Wednesday, 30 November 2011

N30: Oxford

Ruskin Staff on our unofficial picket line

Guy, Fergus, Rachel and Nige

Our very own UCU banner

Showing Solidarity with Oxford Univ UCU

Nige and Guy do the Banner Proud

He has to get his photo in!

4,000 strikers March in Oxford

Oxford Brought to a Standstill

We Say Fightback! (Unless you are that nice woman from NASUWT who harangues PD for upsettting a 'nice civilised, middle class march')

Monday, 28 November 2011

To return home safe


Just announced is the outcome of the Lofstedt review which prefigures the Coalition's bonfire of health and safety law in the UK.

Coming on the back of my last post about protected conversations it is clear that the trajectory of the Tories is a wholesale attack on the relatively minor protections that UK workers have in comparison to workers across the Continent.

Details of the Lofstedt predictions on what must go are in a BBC news item:

What is clear is that, regardless of what conclusions Lofstedt has arrived at, the Tories are adopting their historic 'it's elf and safety gone mad' mantra citing banned conkers and village fetes as a smokescreen for further weakening the HSE and freeing up employers to quite literally get away with murder.

And where, oh where, are the Labour Party in response? Answers on a postcard - if you do indeed get an answer.

By the way, the title for this post comes from a quote I remember being cited years ago by MSF (and I am sure used across the movement) of the simple position we take as trade unionists on the issue of workers' health, safety and welfare, which is that the simple guarantee a worker wants from their employer is to be able to return home to their home and family as safe and free from ill-health as they left home that morning.

Follow this story, the outcomes will not be good.

In Solidarity


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Protected Conversations: A License to Intimidate


As simple evidence of the malign, haphazard approach this coalition has reducing even further the bare framework work statutory employment protections UK workers have, on the same day I was delivering the GFTU's Advanced Employment Law course the government announced its consultation exercise on 'protected conversations'.

Dressed up in the usual illegitimate guise of motivating unproductive workers, the protected conversations will allow employers to intimidate, bully and victimise workers with impunity as the substance and nature of the conversation will not be permissible as evidence at a tribunal.

The old Etonian that heads this ramshackle coalition is quoted in the launch of the consultation exercise as saying:

“We want businesses to create jobs, but if employers are so concerned about the prospect, for instance, of being taken to tribunal that they don’t feel they can have frank conversations with their employees many companies just won’t feel able to create those jobs in the first place".

Obviously intelligence and knowledge isn't a feature of this proposal as any good TU rep would reply that most workers chances of getting a strong case to an ET is limited already - these proposals present a monumental setback to the landscape of legal protections in the UK.

An article from the FT on this is here:

In Solidarity


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Out with a Bang


I will be away for a few days on bereavement leave, but want to post an item out of huge respect for my brother-in-law Joe Weston, who died suddenly and expectedly on Saturday 5th November.

Joe was a distinguished academic and worked in the Planning Department at Oxford Brookes.

One of Joe's academic disciplines was in the field of environmental impact assessment (EIA) and here's a link to a thought-provoking article he wrote on the nature of EIA in a risk society:

Joe was also a serious thinker on the broader front on the future of environmental politics which led to his editing of the book Red and Green: The New Politics of the Environment.

Behind all of this however, Joe was a lifelong environmental campaigner. In tribute to this 2011 ironically marks the 20-year anniversary of one of his greatest successes.

In 1991, and working through Friends of the Earth, Joe was part of a campaign that successfully thwarted the plans to route the M40 extension through an area of oustanding natural beauty, Otmooore.

Adapting techniques used to defend areas of the Brazilian rain forest from logging the campaign was a historic success. More detail is here:

Joe's obituary appears in today's Oxford Mail and tomorrow's Oxford Times. It reads:

It is with overwhelming sadness that the family of Doctor Joe Weston (PHD, MSc, MRTPI) announce that he went out with a bang at our firework party. He left us while singing and dancing with friends and family. No words can describe the loss felt by those closest to him.

Funeral service will be held at the Oxford Crematorium at 3pm on Tuesday 15th of November. Joe leaves his wife, son, daughter and a wealth of loved ones to carry his memory.

No flowers please. All donations to The Rain Forest Foundation (http://www. 'Dress to go down to the pub'.

Although we didn't speak to one another often enough, and this usually and simply down to work pressures, I shall miss Joe immensely.

My heartfelt condolences go to my sister-in-law Anna, nephew Mike and neice Alice.

In Solidarity