Monthly Archives: October 2019

Cleaning up Outsourcing with the UVW

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The good news is that when your job is transferred from one company to another, you’re protected by a piece of legislation called the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, or TUPE for short.

The bad news is that lots of stuff: employer pension contributions, childcare voucher schemes, flexible working arrangements, the location of your office; isn’t protected by TUPE.

The good news is that your contractual terms and conditions: pay, holiday entitlement, period of continuous employment; are all protected by TUPE.

The bad news is that any of your protection under TUPE can be overridden if there’s an economic, technical or organisational (ETO) justification, and boy, are the big outsourcing companies good at finding one of those.

If you’re being outsourced then there’s never been a better time to join a trade union.

Back in 2015 we told you about Mrs Windsor’s Geraniums when our mate Phil, a GMB rep at the time, took the Royal Parks gardeners out on strike after they were outsourced to OCS, who promptly found an ETO justification to strip everyone of two weeks pay a year as well as taking liberties with a number of other terms and conditions.

Now, new kids on the block, the United Voices of the World are bringing Royal Parks workers back out. The parks’ cleaners are demanding a living wage, sick pay and a proper holiday entitlement. It should be a matter of national shame that people indirectly employed by the monarch earn a pitiful £8.21 per hour.

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Every picket line should have one

Me and Funky Lol caught up with the UVW on their picket line at the University of Greenwich this week.[1] There the café workers have already shamed hospitality outsourcing firm Baxter Storey into paying them a living wage, now they’re demanding sick pay and an end to under-staffing after one chef collapsed and had to be admitted to hospital after an 80-hour week.

But they’re not going to stop there. UVW members, who are mainly migrant workers, women and first time union members and strikers are taking action right across the capital. They include the cleaners at St Mary’s Hospital (Sodhexo), the cleaners, security guards and receptionists at the Ministry of Justice (OCS), the security guards at the University of East London [2], the security guards at St George’s University (Noonan) and the cleaners at 200 Grays Inn Road, home of ITN, ITV and Channel 4.

The UVW know what they’re doing, they’re making the invisible visible, giving a voice to the voiceless, standing up for the very people without whom the city would just grind to a halt.

A change is coming; we know a song about that.

Steve

[1] We might’ve sung them a few songs

[2] A strange twist. The security guards at the University of East London have been taken back in house, but TUPE-ed back to their original employer on their worsened, outsourced contracts.

Hold the Line: Echoes of the Peekskill Riot

Russ Protest has written a new pamphlet – Hold the Line: Echoes of the Peekskill Riots…

Seventy years ago this year an outside concert was scheduled just outside of the little town of Peekskill in upstate New York to raise funds for a civil rights organisation. The concert was to feature Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger and others.

The concert never happened.

It was attacked by a racist mob. Welding clubs and brass knuckles and hurling rocks who smashed the venue and brutally assaulted the people there. In the hills overlooking the venue appeared a burning cross – symbol of the Ku Klux Klan. The police stood by and did nothing.

A week later the organisers held the concert again. This time they took security into their own hands. Some 3000 trade unionists formed a barrier right around the concert ground. This kept the concert safe from attack but there were snipers spotted in the surrounding hills so in an act of astonishing courage a handful of working people formed a human shield around Paul Robeson as he took to the stage.

The concert passed off peacefully but as the concert goers left to go home the cops diverted their cars and busses down back roads where they came under a hail of rocks from thousands of right wing thugs. Some pulled people out of the gridlocked cars and beat them to a pulp. People were brutalised, some were maimed.

The story of the Peekskill riots is the story of a flash point between the organised working class and the forces of reaction during a time of political instability. Ordinary people were split and disorientated by a barrage of witch-hunting, manipulation and fake news and turned against each other.

Sound familiar?

I’ve written up the story of the Peekskill riots in a new pamphlet – Hold the Line: Echoes of the Peekskill riots.

It was something to do to drown out Lol’s chatting on a long train journey back from a Protest Family gig.

I tell the story of the riots, introduce the main characters, look at the political background of the US in the mid twentieth century and examine the parallels to the age of Trump, Charlottesville and the rise of the far right across the globe.

It’s been an interesting experience to write. I visited Peekskill and even interviewed one of the last surviving eyewitnesses. It’s not an academic book, I hope it rattles along telling a good yarn about very remarkable and brave people.

The far right are on the march all over the world and there are important lessons to be drawn from what happened at Peekskill and how the ordinary working folk responded to it. We have to hold the line!

The book is available from Bookmarks
https://bookmarksbookshop.co.uk/view/48996/Hold+The+Line+Echoes+of+Peekskill+riots

And is also available for Kindle
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07X9B4Q1L?ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_hw7ADbS6E884N&tag=kp025-21&linkCode=kpe

The book has it’s own website at https://holdthelinepeekskill.com/