|Cuba Update Special 8 November 2017
Thanks to the persistent campaigning of CSC members, affiliates and supporters the Open University has reversed its discriminatory policy of barring Cuban students from studying at the institution.
This campaign victory comes as a direct result of the actions taken by thousands of CSC supporters writing to the OU and to their MPs; the public statements and letters sent by trade unions with links to the OU, (the NUT, UCU, Unite and Unison); and the MPs who raised the issue with government ministers and in parliament. Without the constant pressure to expose OU policy, the bar would have continued without challenge.
While we welcome the statement issued by the OU on Wednesday 8 November announcing that they would now accept Cuban students, we believe that the bar should never have been enforced in the first place.
When faced with the choice of breaking the UK’s Equality Act, or risk of legal action from the United States Treasury Department, the OU chose to opt for a discriminatory policy against Cuban students. By default, they helped to implement US blockade policy in the UK.
It took a vigorous campaign from CSC, which drew national press coverage and saw questions raised in the Houses of Parliament, to shame the OU to take action to reverse their prejudiced policy.
But it should have been the British government, not the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, who challenged the Open University’s blatant disregard for British laws.
By barring a student’s application based on their Cuban nationality, the OU broke anti-discrimination legislation laid down by the 2010 Equality Act. By complying with the extraterritorial aspects of the US blockade, it contravened legislation which prohibits British companies and organisations ignoring UK laws in favour of US regulations.
Just a few days ago, on 1 November 2017, the British government voted with 190 other nations to condemn the US blockade of Cuba at the United Nations General Assembly. Yet, in reality they do nothing to back up this vote.
CSC believes that the government needs to follow through on their vote at the United Nations and decide whether this vote, and British laws, are worth the paper they are printed on. The only way to stop other companies and organisations capitulating to US Treasury threats is if the government sends a clear message that UK laws are sovereign. CSC calls on the government to make a public statement it will take swift and robust action against any future breaches of British law linked to extraterritorial US blockage legislation.
Once again, we thank all the friends and supporters for being part of this campaign victory by taking action to pressure to Open University to reverse its bar against Cuban students. It is a testament to the power of campaigning and international solidarity.
Thank you for your continued support.
Yours in solidarity
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign team
Please find a link below to an online survey asking UNISON members working for the NPS and the CRCs to provide input into UNISON’s response to the Justice Select Committee Inquiry into Transforming Rehabilitation. The call for evidence closes on 17 November and UNISON aims to put in one collective response on behalf of NPS and CRC members.
The Justice Select Committee wants to find out:
Whether the attempts by the MOJ at the end of July 2017 to improve CRC performance by giving them more money, and by making suggested changes to the probation inspection regime, are having any effect?
What impact Transforming Rehabilitation has had on sentencing, recalls, Serious Further Offences and Through the Gate?
What should be done to improve/reform Transforming Rehabilitation?
Your views as probation staff are vital to the outcome of the Committee’s Inquiry, so please do respond in any way you can. You do not need to answer every question and your comments are totally anonymous. Thank you in advance for your participation.
Responses must be made by no later than 12 midnight on 15 November.
At the United Nations General Assembly today, the world voted with Cuba in support of a resolution calling for an end to the 55 year old US blockade of the island.
The final vote, 191 to 2, saw the United States isolated, as only it and Israel voted against all 191 other member states. Although the vote is non-binding it sends a clear message to the United States government that it stands alone when it comes to its policy of blockade.
In 2016, the US historically abstained for the first time after 24 years of voting against the resolution. In her speech to the UN, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador told the organisation said that they were reversing this decision since the US people had spoken by electing a new president (Trump) who supported the blockade.
She described the debate on the blockade at the United Nations as “political theatre” and said the US delegation was voting to continue the blockade out of solidarity with the Cuban people. Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s chief negotiator in talks with the US, branded these comments as disrespectful to the United Nations and an insult to Cuba.
