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Friday, 28 October 2016

ARMs National Committee - ballot results

The results of the election for the associate and retired members (ARMs) national committee are now available.

Candidates elected unopposed:
  • Chair - Phil GREEN
  • Vice chair/editor - Eddie SPENCE
  • Secretary - Brian HERBERTSON
  • Assistant secretary/organiser - Barry FUGE
  • Treasurer - Sandra DURKIN
Ordinary Members
Total number of votes cast: 1,451
Number of votes found to be invalid: 5
Total number of valid votes to be counted: 1,446

Result (6 to elect)
  • GALLOWAY, Margaret - HMRC ........................................ 1,043 Elected
  • THOMAS, Kevin - HMRC .................................................. 1,008 Elected
  • HADFIELD, Jacqueline - DWP .......................................... 1,004 Elected
  • PARK, Jim - HMRC ............................................................ 953 Elected
  • ION, Steve - HMRC ............................................................ 900
  • GIBSON, Brian - MoD ....................................................... 830 Elected
  • BRYANT, Anne - Met Police .............................................. 674 Elected*
  • ST BARTHOLOMEW-BROWN MORGAN, L (NAW) ........ 557
*elected due to the requirement that no more than half the elected candidates must be from the same employer.

Click here to see the result on the PCS website.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Stop The War Public Meeting, Manchester

As the wars continue across the Middle East, the need for an anti-war movement and our opposition to intervention from all sides are as great as ever. Even Stop the War's opponents recognise the influence our work has had in shaping public opinion and constraining the establishment's policy options. The Telegraph's defence editor Con Couglin recently wrote that he believed "the real reason why so many MPs, as well as the wider public at large, are now so opposed to any form of military intervention is because of the highly effective propaganda campaign mounted by STWC". What we have in fact done is told people the truth about the series of wars since 2001.

Public meeting in Manchester: The US Elections & The Crisis in the Middle East

Wednesday 2 November at 7.00 pm
St Peters Chaplaincy
Oxford Road
Manchester

Speakers:
  • Lindsey German (StWC convenor) 
  • Ron Senchak (Manchester StWC)
  • Adnan Hussein (Drive for Justice)

News updates - from the web

Our regular round up of relevant news items, selected by Steve Ion of NW ARMS
  • Self-funding care home residents pay for council shortfall - here.
  • Policy on healthy ageing - here.
  • Councils don't pay fair price for care - here.
  • UK drops down global pensions league - here.
  • Our prospects for working longer - here.
  • Alzheimers study offers hope of prevention - here.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

EHRC Picket Line - Manchester

Our union is taking action alongside colleagues in Unite after workers were told to expect a 25% budget cut and threatened with compulsory redundancies. This follows a 70% cut to the commission's budget since 2010. In a ballot, 82% of the union's members at EHRC voted for strikes and 90% for other forms of industrial action, on a 64.7% turnout.

19 of the first 26 posts due to be axed are held by staff in the three lowest paid grades, meaning the government body responsible for protecting vulnerable workers is itself disproportionately targeting older, ethnic minority and disabled staff. The commission has refused to consider alternative sources of savings, including the high cost of employing non-payroll consultants - with almost £1.2 million last year paid to just eight staff.

We are asking all PCS members to show solidarity and support for the strikers on Wednesday morning. We are looking for as many branches and groups as possible to support the picket line for a short time on Wednesday morning.

More details on the PCS website - here.

EHRC picket address: Manchester, Arndale Centre (across the road from Selfridges, Cross Street), Arndale House, M4 3AQ. Between 7.30 am to 10.00 am.

On Twitter: @savetheehrc / #savetheehrc 

If you cannot attend the picket line please send a message and photographs of support to londonbargaining@pcs.org.uk

Disability & Carers Festival 2016 in Preston

Monday, 24 October 2016

Do as I say, not as I do

The report into Wallasey CLP is a master class of distortion and weighted naturally in support of the Blairite wing of the Party, who are protected by its continued suspension with any selection process to be implemented by regional mini-McNicholls.

The report rebukes the members with 'It appears that meetings in Wallasey have been increasingly adversarial and challenging for some time.' Any party worth its salt is precisely adversarial and challenging, that is how policy is thrashed out. It is not in dispute that 'bullying' is unacceptable, but if challenging MPs or councillors is bullying then the bullying of Jeremy Corbyn by the 170 Blairite MPs suggests the PLP should have been suspended long ago.

