General Meeting 19th May 2021

posted 20 May 2021, 06:30 by NEU Secretary   [ updated 20 May 2021, 06:33 ]


1.         Islington Officer and Committee Vacancies

 It was agreed that Paddy de Clair and Michael Delaney would join the Committee

 

2.         Motions submitted by Members

 

A) Solidarity with Leaways NEU - Stop union busting in Kedleston Group

 

This branch notes:

1. Leaways is a privately-run specialist secondary education provision in Hackney for young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.

2. Nearly 90 pupils attend Leaways and local authorities pay the company, Kedleston, over £53,000 per pupil.

3. The NEU group at Leaways is currently in dispute with their employer and have taken over 20 days of strike action, with future dates planned.

4. In late 2020, NEU members walked out for the first time over increased class sizes and management’s refusal to implement the full 2.75 per cent national pay award. The NEU also pointed to the absence of a pay progression structure and a cap of just seven days for occupational sick pay even midst the pandemic.

5. The NEU group also has serious concerns about the treatment of students, including poor heating and ventilation of the school building, the absence of outdoor play space, and the management’s failure to provide relevant therapies for students, and so meet statutory requirements.

6. In response, Kedleston has sacked the school’s NEU rep and disciplined other members of staff.

7. Ultimate ownership of the school is with an offshore fund based in a tax haven in Jersey, presumably to avoid tax on profits.

8. The owners of the Kedleston Group, the Brosnan family of financiers, have also been involved in other scandals. They featured in a BBC Panorama documentary showing patients being slapped and restrained under chairs at Winterbourne View, a Bristol care home. Another family-owned firm was involved in the death of a 2-year old at one of its nurseries.

9. Islington Council sends pupils to Leaways School.

This branch believes that:

1. The Leaways dispute highlights the concerning emergence of the for-profit sector as central to the education and care of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and/or who have been excluded from school. The pattern mirrors developments in residential care with offshore private equity profits subsidised by the public funding.

2. The services provided by outfits like Kedleston can and should be provided better and cheaper in the public sector.

3. The case of Leaways also underscores the need for a national campaign opposing central government’s chronic underfunding of SEND/SEMH provision.

4. It is a basic right to join or organise a union, and it isinappropriate that any public money is provided to an employer that tries to ban or bust unions. Islington Council should examine its relationship with Leaways as a matter of urgency.

5. Local councils should ensure that the needs of young people with SEND can be met within the public sector local family of schools. There is no place for profit-making in education, and we support the demand for a ‘good local school for EVERY child’.

6. Islington Council needs to hold Kedleston to account for how it is using public money, making sure its listens to staff and put pupils first.

Therefore, this branch resolves to:

1. Send a message of congratulations from our branch to the NEU group at Leaways following their successful struggle.

2. Write to Islington councillors and council officers and demand an increase publicly provided school places for young people with SEND in Islington schools.

References https://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/news/george-binette-explains-the-leaways-school-dispute-7890836 https://www.dianeabbott.org.uk/news/articles/item1708 https://actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-union-busting-in-kedleston-group

 

B) Solidarity with workers at SAGE Nursing Home

 

As discussed in our last branch meeting, this branch resolves to donate £300 to the United Voices of the World union strike fund.

https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/en/news/2021/04/sage-nursing-home-workers-vote-for-a-voice-at-work-and-strike-action/

 

B2) Emergency Motion on Palestine

 

 

Islington NEU notes:

The 73rd anniversary of the Nakba - or catastrophe in 1948, where many Palestinians living in the territory that became Israel were evicted from their homes and lands

The continuing 54 year repressive Israeli occupation of the West Bank (and de facto of the Gaza strip) and the continued extension of illegal settlements on this land.

Over the past week Israeli forces and armed settlers have attacked Palestinians who are refusing to be forcibly uprooted from their homes, stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan prayers, and beaten and arrested people indiscriminately.

In response to crude rocket fire from the Gaza strip protesting the treatment of their fellow Palestinian, Israel has launched bombs into Gaza killing a large number of people, including many children.

