Sunday, 27 September 2009

Good luck Glyn-The End of an Era

Friday was the end of an era in Haringey UNISON (and NALGO for you oldies!) as we bid a fond farewell to Glyn Rowlands who left his job in Haringey and thus sadly his role in our Branch. Over the years Glyn has been a Steward, a health and safety Rep, a Convener for Education, and Assistant branch Secretary and the Employeeside Secretary(and we all know what a thankless task coordinating joint trade unions can sometimes be!). Aside from this he put in countless and unthanked hours as a Rep for individuals and in campaigning on wider Trade Union issues such as anti privatisation. In all the year's I have been in the Union movement in harigney he has been a constant source of support and a very good listener!

Glyn is one of the quiet people of the Trade Union movement not a shouter or a person to big up his contribution to UNISON over the years so I guess it is left to the likes of me to do it for him. Put simply Glyn is the kind of person every Branch needs, the kind who digests and understands the endless Council reports, writes copious amounts of good quality bulletins on the issues and generally plans and organises campaigns to a tee. I was struck by how much work he has down when he left me his departing gift of the 30 huge boxes of paperwork which were delivered by a removal company! So a little light reading for the next few months!

But in seriousness he was a great asset and it will be very hard to replace someone with such an encyclopedic knowledge of Haringey its history it's policies and its procedures. Many is the time I would open my email at home to find emails sent in the wee small hours with a ready made bulletin on PFI, on our latest dispute or the future of Schools. Very rarely did they need amendment and when suggestions were made they were always taken in the positive light. Many readers outside Haringey will not realise how much he drove our work in particular the model campaign we fought against the Secondary Schools PFI and the work he did to ensure our members (and those of the GMB for that matter) were protected when we lost. The twin track approach was a model we used successfully more than once. Even year's later we would get calls from other Branches who had been referred our way by a Regional or National office. I think the biggest delight was probably seeing Glyn proved right on PFI as the contract was terminated when Jarvis went bust :)

Equally in Haringey's last major local dispute in 1999 he spent countless hours preparing in what Can only be described as a military fashion for all possibilities. (Not that Glyn is a fan of militarism or wars!)

So as he moves onto a new life in Wales I hope he realises how much we all appreciate his tireless work for the members in Haringey and the selfless commitment he showed over 20+ years. The Unions need more Glyn's with politics principles but also an immense amount of modesty.

Oh and a note to our comrades in Cymru/Wales Region if he gets a job in the public Sector make damn sure you tap him up as an assett to the movement!

Thanks and good luck mate I hope you appreciate the gifts which almost selected themselves

Saturday, 25 July 2009

a Sad Day for democracy

Earlier this week democracy in my Union took a backward step as a disciplinary panel opted to suspend four UNISON activists from holding office for three years. Their "crime" was to publish a leaflet at Unison's Conference of 2007 (yes UNISON takes Even longer to resolve disciplinary issues than the average Employer)

The leaflet was deemed to be considered capable of causing offence and questioned the decision making process of the standing orders committee thus questioning their reasoning for ruling motions out of order. I think the latter may once have been described as "deliberately farting in your general direction" or similar.

The content used the old Chinese proverb of three wise monkeys, in these circumstances it was very unfortunate that the Chair of the SOC is a black man and the image may have well be considered offensive by some. But then after this event UNISON officials sent a gorilla handing out peanuts and bananas to the Employers organisation under the slogan broadly speaking of "pay peanuts and you get monkeys" Bare in mind in many Boroughs the Employees are overwhelmingly Black (like my own for example) and that many Councillors are also Black then this image could be viewed in a similar capacity. So did any Senior Employed official get disciplined? Did the Committee authorising this get investigated (assuming one did) So far as I Can tell the answer is a resounding no. If I am wrong on this then on provision of evidence I will be happy to publish a retraction on this point.

Then there is the case of "and then there were four": Four Branches produced the leaflet and initially investigated were Four Branch Secretaries of the branches and One Branch Chair (Itself a bit odd) But when the charges came one of the Branch Secretaries disappeared. I am sure it was mere coincidence that he was not a member of the Socialist Party of England and Wales (which the other four are well known members of)

I am not going to profess to be in agreement with the politics of the SP (E&W) being a member of the Labour Party. But I respect their rights to belong to a political party and to argue their case in our union for policies in keeping with their beliefs. That is a fundamental concept of democratic participation that we all have our right to argue for an alternative approach with the obvious exception of fascists and their ilk

So where does this leave us in the future? While we face attacks on our membership by the Employers (Labour, Conservative, Lid Dem, SNP and the rest), privatisation, pensions threats, cuts on a massive scale and the rest, we are more interested in attacking our own over something for which they were willing to offer an apology for at the same Conference where the leaflet was published.

