Chelmsford & District Trades Union Council Annual Report 2005
Chelmsford and District TUC held ten General Meetings in 2005 and the Executive Committee met on nine occasions. During the year the following addressed the Council: Alan Chipperfield and David Alston (PCS), Paul MacLaughlin (National Broadcasting Organiser NUJ), and Cathy McBride (Chelmsford Town Centre Manager).
We were represented at the Annual Conference of Trades Councils by our Chairman, Andrew Coburn. Andrew spoke at the rostrum on a number of occasions and played a full part in its proceedings.
We were pleased to hear that our former President, Sybil Olive, held her 88th birthday during the year. However, it is sad to record that two former active members of our Council, Bill Wilson (a lecturer and former member of the Agricultural Workers’ Union, and Andrew Archibald (EEPTU), both died. Another good friend of our Trades Council, Jim O’Hare, who was an officer of Braintree TUC and Essex County Association of Trades Councils, also died in 2005. All affiliated branches and delegates have been sent minutes of our meetings and, where email facilities have been registered with the Council, Executive Committee minutes. Following every General Meeting a report of our business has been published in the Essex Chronicle and placed on our website. Our Annual Reports can also be seen on the website. We have continued to promote our website in the Saturday edition of the Morning Star but closed our feeder website at thisisessex.
During the year the following affiliated branches were closed: Amicus 1103 and Amicus Braintree. Resulting from the national merger, the Unifi Essex Federation joined Amicus.
The Trades Council can be proud of the fact that it initiated the Fairtrade Town Campaign and that Chelmsford was awarded Fairtrade Town status in February, the first town in the county to receive the award. For our part we have played a full part in the Campaign’s activities, and the Trades Council, along with Oxfam and the Borough Council, were the three signatories that applied for the Fairtrade Certificate. We are pleased to record that the Red Lion is a Fairtrade supporter.
We were invited to a number of events during the year including the opening of the new office in New London Road of Thompsons the solicitors, the Essex Chronicle “Thank you correspondents evening” and a PCS Regional Forum.
Although our leaflet on domestic violence and its effect on the workplace did not get the initial response we intended, there are increasing signs that its message is making some impact; in addition to local progress the TSSA has agreed an arrangement with ONE Railway and is pressing other companies within the industry to follow suit. We also had a letter published on the subject in the Morning Star.
We attended the consultation meetings on a Patient led NHS, the reconfiguration of Cancer Services in Essex, the proposals for the Strategic Health Authority, the Ambulance Trust, and Primary Care Trusts. The Council opposes PFI and is concerned at the long-term costs of this strategy. We asked the Mid Essex Hospitals Trust for details of the final costs of developing Broomfield Hospital but were unable to obtain the information, as the contract has not been signed formally.
Concerned at the way in which some unions have hit the headlines, we took up the issue of Good Governance with the TUC. Although the validity of our case was recognised we were disappointed that the TUC was reluctant to take a lead on this matter. However, a motion on Trade Union Governance was accepted at the TSSA’s Annual Conference, asking it to take up the issue with the TUC and to implement its own Governance Policy. This is being progressed and an interim report will be presented to the next annual conference.
In April, the Council was contacted by Radio 4 and asked if it could assist in providing names of people who had been associated with Wing Commander Millington and the 1945 by and general elections in which the Commonwealth Party gained the Parliamentary seat for Chelmsford. We suggested that Sybil Olive and Jean Roberts be contacted; both were featured in “The Party’s Over” which related to this small but exciting part of history.
The Council agreed to affiliate to Iraq Union Solidarity; since then the TUC has launched a page on its website informing the public of current events in Iraq and describing some of the problems being encountered by trade unionists.
Following the December meeting sixteen delegates and guests attended our annual meal at the Red Lion, New London Road. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our affiliates and delegates for their support and friendship during the year.
Once again we held four exhibitions in the public area of Chelmsford Library. The first marked International Women’s Day, the second Workers’ Memorial Day, the third publicised Black History Month and the last one promoted European Safety and Health Month.
Although the numbers attending our May Rally were a little down on previous years, it still attracted a wide range of community and political groups. The guest speakers were Alison Shepherd (Unison NEC and TUC General Council) and Sarah Hoole and a colleague from the Fairtrade Foundation.
A new activity for the Trades Council arose from the Chairman’s suggestion that we engage in the national Power Debate. We invited a number of political parties to a meeting to debate why people are alienated from voting in elections, how to engage people (particular young people) in politics, and a number of related issues. It proved to be an excellent forum and representatives from the following attended: Co-operative Party, Green Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Respect. We also had one member present from the Young Essex Assembly. Arising from the discussion a report of the debate was sent to the Power Enquiry.
