Posted on Fri 28th June 2013 by admin2

This Sunday (30th June) sees the return of the WEA Study Group ‘Politicians, Thinkers and Activists’ at the People’s Bookshop in Durham, between 2pm and 4pm. This is an informal discussion group, based around a different presentation by a member of the group each week. It is a fantastic way to learn about our history, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere – often accompanied by cake. This short series begins with a session on the Webbs, introduced by former MP Harry Barnes.


June 30 The Webbs of Seaham – Harry Barnes

July 7 Fenner Brockway – Paul Simpson

July 14 ”The Durham Miners in the great labour unrest 1910-14″ – Lewis Mates (please note this session will be in the Committee Room, Miners’ Hall, Redhills)

Following our successful study group in the autumn of 2012 and spring of 2013 we are planning a third set of talks later this month. You are invited to join WEA members and guests who will lead discussions on some C20 politicians and local campaigns:

Harry Barnes will share his research on the role of Sidney and Beatrice Webb the intellectual Fabians who became MP for Seaham. Lewis is currently writing a book on the Durham Miners and the Great Labour unrest 1910-1914 and Paul will talk about the great Labour activist and peace campaigner Fenner Brockway.

For further information or to book your place at the bookshop or with Durham Branch WEA 01913881440 asap

Also, please let us know if you require disabled access.

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Posted on Fri 17th May 2013 by admin2

Shrewsbury: The Conspiracy to Criminalise – Film & Discussion

A film re-examining the political events surrounding the arrest of 24 Shrewsbury Building Workers and the imprisonment of three of them.

We are showing the 45 minute film of the story of the Shrewsbury pickets it contains historic footage of the 1972 strike, and brings the story of the fight for Justice up to date. We are showing the film at Redhills Durham Miners Association office. Saturday 25th May. 12.30pm. It is 5 to 10 minutes from Durham station. Redhills Lane.

Following the film there will be time to discuss the what took place and the implications for Trade Unionists today. Everyone welcome. This event has been organised by the Crook Branch of UCATT who have been involved in supporting the fight for Justice for many years. Crook Branch supported Des Warren, who as a result of the treatment he received in prison died from drug induced Parkinson’s disease.

The film was produced by Platform films by Chris Reeves

In Unity

Pete Farrell

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Posted on Thu 25th April 2013 by admin2

Once again, as Workers Memorial Day approaches, Durham Police and the County Council have managed to create a controversy where none existed before. Long standing trade unionists in Durham will recall how the joint trades councils organised a Workers Memorial Day march in Stanley Crook for several years without problem – either from the authorities or from the village itself. The County Durham commemoration of WMD is held in Stanley Crook partly in recognition of St Thomas’ Church commitment to the event (the church also has a Workers Memorial window). The march and service has become a tradition which brings trade unionists and their banners to the quiet County Durham village to pay tribute to those men and women who have died in the course of their work, as well as highlight the dilution of health and safety legislation and cuts in the HSE which sadly makes more deaths likely. The message of the day is ‘mourn the dead & fight for the living’. The event has recently involved Families Against Corporate Killers (F.A.C.K) who campaign to  stop workers and others being killed in preventable incidents and direct bereaved families to sources of legal help and emotional support.

Suddenly, after years of untroubled and peaceful events – last year the police said we would be arrested if we marched through the village (even if we walked on the pavement). The council said that we had to apply for the a road closure at a potential cost of £3500. For more details on the events last year, see this article. Obviously, the trades council (newly formed County Durham Trades Union Council)  just didn’t have that kind of money, but far more importantly, the process of road closures essentially meant being fleeced by a private company – and this for a road closure in a quiet village that welcomes the marchers and the memorial event.

This year, the police have not intervened directly, but the Safety Advisory Group (SAG), consisting of Durham County Council and Durham Police, have said that the organisers are “liable if anything goes wrong at the event”. For the story, see this article in the Northern Echo:

Willington mother warned she will be liable if anything goes wrong on Stanley Crook memorial march

This is a new and worrying turn of events. All over the country, marchers are being asked to fund road closures. Mostly, these measures or “services” are not provided directly by the council, but by private companies – whose primary aim is profit. Whether it is deliberately designed to prevent protest is not the point – the fact is that this “privatisation” of protest security has the effect of making peaceful protest (or in this case a memorial march and service) more difficult and potentially prohibitively expensive. The result is the same. Are we to accept this? That is surely a very good question for the trade union movement.

