A letter to Michael Gove

To the Lord Chancellor
Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

Dear Lord Chancellor

Let me introduce myself. I am General Secretary of an independent trade union Employees Representatives. You can find this in Appendix One of the Certification Officers Annual Report. We have been trading for less than five years, our accounts run continuously from September 2011 until now.

All of us who set up ER were and are working class, and as such aware of the deficiency in union representation in the various industries and trades represented by our membership. Our main concern was legal representation. A big union like Unite promises full scale representation, but whether or not the member receives it depends on the assessment of the union legal team. We knew of too many cases where someone had been e.g. dismissed but their case was not taken up because the union lawyers did not think there was a sufficient chance of winning. By contrast we as a union are working on the basis of lay representatives. If we think the case is arguable we will fight it @ the ET. Although like you we are not legally qualified we recall comments of your learned colleague Lord Wallace of Tankerness (H of L, 24/01/2012, col 957) “Employment tribunals were designed at least initially to be simple. Their purpose is to enable parties to make or respond to a claim without the need for legal representation.”

This is public policy but such policy continually frustrated by the obscurantism and the vested interests of an unreformed legal profession here in UK.
I refer to two very recent cases, both of which I have firsthand knowledge:
1. Re Shiju Varghese. He was employed as a care team manager by Angel Care PLC. He signed a work contract in India but when he arrived here the firm unilaterally abrogated it. Eventually he was fired, but all the time he maintained a photographic record of his pay, and it was a relatively simple matter to relate those pay slips against the pay as promised under the contract. The overall deficiency between what he was promised in India and what he actually got was about £35,000. Consequently when he was fired he brought a claim for that amount.

Eventually the case reached the County Court at Swindon. Judge Cronin struck out his claim, on the grounds he had not “particularised” it sufficiently. Shiju renewed his claim in a full hearing before His Honour Judge Iain Hughes QC sitting at the County Court at Winchester on 2nd June 2016.

On his behalf I pointed out the effect of the Court’s decision is to condone fraudulent behaviour, by Angel Care, also to condone people trafficking, as there is no doubt he was trafficked into the UK using a fraudulent prospectus. That the whole exercise constituted a vicious attack on Shiju‘s family life.

Judge Hughes said there was no compelling reason to overturn the original order.

I pointed out three: his first child (Aina Shiju), his second child Elna Shiju, and his third child, as yet unborn.

The first two children have been out of school since December 2015. The trauma inflicted on these children cannot be quantified, yet the Court in Winchester took absolutely no notice, instead rewarding a corporate miscreant and fraudsman.

I move on to the second case, heard @ the Central London County Court this week. This was not an employment matter but a straightforward case for damages v the London Borough of Haringey (LBH).. On my arrival @ the Court LBH counsel came up and threatened that I would be destroyed by costs. She pushed into my hands a draft costs order. We then went into the Court, but the Judge showed not the slightest inclination to listen, either to me, or to my lay representative, my union colleague Barry Blakesley.
Indeed the judge at one point threatened to debar me as a vexatious litigant!!! This was my first and so far only experience of the Central London County Court!!!

He only took the most cursory glance at the grounds for my action before dismissing the case and his whole manner was sneering and aggressive.

But what was interesting was the unreconstructed nature of both judgments, in the Shiju case and my own.

On the basis of this recent experience, including the inadequacies of the Legal Aid system, I have no hesitation in concluding that the judiciary are ethically obtuse, the enemies of human rights, and what used to be the working class.. Our union will not accept that the only persons qualified to comment on a legal issue are those legally trained. As far as I can establish you are not!
Yours Sincerely

William J Spring

Small Update & the EU Referendum

TO ER MEMBERS & SUPPORTERS

Apologies for my long delay in contacting people. We have now settled the ER accounts for the year ending 2015 which will be posted up on the Certification Officers web site shortly & our AGM will follow. Meanwhile here are my thoughts on the EU Referendum.

Recently it was revealed that if Bob Crow had lived it was his plan in the event of an EU Referendum to go a national tour with colleagues & political opponents to campaign for a LEAVE vote.

ER came directly out of the RMT. And I personally had immense respect for Bob Crow. But the RMT successes on the Underground were not paralleled in the bus industry. Too many companies have meant it is impossible to properly organise a strike. But Bob Crow also knew the effect of the EU was having on the UK working class. He described it as “the race to the bottom.”

The Labour Party used to be a national party for the UK working class.

