South West Union News

by fw
on Friday 18 Dec 2009

type: News Report
topic: Local Government
region: South West
More than a million South West jobs are reliant on the public sector

One in four employees in the South West work in the public sector, so cutting the region’s public spending would devastate the local economy and store up major financial problems for the future, the South West TUC has warned.

Figures show 957,949 people (28.4% of the region’s workforce) is employed in the public sector, working in schools, swimming pools, libraries, benefit offices etc., while a further 390,700 work for private firms dependent on public sector contracts and spin-offs.

Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary of the South West TUC, said: “Any public sector job losses would also send shock waves throughout the wider community.

“We need the public sector more than ever in a recession. Sharp cuts in public spending would not only hit the most vulnerable but would also hamper the chances of growth, increase the incidence of long-term unemployment and cause widespread job losses in the private sector as well.”

For every £1 invested in public services through direct employment and procurement of supplies, a further 64p is generated in the local economy.

The research also shows:

- The involvement of private and third sector bodies in the delivery of public services produces nearly 6% of GDP

- Public servants witness an increased demand for their services as families struggling to get by seek help with housing problems, debt advice, training and job hunting

Nigel Costley added: “Slash-and-burn public spending cuts will do irreparable harm to the South West’s economy and society. Our vital services are necessary to help individuals, communities and businesses out of the recession and prepare for recovery.

“Our public services have undoubtedly improved over the last decade or so, thanks to extra investment in infrastructure, services and people. We cannot let this progress be damaged by knee-jerk calls for spending cuts, pay freezes and privatisation. Our public services are too important for that.”

TUC’s secret Santa

With many employers cutting back on workplace festivities this Christmas, the TUC has developed a recession-busting online secret Santa to help ensure the spirit of Christmas is not entirely lost from the UK’s factories, shops and offices.

Becoming a secret Santa and buying anonymous small gifts for colleagues has become commonplace in many workplaces. The TUC online tool allows individuals to register their workmates and teams in the secret Santa. It will then pair individuals with colleagues, so no-one knows who is buying for the next person.

All someone has to do is visit and input their team’s email addresses. The TUC secret Santa will then contact them all, indicating who they need to buy a present for and the spending limit for each present.

Justice for Jane

PCS has launched a campaign to defend a rep sacked from her job at Land Registry in Weymouth. Jane Brooke’s only offence appears to have been to make an industrial injury complaint against her employers.

Surveillance was conducted on six members of staff at the Weymouth Office in breach of both the Data Protection and Human Rights Acts. The Land Registry pursued this seemingly dubious investigation, conducted a hearing in breach of its own procedures and then acted as both prosecutor and judge.

As a result of this process Jane was summarily dismissed. She was given five minutes to collect her personal effects, while a senior member of staff stood guard. Having worked in the same office for 31 years with an unblemished record, this is absolutely devastating for both Jane and her colleagues.

Her union, PCS, are building the campaign to defend Jane and demand her re-instatement.

Messages of support should be sent to Jane via

New Cornwall Union Alliance

A meeting is being organised to build support to launch a new alliance of trade unions in Cornwall. The county has seen a lot of joint work between unions such as the Public Service Alliance, projects in education, health and learning at work. The local Trades Union Council has not been able to coordinate these activities in recent years and delegates to a recent meeting felt a fresh alliance could raise the trade union voice in Cornwall at a time when it was much needed.

Union reps are invited to attend the meeting to be held at

3pm on Friday 29 January in the

Hall for Cornwall, Truro.

For more information or to confirm attendance contact Nigel Costley, South West TUC Regional Secretary

Young doing better than in 80s

The number of young people without a job and not in full-time education was higher during the 1980s recession than it is today.

While this recession is as deep as that of the 1980s, figures for July-September 2009 show that there are currently 1.6 million young people without a job and not in full-time education, around 21 per cent of the young workforce compared to more than 26 per cent in the 80s.

The last big downturn saw some 2.1 million young people unable to secure work well after the recession had ended, and were blighted by long periods of joblessness.

The current rate of increase in youth unemployment is already beginning to slow, making it likely that the numbers of young people without a job and not in full-time education will peak at a much lower level than in the 1980s – as long as the government continues both the stimulus and the programmes that directly help the young workless, says the TUC.

But this doesn’t mean that youth unemployment is not a national emergency and it should continue to be a top priority for the government, says the TUC.

I like driving in my car . . .

Workers in the South West spend an average of 45 minutes a day commuting to and from work. Research from the TUC shows £266 million worth of working time is spent travelling to and from work every day.

