Join Us at the Labour Party Christmas Social on December 17th

Friday, 3 December 2021Leave a reply
It’s Christmassssss….

It’s Christmas and next year is election year. What better time to get together and celebrate the festive season and to ring in the changes on the horizon.

On Friday 17th December we’ll be throwing a party.

A Labour Party Party.

To which everyone’s invited.

It’s at the Railway Club (the Shack) on Wellington road -right next to the station, and there’ll be live music, recorded music, a video jukebox, food (oh yes, bring some food to share) , a quiz and a raffle.

It’s free.

It’s a party.

And you’re all welcome.

Clarks Dispute Ends in Victory

Wednesday, 1 December 20212 Replies
Community Union ‘pleased that resolution has been reached’

An agreement has been reached between the trade union Community and the shoe manufacturer Clarks, ending the industrial action that has taken place over the last two months. The agreement sees the pay of workers protected after previous threats of reduction.  Workers at the Street distribution centre had been on strike since 4th October over the discredited ‘Fire and Rehire’  tactic which had been brought in when Clarks was taken over by Hong Kong based private equity firm LionRock Capital. Trades unionists, Labour Party members and the wider community from around Somerset had rallied around the striking workers and a major march through the streets of Street took place as the dispute escalated. The settlement, involving a major input of new money and achieved in the run up to Christmas, has been welcomed by workers and supporters.

COMMUNITY UNION & CLARKS STATEMENT ON THE RESOLUTION OF INDUSTRIAL ACTION AT WESTWAY DISTRIBUTION CENTRE

Recent demo in Street;- Picture: Kate Pearce13/11/2021

Community and Clarks announce that following a process of mediation with Acas, an agreement has been reached in respect of the industrial dispute at the Clarks Westway Distribution Centre.

We are pleased that a resolution has been reached that works in everybody’s interests, protects Community members’ livelihoods, and recognises their loyalty to Clarks.

Following an indicative ballot of Community members it is confirmed that normal working has now resumed.

Community and Clarks express their thanks to Acas for its support and look forward to close co-operation as we move on from the dispute and commit to positive industrial relations in the future.

Statement from Mendip TUC

‘Somerset leads the way’

Dave Chapple, Secretary of Mendip Trades Union Council said “In a Community Union statement today, introducing its joint media release with C& J Clark International, the end of the two-month long strike has been described as “Fire and Rehire Defeated!” It certainly has! In fact, the Fire and Rehire proposal, which would have reduced most hourly rates from £1l.16p and hour to £9.50p an  hour, has been smashed to pieces! Even the small minority of ‘New World Contract’ staff have achieved  a 5.4% pay rise! While some concessions were made during the ACAS-brokered negotiations, there are three reasons why the negotiated settlement of the longest all-out strike in Somerset for 35 years was overwhelmingly accepted by the strikers:

in future collective bargaining will be the norm” Dave Chapple Mendip TUC

1. “Fire and Rehire”  was withdrawn.

2. Clarks have accepted, not only that they needed to recognise, meet with, and negotiate with Community, they have accepted that in the future collective bargaining with the union, on all terms and conditions with the Community Representatives of the Clarks warehouse workers, will be the norm. 
3. The basic hourly rate of £11.16 remains!
On behalf of Mendip Trades Union Council, I would like to congratulate first, and foremost, the Clarks Westway Warehouse Community Union Strikers; second, the local, regional and national Community Union Reps and Officials; third, all those unions and union branches who donated huge sums of money to the strike fund; fourthly, all those who visited the daily picket lines; and last but not least, all those wo attended the magnificent 400-strong march and rally at Street on Saturday November 13th, two days after which, Clarks asked for ACAS-led negotiations!
“In the striking order of the day, Somerset leads the way!”

MPs Should Put Constituents First says Yeovil Labour Party

Monday, 22 November 2021Leave a reply
Labour Leader Keir Starmer -‘a plan to clean up politics’

The public outrage caused by former Conservative  MP Owen Paterson’s  paid lobbying of parliament is shared by local people, says Yeovil Constituency Labour Party. The Paterson affair has also fuelled calls for tighter rules on  MPs taking second jobs. Terry Ledlie, Chair of Yeovil  Constituency Labour Party, says that the current rules are way out of line with public expectations. “Talking to local people, its clear that they feel that being an MP should generally be a full-time job. They rightly expect that their  MP should spend all of their time representing them in parliament and  helping local people with their problems. There is a strong distaste for those  who are seen to use their parliamentary  role  as a  way of furthering  their own business interests. Of course, MPs should still lobby strongly to promote the interests of their constituency, but that is already part of their job and they should not expect to be paid twice for doing so. My view is that there should be only a handful of exceptions to a general ban on MPs taking second jobs. The tests should be about whether their work contributes to the broader public good. Generally,  we should have a right to  expect that our representatives will put all their energy into helping us”.

Continue reading “MPs Should Put Constituents First says Yeovil Labour Party”

Somerset NHS Waiting Lists up 40% in a Year!

