UNISON Actively Undermining IWW Living Wage Campaign at St George's

UNISON Actively Undermining IWW Living Wage Campaign at St George's

An overview from the IWW cleaners campaign of shenanigans by UNISON.

Dear Fellow workers,

Rumours and unofficial statements are being made regarding major gains in our dispute at St Georges - University of London. So far Ocean the cleaning contractor are refusing to talk to our union.

A leafleting session by IWW cleaners promoting tomorrow's protest caused a major stir at the University on Wednesday. Yesterday the Ocean CEO was summoned. Today there are indications of concessions.

However UNISON bureaucrats are now lying that they have made the gains - banning official support for the cleaners demo and telling UNISON activists not to attend (see below). This is a disgrace and these are blatant lies.

UNISON have one cleaner in their union at St Georges - all other cleaners are in the IWW.

UNISON have never campaigned for the London Living Wage, and have actively assisted the management in their efforts to undermine the cleaners resistance to cuts.

The protest on Friday at 4:30 is still taking place. Keep up the pressure - Keep up the Solidarity

We appeal to all UNISON activists and members to join us in solidarity

Chris Ford

Industrial Workers of the World

London Regional Secretary

2nd Floor,

145-157 St John Street,

London, England

United Kingdom, EC1V 4PY

Disgraceful Letter sent to UNISON Activists by UNISON Bureaucrat to Undermine the Cleaners' Struggle and Tar the IWW:

Dear

I admire your passion for fairness for these very low paid workers. I am sure that you intend to be helpful.

However we are dealing with this matter diplomatically.

We have a recognition agreement with the company concerned and we are making progress in negotiations with the medical school. All of which your intervention and the intervention of the IWW have caused us difficulties.

I have to tell you that your support for the IWW, a non TUC anti union organisation is not appropriate and unwelcome. I understand that you have a role with the NEC and I am surprised that you see fit to interfere in another branch in this manner and promote an organisation working against UNISON.

I would ask you not to interfere in our branch affairs. It is my Branch’s intention to raise this matter with the Regional Secretary so as to ensure that you uphold UNISON’s rules and codes of practice in future.

Many Thanks

Jane Pilgrim UNISON (Wandsworth Health Branch Chair)

Reproduced via - http://iww.org.uk/node/724

Comments

syndicalist
May 25 2012 19:37

Solidarity to all you folks!

But this is a bit confusing.UNISON writes:

Quote:
"We have a recognition agreement with the company concerned and we are making progress in negotiations with the medical school. All of which your intervention and the intervention of the IWW have caused us difficulties."

Do they have a sweatheart deal unknown to the workers?
Have the workers rejected UNISON in favor of the IWW?

Chilli Sauce
May 25 2012 21:02

Well, UNISON is the recognised union and it maintains recognition regardless of membership. In theory, at least, unions have to keep recruiting each new worker who joins the shop. But keep in mind that many unions can be recognised in one shop and across one grade of workers in the UK.

I don't think the notion of sweetheard deals exactly transfers. There are no fixed collective contracts, only recognition agreements and either side can seek to renegotiate elements of existing terms and conditions at any time. In any case, UNISON--at least at the national and regional level--is one of the most pro-Labour, pro-social partnership unions out there.

EDIT: In a unionised workplace, they'll be a line in the contract that will say something about how this contract is 'in keeping with the collective agreements negotiated with any recognised trade union' or something like that. Also, with a sustained low density an employer could seek to end union recognition but this would be basically unheard of in the public sector.

Solidarity to these cleaners in any case, that letter from UNISON is truly fucked up. Solidarity and please keep us updated WCSO.

plasmatelly
May 25 2012 20:57

Best of luck and keep us updated! No surprise from Unison.

