Bolton Trades Unionists call for £millions in public investment, not £40million more cuts!



6.30 PM – 8.00 PM

To join the Zoom Meeting you need to e-mail: before the start of the meeting.

Bolton TUC are calling for a broad coalition of political parties, trades unions, service users and community groups to oppose the potential £39 million cut to next year’s Bolton Council budget and to campaign instead for a huge public investment in the town in any number of pay-for-themselves projects, such as building more Social Housing and insulating people’s homes, which Secretary of Leigh Unite and Bolton TUC member Stephen Hall says:

“…….would not only, not be wasteful expenditure burdening future generations with increased debt; but on the contrary, represent the best public investment we could possibly make right now not only in the interests of our children and future generations, but of everyone else living in the here and now. This is because what we are proposing will amongst other things, help to address the huge housing shortage and growing threat of climate change. It will also help alleviate the widespread financial pressures presently on many households resulting from the covid pandemic, by creating thousands of new jobs, and putting money into local people’s pockets and thereby the local economy.

“Any proposed cuts right now are simply unacceptable in our view and will only heap even greater misery on to already over stretched households. They will only worsen the care of our elderly and severely damage other vital public services. They will also suck money and spending power out of the local economy, all of which will detrimentally effect local businesses. Worse than that they are a completely false economy which will cost the public purse more in the long run as a result of a loss in tax revenues, increased payments of universal credit and the additional cost of addressing many other social problems they will create.

“As well as organising locally to mobilise public opinion in support of a policy of investment rather than cuts, and calling on our local Councillors and our local MPs to join us in demanding the necessary funding from the Government to enable that to happen, in order for us to realistically succeed, it is vital we unite and campaign with other Council areas facing a similar situation in Greater Manchester and beyond.

Indeed, in the first instant, we believe our best chance, and every other Council area’s best chance of succeeding lies in building the greatest possible public support for this policy and approach across Greater Manchester and putting pressure on all our political representatives, MPs, Council Leaders and GM Mayor Andy Burnham to unite with us in demanding the Government provide the necessary funding. This approach would also look to be more in keeping with the Government’s manifesto pledge of a ‘levelling up’ agenda for The North, than the currently proposed cuts facing local Councils which will more likely do the exact opposite.

“We are delighted to hear that the Bolton West Constituency Labour Party last week unanimously endorsed a motion opposing cuts and calling for a similar approach to ours with regards to investment in our area in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Also, calling for a broad campaign across the Borough to achieve those objectives. We would like to cordially invite them, and everyone else living in the Bolton Council area who is opposed to the proposed cuts, and who agrees that a policy of public investment is the much better option, to come and join us at next Wednesday’s Zoom meeting to discuss how we might go forwards as a united campaign in the interests of us all.”

Invited speakers:

  • Cllr Ahktar Zaman – Labour Councillor
  • Andrea Egan – Bolton UNISON Branch Secretary
  • Karen Reissman –  Bolton UNISON Health Branch
  • Linda Charnock – Bolton Against the Bedroom Tax
  • Stephen Hall – Bolton TUC & President Greater Manchester TUC

To join the Zoom Meeting you need to e-mail: before the start of the meeting.

Voice your Opinion on the Council tax support Review 2020

Local council tax support is currently given to around 30,000 individuals and families in the Bolton Borough whose personal circumstances mean that they are eligible for financial help to pay their council tax. The Council are proposing that the local council tax support scheme be amended as of 1st April 2021 and are asking residents to voice their opinion as part of their review.

Whether or not council will pay heed to any contribution from the public is uncertain. Bolton TUC nevertheless urge as many residents as possible to voice their opinions and to oppose any attempt to reduce the number of people who may be eligible or to reduce the amount paid to those who qualify, especially under present circumstances.

Click this link to access the online survey.

To give you an idea of the type of comments you might care to make, here’s an example of one already submitted by a Trades Council delegate earlier this week.

