Wednesday, 30 March 2016

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Saturday, 27 February 2016

UCU Campaigns update

1. Higher education (HE) pay campaign: tackling casual contracts
2. Fair pay in further education: Wednesday’s strike action
3. In the news
4. UN anti-racism day events
5. ‘Don’t cut me out’ – lifelong learning in Wales
6. Learn new skills with UCU’s free CPD courses
7. Iran: release teacher union leader Esmail Abdi
8. End austerity march: 16 April 2016
9. Get ready for direct debit
10. Events and publications

1. Higher education (HE) pay campaign: tackling casual contracts
Tackling the growing use of casual contracts in universities is a central element of our campaign for
a decent deal for HE staff and this week general secretary Sally Hunt wrote to members arguing that insecure employment is not ‘a small problem’. Check your pay and compare to others in the sector using the new Rate for the Job webtool.

2. Fair pay in further education: Wednesday’s strike action
UCU members in English further education (FE) institutions took strike action on Wednesday this week, and were joined on picket lines by UNISON members in a dispute over pay.
You can catch up with the action, follow media coverage and read reports from the picket lines here. For the last six years take home pay for FE staff has been declining in value -  check your pay and compare it to those at other colleges with our new webtool here.

3. In the news

Joint strike in further education over ‘insulting’ pay freeze
More scrutiny for senior pay, as Scottish universities call for less transparency
£30m cut to Scottish university budgets ‘deeply worrying’
Progress on gender gap in Scottish universities ‘agonisingly slow’
Government rejects teacher representation on new apprenticeship body
College loan debts hit £1.6bn
Read all about it here.

4. UN anti-racism day events
Saturday 19 March is the United Nations (UN) international day for the elimination of racial discrimination and UCU is supporting the ‘Refugees welcome – stand up to racism, islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism’ demonstrations in London, Cardiff and Glasgow. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt will be speaking at the London event.
London demo assembles 12 noon, BBC Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA
Cardiff demo assembles 11:30am, Clare Gardens, Cardiff, CF11 6EN.
Glasgow demo assembles 10:30am, George Square, Glasgow.
5. ‘Don’t cut me out’ – lifelong learning in Wales
UCU Wales, NUS Wales and UNISON Cymru Wales will be launching their 
‘Don’t cut me out’ campaign at 12.30pm in the ATRiuM Building,  University of South Wales, Cardiff on Monday 29 February.  The campaign will seek to impress upon Assembly members the need to invest in lifelong learning; ensure a fair deal for all students and invest in part-time, flexible learning. Politicians from across the parties have been invited to the event and will hear lay member testimonies on the importance of the sector.  Please join us. Lunch will be provided.

6. Learn new skills with UCU’s free CPD courses
Places are available on the following UCU continuing professional development courses, which are free to all members. Book your place today to avoid disappointment.
Leadership in education – Dundee, 10 MarchMentoring – Dundee, 10 MarchClassroom management – Luton, 19 April

7. Iran: release teacher union leader Esmail Abdi
UCU has written to the Iranian authorities to condemn the six year jail sentence handed down to teachers’ union leader, Esmail Abdi. Members are encouraged to
sign a new petition calling for Esmail Abdi’s release.

8. End austerity march: 16 April 2016
UCU members will join
the People’s Assembly march for health, homes, jobs and education in London on 16 April 2016.

9. Get ready for direct debit
The new Trade Union Bill means members will no longer be able to pay their UCU subscriptions through payroll (also known as ‘check off’).  It’s important that those of you that still pay union subs by ‘check off’ now transfer over to direct debit
which you can do online here. If you have any queries please get in touch with the UCU membership team at

10. Events and publications
Stop Trident national demo, Saturday 27 February 2016
March and rally organised by CND to protest against Britain’s nuclear weapons system Trident.
12 noon, Marble Arch, London: more here.