So at a time when we are desperately trying to recruit new members and activists we suspend four experienced and dedicated activists from holding office who are memebrs of a particular political party.The message many will read if your are anti Labour you are not welcome. I have had the good fortune to work with Glen Kelly and Onay Kasab and Brian Debus many times (less so Susan Moonagh) in London. While we have not always agreed on tactics I have never had cause to doubt their anti racist belief (in fact to the contrary)nor their commitment to the Trade union movement.

It's not to late for UNISON do the right thing chuck out this sanction at the appeal send a message of protest to Dave Prentis and help end this farce (particularly if you are UNISON member)

For updates and more information take a momemnt to look up

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Summers Here

So it must be time for warm beer seaside pre season friendlies and music festivals:) Hmm sounds almost like John Major's idyllic image of cycling maids and I don't mind a bit of cricket to!

So come Friday I am off to the Isle of Man the land of one side of my ancestry for the first time. Of course the trip is entirely cultural and it is a happy coincidence that my football team are playing there in a pre season match :) While I am there I shall be missing Tolpuddle sadly where I have spent a great weekend the last two summers in good company a beautiful setting and more than a touch of political debates. To those who are going again my thoughts are with you as I am sure there will be many happy memories of Malcolm Campbell our dear friend and comrade who particularly enjoyed the event. Raise a glass for me in his memory.

Then two weeks down the lines its off to Cambridge for the folk festival (and hopefully without the rain showers of last year!) The line up contains very few bands I have heard of but discovering new music if half the fun.

August see's AFC Wimbledon's latest coming of age as we kick off our first season in the Conference National with a home game against Luton. it seems mad to think that 20 years ago we kicked off our season as holders of two of the three major trophies in the country(Luton League Cup winners Wimbledon FA Cup winners) yet on the 8th of August we shall be battling for entry to the football League. Football truly is a funny old world but I love it :)

The week after I'm off to the beautiful village of Cropredy for the annual Fairport Convention reunion gig and am very much looking forward to seeing old friends. It shall however be a bitter sweet occasion as those I camp with shall also be missing Malcolm having camped with him for many a long year. One of his oldest Friends has had some t shirts made with Malcolm on to remember him.The last sing of the festival Meet on the Ledge (or a major riot if it isn't!) which remembers those we have lsot will be espcially poignant for Steve his family and many others who knew Malcolm and shared in his love of music

I love the summer in many ways not least there are always load's of short weeks at work and long weekends :)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Malcolm Campbell RIP

Today is the day I and many others gather to say our last goodbyes to Malcolm Campbell. Thanks to Marsha Jane for setting up to allow us to remember him fondly. It was also lovely to see a very thoughtful piece in the Sutton Guardian about Malcolm's Trade Union work

I found myself thinking of this very apt song this morning Malcolm was a huge fan of folk music and friends remember him singing this at Tolpuddle a couple of years back with another comrade Pauline Bradley

My thoughts are with his partner Jayne and his friends from many different backgrounds who will gather this afternoon to Celebrate his life. As Malcolm would want there will be memories from all his different interests, stories will be told , songs will be sung and glasses will be raised in his honour

Malcolm was also a passionate fan of Chelsea and I am sure I heard him cursing the late equaliser last night that prevented a second Champions League Final appearance! He along with others fought to kick the racists out of Chelsea in the bad old days as remembered by former London Convenor Geoff Martin in his tribute.

Goodbye Malc you were a friend, comrade, and mentor I shall miss you but never forget you.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Goodbye Comrade Malcy

Its funny how this world of ours has a habit of taking a high moment and then kicking you in the guts. That’s how I felt on Monday afternoon when I found out about the sudden death of Malcolm Campbell. Malcolm was the long-standing Branch Secretary of Croydon UNISON, member of the Regional Committee, London’s Rep on the Conference (LG) Standing Orders committee. He was a dedicated and princcipled Trade Unionist who never compromised in his beliefs and he is a massive loss to our movement. He had so much more to give and was only 56 years old. Having taken a few days to get my head round it I wanted to remember him

To me, and many others Malcolm wasn’t just a Trade Unionist however, he was a friend and someone we looked up to. This job we do can be a thankless task sometimes. In that field people who understand and make time to support eachother are at a premium, Malcolm was such a person. He had been a long standing Branch Secretary when I took over Haringey and was always willing to take the time to offer advice when asked but also to ensure you didn’t think he was telling you what was right to do. That is something I shall miss enormously.

