Jobs, dignity and public service broadcasting - w/Philippa Childs

Jobs, dignity and public service broadcasting - w/Philippa Childs

March 2, 2021

In this week’s UnionDues we have an in-depth chat with Philippa Childs, head of media union Bectu

As well as most of Bectu’s substantial freelance members being excluded from government Covid support schemes, there is a new hit  as post-Brexit bureaucracy stymies work opportunities in mainland Europe.

The culture of broadcasting, and the media in general,  is also very much in Bectu’s sights and tacking the lack of respect and the intersection of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and other protected characteristics is at the forefront of Bectu’s work. 

As you would expect,  she is also passionate about the importance of public service broadcasting  in general and the BBC in particular.

We also have a barnstorming #thought4theweek with Prof. Mel Simms, reflecting this week that having a seat at the table is just as important as what we say when we ‘re sat down at it.

Plus LFF’s very own Josiah Mortimer previews his #RadicalRoundUp – including structural racism in the UK labour market, dodgy car makers, and living wage employers who, er, don’t want to pay the living wage.

A Makes You Think production.  Companion blog available here


Working safely with Covid, Uber rebuffed and other issues

Working safely with Covid, Uber rebuffed and other issues

February 23, 2021

The latest UnionDues podcast is dominated by two issues everyone is talking about.

The Supreme Court ruling last week that Uber drivers are indeed workers and not self-employed -  It’s a great victory for the GMB and ADCU but in her #Thought4The Week, Mel Simms argues that strong collective bargaining trumps judicial decisions.

The other issue remains Covid.  The PM’s statement yesterday encourages us to look to a brighter future but the reality of trying to work safely in a pandemic is the preoccupation of a new publication from the Labour Research Department.  It’s author, Andrea Oates, is our special guest.

Plus Josiah Mortimer’s #RadicalRoundUp.  A Makes-You-Think production

What price Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity?

What price Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity?

February 16, 2021

In the latest UnionDues podcast,  we look at members’ networks as a way of meeting the challenges of Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity,  focussing on the pharmacists’ union the PDAU.  Their networks have blossomed since being established last year.  But you have to pay to join them, and they’re open to non-members.  How can this work?  We talk to officials and equality activists to find out this is changing not just the union but the whole sector.

Also in this episode, Mel Simms deals with the risks of employee surveillance in an age of home-working in her #thought4theweek.  We shout out to Openreach engineers in dispute. And Josiah Mortimer shares his #RadicalRoundUp – including collapsing union confidence in government Covid response, important developments in the Heathrow Airport #FireAndRehire dispute, and students and unions at SOAS demand a better deal from university authorities.

The UnionDues podcast is part of the Labor Radio Podcast network.

Read the companion blog here.  A Makes You Think production

Can mediation deliver a new industrial revolution? - w/David Liddle

Can mediation deliver a new industrial revolution? - w/David Liddle

February 9, 2021

In the latest UnionDues podcast, we take a deep dive into the world of mediation.  And goodness knows we need to, because unresolved conflict is reported to cost UK businesses £33bn a year.  That’s not to mention the stress and misery that unresolved conflict causes workers and their unions.  Is beefed up mediation a way forward?

Rising to this challenge is David Liddle, a vastly experienced mediator and CEO of the TCM group. And he’s clear that mediation isn’t just (or even) about reaching agreement.  “Whether people agree or not is irrelevant, “ he says “the point is to disagree well.” 

The HR community also do not escape scathing scrutiny, responsible, according to David, for “fanning the flames of fury and anger” with a procedure-driven,  litigation-centred approach supported by grievance and discipline policies that “are the antithesis of everything that makes a good human being.

Prof. Mel Simms looks at the importance of evidence-based policy making, and how easy it is to be distracted in her latest Thought for The Week,  Josiah Mortimer previews this week’s Radical Round Up and we look at the GMB’s great campaign to dissuade British Gas from their “fire-and-rehire” proposals.

Companion blog here.  Music by Scott Holmes.  A Makes-You-Think production

The battle for workplace skills and learning

The battle for workplace skills and learning

January 26, 2021

The latest UnionDues podcast focusses on  the key union and economic concern of workplace skills and how to get them. Very timely given news of a forthcoming government White Paper on skills for jobs which will give employers a direct role in designing new qualifications starting with the post-16 age band.

But…..will employers be able to respond? In her regular Thought For The Week, Professor Mel Simms spots a flaw – and a challenge – with the government’s approach.

And special guest Kevin Rowan talks about the TUC-led campaign to change the government’s mind about cutting funding to the Union Learning Fund.  

