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Thursday, 8 March 2018

Women Workers - Fellowship Is Life

The famous poster of the National
Federation of Women Workers
In recent weeks, there has - quite rightly - been much celebration of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, and the fact that it wasn't granted by the Establishment, but was earned only after hard-fought and at times costly and painful battle. On International Women's Day, we should remember another struggle that women faced 100 years ago.

It wasn't only in the world of politics that women faced resistance: organised labour in the UK often did not welcome women workers. Some trade unions resisted accepting women members entirely, while others left the decision up to local branches. The historic London matchgirls strike of 1888 had been pivotal in improving dangerous working conditions in that industry but had not led to any general acceptance of women as union members.

The all-women National Federation of Women Workers was formed in 1906 and was led by the inspirational Scottish suffragist and trade unionist, Mary Macarthur. She recognised the relationship between the low wages that women received and their lack of collective organisation. While the union was set up to address that problem, it was never intended to be permanently separate from the mainstream, male-dominated union movement of the time. 

The NFWW represented its members like any other union, but its long-term aim was to break down gender barriers where they existed in the labour movement. Accordingly, they willingly passed over their own members to any union or branch that decided to open its ranks to women members, and in 1921 it merged with the National Union of General Workers (now the GMB). 

The struggle for the right of women workers to be organised in trade unions was as important as the battle for the vote, although it has scarcely been mentioned in any the recent celebrations. For Mary Macarthur, suffrage and union organisation were not separate issues. This is a struggle that deserves to be more than a footnote in our history.

The quotation on the poster is from William Morris:

"Forsooth, brethren, fellowship is heaven and lack of fellowship is hell; 
fellowship is life and lack of fellowship is death; 
and the deeds that ye do upon the earth, it is for fellowship's sake that ye do them."

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Austerity Fight - challenging Tory neo-liberalism!

A documentary by Liverpool-based filmmakers Hazuan Hashim and Phil Maxwell. 

The austerity policies of the Tories have targeted young and old. The NHS is chronically underfunded and is being privatised. Students are leaving college with huge debts. Children, pensioners and the disabled are living in poverty and millions live precarious lives on ‘zero hour contracts’. Austerity Fight challenges the notion that we have to live in a world where public services are cut, workers' rights removed and poverty a daily reality for millions. Austerity Fight champions equality, practical alternatives to austerity and a vision of a world based on co-operation rather than the greed of a global super elite.

It will be screened with a question & answer session by Emily Thornberry MP.
  • Friday 2 February 2018.
  • 7.00 pm.
  • Plaza Community Cinema, 13 Crosby Road North, Crosby, L22 0LD
Tickets £6 from:

All proceeds will go towards hiring the cinema and our next film, Pensioners United.

The Plaza is proud to be working in association with the food bank to help support the local community. Please bring an item for the food bank.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Demo Wirral TUC demo 18 December

Wirral Trades Union Council demands a Labour council that will:
  • Stop secret plotting.
  • Reverse NHS cuts and privatisation.
  • Prevent austerity killing vulnerable people.
  • Halt the devastation of fire and emergency services.

PROTEST at the Wirral Cabinet Meeting:
Date: Monday 18th December.
Time: 9.00am.
Place: Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Wallasey, CH44 8ED.

  • Stem the decline in support for our children now.
  • Provide fully funded children's and women's aid services.
  • Include effective prevention and early intervention.
  • Guarantee no detriment to any to any other services.
  • Merseyside has lost 1000 police officers since 2010.
Fight the Tories - campaign publicly with other Labour authorities.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Blairism lurks behind Jeremy

Someone's not looking very happy
Some Labour supporters have charged advocates of democratisation of the Labour Party, including mandatory reselection, as being ‘obsessed’ with holding MPs to account. We socialists argue that it’s not an ‘obsession’ but is a fundamental prerequisite of building a Party capable of securing the election of and sustaining a Corbyn-led Labour government.