Horror of horrors, some members are 'accused' of demanding that Labour (yes Labour) councillors should refuse to carry out cuts. As that is the policy of the TUC, Unite the union, the RMT, the FBU, the POA and many others, should the whole Labour movement be suspended?

In 1985 a similar report was published by Kinnock’s witch-hunt committee into the Liverpool District Labour Party, it was challenged in court and the judge threw it out on the grounds that it was based on tittle-tattle, gossip and innuendo and therefore totally unreliable as evidence.

Unlike then, the tide of history is flowing AGAINST the Blairites. A mass response of all those committed to anti-austerity and internal democracy is now essential to force this discredited right-wing bureaucracy to retreat. The working class need a leadership which fights the Tory attacks on the poor and needy rather than attacking its own membership.

Tony Mulhearn
NW ARMS

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Hospitals and rail safety face the axe

Merseyside TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) metro-mayoral spokesperson Roger Bannister is writing to Steve Rotheram, Labour's metro-mayoral candidate, to propose a joint campaign to save threatened hospitals on Merseyside and to support the RMT transport union against Merseytravel bosses.

Roger Bannister says:

"Leaked plans show hospitals face merger and closure across Liverpool, and across the Merseyside and Cheshire region. I have been actively campaigning against the closure of Liverpool Women’s Hospital. We need a massive campaign of action to defend our National Health Service starting right now, or there could be little left by the time of the next general election.

"I was outraged to learn that Merseytravel is ignoring the questions by transport union RMT over their intended removal of guards from trains. Repeated questions from an RMT union official to Merseytravel chair Liverpool Labour councillor Liam Robinson have gone unanswered. I and Merseyside TUSC will continue giving our full support to the RMT’s campaign against cutbacks on Merseytravel.

"I believe that key elements in the metro-mayoral position, and the election campaigns leading up to it, should include defending our hospitals, defending our Merseyrail guards, and opposing cutbacks to both.

"I will be writing to Steve to propose we take on the cutters together."

For more info, contact Roger Bannister on 07954 376 096 or r.bannister@blueyonder.co.uk.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Stop The War meeting, Liverpool - 26 October

Stop the War are holding an anti-war public meeting:

"The War in the Middle East: Why More Bombing Won’t Help Syria" 

  • Wednesday 26th October.
  • 6.30 pm.
  • Friends House, 22 School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BT.

Come and join the discussion of the crisis in Syria and the region more widely, as well the risk of escalation into a direct military confrontation between the West and Russia.

The discussion will be initiated by a national Stop the War officer. All welcome.
Also, please invite friends and share the event on Facebook.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

News updates - from the web

Our regular round up of relevant news items, selected by Steve Ion of NW ARMS
  • You can retire early if you take a cut in pension - here.
  • Cuts in council in elder care are hitting A&E - here.
  • Waspi lawyers take legal action against DWP - here.
  • Elderly put at risk by needless medication - here.
  • How can civil servants top up state pension? - here.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Meeting on State Pension Age, Blackpool

There is a review of State Pension Age from 2028 going on. The retirement age could move into your 70s. The Reviewer is John Cridland. He has agreed to hear views from people in Blackpool. 

We have organised a meeting on Tuesday evening at the Ruskin Hotel in Albert Road on Tuesday 18 October at 7.30pm. If you want to find out more, ask questions, and make your views known, be there.
  • The Blackpool Gazette is very interested. I was asked to submit an extended quotation on the issue. There is a pre-article going into the Gazette.
  • Yes - John Cridland was the Director General of the CBI. He is also my brother. We are very pleased that he has accepted our invitation to come to Blackpool and hear what we have to say.
I will be chairing the meeting - see you there.

Ken Cridland
Chair of Blackpool Against Cuts

Friday, 14 October 2016

Use your vote in the ARMS National Committee election

You should have by now received your copy of the most recent edition of PCS People (Issue No 3 - 2016). PCS ARMs members will find inside a ballot paper for the election of up to 6 members of the ARMs National Committee (the Officers of the National Committee have all been elected unopposed). Please note that voting closes at 12:00 noon on Friday 21 October 2016.