National figures reveal men working full–time spend 7.6 minutes longer commuting than women who work full-time. Workers in well paid jobs such as managers and senior officials (68.6 minutes) and professionals (61.4 minutes) have the longest commute times while those in low paid occupations such as cleaners and labourers (40.4 minutes) and retail and customer services (41.4 minutes) have the shortest commutes.

Employees working part-time have shorter average commute times than full-time workers. Men working full-time spend 60.4 minutes commuting compared to 42 minutes for men working part-time. Women working full-time spend 52.8 minutes travelling to work compared to 38.6 minutes for women working part-time.

Less overtime

The number of people working paid overtime in the UK has fallen by nearly half a million in the last year to just under four million.

In summer 2009, 15.8 per cent of employees in the UK earned paid overtime, a fall of 1.5 percentage points over the year. Employees were working an average of six and a half hours paid overtime per week this year, a fall of 12 minutes.

Workers across the UK earned a total of £10 billion in paid overtime, £1 billion less than last year. The average amount of weekly overtime works out at £2,888 a year per employee.

The amount of paid overtime has fallen steadily since records began in 1998, when nearly one in four (24.8 per cent) workers earned paid overtime. The recession has accelerated this decline.

Closing the gap – pay transparency is key

Nearly forty years on from the introduction of the Equal Pay Act, the gap between women and men’s pay is a persistent thorn in the side of workplace equality.

Transparency in pay systems is key to closing the pay gap between men and women. The Fawcett Society proposes a radical transformation in the UK approach to pay: transfer the onus from the individual onto the employer with full pay audits and in doing so, equip employers with the tools to become bastions of equal pay, driving forward a positive future for women’s equality in the UK workplace.

The time to act is now. See Closing the gap

Gap Statistics

The Office for National Statistics has reviewed the way it presents differences in men and women's pay. This is available at: gap stats

There is no one measure for showing differences between men’s and women’s pay, and the review finds that a set of measures should be used to reflect these differences. Specifically, these comprise the following:

· All female employees’ average pay compared with all male employees’ average pay

· Female full-time employees’ average pay compared with male full-time employees’ average pay

· Female part-time employees’ average pay compared with male part-time employees’ average pay

The review also concludes the differences in men's and women's pay are best presented using median earnings and that gross hourly earnings excluding overtime will continue to be used when producing estimates from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). Previous years' ASHE releases can be accessed via

Equality South West directory for abuse victims

Equality South West has launched a directory of support services for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. 150 support groups, crisis centres and telephone helplines in the region are listed.

The report comes two years after the charity first raised its concerns of a lack of emergency facilities in the South West, with women facing a journey of an hour and a half to their nearest crisis centre.

Equality South West policy officer Brenda Weston said: “We decided it was about time someone collated these details so victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in the South West can find a safe haven in their hour of need.

The directory, which is on-line at, will also be circulated to GPs, police forces and local councils. It includes details of services for men, women and those abused at the hands of same-sex partners.

Get the gift of a union this Christmas

The TUC has published new materials to help unions attract new recruits and demonstrate the value of unions to employers. Alongside a new leaflet aimed at encouraging workers who’ve never thought about joining a union to do so, and a new report looking at the positive advantages unions bring to the UK economy.

The Union Advantage says that union members get higher wages, better sickness and pension benefits, are much more likely to be able to take advantage of flexible working and are able to take more annual leave.

The report cites official statistics showing that workers in a union earn 12.5 per cent more an hour than employees in a non-unionised workplace, taking home average hourly earnings of £13.07 compared to £11.62.

The presence of a union is likely to push training up the workplace agenda with over 230,000 workers helped into taking up some form of learning by their union last year.

Unions make workplaces safer and reduce the chances of employees becoming ill because of stress, bullying and other workplace hazards.

Unions give employees a voice and solve problems, people are much less likely to leave their jobs in a unionised workplace, saving employers between £72 million and £143 million in recruitment costs.

By cutting down on accidents at work, unions could be saving employers as much as £371 million a year says the report, and because they feel involved and listened to, unions help workforces become more productive, benefitting the UK economy to the tune of between £3.4 and £10.2 billion a year.

Want Better Pay, Conditions and Benefits at Work? is a colourful fold out leaflet designed to show workers the value of union membership and why they should sign up.

It says that unions not only ensure that people are treated fairly and are safe at work, they can also provide support when things go wrong, and negotiate enhanced redundancy payouts when jobs are under threat.

Stand up for journalism in South West

The NUJ has launched a petition calling on the South West's politicians to stand up for journalism.