Israel's failure to meet its obligation to provide vaccinations against Covid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza

The mass demonstrations in London (and other areas) against Israeli oppression of the Palestinians

Islington NEU believes:

That Israeli government policy towards the Palestinian people reflects a discriminatory racist and colonialist mentality, and it amounts to ethnic cleansing.

We resolve to:

Support and publicise events organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War against the bombings

To ask local MP's to raise the current Israeli evictions, bombings and treatment of Palestinians in relation to the diplomatic, military and economic support of the UK government

To write to the Foreign Secretary demanding that the UK government end all arms sales to Israel and bans the importation of goods produced in the occupied West Bank.

 

C) Medical Aid for Palestine

Islington NEU agrees to affiliate to MAP’s campaigns in support of Palestinian health workers and for the removal of barriers to health faced by Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees. (£50). We also agree to donate a further £250

We note that MAP supports Palestinians affected by occupation, conflict and displacement by working with local partners on the ground to provide essential healthcare services and supplies. It also campaigns in the UK and internationally for meaningful action to address the political barriers to Palestinians’ rights to health and dignity.

We recognise that MAP opposes racism in all its forms, including anti – Muslim hatred, antisemitism and xenophobia, and any form of discrimination whether based on race, religion, nationality, race, gender, sex, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.


D) Justice for Colombia

Islington NEU notes that:

Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. Every year numerous union leaders, union activists and union members are assassinated – simply because of their trade union activities. Over 3,000 trade unionists have been murdered since the mid-1980s, and nobody has been brought to justice in almost 90% of the cases.

Most of the killings are carried out by right wing paramilitaries with historic links to the Colombian state. The Colombian security forces have also been directly responsible for many of the killings.

Colombia also has some of the worst workers’ rights in the world. A 2017 report by the ITUC gave Colombia the second worst possible ranking and placed it amongst the 10 worst countries in the world to be a worker.

We agree to affiliate to the Justice for Colombia campaign (£90) and agree to donate a further a £150.

Justice for Colombia was set up in 2002 by the British trade union movement to support Colombian civil society in its struggle for human rights, labour rights, peace and social justice.

All JFC work is carried out in response to the demands of partners in Colombia: the political activists, trade unionists, peasant organisations, human rights defenders, and other civil society groups who are on the front line in demanding peace and social justice.

JFC promotes links of solidarity between British and Irish trade unions and organisations in Colombia and gives a political voice internationally to Colombian civil society through our work in the British, Irish and EU Parliaments.

Its objectives are to

·         Raise awareness of the situation for Colombian trade unionists in both Britain and Ireland.

·         Build links between Colombian trade unionists and trade unionists in Britain and Ireland.

·         Denounce trade union abuses in the British Parliament.


E) For a mass campaign to resist the police crackdown bill (the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill)

This branch notes:

- That the Tory government is currently attempting to pass legislation - the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - that hugely increases police powers and severely curtails the right to protest and picket in this country.

- That this bill allows police forces to criminalise any protest, picket or gathering they deem a “public nuisance” - a deliberately broad definition that gives the police discretion to break up events and arrest people at protests as they see fit.

- That this bill will also lead to further criminalisation of GRT (Gypsy, Roma, Traveller) communities through the updating of trespass from civil to criminal breach of law, leading to increased evictions, property seizure, family separations and incarceration of GRT people.

- That this bill will increase forms of police harassment and abuse, such as the justifications and scope of stop and search powers that are disproportionately wielded against Black people.

- That this bill will provide the legal mechanism for the rebranding of Youth Offending Institutions as “Secure Schools,” under the MoJ not the DoE, and incentivise charities to run these.

- That this bill ensures that actions of police officers are above the law during police car pursuit chases due to its amending of the 1998 Road Traffic Act.

- That this bill will needlessly increase surveillance powers, such as gaining access to electronic devices and holding people to obtain DNA or fingerprints.