While the Conservative Government are inflicting another £40 million of cuts upon the people of Bolton they are at the same time handing out over £1.9 Billion to supermarket chains via the Treasury’s 12-month holiday on business rates. This is resulting in bumper payouts worth millions to shareholders. In response we demand that the central government not only make up the £40 million shortfall but set forth a package of economic regeneration that will see a genuine economic recovery for all the people of Bolton.

The Treasury’s 12-month holiday on business rates was sold to us as essential financial support to businesses to prevent them from going under and unemployment increasing, but as is often the case, the real winners were not small local businesses but instead supermarkets who have seen sales soar and will continue to do so under a lockdown.

The Conservatives claim to be a party of low taxation but instead we see a consultation taking place on proposals for an amendment to the local council tax support scheme that will see us paying more council tax at a time when unemployment is rising and the level of in work poverty is at it highest rate ever.

As there wasn’t an ‘Other’ option to this question our Trades Council delegate chose not to reply.

Our argument remains the same throughout, in that the only way to build a strong vibrant economy is by investing in the infrastructure and the skills of the future, not using our tax to reward Tory Party donors.

Salute to John Clegg (1950-2020) – Socialist & Working Class Hero

John Clegg in Bexley Square, Salford just prior to the beginning of GMATUC’s 2014 May Day March & Rally

Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils mourns the loss of former GMATUC Executive and longtime Manchester Trades Council member John Clegg who died last week aged 70. John had had a difficult couple of years in which he saw the death of his lifelong soulmate Mary, as well as his own worsening health problems. He is survived by his two daughters Nicole and Melanie.

GMATUC President Stephen Hall who knew John for over 30 years, worked with him on numerous projects, and consulted him for advice on many occasions writes:

“John was one of the most committed Socialists and trades union and community activists I have ever known. There are few progressive campaigns or initiatives in Manchester over the last 40 years John was not directly involved in helping to set up or played a key role in, from Manchester Gay Centre, to the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, to Greater Manchester Law Centre, to the Unemployed Workers Centre to name but a few.

“John truly was also an exemplar to us all of how to work with others, preferring to find points of agreement rather than points of difference and putting the interests of the movement, and of the working class as a whole at the forefront of everything rather than that of any particular party or group.

“His death is a second huge loss to our movement in Greater Manchester along with that of Brian Northey of Bolton TUC who also died last week. They will both leave gaping holes and be dearly missed by their comrades, friends and family. Both were working class heroes.”

Manchester Trades Council have set up a page for people to share their memories and photos of John, see: Remembering John Clegg (1950-2020). His funeral will take place on Friday 20th November. It is hoped that the funeral service will be live streamed online (details to follow).

Tributes pour in for beloved Bolton trades unionist Brian Northey (1940-2020)

Brian spent his life fighting against injustice and for a better world for all.

Tributes have poured in from across the trades union and Labour movement following the death of much loved veteran trades unionist and lifelong Socialist Brian Northey who died last Tuesday aged 80. He is survived by his wife Lynn, his daughter Ann, son John and his grandchildren.

Leading those paying tribute to the former AEU, Amicus & Unite full-time official, as well as former Bolton Trades Council President during the 1970s & 80s, Unite the Union colleague and Bolton Councillor, Martin McMulkin said: “Brian touched the lives of thousands of people with his integrity, humour and big heart. Brian’s legacy will live on because wherever people stand against injustice and believe a better world is possible, Brian’s spirit will stand with them and his flame will burn in their hearts”.

“Politically Brian was a committed socialist and played an active part in local and national politics, chairing his local Breightmet Branch and Bolton North East Constituency.

“He never shied away from holding to account local and national career politicians who he believed where not acting in the interest of the working class.”

Bolton Trades Council’s Secretary, Andrea Egan said: “He was a fighter for the working class who campaigned all his life for a better world, and for those who knew him personally he was a great inspiration. He never minced his words, was straight to the point and God help if you were on the receiving end.

“Brian will leave us with a big gap in our lives and for many a big gap in our hearts, but he will always remain in our minds and with us in our fights ahead.”

