Grass Roots Left Extended National Committee Meeting

Saturday 9 May 2015
The Wellington 37 Bennetts Hill, B2 5SN, Off New Street, 10 minutes’ walk from New Street Station. Birmingham
Time 12-3 PM
Draft Agenda
1.      Attendance/Apologies
2.      Minutes of the last meeting/matters arising.
3.      State of the GRL and the United Left and other unions – Len McCluskey, Paul Kenny, Dave Prentis, the rest of the TU leaders and the 2015 General Election
4.      Keith Henderson and Steve McKenzie will speak on the GMB General Secretary Election.
5.      Blacklisting – Dave Smith invited
6.      Workplace Reports.
7.      Proposals for Future Actions,
8.      Finance.
9.      Motions.
10.   AOB, Announcements, forthcoming events etc.
11.   Pooled fares, next meeting
Secretary’s report:
18th March 2015

Support Keith Henderson for GMB General Secretary

Following the statement of the 23rd February 2015, indicating that Keith Henderson will be seeking nominations, for the forthcoming General Secretary election in the GMB: this supplementary statement is being issued to clarify the reasons as to why nominations are being sought.
“I believe in democratising the GMB and defeating the reign of terror that has operated in this union for far to long” said Keith. “All officers should be elected and made accountable to the membership.” 
“It is my commitment, if elected as General Secretary, to end the reign of terror in this union that has lasted for far too long. Once achieved to a level that ensures anyone can stand in such an election, if they get the necessary support,  I will stand down as General Secretary to facilitate a free and fair election and I will aim to call a fresh general secretary election within 6 months of me being elected.
If I received enough nominations to stand and enough votes to win the election I believe it would be my job as elected General Secretary to end the reign of terror that prevents officers of the union and lay members from standing for this or any other elected position in the GMB through fear. Fear of losing your job if you are an officer and stood in such an election. Fear that you would be humiliated and deemed not competent by those in the current structures who have a vested self interest in ensuring that the status quo was maintained, if you are a lay member.
The fresh General Secretary election that I will call within 6 months of me being elected as General Secretary is to facilitate a free and fair election and to allow any officer and lay members to stand in this election without fear.”
Open ended Labour Movement inquiry into blacklisting against trade union activists needed.
I went to the Dave Smith launch of his book Blacklisted on 21 April in Bookmarks. He spoke well on the blacklisting and state and police involvement and the need for militant mobilisations like when they blocked Oxford Street and Park Lane in defence of shop stewards sacked on Crossrail etc.
He spoke on the Amicus officials who participated in the blacklisting, one in particular who openly admitted it, defending it as the most natural thing in the world. And the state involvement, spies sent in who passed over complete lists of all at meetings like those in defence of Brian Higgins in his dispute with that UCATT official and the article in the Irish Post. The state spook chaired the meetings and handed over the attendance lists, all of whom got blacklisted, of course. All this now openly admitted. When will we get revolutionary justice for this?
The Blacklisting Campaign are demanding a public inquiry and the Labour Manifesto promises a . “A full inquiry that is transparent and public”.  Ok I'd say but why not organise a Labour movement inquiry with well-known public figures to conduct (Hendy?) endorsed by as many prominent politicians and trade union leaders as possible whilst we are waiting for this? This need not be counter-posed to the demand for a full and open Public Inquiry but it would put more pressure on for one and, more importantly, the terms of reference etc. can be set democratically by those involved in the existing democratically structured rank and file committed set up for the express purpose of fighting blacklisting. Trade union officials should be encouraged to participate but should have no vote or veto on how the inquiry is to proceed. That is, after all, the entire strength of the Blacklisting campaign, its independence from the trade union bureaucracy and willingness to mobilise “with them if possible, against them if necessary”.
Public inquiries take forever to get going and the state can stymie them from the outset by setting the terms of reference in such a way so as to exclude any really useful outcome. We should not be fooled by the promise from Labour of a full public Inquiry, the terms of reference are the crucial matter here. “A full inquiry that is transparent and public” may well turn out to be an awful lot less than that, we must make sure that blacklisting class is independently put by a Labour Movement Inquiry as well.
 For instance offering immunity from prosecution to witnesses and not giving it the power to summons witnesses can render it impotent. They can drag on for years thereby postponing and effectively denying. And you have handed over to the state the defence of the militants, who they regards as the scum of the earth because they are the only real people who defend and promote the cause of the workers and oppressed, who will always be their enemies as long as capitalism exists, as Dave pointed out. The experiences of the blacklisted workers who took their cases to industrial tribunals related by Dave - incredibly they all lost even when the company admitted in full the wrong doing- shows how futile appealing to the state is without a mass movement to force concessions out of them.
I would say a Labour movement inquiry would be anti - establishment from the outset and that's what's needed in the building industry. And not just the building industry, the discussion outlined how it already existed in most industries and the building industry firms were spreading it to the NHS through PPF etc.

