Wednesday, 18 February 2009



Most of you will be familiar with the news and campaigning website LabourStart ( and it is they that have launched a new social networking aimed solely at trade union activists and officials. Although the developers of this new phenomenon, UnionBook ( know that it won't come to rival its competitors Facebook etc., (not yet at least) they do recognise the value of having an online space to enable global communication within the international trade union movement.

I'd like to use this post to give a mighty big plug for UnionBook and ask you to become a member and use its space to engage others in valuable dialogue that supports our aims.

In answering the question, Is this for Me? UnionBook responds:

UnionBook is your website - if you are a trade union member, or a supporter of the trade union movement.

In other words, even if you're not currently a union member -- let's say you're working in an unorganized workplace, or you're retired, or you're a student engaged in pro-union campaigning -- you're welcome here.

But the site is specifically designed to serve the needs of organized workers around the world, and we encourage them -- the vast majority of whom do not have accounts on other social networks -- to sign up here.

If you are already signed up to another social network, we are not at all suggesting that you abandon it for UnionBook. To the contrary, we encourage trade unionists to use social networks as an organizing tool.

Please do register colleagues and let me know what you think the potential of UnionBook is as a tool to support your trade union work.



Saturday, 14 February 2009

Economically Vulnerable Workers


Just back this week from a fascinating visit to Finland.

This trip, with Judith Jackson (middle of picture on left) of the GFTU, was aimed at securing the partnership of the Workers' Academy (Kari Kinnuen, Principal, on left of picture) and public sector union JHL in a European partnership project with other partners in Malta, Holland and France.

The aim of this partnership is to transfer the highly successful work of the GFTU in enabling older workers to gain financial security in retirement through a mixture of measures including support to re-train and stay within the labour market as well as providing education to enable workers to properly understand the pension schemes to which they make contributions and calculate payments based on contributions.

The project will seek funding from the EU's Leonardo Lifelong Learning programme under its Transfer of Innovation initiative. All being well work will start in October 2009. All partner countries have identified a traditional pattern of unemployment of workers 55+ arising from redundancy and workplace change. This is now being exarcerbated by the global economic downturn and the project hopes to provide much-needed support to these workers.

Despite the introduction of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations trade unions are are still reporting on cases of discrimination against older workers. It would be useful to know of your experience in this area and of whether in your workplace forms of discrimination still occur around age.

Monday, 2 February 2009

UNION Friday: 15 May 2009


We are at a tipping point in UK electoral history as the BNP work hard to gain a seat in the European parliament during the Euro elections in May.

The lack of remorse and shame of the people is writ large as they try and embed themselves within the striking energy workers. Angry strikers however are not people you should manipulate, as this Channel 4 news clip shows:

As trade unionists across the UK we must do as the strikers at the Lindsey refinery have done and tell these racists directly that they have no place in a civilised society, and certainly no part in standling alongside trade unionists engaged in industrial action.

The Union Friday initiative forms part of Searchlight's Hope not Hate campaign and calls upon trade union branches to affirm their opposition to the BNP. Please push this colleagues and use whatever levers you can at a regional and national level to gain wider support. Get more info:

As significant political or industrial struggle however needs more than union motions I ask you one further favour which is to support the leafleting and campaigning activity on the ground in your own neighbourhoods. The Stand up and be Counted initiative is, as the name suggests, a request to support directly the work to counter any increase in the BNP's share of the Euro votes:

It goes without saying that it is up to each of us to do our part - an increase in electoral support for the BNP is unthinkable.