Celebrate International Women’s Day 8 March
Each year International Women's Day is celebrated across the globe on 8 March as an opportunity to draw attention to the struggle for women's rights.
You can find UCU postcards and a special film ‘A woman’s place is in the union’ here.

Cuban arts and education intiative
UCU is supporting this
Music Fund for Cuba art and education initiative with an exhibition of Cuban artists in London in the autumn and you can help the appeal here.

Getting involved in UCU – a course for black members new to activism
This one day course is specifically designed for UCU black members who are interested in becoming more involved with UCU. The course will also include a professional development session about leadership.
For more details and to check entry criteria please use this link.

Defending further and adult education conference, 5 March 2016
This initiative taken by London region UCU will discuss how we can build a movement to defend the sector and put forward alternatives to the government’s cuts agenda. Gordon Marsden, shadow minister for lifelong learning will be addressing the event. SOAS, central London, Saturday 5 March, 10:30am.
Register here.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Help us mark the 40th anniversary of the Grunwick strike

News from Grunwick 40
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Help us mark the 40th anniversary of the Grunwick strike

The plans for the Grunwick anniversary commemorations are taking shape quickly, there's a lot happening...

We're excited to announce that we now have permission to to install a mural on a prominent wall very close to the former factory site in Willesden. This will be a permanent public reminder of the unity and solidarity that Grunwick represented and ensure that the history is remembered. You canget involved in the design of the mural by coming along to one of several workshops during April – no special design or artistic ability required, just a bit of enthusiasm!
Click here to register for the art workshops
As well as the mural there is plenty more to get involved in.

This autumn there will be a major public exhibition on Grunwick at the Brent Museum, situated in Willesden Library, in partnership with Brent Council's Archive and Heritage Service. Do you have photographs or memories of the strike? If you were present would you be willing to be interviewed? If so, please get in touch.

But commemorating Grunwick is not just about remembering the past, it's also about organising for the future. Later this year we will be holding a conference (working title: The Grunwick Strike: Legacy and Lessons) which will look at current issues relating to migrant workers and the bringing together of various struggles. If you would like to get involved with the conference planning, please contact us.

And there's more... We've heard about a number of other plans to remember Grunwick, and we'll be sharing details soon. If you are thinking of organising your own event to mark the Grunwick anniversary, let us know.

Finally, we can't do any of our activities without financial resources so this is a heads up that ourcrowdfunding campaign will go live this coming Monday, 29th February. Please look out for it and give generously.

Don't forget to check us out on Facebook andTwitter – share, retweet and spread the word!

In solidarity

The Grunwick 40 Steering Group

PS. Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested and encourage them to sign up to our mailing list here.
Grunwick 40 is an initiative of Brent Trades Council and the Willesden Green Town Team.
Our mailing address is:
*c/o Brent Trades Council, 375 High Road, London NW10 2JR*

Solidarity with the Strike in Further Education

Solidarity with the Strike in Further Education

If you get a chance, please call by your local FE college on strike on Wednesday 24th February.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Why #Heathrow13 @planestupid are prepared to go to jail and why we're backing their protest

Suggested tweet:
Why #Heathrow13 @planestupid are prepared to go to jail and why we're backing their protest

