County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank

The County  Durham Socialist Clothing Bank opened yesterday at its usual venue- the Miners Welfare Hall in Brandon. Many donations had been received since our last opening and we were well stocked up with men’s clothes and toiletries. As always it was very busy, we are regularly getting 90-100 people through the doors each time we open.


It is almost a year since the Clothing Bank first opened. The volunteers had little idea that what started as a concept to “give out a few clothes” has grown into such a well run initiative. Of course it would not be possible without our helpers who give time, money, clothes, support or any combination of those. The Clothing Bank has become well known locally. Bigger, more established organisations now seek our advice and refer people to us. It is amazing and very humbling to see what we have become. Here’s to the next year!


At the moment we cannot take any more donations of clothes of any kind. all our storage capacity is full. Remember the shipping container we have and are so proud of? It is full, stuffed, completely loaded. As are numerous garages and spare rooms! However we still need toiletries. If you could possibly put an extra bar of soap or deodorant into your weekly shopping, that would be awesome. We have also decided to make up shoe boxes at Christmas for our homeless friends. Visit the County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank facebook page if you would like to know more about what to put into the boxes.


Next opening is on 6th October from 12-2. Usual venue.

Len McCluskey On Trade Union Bill

Len McCluskey, the leader of Britain’s largest union, Unite put the government on notice that it would defy the trade union bill “using any means necessary to defend the democratic rights and freedoms of all trade unionists and the working people of our nation.”
The warning came as Unite called upon the government to end its systematic efforts to paint trade unions and their members as the `enemy within’, driven by a prejudice so intense that the government is willing to jeopardise the basic freedoms of all in the UK.
Len McCluskey said: “This is a movement that has from its inception delivered for each generation continued improvements to the working lives of millions of people.  It has secured our nation’s wealth and fought for the social and political progress that has made this county a place of fairness, equality and social justice.
“But instead of recognising our role this Prime Minister seeks to paint the millions of trade unionists and their families at `the enemy within’, with a Tory party drunk on class prejudice intent on destroying this movement as a force in British life.
“They seek to reduce trade unions to no more than employment advice agencies, while turning our members – who dare to act – into criminals.
“There is though, an emerging broad and united democratic campaign against this legislation is greater than ever before – because it doesn’t just attack trade unions.
“It threatens freedom of speech. It menaces freedom of association. It insults the values which all British people cherish.”
Len McCluskey called for the government to abandon the conflict it is pursuing with the unions and instead work with the movement to modernise voting arrangements:
“Instead of quibbling over percentages, let’s use the language of democracy and modernisation and implement secure workplace balloting. End this archaic reliance on postal ballots, and turnout will never be a problem again.”
The general secretary raised again the issue of when a law is so unjust, can it always be obeyed:
As we celebrate 100 years of women suffragettes fighting for votes, thank goodness that they did not see the law as sacrosanct.
“And had this conference been meeting in the 1960s in the southern states of America, would we have asked our black delegates to sit at the back of the hall – like Rosa Parks – or would we have defied the law?
“Our history, and that of the world, is littered with brave men and women who have defied bad laws and who fought and yes died to give us our heritage.
“And if that history tells us anything, its that when one section of society is segregated, asked to identity itself with labels and armbands and submit to a state-sponsored blacklist, the civil liberties of all of us are put at risk.”
Watch the video here:

Sports Direct Protest

Please see this message from  Alex Flynn, Unite’s head of media and campaigns about yesterday’s day of action against zero hours contracts. It was high profile and was reported in most of the national media. For a local aspect, have a look at the Daily Mirror article.

Yesterday’s Sports Direct national day of action saw community action, shareholder action and social media combine to highlight ‘Victorian’ work practices at Sports Direct and spark a significant shareholder revolt at the company’s AGM.
With protests from Truro to Newcastle and a demo outside the AGM at Sports Direct HQ, the day received wide spread coverage in national and regional media.
The campaign continues … But in the meantime here’s a small selection of some of the media coverage.
P.S. if you haven’t signed the petition click here now
Meanwhile, in other Sports Direct stores across the Durham area:
Sports Direct 1 Sports Direct 2 Sports Direct 3

The Welfare Charter

The Welfare Charter will be formally launched at the TUC congress next Monday.

We should have…

1. A political commitment to full employment achieved with decent jobs
People are entitled to decent, stable and secure jobs that provide regular, guaranteed hours that allows them to also meet any caring responsibilities; not zero hours contracts in precarious jobs.

2. A wage you can live on for all and a social security system that works to end poverty
We need a National Living Wage that people can live on, not just survive on, that applies to all.

3. No work conscription – keep volunteering voluntary
Forcing people to work for free on pain of losing benefits is simply providing free labour to organisations that should be paying workers proper wages.

4. Representation for unemployed workers
Everyone should have access to an advocate to help them navigate the social security system and appeal adverse decisions.

5. Appoint an Ombudsman for claimants
A Claimants Ombudsman should be appointed to arbitrate on unresolved complaints, to ensure claimants are treated with respect and dignity.

6. Equality in the labour market and workplace; equality in access to benefits.
We need a labour market where structural inequalities are overturned and a benefit system that is accessible to people.

7. An end to the sanctions regime and current Work Capability Assessment – full maintenance for the unemployed and underemployed.
We need a non-means tested, non-discriminatory benefit payable to all, with housing costs met. This must be allied with the wide provision of low cost housing.

8. State provision of high quality information, advice and guidance on employment, training and careers
There must be a supportive and independent careers and job-broking service, not linked to conditionality or benefits, offering face to face advice.

Download here: 710X_WelfareCharter_A5_3

Anti-Union legislation. The threat to our rights

Trade Union Bil

What the Conservatives are calling the ‘Trade Union Bill’ is in reality a threat to all of our rights at work. What it contains, and other proposals, will enshrine in law a series of wide-ranging measures that will significantly constrain trade unions and working people in organising collectively.

It places extreme and severe restrictions on the ‘right to strike’, by attacking trade unions in this way it will strangle peoples’ most powerful way of protecting their rights at work. The impact of these measures will be to make it much harder for working people to achieve better pay and working conditions. And we can’t ignore those measures in the Bill and others that are about rigging the rules of government in their favour, silencing voices and stifling peaceful protest – undermining basic freedoms with measures that are undemocratic and authoritarian.

Here are some useful documents outlining the dangers for this legislation:
Trade Union Bill Briefing_7118_BriefingA_A4_4 Political Report
Trade Union Bill Summary (4) – Political Report