Now Jeremy Corbyn, on whom I had high hopes when he first took over the leadership of the Labour Party seems to have sold out, taking the same side in the EU non debate as Jamie Dimon, head of Goldman Sachs, whose earned 8.5 million $ salary last year + a 5 million $ cash bonus, & also Will Straw, (son of the well known war criminal, Jack Straw, who promoted the Iraq War, which resulted in at least one million avoidable deaths, an ongoing tragedy for which Jack Straw and Tony Blair with George Bush were entirely responsible.)
Recently I got a leaflet through my door composed by Will Straw advocating a REMAIN vote, jointly authored by Professor Cathy Warwick OBE.

We know about Will Straw, but what do we know about Cathy Warwick?

She is Chair of the Trustees of the UK’s biggest abortion provider, the BPAS.

The BPAS started off as the Birmingham Pregnancy Advisory Service.

One of its founders was plant geneticist Martin Cole, who, as well as helping found BPAS, ran a brothel, the Institute of Sex Education and Research, whose finances were mysteriously linked in with the BPAS, now headed up by Cathy Warwick.

BPAS specialises in late abortions (up to 24 weeks gestation) but if the UK legal limit is passed BPAS sends its clients off to other jurisdictions where the limit doesn’t apply.

Next thing: Cathy Warwick has now become Chairperson of the Royal College of Midwives!!

Think about this for a moment.

If a woman has a TFL badge, “Baby on Board”, she shouldn’t get into a carriage with Professor Warwick, who spends most of her time killing babies.

That is until recently… she now has two jobs, the second job is as Chair of the Royal College of Midwives.

There is a bit of an incongruity here, a conflict of interest perhaps?

David Cameron in a SKY News debate quoted the RCM opinion on the EU Referendum.

Without consulting members, Cathy Warwick backs the REMAIN side but also changed RCM policy, which now supports abortion up to birth!!

These then are the experts then we must rely on, according to Cameron, Jamie Dimon, Cathy Warwick, & Will Straw.

VOTE LEAVE

NO TO SECRET COURTS

At Watford Employment Tribunal this last Tuesday (16th December 2014) I arrived in my capacity as General Secretary of the Employees Representatives union in order to observe an Employment Tribunal “preliminary hearing” being conducted on behalf of one of our members by our Executive Director Barry Blakesley.

When I arrived a lady official of the ET told me I was not allowed to enter as the proceeding was private hearing.

The case was very important from the public interest point of view, as our member is asserting a link between his dismissal and his conscientious completion of various safety checks.

I find it absolutely intolerable that the ET system is being closed down to eliminate public oversight.

The President of the Employment Tribunals should explain this & other similar decisions.

William J Spring BA (UK) MA (Ontario) PGCE

General Secretary Employees Representatives

London 18th December 2014

INVITATION to ER members, friends and supporters – 24th July 2014

INVITATION to ER members, friends and supporters to

The Windsor Castle 23 Francis Street, Victoria, London, SW1P 1DN

Thursday July 24th 2014 from 1530 to hear General Secretary’s report on the accounts for the year 1st January 2013 until December 31st 2013 as lodged with the Certification Officer.

 

+ observations on the struggle against unscrupulous managements.

 

Other ER officers & members will also address the meeting.

 

A tab will be on the bar, when declared open by the GS but no alcoholic drinks may be served until the conclusion of formal business in accord with union rule 15 (see below)

 

William Spring General Secretary

 

Tel: 07988874778

02083761454

Email: ws@employeesrepresentatives.com

RSVP

Rule 15: All officers of the Union at every level agree to avoid drugs and alcohol during business hours and whilst conducting formal business

YARL’S WOOD BRITAIN’S BAGRAM

Employees Representatives is an independent union representing public service workers in the London area, (a core group of which are bus drivers).

But we occasionally act on a pro bono basis – i.e. for free, as we have done in this case.

Wen Jia Sun is regarded by us as an honorary member of this union, & we have fought for her, I representing her @ Heythrop College before the Jesuits, & Barry Blakesley ER Executive Director acting as her McKenzie friend in the High Court.

Please support our campaign to get her out of Yarl’s Wood, so she is able (after a suitable convalescence, as she has been seriously traumatised by this experience) to resume her studies in Law.

To want to study in England is not a crime!!

Shame on the Colleges of Birkbeck & Heythrop who have allowed this student to fall among thieves!!!

William Spring

Tel 07988874778

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June 10 2014 I visited Yarls’ Wood IRC (Immigration & Removal Centre) near Bedford. This time I got in. The week before I was refused entry as I had forgotten to bring my passport & photo ID was needed.

Instead I presented my old codgers Boris Freedom Pass, which has my photograph on it, but was told it was not accepted.

However yesterday, in my successful break in, I noted outside the door of the Visitor Centre was a statement saying a Freedom Pass is acceptable!!

