CHELMSFORD & DISTRICT TRADES UNION COUNCIL ANNUAL REPORT 2014
Chelmsford and District TUC held ten General Meetings and eleven Executive Committee Meetings in 2014. Branches on our list of affiliations now number 29 though a number seem to have omitted to make a payment for 2013, a situation which we cannot allow to continue. Some UNITE branches in particular have been closed but we have also been approached for new affiliations from that union. It is pleasing that the range of industries we cover has also continued to be wider than in recent times.
Average attendance has risen in a small way to an average of about 11 with a couple of meetings dropping to 7 but another with as many as 13. All branches and delegates are sent minutes of our meetings, by email where possible and, where e-mail addresses have been provided, copies of the Executive Committee minutes. Regular e-mails are sent to branches and delegates to keep them informed of events and activities. Our website is also used to promote our work.
We had two guest speakers this year - Lindsay Ruigrok from Thompsons at the AGM in February to give us a legal update on changes to Employment Tribunal law, and Barry White in July on the work of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. Following the December meeting a dozen people (including guests) sat down to a dinner in The Orange Tree.
2014 General Meetings mainly took place at the Unite office on Springfield Road but we also used the Friends Meeting House and the Orange Tree. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking our Unite colleagues for their assistance and are pleased to be able to return there for most meetings in 2015.
A report of every General Meeting has been published in the Community News section of the Essex Chronicle and on our website where our Annual Report can also be read. During the year we have continued to update and develop our website.
Delegates adopted the 2014 Trades Union Councils’ Programme of Work and have worked hard to fulfil its objectives. We have also discussed the 2015 programme and we intend to comply with this too, as best we can.
We submitted two motions to the County Association as potential items for the Trades Councils Annual Conference. One, suggested by TSSA Anglia No 1 branch, was on Fuel Poverty and went to the conference where it was composited and passed. The other motion was written by the Secretary on ‘The Digital Divide but it was not selected for conference. John Pickard represented us at the conference.
We have continued to send letters and emails to organisations and individuals on issues of concern. For instance having seen a story in the Essex Chronicle about possible restrictions on selling and leafleting in the City centre we wrote to the Council to find out more. it appears that the new changes will not affect political activity. We wrote Simon Burns MP the privatisation of rail services and about the changes in the ticket office at Chelmsford Station. Unsurprisingly, his reply on the first was in line with official government policy. He was more sympathetic on the second point.
As a result of a discussion at the Council general Meeting we wrote to the TUC asking for advice on the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act (the ‘Lobbying’ or ‘Gagging’ Act.) A few weeks after our approach, advice was issued to all Trades Council on how to keep within the law.
Delegates have represented the Council or attended a number of conferences and events including the Fairtrade Group, The SERTUC Trades Councils conference and the Morning Star AGM and, as observers, at the TUC Women’s and Black Members’ conferences. We are represented at the Essex County Association of Trades Councils by the Secretary, Treasurer, and Press Officer. The Chair of the County Association is Andrew Coburn.
SOLIDARITY AND TRADE UNION ACTION
The Council supported various actions by affiliated unions during the year including the local government, teachers’ and health pay strikes as well as the FBU’s continued struggle to stop nonsensical changes to their pensions
Once again Council delegates supported leafleting campaigns at Chelmsford station by Action For Rail against fare rises and in favour of renationalisation.
PUBLIC ACTIVITIES In October the TUC held its big ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ demonstration in London. To build support for this we held a quiz night at which number of unions and sympathetic organisations fielded teams. The night was a success and a number of those present attended the demo - including some using a minibus coordinated by volunteers who suggested it during the evening (the Trades Council had decided not to organise a coach because of cost against the relative price of travel by train from Chelmsford. The quiz was successful in part thanks to a grant from the TUC development fund.
We marked Workers’ Memorial Day with a health & safety exhibition in the public square of Chelmsford library and a memorial event and wreath-laying ceremony in Central Park.
On 8 March we held an exhibition to mark International Women’s Day. Two further exhibitions were held in October against racism, and promoting health and safety. The racism one was taken down by staff at County Hall after it attracted negative comments from passers-by. As a result the Secretary and Malcolm Wallace had a meeting with the Equalities manager of the County Council to try and prevent a recurrence.
On May Day we held a public meeting at the Friends Meeting House with Tony Dykes from ACTSA, Alan Chinn-Shaw of the FBU and Dan McCarthy of the NASUWT. It was an excellent evening, albeit we were beaten by time, We thank our colleagues at Thompsons Solicitors for sponsoring our public meetings and providing Fairtrade refreshments.
Thanks are due to Malcolm Wallace who has continued to operate as a very active press and publicity officer as well as managing the website, and to the other offices and delegates who have participated in meetings and work on behalf of the local trade union movement.
ORGANISATIONS TO WHICH THE COUNCIL IS AFFILIATED • National Pensioners’ Convention, • Anglia Region NPC, • Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, • Charter for Women, • Chelmsford Fairtrade Town Campaign, • Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, • Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom • Cuba Solidarity Campaign, • Essex County Association of Trades Councils, • Hazards, • Justice for Colombia, • Keep our NHS public, • Labour Research Department, • Searchlight, • Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, • Trades Union Congress, • Unite Against Fascism Not all of these organisations sought subscription renewals during the year.
CHELMSFORD TUC ASSETS • People’s Press Printing Society (Morning Star) shares £55 • Wortley Hall Certificate No. 7903 Four £5 shares. • Fairtraders Co-operative: Three shares valued at £60. • Banners: Painted cloth banner. Two pop up velcro units. 1 pop up Chelmsford TUC unit. 1 plastic Say No To Racism. 1 Chelmsford TUC plastic strip. 1 Workers’ Memorial Day plastic strip. 1 Chelmsford TUC Advice and Information banner. • Workers’ Memorial Day Badges. Proud 2B in a Union badges • History of Chelmsford TUC two volumes. • Highlight vests for stewards 18. The Essex Records Office holds our minutes, annual reports, local campaign material, Communist Party minutes, leaflets etc.
CHELMSFORD TUC 2014 AFFILIATIONS (* no payment recorded for 2014)
• ASLEF Bishops Stortford.
• CWU Essex Amalgamated.
• EQUITY Essex General.
• FBU Chelmsford. *
• GMB London Stores General. GMB London Central General.
• Musicians’ Union East & South East England.
• National Association of Probation Officers (Essex).
• NASUWT Essex Federation.
• NUT Mid Essex.
• PCS DWP Essex. PCS R+C Anglia. PCS DVLA Southern.*
• RMT Colchester & District.
• TSSA Anglia 1. TSSA Anglia No. 2. TSSA Network Rail East Anglia. TSSA Underground Infrastructure.
• UCATT Maldon.*
• UNISON Anglia Ruskin University. UNISON Chelmsford Borough. UNISON Essex County. UNISON Mid Essex Hospitals. UNISON Brentwood Borough Council.
• UNITE London Construction LE/0555. UNITE TGWU LE/1/1400.2. UNITE TGWU First Bus 1/237. UNITE London United Craft LE/3321M. UNITE TGWU LE/1/1365. UNITE TGWU ACTS Staffs Branch 1/372.*