Writing in The Morning Star newspaper his long-time Labour Party and Trades Council colleague Bernie Gallagher writes:

“He came from a humble background and struggled financially for many years with a young family after being blacklisted for trade union activities. As a consequence, he fought all his life for the repeal of anti-trade union legislation.

“In 2016 Brain was awarded the Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Socialism by the Bolton Socialist Club. In his nomination he was described as ‘The scourge of employers across Bolton and beyond’ as it was said that he always put the members first.

“It is the view of many in the Labour Party, and an opinion shared by many beyond, that Brian was the finest full-time union official the town has ever seen.

“Known simply as Northey to his members and friends who he served with dedication, commitment and passion, Brian’s contribution to improving the life of so many is immeasurable.”

Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions (CSEU) General Secretary Ian Weddell said Brian was “…a tireless, life-long campaigner and Socialist. Chair of CSEU District 29 long into his retirement with a keen interest in seeing money from the 35 hour week campaign go to good use in the Alex Ferry Foundation. He was a friend and comrade who will be sorely missed”

Former local (NUT) Teachers’ Union and Trades Council Secretary Tom Hanley said: “Brian was part of the fabric of trade unionism in Bolton for as long as I can remember.

“His dry sense of humour, often accompanied by tales that might have provoked defamation claims if repeated, lightened many a post-meeting pint. But his energy and commitment to trade unionism was immediately evident (I think it led to his being blacklisted during Thatcherism). He was active in most campaigns for workers rights throughout his working life and beyond, and was never afraid to get stuck in where necessary.

“I will miss him, value the time I’ve spent with him, and celebrate his great contribution to improving the life of so many by his unswerving commitment to building a world which serves the many, and opposing always the powerful few who stand in our way.”

Fellow Breightmet Labour Party colleague, NHS Ward Sister Marlene Stringfellow said:

“I first met Brian in 2016, when I joined the Labour Party. He was still the Chair of the Breightmet ward at that point. Brian was most welcoming and encouraging – and although I knew him only for a relatively short time, he certainly made a huge impact.

“During the 2017 leadership contest, I came to appreciate his commitment. He always made himself available as we campaigned locally, despite his health beginning to to fail at that point. However, I came to recognise that he was a colossus and clearly respected by many with his unflinching socialist ideals.

“He often had a twinkle in his eye, as delivered his colourful speeches. He became very dear to me, and will be greatly missed…..”

There are many other tributes and kind comments on our Facebook page.

Brian’s funeral will take place at 1.00pm next Tuesday 17th November at the West Chapel, Overdale Crematorium , Overdale Drive (off Chorley New Road), Bolton BL1 5BU

Members of the Trades Council and Brian’s other Trades Union and Labour Party colleagues are being asked if they wish to, and are able to get there, to stand outside the West Chapel from 12.30pm onwards in a socially distanced show of respect for Brian and of solidarity with Lynn and other members of his family at this sad occasion. Please note masks are to be worn throughout.

We think Brian would also want all his comrades and friends to heed the famous words of Joe Hill and rather than mourn is passing to instead step up their organisation and effort to achieve all the things he himself devoted his life to fighting for.

Farewell Brian Northey – We will miss you dearly

Empty Plate campaigners call for u-turn on Free School Meals

A few photos and two short videos from yesterday’s protests outside the offices of local Tory MP’s Mark Logan (Bolton North East) and Chris Green (Bolton West) organised by Bolton TUC. Also, of messages left outside the offices of James Grundy (Leigh) by members of the public. All three Conservative MP’s voted against the motion to extend free school meals over school holidays until Easter 2021.

The motion was lost by 61 votes.

A spokesperson for Bolton TUC said: “Bolton TUC are gravely concerned about the plight of people in Bolton as we see the impact of Government policy that sees in-work poverty rising.

“So today Bolton TUC, members of local political parties along with members of faith and community groups will visit the constituency offices of Chris Green MP and Mark Logan MP with a visual representation of our concerns about children going hungry during the coming Christmas holiday and to ask them to apply pressure, alongside Yasmin Qureshi MP, upon the Government to put in place temporary measures that will see children provided with a nutritious meal every day until a permanent solution can be found.

