Chelmsford TUC

Annual Reports

Annual Report 2007

It is sad to record that our first Honorary President, Sybil Olive, died on 24 May. Sybil held office from 1988 -1992 and had been, for many years, an activist in NALGO/Unison, the Communist Party and the Co-operative Women’s Guild. Indeed, she had campaigned in Chelmsford to improve the lives of working people since moving to the town in the early 1940s.

Chelmsford and District TUC held ten General Meetings in 2007 and the Executive Committee met on ten occasions. There have been a number of changes within the past year. Following a re-organisation Amicus Chelmsford No.1 has been closed, with the Mid Essex area being covered by Chelmsford Central. The Unison Essex Ambulance branch has merged with its members to the new East of England Ambulance branch. However, we have received one new affiliation; Unison North Essex Mental Health.

It is disappointing to note that following the retirement of Tony Lee, the Essex Unifi / Amicus Branch has been closed. Further evidence of the movement’s need to increase the number of branch officers and to engage more members came with the departure of David Cooper (TGWU 1.701) as this branch appears to be inactive.

During the year the following addressed the Council: Bill Pigram (Amicus), Barrie Hay (Amnesty International) and Simon Clarke (Thompsons Solicitors) who spoke at the AGM on Age Discrimination. We also viewed a DVD on Mesothelioma and during Fairtrade Fortnight we held a Fairtrade tasting, courtesy of Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society.

All affiliated branches and delegates are sent minutes of our meetings and Executive Committee minutes are sent by e-mail if addresses have been provided. A report of every General Meeting has been published in the Essex Chronicle (Community News) and placed on our website where our Annual Report can also be read.

PUBLIC ACTIVITIES

This year, we included a number of new events to promote our role in the community. For the first time, and working in conjunction with the Industrial Chaplaincy, we marked Workers’ Memorial Day with a “Period of Reflection” in Chelmsford Cathedral. Another first for the Trades Council was a film evening featuring “The revolution will not be televised” about the attempted coup against the Chavez government in Venezuela. This was an enjoyable event and we would like to take this opportunity to thank Thompsons Solicitors for its sponsorship and for providing an excellent buffet and Fairtrade wine. We have continued to stage exhibitions in the public area of Chelmsford Library to mark International Women’s Day, Workers’ Memorial Day, Black History Month and European Week for Safety and Health.

The speakers at our traditional May Rally were: Megan Dobney (SERTUC) and Anna Konson (Thompsons Solicitors). Anna spoke about her experiences during a lawyers’ delegation to Colombia. The delegation’s report, Rule of Law? examined issues that include prisons, women, journalists, displaced people, and violence against trade unionists. This excellent report is obtainable from Justice for Colombia.

During the evening Megan Dobney presented our Secretary, Malcolm Wallace, with the Trades Councils Silver medal for his services to the Movement. Malcolm commenced his Trades Council activities in Grimsby from 1965 -1969, at Epping TUC from 1970 -72 and then at Chelmsford since 1972. He was our Vice-Chair from 1976 -1977 and from 1989 -1990, and Chair from 1977-1983 and 1990 -1998. He has been Secretary since 1998.

Having initiated the Chelmsford Fairtrade Town Campaign, the Trades Council continues to be represented on its Standing Committee and we play a full part in its activities. The Trades Council was one of the three signatories that applied for the Town’s Fairtrade Certificate to be renewed.

Concerned at the growth of racism in Essex and that the BNP might contest the Borough Council elections, the Trades Council called a meeting of all the political parties in Chelmsford. Nine parties were represented and an anti-racist statement was agreed. This was sent to a wide range of community and faith bodies; twenty four organisations and leading figures (including the Bishop of Chelmsford and both Conservative MPs) signed the statement. In the event the BNP did not stand in Chelmsford but it did have candidates in Maldon. Anti-racist leaflets were distributed at Althorne (where the BNP was elected to the Parish Council without a contest) and at Southminster where the BNP candidate was defeated. During the campaign our Secretary was interviewed by BBC Essex and we received excellent coverage in the Yellow Advertiser. We wrote to the Borough Council asking it to sign our statement or to formulate one of its own along similar lines. A letter was also sent to Essex County Council and the Chelmsford / Essex Chamber of Commerce. We are still in correspondence with Essex County Council and we will be pressing the Chelmsford and Essex Chambers of Commerce to respond to our letters. Chelmsford Borough Council, however, “RESOLVED that the proposed Anti-Racism Statement be endorsed and that the Council incorporates key elements of the Statement into the next review of its Race Equality Scheme to ensure the essence of it is reflected in the scheme.” We supported Chelmsford Borough Council’s proposal to hold a multi-cultural event in 2008.