Threat of Unprecedented Jail Sentence for Heathrow 13 Helps Amplify Protest
 “No-one seems to be worried about the impact Heathrow is already causing, just the impact of an extra runway,” Rob Basto from Reigate said to me, as we discussed his forthcoming trial. Read this blog by Jonathan Essex, South East Region Chair.
Now he could face prison when he appears in court on February 24th alongside 12 other campaigners who laid down on Heathrow Airport's northern runway in July last year.
In occupying the runway at Heathrow, the ‘Heathrow 13’ were calling for action on the biggest challenge we face today: climate change. Airport expansion is being proposed as a solution to what is actually a fictitious problem. We’re told that we have an airport capacity crisis, but the fact is that we don’t.[1] Meanwhile, this ‘solution’ actively hinders our ability to curb our emissions and solve the real climate challenge we face.
Aviation’s climate impact
The scale of aviation's climate impact is Heathrow and Gatwick's dirty big secret, and the actions of campaigners such as the Heathrow 13 draw our attention to this. Heathrow emits 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year[2], set to increase massively if a third runway is built there. Heathrow and Gatwick's existing operations are not just responsible for  some of the world's 5.5 million air pollution deaths each year, but also the wider-reaching and potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change, which researchers have predicted could be in the order of 250 deaths per year from Heathrow's operations alone[3].
The current prediction is that the Heathrow 13, whose act of civil and peaceful disobedience delayed 22 flights, will go to jail for their actions. Compare this to the consequences many corporations have faced for actions with incomparably graver consequences, and we start to see the contradictions in our justice system. Twenty years ago the Bhopal disaster led to some 3000 deaths, but the company responsible, Union Carbide, were fined just over $10,000. Similarly, the criminal charges against BP bosses involved in the Deepwater Horizon disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico were dropped, even though 11 people died. The Heathrow 13's protest wasn't a selfish act with criminal intent, as the judge recognised. They were trying to save lives.
If the carbon emissions of Britons taking international flights were counted up and ranked alongside the carbon emissions of entire countries,[4] our flights would rank as the 72nd largest global emitter, ranked between Ireland and New Zealand. But while the UK plans significant carbon reductions by 2030,[5] aviation emissions are planned to exceed their budget by between 35-75% by 2030, the year that the government pledges that a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick would be completed[6].
Managing Demand
Instead of debating how we will provide additional capacity for the inevitable expansion of aviation from 2030 onwards, we need to start managing demand down now, to deal with the climate change, which requires us not to build any new runway in the future. Last year, a proposal to reduce demand in a fair way – the idea of frequent flyer levy[7] - was launched. Research behind the proposal shows that just 15% of the UK population take 70% of flights, while over half of us did not  fly overseas at all in 2013. The Levy would help to manage aviation demand through a progressive tax, which would replace air passenger duty. Those taking one flight per year would be exempt from the tax, but for those who book subsequent flights, the tax would increase with every journey. Our parliament should be debating this proposal, to provide solutions to manage the demand of aviation, not whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick with a new runway.
An unprecedented case
It was a few days after the July protest that I heard that my friend Rob was one of the '13'. This mild mannered 68 year old might now face the ultimate sanction available under UK law – prison – for trying to save lives.
Few now remember that Nelson Mandela and his fellow protesters were convicted and imprisoned for sabotage. Their legacy is that their protest changed everything – it ultimately ended apartheid. What will we remember about the first environmental protestors to face jail for aggravated trespass?
The actions of Rob, Danielle, Ella, Mel, Kara, Alistair, Graham, Edward, Sheila, Sam, Cameron and Rebecca need to give us the courage to stop choosing 'what I want' without first making politics real – and collectively making the hard but life affirming choices that make the world better and fairer for us all.
That is why I will join them on February 24th at Willesden Magistrates Court. Rob Basto says, “The case is a catalyst for getting the message out that we need stop expanding aviation in the UK, not propose to build new runways.” That requires action now - to call time not just on the sentences of the Heathrow 13 but on aviation's relentless expansion. Please join me in making that the legacy of this landmark protest.

[3]The report by the Climate Vulnerability Forum (2012, funded by 20 countries - suggests one climate death/85ktCO2 which suggests UK aviation equates to around 500 deaths/year, and Heathrow airport 265 deaths/year.  However since this report was written the figure for air pollution has been quadrupled by the WHO. It is likely that this figure is conservative.
[4]Currently aviation is ranked as the 14th largest country in the world and shipping 8th as neither aviation or shipping were included in the climate agreement secured at Paris in 2015 (see
[5] The UK plans a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2030 (which must now include aviation) –
[6] The government responded to the airport commission confirming that it did intend to give permission for another runway at Heathrow or Gatwick but five years later that the original date proposed of 2025. (

