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Saturday 5 February 2022

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Trade unionists support Dave Nellist's Birmingham Erdington by-election campaign

Thirty prominent trade unionists have today launched a petition in support of Dave Nellist's campaign as the Trade Unionist and Socialist (TUSC) candidate in the Birmingham Erdington parliamentary by-election on March 3rd.

Dave, who was the MP for Coventry South East from 1983 to 1992, was well-known during his time in parliament as a workers' MP on a worker's wage. He only took a skilled worker's wage, as calculated from figures compiled across ten Coventry factories by the engineering workers' union (AUEW, now part of Unite), giving away over half of the MPs' bloated salary - currently £82,000 a year - to trade unionists and working class campaigners.

From his first day as an MP to the end, Dave stood up for workers. His last day in parliament saw him pilot a private member's bill through the House of Commons (initially introduced in the Lords by Baroness Turner) to extend legal protection to union health and safety reps on offshore oil rigs. Nobody can doubt where Dave stands in the struggles of the labour and trade union movement.

Contrast with Starmer's Labour candidate

The candidate put forward by Sir Keir Starmer's Labour in the Erdington by-election, though, has a different record. Paulette Hamilton has been a Birmingham councillor since 2004 - including as the Cabinet member for Health and Social Care since 2015 - presiding over cuts to jobs and services.

In 2017 for example, under her leadership, the council set out to gut the vital health and social care service. Already low-paid, mainly women Homecare workers were faced with reduced contracted hours resulting in pay cuts of up to £11,000 a year. It took 20 months of strike action to force Paulette Hamilton and the Labour council to retreat.

She also played a leading role in attacking striking refuse workers, who were fighting (successfully) against fire and rehire tactics that would have seen them up to �6,000 a year worse off. In 2019 it was Paulette Hamilton who wrote to the council workers' trade unions, Unison and Unite, threatening "to seek an injunction which declares the actions of Unite and Unison in relation to the current industrial action unlawful".

What better message to Starmer's Labour could a trade unionist send than backing for Dave's campaign in Erdington? You can do so by adding your name to the petition online at https://bit.ly/TUsupportNellist. And why not download a paper copy of the petition, available at https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/462.pdf, to pass round union meetings and workplaces?

Initial signatories

All in a personal capacity: POA Deputy General Secretary Joe Simpson; USDAW President 2018-2021 Amy Murphy; RMT NEC members: Dave Goard, Mary Jane Herbison, Dale Kember, Joe Kirby, Paul McDonnell, Kevin Morrison, Jared Wood; BFAWU NEC member Dumitru Manole; NEU NEC members: Shelia Caffrey, Nicky Downes, Sean McCauley, Steve Scott, Louise Thompson; UNISON NEC members: April Ashley, Naomi Byron, Jim McFarlane, Hugo Pierre; NAPO NEC member Adam Harmsworth; NUJ NEC member Anton McCabe; UNISON Service Group Executive members: Steve Bell, Helen Couchman, Mark Evans, John Malcolm, Adrian O'Malley, Angie Waller; PCS BEIS Group President Marion Lloyd; PCS Group Executive members: Craig Worswick, Dave Bartlett

Could you be an anti-cuts candidate in May?

Dave is calling for the Birmingham Erdington campaign to be continued after March 3rd through hundreds of no-cuts trade union candidates standing in the May 2022 local council elections. Could you join the fight against the austerity politicians at the ballot box? You can check out whether there are elections in your council area this year in the TUSC elections directory, available at https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/448.pdf.

Under UK electoral procedures, candidates who wish to appear on the ballot paper using the name and logo of a registered party have to submit to the council election staff, along with their nomination forms, a Certificate of Authorisation to use a Party Description, signed by the registered Nominating Officer of the party. TUSC has produced a form to process applications for a TUSC certificate for local council elections, which is available at http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/454.doc

There is also a summary guide for candidates and election agents looking to contest the local elections available as a downloadable PDF at https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/455.pdf, which would be useful to read before submitting an application form.