Thursday, June 22, 2006

GMB calls 5 day strike at ASDA distribution depots

You can read below the GMB press release of the decision to organise strike action against ASDA/Walmart. The nearest depot to Swindon is at Didcot. The GMB will be calling on trades unionists to demonstrate their support for the strikers at Didcot. More detail will follow.


GMB Shop Stewards National Council agree programme of industrial action including an initial period of 5 consecutive days strike to be followed by comprehensive further industrial action
22 Jun 2006

GMB Shop Stewards National Council meeting in Manchester today agreed a comprehensive programme of industrial action in Asda Wal-Mart's 20 distribution depots to secure their objectives. From 00.01 Friday 30th June until 23.59 Tuesday 4th July (Independence Day) there will be a complete withdrawal of labour by all GMB members in all Asda Wal-Mart depots. This will be followed by a further comprehensive programme of industrial action.

GMB members working in Asda Wal-Mart's 20 distribution depots across the country voted by 3 to 1 (74.1% in favour) to take strike action in support of their outstanding claims with the company. They also voted by an even bigger margin of more than 4 to 1 for industrial action short of a strike to secure their objectives.

GMB members who will take part in the industrial action work as HGV drivers and warehouse picker and loaders at Asda Wal-Mart 20 distribution depots including Bedford, Chepstow, Dartford, Didcot, Erith, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Ince George in Wigan, Lymedale Staffordshire, Lutterworth in Leicestershire, Portbury in Bristol, Skelmersdale, Teesport, ADC Wigan, Wakefield and Washington. They move 30,000 tonnes per day of ambient, fresh, chilled and frozen produce from 20 distribution depots to 300 Asda Wal-Mart Stores around the country.

GMB members in Asda Wal-Mart's distribution depots want to see the establishment of proper national bargaining structures between the company and GMB covering pay, conditions and union facilities in all 20 distribution depots.

Once established the first thing GMB members employed in the depots want is an agreement, via the new national negotiating structures, that Asda Wal-Mart pay the unpaid 2005 bonus of £300 per worker. The second issue GMB members in the depots want dealt with via the new national negotiating structures is an end to the unilateral introduction of new technology leading to higher work rates in the depots which health and safety experts say will seriously injury GMB members over a long period of time. (See Note 5). GMB members want an agreement that safe work rates are established by a panel of independent experts.

Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary said, "GMB members know full well that Asda Wal-Mart are gearing up to try to break this strike. This decision today to set a comprehensive programme of industrial action starting with the 5 days stoppage shows that GMB members are determined to win national collective bargaining rights which are common across British industry.

There appears to be a clear clash of cultures between the way workers do business in Britain and the way Wal-Mart does business. It is significant that the strike dates set by the Shop Stewards covers Independence Day. GMB members in Asda Wal-Mart want independence from the anti-trade union tactics of Wal-Mart worldwide.

GMB members spoke decisively yesterday. The Shop Stewards decision today shows they are prepared to follow it up with decisive action.

GMB will also step up the campaign against the agencies that we know are collaborating with Asda Wal-Mart to break this strike and GMB will use the full force of the law against them."


Contact: GMB Press Office: Steve Pryle on 07921 289880 or Rose Conroy on 07974 251823.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Academy Meeting

A brief report of a meeting in Penhill to discuss the Academy proposal.

I attended a meeting at Penhill called to discuss the proposal for an Academy to replace Headlands school. Councillor Garry Perkins Lead member for Children’s Services was invited along to speak in favour of the proposal. The meeting was organised by Penhill Councillor Andy Harrison as a means of giving local people the opportunity to hear the arguments and express their own view. The first thing to be said is that the Council did not give the opportunity to opponents of the scheme to present their case in the public meetings which they organised. On the other hand the presence of Garry did provide the audience with an indication of how little he seems to know about some of the issues!

There was a great deal of anger over the seeming incompetence of the Council. Many people present had not received the consultation documents.

It would be true to say that most people present did not engage in the debate on the concept of Academies. The trades unionists present were opposed to Academies in principle and have examined what has happened around the country in those that have been set up. But unless you have an interest in education or you have children is school it is not an issue which you would necessarily have looked at. Garry Perkins did not argue with the teaching unions on this ground, he simply said this is the only way to get a new school so take it or leave it.

Many people were perturbed to know that he did not seem to have any idea about the ‘footprint’ of the proposed new school, or the potential traffic problems. He expressed a lack of interest on the question of which organisation is putting in how much money, even though the teachers present reported that the United Learning Trust had told them that Honda was putting in the majority of the £2 million whilst Honda had told them that ULT was putting in the majority!

There was concern expressed about how far some of the children would have to travel to the proposed site at the Pinehurst People’s Centre.

ULT are making all manner of promises (such as sticking to the Local Education Authority’s admissions policy), but the question was raised as to what mechanisms there were to hold them to these promises. Hilary Pitts from the LEA had to admit that once the Academy had been set up there was nothing to prevent the new company (for that’s what the Academy would be, a private business) changing it mind.

All in all Garry was given a hard time by the local people. The situation was well summed up by one member of the audience when he said we had been given the same ‘choice’ for the hospital, the University of Bath and now the Academy – this is what you are going to get or you will get nothing! This is the government’s ‘choice’ agenda, supported by the Tory Council.

Martin Wicks

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Councillors unite against Academy

This is a press release from Penhill Councillors Andy Harrison (Independent Socialist) and David Glaholm (Labour) on the proposed Academy to replace Headlands school.

Penhill's Ward councillors, Andy Harrison and David Glaholm are taking a united stance and urging all their constituents to vote NO in Swindon Councils consultation on Academy proposals.

Speaking out against the academy Councillor Harrison said the whole academy concept leaves much to be desired. There are major issues with academy schools, from their higher exclusion rates and parental concerns regarding child religious indoctrination to academy selective admission practices and the total loss of any local accountability.

Sponsors gaining unaccountable control of over £25 million pounds worth of public investment without any guarantees that even one child’s education will be significantly improved certainly doesn't sound like the Value For Money that both the government and council insist upon even when investing much smaller amounts of taxpayer’s money.

Academies are still very much an educational experiment and the pupils, parents and whole community deserve better than to have their children's education subjected to such a further hit and miss approach. We must remember that Headland pupils have already had to endure being failed by Swindon's education department and they deserve better than to be used further as academy guinea pigs.

Councillor Glaholm said "I have asked many times for reassurance on how the children from Penhill would be able to safely access the new school but without success.
I feel the children will take the shortest route across fields and parents should seek reassurance their children will not be at risk before supporting the proposal.

Councillor Harrison has arranged a public meeting for 6:30pm on Monday 12th June at the John Moulton Hall, Penhill, so that Penhill ward residents can hear both sides of the arguments before making their minds up on such an important issue.

Both ward councillors are increasingly finding that the promised consultation by the council, which ends on the 16th June, is not only extremely one sided but believe that Penhill ward residents are being deliberately excluded from the consultation process.

For further information please contact:
Andy Harrison 07720 484540
David Glaholm 07952 862929