General Secretary’s wages on the up!
In the December 2007 issue of the Activist, we reported on the wages of the general secretary. The recent edition of Arena reported on the progress of the general secretary’s income and other benefits. Below is his income.
Income or benefit 2007 2009
Salary £78,050 £85,812
National insurance £10,053 £10,295
Superannuation £15,172 £17,247
Car £5,494 £10,097
TOTAL £108,769 £123,451
During the general secretary election, Robbie Segal challenged the idea that the general secretary should earn nearly £110,000 more than then many of the members who pay his wages. Robbie certainly had a point.
La Senza workers take another step towards recognition
Readers of Activist may remember that last year I wrote an article outlining the situation for workers in La Senza’s mail order department, and the prospects unionising the work force. Rather optimistically, I predicted that recognition would be achieved by the first quarter of 2009. However, due to the hard (and covert) work of USDAW activists and Socialist Party members, I am now pleased to report that recognition is now a real possibility for La Senza workers!
Over the last year, La Senza workers have continued to put up the usual bullying, pettiness and degradation that is usual for unskilled workers. The company tells us that ‘we all have to pull together’ to get through this difficult time. What they mean, of course, is that profits must be not only maintained, but increased, to benefit the hedge fund, Lion Capital, that ultimately owns La Senza. La Senza has therefore used the recession as cover to attack workers conditions, by freezing wages at the 2008 level, meaning a wage cut in real terms. Staff who have resigned or been fired have not been replaced in a bid to cut costs, increasing the workloads of those who remain. Faulty equipment has not been replaced, and investment in new systems and techniques to make the work quicker and easier has been cut. This has left the mail order department understaffed and under resourced and leaves workers struggling to achieve targets and avoid disciplinary measures.
These issues and others, including using training as a means to try and divide the workforce, have built up resentment among the staff. By pointing out the ways La Senza breaks employment law, and explaining how the logic of capitalism forces companies to force the most work from people, while paying the lowest possible wages, Union activists and Socialists have been able to tap into this resentment, and channel it into action. Now, there are enough union members working at La Senza Mail Order to ballot for recognition, and a final recruitment push will take membership to the level required for mandatory recognition. Discussions with the area organiser for USDAW have been positive, and the union is willing to push for recognition once a majority of staff have joined up.
We hope that the last 18 months of agitation, discussion and recruitment will bear fruit, and that the USDAW agreement with La Senza will include the following:
Ÿ For full training for all staff, end favouritism
Ÿ For a reform of absence policy, end punishing workers for attending hospital or caring for sick relatives
· An end to bullying management
· An end to mandatory overtime
· An end to discrimination against temporary workers: for the same conditions and levels of pay for temporary workers, for protection against dismissal for sickness or lateness, for full training of temps
· For paid breaks
· For extra breaks for those working over time, an extra 15 minutes every two hours
· For measures to be taken to protect workers from the cold during winter
· For a guarantee of job security, and for permanent jobs to be made available for a proportion of temps
· For a 35 hour week with no loss of pay
PROPOSITIONS FOR 2010
Following our appeal for ideas for propositions for the 2010 ADM, we publish below the propositions that have been received to date. If you have any other ideas of propositions and would like them to be circulated through the Activist network then please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jobs for Young Workers
The latest unemployment figures show that young people are suffering the brunt of job losses. As unemployment of the under 25s reaches a million, this ADM considers that urgent action is needed by the trade unions on a national basis to fight for decent jobs for young people.
Therefore, this conference calls upon the EC to press the TUC to organise a series of protests on youth unemployment at a regional level which will lead to a national demonstration in the autumn.
Further, conference believes that all the Usdaw divisions should mobilise maximum support for any TUC action.
Recruiting Young Workers
This ADM notes with the current employment policy of many of the companies in the retail sector that many young people are employed on low hour contracts.
This conference believes that the Union should conduct a major organising and recruitment drive to win young workers to the trade union movement.
Conference calls upon the EC to present an ADM Statement on the ‘Problems facing Young Workers’ which should be discussed at the 2011 ADM. This document should consider the following:
1. a new youth and student rate for under 26 year-olds who work less than 10 hours
2. an organising campaign in 2011 directed towards young workers
In view of the recent scandals over MPs’ expenses, this conference believes that complete openness on the allowances paid to all members and officials in the Union is the best policy.
Therefore conference instructs the Executive Council to include in all future Annual Reports a section on expenses.
This new section should include the following:
1. all the different allowances paid to the Full Time Officials of the union, including the General Secretary and the central officials
2. the amount paid to members while on union business
3. any special allowances paid to Executive Council members.
Defend Public Services
Following the banking crisis and with the national debt continuing to grow, this ADM notes that all the major political parties have announced that there will be cuts in public services.
Conference believes that if our public services are not to be severely cut then the trade unions will have to take united, coordinated action to protect these services.
The ADM calls upon the EC to support trade union campaigns to defend our public services.
Challenging the BNP
The conference notes that the recent rise in the fortunes of the BNP and its racist policies has coincided with the failure of the three main parties to adequately deal with the problems facing working people. Many workers and young people have been conned into voting for the BNP believing them to at least represent a kick to the establishment parties that are all seen as the same.
Conference considers that if the labour movement allows the BNP to go unchallenged then racist attacks will continue to increase in the areas where the fascists elements of the leadership are active.
Therefore this ADM calls upon the EC to ensure that there are regular articles in both the Activist and Network exposing the background and fascist roots the BNP leaders, and how their policies are a danger to the labour movement and minority groups.
General Secretary: Rule change for the 2010 ADM.
This ADM considers the decision of the EC to place on the agenda of the 2010 ADM a proposition on changing the rules for the General Secretary election to be against the interest of democratic debate within Usdaw.
This ADM notes that the present incumbent of the position of General Secretary will only have served one year since his latest election and therefore we cannot understand the urgency of introducing this rule change without the branches having the same opportunity.
Therefore this ADM calls upon the EC to withdraw the proposition and raise the rule change at the same time as the branches can propose alterations to the general secretary election rules at the 2011 ADM.
This ADM notes that not all members cannot attend branch meetings therefore they are unable to be fully informed of the work of the union.
Therefore, this ADM calls upon the EC to introduce a system where branch circulars can be distributed by email to any member that requests to receive them.
Life Long Learning
This ADM considers that all the Parties have pledged major spending cuts after the next election. Life Long Leaning could be one of the many cuts imposed to pay for the economic crisis.
Conference notes that Life Long Learning has benefitted many of our members to gain knowledge and to develop new skills which have resulted in many learners finding better paid jobs.
Further, Conference believes that cutting funding to the Life Long Learning project would damage many of our members’ changes for a better future.
Therefore, this ADM instructs the EC to vigorously oppose any attacks made against Life Long Learning and join with any TUC initiatives, such as lobbies and demonstrations, to save the funding for Life Long Learning.
This ADM notes the number of women being employed as full-time officials in the Divisions have changed very little since 2003.
In the ADM Report 2003 there were 34 women employed as Area Organisers, Recruitment and Development Officers, Divisional Officers and Deputy Divisional Officers compared with 78 men and in the ADM Report 2008 there were 37 women and 78 men full-time officials working in the Divisions.
This conference considers that one of the main reasons for this lack of progress is that these important positions are not advertised on a job share basis.
Therefore, this conference instructs the EC to introduce a policy that all future Area Organiser and Recruitment and Development Officer vacancies should be open to members on a job share basis.
The conference calls upon the EC to rewrite the rule book in plain English.