Owing to problems with ballot paper distribution, the decision has been taken to extend the balloting period to 12:00 noon on Thursday 27 October 2016, with the results announced the following day.

Also, the envelope provided has 2nd class postage. If posting close to the deadline, we suggest you apply a 1st class stamp.

The table below lists the nominations made by the NW Regional ARMs Special General meeting held on the 24 August for those Committee posts. You may wish to consider supporting these nominees when casting your votes.

Committee Member
(6 to be elected)
Former PCS Group
ARMs Region
1. Margaret Galloway
HMRC
Northern Ireland
2. Brian Gibson
HMRC
South West
3. Jacqueline Hadfield
DWP
North West
4. Steve Ion
HMRC
North West
5. Kevin Thomas
HMRC
South East

Sign Up To Stop CETA

When EU member states vote on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on October 18, all it takes is one "No" vote to derail the whole deal. The CETA trade deal is less famous than TTIP, but just as dangerous - this EU-Canada pact provides big business with the same toolbox to bully governments into doing what they want.

We’ve been doing all we can to shore up Austria’s opposition to CETA, but now it looks like there’s another opposition voice that needs our support - Belgium’s regional governments.

We should use all avenues possible to block this hideous piece of neo-liberal oligarchical legislation.
Tony Mulhearn
NW ARMS

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Mark Serwotka's blog

This quote about Theresa May's laughable claim that the Tories have all mutated into working class heroes is from Mark Serwotka's blog on the PCS website - there is a link to his blog here and I have also installed it in the 'PCS & ARMS links' list on the right so you can keep up with his future posts.

Click here for the ARMS NW blog's view on Theresa May's claim to be the new people's champion.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Stop the pensioner bedroom tax

Pensioners could be hit by a new "bedroom tax". The government wants to cut housing benefit for elderly people who have a spare room. But experts say there aren’t enough smaller homes to move into, particularly for pensioners who need ground floor flats.

Some people will lose up to £34 a week if this cut goes ahead. If you’re on a state pension, it could mean choosing between turning on the heating or paying your rent.

Back in 2012, the government protected pensioners from the original bedroom tax. They knew then that it would be too controversial to turf elderly people out of their homes. A huge petition right now will show the government this is still hugely unpopular - we know it's just the bedroom tax by the back door. It could convince them to let pensioners stay in their homes.

The original bedroom tax was controversial. It hit some of the most vulnerable people in our society, such as parents with disabled children. And to make matters worse, experts say it’s been completely ineffective because there aren’t smaller homes to move into.

Theresa May’s new government won’t want to be tarnished with the scandal of forcing pensioners out of their homes. If enough of us get behind the huge petition we could convince them to scrap their new bedroom tax on the elderly.

If you think no pensioner should have to face the choice between heating their home or paying their rent, please sign the petition now - here.

Short URL for petition: tiny.cc/ebstfy

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Theresa May - the new People's Champion

Theresa May has generally voted for more restrictive regulation of trade union activity. This is her voting record:
  • On 9 Jan 2008: she voted yes on Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill - preventing prison officers from taking industrial action.
  • On 22 Oct 2010: she was absent for a vote on Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill - Second Reading.
  • On 14 Sep 2015: she was absent for a vote on Trade Union Bill - Second Reading.
  • On 10 Nov 2015: she was absent for a vote on Trade Union Bill - New Clause 2 -Workplace Ballots and Ballots by Electronic Means.
  • On 10 Nov 2015: she voted to require the appointment of a picket supervisor and for them to be identified to, and contactable by, the police.
  • On 10 Nov 2015: she voted to require a 50% turnout in order to make a strike ballot valid and for other aspects of increased regulation of trade union activity.
When you hear the nonsense about the Tories reclaiming the so-called Middle Ground of politics, remember how she voted to deprive ordinary working people of their rights.

Information from the They Work For You website - pinched with thanks.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Rudd: don't make targets of migrant workers

Amber Rudd, the worst Home Secretary since Theresa May, declared at the Tory Party rally that: "Twenty years ago levels of immigration weren’t really an issue in British politics. As net migration has risen, that has changed." Extraordinarily, this nonsense was uttered by a history graduate. She has clearly chosen to forget the long history of racism in this country, such as the thousands of workers who went on strike as long ago as 1968 in support of Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech - surely one of British organised labour's low points - or, ten years earlier, the Notting Hill race riots of 1958. Pretending that concerns about immigration are a modern phenomenon provides her xenophobic proposals with an spurious contemporary justification.