Wednesday, 17 November 2021Leave a reply
waiting…….and waiting….and…

43,178 people are now on NHS waiting lists across Somerset NHS Trusts . That’s up 40% in a year. There are now 31,705 people on the waiting list at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and 11,473 people on the waiting list at Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust according to the latest figures – that’s a combined increase of 40% in a year. Across both Trusts there are 2,288 people that have been waiting for more than a year for an appointment and 66 people had been waiting more than 2 years. Across the country there have never been more people on the waiting list – more than 5.8 million are currently waiting. Nationally, the standard of 92% of people seen within 18 weeks of a referral has not been met since 2016. Just over 1 in 10 people in England are on the NHS waiting list (10.3 per cent). Nationally, the NHS is short of 100,000 staff, including 7,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses. In the Budget last month, the Chancellor did not set out a plan to recruit, train, and retain the staff needed to solve this waiting list crisis.

Continue reading “Somerset NHS Waiting Lists up 40% in a Year!”

Hundreds March to Support Clarks Strikers

Sunday, 14 November 20212 Replies
Clarks Strikers are now in their seventh week of action
Picture: Kate Pearce 13/11/2021

Striking Clarks workers protesting the ‘Fire and Rehire’ tactics of their bosses have held a major demonstration through the streets of Street joined by supporters from the wider Labour movement and the general public. The members of the Community Union have been on strike since October 4th. Strikers say they’re not just having a pay cut, but that other terms and conditions on sick pay, redundancy and everything else is also being slashed and so they’re basically being offered the same job on much worse money and conditions.  Eva Bryckowski from Wells Labour Party & Mendip Trades Council said “The demo was incredible with the strikers leading from the front. Hundreds from the Labour Party and Trades Unions came from different parts of the county to show solidarity. Shoppers on the High street clapped and cheered. The strikers are into their 7th week now and are still solid. Fire and rehire is happening everywhere and nationally some Unions are winning. If it isn’t defeated YOU will be next.”

Crowds gather at the demo
Picture: Kate Pearce 13/11/2021

The demo was joined by some national figures. Paul Nowak the Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, said “We’re here today to show solidarity with the striking Clarks workers who are standing up to the dreadful tactics of their employer using ‘fire and rehire’. So we’re standing up for decent pay, standing up for decent conditions and standing up for a Union voice at Clarks. I’m angry and frustrated that the Government doesn’t stop this fire and rehire right now. “

We Need to make a Stand

Community rep and striker Trevor Stephens said “We’ve been left with no option but to do this. If they’re going to do fire and rehire it’s awful for anyone in the country. We need to make a stand. We’ve got to keep growing and stay strong.”

Trevor Stephens rallies the crowd
Picture: Kate Pearce 13/11/2021

Roy Rickhaus, General Secretary of Community, said “We’re here to send a message to Clarks. Take Fire and Rehire off the table. Do not treat your workers in this way. Get back round the table, talk to your unions and lets have a sensible negotiation. But you MUST end Fire and Rehire!”

The Clarks workers have been out on strike now for 6 weeks and the Trade union movement has increased it’s solidarity during this time. Speakers from Unison, Usdaw, Unite and the various local Trades Union Councils joined the protest

Never Been Prouder

red flags on the green Somerset skyline

Dave Chapple, secretary of Mendip Trades Council  said “I’ve walked the streets of Somerset for 35 years as a delivery postman but I’ve never been prouder to walk the streets of a Somerset town than I have today walking through Street High Street. It’s been an absolute privilege.”

Labour Party’s from across the county also joined the demo. Jon Falkingham, Treasurer of Bridgwater Branch Labour Party, said “Represented today by two of their elected officers, alongside other members, Bridgwater Labour Party visited the Somerset town of Street with their banner. This was to show our solidarity and support for the strikers of the Clarks Distribution Warehouse, who’re facing an attack on their working conditions through the despicable practice of Fire & Rehire. The turnout was impressive.”

Bridgwater Labour Party Branch officers fly the flag for the strikers

There were Trades Union & Labour Party representatives from across the South West, and even some from further afield. Jon added “The march was slow starting, but once moving it carried an insatiable motion, geed along by horns blaring from passing cars on the Westway and applause in support from the shop workers on the High Street. The traffic of Street’s streets was slowed and held up, and the drivers and passengers, for the most part, met us with smiles and support. When passing the Clark’s Head Office building, there was an eerie quietness – deserted for the weekend, perhaps, but nonetheless poignant.  Once out of the town the march returned along the Westway and crossed through the underpass to gather in Woods Batch Park. Refreshments were served, and the speaker called us in closer to the stage. A modern nervousness in proximity to others had caused the gathering to fan out across the park, but there is a stoic sense of resoluteness from standing close with those you have common cause and solidarity – it gave the words spoken from stage greater resolve and purpose. There were speakers from the shop stewards leading the strike, from TUC leaders, and from various regional reps in solidarity. The more experienced public speakers truly made themselves known, rousing the crowd to rolling applause. Every word fell on welcoming ears though, and to hear the quieter voices empowered through a loudspeaker for the first time is what Unionism should be about and aspire to improve on.”

