Tuesday, 16 January 2018

RTUC supports the GMB’s Eleanor Marx Day Event

On 16 January 2018, members of the Reading Trades Union Council joined Reading & District Labour Party members and interested non-affiliates to support and enjoy the GMB’s Eleanor Marx Day event, held at The Outlook, Kings Road, Reading. The event was superbly compèred by Nikki Dancey, the GMB Regional Organiser.

Nikki Dancey (GMB & RTUC) welcomes guest and introduces the speaker
Coinciding with the 163rd birthday of Eleanor, the event celebrated the political and industrial life of this co-founder (with Will Thorne) of the National Union of Gas Workers and General Labourers (a forerunner of the GMB union).

Dr Louise Raw on Eleanor Marx

The event was originally intended to host two illustrious speakers: Louise Raw, the author of 
Striking a Light: The Bryant and May Matchwomen and their Place in History (2011), and Rachel Holmes, author of Eleanor Marx: A Life (2014) – but unfortunately due to illness Rachel was unable to attend. Such is Louise’s knowledge of Eleanor, however, she extended her talk to 90 minutes and entertained and educated the audience with only occasional reference to her notes. There then followed 30 minutes of questions and discussion, plus additional conversation in a convivial environment.

The event was also a forum for leafleting, with topics such as saving the NHS, defending local mental health services and opposing the Conservative Party austerity agenda. Books relevant to Eleanor’s life and work were also available for purchase.

GMB Southern Region banner

The event was part of a joint initiative between the RTUC and RDLP entitled Reading Labour 100. The initiative, which has already organised the William Winterbourne Day at Kintbury, will be running a series of events throughout 2018 to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Reading Trades Council and Labour Party (the forerunner of the RDLP). Future events will be publicised on the RTUC Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/ReadingTUC/) or interested persons can enquire with the RTUC secretary (readingtradesunioncouncil@gmail.com).

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The Reading Labour Movement protests Rail Fare Increases

Morning crew, Darran Scully, Cllr Rachel Eden, John Partington, Chris Reilly,
Cllr John Ennis, Matt Rodda Reading East Labour MP
The Reading labour movement started the new year with a leafleting campaign at Reading Railway Station. 

Fraternising with the early morning commuters on 2 January 2018, activists from the Reading Trades Union Council and members of the Reading & District Labour Party discussed the effects of fare increases with the travelling public – a 34% increase since the Conservatives came to power (including a 3.6% increase this year alone). 

Jim Parker (UNITE), Chris Reilly (RMT), Darran Scully (ASLEF) and John Partington (TSSA) represented the RTUC in the morning, joining Labour Councillors, Rachel Eden and John Ennis, and Labour’s Reading East MP, Matt Rodda, as well as others.

In the evening, a second effort was staged, with Cllr Sarah Hacker and Keith Jerrome (both UNITE) from the RTUC joining other labour activists. Leaflets were distributed promoting the Labour Party’s rail policies, including capped fares and renationalisation of the industry. The demonstration attracted media attention, with publicity on the BBC’s South Today news bulletin.

Cllr Sarah Hacker, RTUC delegate, and RDLP activists

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Reading Trades Union Council Affiliate Trade Unions, 2017

We are pleased to report that, in 2017, the following trade unions are affiliates of the Reading Trades Union Council:

Amalgamated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen

General, Municipal and Boilermakers' Union

Image result for rmt
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
Image result for nut teachers

National Union of Teachers


Image result for tssa
Transport Salaried Staffs' Association
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers

Unite the Union

University and College Union


Monday, 20 November 2017

Reading Trades Union Council: Supporting Trade Unions in Dispute


Reading Trades Union Council is committed to supporting comrades in the trade union movement during times of dispute as well as during their campaigns in the workplace or the local community.

Please let us know about your activities and how we can support you. In the first instance, please post information to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ReadingTUC/. 