“We have wrote to the MPs to invite them to meet with us in a covid safe environment.

“The Government’s decision to make sure young people could get a decent lunch while schools were closed over the Easter, half-term and the summer holidays was a massive relief to many which not only provided nutrition but a reduction in anxiety that relentlessly worrying about feeding children brings and we wholeheartedly hope that the three Bolton MPs will support our call that the same provision will be extended over the Christmas period.

“We are so proud to be part of the Bolton community that has pulled together with the council to intervene but the most vulnerable members of our community cannot be left to rely on the kindness of strangers which is why we are calling upon the government to come up with a permanent solution.”

Greater Manchester TUC President and Bolton TUC member Stephen Hall said: “It is morally reprehensible and simply unacceptable for our local Conservative MP’s and the Conservative Government to deny our poorest children the benefits of a nutritious meal during the school holidays when the cost of so doing pales into insignificance compared to the £10billion+ cost of a covid track and trace system which is clearly not World beating and doesn’t actually work.”

Don’t forget……..

They have Empty Hearts, Our Kids have Empty Plates – PROTEST

Maggie stole OUR milk, now they want to steal our kids free school dinners. Merry Christmas from The Tory Party! Empty plate protest outside
Maggie stole OUR milk, now they want to steal our kids free school dinners. Merry Christmas from The Tory Party!

If you can attend please do so outside the offices of Chris Green MP (Bolton West) and Mark Logan MP (Bolton North East) at 9:00am Friday 30th October. Their addresses are listed above.

Don’t forget to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

If you’re unable to attend, please either:

Take a photo of yourself holding a plate with a message about FSM, or, make a video of yourself holding a plate with a message saying why you support our campaign for FSM during the half term and Xmas breaks.

The photos and videos will appear on our website:

Here’s a photo of the empty plate protest outside not so Christian Wakeford MP’s office in Bury

Photo of the empty plate protest outside not so Christian Wakeford MP’s office in Bury.

Struggling with your Energy Bills?

Here’s some advice from WHICH to help you with your energy bills

NOTE: Energy suppliers are prevented from disconnecting your energy during lockdown, regardless of your ability to pay your energy bills.  If you find yourself unable to afford your bills, contact your supplier, rather than just cancelling your direct debit. You should be able to work out a plan that could include your bill payments and/or debt payments being reassessed, reduced or paused, though exact policies vary between suppliers.

To find out more visit: – Which?

Is a £3000 pay rise for MPs warranted?

Nursing staff suggest that we should give MP’s nothing and instead clap for them for a few Thursdays. 

Add Your View to the Consultation

Interestingly, New Zealand’s Prime Minister has said she and other ministers will take a 20% pay cut lasting six months to show solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus outbreak, as the death toll continues to rise, but at the same time said that there is no suggestion whatsoever that frontline workers should be expected to do anything like.

As members of the labour movement we should support MP’s receiving a salary and administrative costs.  If MP’s  didn’t receive a salary they would have to rely on donations or perhaps not be able to stand and hence whilst we might like Labour MPs to be supported financially by the Trade Unions the real risk is that without allowances the House of Commons would look more white, more male and more like a public school common room

In 2014/15 I encountered a Conservative MP, me the National Convenor for Unison in the probation sector, he the Minister of Justice setting about the since failed privatisation of probation.  He was scathing of my view that we would consider all options to resist privatisation and secure an above inflation pay rise.  So I made him an offer which I would go back and recommend to my members if he agreed, which was this:-

We lay out a mechanism that will take the pay of all workers (especially those that have seen stagnation due to government policy) back to 2008 values, then, if MPs receive a 0% rise then so would we, equally they 2% us the same, and as happened in 2014/15 when MPs received over 10% we would expect the same.

Of course he would hear none of it but you have to accept that it is a compelling argument and consider the value of the view of a minister who thought privatising probation was a good idea though it cost the public purse around half a billion pounds and led to an unknown numbers of crimes being committed by those offenders who the privatised system failed to rehabilitate.

