Chelmsford TUC

Annual Reports

Annual Report 2002

It is pleasing to report that, once again, we have had an active and varied year promoting the aims and objectives of the Trades Union Congress.

Furthermore, the number of affiliations has risen quite substantially over the years; in 1997 there were eleven affiliates and during this year we have had twenty-two. However, one branch, TGWU 1653, no longer exists as it was disbanded following the closure of Bradwell power station.

We currently have approximately 22,000 members in our affiliated branches although based on the affiliation fee of 6p per member, this equates to 9,750. There are many reasons why branch numbers change but it is noteworthy that several branches have increased their membership. We would like to take this opportunity to record our congratulations to the Unison Mid Essex Hospitals branch in winning their union’s top award for recruitment and organising. Their efforts came about as a direct result of our joint “Save the Beds Campaign”; a video of their campaign was viewed at the December General Meeting.

Ten General Meetings were held in 2002 and the Executive Committee has met on nine occasions. Our attendance at General Meetings has remained at an average of ten, with January (six) being the worst month; July and October shared the best attendance with fourteen present. Twelve guests attended General Meetings on three occasions. We continue to send our agenda and minutes of General Meetings to all branch secretaries and delegates and, where possible, keep branches advised of Executive Committee meetings and other aspects of interest through the internet.

During the year the following addressed the Council: John Whitfield, who spoke on his work at the Refugee Legal Centre, Lena Sharp and Liz Parker who told us of their trade union visit to Ecuador where they studied labour conditions, David Purdey (Director Essex Racial Equality Council), and TGWU delegate, David Cooper, who spoke on “United Brethren or Feuding Fraternity”. We affiliated to Essex Racial Equality Council for the first time; a full list of our affiliations is recorded below. We also found time to enjoy ourselves and following the December meeting, twenty-one delegates and friends sat down to an excellent meal in the Red Lion.

All of our activities have been publicised in the local press and in the Borough Council’s free “Events” paper. Letters have been sent to the press on a variety of issues including encouraging the purchase of Fair Trade products. Furthermore, it is pleasing to note that reports of our General Meeting have been published in their entirety in the Essex Chronicle. As a measure of our contribution to the paper, we again received an invitation to the annual “get together” in the Chronicle’s premises; our Chairman represented us. Two editions of the Trades Council’s newsletter, The Searchlight were published. Our website has been continuously updated, with reports of the Council’s activities and General Meetings being displayed. The website now has 31 pages and 51 subjects. Since its launch on 10th April 1999 it has had over 11,000 hits, with an average of 90 people using the search facility contained within the site every month. We have had a number of e-mails congratulating us on the range of issues within the site. The number of websites that are linked to us at www.chelmsfordtuc.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk is increasing all the time; in November we had a request from History Online to add a link. Each week the Co-operative News and the Morning Star promote our website in their listing column. We believe that this has proved of value in attracting users to our site.

Industrial Disputes Rallies and Conferences

At the beginning of 2002 the PCS dispute was drawing to a close; this strike, to which the Council gave its support, was in defence of health and safety in the workplace. During the year we also actively backed the Communication Workers’ Union’s campaign against privatisation, and we have continued to voice our opposition to the Government’s PFI and PPP proposals. In November, the Secretary and Chairman joined colleagues from NATFHE and UNISON on the picket line outside Chelmsford College, where they were striking for an improvement in pay. We also sent messages of support and donations to those on strike at Friction Dynamex.

The firefighters’ dispute did, of course, dominate our work towards the end of the year. We wrote to all our local MPs and lobbied Simon Burns MP at the House of Commons. Letters have been sent to the press promoting the objectives of the FBU, and colleagues have made donations of various types to those on the picket line. The Council also gave a donation of £50, and encouraged trade unionists and friends to participate in the 7 December march and rally.

Once again, our Chairman represented us at the Trades Council’s Annual Conference where he successfully proposed our motion on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights with particular reference to HIV/AIDS treatments. The Secretary represented the Council at the traditional Pensioners’ Rally at Southend, and several delegates went to the ever popular Burston School Strike Rally. Both the Secretary and Chairman attended a Community Health Council meeting on “Health in the Community”, and the Secretary attended the opening, by Bill Morris, of the new Chelmsford TGWU office. During the ceremony, the Regional Secretary, Eddie McDermott, thanked the Council for its work over many years, particularly its efforts during the 1994 bus strike.

The May Rally was a success although it would have been better if more had attended. However, the number of organisations represented with stalls (ten) was possibly one of our best ever, reflecting our growing relationship with other social groups within the town. Furthermore, for the first time in many years, the Labour Party was officially present with a stall. The speakers were Keith Handscombe, National Officer Fire Brigades’ Union, Paula Whitney, Co-ordinator Essex Friends of the Earth and Jeremy Dear, General Secretary National Union of Journalists. It should be noted that Jeremy started his career at the Essex Chronicle and during 1989/1990, he led a campaign for an improvement in pay and then trade union rights following his sacking and those of others on strike. The Trades Council worked closely with Jeremy and the NUJ during this dispute.

