Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We Care, We Care A Lot

Eric Lee and LabourStart are campaigning with Unison in support of care workers in Barnet. The workers work for Fremantle Care a not-for-profit trust that is seeking to slash wages and impose worse terms and conditions.

On their website Fremantle have the usual managerial vision and values section that says their vision is to "To develop the skills and qualifications of our dedicated workforce" and their value is to "Encourag[e] every member of staff to contribute fully". Fishcakes.

Fremantle have tried to shut LabourStart down. Eric Lee writes:
The campaign we launched a little more than a week ago in support of low-paid workers in care homes in north London has generated more support than any other campaign we have ever done.

Already, well over 8,100 messages have been sent to the employer. This is even bigger than our 2005 campaign in support of the Gate Gourmet workers, which was a much more widely publicized dispute in the mainstream media.

As we mentioned in this week's message, the employer reacted swiftly and brutally -- first threatening us with a libel action in the English courts and then sacking a union rep.

And then on Thursday, in an unprecedented move, the employer (Fremantle Trust) contacted our internet service provider and demanded that they shut down the campaign or else face a lawsuit themselves.

We were contacted by the legal department of the internet service provider and told that we had until noon on Friday to close down the campaign or else the entire LabourStart site would be shut down.

We worked very hard over those 24 hours to attempt to get our provider to back down, and had the full support of Unison (Britain's giant public sector union, whose members are at the center of the dispute) but were not successful in doing this before the noon deadline on Friday.

As a result, at 11:59 on Friday we were compelled to shut down the campaigns.

But -- we instantly revived the campaign in nine languages on a different server, in a different country, with a new name that reflects our feeling at this time.

The new site is called "We will not be silenced!" and is located, appropriately enough, at http://www.wewillnotbesilenced.org/

If you have not yet sent off your message of protest to Fremantle, please do so from the new page.

Remember that you can use our system to send out your own message to the chief executive of Fremantle Trust -- and you can tell her, if you wish, what you think of this attempt to silence our campaign.

Please also inform all your lists and every trade unionist you know to use the new site to send a loud and clear message to this employer.

If Fremantle Trust were unhappy to receive 8,000 emails, how are they going to feel about getting thousands more in the next few days? Because that is exactly what is going to happen. We will not be intimidated, we will not be bullied, and we will not be silenced. The campaign continues.

Nick at 4glengate points out that LabourStart is working on behalf of Unison but Unison refuses to fund LabourStart becuase of Eric Lee's position on Israel. Hmm.
Now we have LabourStart playing an important role in a crucial UNISON dispute, at the request of the union. For my money, this just shows that the union leadership had no intention of actually carrying out the boycott decision, but that means the whole debate at conference was dishonest. I hope LabourStart's role in this campaign will help to set the groundwork for the boycott motion to be overturned next conference.
That partly explains why I joined the GMB when I recently began working in local government. I know the GMB has its own internal issues but it's not UNISON.

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