As increasingly more and more workers face unemployment or having their pay reduced to 66% many will believe that such a rise at this time is to say the least wrongful and untimely.

I am not critical of a system that gives MPs a rise, I am critical of a system that holds back workers pay and understand why when Matt Hancock said “now is not the time to discuss a pay rise for nurses”, whilst accepting a three grand pay rise, nursing staff suggest that we should give MP’s nothing and instead clap for them for a few Thursdays.  

From 2010 to 2020, local government workers have been subject to a combination of pay freezes and minimal increases. Under a two-year deal awarded agreed in 2018, the majority of employees were given 2% annual rises.  In total the Pubic Sector have seen their wages increase by about 1% per year, so that’s 10% since 2020 whilst MPs salaries have gone up by over 24% over the same period.  Looking further back to the turn of the century when MPs salaries were £48371 to today’s rate of almost £82,000 that’s a rise of over 56% since 2000.

But I am critical of a system that allows many MP’s to have very lucrative other consultant roles that distracts them from being an MP and also massively critical of MP’s who step into lucrative positions with organisations who they came into direct contact with whilst in cabinet.  I do also acknowledge that many MP’s do very valuable work as unpaid board members and community activists.

According to a 2014 YouGov poll, people are “overwhelmingly against” MPs having any second jobs. Only 26% agreed with the statement that “some MPs continuing to do second jobs like medicine, law or running a business keeps them in touch with ordinary people, and is better than having a House of Commons made up of just full-time politicians”.

The MPs’ pay proposal is now open for consultation until 6 November, with a final decision due in December.


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Kevin Allsop, Treasurer, Bolton TUC

Jobs Support Scheme – Sunak Must Do Better!

Rishi Sunak has released his Job Support Scheme and upon scrutiny he must do Better

What is the Job Support Scheme? 

  • The Job Support Scheme will run for six months from 1 November.
  • It will top up salaries in companies which can’t take employees back full-time.
  • To be eligible, employees must work for at least one-third of their normal contracted hours.
  • For the hours not worked, the government and employer will each pay one-third of the remaining wages. This means the employee would get at least 77% of their pay. 

What other jobs help is on offer?

To minimise unemployment, the UK government will also give firms:

  • £1,000 for every furloughed employee kept on until at least the end of January
  • £1,500 for every out-of-work 16-24 year-old given a ”high quality” six-month work placement
  • £2,000 for every under-25 apprentice taken on until the end of January, or £1,500 for over-25s

But will it incentivise businesses to keep employees in work?

In an example where the employer has 3 staff, the demand has fallen by 2/3 those 3 staff would work 1/3 of their contracted hours but will be paid 55% of their wages by the employer, 22% by the treasury and take a hit for 23% of their wages.  So the employer gets 1 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) work but pays for 1.65 FTE.

If the employer dismissed two of the staff and just had one working full time then they would pay 1 FTE.

So what then will be the considerations for the employer?

It is likely that those highly skilled workers, along with those for whom it would be expensive to dismiss in terms of redundancy pay will be kept on, but low skilled workers will lose their jobs as there is no incentive to the employer for keeping them on. 

Again we see how strongly unionised workplaces will fair better than those non unionised ones 

What alternatives are there?

One simple answer is to scrap the £7.5bn JRB (Job retention bonus) which is paid to employers who retain workers the consideration being that those workers were likely to have been kept on anyway so the £1000 payment was unnecessary and should be used to meet the shortfall in wages for those workers only working 1/3 of the time. This short hours scheme will incentivise employers to keep those staff.

In Germany the Kurzarbeit, effectively a social insurance programme, and an alternative to redundancy. Under Kurzarbeit, employers reduce their employees’ working hours instead of laying them off. But the largest portion of the workers’ lost income is picked up by the state.