[7] 'Managing Air Passenger Demand with a Frequent Flyer Levy, published by the New Economics Foundation –

SERTUC activities and news February and March 2016

Also Oxford International Women's Festival, Friday 4 to Tuesday 15 March 2016: links here:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Megan Dobney
SERTUC activities and news

Paddling furiously. Equality survey launch…

On Tuesday 8 March at 4.30pm at Congress House SERTUC is launching our tenth survey of equality in trade unions. To respond to the government’s attack on trade unions we need to be in the best shape possible. Are we? Join us to find out. With a glass of wine and a peanut… Let Joanne Williams know you are coming please at

SERTUC’s Creative & Leisure Industries Committee conference

With Show Culture Some Love and PCS Culture Group on Saturday 12 March 11am at Congress House, covering Campaigns, Equalities, Art & Protest, No to Cuts, and more. Full details and register here

Airbus 8 acquitted

I’m not saying the two events are connected, but following the SERTUC meeting on 12 February with comrades from CC.OO and UGT in Madrid, the Airbus 8 have been acquitted! Details are here

Regional unemployment figures

·         East of England 124,000 (down 8,000) 3.9%
·         London 294,000 (down 3,000) 6.3%
·         South East 179,000 (down 1,000) 3.9%

Burston Strike School Rally

Sunday 4 September with Mick Whelan ASLEF, Steve White and the Protest Family

SERTUC Pensioners Network seminar: Crisis in care and caring

Tuesday 15 March 10.30 at Congress House, with Barbara Keeley MP (Shadow Minister for Older People, Social Care and Carers) andJan Shortt (Vice President of the National Pensioners Convention). Details here


#heartunions week Big Workplace Meeting

YouTube of TUC GS Frances O’Grady with Eddie Izzard is here

Disputes/union actions

Unite International Women’s Day events Tuesday 8 March

Unite House, London
·         12 noon What Next for Women? Public meeting with Kate Osamor MP, Diana Holland Unite AGS, Siobhan Endean Unite Women’s Officer, Jane Stewart Unite Women’s Committee chair. All welcome, Lunch provided
·         2pm Caring & Campaigning: Bloomsbury Women Walking tour with Blue Badge guide Rachel Kolsky. Places limited. Free to Unite sisters, other unions can attend if places are available £5. Register at
·         6pm Irish Women of Resistance 1916-2016 Public meeting with Bernadette Devlin McAliskey Irish socialist and republican, Liz Deasy and Karen Gearon Dunnes Sotres strikers, Kelley Temple Abortion Rights, Theresa Moriarty Irish socialist historian. All welcome. Refreshments provided

Equity: English National Opera strike ballot

PCS: V&A Museum campaigning against privatisation

Richmond NUT London Elections Question Time event

Thursday 17 March 6.30pm with Kevin Courtney NUT DGS, Merlene Emerson LibDems, Andree Frieze Green, Martin Whetton Labour. Register and details here

Unite Community South East

Supporting the Stand Up to Racism demo on 19 March (12 noon, London) with a coach from Southampton,

Unite London & Eastern Region public meeting

Thursday 25 February 6.30pm “Big Brother, who’s spying on you. Police spying on trade unionists” with John Lang Wapping Striker, Matt Wrack FBU GS, Helen Steel author, Mark Metcalf political activist, Jim Kelly Unite chair. More info 

Bromley Unite Library Campaign

Unite is protesting outside Bromley Community Links (the organisation chosen to run 6 Bromley libraries) 24 and 25 February, 2 and 4 March – contact for further details

PCS petition against BIS Sheffield closure plans

Trades Council actions

Peterborough International Women’s Day festival

Saturday 5 March 11am with Megan Dobney SERTUC, Nicola Oldfield Civil Engineer, Sophie Antonelli Green Backyard, Gillian Beasley Peterborough City Council, Charley Genever and Keely Mills Poets, plus info and craft stalls, refreshments, traditional dancing and exhibitions.