And - crucially - email information and requests for support to the Reading Trades Union Council Secretary at readingtradesunioncouncil@gmail.com. The Secretary will then forward your communications to our mailing list - reaching those not using (or regularly using) social media and circulating information about your campaign in easy-to-print formats among local comrades.

Unity is Strength! Together We're Strong!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

RTUC's Activities Roundup for November 2017

On 2 November 2017, Reading Trades Union Council Vice-President, Nada Al-Sanjari, joined RTUC delegates from UNITE, Jan Bastable and Sarah Hacker, on strike against Capita's proposed pension reforms. Neil Adams and John Gillman of RTUC/UNITE Bracknell, also showed solidarity with the Reading picketing.

Jan Bastable (UNITE), Nada Al-Sanjari (NEU) and Sarah Hacker (UNITE)
On 8 November 2017, RTUC delegates were pleased to support USDAW's 'Freedom from Fear' campaign, represented on RTUC by Steve Geary. The photo below shows Neil Adams (UNITE), John Partington (TSSA), Jim Parker (UNITE), Nada Al-Sanjari (NEU), John Gillman (UNITE), Steve Geary (USDAW) and Ray Parkes (UNITE) sporting leaflets and a banner for the campaign.

RTUC Delegates support USDAW's 'Freedom from Fear' campaign

On 19 November 2017, John Partington (TSSA) and Sarah Hacker (UNITE) of RTUC joined members of the Labour Party, Reading-Düsseldorf Association and Reading Civic Society, as well as peace campaigners, to unveil a plaque to the late Phoebe Cusden on her former home in Castle Street, Reading. Phoebe had been a postal workers’ trade unionist, Labour council and mayor, and pacifist.

The unveiling party, headed by Reading's Mayor, Cllr Rose Williams (in red)

John Partington (TSSA), RTUC attendee at the unveiling

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Reading Trades Union Council at Reading Pride

RTUC Vice-President, Nada Al-Sanjari (NEU), at the Reading Pride March

Reading Trades Union Council had a stall at this year's Reading Pride and delegates, including Nada Al-Sanjari (RTUC Vice-President/NEU), Ruth McEwan (RTUC/Unison) and James Parker (RTUC/Unite) played an active part.

The following text is from Nada's speech from the stage:

"The motto for this year’s reading Pride is ‘Love Unites’. The motto of the trade union movement is ‘Unity is Strength’. Unity not just with the LGBT+ cause but solidarity with any group or individual facing persecution or injustice. An injury to one is an injury to all.

"I speak as a trade unionist and a committed activist for equality. Trade unions have been fighting for LGBT+ people for decades. I want to remember the solidarity shown by the LGSM – ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ – during the Miners’ Strike in the mid-1980s. This act of unlikely solidarity contributed to the changes in the law that support LGBT+ rights. We owe them a few cheers.

"While we enjoy the rewards of resistance against oppression, we have to ask what we are doing about the oppression of people of colour, people with disabilities, both physical and mental, within the LGBT+ community and beyond. When the party is over, when the facepaint and glitter are washed away, we have to return to campaigning and continue the work.

"Join a trade union and have a voice. Belong to something that will fight for your rights to equal opportunities and equal pay, for your rights to participate in public life without fear of bullying or harassment. This is your basic right as humans.

"Trade unions are joining the ‘Schools Out’ campaigns to bring LGBT+ education to schools. Join us. Be heard all the time – not just at the party. Be seen as you want to be seen, whenever you want to be seen. This matters. You matter.

"The Reading Trades Union Council is committed to this cause. Not just here but internationally, we recognize the struggles of our comrades and organise with them to offer our support to be free from persecution for identifying as LGBT+.

"Governments change, Pride organisers change. But the trade unions have and will always be here to champion workers’ rights and equality for all. Let them wear their prejudice with shame as we wear our solidarity with Pride. I will leave you with this quote from the inspiring Audre Lorde: ‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own’. Solidarity Reading!"