Yarls’ Wood holds 900 inmates, mostly women, & all intended for eventual deportation. With a colourful history, of riots, hunger strikes, & suicides, back in 2002, when operated by Group 4, it was burned to the ground.

Now SERCO run it.

Recently the UK Government recently barred Rashida Manjoo, UN special rapporteur on violence against women, from visiting the facility.

She had wanted to look at violence against women as perpetrated or condoned by state authorities.

The SERCO link makes it deniable, an ALMO, an arms length management organisation.

Beware of ALMOs!!

I was visiting Jia.

She is a young, very intelligent, and very pretty Chinese woman of good family.

The reason she is stuck in Yarl’s Wood is to do with Boris Johnson, who recently proclaimed Chinese students were welcome in UK.

Jia believed this, still, against all odds believes it.

Because she believed that a University education in London was a good thing she left Beijing to study theology @ Heythrop College.

This was her first mistake.

Heythrop is a Roman Catholic college run by Jesuits.

But a few years ago Heythrop became part of the University of London so “British values” (as expounded by Nick Clegg) took over, such as tolerance, gender equality etc.

LGBTs comprise a significant group in the College & hold regular meetings under the vigilant eyes of the Jesuits.

After rebuffing lesbian advances, the next thing she found herself on a charge of making noise @ night.

A full disciplinary was held and I entered the scene as a trade unionist to represent her.

I gazed across the table at a gaggle of Jesuits.

I said “where are the witnesses?”.

There aren’t any replied the Jesuits. Rather there are, but we can’t disclose their identities.

. “So you don’t have a case “ I rep[lied.

I later wrote to the Principal that Jesus had a better trial than Jia.

At least he knew his accusers. Charges were dropped & Jia remained in her accommodation for the rest of the academic year.

At the end of that year she took her first year exams in Theology and Heythrop said she could go on into her second year.

But then the College changed its mind.

I advised her to bring some sort of action v Heythrop but she refused.

She didn’t want to hang around where she wasn’t wanted and she already had her eyes on another course, @ Birkbeck where she was accepted unconditionally to study Law.

She needed an electronic reference number called a CAS number.

The University of London could probably have just updated the CAS number she was originally issued with but they didn’t.

Her CAS number was cancelled & she paid Birkbeck £10 for a new one but Birkbeck refused to issue it, claiming her English qualification was out of date which is why she’s in Yarl’s Wood

Acting in person she sought judicial review.

I saw her arguing her case very fluently but his Lordship declined to give her the order she wanted, mainly because she hadn’t written everything down in her pleadings.
She implored the Court to order Birkbeck to issue her with a CAS number. And one ground she cited was that it would place her visa (chronologically dated until 2015) in question.

On May 29th she was arrested @ her lodgings in Earls Court.

Stripped and bundled into a SERCO van she first went to Colnbrook, near London Airport.

Later she was transferred.

A painful experience. She told me how she was held down by men wearing masks, resembling Blackwater employees.

On another occasion she was forced to kneel down before a female white officer, who told her “the way you walk annoys me.”” “dress up in other clothes.” “You deserve to be here.”

Her internet access is also frequently disabled, to stop her accessing web sites of law firms.

Her health has deteriorated. “I have a high temperature. I was beaten. I can’t hear myself …”

WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THIS SCANDAL.

1. BORIS JOHNSON who will not support persecuted Christian Chinese students
2. The Papal Nuncio who won’t support them either
3. The Chinese Embassy who refuse to act on Jia’s behalf
4. The Birkbeck & Heythrop Colleges of the University of London
5. The High Court which refused to grant relief but instead handed her over to her torturers.
ALSO JIA – she is too clever by half, the damming disqualification for anyone wanting to be a UK Prime Minister!!

Yarl’s Wood is Britain’s Bagram.

Bagram is an airbase in Afghanistan where the vilest tortures were carried out on Afghans by NATO forces.

Yet UK Govt Ministers visited Bagram while victims were being tortured to death only a few yards away from them.

ends

A Sense of Loss.

The above is a phrase the media trots out regularly, but unless you know someone you can’t feel it, and I didn’t know Bob Crow.Bob Crow

I had met him though and his decisions were very crucial in the formation of our union.

I had become aware in my public service employment of the failures of the Transport & General Workers Union – now known as Unite.

Unite took my money for about five or six years.

In protest I joined RMT, Bob Crow’s union.

Many London bus drivers joined @ the same time as I did.

However we ran into a problem: the Unite General Secretary objected to Bob Crow “poaching” his members, claiming there was a trade union convention for RMT not to recruit bus drivers inside the M25.

