Monthly Archives: June 2015

Ross Pritchard Annual Essay Competition

Annual Essay Competition, open to all trade unionists, first prize £750, closing date Saturday 26 September.

The RPMF was established to commemorate the life of one of the Graphical, Paper & Media Union’s best known rank and file members, Ross Pritchard.

Ross Pritchard

The Trustees of the Fund invite entries to the annual essay competition on a subject dear to Ross’s heart, this year:

“How should we build the public struggle in defence of the NHS?”

1,000 words maximum

Essays should be submitted to by 26 September 2015 and you must include your name, postal address and trade union (including your Branch or Region).


Labour Leadership Election

Some Unite Community members have been asking if they have a vote in the upcoming Labour leadership contest. We hope the following explains the procedure

Community members can become affiliate Labour members, the same as our industrial members. This link: will allow them to do this.

Trade union affiliate members can decide for themselves which candidate they vote for. In London, Unite has backed Sadiq Khan, this followed a Mayoral hustings in front of our London lay members who then voted on who to back. While Unite will recommend a vote for Sadiq Khan every union member who has signed up as an affiliated supporter can still vote for who they wish.

For the Labour leadership: on 30thJune there will be a Trade Unions for Labour hustings (all union’s affiliated to LP) – Unite’s lay elected Executive Committee and Political committee will be at that hustings and following it will decide who Unite will back based on policy positions on areas important to Unite members. But again it is only a recommendation and members decide on who they want to vote for themselves. Unite members can watch these hustings at the regional office (please contact us for details if you are interested and we will pass your details to the Regional Office)

The Big Collection before The Big Meeting

Unite Community in Durham are inviting everyone to come to the Durham Market Square on Friday 10th July and drop their clothes…and food as well, as the Market Square is turned into a collection point for the County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank and local food banks.

On the 10th of July – the day before the Durham Miner’s Gala – we will be asking for an extra day of solidarity, in support of those bearing the heaviest burden of tory austerity.

It is shocking that tens of thousands of families in as rich a nation as the UK can’t afford food, clothing and toiletries. Whilst we campaign to change that, we should also do what we can to help those suffering in the meantime.

We will be in the Market Square from 10:00 until 3:00 on Friday 10th July. If you are able to stop by and give us something from the list that would be great. If you are able to do a bit more, try and set up a collection in your own workplace and we will arrange for it to be collected at the end of the day. A poster and flyer are available to download below.

If you want to arrange a workplace collection or have any questions e-mail us at or phone Robbie Faulds on 07532 083108

Poster image

Poster for 10th July collection
Flyer for 10th July collection

Report From The USA

Gareth was one of the first Unite Community members in the North East Region. He helped to organise the first branch in Barnsley. He has just started work with the Bakers Union as an organiser and has sent us this report from recent international and national organising meetings in Detroit. Workers in the USA are currently winning the campaign for union rights and $15 an hour.

It is a great read. Thank you for sharing it with us Gareth.

Report from fight for 15 in Detroit

The People’s Assembly March- June 20th

On Saturday 20 June thousands of Unite members joined 250,000 others to send a message to this Tory government that austerity is not working and to ‘End Austerity Now”.
Here is a short snapshot of a great day which includes an extract from the  Unite General Secretary  Len McCluskey’s speech.