Tim Lezard, who represents the region's journalists on the union's national executive council, said: "Journalists play a key role in enabling citizens to take part in the democratic process, yet we're finding it harder and harder to serve our readers, viewers and listeners due to the unnecessary cuts carried out by media owners.

"We're asking everyone who has an interest in democracy - and that's everyone - to join us in calling for our MPs and MEPs to intervene on our behalf to ensure people living in the South West are properly served by their local newspapers, radio and television."

To sign the petition, please go to Stand up for Journalism

Start the day with LabourStart

Trade unionists in the South West are being encouraged to visit the LabourStart website to help workers around the world. Set up by American journalist Eric Lee in 2002, the online news service also sends out weekly emails telling activists how they can take part in campaigns such as sending messages of solidarity or protest.

Cuts Cost Lives

Rail union RMT will be out in force at railway stations up and down the UK on 17th December to launch the Rail Cuts Cost Lives campaign against 1,500 threatened Network Rail maintenance job losses.

RMT members will be leafleting the public explaining that the threatened jobs cull on the tracks will compromise safety the length and breadth of the country and take us back to exactly the kind of shambolic maintenance conditions that led to the disasters at Paddington, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Grayrigg.

The Network Rail maintenance cuts are driven by money and a dash for billions of pounds of savings at a time when there is increasing demand for rail travel.

RMT members are already reporting cuts and backlogs in the frequency of track, signals, overhead lines and level crossing inspections and the union is compiling a dossier of evidence of the potentially lethal impact as the cuts programme begins to bite.

Partnerships for Growth

The government has set out a new role for regional development agencies and local authorities to back growing industries and support the country’s future economic success.

RDAs and local authorities across the country will collaborate more closely to build on their local strengths, while ensuring public investments are targeted at the projects where they can have most impact. Under the Partnerships for Growth plan, local authorities and RDAs will work together to identify sectors for targeted intervention and coordinated support that can unlock future growth.

For more detail see: Partnerships for Growth

National Composite Centre comes to Bristol

The South West has been chosen as the location of a new National Composites Centre (NCC) to help deliver world-class innovation in the design and rapid manufacture of the new materials for aeroplanes, marine and wider industrial uses.

The state-of-the-art centre will be supported with £16 million of public sector investment comprising £12 million from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and £4 million from the South West Regional Development Agency. Public sector investment will be supplemented with contributions from some of the world's leading engineering companies.

Full details can be found at the RDA News Centre

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Composites are becoming increasingly important, especially in the UK’s crucial new green industries, such as wind and wave energy, and in the production of lower emission aircraft and environmentally friendly cars.

“This is an important milestone in the development of an active industrial strategy for the UK. Industrial activism will help ensure that that our manufacturing base remains every bit as competitive as that of other world players.”

New Volunteer’s Charter

The TUC and Volunteering England have signed a Volunteers’ Charter to strengthen ties between paid staff and volunteers. The Charter sets out a series of principles for employers to follow to encourage a good working relationship between volunteers, employers and paid staff.

The Charter principles include:

· all volunteering is undertaken by choice, and all individuals should have the right to volunteer, or not to volunteer;

· while volunteers should not normally receive or expect rewards for their activities, they should receive reasonable out of pocket expenses;

· the involvement of volunteers should complement and supplement the work of paid staff, and should not be used to displace paid staff or undercut their pay and conditions of service; and,

· all paid workers and volunteers should have access to training and development.

The Charter recognises the value that the UK’s 22 million volunteers make to the economy and wider society, which is estimated to be worth £23 billion every year.

The TUC is publishing new guidance to accompany the Volunteers’ Charter. The guidance explains that while volunteers are not entitled to the same rights as an employee – such as the minimum wage, holiday and sickness pay – they should still receive some form of agreement from the organisation they are volunteering with.

South West Safer at Work

A conference for trade union health and safety reps and officers

Thursday 18th February 2010, Taunton

The event will feature key note speakers including Hugh Robertson, Senior Health & Safety Officer at the TUC as well as Terry Rose, Divisional Director of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE,) amongst others. The conference will also give reps the opportunity to attend workshops from a choice of current issues in health and safety.

Thanks to the support of the union solicitors, Thompsons, this event is free of charge to reps.

For further information please contact South West TUC The closing date for registrations is 1st February 2010.

To download the registration form click here: Safer at work

Supporting Learners

Two-day Residential Course for Learning Reps

4/5th February 2010, at Tortworth Court Hotel, South Gloucestershire.

Contents include speakers from Job Centre Plus, an update on the Regional Careers and Guidance Service and presentations on the new and improved web based Climbing Frame. Plus loads of activities around supporting your members through their learning journey.