Blacklisting in the Election Manifestos - update 14 April 2015
Apr 15

This must be turned into reality if Labour can form a government after 7th May

1. Blacklisting makes the General Election manifestos

"Some sectors and occupations have particular issues of concern that need to be addressed, such as the problems of false self-employment and blacklisting uncovered by recent investigations. Self-employment is a vital part of our economy, but there is evidence that in some cases it is being wrongly used to avoid tax and employment rights, notably in the construction industry. Labour will tackle bogus self employment in construction and a set up a full inquiry that is transparent and public to examine the issue of blacklisting. Recognising historic cases, we will release all papers concerning the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ trials". 

"End Blacklisting - We will set up a full investigation into blacklisting in the construction industry and consider the creation of a new criminal offence"

Plaid Cymru:
"Plaid Cymru will legislate against blacklisting"  

"Fully independent public inquiry into police collusion in the scandal of blacklisting"

Blacklisting firms fund the Tories

2. Public Inquiry 
Blacklisted workers continue to campaign for a fully independent public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal and for a public inquiry into the role of undercover police spying on trade unions and other peaceful democratic campaigners. Teresa May has announced a public inquiry into police spying. Labour & Greens have pledged some kind of inquiry / investigation into the blacklisting scandal. Professor Keith Ewing (long time friend & supporter of the Blacklist Support Group) asks whether the proposed inquires will go far enough and actually uncover the full story of police spying on trade unions. 
  3. Blacklisted Book reviews and tour dates 
Reviews by blacklisted workers Brian Higgins and Pete Shaw in the UK and others around the world

Blacklisted Book Tour Dates
Tues 21st - London - Bookmarks (6:30pm)
Sat 25th - SWTUC - Devon 
Sun 26th - CWU conference Bournemouth with Billy Hayes (12:30) 
Tues 28th - Liverpool - Jack Jones House, Unite offices (6pm) 
Wed 29th - Liverpool - News from Nowhere (am) 
Wed 29th - Leeds Trades Council public meeting Swathmore Centre (7pm)
Fri 1st - Manchester, Kings Arms Salford (6pm)
Mon 4th - Kent Workers Festival, Aylesham  
Wed 13th  - FBU conference Blackpool with Matt Wrack  (5:30pm) 
Thur 14th  - Bristol - Tony Benn House, Unite office (6pm) 
Fri 15th  - Bristol - UWE CESR seminar (2pm)
Sat 16th - London - Bishopsgate Institute 
Wed 20th - Nottingham - Fine Leaves Books (7pm) 
Wed 10th - GMB conference Dublin 
Thur 25th - Glastonbury Festival 
Fri 10th - Durham Miners Gala - NUM office Redhills, pre-festival events(5pm)   
Sat 18th - Tolpuddle Festival  

Any other trades councils, festival stages or conferences else wanting a speaker please feel free to contact us. 
Please keep posting your photos of people reading the book to Facebook and twitter with the hashtag #blacklistedbook 

4. United We Stand 
The brilliant play about the Shrewsbury Pickets continues its UK tour in the run up to the General Election. If you haven't seen this play yet - book your ticket asap.