Nikki Haley’s comments also contradict US public opinion which is in favour of normalising relations with Cuba and ending the blockade. On Tuesday 31 October a group of democratic senators urged Trump by letter to abstain from the vote again. “Our failed embargo against Cuba has been repeatedly and publicly condemned by the international community as ineffective and harmful to the people of Cuba,” the senators wrote. “The longer we maintain this outdated Cold War policy the more our international regional credibility suffers.”
Opening his speech to the UN, Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban Foreign Secretary, condemned the “offensive and interfering” statement made by Nikki Haley.
He described the blockade as “a flagrant, systematic and massive violation of the human rights of all Cubans.” “It can be described as an act of genocide”, and “an obstacle to the humanitarian support that Cuba offers to 81 countries of the global South,” he said.
Country representatives from across the globe spoke in support of the Cuban resolution, praising the country for the international solidarity that it provided to many poor nations in the form of medical brigades and training, despite the effects of the blockade on its own economy. They also lamented the deteriorating relations between the US and Cuba following the election of Donald Trump and called on the US to return to the path of respectful relations with the island.
In response to the vote, CSC director, Rob Miller said:
“This is a cynical move by the US government. The Trump administration, in its desperation to appease right-wing politicians, is systematically destroying the last two years of progress in diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“At a time when the island needs materials and equipment to aid its recovery from Hurricane Irma, the US policy appears more vicious than ever. It is vitally important to maintain the international campaign against the US blockade so that the US government receives a clear message that the rest of the world supports the Cuban people in their call to end this cruel and archaic policy.”
Find out more:
- Only US and Israel vote against lifting blockade on Cuba at UN – TeleSur report on UN blockade debate
- Cuba’s 2017 report to the UN on the affects of the blockade
- Under siege Cuba deserves our support – CSC reports on 26 years of United Nations votes against the blockade
Find out more about Cuba’s resistance to US aggression and its achievements in the face of the longest economic blockade in history by coming to one of our forthcoming events including the Che Guevara Anniversary Tour with Che’s daughter, Aleida, and a special parliamentary meeting with Cuban MPs in November, plus the 12th annual Latin America Conference in December.
The 11th biennial TUC survey of union health and safety representatives, published today (Friday) during European Health and Safety at Work Week, finds the top-five cited hazards were stress, bullying and harassment, overwork, back strains and slips, and trips and falls on a level.
In top place was stress. Over two-thirds of safety reps (67 per cent) taking part in the survey said that stress, and the effect it is having on their colleagues, is one of the main concerns they have to deal with at work.
One in six of the workplace reps who completed the survey say their employers are failing to conduct risk assessments, which is a breach of health and safety law, says the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s shocking that so many employers are breaking the law and putting their staff at risk of illness and accidents by their sheer negligence. Not only does this put people in danger while doing their jobs, the consequences also carry a high cost for British businesses and public services because it results in lower productivity and more staff spending time off sick.
“Stress remains the top concern for health and safety workplace reps. It’s a particular problem in parts of the public sector like the NHS and local government that have been hit by cuts and top-down reorganisations. Sickness and absence from stress is one of the false economies of public sector austerity.”
1 October 201712:00pm–6:00pm
Castlefield Arena, Rice Street, Manchester M3 4JR
National demonstration as part of the week-long Take Back Manchester festival organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity to coincide with the Conservative Party conference.
No more austerity | scrap the pay cap | Tories out – for decent health, homes, jobs and education
March for for decent health, homes, jobs and education. Public service workers need a pay rise. #PayUpNow #ScrapTheCap
National demonstration on the opening day of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, organised by the People’s Assembly.
Assemble from 12pm, Castlefield Arena Rice Street, Manchester M3 4JR.