Better unemployment benefit in line with the rest of Europe or better still it would seem then that both the government and the employers have accepted the fate of the retail high street to be a bad one but if, as the CEO of next argues, this is so then why are we not embarking on mass training schemes to give people skills for the future whilst these wont necessarily be building solar and wind infrastructure they could well be within the internet based retail economy.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said that his latest measures, which will replace the job retention scheme that paid 80 per cent of furloughed employees’ wages, will not save masses of jobs from being lost.  Dodds said the “million-dollar question” was whether the wage support scheme would fail to incentivise employers to keep workers in their jobs.  She told Radio 4’s Today programme that “unemployment levels are rising very substantially, they’re going back towards 1980s levels.”

The Resolution Foundation think tank also warned that the “winter economic package” would not help turn the tide on unemployment.  Chief executive Torsten Bell said: “Design flaws mean that the new [scheme] will not live up to its promise to significantly reduce the rise in unemployment.”  He added: “Those mistakes could be addressed by scrapping the poorly targeted £7.5 billion job retention bonus, and using those funds to ensure the new support scheme gives firms the right incentives to cut hours rather than jobs.”

Trade Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Frances O’Grady warned there is still “unfinished business.” She said: “Unworked hours under the scheme must not be wasted.  “Ministers must work with business and unions to offer high-quality retraining, so workers are prepared for the future economy.  “The government should target help at industries facing a tough winter, and provide more support for families most at risk of hardship and debt.” 

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka called the measures “akin to using a plaster to cover a gaping wound.”  “Our members in the commercial sector, aviation and culture are already being threatened with hundreds of redundancies, as employers seek to capitalise on the economic fallout from Covid-19,” he said.  “The Tories’ ideological opposition to increased state intervention is hurting the economy and costing people their livelihoods right now.”

Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) director Dr Faiza Shaheen called the announcement “too little to late” for those who have already lost their jobs, and for the sector’s hardest hit.   She said: “What Britain needs is a real budget that sets out how departmental spending would boost a recovery, generate jobs and provide real ‘level-up’ equality. We need more vision and a real industrial strategy.”  Dr Shaheen said the Conservatives’ approach to the economy is “increasingly looking chaotic and reactionary.”

Labour MP Richard Burgon called for a more radical approach, noting that Britain was facing the worst recession in Europe because of “systemic failings.”  He called for “a united programme of demands that we coordinate the whole left around: the left in parliament, the unions, the party membership and social movements,” calling for adoption of a zero-Covid strategy and Labour to campaign for a programme of public works and the Green New Deal to “force the government to change track on health and the economy.”


Kevin Allsop, Treasurer, Bolton TUC

Wigan workforce solid in defence of pay & conditions!

Bolton TUC members with UNISON strikers outside The Coops Building in Wigan – Friday 1st October 2020

When Addaction members were transferred from the NHS they were promised that they would retain their rates of pay, but #WeAreWithYou (the new name for Addaction) have gone back on their word. As a result, following the appropriate process in which there was a 100% turnout and unanimous vote in favour of industrial action, the workforce took their first day of strike action on Friday 23rd August 2019. They continue to remain solid having now taken a total of sixteen days of strike action on each occasion receiving the support of the local Trades Council and other local trades unionists.

Members of Unite the Union & RMT also showed their support for Friday’s socially distanced picket line.

What’s at stake?

One member of UNISON said “We will lose an average of £7,870 each during the course of Wigan Council’s contract with We Are With You, with some of us losing out on as much as £10,974.”

“This is simply wrong and across five years, will suck £230,000 out of the local economy whilst We Are With You directs funding towards costly rebrands and its London headquarters.”

“We work hard for We Are With You in Wigan and Leigh to ensure that local people recover from addiction, regaining health, self esteem and becoming fully functioning members of our society.”

“We work in this field because we care and because it’s rewarding to support recovery, but we deserve to make a decent living.”

“Supporting people to overcome drug and alcohol addiction is an incredibly tough job and makes a difference for every single one of us in Wigan.  We deserve a decent wage for doing what is an important job for our communities.”

How can you help?

Sign and share our petition:

Post messages of support on social media: please hashtag #KeepYourPayPromise and #WeAreNOTWithYou and tag @WeAreWithYou and @NorthWestUNISON.