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South West TUC

Christmas 2013












Cool heads and real facts

The South West TUC is calling for cool heads and real facts to guide a debate on the impact of Bulgarians and Romanians who have new rights to work in the region in the new year.

From 1st January, people living in the two countries will gain the same rights to work in the UK as other EU citizens, prompting fears among some groups of a negative impact on jobs, healthcare and housing.

But the South West TUC, in a new booklet launched today entitled Truth, Lies and Migrants, says estimates of the number of people expected to arrive in the South West are simply guesswork and that immigration as a whole benefits the region.

Regional Secretary Nigel Costley said: "There's a massive gulf between fact and ill-informed fiction. It's easy to imply there are 29 million people waiting on the borders to come in but the notion that the entire populations of two countries are on the move is utter nonsense - it's simply scaremongering for political purposes.

"The truth is many Romanians and Bulgarians are already working in the South West, as skilled workers, self-employed and seasonal agricultural schemes. Our economy would struggle without them because migrants pay in 34% more than they take out in public services."

Among the key facts published in Truth, Lies and Migrants are:

·         in 2012 3,200 more 16-24-year-olds left the South West than came

·         the South West has the largest percentage of people aged over 65 in the UK

·         in 2011 there were 82 million overnight stays by tourists in the South West

·         there are 221 per sq km in the South West, compared to 401 per sq km in England

·         More people left Cheltenham, North Devon, Plymouth and Weymouth & Portland   

          than moved in

·         in 2012 Cornwall had 3,800 more people from within the UK arrive than leave

·         A8 migrants pay 34% more in than they take out in services

·         in 2010 52,000 people came to the UK to medical treatment, spending £219m, while

          63,000 travelled to hospitals and clinics abroad

·         there are just 650 asylum seekers in the South West

·         asylum seekers are entitled to just £36.62 per week - £5.23 a day

·         just 1% of the South West are Muslims

·         3% of migrants claim disability benefits, compared to 7% of UK nationals

·         1% of migrants claim out-of-work benefits, compared to 4% of UK national

Nigel Costley said: "The issues of immigration and population are hotly debated and affect how people are treated at work and in our communities. Trade unions speak up for working people, which means protecting wages and conditions from being undercut. It also means supporting workers when they are being exploited by employers and gang masters.

"It will bridge the gap between how we think the South West is made up, and how it really is, because, sadly, a region like the South West, which is overwhelmingly white British, is where scare stories have the most impact."

Download Truth, Lies and Migrants

For copies and bulk orders contact 0117 947 0521

Phantom policies for a phantom problem

The Government should come clean and reveal the proportion of migrants who claim benefits within three months of arriving in the UK, the Public and Commercial Services union says. The union has asked the Department for Work and Pensions for the statistical evidence behind the government's policy to limit access to social security for EU migrants, but it claims it does not have it.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "We know this information is collected and that it will reveal the government is claiming to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

Jonathan Portes from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research said the Government's moves were are a "series of phantom measures to combat a phantom problem" See more here

Cost of living crisis deepens

The real value of the average full-time wage in the South West has fallen by 8.3% - £2,280 - since 2007, according to new official figures published today by the Office for National Statistics.

Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary for the South West TUC, said: "This is what a cost of living crisis looks like, not a recovery. And with people on low to medium wages spending more on basics like energy, fuel and housing, the crisis is even worse for ordinary people.

"When the government claims that living standards are rising - or that ministers are riding to the rescue by claiming they will take £50 off energy bills - we need to tell them loud and clear that people need £2,000 just to catch up with what they have lost since this government came to power, let alone from the start of the recession. Britain most definitely needs a pay rise."

Shock rise in gender pay gap

The latest annual pay statistics published by the Office for National Statistics show that the full-time gender pay gap increased to 15.7 per cent in 2013 (up from 14.8 per cent the year before).

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This year has seen a shock rise in the gender pay gap after years of slow, steady progress. Ministers should be ashamed of presiding over this latest dismal record on pay.

"It is not right that in Britain today women still earn 15 per cent less per hour than men, a pay gap that costs full-time women over £5,000 a year."