The Secretary attended a Searchlight meeting in Loughton. Branches and delegates have been encouraged to complete and return the SERTUC anti-racist pledge card. We sent our best wishes to the Essex Multicultural Activities Network on its formation offering our services in the future if required.

All our events are promoted through the Essex Chronicle’s Community News, the Essex Weekly News, Yellow Advertiser, The Enquirer, our website and the East Anglia Social Forum website.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

Our Chairman represented the Trades Council at the Annual Conference of Trades Councils and is our delegate to SERTUC. The Council plays an active part in the Essex County Association of Trades Councils and we are proud to record that Andrew Coburn is its Chairman.

During the year we attended two Black History Month lectures, the launch of the No2ID Mid Essex Group and the SERTUC Conference on Equality for All. We were also represented at the lobbies of Parliament for Trade Union Rights and Better Pensions and Services for Senior Citizens, and we attended the Burston School Strike Rally. At many of these events we have distributed our “Proud 2B in a union” badge.

Not for the first time the NHS has taken up a lot of our energy. We have had a number of letters published in the local press, and following the announcement that the latest development at Broomfield Hospital is to proceed, we have, once again, requested what the overall cost of the PFI project will be. Also of concern is the Government’s decision to “introduce contestability to the local healthcare economy.” by promoting an Independent Sector Treatment Centre at Braintree. This has led to a reduction in NHS services at Broomfield Hospital and is seen by the Council as a direct threat to the NHS and a waste of resources and public money. At our December meeting it was agreed that we write to A. Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Health, registering our opposition to the Independent Treatment Centres and have asked affiliated branches to do likewise.

We wrote to Co-operative Funeralcare expressing our concern that the GMB is no longer recognised by the Society, and a letter of thanks has been received from the GMB. We also assisted our RMT colleagues by leafleting at Chelmsford Railway Station in support of a member who had been dismissed by “One” Railway.

Three of our delegates joined the CWU picket line when its members were obliged to take strike action earlier in the year. A letter was sent to the NUJ congratulating the union on obtaining recognition at Newsquest (including Essex Weekly News). We signed the NUJ’s “Stand Up for Journalism” petition but we were unable to give it more concrete support as we did not receive any information on local contacts.

We wrote to Essex County Council and objected at the way in which the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations are being used to cut the subsidy to pensioners’ adult education courses.

Following our suggestion that the TUC develops a Trade Union Code of Governance, we have noted that the TSSA agreed its own Code during the year. We would encourage branches to obtain a copy of the TSSA’s Code with a view to adopting something similar within their own union.

Amongst the most interesting aspects of our meetings is to hear from delegates about workplace issues. These have covered a wide range of topics, all of which have been crucial in developing our knowledge and work within the community.

CHELMSFORD TUC WEBSITE

As our website was established in 1999, and redesigned in 2005, we thought it would be helpful if branches were made aware of its history and a few statistics.

Chelmsford was the third Trades Council to have a website in the UK and on 3 June 1999 we were awarded LabourStart’s “Site of the Week” award; at the end of the year we came fourth in its annual competition - being the best placed British site. We achieved the same result in 2000.