GLATUC celebration: Reclaim International Women’s Day

Saturday 12 March 2pm in London, with Megan Dobney SERTUC, Sarah Jackson author, Christine Blower NUT GS, Louise Raw author, Kate Smurthwaite comedian. More information here and register

Other actions/events

University of Greenwich seminar on China, Russia and the Unions

Wednesday 9 March 1pm with Professor William Brown (Cambridge), Professor Richard Croucher (Middlesex), Margaret Renn (Witwatersrand).,-russia-and-the-unions-public-seminar-at-greenwich Register

Cambridgeshire Keep Our NHS Public public meeting

Wednesday 24 February 7pm with Dr John Lister, Val Moore, a Junior Doctor. Details

Women’s rights campaigners in East London, oral history project

Eastside Community Project is promoting East End women’s history as a response to the Jack the Ripper museum on Cable Street. Do you know anyone willing to be interviewed on the subject of working women’s rights? Contact Kirsty Parsons

Stand up to Racism public meeting

Goldsmiths College Tuesday 1 March at 7pm with Imam Shakeel Begg, Denis Fernando, Vicky Foxcroft MP, Mary Goodfellow journalist, Laurie Heselden SERTUC, Shakira Martin NUS, Marcia Rigg, Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild more info

Kill the Housing Bill march

Ruskin College International Women’s Day

“Over the Top” Friday 11 March 7pm two-handed performance about a forgotten Wiltshire heroine Dorothy Lawrence, more info and contact 

Marx Memorial Library

·         Film night “Struggles of the 1960s and 1970s” Saturday 27 February 3pm The UCS Struggle and Film from the Clyde £5
·         Education classes Trade Unions and Power Tuesdays 1, 8, 15 March at 7pm at MML London £30
·         International Women’s Day benefit gig Monday 7 March 7pm with Maddy Carty, Nia Wyn, Kate Smurthwaite £10
·         Explore Radical Clerkenwell walking tour etc Friday 6 May 1.30pm £12/9
·         Book Sale Saturday 12 March 11am

Independent Working Class Education Network

The Labour Movement: where’s it from? Where’s it going? Day school Saturday 19 March 10am Norwich £10

People’s Assembly Against Austerity national demonstration

Saturday 16 April, 1pm Gower Street, London

Ruskin College BA and MA beginning in October 2016

·         BA International Labour and Trade Union Studies
·         MA Global Labour and Social Change


To add to this newsletter contact

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Feminist Library faces eviction on 1st March – start of Women's History month

Feminist Library faces eviction on 1st March – start of Women's History month
Dear Sisters,

As you can see from the title of this email and the attached press release, the Feminist Library is in an emergency situation, facing eviction within the next 2 weeks after over 30 years in the current building!

We request that you show your support by sharing the press release below to spread the word far and wide and by telling your friends how much the campaign means to you. Other ways that you can help us immediately include:

- by signing our petition
- by sending letters to Southwark local councillors and Southwark MPs: Neil Coyle, Labour Party Member of Parliament for Bermondsey & Old Southwark (the Feminist Library’s constituency) Tel: 020 7219 8733.; Helen Hayes, Labour Party Member of Parliament for Dulwich and West Norwood Tel: 020 7219 6971. Email:; Harriet Harman, Labour Party Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham Tel: 020 7219 4218 Email:
- by donating to our Emergency Fund that has been set up to ensure that the Feminist Library collection's future is safe regardless of the final decision of the council on our current premises;
- by offering a hand with the campaign (we are always on a lookout for new volunteers, but at the moment we urgently need help with events, media, marketing and premises work).

