Jude Brimble, National Secretary for the Manufacturing Section gave an update on the success of ‘Making It’ campaign and reported that manufacturing membership was increasing. U.K. needs a manufacturing policy that delivers for workers, economy and our communities.
600k manufacturing jobs lost in the last decade, but the industry is still worth £165billion to the UK economy. Brexit presents a real risk to the 2.5million manufacturing jobs in the UK with jobs already being outsourced to EU countries.
A presentation was made by Karen Haman from the IFAU regarding the 4th industrial revolution and the challenges and opportunities this brings for workers. This sparked a healthy debate from delegates.
GMB General Secretary, Tim Roache, spoke to conference on the GMB campaign to protect manufacturing jobs at Bombardier, shipbuilding and Brexit… saying ‘Workers must have a fair deal’.
Regional delegates Ian Kemp and Kenny Gilberthorpe spoke on motions relating to British ships being built in British shipyards using British steel. This was endorsed by conference.
Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth, addressed conference and talked about politics shaped by an industrial heritage. All agreed the Tories had failed the manufacturing industry with the message that ‘Tories ‘talk the talk but are not walking the walk’ and that we desperately need a Labour Government.
It was a positive day with some amazing activists who defend jobs and workers rights. The Yorkshire & North Derbyshire delegates should be proud of their contribution to growing the GMB and fighting for their members.
On a personal note I was proud to have the opportunity to support our members during the conference
Andrew Aldwinkle - GMB Organiser (Brighouse)
Rehana Azam (public services national officer) opened up the section conference and welcomed all delegates. There was a minutes silence for Mary Turner. A video of her life was shown too.
Conference business commenced.
We moved to the vote for a sectional president which caused controversy as the candidates were not given the opportunity to introduce themselves and present their reasons for standing. However, the vote went forward.
June Minnery was duly elected. June thanked conference and took position.
The General Secretary, Tim Roache, addressed conference and discussed the challenges the union faces but mentioned some of the positive work in the union and Yorkshire were mentioned personally (Myself and Sarah Kelly) for our contribution to changing the law, in particular the amendment to the bill on sexual assaults.
He also announced that the Public Service Sectional Conference would now be an annual event which was received well by delegates.
We then moved to a Q&A for the Public Services national team. Yorkshire’s questions were asked by Martin Jackson and they were on whether we will have a national strategy on Wholly Owned Subsidiaries and the rise of unpaid overtime and if we can have a campaign on this issue.
Angela Rayner was welcomed as the guest speaker and she spoke well on a wide range of current challenges across public services and reinforced some pledges from the Labour manifesto such as free school meals for all children. She paid tribute to Mary Turner for all her hard work in ensuring that a Labour government would honour that in her name.
She pledged that a Labour government would reinstate the School Support Staff Negotiating Body and that a future Labour government would double the ULF funding to 24 million pounds to ensure union members were given the opportunities for learning they should never have lost. She also mentioned about a future national education service. Following her speech she was given a rapturous applause.
The Yorkshire delegation were fantastic with some long standing stalwarts and other first time delegates and first time speakers Sarah Kelly and Pauline Kiely.
I was proud to lead the delegation as the PSSO officer, they were fantastic.
Stacey Booth – GMB Organiser (Wakefield)
Commercial Services Section
Justin Bowden: National Secretary
Justin addressed conference and said 45% of new members recruited over the last twelve months from Commercial Services Section. Strategy - High profile, hard hitting campaigns to benefit our members. For example. ÜBER, Amazon
Asda - 11000 equal pay claims lodged to date. GMB is the only trade union that is actively supporting its members in retail in respect of equal pay claims.
Sainsbury’s take over plan is causing uncertainty for our members at Asda as Walmart plan to exit UK. Our job is about the members, we will defend the jobs of our members. We will continue to improve pay in Asda. Pensions have been an issue with company proposing to slash benefits including proposals to cut death in service from 4x salaries to 1x, employers contributors cut. Yorkshire and North Derbyshire delegates, Sue Walker and Chris Brook, spoke on a motion in respect of Asda squeezing its workers.