The fundamental contradictions facing the Labour Party are:
  • It is led by Jeremy Corbyn with the support of the overwhelming majority of the 600,000 members making a break with the policies of austerity advocated by the Blairites. 
  • The Party machine and the Parliamentary Labour Party is still controlled by a right wing which colonised the Party, particularly during the Blair and Mandelson years, who adhered to free market capitalism, the maintenance of austerity and shackling the trade unions. 
It would be an error to imagine that, because of JC’s popularity, they have changed their outlook. The present rules and constitution make it very difficult for the mass party membership to exercise control and accountability over their elected representatives. The solution is for the party rule book to return the power to the membership by democratising its structures.

To bring this about rules changes should include:
  1. A procedure of mandatory reselection of elected representatives before each election to allow the members to judge the performance of MPs and Councillors and to decide whether to readopt or select an alternative. 
  2. The formulation of policy to be determined by the Party membership via the vehicle of a City or District Labour representing all Labour movement organisations which would be binding on elected councillors and MPs. As it was under the rule book of 1985 which was ripped up by the Neil Kinnock-led administration. A key clause was: the DLP will ‘…..formulate an electoral programme and to compile a panel of candidates.’ This rule involved all sections of the Labour Movement in the decision-making process, a concept now alien to the right wing who are determined to hang on to control from the top. 
These proposals will open the discussion on how to forge a Labour Party capable of not only securing the election of a Corbyn-led government but to sustain it in the face of a ferocious campaign of opposition from the capitalists and their media.

Tony Mulhearn
Merseyside ARMS

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Ban the Hunt!

A nurse practices her greeting
for the Health Secretary
A message from Wirral TUC:

Come and greet Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt when he visits Liverpool to address the annual conference of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Date: Thursday, 12 October 2017.
Time: 8:00 am.
Place: Arena and Convention Centre, Kings Dock, Liverpool, L3 4FP - main entrance, between the conference centre and the Jury’s Inn Hotel.

We need as many people as possible for a short period to welcome Mr Hunt and to leaflet delegates going into the meeting. Bring banners, placards, etc.

Friday, 29 September 2017

“A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.” *

Theresa May recently stated that a police officer who joined the force in 2010 is now 32%, or £9000, better off. Private Eye has analysed this assertion and has - astonishingly - discovered that you have to take it with a large dose of salt. She had omitted to include the following information (an oversight, no doubt):
  • These figures ignore inflation.
  • They include yearly increments, which are not pay rises as such.
  • The date of 2010 allows her to exclude those who joined after 2013 when the starting rate for police constables was slashed from £24,204 to £19,773, with corresponding incremental reductions.
Consequently the pay of the post-2013 intake is thousands of pounds lower than that of the recruits of 2010. As the Eye drily observes, this claim "comes straight from the Department for Misinformation."

Q: Who was the Home Secretary responsible for cutting police starting rates in 2013? 
A: Theresa May.

* Mark Twain.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

News updates - from the web

Our regular round up of relevant news items, selected by ARMS' Steve Ion.

Working beyond seventy - here.

Expats get their pensions upgraded as if they were still in the UK after Brexit - here.

Waspi women 'won't go away' - here.

70 year old baristas: what happened to retiring early due to the benefits of new technology? - here.

Are older workers filling gaps in job markets left by migrant labour returning to their own countries? - here.

Half of new build retirement homes sell at a loss - here.

Do combined library and children's centres benefit all generations? - here.

Pet power in old age - here.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

News updates - from the web

Our regular round up of relevant news items, selected by ARMS' Steve Ion.

Virtual reality game and dementia - here.

Home cafre advice - here.

Studying yoga could help ward of atrophy - here.

Get people out of hospital or get your funds cut - here.

Disabled still being refused access on buses - here.

High intensity training for older people - here.

Tory solution for unaffordable care? No care - here.

A third of older people don't use computers - here.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Solidarity with rail workers

Figures from RAIB (the Rail Accident Investigation Branch) show that 80% of the deaths and the most serious injuries in the last six years occurred on DOO (driver-only operated) trains, even though such trains account for only 30% of all trains in the UK. 

Solidarity with rail workers on strike for safety today.