Ten General Meetings were held in 2002 and the Executive Committee has met on nine occasions. We have continued to send the agenda and minutes of General Meetings to all branch secretaries and delegates and, where possible, have kept branches advised of Executive Committee meetings and other aspects of interest through the internet.
The Council wishes to place on record its thanks to all branches and delegates for their continued support of Chelmsford TUC. The simple fact is that without your loyalty we could not exist.
We have 25 affiliated branches (3 more than in 2002) composed of approximately 25,789 members. However, based on the affiliation fee of 6p per member, this equates to 10,166 an increase over 2002. The overall membership of branches has increased slightly since last year after taking into account branch mergers. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the average attendance at Council meetings dropped by one.
During the year the following addressed our General Meetings: Malcolm Wallace, on his fact-finding visit to Palestine, Maureen Byrne (TGWU), on Women, Race and Equality, Councillor Bill Horslen, on the current position within the Borough Council and Paul Curry, USDAW), on his union’s “Freedom from Fear Campaign”. The main event was on National Respect Day, 17 September, when a number of delegates helped USDAW members collect signatures for their petition.
During the summer we were asked to present a paper at a conference of Eastern Trades Councils but insufficient support, or possibly short notice of the event, meant that it had to be postponed. However, as a section of our contribution was to be based on “Planning for the Future”, this was suitably amended and a useful debate took place at our July General Meeting.
The war on Iraq has not featured to any large extent in our discussions, but the Council supported the TUC’s statement and some delegates have been active in the “Stop the War” demonstrations.
The motion which we proposed at the 2003 Annual Conference of Trades Councils was on Corporate Killing, which the TUC Chair, Nigel De Gruchy, said in his fraternal address was amongst the most important to be discussed; it was carried without dissent. It is, therefore, extremely disappointing that the Government has still not brought forward a Bill to this affect.
With the aid of a grant from the TUC, we purchased a banner stand for indoor meetings. We have continued to promote our long-standing website in Co-operative News and the Morning Star, and developed another through the use of the “Beehive”, primarily to promote our name locally. This has been designed as a feeder to our main site. It can be seen at http://beehive.thisisessex.co.uk/tuc. Two affiliated branches also have websites: the Mid Essex NUT and TSSA Anglia 1.
One edition of the Trades Council’s newsletter, Chelmsford Searchlight, was published in 2003. All our records, leaflets, minutes, pamphlets and many other documents related to a large number of local groups and campaigning bodies, have been indexed and it is intended that these will be passed, on loan, to the Essex Record Office during 2004.
Arising from the Council’s support of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association’s Ethical Investment Charter, we wrote to a number of unions calling on them to give their backing to its aims and objectives. Two replies were received; from the RMT and ASLEF. It was also noted that Unison has invested its pension fund on an ethical basis.
We attended a number of meetings of the Mid Essex Hospital Trust Board meetings. In December, 15 delegates and guests finished the year in great style with our second annual meal at the Red Lion, New London Road.
Our work within the community has certainly been varied. We held four exhibitions in the Chelmsford Library Foyer during the year (a record). The first was to celebrate International Women’s Day (8-14 March); another marked Workers’ Memorial Day, which took place from 26 April-1 May, and then one for European Safety and Health Month, which was held on 21-25 October. The growth of the British National Party and their activity in Chelmsford, although limited, is of concern, and this gave us the incentive to celebrate Black History Month with a new exhibition focusing on anti-racism. This was held from 27-31 October and coincided with the Anti-Racism Week in Football. Among the many varied posters and leaflets displayed were items supplied by the Rugby Football Union and the Football Association, both committed to keeping racism out of sport. We received congratulations from Chelmsford City FC for our efforts, and present on the first day were the Mayor and Mayoress of Chelmsford, and Claude James, Chair of SERTUC Race Relations Committee. We were present at the traditional Pensioners’ Rally at Southend, participated in the demonstrations against County Council home closures, and some delegates went to the popular Burston School Strike Rally.
Our May Rally once again attracted a wide range of social and political groups reflecting our deep involvement in the community. One new group at the rally was the Essex Coalition for Disabled People with whom we have developed a positive relationship. The guest speakers were Clive Mardner, Secretary of the Essex Racial Equality Council, and John Hellyer, Amicus, who at the last minute, replaced his General Secretary who had been obliged to attend a funeral in Scotland.
One of the most significant developments initiated by the Trades Council in 2003 was the campaign to achieve Fairtrade status for Chelmsford. Working with Oxfam, a meeting, held on 29 May, attracted 25 people representing 14 organisations. Arising from this the Chelmsford Fairtrade Action Group was established and the Trades Council has played a significant part in its work including the design of a website. This can be seen at http://beehive.thisisessex.co.uk/fairtrade. We will continue to support the campaign in 2004 and confidently expect that Fairtrade Town status will be achieved.
During the year, our Vice-Chair, Colin Rolfe, made us aware of his efforts to get his employer to adopt a policy on Domestic Violence and the importance of making it a workplace issue. This was taken up by the Council and a draft leaflet was developed and passed to Women’s Aid and our branches for comment. The leaflet was approved at the December meeting and in January 2004 we will send these to local employers. Virtually all of our activities have been publicised in the local press and in the Borough’s free events paper. Our General Meeting reports are placed on the website and have continued to be 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.
We would like to think that it is a tribute to our public work that Chelmsford is highlighted in the current Trades Council’s Promotional leaflet and the recently issued TUC Guide to Trades Councils.
The Council wishes to place on record its thanks to Geof Lynne, our former, Vice President, who has served the Council for many years as a delegate from the NUT, and is now living in Devon.
Essex Pensioners’ Action Association, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Chelmsford Society, Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Essex County Association of Trades Councils, Labour Research Department, Hazards, Trade Union CND, Trade Union Review, Trades Union Congress, Essex Racial Equality Council.
Amicus Amalgamated Engineering Union (Chelmsford)
Amicus Manufacturing, Science, Finance (0012)
Amicus Manufacturing, Science, Finance (1103)
Amicus Amalgamated Engineering Union (Braintree 5B 1858)
Fire Brigades Union (Chelmsford)
GMB (Food & Leisure No.1)
GMB (London Stores General)
National Association of Schoolmasters Union and Women Teachers (Essex Federation)
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 (1/701)
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia No. 1)
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia No.2)
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Docklands)
Union of Communication Workers (Essex Amalgamated)
UNISON (Chelmsford Borough Council)
UNISON (Essex Ambulance)
UNISON (Essex County)
UNISON (Mid-Essex Hospitals)
UNISON (Primary Care in Mid Essex)