NEWS DIGEST December 2016

In this issue:
• UNION NEWS –get your trade union news on the web
• Cuba Solidarity Campaign tribute to Fidel Castro
• Deaf Community Workers dispute in Sheffield
• FBU – Support the Firefighters 100 Lottery
• Defend Sheffield Central Library   – 38 Degrees petition
• WE OWN IT – campaign to stop sell-off of Land Registry
•  NIGHTSTOP SOUTH YORKSHIRE – helping homeless people
• CLASS Autumn Statement 2016 Round-Up
• John McDonnell – The Tories are failing our economy
• Stop STPs wrecking our NHS – Unite, North East, Yorkshire
• LabourStart – Free Esmail Abdi Iranian trade unionist
• Fight for $15 Campaign USA


UNION NEWS  – get your trade union news on the web
 The bosses have their newspapers and TV stations; we believe trade unionists need a loyal and active voice too.

UnionNews was established in 2011 to report news from the UK’s trade union movement, providing an outlet for workers and their campaigns which is missing from the mainstream media.

You can help support our work by making a donation to Union-News Sort code, 08-92-99 Account number 69490813. All donations will go towards the maintenance and development of the site, as well as allowing us to commission NUJ members to report from the front line.
You can also like us on Facebook at Union News, follow us on Twitter at @Union_NewsUK and place our weblink on branch newsletters and circulars.

In solidarity
Tim Lezard, Editor,
You can contact Tim directly on Email:   Tel: 07810 641459


Tribute to Fidel Castro – Cuba Solidarity Campaign
 Cuba Update Special, 26 November 2016cuba-solidarity-campaign
Fidel Castro Ruz
13 August 1926 – 25 November 2016
Dear friend
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign is deeply saddened by loss of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
Sign the online book of condolence here

For more than 50 years the Cuban Revolution has been an inspiration for countries fighting for independence and equality. Cuba’s remarkable achievements in health, education, women’s rights and social justice were gained under the leadership of Fidel Castro.
Fidel’s commitment to internationalism leaves a lasting legacy throughout the world. From Cuba’s support fighting against Apartheid forces in Southern Africa, to training doctors from Latin America and its international medical brigades caring for the victims of earthquakes from Pakistan to Haiti, Cuba has shown that another world is possible.
CSC sends its sincere condolences and solidarity to the family and friends of Fidel Castro and the Cuban people in their time of mourning.
The best tribute we can make is to continue the struggle to end the immoral and unjust blockade of Cuba and for the return of the illegally occupied land at Guantanamo Bay.
Sign the online book of condolence here

Hasta Siempre Comandante.
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign team

If you are not already a member of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign please join today here


Community Workers dispute in Sheffield

We are now in week 3 of a boycott of an agency called Language Line Solutions, who from 1st Nov cut the freelance interpreter fees by a whopping 33%. Their cut to our fees is as a result of winning tenders, at unsustainable costs, to supply BSL/English interpreters to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust, Sheffield Council and Sheffield CCG.

Not only do they now have a monopoly on the work available in the area, they are in effect causing brick wall to all communication support for the entire Deaf Community in the area.  Despite there being nearly a dozen local interpreters who are keen and available to work to our original fees, Language Line are now telling GP surgeries that they have no availability for the next three weeks – the result of missed and cancelled medical appointments this will cause could be tragic.

We wrote an article which was featured by We Own It recently. You can view the article here:

Emma Lipton
NUBSLI Committee
NUBSLI (National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters)
Website: – Facebook: – Twitter: @nubsli
Unite the Union, Unite House, 128 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8TN.
Standing up for interpreters; standing with the Deaf community.
Over 30% of BSL/English interpreters/translators are already members of NUBSLI – join us!
Step by step instructions on how to join NUBSLI      Contribution rates
Refer a friend and get up to £25 in vouchers…
FBU – Support the Firefighters 100 Lotteryfbu-logo

You may be aware the “Firefighters 100 Lottery” was launched by the Fire Brigades Union on 1st October 2016 – the 98th anniversary of the founding of the FBU. The lottery is part of our plans to mark the Union’s centenary in 2018; our aspiration in our hundredth year is to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of firefighters killed and injured in the line of duty and to establish a fund for the future benefit of firefighters and their bereaved families.

I would be most grateful of your support in bringing the Firefighters 100 Lottery, its prizes and its good causes to the attention of your members and perhaps your own family and friends. And of course, please feel free to buy tickets yourself.

