Thursday, 28 January 2016

Grunwick @ 40 (Ruskin College - 24th September 2016)


This year marks the 40 anniversary of the epic Grunwick dispute. Working with Sundari Anitha (Lincoln University) and Wilf Sullivan (Race Equality Officer, TUC) Ruskin College will host a major, national event on 24th September to mark this milestone in labour movement, social and political history.

Sundari has been central to recent activity linked to Grunwick and helped contribute to the Striking Women educational resource:

As part of this work she and other colleagues at Lincoln have also generated a mobile display which depicts the dispute as part of a much bigger story of migration. The display will on view on the 24th.

In the shadow of the trade union bill the event will be a perfect platform to explore the nature of the dispute and its legacy for organised labour and for race/racism in the UK.

Details - other than the date and a handful of speakers - have not yet been nailed down, but when they are they will be circulate.

I am pleased to say that the event will be run in partnership with the Modern Records Centre at Warwick University (who will be holding their own Grunwick event) as it is a major repository of material on the dispute.

There is a Grunwick at 40 FB page:

This is being used as a key social media forum to be organise and publicise events, so please do think about an event you can hold in the workplace, via a trades council etc.

When John Hendy QC visited Ruskin last week to speak to BA ILTUS students about the TU Bill he made clear that there is always a need to look afresh on the history of the trade union movement in the UK, not least to devise strategies to meet traditional struggle in a modern age.

So, more details to follow.

In Solidarity


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Defending the NHS (and the right to strike)


I was very pleased to be with a group of Ruskin teachers and students this morning with one of the pickets of junior doctors at the John Radcliffe hospital. The striking medics were really pleased to be joined by the highly enthusiastic Ruskin throng, not least when an apparatchik from the Trust appeared as we were taking picture and tried to inform us that our assembly was unlawful and taking pictures illegal - industrial language was used and the employer's stooge fled! 

By coincidence I am today delivering a guest speaker presentation to students of Ruskin's highly successful Certificate of Higher Education in Law ( on the Trade Union Bill and the nature of trade union rights and human rights.

Apropos the BMA strike, one of the matters I will be bringing to the attention of the students is that, regardless of the Tories attempts to enshrine 'fairness' into the principles of balloting and strike action, they have been caught out (again) trying to interfere in the process of a lawful dispute in the issuing of a letter by the head of the NHS (Bruce Keogh) when writing to Mark Porter of the BMA.

As reported in last week's press, it was discovered that senior civil servants at the Department of Health (DoH) had helped draft the letter, underlining the threat to the public posed by today's strike, not least in the case of a terrorist attack.

In truth, the meddling in the affairs of a trade union is nothing when compared with the appalling act of conjuring up memories of the recent atrocity in Paris to pursue nefarious purposes. But then, these are Tories.

So, good luck to the junior doctors in the battle to protect their terms and conditions, and with this the overall standards in the NHS, and lets hope that the on-going passage of the Trade Union Bill through Parliament continues to see this retrograde baggage of class-oriented bile diminished even further.

In Solidarity