Death at any time is sudden but this was completely out of the blue, after having had a heart attack a few years back Malc had recuperated rested and then thrown himself back into his passions of UNISON, the Trades Council, Music and Football (I’ll even forgive him his choice of team Chelsea!) I saw him for the last time only on Friday when we were planning both for UNISON’s Local Government Conference and our annual trips to our other shared passion of the Folk Festivals.

Malcolm managed to balance his endless commitment to UNISON with his other loves. He loved nothing more than going here and having been with him it often felt he knew the whole crowd in person. He camped with a group of friends and their families all of whom shall miss his so much as well certainly when we sing this in the Summer year we shall think of him as we all stood together last year arm in arm to remember those that were no longer with us.

He will also doubtless be missed by his many friends at Chelsea and in his local down in Sutton Where he shared many a laugh and enjoyed good company and good beer.

Most of all however my thoughts are with his partner Jane and his family, at this time of this tragic loss. There are many others who were touched by Malcolm and I know there were a lot of shocked and devastated UNISON activists around London and beyond as well as colleagues who are employed by the Union.

Goodbye Malcolm we shall all miss you, I shall remember you in so many different places this year: The Conference Hall, Cropredy, Tolpuddle, amongst them. It was a privilege to call you a friend and comrade

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Championes championes oleoleole

Woke up this morning with the hangover from hell but the still can't take the shitfaced grin off my face :) AFC Wimbledon the Club who according to the F.A. Commission (28.5.2002) were "not in the wider interests of football" have completed their journey to the top of the non league pyramid. It's been a long journey but there was something strangely familiar about the burning sunny day the copious amounts of alcohol and the general fan love in yesterday. It was just like Sanhurdst in 2002 in so many ways.

AFC Wimbledon was formed by ordinary people like me and is owned equally by ordinary supporters like me to this day and run as a fan democracy by our Dons Trust (and Industrial and provident society) with one member one vote. A certain ex chaitrman of a league Club once said football fans couldn't run a bath. well my bath sometimes overflows but so does my footballing cup :D

In seven years since we picked ourselves up from the shameful decision to rob our community of it's club and allow the league place ot be franchised to another town (Not a city as it claims!) we ain't done bad. Four promotions, two championships, a county cup and league cup, an appearance in the first round proper of the FA Cup. The purchase of a ground, the ongoing refurbishment of it (and ensuring we treated our co tenants properly) on and off the pitch the future is bright the future is yellow and blue :)

From a personal point of view I was delighted to present the WISA Player of the Year Trophy at half time to Ben Judge. ( I am the Treasurer of the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association) I thus got to be one of a select few fans who were allowed onto the pitch yesterday! The award was presented by myself and actor Alun Armstrong who is a long standing Wimbledon supporter. (If you doubt this just watch an episode of New Tricks and see how many times he manages to be in shot with Wimbledon merchandise or works the Club into story lines :) ) He was a very nice and approachable person as it goes and I would take a wild stab he is a good socialist to !

Oh and the day was completed by hearing that the Franchise Scum had lost at home thus ending their chances of automatic promotion. Now Come on Leeds, Come on Millwall come on Tranmere (or Scunthorpe) deal another blow for football and kill their play off chances :)

There will be many challenges ahead not least trying to increase the capacity at Kingsmeadow (the game yesterday was the latest in what I suspect may be a regular line of sell outs) For that matter the small issue of trying to secure a longer term home in our home borough ( albeit we are only 2 miles way from its boundary), turning professional and balancing all this with fan ownership. Still if Hamburg can manage it why cant we :)

We are wimbledon up and at here we go , singing wimbledon wave your colours to and throw, go with wimbledon follow us and see it through, shout and sign for the boys who fear no one , proud to wear the blue of wimbledon etc :) (We are Wimbledon F.A. Cup Final Song 1988)

Well done to Terry Brown and his management team, well done to the players, especially well done to those who give up their time to volunteer for our club. Thank you to those we elect to run it for us and those we employ to help support them.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

BNP Smashed In Haringey

Follwing a very actve campaign led by UNISON, Haringey Trades Council and the Ferderation of Residents Associations the BNP received a grand total of 27 votes (0.9% of votes cast) Thid was almost no better than they received in the GLA elections where they did not stand a candidate or actively campaign in the ward.

The seat was comfortably held by the Liberal Democrats although with Labours vote remaning almost unchanged from 2006 and the Lib Dems 500 down it may show some sign of a revivial for Labour in a seat they previously held.

While the BNP may have bene seen off on this ocassion we are not being complacent and will be continuing to work closely with other anti fascist groups to help in the next real battle keeping them out of the European Seats in London.