Campaigning

Following contact made with Friends of the Earth the Council has been supportive of the campaign against incineration and we participated in a demonstration at County Hall. We sent, via Paula Whitney, a letter to Michael Meacher MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, when he was lobbied in London during October. The lobby opposed the County’s incineration strategy, and called for a greater effort to be placed on recycling and composting. The Minister responded in December and stated that he was in favour of the “Zero Waste Movement”. The Minister for Health, Alan Milburn MP, also received a letter from us asking why he was introducing Foundation Hospitals and questioning other matters relating to the NHS. Letters were also sent to Government Ministers Stephen Byers MP and David Blunkett MP, asking them to enact Labour’s promise to introduce a law on Corporate Killing.

We were pleased to note that the TUC had highlighted the way in which we had used our Development Grant last year and that this had been featured in the Trades Councils’ Annual Report. This year we used our grant to publish a leaflet for young people who are about to start work. Copies, and information on the TUC’s updated “A Better Way to Work”, have been sent to local schools.

Exhibitions were held in the public square of Chelmsford Library to mark International Women’s Day, Workers’ Memorial Day and the European Safety and Health Week. These events were not run in isolation. We encouraged unions to add Workers’ Memorial Day, International Women’s Day and International Co-operative Day in their union diaries and a number have agreed to do so. We wrote to the Bishop of Chelmsford asking him to promote Workers’ Memorial Day; in his response he told us that he had asked his priests to raise the subject in church. The Trades Council was represented at an event run by Amnesty International to mark International Women’s Day. As part of our campaign on health and safety, we wrote to many local employers and trade associations asking them to participate in the European Week. Some responded positively, notably Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society, Mid Essex Hospitals and the Borough Council. We, in turn, promoted the Borough Council’s events and a number of our colleagues attended their meetings. The Trades Council also pointed out to USDAW our concern that key holders were having to turn out alone in the middle of the night in response to alarms. As a result of our intervention we are aware of one local company that has changed its procedures. Following an approach made to us by a TUC Training Officer, we were optimistic that, in conjunction with the County Association of Trades Councils, we would be able to get a Hazards Conference established. Alas, this was not to be as circumstances have altered; the workload of the person who had offered to carry out a major part of the administration has now changed, and the proposal has been put to one side for the foreseeable future.

After attending the TUC’s Black History Month evening at Congress House, we asked the Borough Council to promote an event in 2003. We also asked the Borough Council to publish a leaflet promoting local jogging trails. After this was rejected we enlisted the aid of Councillor Horslen but there are no signs of movement. We have, therefore, sought the assistance of Mid Essex Community Health Council, asking them to emphasise the importance of promoting a healthy life style through jogging.

International Issues

We have also continued to be active in international matters. Last year we worked with Chelmsford College and sent boxes of catering books to Eziko Catering and Training Centre in the Langa Township close to Cape Town. We are pleased to report that after a lengthy delay in shipment, they have finally arrived and we have been thanked for our efforts. The Council agreed to promote the Amnesty International Concert at Christ Church, and signed their statement against Racism, Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia which was released to the media. Similarly, we supported Oxfam’s campaign on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, and placed a motion to this effect on the Trades Councils Annual Conference agenda. We also sent letters calling for improvements in working conditions for orange growers employed by the Haitian suppliers to Cointreau and Remy Martin, and banana workers in Ecuador. During the Kashmir crisis, letters were sent to the High Commissioners of India and Pakistan asking them to resolve their difficulties peacefully.

Trades Council Affiliated Branches and Delegates 2002

- Amalgamated Engineering Union (Chelmsford Central)
- Fire Brigades Union (Chelmsford)
- GMB (Food & Leisure No.1)
- Manufacturing, Science, Finance (0012)
- Manufacturing, Science, Finance (1103)
- National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (Colchester)
- National Union of Teachers (Mid-Essex)
- Public and Commercial Services Union (DSS Essex)
- TGWU/Administrative Clerical and Supervisory (UNISON)
- Transport and General Workers’ Union (1/699)
- Transport and General Workers’ Union (1/1400.2)
- Transport and General Workers’ Union (1653 Now Closed)
- Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia No. 1)
- Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia No.2)
- Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Docklands)
- UNiFI (Essex)
- Union of Communication Workers (Essex Amalgamated)
- UNISON (Chelmsford Borough Council)
- UNISON (Essex Ambulance)
- UNISON (Essex County)
- UNISON (Mid-Essex Hospitals)
- National Association of Schoolmasters Union and Women Teachers (Essex Federation)

Organisations to which the Trades Council is affiliated

British Pensioners’ Trade Union Action Association, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Chelmsford Pensioners’ Action Group, Chelmsford Society, Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Essex County Association of Trades Councils, Labour Research Department, Liberation, Trade Union CND, Trade Union Review, Trades Union Congress, Essex Racial Equality Council.


Top