Gender stereotyping in apprenticeships

Women apprentices are far more likely to end up in low-paid jobs as a result of training in female-dominated sectors, according to new research published by unionlearn and the National Apprenticeship Service.

The study shows that while there has been a large rise in the number of women taking apprenticeships over the last ten years, many end up working in female-dominated sectors, such as early-years childcare and hairdressing, where wages tend to be lower and where there is less chance of career progression.

The report, Under-representation by gender and race in apprenticeships, warns that gender stereotyping is dissuading young women from pursuing careers in traditionally male industries.

The report recommends ways to address gender segregation including ideas for schools and careers guidance.

Most part-timers will now miss out on pension

Pensions Minister Steve Webb has announced that he the salary level that triggers auto-enrolment into a workplace pension will rise to £10,000, TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Every time the government raises the auto-enrolment threshold another group of workers, most of whom are women, drop out of saving for their pension.

"With the average part-time salary just under £9,000 a year, the majority of the UK's six million part-time workers will no longer be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension.

Time for grandparents

More than half a million grandparents in the South West provide regular childcare for their grandchildren aged under 16, with the most popular reason being to allow the child's parents to work, according to the South West TUC.

The YouGov poll - published as part of the TUC's Age Immaterial investigation into women over 50 in the workplace shows that 58 per cent of grandparents provide regular childcare, equivalent to nearly seven million grandparents across Britain.

Many working grandparents play a key role in the care of their grandchildren and the TUC wants them to have greater entitlement to unpaid leave so they can combine looking after their grandchildren with their jobs.

A new right to unpaid leave enjoys considerable support from both grandparents - 42 per cent support the policy, just 26 per cent oppose - and parents (50 per cent support, 21 per cent oppose). And the government has an opportunity to introduce unpaid leave for grandparents as the Children and Families Bill goes through Parliament.

Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary of the South West TUC, said: "The informal childcare that millions of grandparents regularly provide is one of the most important and unheralded forms of care in Britain today.

"The childcare provided by grandparents allows mums and dads to work, saves them money on nursery and child-minder fees, and creates a special bond across different generations in a family.

"But with more people than ever before working into their late 60s, millions of grandparents are selflessly taking on childcare responsibilities for a second time while they still work. Many businesses have yet to keep up with this trend and thousands of grandparents who want to look after their grandkids are prevented from doing so.

TUC Education course programme

An updated South West TUC Union Reps course booklet for 2014 is available for download (pdf) from the South West TU Education website

It lists all scheduled union reps courses for 2014, including Diploma courses in Occupational Health and Safety starting in the new year, the new 10-day Employment Law Certificate for reps and Union Learning Rep Stage 1 courses in Plymouth and St Austell (21st January start). 

The online course directory will be updated with any additional courses or date changes.

Planning for a great festival

Thursday 30th January 11am - 1pm
Kings Arms Hotel, 30 High East Street, Dorchester DT1 1HF

A date has been set for the Tolpuddle Festival 2014 planning meeting where unions, local trades councils and other organisations meet to discuss Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival 2014.

Contact no later than Wednesday, 22 January 2014 if you wish to attend on behalf of your union.

Home Truths

The latest report from the National Housing Federation lays bare the country's housing crisis. See the report: Home Truths


Final Beyond Capitalism? Lecture

30th January in Plymouth University

Dame Pauline Green will deliver the final lecture in the Beyond Capitalism? Lecture series on the Plymouth University campus.

Dame Pauline Green is the first woman President of the International Co-operative Alliance in its 117 year history. Elected in 2009 at the General Assembly, Pauline argued that the time is right for radical change in the priorities of the ICA, and called on members to rally to help her achieve the sort of global body that the size and reach of the movement deserves.

Click here to read more about the lecture.


Free learning tasters in rural Dorset

Saturday 1st February 9am-3pm
Miles Cross Farm, near Bridport

Unionlearn has linked up with Yeovil College and Miles Cross Farm Education and Enterprise Centre to fund a full day of free taster sessions and activities. This will be a great chance to try out new skills.