Accordingly she announced to the party faithful extensive new powers to reduce the numbers of people coming into the country, and plans to 'name and shame' companies employing workers from abroad by forcing them to publish figures showing how much of their workforce is 'foreign'.

I wouldn't be too surprised if in a couple of years' time she announces that 'foreigners' will have to wear badges sewn onto their coats to identify their alien status. Too fanciful? There is a precedent: G4S, still a recipient of many government contracts, recently had the doors of asylum seekers painted red in Middlesbrough, leading to a number of racist incidents.

With Rudd's speech, we are entering an nastier period of discrimination in the UK, this time subtly led by the government. Rudd has strenuously denied that what she said was racist, saying we ought to be able to have a discussion about immigration. While that is true in itself, it doesn't mean that the boundaries have been abolished. It doesn't excuse incitement to racism, whether deliberately or inadvertently: it seems highly likely that companies that are revealed to have a higher proportion of migrant workers on the payroll would face a racist backlash, a reaction that would rapidly extend from the company to the workers themselves. They might as well put a sign outside saying, "Here be foreigners!"

It is possible that these are not Rudd's intentions, but as a professional politician she ought to assess the possible consequences of her words and actions. If she hasn't, she's failing in her job. If she has, she is a more unpleasant and dangerous person than I have so far judged her to be.

Please sign this 38° petition - here - calling upon Rudd not to force companies to publish how many migrant workers they employ.

Neville Grundy
NW ARMS

Monday, 3 October 2016

Save Chorley A&E campaign on TV

Greater Manchester ARMS members have been involved in the "No Cuts To Chorley A&E" campaign. Recently cameras from ITV rolled up and took 35 minutes of footage for the Tonight programme which will go out on Thursday 13 October at 7.30pm (its viewing figures are 3 million). Be sure to tune in.

The next step in the campaign will be a walk on Saturday 22 October from Royal Preston Hospital to Chorley & South Ribble Hospital as a symbol of bringing Chorley A&E home. To find out more and how you can help, click here.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Black History Month

Black History Month begins today, 1 October: let it inspire you to get involved and support PCS by saying no to racism, challenging stereotypes and promoting equality today. At times it can be easier to say nothing than to challenge racism and prejudice. Staying silent can be seen as acceptance.

Black History Month, which runs until 31 October, is an opportunity to be seen and to be heard in an open, inclusive and positive way. Working collectively, supporting each other and embracing our differences can form bonds of understanding. BHM website.

BHM is also an opportunity to focus on the achievements of black people past and present and reflect on the path to race equality. It started in the USA with a holiday that coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederic Douglass. In the US, BHM is celebrated in February but in the UK it takes place in October each year. Since the first UK celebration in 1987 the event has expanded and now encompasses the history of Africa, Caribbean and Asian people who have a direct link with the UK through slavery, colonialism and migration.

Past
Our shared histories and cultures feature many black people of whom we can be proud: Mary Seacole, nurse Crimean War; Ignatious Sancho, writer, musician and businessman; Olaudah Equiano, political activist, Sophia Duleep Singh, suffragette.

Present
Current history makers: Lord William [Bill] Morris, TGWU first black general secretary; Diane Abbott, first black woman MP; Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Ken Olisa, OBE, Lord lieutenant Greater London; Munroe Bergdorf, trans model and feminist; Zita Holbourne, poet, activist; Rikki Beadle-Blair, writer and film-maker.

Future?
Our history tells a story of overcoming hardship. Forging new lives. Creating communities, challenging racism, speaking up and speaking out. Who are the new history makers? It is ready to be written.

How can you celebrate BHM?
  • Organise an event at your workplace or branch. These can provide an informative and interesting experience for all PCS members.
  • Highlight and celebrate black achievement - perhaps a quiz, sharing of cultural foods, speakers.
  • Create your own poster using one of our photo opportunity cards, with the themes: 
Say No To Racism
Challenging Stereotypes
Equality Freedom and Justice.
Please send a report and photographs of your event to: equality@pcs.org.uk
Whatever you do, be inspired to achieve higher.
Find out more about PCS equality work.

This article originally appeared on the PCS website.