Orgreave Press Release

31st anniversary rally at OLD BRIDGE, TOP END, just off Handsworth Road, S13 9NA on Thursday 18 June 2015 at 5.30pm 
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) is holding a rally at Orgreave on 18 June, the 31st anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave that took place during the year long miners’ strike in 1984-85.
Recollections of 18 June 1984 will be combined with an update on the struggle by the OTJC for a public inquiry. 
Speakers to include:-
  • Tosh MacDonald – ASLEF President
  • Barbara Jackson – OTJC Secretary
  • Chris Skidmore – Yorkshire Area NUM President
  • Kevin Horne & Arthur Critchelow – miners arrested at Orgreave in 1984
  • Craig and Mick Oldham, who will be reading from ‘In Loving Memory of Work.’
  • Juztine Jenkinson – daughter of photographer Martin Jenkinson
95 miners were arrested at Orgreave after thousands of police officers – many in riot gear, with others on horseback – brutally assaulted miners participating in a strike aimed at defending jobs and mining communities. However when the subsequent court cases took place all of the charges – which included, in many cases, riot – were abandoned when it became clear that the police’s oral and written evidence was unreliable. Each prosecution had been supported by two police officers making near-identical statements. Later, South Yorkshire Police (SYP) paid out £425,000 in compensation to 39 pickets in out of court settlements. Nevertheless, no police officers were disciplined for misconduct or charged for the injuries they caused to those they attacked.
It was in November 2012 that SYP – already under pressure following the release of the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel that has led to fresh inquests into the death of 96 Liverpool fans – referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to decide whether there should be a full investigation into what happened at Orgreave on 18 June and in the earlier picketing at the plant in May/June 1984.
The IPCC took 2.5 years to conduct a scoping (initial investigation) but last week announced that due to the historical nature of the allegations it would not be conducting a full investigation. The IPCC had failed to locate a series of important documents including the policing operational orders drawn up for 18 June. The police watchdog’s report did though identify a cover up by SYP of malpractice it knew had taken place and largely conceded that only a public inquiry can eventually get to the truth.
OTJC was not surprised at the IPCC’s decision and is buoyed by the news that the Home Secretary Theresa May has subsequently stated she would consider any request to set up a public inquiry into Orgreave. OTJC is currently taking some legal advice about how best to proceed and meanwhile there are plans for a Parliamentary meeting with MPs. The struggle for a public inquiry will therefore be reaffirmed at the 31st anniversary rally this Thursday.
The rally at the Old Bridge, Top End, just off Handsworth Road, S13 9NA will commence at 5.30pm on Thursday 18 June.

Durham Moot 2015

This looks like a good event. Organised by the Durham Book festival.

Durham Moot

Sunday 12 July 2015

Palace Green Library, Durham

This July, tens of thousands of people again will gather behind bands and banners at the Durham Miners’ Gala. At a time when we are told there is a disconnection between politics and people, the “Big Meeting” remains an impressive occasion and today stands as a significant expression of the importance and resilience of community.

Historically, though, the Gala fulfilled many functions, among which was its role as a place for debate. The Gala traditionally was a space for thinking aloud about how to make a more just, egalitarian and better society.

Such a space has never been needed more, especially in the North East. The political, social and cultural challenges facing the communities from which the Gala has drawn its strength have never been greater.

In the aftermath of a General Election in which there was a widespread sense that the big issues were not discussed and that the language of debate was further coarsened, the case for remaking a space for debate is strong.

On Sunday 12 July, Durham Book Festival and Durham Miners’ Association, in association with Palace Green Library and The People’s Bookshop, are joining forces to create such a space for thoughtful discussion.

We’ve called it Durham Moot. Why Moot? It’s an old English word that, in its adjectival form suggests something subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and as a noun refers, historically, to an assembly held for debate or a regular gathering of people having a common interest. It captures usefully what we are trying to achieve.

Come, let us reason together.

Durham Moot Programme

Sunday 12 July 2015

All sessions chaired by Professor John Tomaney, UCL                     

1pm-2.15pm: Community & Generations

How are our communities faring? What is a good community, and what can we learn from the past about communities? Do our communities need to be empowered? The past we inherit, the future we build: What can the generations learn from each other?

Speakers include: Heather Wood, Easington Action Group; Dave Temple, National Union of Miners; Julia Heslop, Durham University

2.45pm-4pm: Democracy

The 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta points to the long struggle for democratic rights, but we live in an age when there is widespread disillusion with politics. How did we reach this state? What kind of democracy do we want? What kind of democracy is possible? What are the rights of the citizen? How are these rights defined, framed and asserted? 

Speakers include: Owen Jones, journalist and author of The Establishment; Simon Henig, Leader, Durham County Council; Dr Christian Liddy, Durham University and academic curator of Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt exhibition at Palace Green Library.

4.30pm-5.45pm: Conversation and Culture

How should we communicate about our needs and aspirations? How are our lives and communities reflected and debated in the local and national media? How can we create a productive public conversation about the future? The North has a rich tradition of indigenous cultural production, but who is consuming and making our art and culture?  Is the culture that we produce representative of our region and its people?

Speakers include: Ian Wylie, Editor, Northern Correspondent; Alex Niven, Assistant Editor, New Left Review; Sean O’Brien, poet; Ros Rigby, Performance Programme Director, Sage Gateshead.

All sessions take place in Palace Green Library, Palace Green, Durham DH1 3RN

Following a day of lively conversation, we hope you will join us for an after-party in Vennels Yard organised by The People’s Bookshop. Headliners The Kets will be joined on the bill by Dennis, The Ree-Vahs!, Joe Solo and Chloe Lawton. Tickets cost £5 and are available from The People’s Bookshop. The party starts at 5.30pm. See for more details. 

book festival

Tickets available for the Moot here