With Josiah Mortimer's Radical Roundup.  Companion blog here. Music by Scott Holmes. A Makes You Think production

Striking report on Unions and Covid -  it’s ok to innovate

Striking report on Unions and Covid - it’s ok to innovate

January 19, 2021

With Simon Sapper, Melanie Simms and Josiah Mortimer.

The first comprehensive survey of how union behaviour has been altered by Covid 19 is featured in the latest UnionDues podcast.  Tom Hunt of the Sheffield Political Economic Research Institute and Becky Wright from Unions21 argue that while there are many more questions than answers,  the willingness to explore and innovate is the true take-away from the pandemic.  Do you agree? 

Mel Simms’s Thought For The Week focusses on sick pay and Britain’s culture of presentee-ism.  Josiah Mortimer shares his radical round-up of stories you may have missed.

Plus shout-outs to the FBUUnison, RCN and RCM  - all fighting for public safety and a fair deal and for their front line members.

UnionDues is part of the Labour Radio Podcast Network. Music by Scott Holmes. Read the companion blog at http://bit.ly/UnionInnovationBlog


Unions at the heart of government - w/Dave Penman

Unions at the heart of government - w/Dave Penman

January 12, 2021

The new series of UnionDues kicks off with Simon in discussion with Dave Penman, General Secretary of the senior civil servants’ union, the FDA.

FDA members are at the heart of government – so when legal action is launched by the union against the Prime Minister over ignoring reports of bullying by his Home Secretary, it’s arguably a case of either feeling certain to win or having nothing to lose.

In reality it is neither, but Dave takes us through the background, and the importance of the issues at stake. What he says will shock you (or maybe not, which would be worse)

We also look at why the union is reluctantly preparing for industrial action at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service,  the merits of the joint venture  with Unison that created Managers In Partnership (a union structure for senior health sector staff), and why blowhards for reform should “walk in the shoes” of the civil servants they’re criticising, and how being FDA General Secretary is the best job in the world.

Plus eye-catching stories from around the labour movement involving maps, priests and gas fitters, and Prof Mel Simms from the University of Glasgow  shares her “thought for the week” on the NEU safe schools campaign.

A member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network.   Companion blog here.  Access all episodes here. Produced by Makes You Think

California’s Prop 22: Could the UK be next?

California’s Prop 22: Could the UK be next?

December 15, 2020

A UnionDues special episode.  While the Biden-Harris ticket pushed Trump out of the White House, Californian voters adopted Proposition 22 which stripped away employment rights for potentially millions of workers.  The worst anti-worker legislation in over 70 years according to some.

But what is Prop 22, and how did it get passed - and could something similar happen here in the UK?

With the help of fellow podcasters from  America Workforce, WorkWeek, Union City Radio, KBOO Labor Radio, Working People and The Gig we get to the guts of this landmark issue. Companion blog here, and you can access all the shows we sample at www.laborradionetwork.org 


UnionDues series 3 will be available from January. A Makes-You-Think production

What now for NZ unions after Labour landslide - w/Melissa Ansell-Bridges

What now for NZ unions after Labour landslide - w/Melissa Ansell-Bridges

November 17, 2020

In a special UnionDues podcast, Simon chats with Melissa Ansell-Bridges, General Secretary of the New Zealand Council of trade Unions about the prospects and possibilities for workers following NZ Labour’s stunning election victory last month.  High on the agenda is delivery of sector-based Fair Pay Agreements which could revolutionise both the union movement and working conditions – but reform of laws on employment status are also a key part of the equation.  It’s all to play for!  Read the companion blog for more. A Makes-You-Think production

A journey down the Working River - w/ Brian Denny

A journey down the Working River - w/ Brian Denny

November 10, 2020

In this special episode, Simon chats with Brian Denny, curator of the Working River collection of songs and music from those who live and work on the Thames.  And what a journey it is.

Although most of the action is in London and Essex, the 21 songs take us the entire length of the river – an emotional and political roller-coaster with tales of  poetry and literature,  music and the arts,  industry and empire.  But also, of poverty and strife, struggles and strikes,  insurrection and inspiration, from the Nore mutiny to SS Windrush

A mixture of well-established and new tales from musicians of great skill and passion.  But the story behind the album is just as fascinating, for folk music novices and afficionados alike.

As Brian says, folk music is not only “three chords and the truth” but “a living tradition reflecting the lives of working people which are often overlooked.” 

Working River – Songs and music of the Thames is available as a CD or download from Folktree recordings.  There’s a great illustrated commentary from Brian and all proceeds go to the GFTU educational trust – a good cause indeed. 

Companion blog here.  A Makes-You-Think production.





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