Tickets £1 per week
The Firefighters 100 Lottery is open to you and the public aged 16 or over to play. It is a weekly, on-line lottery with three guaranteed cash winners every week. Each ticket costs £1 per week and can be bought on-line by payment card or direct debit at

Extra £2000 Christmas Draw
In addition to the main weekly draw, all tickets bought before 17th December 2016 will be entered into an extra Christmas Prize Draw with the chance to win £2000 to add to the festivities of the season.

Five Good Causes
At least 50p from every lottery ticket bought will go towards the Firefighters 100 Lottery’s five good causes, helping to:
1.    Support the families of firefighters killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.
1.    Honour the bravery and sacrifice of those firefighters killed in the line of duty.
2.    Promote the lessons to be learnt from firefighter deaths and serious injuries.
3.    Support research into the physical and mental health and well-being of firefighters and the “all hazards” nature of the modern fire and rescue service.
4.    Support humanitarian assistance, including internationally, for those affected by fire or disaster.

Firefighters 100 Lottery – Fair and Open
Although the Firefighters 100 Lottery is a Fire Brigades Union initiative, it is open to the wider labour and trade union movement and the public to play. The Firefighters 100 Lottery is licenced by the Gambling Commission and will be run in a fair and open way, including measures to protect children and vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling. The sale of tickets, the weekly draws and the paying out of prizes will all be undertaken independently of the FBU by an external lottery management company, also licenced by the Gambling Commission. As a member of the Lotteries Council we contribute through them to the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT), the leading charity in the UK committed to minimising gambling-related harm. I trust this illustrates to all ticket-buyers the FBU’s commitment to run the Firefighters 100 Lottery in a responsible, fair and open way for the future benefit of all firefighters and their bereaved families.

More information can be found at and from there you can like, follow and share the Firefighters 100 Lottery on Facebook and Twitter.

I trust you and your members will be interested in this new initiative and I hope you will share in our desire to make it a success. To find out more and to buy tickets please go to

Best of luck!

Yours sincerely

Matt Wrack
General Secretary

Defend Sheffield Central Library   – 38 Degrees petition
Sheffield Central Library could be closed and bought by foreign investors, who want to turn it into a five star hotel. [1] But the council have only just announced the plans, so a huge public backlash right now would be hard for them to ignore.

So, Rebecca, a 38 Degrees member, has set up a petition demanding the library stays open. One person speaking out might not have a big impact. But if thousands of us call for the library to stay open, it will show the council how much the library means to Sheffield and could nip the plans in the bud. [2]
If you believe public libraries are more important than five star hotels. Sign the petition below: SIGN THE PETITION
Across the UK, cuts have led to libraries closing. But when people come together, we can show politicians how important libraries are. Last month 38 Degrees member Anna, started a petition to keep Belgrave library in Leicester open, thousands of people got involved and last week the council decided the library had to stay. [3]

Will you add your name to stop Sheffield Central Library from becoming a hotel? It’ll only take 2 minutes:
[1] The Star: Chinese firm’s plan to turn Sheffield Central Library into five star hotel:
[2] BBC: Five Star Hotel could replace Sheffield’s Central Library:
[3] 38 Degrees: Save Belgrave Library:
WE OWN IT – campaign to stop sell-off of Land Registry

Right now we have public assets that belong to all of us and make a profit for all of us. We need to make sure they are safe for the future, not up for grabs in government sell offs. MPs Caroline Lucas (Green), David Lammy and Graham Jones (Labour) and Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru) have just put forward Early Day Motion 689 calling on the government to keep our national treasures in public hands.

Ask your MP to sign up
The government seems to be thinking twice about sell offs – here’s our opportunity.
In 2015, George Osborne said he wanted to sell off as many of our assets as possible. But now it seems like the government could be rethinking those plans. The Land Registry privatisation seems to have been shelved though a final decision hasn’t been made. Channel 4 is up in the air. There are plans to sell off National Air Traffic Services and introduce private capital into Ordnance Survey but they haven’t got very far.
If you’re lucky enough to buy a house, the Land Registry is there to sort out the deeds. Channel 4 makes innovative programmes and pays for itself. National Air Traffic Services keeps you and millions of others safe in the sky when you fly. Ordnance Survey makes great maps and provides important data to the government and wider economy.

Public ownership is awesome and these services are great examples of that. They’re not perfect but if we keep them in our hands we can make them even better for the future.