Wilko - Pace of change on the high street is putting pressure on our members. Gary Carter reported on the challenges faced in Wilko. Wilko relies heavily on imports from outside UK. Brexit has had a massive impact.
Huge amount of work has gone in to minimise the redundancies. From a situation where 4000 people were at risk, 1000 were actually made redundant, only 19 compulsory redundancies. Two year pay rise agreed which has kept colleagues above national living wage. Reps have successfully negotiated that the company sign up to the TUC Dying to Work Charter.
Amazon- owned by richest man in the world. Survey of members has shown that they are being treated appallingly - mental health issues are on the increase.
GMB is taking three more companies to court in respect of employment status.
Ruth Smeeth, MP for Stoke in Trent, addressed conference. Proud GMB member, praised work GMB is doing for airport workers, gig economy and Asda workers. GMB is a winning union - look at the battles we have won over the last twelve months. Automation and technology is changing the working lives of many of our industries.
Politicians need to work with unions to reshape the future - we need to find a way forward with a Labour Government. Need a new Government, 8 years in to a Tory Government has decimated our country - times for a change.
Labour Party are holding a debate on retail later this week.
A lawyer from Leigh Day addressed conference and spoke about Equal Pay and the Gender Pay Gap. He spoke about challenging these issues including different types of stereotypes of work.
Tim Roache, General Secretary, reported that going forward there will be an annual sectional conference outside of congress. Tim spoke about campaigns and work that needs done to grow the union in the gig economy. Union membership is at an all-time low at 6.5 million. Gas, electricity, water, nuclear energy are the bedrock of our membership.
The David Lyons Award went to Michael Ryan from Birmingham Region (Severn Trent) and Mark Platt London Region.
President’s Award for Learning
Barry Rutledge from North West and Irish Region was awarded the President's Award for Learning.
Stuart Fegan -National Officer
Stuart gave an update on the changes in the gas industry over the last two year. GMB opposes any further redundancies with British Gas.
Carl Meader - Cadent Gas
Carl gave an update on changes within the transportation of gas. Members have accepted and embraces changes in the past Transco, National Grid however recent changes within Cadent are concerning - feeling financial constraints. Pay deal of 2.5% accepted.
Jason Evans - Severn Trent Water
Jason spoke of the growth in membership in the water industry.
Many challenges but are now working with OFWAT and the water companies as well as HSE. This gives us opportunities to engage and influence. Policy of GMB and desire of our members to get water industry back into public ownership. Aim of encouraging investment, improve Health and safety, pensions and full engagement with the union.
Roger Jenkins- National Officer Report
Roger spoke about security and distribution. Security- TUPE transfers are causing a race to the bottom. Poorly paid and not good terms and conditions. GEOAMEY prison transport - worked for five years to harmonise terms and conditions, now government is talking of breaking the service up, GMB will oppose any detriment to our members.
G4S - have a policy of ‘lowest price wins’
Cash in Transit - this is a declining industry - no one uses cash, we all pay by card which means less work for our members.
Worry that our members are subject to threats of horrific attacks such as acid attacks in robberies. The increase in members suffering from mental health issues is a concern to us. It was reported that the average level life expectancy for security workers is 61 years - 25% lower than the national average.
Equality Survey across the security industry - 48 members from Yorkshire & North Derbyshire took part in the national survey. In total 9% of responses were from migrant workers and 9% considers themselves as having a disability. Results show that there is much equality discrimination in the security industry.
Warinder Juss, Thompson’s updated conference on how government changes to personal injury claims have adversity impacted on our members.
Kate Bell, Head of Economic and Social Affairs at the TUC addressed conference.
Kate spoke about ‘ the future of work’ and how technology and automation is changing the workplace. Technology is changing fast - it’s only ten years since the introduction if the iPhone. Industry is using robots mainly to make cars but also in many other areas too. The potential impact of this is that’s jobs are changing incredibly fast. The long term impact on jobs is still unknown at this time - one theory is that technology replaces tasks not jobs - changing the nature rather than the quality of work
Employment is rising but wages aren’t.
Bob Crosbie National Officer will be retiring in September.
Sue Wood (Senior Organiser, Sheffield)