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Posted on Mon 22nd April 2013 by admin2

FACK Statement for International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2013

International Workers’ Memorial Day is an opportunity for us FACK families to tell the stories of our lives, which changed irrevocably and beyond measure when our loved ones’ lives were cut far too short.

These are loved ones like Cameron Minshull, a 16-year old lad, only a few weeks into his first job, killed in an incident involving an industrial lathe. The HSE Director whose desk this came across has said he thought he was reading a tale from Victorian times.  But this was no tale of a bygone era, it is a modern day horror story.

For his family “it still does not seem real, it’s like a bad dream”.  But this is no work of fiction. Because, once upon a time our loved ones left for work, and for them – and therefore us – there will be no living happily ever after.

Yet this ConDem government continues to push a narrative through which they attempt to convince the public that health and safety legislation amounts to a burden on business, or is a barrier to our young people gaining work experience.

The truth of it is that lack of good health and safety often proves an ultimate and deadly barrier to young people gaining work experience, just as it did for 17 year-old Steven Burke who fell 30ft to his death while working at a water treatment plant or 18 year-old Lewis Murphy who died after suffering 60% burns when he was engulfed in a massive fireball at the garage he started working at on leaving school. His mum and dad found out in court that, as their son was being taken to hospital, he had asked the paramedic if he was going to die. That is a real and enduring burden.

Those of us whose lives are far emptier for the loss of our parents, children, siblings or partners, we bear the burden.

But proactive, preventative inspections have been dramatically cut and are now banned in the majority of workplaces which are wrongly called “low risk” as over half of all recorded deaths occur in these sectors.  Legislation is being slashed.  Approved Codes of Practice are being scrapped and replaced with toothless guidance. Blacklisting for raising health and safety concerns is still rife and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is ordered by the government to consider the economy before safety and lives.

Well we FACKers will not have health and safety portrayed by politicians and the media as some sort of Jekyll and Hyde character: the villain of the piece in some quarters or the figure of fun deployed for comedic effect in others.  Health and safety is not about the fun police, triangular flapjacks or bonkers conkers.  It is about a young man who should have celebrated his 7th wedding anniversary this month who was robbed of the opportunity to walk up the aisle. It is about those who are robbed of the opportunity to see children grow up or grandchildren be born. It is about young boys like Samuel Adams, aged 6, who are robbed of the opportunity to even dream of what they might be when they grow up.

So it is no wonder we FACKers feel upset and angry at repeatedly reading that a death “could and should have been prevented had the employer ensured”: that proper risk assessments were undertaken; or that adequate training was provided; or that machinery was properly guarded; or that its own written procedures were adhered to; or that a safe system of work was being followed.  But, because health and safety is portrayed as a meddlesome intrusion or tiresome impediment to getting the job done, these fundamentals are far too often ignored and loved ones pay the ultimate price.

Understand that these are very rarely “accidents at work”, because an accident waiting to happen is no accident.  And appreciate that deaths caused by work are far more common than HSE figures would have you believe.  Do not be duped into thinking the HSE’s headline-grabbing 173 workers killed last year is anything like the whole story. The Hazards Campaign counts the real cost of work in death, injury and illness: around 1400 killed in work-related incidents (not accidents); and up to 50,000 who die as a result of work-related illness.  That’s a total of around 140 work-related deaths a day, 6 an hour.

So we stand here today remembering all loved ones who die because of work. But at very heart of FACK’s work is the desire to prevent others losing their lives or their loved ones in incidents which could and should have been prevented.

While FACK families bear the burden of poor health and safety regulation and enforcement, we also feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to you and yours. So join with us in renewing our commitment to take on the politicians and the enforcement authorities, fighting like hell for the living, and helping ensure that you or yours do not become the next chapter in this story!

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