Tell your MP to protect our national treasures

NIGHTSTOP SOUTH YORKSHIRE – helping homeless people
Nightstop South Yorkshire is a youth homelessness charity in Sheffield which places young adults at risk of homelessness in the spare bedroom of a trained and vetted volunteer host.
In the run up to the festive season this year we’re running the Advent Box Challenge; we’re asking people to donate one small essential item for each day of December up until Christmas which will help make life a little bit easier for a young person facing homelessness this winter. Although it’s tied into Christmas we’d love for people of all faiths and from all communities to come together and give back this December, and we’d love for you to share some information about the challenge with your congregations, group members or staff members.

We’d really appreciate if you could share the poster attached with any personal or professional contacts who you think might be interested in taking part in the Advent Box Challenge; we’ve also posted about the challenge on social media and would appreciate if you could share our Facebook and Twitter posts.

Thanks very much for reading and please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or would like to know more – I hope you’re able to help! 

Best wishes,

Rosie Kelly
PR & Marketing Coordinator, Nightstop South Yorkshire

CLASS – Autumn Statement 2016: A Round-Up
The new Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Statement. All in all, this Autumn Statement was disappointing. It failed to speak to the scale of the challenge that Britain faces in addressing deep seated inequalities and preparing for Brexit. Check out commentary on the day from Director of CLASS, Dr Faiza Shaheen, and our panel, here:
• Expectations for the Autumn Statement from Dr Faiza Shaheen: Tackling Inequality, or Business and Usual?
• Autumn Statement 2016: Reactions from Our Panel
• Dr Faiza Shaheen Reacts to the Autumn Statement: A Guide to Tackling Inequality for Dummies
To help make sense of it all in more detail, we’ve also put together a short briefing on the biggest announcements from the statement. You can find the briefing here.

Finally, if you want to catch up on what happened at Class Conference 2016, check out our website to see highlights from the day and blogs from some of our speakers.
Best wishes, The CLASS Team

John McDonnell – The Tories are failing our economy
The Tories’ Autumn Statement underlines the abject failure of the Tories’ economic policy. The ‘long term economic plan’ lies in tatters and the choices the Conservatives have made will leave millions worse off.

The downward spiral of austerity and the failure to invest have left the economy in such a fragile state that growth has now been revised downwards, whilst borrowing and debt will now be higher than expected.

Families will already be facing the pinch, with average earning estimates cut for last year, this year and in the next three years. And despite all this, the Conservatives are pressing ahead with their huge cuts to Universal Credit, hitting working people hard.

Where the Tories have failed, Labour will build an economy that ends austerity, supports investment, supports those in work and properly funds our public services.

Despite the largest deficit and longest waiting lists in NHS history, there was not a single extra penny in the Chancellor’s speech to deal with the crisis in the NHS and social care. The Chancellor didn’t even mention social care in his speech once.

While the Conservatives ignore the impact of leaving our NHS underfunded and understaffed, Labour supporters across Britain last Saturday were campaigning for the NHS to receive the funding it needs.

We know that only a Labour government will have the ambition and vision to rebuild and transform our economy so that no-one and no community is left behind.

Help us spread that message.

Yours sincerely,

John McDonnell  Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Stop STPs wrecking our NHS – Unite, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside
Another huge NHS shake-up, with a serious threat to patient services, is underway by stealth.

The 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for England herald yet another reconfiguration of the NHS which could see closures or relocations of local hospitals and A&E departments.

The STPs are being driven by NHS England with the aim of improving services by looking at them ‘in the round’, but in reality they will mean extensive cuts to services as the health service struggles to implement £20bn of so-called ‘efficiency’ savings.

The 44 STP ‘footprints’ for the disparate geographical areas each have their own plans, which had been prepared by mainly local NHS apparatchiks with no public involvement, and had to be submitted to NHS England by 21 October who will decide when the individual STPs can be publicised.

The limited public consultation process is due to start in January 2017, with implementation expected later next year.

Unite the Union is campaigning against the implementation of STPs and encourages you to sign the below petition.

Sign the petition here

Read more about the STPs and what groups, including the BMA think about them here:

LabourStart – Free Esmail Abdi Iranian trade unionist
If the name Esmail Abdi sounds familiar, it’s because this is the third time I’ve written to you about him. Esmail is a leader of the Iranian teachers union who was arrested in June 2015 while attempting to travel to Canada to attend the congress of the Education International.

Our two previous campaigns generated over 19,000 messages of protest.  But the Iranian authorities haven’t been listening.  We’ve learned that Abdi has now been jailed for six years on trumped up charges.

His only real crime is his work as an advocate for teachers and for education.

The Education International has asked us once again to flood the inboxes of the Tehran government with messages of protest demanding his release.  Please click here to send your message of protest:

And please forward this message to your friends, family and fellow union members.

Thank you!

Eric Lee
Fight for $15 Campaign USA

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