We would like to thank the TUC for a grant which enabled us to purchase 5,000 “Proud 2B in a Union” badges. Our objective was to promote the Trades Council and to raise awareness of trade unionism. These have been distributed at various trade union conference, branch meetings and other events such as the Tolpuddle and Burston School Strike Rallies. We are particularly pleased that local TGWU bus workers wear these when on duty.
To promote and report these events we have tried to use the media to good advantage. In addition to the Essex Chronicle’s Community News, we have used the “What’s On” or “Events” in the Essex Weekly News, Yellow Advertiser, The Enquirer, and the Borough Council’s website.
As usual we corresponded with a wide range of organisations and individuals to promote the aims and objectives of our movement.
During the year we became aware that the pay of trainees and apprentices is excluded from the Minimum Wage legislation. We took this up with the TUC who confirmed that this was correct and that it had the approval of the TUC and trade unions. However, it was felt that some companies were exploiting the law and it was time to reconsider the policy. We had a letter published in the Morning Star calling for change and we took it up with the Essex County Association of Trades Councils. Our decision to campaign on this matter was endorsed, and arising from a motion from affiliated branch Anglia 1, the TSSA Conference accepted that apprentices and trainees should be brought within the legislation. Later in the year, Unison agreed the same policy.
In response to an appeal from the NUJ regarding cuts to ITV services, letters were sent to T. Jowell MP, Charles Allen, Chief Executive ITV, Simon Burns MP, John Whittingdale MP and Alan Hurst MP. Both Simon Burns and A. Hurst sent our views to OFCOM. Later in the year we supported NUJ members on the picket line with regard to their protest against cuts. We also visited members of the PCS during their dispute.
We asked S. Burns MP to support a Private Members’ Bill for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy, and he agreed to do so.
We sent letters to the Borough Council and Essex County Council regarding the issues associated with the congestion in Duke Street and, with assistance from our colleagues in the TGWU, proposed solutions. However, we fear it will get worse before the situation improves.
A letter was published in the Essex Chronicle promoting Workers’ Memorial Day and the importance of health and safety in the workplace. We also sent a letter to the Chief Constable of Manchester Police protesting at the arrest of the Oldham TUC Secretary following a “provocative” act at a wreath laying ceremony by the BNP. Chair: Andrew Coburn, Secretary: M. Wallace, Treasurer: G. Grant.
Essex Pensioners’ Action Association, Chelmsford Fairtrade Town Campaign, Chelmsford Society, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Essex County Association of Trades Councils, Labour Research Department, Hazards, Trades Union Congress, Unite Against Fascism, Essex Racial Equality Council, Iraq Union Solidarity, Trade Union Review.
The average attendance at meetings during the year was ten.
Acts Staffs Branch (Eastern Constituency 1/372) Delegate: G. Grant.
Amicus Amalgamated Engineering Union (Chelmsford) Delegate: M. White.
Amicus (Essex) Delegate: A. Lee.
Amicus Manufacturing, Science, Finance (0012) Delegate: M. Adams.
Amicus Manufacturing, Science, Finance (1103) Delegate: B. O’Hare. (The branch was closed during 2005)
Amicus Amalgamated Engineering Union (Braintree 5B 1858) Delegate: J. Ellis. (The branch was closed during 2005)
Fire Brigades Union (Chelmsford) Delegate: A. Window.
GMB (Food & Leisure No. 1) Delegate: A. Bailey.
GMB (London Stores General) Delegate: L. Sharp.
National Association of Schoolmasters Union and Women Teachers (Essex Federation) Delegate: R. Eschle.
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (Colchester and District) Delegate: D. Ling.
National Union of Teachers (Mid-Essex) Delegates: J. Bowers.
Public and Commercial Services Union (DSS Essex)
Transport and General Workers’ Union (1/699) Delegate: N. Hunt.
Transport and General Workers’ Union (1/1400.2) Delegate: J. Bailey.
Transport and General Workers’ Union (1/237) Delegate: Simon Bolingbroke.
Transport and General Workers’ Union (1/701) Delegate: D. Cooper.
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia No. 1) Delegate: M. Wallace.
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia No. 2) Delegate: D. Johnson.
Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Docklands) Delegate: J. Little.
Union of Communication Workers (Essex Amalgamated)
UNISON (Chelmsford Borough Council) Delegates H. Corby, E. Buckley, R. Flowers, T. Woodcraft.
UNISON (Essex Ambulance) Delegate: F. Ward.
UNISON (Essex County) Delegates: A. Coburn, K. McDonald.
UNISON (Mid-Essex Hospitals) Delegate: C. Rolfe.
USDAW (Chelmsford & Colchester Retail) Delegate: Sandra Hawkard