000 to relieve hardship of strikers in Sefton, and the branch has called a members' meeting on 8 November to consider the next stage of the campaign.

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In The Socialist 10 November 2005:

Build a new workers' party

Blair staggers on... but 'PFI' Brown is no alternative

United Nations: 60 Years of Failure

Harder times ahead?

Successful student walkouts across the country

Eleven days of rioting across France

Right wing Interior Minister Sarkozy insults youth on estates

Union delegation sees effects of Uribe’s education cuts

Reinstate Andy Beadle

Stop public service jobs massacre

Defend trade union rights


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