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Labour councils attack trade union rights
A year after determined Hull council trade unions stopped the worst attacks of a Labour-led council on it workforce, the council leadership is now preparing the way for a fresh onslaught.
Five months after the 10 July local government strike, Adrian Kennett, secretary of Hull Unison and secretary of the council's joint trade union committee, is threatened with grievances over two alleged incidents around the strike.
At the same time, human resources announced a review of union facility time.
All council unions see these related actions as attacks on the trade unions as a whole.
The two "grievances" are farcical. One of them concerned an attempt to stop scabs breaking the strike by entering a building via a fire door. The scabs were behaving illegally against all health and safety regulations. The other is that Adrian later referred to a strike breaker as a scab!
Collectively, union reps have withdrawn from certain corporate negotiating bodies until further notice. As far as we are concerned, how trade unions organise and behave is not a matter for management - it is a matter for our members.
Strong unions are vital in fighting the cuts still to come. The city treasurer has said up to £100 million could be cut over the next six years. This would mean the city's funding being halved since 2010.
Steve Brady, the council leader, has reported on a recent meeting between northern Labour councils and party leaders Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Lord Adonis. The meeting confirmed that an incoming Labour government would continue to implement cuts for at least a further two years.
Council workers have shown in the past that they are prepared to fight for jobs, pay terms, conditions and council services. Increasingly, a trade union fightback is seen as being linked to the need for a political alternative to Labour.
Hull Red Labour - the expelled Labour councillors who voted against the cuts - and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will look to build that alternative in Hull.
Mike Whale, Hull NUT secretary
Teachers at two secondary schools in Haringey, north London, have so far taken three days of strike action in defence of victimised NUT branch secretary Julie Davies.
In June the headteachers of Highgate Wood and Fortismere schools declared they would not fund union facility time while Julie was in post. They claimed that she was too 'confrontational' and one head compared her to the late Bob Crow.
In truth, Julie simply has a record of successfully defending teachers. The heads have tried to veto who represents teachers to restrict effective trade unionism.
The Labour-controlled council has colluded in this by suspending Julie Davies. It claims Julie breached the council officers' code of conduct by sending an email about her rubbish bins and tweeting a story about a corrupt former councillor!
For weeks, both the heads and the council ignored requests for talks. Consequently, teachers at the two schools have taken strike action demanding facility time funding and Julie's reinstatement.
In both schools there is overwhelming support for the strikes. Other secondary schools are now balloting to continue rolling strike action across the borough.
Despite vicious personal attacks on Julie in the Daily Mail, there has been strong support from parents. Heads finally agreed to talks on 17 November.
The council will be lobbied on Monday 24 November.
A striking Haringey teacher
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Update: Teachers at Highgate Wood and Fortismere schools voted to suspend further strike action after agreement was reached over funding union representation.
The Haringey schools forum will resume funding of facility as they had done before it was delegated to individual schools. This is a victory that should not have required strike action if only the heads concerned had been willing to negotiate.
However, while the dispute with individuals schools has been settled, Haringey Council's victimisation of branch secretary remains in place. The NUT has made it clear that if disciplinary action against Julie is pursued, then further borough-wide industrial action will be taken.
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