So Bob sent us a letter, telling us all to go back to Unite.

That is the genesis of Employees Representatives – our refusal to take Bob Crow’s advice!!

Bob Crow, the tough guy, the take on all comers union boss… had feet of clay when it came to falling out with Unite or the TUC.

But in no way did that difference of view diminish our respect for him.

His walking out of a meeting @ the Labour Party Conference when Tony Blair was due to speak – his eventual decision to disassociate his union from the Labour Party altogether, all this I applauded.

He saw the malevolent streak of fascism in Tony Blair’s eyes, the skull cap, heard the screams of the dying, Blair’s oration (still to be given) to the butcher of Sabra & Shatilla.

So I too feel a sense of loss.

RIP Comrade Bob

Libellous statements by Unite at London Sovereign Garage

The following announcement was posted on the Unite notice board @ Harrow garage of London Sovereign last Wednesday 29th January 2014 by William Spring (GS of ER)

To London Sovereign drivers /engineers

Comrades!!!

I refer to the notice placed on the Unite notice board in the London Sovereign Harrow drivers’ room sometime in November 2013.

We have concluded that parts of it are libellous.

Consequently we plan on issuing proceedings, but only after giving Unite & the officials involved an opportunity to apologise for the numerous inaccuracies in the publication.

Unite would not have published such a scurrilous & defamatory document however without the assistance of London Sovereign, which company provided the platform for this attack, by keeping Unite offices @ the yard, a monopoly union, with its own full time officials.

We will want to know about their sources of income. If indeed the officials receive funding & facility time to do their work from the company then Unite can hardly be considered an independent union.  These points and others will have to be addressed by the Unite national leadership in the coming months.

We are an admittedly small, but also we are an independent union & what is the point of a massive union, which does nothing to protect its members in terms e.g. of threatening strike action when members are dismissed?
In some cases known to us Unite has actively colluded with the company in an unfair dismissal.

Developments will be posted on our revamped web site.
www.employeesrepresentatives.com

Also note our email address is now
ws@employeesrepresentatives.com

For information  call me William Spring on 02083761454 or 07988874778

London Sovereign – Your policy is not acceptable!

A demonstration organised by Employees Representatives is planned outside London Sovereign Harrow Garage
er-harrow-protest_sm
331A Pinner Road
Harrow
Middlesex
HA1 4HH

on Friday 18th October @ 1430 -1500

The demonstration may then move on to London Sovereign Head Office @ Edgware later in the afternoon.

WHAT IT IS NOT

It is not a strike!!

ER is not asking any of its members to strike or in any way to risk their jobs.

Any ER members who are NOT on duty or on a break are of course welcome to join us outside the Harrow garage.

It is not the object of ER in any way to impede London Sovereign in their commercial operations.

Purpose of the demonstration is to highlight in the local area the villainous staff policies of London Sovereign.

More information will be posted shortly.

William Spring

General Secretary Employees Representatives (ER)

Tel 07988874778

02083761454

To London Sovereign Harrow ER members

From William Spring Gen Sec Employees Representatives

I feel I must explain to you some of the problems we are having with London Sovereign management right now.

As you know I have been visiting the yard @ Harrow for a couple of years.

I have noticed in the last few months an abrupt change of tone, in that management seem to have lost their marbles.

People are being fired for ridiculous reasons & for those in training they are refusing to pay their wages on dismissal saying they must first pay back their training fees.

Also there have been very considerable delays on appeals, & there is also the problem of a new system which consistently pushes drivers into overtime against their wishes.

Last of all there is a religious element – a fairly relaxed attitude  about Muslim prayer times, whereby prayer was allowed as long as it didn’t disrupt the efficient functioning of the service is replaced
by an inquisitorial element provoking unnecessary confrontations..

Some of this can be put down to new management, but experience isn’t going to be obtained @ the expense of the jobs of my members.

In this new situation, this wave of anxiety spreading over LS Harrow, on account of this vicious new policy,  no doubt initiated by LS for economic reasons, (possibly  with the objective of eliminating experienced drivers to replace them with cheaper imports)  I need the help of Unite so that we all stand together.

My proposal is a demonstration outside the Harrow Garage.

I will ensure such a demonstration receives maximum media coverage.

Also I am taking all these matters up with TFL & the GLA Transport Committee, hopefully to strip LS of their franchise.

Please send me any input on these matters.