The demonstration is part of a week of protest, demonstrations, cultural events, rallies, comedy, music and public meetings all across Manchester.
|REPRESENTATIVE||PHONE NUMBER (S)|
RICHARD STRADLING (NPS)
0161 761 6419
ZOE TODD (C & L CRC)
PHILL TAYLOR ( C & GM CRC)
01442 229 5805
PENNY FORMAN (CAFCASS)
ALTERNATIVELY MEMBERS CAN RING;
UNISON DIRECT ON 0800 085 7857
OR THE BRANCH OFFICE (NB: THE OFFICE IS ONLY STAFFED BETWEEN TUESDAY AND THURSDAY)
87 MOSS LANE WEST
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I’ve worked in probation for a long time. It has never been perfect, but before then-justice secretary Chris Grayling got his hands on it, it was said to be a high-performing public service. Now, though, it is difficult to believe what a complete mess it is in.
I work in a community rehabilitation company (CRC), one of 21 private sector firms working with so-called medium- and low-risk clients. Many people are on my caseload because of domestic violence, and there are often concerns about the impact on their children. Most have alcohol, drug or mental health issues. It’s always been a worrying job.
But the CRC I work for is now owned by a company that doesn’t understand my work. These private companies are still miles off the pace in trying to deliver an impossibly complex contract, supervising hundreds of thousands of offenders. After experiences that have included shedding a third of staff, setting up partnerships from scratch, sourcing new buildings, many of which are hard to access, and installing open booths for us to work in, we have been left working in what one client memorably nicknamed “Mickey Mouse probation”.
That particular client refused to use the open booths because of his offence and history. Instead we met outside or in group rooms, when available. I personally feel very uncomfortable when I have to use a booth to meet clients. It means most of our face-to-face work is overheard, overseen and open to disruption. Not surprisingly there has been an increase in incidents, which now seem to occur on a daily basis.
The problems don’t stop there. The interface with the National Probation Service is fractured: cases swap between the two systems as they go back to court, with mistakes rife, and palpable friction between the organisations. Essentially we feel we are misleading the courts and the public every day about what we can deliver. It is frightening.
Promises of new ways of working, and new IT systems, haven’t materialised, leaving us tied to the existing, inefficient technology to hit our funding-linked targets. Frequent inspections and auditing – akin to something out of Big Brother – confirm that the best we can hope to be is sufficient. Any poor record keeping is met with commands by email to rectify things immediately.
The Guardian 2nd September 2017
This year’s festival will be another fun packed day of activities in The Wiend, Wigan town centre.
With live music and other entertainment across two stages, film showings, kid’s activities, educational talks, exhibitions, puppet shows and lots of other stuff going on in nearby venues and Wigan town centre.
We’ll also have our usual and ever popular ‘Occupie Wigan’ beer tent, and over 50 food, book, campaign and other stalls.
Around 5,000 people attended last year’s event, and a great time was had by all. We’re planning on making this year’s even bigger and better. Why not come and jin us and make a day of it?
Please invite your family & friends
The government must bring failing privatised probation services back under public control instead of leaving the taxpayer to bail them out, UNISON, NAPO and GMB said today (Wednesday).
The three public service unions have written to justice secretary David Lidington highlighting how ‘risky and controversial’ reforms – where private probation firms manage thousands of people who have committed offences – are not working.
They say findings from a long-awaited review of these so-called community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) must be published in full, along with details of the public money that has been spent keeping CRCs solvent.
The call comes as new figures* released by the government show a rise in the number of people who commit serious crimes while already serving sentences outside prison.
This is since probation service reforms were introduced three years ago.
UNISON, NAPO and GMB also warn about the government’s next privatisation plan to outsource contracts for night-time supervision in probation hostels.
These premises house some of the most dangerous people to be released from prison before they are allowed to live in the community.
The public could be put at risk because private companies will employ poorly trained staff and pay them low wages, say the three unions.
UNISON national officer Ben Priestley said: “People are potentially being put at risk because private firms have not delivered on keeping the public safe.
“The justice secretary has admitted that privatisation isn’t working yet wants to continue this experiment through night-time supervision.
“What’s needed instead are properly trained public sector employees. That’s why the government must take back control of failing private probation services.”
NAPO general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “Ministers were warned that privatisation would damage an award-winning service, and standards would deteriorate.