If you would like to attend please let Emily Westacott know

Skills and recovery - the way forward

Unionlearn South West Conference 2010

Thursday 25th March 2010 1030 - 3.30

The Exchange-House Conference Centre, Taunton.

Come and discuss how we can work together on skills and recovery.

The unionlearn conference for 2010 will focus on the business case for skills and features; apprenticeships, Future Jobs Fund, Sector Skills and Higher Skills, amongst others.

Hear from keynote speaker, unionlearn Director, Tom Wilson, share in examples of good practice from unions and take part in workshop discussions.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided.

Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment. For more information and to register contact Cathy Linden

Save our maritime skills

Maritime unions RMT and Nautilus are running a campaign calling upon the government to provide long-awaited support for the training and employment of UK seafarers.

Britain is an island nation which relies on ships and seafarers for the safe and efficient movement of more than 90 per cent of imports and exports, but maritime expertise is in danger.

For details of the campaign and how to give support see:

For further information please contact Nautilus or RMT, or Alice Hood at TUC

Turning the spotlight on venue energy saving!

Thursday 11th February, 10.00 – 13.00, Exeter

Wednesday 17th February, 10.00 – 13.00, Bristol

BECTU and the South West TUCs Green Workplaces Project have arranged two free half day training events looking at ways of saving money and reducing carbon emissions. The events are aimed at theatre & performance venue staff, casual, part-time or freelance technicians in the entertainment industry and mangers & directors of small venues and arts centres.

Email or call Andy for a registration form: e t 0117 947 0521

Energy Information Leaflets

The South West TUC, in conjunction with Severn Wye Energy Trust, has produced a series of seven leaflets around home energy use, for reps to use to

* Get work colleagues and union members talking about energy saving
* Link resource saving at home and work
* Promote union action on energy saving at work
* Get members thinking about becoming an Environmental or Green Rep

· For union and workplace events

Available now – to view and for ordering information visit energy saving

Wave Hub - work begins

Work on the pioneering Wave Hub marine energy project has begun in earnest with engineers starting to drill through sand dunes at Hayle in Cornwall.

Wave Hub will create the world's largest test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed, 10 miles off the coast, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated. The £42 million project has been developed by the South West RDA and is a cornerstone of its strategy to develop a world class marine energy industry in South West England.

Guide to energy efficiency products

Regen South West has produced a new guide to energy efficiency products and services in the region with the help of a number of our partner organisations.

The guide is intended to be of use to any organisation that is considering implementing energy efficiency measures. It identifies some of the south west businesses that provide EE products and services. The guide also highlights other sources of advice and support such as Carbon Trust, Business Link, SW MAS, TUC Greenworkplace schemes and others.

A PDF version of the guide is available from:

Migrant Worker Cultural Seminar

Wednesday 13th January 9.30am until 2pm

Tedburn St Mary, Village Hall, EX6 6DZ

The Devon Migrant Worker Task Group are leading a FREE training day for frontline workers who have face to face contact with Eastern European Migrant Workers.

We will have a panel of Eastern European Migrant Workers on hand to talk about the differences in cultures, and answer your questions regarding working with Migrant Communities.

For more information and booking details

Alfred Williams Heritage Society

The Alfred Williams Heritage Society has been launched in Swindon to popularise the writing of the ’Hammerman Poet’ writing and finding a home for a permanent exhibition and collection of his work. Alfred Williams was a rail worker in the giant Swindon Rail Works of the Great Western Railway. He was a hammerman in the forge and developed a talent for poetry and prose writing. His Life in a Railway Factory was written in 1911 but not published until 1915 after he had left work. The book exposes the appalling working conditions in the factory and the ruthless way that the management dealt with sickness and injury.

Its website can be visited at:

Zapatista Calendar

If you're looking for a top notch late Christmas present while raising money for a good cause, then here is just the thing for you.

KIPTIK, the Zapatista solidarity group has produced a full colour calendar for 2010. All profits from sales of the calendar will be used to support water, health and other community projects in the autonomous Zapatista communities of Chiapas, Mexico. The calendar in 2008 raised over £3000, enough to fund a water system for a whole village, thereby reducing the risk of water-borne diseases and infant mortality that blight this part of Mexico.

Calendars are £7 each, including postage and packaging, and can be purchased by sending a cheque to: KIPTIK, Box 79, Booty, 82 Colston St, Bristol BS1 5BB
or Alternatively, you can send money via Paypal to
KIPTIK is run entirely by volunteers, for more info on our history and previous work we have done see



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