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any further information.
The Feminist Library collective
Feminist Library faces eviction on 1st March – start of Women's History month!
  • For immediate release, 17.2.16
The Feminist Library is about to be thrown out of the building that has been its home for 30 years. [1]
Southwark Council is threatening to close down the Feminist Library on 1st March unless the Library agrees to an immediate increase in our rent from £12,000 to £30,000 a year. The Council's actions could cause the closure of a unique archive with a 40 year history. The Feminist Library has launched a wide-scale campaign, fast gaining international support, to fight the council's decision, including a special appeal to donate to its Emergency Fund. [2]
On 10th February, Southwark Council Cabinet approved a report [3] that ‘highlights the need for a thriving Voluntary and Community Sector that mobilises community action and makes best use of community resources, skills, knowledge and spaces’. Una Byrne, on behalf of the Feminist Library, said: ‘We cannot understand how treating our organisation in such a way is consistent with approving this report.’
Last year the Feminist Library launched a campaign to find a new, permanent home to house this unique resource and community space, currently at risk of being lost forever, and all this effort is now under threat. The Feminist Library is an archival resource which is internationally recognised as of cultural and heritage significance, as well as providing facilities for various women’s and community groups, both local and London-wide.
It is ironic that the Feminist Library is in danger of being made homeless on 1st March, when March is Women’s History Month and 8th March is International Women’s Day.
Many libraries, women’s organisations, and longstanding community projects have been forced to close in the current climate of austerity, including Lambeth Women's Project, Peckham Black Women's Centre, and the London Irish Women's Centre. Southwark Council forcing the Feminist Library to pay market rent immediately is another symptom of this.
Other longstanding tenants in the building are also suffering from this onslaught by Southwark Council. GHARWEG Advice, Training & Careers Centre, which provides vital services for Southwark residents, was given notice of repossession of its lease on 9th February. Like all community organisations, GHARWEG has faced financial constraints recently, and so has been unable to afford market rent. They have been locked out of their offices and their services are being severely affected. This is also ironic, as GHARWEG was an early tenant of the building, which was originally donated by the Greater London Council to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community groups.
As part of its campaign, the Feminist Library is launching a petition to ask Southwark Council to reconsider its stance. [4]
Minna Haukka, local resident, said: ‘As a Southwark resident I’ve been devastated to hear that we might be soon losing this unique cultural organisation. The Feminist Library is just what we need to hold on to in the Elephant and Castle area right now; a place that brings together women from all backgrounds and of all ages. It’s not only a valuable historical archive – it’s a very much alive and passionate community that Southwark should support and be proud of.’
Dr Laura Schwartz, Associate Professor of Modern British History, University of Warwick, said: ‘The Feminist Library is a wonderful cultural resource that needs to be defended at all costs. Generations of my students have used it for their academic research [...] If the Feminist Library is evicted from its current premises, Southwark Council will not only be guilty of cultural vandalism but also of silencing women.’
  1. The Feminist Library is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. Since 1987, it has occupied premises in Westminster Bridge Road owned by Southwark Council.
The Feminist Library has an incomparable collection of over 7,000 books, 1500 periodical titles from around the world, archives of feminist individuals and organisations, pamphlets, papers, posters, and ephemera. We also provide space for meetings, readings, exhibitions and events, a space which supports and encourages research, mutual support, activism and community projects, with well over 20 groups having used the events space just in the past calendar year, a number of them national and international. We are volunteer led, as we have been all our life; we are intergenerational, being significant custodians of our feminist heritage, whilst looking to the future; and our approach is intersectional – we provide a space for different feminisms to co-exist. We support not just archiving work, but also publish our own zines and support independent producers and artists. We are a registered charity, and completely self-funding.
  1. More information about how people can help, including donating to our Emergency Fund, can be found at
  1. Details of report ‘Southwark Council Agrees to New Voluntary Sector Strategy’
  1. Link to petition
  1. For further information, for pictures of the Feminist Library and its activities, and of the plaque commemorating the donation of the building to BAME groups, please contact Emma Jennings on
acknowledgements to Mike Shaughnessy