In solidarity

William Spring

Tel: 02083761454
07988874778

Annual Report

Employees Representatives ER started off just over a year ago September 1st 2011 when the bank account opened @ GHIB.
Here is a provisional annual report to members.
A more substantial report to members will be issued post June 2013 by which time our accounts should have been approved by the Certification Officer, the Government official responsible for regulating trade unions.
Very little membership growth was recorded in the first three months September to December 2011 largely because there was no printed material.
With the production & printing of the first – and so far only piece of publicity, a leaflet entitled MORE FOR LESS – growth accelerated in our core constituency of public service workers within the M25.
We now feel the need to update our promotional material so a new leaflet – a simple hand bill – will be produced shortly, explaining why an independent union for London bus workers is so essential.
The main function of our union is to assist members facing problems @ work.
To put it another way – the question we have for those in another union is this: does your union pass the deep shit test?
Will they help you if you’re in deep shit @ work?  If not you’re in the wrong union!!
If your union fades out if you are facing a work related problem then cash in your policy & look for alternative cover.
Being in a union is a form of insurance but if the policy doesn’t pay out when there’s a claim you should switch.
We can assure members we are available 24/7.
But one specific company Sovereign prevents us from entering the Harrow and Edgware yards to discuss general issues with the work force.
We enter for disciplinaries etc of course, no company can stop that, but people need continued accessible service, and we think it intolerable for one favoured union to have an office in the yard while in our case access to members is limited.
We believe this problem has been caused by Unite.
We believe Unite pressured on Sovereign to stop us entering the 2 yards in question.
Consequently we have put in a complaint v the behaviour of Unite @ Sovereign Harrow to the Certification Officer
But we need a Unite member to volunteer to press the button to start up this process.
Please call us if you can help: we are appalled by the disgraceful underhanded uncomradely behaviour of Unite @ Sovereign Harrow, their making common cause with management to try and shut us out of the yard. Where is the solidarity in this?
In addition to the Sovereign-Unite Harrow problem there have been other difficulties for us in the last year also impeding growth and development:
 We had difficulty in getting our web site www.employeesrepresentatives.com up and running on account of an opposing claim to ownership. This was finally resolved through our lawyer Radhanika Baddevithana of rbs solicitors – see www.rbssolicitors.com     But time was lost on this problem.  We are busy updating the web site &  you can also follow us on Twitter @ employees_reps
The Strike: this put us into problems as we were not a party to the dispute and did not want to see members fired or disciplined on account of somebody else’s argument.  We know some members joined the strike, which was their right, but they did so against our advice. However Unite, although putting pressure on drivers not in Unite to strike, using the catchphrase “solidarity” were not so anxious to pay out strike pay to non Unite members  who joined the strike, in the same cause “solidarity”!!
Solidarity is a one way street with Unite!
Our feeling about the strike is that it was a pre arranged set up: there was something abnormal about it.
First Boris said there was no more money, then when the strike approached he brought some money out of the hat – not enough, but enough to take away the basis of the strike, as the remaining issues could have been bridged by negotiation without anyone losing a day’s pay.  Unite rejected the offer and went ahead with the strike but then Boris came up with an even better offer for some drivers, more than even Unite had demanded!
What a strange way of running a transport system or a negotiating process! Wouldn’t it have saved drivers and the public a lot of inconvenience if Boris had simply agreed with the original demand?  A GLA enquiry should be conducted by the GLA Transport Committee as to why the strike happened when Boris already had the cash in contingency funds to head it off.
Another problem is lack of personnel.
At the moment Barry Blakesley and I do the representations but both of us are golden oldies, so we need younger members to emerge to take over the reins of the union for the next stage of our consolidation and to provide effective representation whenever the co- Directors aren’t available.
Business: we are always busy with representations, @ company level or @ ETs, the EAT, the Court of Appeal or before the Strasbourg Court. In addition we represent members in criminal cases!!
This variety of case work reflects the variety of our membership across London.
Publicity: we haven’t put out a single advert so far, although we are thinking of advertising on Radio Focus, but we do get occasional bits of free publicity by sending out news stories!
Press TV gave us coverage over our discovery that Nat West bank (the clearing bank for GHIB) was discriminating against Muslim drivers and sitting on their funds and not transmitting them on to us!!
To see the clip go to our web site.
After that I had a fairly disastrous interview on LBC. They called me to talk about the strike but zeroed in immediately into a demand to know how many members we had!!
If we have as many members as Unite we’ll tell you and in any case we provide membership details to the Certification Officer, along with our accounts by June 2013.
Our objective is to provide a personalised and efficient representational service to members, and we are available 24/7.
Also to act as a pressure group pushing for more humane conditions in the London bus industry.
Report written by William J Spring Executive Director
Tel 02083761454
07988874778
Endorsed by Barry Blakesley Co-Executive Director