5. Blacklisting in the airline sector
Victoria Weldon
AN aircraft engineer who claims he was sacked after raising safety concerns over procedures at British Airways is suing the airline for unfair dismissal.
John Higgins, who worked as an aircraft maintenance supervisor for the firm, claims he made protected disclosures to BA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over who was allowed to sign off on work carried out on aircraft.
Mr Higgins, from High Blantyre in South Lanarkshire, had a 27-year unblemished career with the airline. He was dismissed when he installed the wrong part on a plane at British Airways Maintenance Glasgow (BAMG) in March last year.
He claims he made the mistake because he was under extreme pressure due to staffing problems, an excessive workload and unreasonable timescales and said the error "did not compromise the safe operation of the aircraft".
However, BA found that it did and dismissed him before offering him a demoted post on appeal - a proposal which Mr Higgins rejected, leaving him to resign.
In a written statement submitted to an employment tribunal in Glasgow, Mr Higgins - who now works for Monarch Airlines - said: "I raised concerns during 2006 and 2007 that BA was not complying with full safety requirements in carrying out their aircraft maintenance.
"The disclosure I made was that at my workplace of British Airways, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the aircraft maintenance work was not being performed in strict compliance with CAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) safety provisions.
"It was my belief that this was a serious safety lapse which could potentially result in fatalities."
Mr Higgins claimed he met with CAA officials to discuss his concerns, resulting in them issuing seven findings of failure against BA and an EASA working group being set up to look at the issue.
However lawyer Samantha Cooper, acting for BA, suggested that neither were directly linked to Mr Higgins's alleged disclosure.
Miss Cooper also suggested there was no basis for him to allege that the approach taken by BA was contrary to regulations.
Mr Higgins replied: "I saw flaws with it."
BA manager Stuart McMahon said he had checked with the CAA and they had no record of Mr Higgins's disclosures, however he accepted under cross-examination that this did not mean they had not been made.
The tribunal was told that BAMG was seriously short-staffed on March 1 and 2 last year when Mr Higgins was overseeing contractors working on an Airbus A321.
One of the contractors damaged a wire and Mr Higgins repaired it with a splice which turned out to be the wrong one.
When he returned to work later that week he was suspended and claims he was told by a manager: "I am so sorry. I can't have another Air Malaysian situation here and need to send you home."
BA argue that the repair Mr Higgins carried out was important to the safety of the plane. They also claim he did not properly record the repair and failed to pick up on poor wiring by a contractor.
Miss Cooper put it to the engineer that supervisors had told him to just do what he could on the days in question. He said he had tried to do that.
She accused Mr Higgins of being reckless and he replied: "I don't agree with that."
He added: "I did the best I could under the circumstances."
The tribunal also heard from BA manager Brian Queally who took the decision to dismiss Mr Higgins.
In a written statement, he said staff are never expected to "cut corners" due to time pressures, adding: "The potential impact of the claimant's use of the incorrect splice was huge. If the splice failed it could have affected the correct functioning of the landing gear, resulting in a potential catastrophic incident."
The manager also said he had no knowledge of Mr Higgins's disclosures about safety concerns prior to dismissing him.
The tribunal, before Employment Judge Susan Walker, continues.

