Sunday, 31 August 2008

A New Academic Year: Northern College Diploma in Trade Union Studies


Tomorrow I join other tutors for a meeting at Northern College to, amongst other things, examine the new educational programme of UNITE.

In addition I'll be meeting colleagues who I work with at Northern to review the priorities for this academic year.

As many of my colleagues will tell you it's difficult to avoid getting bogged down in the bureacuracy that oversees adult learning in the UK and at the same time monitor trends across the movement. But we manage this somehow which makes Northern's educational provision for the trade union movement amongst the best in the UK.

Within that provision I'd like to promote the College's diploma in trade union studies. It is just the right vehicle for any activist who wants to gain a higher level qualification and/or pursue a career within a trade union.

To gain more information please go to or ring my colleague Sheila Robinson on 01226 776000.



Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Future of Organising Migrant Workers


An interesting article in this Sunday's Observer reminded many observers of the subject that the significant migration to the UK following the accession of 8 new states (often referred to as the A8 accession states) to the EU is now in the decline. It is no new news to anyone who understands migration that it ebbs and flows. This is essentially what makes the blatant racism of bodies like MigrationWatch so disgraceful. This type of body, just like the BNP, can never answer the purely cyclical capitalist demand of, for example fruit pickers. I take this example as ironically in the same edition of the Observer apple growers bemoan flexibility in the government's changed stance on the numbers of migrant students allowed temporary visas to undertake this seasonal work. Read the Observer article below:

A more union-specific point I wish to make however is, alas again, how short-sighted the UK trade union movement is in only making an effort so secure the recruitment of migrant workers in the face of A8 accession when in fact migration is perpetual phenomenon of the UK economy.

Let's hope that the structures and resources that UNITE for example have put into organising the migrant worker is more than the usual flash in the pan.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.



Saturday, 23 August 2008

Show Your Support for Iranian Labour Activists


I am writing to underline the urgency of Labourstart's current initiative to oppose the oppression of labour movement activists by the Iranian state.

Go to the following to follow the campaign:

As Labourstate cites:

We must all redouble our efforts in the next few days to prevent thisbarbaric sentence from being carried out, to prevent the execution ofthe teacher Farzad Kamangar, and to push for the release of alljailed worker activists in Iran.

As we all know we must support trade union activists across the globe and seek to secure their safe treatment.

Messages of support should be sent to Labourstart.

Thank you Comrades

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Irish Social Partnership Unravelling?

Dear Colleagues,

Back now refreshed from two weeks in an extremely rainy Ireland.

Whilst over their it was clear that the economic slowdown and looming depression were taking their toll on the long-standing social partnership agreement between the trade union movement and the state.

An interesting example of this was reported in the Irish Independent and like similar stories there reports on employers renaging on pay agreements established under this partnership.

Although have similar examples of this historically in the UK do you think that it is something that UK unions should return to or if anything resist?

As usual, your comments are welcome.