Friday, May 09, 2008

London round-up

Union fights Co-op for recognition

THE GMB general union last Saturday in Croydon launched a public campaign to end de-recognition in Co-op Funeralcare.
The lobby of Co-op Funeralcare was attended by a donkey outside the meeting, accompanied by placards saying: “The Co-op: another case of lions led by donkeys”.
GMB Central Executive Council on 22nd April 2008 gave the go ahead for a high profile public campaign to persuade the Co-op’s rank and file members to reverse a decision by Co- op senior managers to end recognition for GMB in Co-operative Funeralcare.
In 2006 David Hendry took over as boss of Co-operative Funeralcare. He set about introducing changes which met with resistance from his funeral staff, particularly those in London and Southern England who are members of GMB.
He also inherited problems with low pay in this service particularly for employees in the high cost areas like London and the South East. This had led to strike action in November 2004 when the members rejected the pay offer.
These staff are members of a very old funeral workers’ union that merged with the Furniture and Timber workers’ union who in turn merged with GMB. It has been a recognised union in the Co-op funeral care service for more than a century.
Rather than deal with the pay and other industrial relations issues being raised by GMB members in this service, the senior management in the Co-op choose to tear up the century-old recognition agreement with GMB.
Five hundred GMB members learned of this decision in December 2006 when the Co-op issued the news by press release. Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary commenting on the launch of the public campaign to get the message to co-op members who GMB consider to be the lions said: “Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary, Brendan Barber General Secretary of TUC, and Dave Prentis Unison General Secretary, who is also chair of Unity Trust bank co-owned with the Co-op, tried privately to get this stupid decision reversed.
“However the Co-op went ahead and derecognised GMB from 1st April 2007. Since then GMB shop stewards have been victimised and harassed as the Co-op has tried to force them out of their union against their will.
“The Co-op will not be allowed to get away with this disgraceful and stupid decision. It is a basic human right for workers to be able to choose to continue to belong to the union of their choice. The Co-op will be shunned until the decision is reversed.”

Abortion rights lobby

CAMPAIGNERS for a women’s right to choose lobbied their MPs in the lobby of the House of Commons last Wednesday concerning the forthcoming first debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, scheduled for Monday 12th May.
Abortion opponents have made it clear they intend to use the Bill to drive back women’s rights.
The organisers of the lobby – Abortion Rights – say the lobby was intended to demonstrate to MPs the strength of opposition to that agenda, speak to and win the argument with MPs and to hear from leading politicians, scientists, women’s movement and trade union supporters about why abortion rights must be supported.
Supporters of the events included: the Family Planning Association, TUC, STUC, NUS, Unison, Unite the union, UCU, GMB, PCS, Napo, Aslef, RMT, FBU, Sertuc and others.
Campaigners are urging all progressives to write to their MPs to urge them to vote to defend women’s abortion rights during the forthcoming Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill debates.
The anti-choice lobby is already very active – MPs are receiving dozens of letters, postcards and e-mails. We cannot allow this vociferous minority to dominate the abortion debate!

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