Comment on Lufur Rahman​  and Tower Hamlets:
Lufur Bajlur Rahman​  was a left wing Labour politician who opposed austerity as best he could, part of the leftist Ken Livingstone GLC opposition to Thatcher. Tower Hamlets, under his leadership, supported the campaign against blacklisting – see below. Of course no revolutionary but the 'establishment', could not and will not tolerate that. Look at the judgement. A bigoted Tory Islamophobe, in coalition with a racist, bigoted Labour bureaucracy are desperate to let us know that there is no future for the working class and oppressed poor other than serving the economic and political interests of the masters of life, the global finance capitalist bankers and transnational corporations.
The BBC Panorama is the organ of the state to tell us all that our role in life is to enhance the privileges and profits of the ruling classes. And a mass media and political class who will parrot the interests of the ruling class as some of the grovelling comments I have seen on this do. What else are we here for if not to make sure that the capitalist and bankers have no opposition to their domination of the planet?
Shame on those 'Rahman is corrupt' careerist bandwagoners in the Labour party and trade unions who cheer because the Tory judge delivered his ruling on behalf of his class and privileges. Is there any vestige of socialism left in the rotten souls of those who grovel in this way?
Mayor Rahman stands convicted of corruption although there is absolutely no proof presented that he personally benefited in any way, he is “corrupt” because he defended the interests of the poor and oppressed and mobilised too well in that cause, albeit not in a revolutionary way but in a radical left reformist way. But this is altogether too much. Contrast this to the gaggle of Westminster parliamentarian actually caught with their hands in the till in the expense scandals, stealing money for personal enrichment, how sympathetically and leniently they were threatened, with only the most blatant cases punished. The old boys’ and girls’ network worked well for them.

The Daily Telegraph photo and article: Andy Erlam, Angela Moffat and Azmal Hussein, who petitioned against Lutfur Rahman
Four people are needed and so Mr Erlam was joined by Angela Moffat, 47, a Ukip member, Azmal Hussein, 63, a Brick Lane restaurateur, and Debbie Simone, 44, a Labour candidate who felt she too had been cheated.
The Labour party candidate, Debbie Simone,, was obviously ashamed to be publicly photographed with the UKIP candidate, Angela Moffat, but Ken Livingstone is not afraid to charge the Tower Hamlets Labour party with racism and co-operating with UKIP to appeal to racist bigotry seems to confirm it.

Council pledges to take action against the blacklisting of workers
Tower Hamlets Council is the first council in the country to pledge to take action against the blacklisting of workers in the borough.
An emergency motion, tabled at a meeting of the Full Council on September 18, was unanimously agreed by all parties.
It formally stated the council’s support of the GMB union’s campaign against the blacklisting of construction workers, a process whereby those workers perceived to be union activists were prevented from accessing employment. The chamber also agreed that it would be unacceptable for any company in a contractual relationship with the council to engage in blacklisting.
The council resolved to support the pledge made by Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, to take action against blacklisting in Tower Hamlets.
Council members also resolved to invite the GMB’s National Officer to address the next meeting of Full Council to assist them in implementing the pledge.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “Tower Hamlets was the first council to introduce the London Living Wage in 2009 and we take the welfare and well-being of working people very seriously. I am proud to say that not only does Tower Hamlets not have any active contracts with the companies involved in this practice, but that it never will.”

GMB has raised the profile of the practice of blacklisting workers by publishing a list of companies that use a network of private investigators to compile databases of workers perceived as union activists or agitators. Companies then used the database to run illegal background checks and deny work to those on the list.
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union said: "Tower Hamlets is blazing a trail by becoming the first London council to stamp out blacklisting. This is a fantastic development and we commend the council for their positive action. We are urging other councils to take note of the Tower Hamlets decision to ban the blacklisters and to follow suit."
September 19, 2013

UCATT reports:
Welsh Government issues anti-blacklisting guidance
In September 2013 the Welsh Government became the first devolved administration to issue guidance to all public bodies and local authorities detailing how they could bar construction companies involved in blacklisting from public sector contracts.
Prior to this a number of local authorities had already passed motions calling on companies that had been involved in blacklisting to be barred from bidding for contracts.
Also in September 2013 Tower Hamlets Council became the first council to issue a pledge not to award any contracts to any of the companies guilty of blacklisting workers.
Following the guidance issued by the Welsh Government, UCATT are urging all devolved administrations and the British Government to issue similar guidance

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