- That this bill will extend the PREVENT duty, which already disproportionately targets those racialised as Muslim thus making educational institutions domains of surveillance, stress and threat for them, so as to increasingly also target Black young people.

- That this bill will increase the length and reach of criminal sentences, with longer sentences, minimum sentencing increased and mandatory, younger people eligible for whole life sentences, parole boards empowered to deny parole, and more; all of which will likely be used as ways of filling the 10,000 new prison places to emerge from the currently under-construction mega prisons.

- That an amendment put forward by a Labour Party MP seeks to introduce the Nordic Model of sex work and criminalise certain online platforms used by sex workers, which would lead to the backdoor criminalisation of sex work and would deeply exacerbate the dangers of sex work without offering any meaningful support to survive or exit the industry if needed.

- That there are both historic and contemporary examples of employers using police against legitimate pickets, undercover police within the trade union movement, and retrospective arrest and incarceration of trade union organisers to intimidate, undermine and quash trade union activities.

- That, given this, extending police powers will almost certainly lead to such tactics becoming widespread amongst employers who want to subdue union organisation and industrial action, alongside causing increased jeopardy to our Black, GRT and sex working comrades.

- That the government is likely to make concessions with this bill in an attempt to demobilise the movement.

- That to allow any form of this bill to pass and be enforced would be to abdicate responsibility towards and solidarity with Black, GRT and sex industry workers and non-workers.

This branch also notes:

- That protests against this bill have been met with severe police repression and widespread media coverage of police propaganda.

- That many attendees, legal observers, medics, and even representatives of the press have been attacked and injured at these protests, often without any provocation whatsoever, by police officers.

- That this violence from the police is in no way comparable to the supposed disorder that they were allegedly responding to.

- That the police have historically acted to break-up trade union activities with similar displays of force, such as at Orgreave and Wapping.

- That such displays of force are a regular occurrence against Black communities, GRT communities and sex workers and, as such, these parallels serve as reminders of what we have in common across movements, communities and industries.

This branch resolves:

- To publicly support the national Kill the Bill coalition by signing this statement: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdxxoAcut2Z3BXU1qeiE824MCXHk7TKlFCDSfgbBoV1AuQ18Q/viewform and contributing to national meetings, strategy and actions.

- To donate £100 to the national Kill the Bill coalition or founding groups.

- To commit to resisting this bill in its entirety in solidarity with the wider trade union movement, GRT communities, racialised people, and sex workers, who are all

disproportionately targeted by police powers already and face an intensification of such with this bill.

- To contribute to local organising efforts for the national Kill the Bill coalition via branch representatives, funds, information, networks, signposting, and more.

- To mobilise for any “Kill the Bill” actions organised by the local branch of the national coalition or by other local activists, including organising a delegation to attend these demonstrations.

- To stand in solidarity with other Kill the Bill actions and activists, regardless of whether the tactics they employ are commensurate with traditional trade union actions or tactics.

- To develop political education around policing, prisons, anti-racism, GRT lives, and sex worker politics in our branch and across our union in service of building solidarity across communities and a mass movement against this bill.

- To develop political understanding of trade unions, their history, and the purpose of industrial action in the wider non-trade union elements of the Kill the Bill movement, thus building and diversifying the trade union movement’s membership, politics, strategies, solidarities and strengths.

- To take our branch banner on any and all demonstrations we decide to attend.

- To instruct our union to take up such organisation nationally in order to render this bill unenforceable and defeat it before it passes, or make it ungovernable through direct action.

- To call upon our union to go to the TUC with a demand for a national mass campaign across all affiliated unions to oppose and defeat this bill in its entirety, regardless of any concessions the government might make.

- To call upon our union to put pressure on the Labour Party to come out strongly against this bill and its amendments, and to resist any increase of police powers or restriction on the right to protest or picket.

- To link this struggle with that of other workers, unions and community groups, by calling for a mass campaign across the labour movement and beyond - including building towards coordinated strike action - to bring down this Tory government.


 

 

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