Thanks for all your help in 2015
Thanks to everyone who helped campaign with us during 2015. Nearly 200,000 people have taken online actions with us now – more than double the number at the start of the year. The support we’ve had from so many people has let us do more, and do it bigger, than we could before.
We worked with the Playfair Qatar campaign and others to highlight human rights abuses against migrant workers helping Qatar prepare to host the football World Cup. We sent over 33,000 emails to sponsors in the run up to FIFA’s annual congress, putting major companies on the spot for their complicity, and getting public statements from key sponsors VISA and Coke that raised internal pressure on FIFA for change.
We worked with campaigning MEPs to boost support for amendments to the controversial EU/US TTIP trade treaty, joining a Europe-wide coalition campaign to stop the ISDS clauses that allow companies to sue elected governments in secret courts. MEPs had never been lobbied so much on an issue, and it made them keenly aware of the expectations of their constituents. We’ve seen the European Parliament’s demands on the treaty improve as a result, but there’s still more to do. TTIP negotiations are continuing in 2016, but we’ll face its sister treaty CETA first which will be coming to the European Parliament to sign. We’ll need to pressure our MEPs to insist their opposition to ISDS extends to CETA too.
We’ve worked with some of the TUC’s affiliated trade unions to help deliver solidarity to their members when they’ve needed it. Amongst others, our petition with the FDA union helped generate news coverage that saw Cabinet Office minister Frances Maude backtrack on plans to make civil servants get ministerial approval before talking to journalists. With Unite, we helped their members at Pizza Express to end their employer’s unfair policy of deducting credit card processing fees from their much needed tips. And with UNISON, we helped get a government commitment to investigate abuses at six major home care agencies suspected of paying less than the minimum wage. In the run up to Christmas, we’re working again with Unite to get decent jobs for staff at notorious retailer Sports Direct (sign the petition here if you haven’t yet).
But the biggest fight we’ve faced this year has been the government’s dangerous trade union bill, which threatens the basic right to strike, and seeks to restrict the abilty to protest. In 2015, we wrote to MPs, delivered petitions, added our comments to government consultations, and marched 60,000 strong in Manchester during Conservative Party Conference. Thousands of you turned out in London to talk to your MPs in person. Parliament police told us was the biggest lobby they’d ever seen, and it helped make many useful contacts with government MPs unhappy at what their leaders are trying to do.
The pressure caught the government by surprise, and they did a U-turn on some of their worst ideas, to head off a Commons rebellion in their own ranks. This meant dropping plans to pass protestors’ details to police and employers, and for unions to give two weeks’ notice of social media campaigns.
The bill is currently moving through the House of Lords, on its way to becoming law. It has proved so controversial to date that it may be possible to win further change on a number of its worst proposals early next year.
But we’ll really need your help in 2016. Look out for a special week of action (8-14 Feb – find out more at heartunions.org), and many local and online actions. And if you haven’t yet joined our biggest petition to date, 54,000 strong against the trade union bill, please do now (sign it here), and help share it as widely as possible before we hand it in to Downing Street next year.
Best wishes for the festive season. We’ll be back in the new year!
John, Jay, Clifford and Riz (the Going To Work team)