People can make their own private donations directly to   the Community Clarks Strike Fund: Sort code 60  83  01   Account number  34042733  Name: Community: Reference: Clarks Strike Pay

Film of the day

Pictures from the day of action

Community Rally for Clarks Strikers

Tuesday, 9 November 2021Leave a reply
Clarks Strikers demo planned for Saturday

This coming Saturday November 13th the historic, Quaker-capitalist company town of Street, in deepest Somerset, hosts the long-awaited march and rally for the Clarks all-out strikers. Hong-Kong-based Lion Rock Capital, who own Clarks since the family sold out to them, are firing and rehiring all its warehouse workers, by imposing a wage cut from £11.16p and hour to the (soon to become) minimum wage of £9.50p an hour, with other drastic cuts to nearly all paid allowances. Oh yes, workers have also lost their paid meals breaks so will be forced to work a 42.5 hour week instead of the current 40! Speakers include Roy Rickhuss, Community General Secretary,  Paul Nowack, TUC Deputy General Secretary, and Labour MP Barry Gardiner.

Continue reading “Community Rally for Clarks Strikers”

Somerset Labour Backs Global Day for Climate Justice

Sunday, 7 November 2021Leave a reply
The Unite Balloon leads the way in Bristol

Saturday November 6th 2021 saw  people around the globe taking to the streets to urge world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow to take decisive action to save the planet and life on it from extinction .  Somerset Labour members joined Trades Unionists and Climate activists at a major march through the streets of Bristol.  Bridgwater Town Councils Climate Change spokesperson Cllr Kathy Pearce (Bridgwater, Westover) said “The power is in their hands.  But will they have the courage to stand up to a global capitalist system which, since the dawning of the industrial revolution, has operated on a principle  that the planet Earth has infinite resources and capacity to be treated as a giant dustbin. The threat to our existence is now, as hundreds of people around the world have perished due to extremes of climate just in the last 12 months. Thousands of people in the poorest countries around the world, who have caused least damage to the climate, are at risk of displacement due to an intense, uninhabitable, increase in temperature. Locally, if the situation does not improve, Met Office predictions are that the low lying areas of Somerset, including Bridgwater, will be under 2m of water by 2050.”

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Labour condemns new ‘Stealth Tax’ aimed at the Self-Employed

Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Levelling down….and down…….and

Hidden away in the small print of last week’s budget was yet another tax hike for working people – a triple whammy for the self-employed already hit by higher NICs and Conservative plans for higher Council Tax, also revealed in the Autumn Budget. More than 12% of self-employed people face a £3,000 tax hike thanks to the reporting change which will cost sole traders more than £1.7bn. In Somerset that’s 4,526 self-employed workers.  Labour has condemned this as a ‘stealth tax’  with Shadow Treasury Minister Pat McFadden saying “As well as all the tax rises on income and business the Chancellor has announced in the past six months, buried in the Budget ‘red book’ is a plan for a stealth tax on the self-employed of £1.7bn over the next five years. After the past eighteen months when many self-employed people have had no help at all and when they are already being hit with other tax rises, why are the self-employed being hit with this extra tax rise which the Chancellor didn’t even mention in his Budget last week?”

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Patience Runs Out with Bridgwater MP

Monday, 1 November 2021
Ian Liddell-Grainger, ‘not in hiding’

Former Labour Councillor Ian Tucker has been banging his head against a brick wall for  well over a year trying to get Bridgwater and West Somerset Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger to take an interest in the welfare of his vulnerable constituents. ‘Angry’ Ian says “This present government doesn’t give a toss about how their local MP’s are performing? This has been proven by the refusal of the local Conservative Association to investigate the Bridgwater and West Somerset MP continually ignoring correspondence via emails, answer phone messages and letters.” Now he has written an open letter to ‘unresponsive’ Ian in the light of the death of Tory MP David Amess  saying  “there are some very good MP’s who do have direct contact with the people they represent and do get involved very much with local issues.”  The Bridgwater MP was very quick in saying he would not be ‘hiding himself away’ – which of course was good news to Mr Tucker who has naturally decided to put this to the test.

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Working People Pay the Price for ‘Out of Touch’ Tory Budget

Wednesday, 27 October 2021
The Tories consider ‘levelling up’…..

The Tory Autumn budget has shown just how out of touch Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his mates are with the real world where the solution for a growing cost of living crisis and soaring energy bills  is a tax cut for bankers. All this means that working people are paying the price yet again. Responding to the chancellors speech, Labour spokesperson Rachel Reeves  said “ A Labour Government would put working people first. We would scrap unfair business rates and respect taxpayers’ money. And we would cut VAT to energy bills for six months immediately so working people don’t feel the strain. A Labour Government would build a higher wage, higher productivity economy, with better conditions for working people. We will always stand against the Conservative’s economic mismanagement, unfair tax system and wasteful spending . After taking £6 billion out of the pockets of some of the poorest people in this country, he is expecting them to cheer today at being given £2 billion to compensate. As he hits working people with the highest sustained tax burden in peacetime, he’s giving a tax cut to bankers who like to take short haul flights while sipping champagne.”

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