Juan Conatz
May 25 2012 21:01

So as I understand it, in the UK, in a given workplace, workers can individually join any number of applicable unions, but management can choose which one it formally recognizes? And that the IWW Cleaners are not formally recognized, but still take action, which UNISON, as a formally recognized union, is annoyed by?

syndicalist
May 25 2012 21:02

Sorry, I don't get this: "Well, UNISON is the recognised union and it maintain recognition regardless of membership"

But I don't want to derail the matter. Email me
off list (syndicalistnyc[AT]gmail.com)

SOLIDARITY WITH THE CLEANERS!

Chilli Sauce
May 25 2012 21:03

S, I did a quick edit that might make a bit more sense, see above. Juan let me know if that clears things up at all for you.

syndicalist
May 25 2012 21:20

I'm still confused (on how recognition is sought for,applied and maintained....but wan't there a thread on this a while ago somewhere else? If not, let's split this so as not to take away from the situ.

Steven.
May 26 2012 13:20
Chilli Sauce wrote:
EDIT: In a unionised workplace, they'll be a line in the contract that will say something about how this contract is 'in keeping with the collective agreements negotiated with any recognised trade union' or something like that. Also, with a sustained low density an employer could seek to end union recognition but this would be basically unheard of in the public sector.

just to say, this isn't a unheard of, it happens every now and again (I think in the 80s/90s there were a few derecognitions but my knowledge some of them don't really last very long as often it doesn't actually benefit employers, because having a union is actually often beneficial for large employers)

I will start a new thread on how union recognition in the UK works. Edit: now here: http://libcom.org/forums/organise/union-recognition-uk-26052012

jonthom
Jun 8 2012 22:33

UNISON did not win us the London Living Wage

Quote:
TELL THE TRUTH AND SHAME THE DEVIL is the old saying and in that tradition this statement from St Georges, Univeristy of London Cleaners should be widely circulated: "We, the cleaners at St George's are writing to inform you that the stories that UNISON are spreading about the cleaners at St George's are lies. I am sure you were not aware of this, though.

UNISON did not win us the London Living Wage. In fact we won it not because of UNISON, but in spite of UNISON.

We are members of the IWW union. Only one of our colleagues is with UNISON. We are not represented by UNISON. The IWW, an independent union that's managed by its members on a voluntary basis, has been with us right from the start. They represent us, and they won us the LLW.

3 months ago Ocean, the company to which St George's outsources its services, told us that some of us would be losing our jobs, all of us would be losing hours, and all of us would be kept on the poverty minimum wage which we have been on for years. UNISON has never spoken to us or tried to help us get the LLW.

Without hesitation the IWW said no to the redundancies, no to the cuts in hours and furthermore demanded the LLW. Once Ocean realised that the IWW weren't going to be either pliant or quiescent and accept these brutal changes, they gave sole recognition to UNISON (with it's 1 member!), whilst simultaneously refusing to talk to our union, the IWW. How can Ocean negotiate with a union that doesn't represent the workers?

The reason is obvious. As someone commented before, UNISON has been there for years and never fought for the LLW - so obviously Ocean felt more "comfortable" with UNISON.

The IWW organised a petition that got over 300 signatures, wrote to every staff member at St George's, leafleted the campus, staged a protest (which UNISON explicitly sabotaged), got an EDM tabled in Parliament signed by 5 MPs, and launched a huge publicity campaign involving London Citizens, the Wandsworth Guardian and the New Statesman, among others.

Out of respect for us, the cleaner's at St George's, and the hard work we put into stopping the redundancies, stopping the cuts to our hours and getting the LLW, we ask you to promptly and publicly correct this gross distortion of the truth.

This is not a wholesale condemnation of UNISON. They have done great work in many places. But I can assure you that they have not helped us at St George's!

Cleaners at St George's.

communal_pie
Jun 8 2012 22:39

Thanks for that jonthom, UNISON union bureaucrats are just doing their job: acting like utter cunts and trying to destroy a good thing.

Joseph Kay
Jun 8 2012 22:54

St Georges was the previous playground for Michael Farthing and John Duffy, who are now at Sussex and trying to outsource 10% of campus jobs including cleaners and porters.

flaneur
Jun 9 2012 00:59

Since when has there been IWW folks at St Georges?