Monday, October 16, 2006

Campaigning against thegovernment’s privatisation agenda

A Swindon TUC Open Meeting

Swindon Trades Union Council - Media Release October 12th 2006

Wed November 1st
7.30 p.m.
Broadgreen Centre, Salisbury Rd (off of Manchester Rd)

The November meeting of Swindon TUC will be an open meeting on the above theme. The Blair/Brown government is comprised of ‘free market fundamentalists’. They have opened up the public sector to exploitation by big business despite the evidence that it has had disastrous consequences, both for the workers and the service users.

The recent Labour conference , for the third year running, passed a resolution opposing government policy of privatising council housing, and demanded the right of councils to direct investment, including building new council houses. But the government contemptuously ignores the decisions of its own party conference.

It’s policy in the health service has been to create a ‘market’ in healthcare. It’s a rigged ‘market’ though because the government has instructed PCT’s to hand over work to the private sector, with no competition, taking money away from the NHS. The contracts for this work are also rigged. Whilst NHS hospitals are being penalised for doing ‘too much’ work, private companies are being paid for operations they have not carried out!

Locally, Swindon’s Great Western Hospital is having some of its audiology work handed over to a private company, and a private hospital will be given imaging work (MRI scans etc).

Swindon’s Tory Council is carrying out New Labour policy by proposing to create a private Academy run by a religious organisation and Honda. It is threatening to privatise council services in the pursuance of its (and the Blair government’s ) dogma.

The government has also opened the postal market up to competition, threatening the universal service obligation by which we have a standard price however far a letter has to travel. Royal Mail is making cuts in service so as to ‘shape up’ to the new market.

Speaking at the meeting will be John McDonnell the left wing Labour MP who has declared he will stand for leader of the Labour Party against the privatiser Gordon Brown. John has played a key role in drawing together the trades unions to campaign against privatisation across the public sector. (see )

Also speaking will be Dave Warren a member of the CWU national executive committee, the union covering Royal Mail and the Telecomms industry.

For further information ring Martin Wicks, STUC Secretary on 07786 394593

Friday, October 06, 2006

Health & Safety Conference

Swindon TUC, with the assistance of South West TUC Education Officer Marie Hughes, and the Trade Union Centre at New College, is organising a Health & Safety conference on February 5th at the Oakfield Campus of the University of Bath (in Swindon), from 09.30 am to 4 pm.

The conference is for workplace Health & Safety reps, though any union activists interested in campaigning in relation to Health & Safety will be welcome.

We will be writing directly to health &safety reps and union branches shortly.

More detail about the day will follow. Please put the date in your diary.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Royal Mail Closures

Royal Mail is proposing to close three major mail centres at Reading, Gloucester and Coventry. This would probably involve compulsory redundancies. From an environmental point of view this is a lunacy since it would mean mail from the three centres being sent to Swindon, Bristol and Northampton and then back.

The CWU isopposing the closures. Swindon Trades Union Council has written to the CWU expressing its support for them. Our letter is reproduced below.

To the CWU

Dear Comrades

Swindon Trades Union Council at its meeting yesterday discussed the proposed closure of Royal Mail centres at Reading, Gloucester and Coventry. As the ‘receiving’ town with the prospect of extra jobs we could take a selfish point of view. However, that would be completely unprincipled, at the expense of workers losing their jobs in three centres.

Moreover, from an environmental point of view, the idea of workers and mail travelling from Reading to Swindon (and back), Gloucester to Bristol, and Coventry to Northampton, is sheer lunacy, adding to environmental pollution at a time when we are supposed to be tackling the problem of global warming. I have already spoken to some people in the green/environmental movement who will support your opposition to the closures.

Undoubtedly, this proposal of Royal Mail is related to the liberalisation of the postal ‘market’ which the government has seen fit to push through. It is a cost-cutting measure which is directed at ‘shaping up to meet the competition’. This so-called commercial environment is, of course, a threat to the universal service obligation and the Post Office as a public service. Whilst liberalisation originates from the European Union it fits neatly with the government’s free market fundamentalism which has led it to introduce a ‘market’ in the NHS and privatisation and cuts throughout the public sector.

Obviously you will be discussing an industrial response to the threat of closure and of compulsory redundancies. We would like to offer our support in the wider public campaigning against these proposals which are socially and environmentally retrograde. Please let us know anything which you would want us to do in support of your struggle.

We will contact the Trades Councils in Bristol and Northampton, the other towns where distribution will be centralised and suggest we produce a joint statement, in support of the CWU and against the closures.


Martin Wicks
Secretary, Swindon Trades Union Council