Nada addresses Reading Pride

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Reading Trades Union Council at the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival

Jeremy Corbyn MP, leader of the
Labour Party,  leads the Tolpuddle march

On 16 July 2017, five members of the Reading Trades Union Council attended the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival and took part in the annual march through the village: Nikki Dancey and Kevin Brandstatter of GMB, Steve Geary of USDAW, John Partington of TSSA and Keith Jerrome of UNITE. They joined the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, who laid a wreath on the grave of the only martyr who returned to Tolpuddle, James Hammett, and who ended the event with a rousing speech to the thousands of gathered trade unionists.
Steve Geary with the USDAW delegation
From the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Museum (http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/story):
"As the sun rose on 24th February 1834, Dorset farm labourer George Loveless set off to work, saying goodbye to his wife Betsy and their three children. They were not to meet alone again for three years, for as he left his cottage in the rural village of Tolpuddle, the 37-year-old was served with a warrant for his arrest.
"Loveless and five fellow workers – his brother James, James Hammett, James Brine, Thomas Standfield and Thomas's son John – were charged with having taken an illegal oath. But their real crime in the eyes of the establishment was to have formed a trade union to protest about their meagre pay of six shillings a week.
"Landowners were determined to stamp out any form of organised protests. So when the local squire and landowner, James Frampton, caught wind of a group of his workers forming a union, he sought to stamp it out.
"Workers met either under the sycamore tree in the village or in the upper room of Thomas Standfield's cottage. Members swore of an oath of secrecy – and it was this act that led to the men's arrest and subsequent sentence of seven years' transportation.

John Partington with the new TSSA banner

"In prison, George Loveless scribbled some words: 'We raise the watchword, liberty. We will, we will, we will be free!' This rallying call underlined the Martyrs’ determination and has since served to inspire generations of people to fight against injustice and oppression.
"Transportation to Australia was brutal. Few ever returned from such a sentence as the harsh voyage and rigours of slavery took their toll.
"After the sentence was pronounced, the working class rose up in support of the Martyrs. A massive demonstration marched through London and an 800,000-strong petition was delivered to Parliament protesting about their sentence.
"After three years, during which the trade union movement sustained the Martyrs' families by collecting voluntary donations, the government relented and the men returned home with free pardons and as heroes."

Keith Jerrome, UNITE

Monday, 1 May 2017

RTUC celebrates the Workers’ International Festival!

Reading Trades Union Council Delegates with Emily Thornberry MP

The First of May is Labour Day, international workers’ day. Reading Trades Union Council revived the tradition of May Day solidarity in Reading by organising the town’s march and rally.

The event commenced with words of international welcome in the Forbury Gardens in front of the monument to Reading’s veterans of the Spanish Civil War from Ray Parkes and Keith Jerrome, representative of the Reading International Brigades Memorial Committee. Music was led by the Reading Red Choir.

Keith Jerrome (RIBMC/Unite/RTUC)
Ray Parkes (RIBMC/Unite/RTUC)
The march then commenced, proceeding down Friar Street, along West Street, through Broad Street and back to the Forbury Gardens. As it proceeded, the march, led by the RTUC banner and trade unionists in RTUC t-shirts, chanted a call-and-response: ‘What do we want? Workers’ rights! When do we want it? Now!’ In addition to the RTUC banner, ‘Vote Labour’ placards were in abundance, a European Union flag was flown as were several from the Communist Party of Britain. As the march re-entered the Forbury Gardens it was met by Reading’s crème de la crème of labour movement iconography – the Reading banner of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers. The marchers assembled around the Forbury bandstand and awaited the fine roster of local, regional and national speakers.

A real coup for the event was the presence of the Labour Party Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry MP. Just as the country entered the general election campaign, a voice of solidarity from a national Labour figure, promising to repeal anti-trade union laws, was a real shot in the arm.