Activities include:

·         Blacksmith Crafts

·         Healthy cooking

·         Digital Landscape Photography

·         Clay Pigeon Shooting

·         Grow your own food

·         Silver Jewellery making

·         Fishing skills

·         Bricklaying basics

·         Tiling taster

·         Woodwork

Yeovil College have also offered to provide a hot fish and chip lunch for those attending taster sessions and there will also be an opportunity to look around the facilities at Miles Cross and discuss possible future activities for workplaces and members with Yeovil College staff.

For more information contact Keith Hatch To sign up for sessions please email Emily Westacott

You can find out more about Miles Cross

Wave progress

The leading wave energy company Seatricity is to develop a 10MW array over the next two years at Wave Hub, the offshore renewable energy test facility in Cornwall.

Seatricity plans to deploy its second generation device next year before building out to a full scale grid-connected array in 2015. The company said Wave Hub provided the grid capacity it needed, and that it was intending to build its next generation Oceanus 2 device in Cornwall and use the local supply chain to support its marine operations.

The company will also be locating its custom-built workboat Ocean Enterprise in Wave Hub's home port of Hayle shortly.

The Wave Hub consists of a giant 'socket' on the seabed connected to the grid network onshore by an underwater cable. It was one of the bold projects developed by the Regional Development Agency before its abolition.

Globalization and work

17th January 10am-5pm
Dartington Suite, Wallscourt Farmhouse, Frenchay Campus
The Centre for Employment Studies Research will launch Globalization and Work, by Stephen Williams, Harriet Bradley, Ranji Devadason and Mark Erickson at a day symposium at the University of the West of England. Guest speakers include Bridget Anderson, Luke Martell, Roger McKenzie and Phil Taylor.
Attendance is free, but places are limited Book your place now

For further information e-mail or call 0117 32 83435

Business in the Committee employee awards

Business in the Community's Responsible Business Awards shine a spotlight on businesses from all sectors that are building resilient communities, diverse, skilled and healthy workforces, and a sustainable future in the South West.

Information on the South West Local Impact Awards can be found here

The South West Local Impact Awards are:

·         Community Champion Award

·         Employee Volunteering Company of the Year

·         Employee Volunteer of the Year

·         Collaborative Action Award

·         Enterprise Through Diversity Award

The South West Responsible Awards Gala Dinner will be taking place on 17th June at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Tickets will be on sale soon.

For further information contact Nicola Prince Head of Events and Marketing 0117 930 9380 

National Dignity Action Day

1st February 2014
The NPC plans to work with TUC Regions to mark National Dignity Action Day on 1st February 2014 with local and regional events to publicise and win support for the NPC Dignity Code. NPC South West contacts: Don Harper - Sheila Curzon - Bernard O'Neil - Bob Jones -

South West TUC Health and Safety Conference

Wednesday 12 February 10am to 4pm
Exeter City Football Club, Stadium Way, Exeter EX4 6PX

Speakers at the 2014 conference will include Hugh Robertson, TUC H&S Policy Officer, with more to be confirmed. Workshops on a variety of workplace health and safety issues will be available throughout the day. Early registration recommended as this regional event for union reps, health & safety reps and union officers is always popular.

Full workshop information will be available in January and reps will then be able to select their preferred options in advance. These are likely to include workplace stress, mental health, women's health and safety, negotiating, disabled workers, health and safety campaigning and more. More event details at  or Click here to register now

Bristol Radical Film Festival

3rd-9th March

The Bristol Radical Film Festival returns with another packed programme of overtly political documentary and fiction film from around the world. From historical classics to contemporary video-activism, short films and feature productions, we show the films that the multiplexes won't, in the time-honoured tradition of using cinema as a tool to educate, agitate and organise for change.  @bristolfilmfest

Still the enemy within

To coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the 1984/5 miners' strike next year a new film is being produced called Still the Enemy Within. It tells the story of the miners' strike through the voices of 'Arthur's Army' - a group of miners who put themselves on the frontline of every major battle for a year to defend their jobs and communities.

For more information click here