MAIN SECTIONS OF THE WEBSITE & PERCENTAGE OF HITS

1. Politics 35.0%

2. History 15.0%

3. Working Class Culture 11.0%

4. Our Wider Movement 8.7%

5. In Your Workplace 7.9%

6. TUC & Trade Unions 7.4%

7. General 6.6%

8. About Us 5.8%

9. Equal Opportunities 2.6%

MAIN PAGES OF THE WEBSITE & HITS BY 10 DECEMBER 2007

1. Political Cartoons and Cartoonists 28180

2. Trade Union & Political Songs 3146

3. A Snapshot of Trade Union Events 2814

4. A Selection of Co-operative Society Histories 2441

5. Industrial & Rural Life Museums 1782

6. History of Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society 1761

7. Conference Centres & Hotels for Trade Unionists 1449

8. Promoting a Healthier & Safer Office 1212

9. The Book That Influenced Me 1197

10. Chelmsford’s Working Class History 1141

11. A Selection of Trade Union Histories 1064

12. National & Local Trade Unions 1033

13. Violence & Harassment at Work 1017

14. History of Chelmsford TUC 1013

15. Progressive Poetry 884

16. Newspapers & Magazines for Socialists & Radicals 854

17. Use a Trade Union Solicitor 838

18. A Selection of Progressive Bookshops 778

19. Retired? Yes, But Still Campaigning 728

20. Trade Unionists Against Racism & Useful Links 698

21. Fairtrade & Make Poverty History 672

22. A Better Way to Work 664

23. The Reality of Stress 636

24. Links to Local and National Organisations 632

25. Forthcoming Local Events 609

26. Why Join A Trade Union? 603

27. Quotations For Socialists 594

28. Think Tanks - A Useful Tool 572

29. Domestic Violence - A Workplace Issue 557

30. Safety Reps: Your Legal Rights 524

General Meeting Reports: approximately 60-70 hits per month. We also receive approximately 25 enquiries of a various nature through the website.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our affiliates and delegates for their support and friendship during the year.

Chairman: Andrew Coburn

Secretary: M. Wallace

Treasurer: G. Grant

ORGANISATIONS TO WHICH THE COUNCIL IS AFFILIATED

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.

BRANCH AFFILIATIONS

Amicus Unite (Chelmsford Central).

Communication Workers’ Union (Essex Amalgamated).

Fire Brigades Union (Chelmsford).

GMB (London Stores General).

GMB (London Central General).

National Association of Schoolmasters Union and Women Teachers (Essex Federation).

National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (Colchester and District).

National Union of Teachers (Mid-Essex).

Public and Commercial Services Union (DWP Essex).

TGWU Unite Acts Staffs Branch (1/372).

TGWU Unite (1/699).

TGWU Unite (1/1400.2).

TGWU Unite (1/237).

TGWU Unite Community & Youth Workers’ Union (Essex).

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia No.1).

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Anglia No.2).

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (Underground Infrastructure).

UNISON (Chelmsford Borough).

UNISON (Essex County).

UNISON (North Essex Mental Health).

UNISON (Mid-Essex Hospitals).

USDAW (Chelmsford & Colchester Retail CO 37).

NOTHING TO LOSE...A WORLD TO WIN £4

The history of Chelmsford & District Trades Union Council from 1899 - 1979. 144 pages 210 148mm, 13 illustrations.

Published in 1979, this volume embraces the development of local trade union branches from 1785 and the birth of the Labour Party, Workers’ Educational Association, the Co-operative Movement and all other working class organisations in Chelmsford. The hunger marchers, women’s suffrage and the General Strike are only a few of a vast number of social issues that are dealt with. This history also highlights international events of major importance such as the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the two World Wars, and their effect on the Chelmsford Labour Movement.

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES £4

The history of Chelmsford & District Trades Union Council from 1979 - 2000. 72 pages 210 x 148mm, 14 illustrations.

This volume describes the many campaigns in which the Trades Council has been involved since 1979. These include opposition to government public expenditure cuts and unemployment, the work of local trade unionists during the epic miners’ strike of 1984 -1985, the Eastern National bus strike of 1994 -1995 which attracted national attention, and the Save the Hospital Beds Campaign of 1999. The events held by the Council to celebrate its centenary in 1999 are also covered.

Both books, written by Trades Council Secretary, Malcolm Wallace, are a unique local record of the long struggle of working people to improve the quality of their lives. They also describe, through their many campaigns, the contribution trade unionists and their allies have made towards the development of our town.

Copies can be obtained through the Trades Council Secretary.