“This is now becoming reality and having a negative impact on public safety, staff well-being and the ability of people who have committed offences to turn their lives around.
“The government must now take urgent action, and these reforms should be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.”
GMB national pensions organiser George Georgiou said: “Probation services have suffered more than most under this government. These latest proposals will only undermine provision and morale, and put the public at further risk.
“It’s time to put common sense first and invest properly. Privatisation has completely failed and the last thing we need is more of it.”
Notes to editors:
* A total of 517 reviews were triggered in England and Wales in 2016 to 17 after charges for murder and other offences including rape. This is a rise of more than 100 since 2012 according to the data released this month by justice minister Sam Gyimah.
– Former justice secretary Chris Grayling created a total of 21 privately run CRCs in 2014 to manage low to medium-risk offenders, and replaced the former probation trusts. A new National Probation Service (NPS) was created at the same time to deal with high-risk offenders.
– CRCs were awarded seven-year contracts worth a total of £3.7bn, but nearly all have reported they are already making a loss.
– UNISON: Sophie Goodchild T: 0207 121 5546 M: 07767 325595 E: email@example.com
– NAPO: Tania Bassett T: 0207 223 4887 M: 07904 184195 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
– GMB: Alex Jones M: 07958 156846 E: email@example.com
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Supreme Court verdict follows four-year fight by union and is a victory for everyone in work
Employment tribunal fees will be scrapped after UNISON won a landmark court victory against the government this morning.
The Supreme Court – the UK’s highest court – has unanimously ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees four years ago.
From today, anyone who has been treated illegally or unfairly at work will no longer have to pay to take their employers to court – as a direct result of UNISON’s legal challenge.
The government will also have to refund more than £27m to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunals since July 2013, when fees were introduced by then Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling.
Anyone in England, Scotland and Wales wanting to pursue a case against their employer has had to find as much as £1,200. This has been a huge expense for many low-paid employees, says UNISON.
Reacting to this morning‘s decision, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The government is not above the law. But when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.
Read the full Supreme Court judgement in
R (on the application of UNISON) v Lord Chancellor
“The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.
“It’s a major victory for employees everywhere. UNISON took the case on behalf of anyone who’s ever been wronged at work, or who might be in future. Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand.
“These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up.
“We’ll never know how many people missed out because they couldn’t afford the expense of fees. But at last this tax on justice has been lifted.”
UNISON assistant general secretary Bronwyn McKenna added: “The Supreme Court correctly criticised the government’s failure when it set the fees to consider the public benefits flowing from the enforcement of legal rights enacted by Parliament.
“The effective enforcement of these rights is fundamental to parliamentary democracy and integral to the development of UK law. UNISON’s case has helped clarify the law and gives certainty to citizens and businesses in their everyday lives.”
The decision marks the end of a four-year fight by UNISON to overturn the government’s introduction of fees.
Re: Not One Day More #ToriesOUT – National Demonstration – Saturday, 1 July 2017
Branches sending delegations on regional transport please note the following arrangements:-
1. Outward tickets are flexible. For those branches travelling on early trains to Euston, North West members are encouraged to gather on the concourse outside of Euston Station at 1030am and walk together behind the regional banner to the assembly point.
2. The assembly point is at BBC Broadcasting House Portland Place, London W1A 1AA. (Nearest tube: Oxford Circus, Regents Park, Great Portland Street).
3. The march at 12 noon is to Parliament Square. (Nearest tube: Westminster, Embankment, Charing Cross). Train tickets include underground travel in Zone 1.
4. A limited number of tickets remain available from Liverpool, Manchester and Preston. Please contact Angela Twigg (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Regional Office ASAP.
5. The hashtag for the day is #endausterity
Get help with school uniform costs this summer
Struggling to make ends meet?
Worried about back to school costs?
Help is on hand
We have set up a limited fund to help UNISON members on low income with school uniform costs by way of a one-off payment of up to £120.
To apply, download the application form below
UNISON branch office.
Closing date for receipt of applications is 21st July 2017.