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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2010

Workplace news in brief

Shock for Unison bureaucracy

On 24 March Hampshire County Council Unison branch held a hustings for the Unison general secretary elections. All four candidates were invited. Three turned up and Dave Prentis sent a representative.

Roger Bannister was the only candidate to clearly call for a break with the Labour Party. He also exposed the undemocratic nature of the right wing bureaucracy and condemned the attacks on socialist activists in the union. After the debate there was a further discussion in the branch and then a vote. Roger won the nomination overwhelmingly with more votes than all the other candidates put together! Roger's position on breaking the link with Labour and arguing for a general secretary on a worker's wage went down really well with the members.

The look of shock on the regional full-timer's face when the vote was announced was priceless. Clearly the bureaucracy assumed Hampshire would do as they were supposed to do and support Prentice. This result shows just how out of touch from the membership they are and that members want a fighting leadership that doesn't put the interest of New Labour above that of their members.

A HCC Unison member

MMU staff fight job cuts

300 support staff at Manchester Metropolitan University rallied on 26 March against the 127 job losses imposed by management. The Unison branch is moving towards a strike ballot, with action possible from early May.

UCU elections

Sixteen supporters of the lecturers' union UCU left were elected to the union's national executive (NEC) in the recent elections. This means around half of the NEC are now members of UCU left.

Glasgow college victory

Almost 100 Unison members at Stow College in Glasgow have won a pay rise of 300 for 2009/10 and two days additional annual leave after the threat of strike action.

The college did not begin to make any offers until after the workers, who provide support services to students, voted by 91% in favour of strike action.

Two weeks before the strike action was to begin the employer offered 200, a 50 one-off payment and additional leave from 2011. In the week before the strike they brought forward the additional leave to 2010.

The workers rejected both these offers. The day before the strike the employer made their third offer and this was accepted by the members in the Unison workplace consultation. The vast majority of the workers earn between 15,000 and 19,500 per year.

This is a good outcome and the workers are to be congratulated for standing solid until they achieved an acceptable offer.

It shows once again that an organised group of workers who are prepared to take action can win concessions from the employer even in the current climate. The Unison branch also recruited several new members during the dispute.

Brian Smith

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