Emily Thornberry MP, Labour Party
Shadow Foreign Secretary
From the RMT, Steve Hedley, the union’s Assistant General Secretary, overcame an injured foot to attend and – in his usual inspiring manner – roused the crowd to fight the Tory oppression and support the trade union movement. He also raised the banner of international solidarity, speaking of the workers’ struggles in Palestine, Turkey and Ireland as well as at home.

Steve Hedley (RMT Assistant
General Secretary)
Speaking from the heart, Unite member and Labour Cllr Sarah Hacker asked people to consider the International Workers’ Day of the future where tomorrow's workers are today's children under immense exam pressure and following a limited curriculum. She expressed her outrage at the level of debt students are graduating with and then entering a job market threatened with digitisation. She asked ‘What does the future hold for our children?’
Cllr Sarah Hacker (Labour Party/

Nada Al-Sanjari, a member of the NUT and the Vice-President of the RTUC, spoke with passion about the importance of solidarity through trade unions and the need to fight Conservative attacks on working people. She asserted that ‘We stand in solidarity with our comrades all over the world, who are using this day to fight for their rights as workers’. Reflecting on recent industrial disputes and government cuts she declared: ‘Teachers, nurses, doctors, train drivers and conductors, firefighters, an attack against one is an attack against us all’. And referring to the recent Trades Union Act limiting the right to strike, she noted the following:

Now for some irony, the government that won with a pitiful 24% of popular support has made it illegal for us to withhold the only power we have as workers, our labour and strike, unless we secure 40% of the vote. That means 274 out of 330 Conservative MPs who failed to receive 40% of the votes are trying to stop us fighting against our exploitation.

Winding up her speech on a local issue, Nada pointed out that ‘Our committed TUC in Reading recognizes the fact that women make up the majority of trade union membership and has pushed for campaigns on women’s issues, fighting sexual harassment and violence against women by supporting Berkshire Women’s Aid in providing support and refuge for women fleeing domestic abuse’.
Janine Booth (RMT)

Janine Booth of the RMT rounded the event off with poetry castigating Tory cuts, promoting the power of women as a political force, urging support for the RMT’s battles around the country to retain guards on trains – and reminding us all not to cross picket lines. Her performance can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RhBBccD6Kw&feature=youtu.be.

Chris Reilly (RMT/RTUC President)
The other speakers on the day were Merry Cross (DPAC), highlighting the effects of Conservative policies on disabled people; Paul Britt (Reading Pride) speaking of the disturbing statistics of attacks against LGBT+ people at work and the discrimination they face and the importance of the trade union movement in campaigning for LGBT+ workers’ rights; and Kevin Jackson (Unison & RTUC) speaking about the devastating effects of government policy on the NHS and social care locally and throughout the country. Chris Reilly (RMT), as RTUC President, wound up the event, quoting the Reading RMT banner urging attendees to ‘Educate... Agitate... Organise...’. Referencing the forthcoming general election, he declared: ‘Let’s vote, let’s get it out there on the 8th May and get rid of the Tories from Reading’.
Merry Cross (DPAC)
Paul Britt (Reading Pride)
Kevin Jackson (Unison/RTUC)

In addition to online publicity, the RTUC May Day March and Rally received television coverage in Urdu on channel UK44 (including a slot for Chris Reilly) and in Pakistan on Dunya News as well as a report in the Reading Chronicle (below).

Reading Chronicle, 4 May 2017
Many thanks for the time and enthusiasm of the speakers – but especially for the 200 or so attendees who joined the march, listened to the speeches and joined in with the Reading Red Choir’s renditions of ‘The Red Flag’, ‘The Internationale’ and ‘Jarama Valley’.


From Reading to Leipzig

While the Reading trade union movement was on the march at home, John Partington (TSSA & RTUC Secretary) attended the Leipzig May Day Rally, taking RTUC solidarity to the DGB (the German Trade Union Confederation) and offering Labour Party greetings to the SPD.
The German Trades Union Confederation at May Day in
Leipzig: 'Pensions must be sufficient'

The  Leipzig German Social Democrats