by Sarah Church

Labour parliamentary candidate for South Swindon

The uncertainty of the outcome of Brexit negotiations impacts us all, across all sectors of work and all bands of pay. In a town like Swindon, there are two possible futures: a bright future of high employment, high wages and high productivity supported by employment rights and representation through trade unions; and a future under a Conservative government that reduces trade union representation, repeals the employment rights enshrined in EU law, and enters trade deals that allows unregulated third country access to our labour market.

Swindon’s geographical location, its proximity to major road networks and Heathrow airport, as well as the prospect of an electrified rail-link to London and Bristol make it a perfect town for business investment, business start-ups and manufacturing. Swindon already attracts a high rate of foreign investment. This is because of where we are but also because wages are so low: employees in Swindon are paid on average 18.3% less than in other nearby towns. In comparison with Bristol for example, an employer can expect to save approximately £4209 per employee per annum by employing a worker in Swindon. The combination of high productivity with low wages is an indicator of workforce exploitation. The solution to Swindon’s brighter future is for wages to rise to make us a high-wage high-productivity town.

What to do then? Firstly, introduce a minimum wage of £10 per hour that will actually meet the rising cost of living: rising rents, and rising food and fuel prices. Secondly, enshrine employment rights in British law, repeal the Trade Union Act and allow unions access to the workplace to support their members. Thirdly, ban zero-hours contracts and give all workers the same rights from day one of employment, whether on temporary or permanent contracts. Hard won rights for employees must not be eroded as we leave the EU, but should continue to protect the workforce from exploitation and wage suppression.

Cooperative business models will also increase employee rights and decision-making in local business. Employee representation on boards and the right to first refusal to buy a company that is being dissolved or sold will increase and improve rights in the workplace.

We are at the crossroads of these two possible futures and Labour is promising it will be bright for the workforce in Swindon.

Published and promoted by Wiltshire and Swindon GMB on behalf of Sarah Church, both of Suite 22 Cherry Orchard North, Swindon, SN2 8UH.




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Violence in Swindon schools – survey

gmb-violence-in-schPlease take part in this simple on-line survey.

A GMB member working in a Swindon school recently experienced a serious violent incident from an 8 year old pupil, which required her to be hospitalised with a dislocated finger. A few days later, the school sent the same pupil on a field trip, where he assaulted 7 out of 8 staff. GMB has advised the individual members to pursue potential industrial injury claims, with the union’s support.

GMB was surprised to be advised that Swindon Borough Council do not believe that the school handled the situation badly, and Swindon Borough Council do not have a policy which requires pupils who are violent to staff or fellow pupils to be immediately suspended, pending a risk assessment review.

Our members have also reported to us increasing incidence of very challenging pupils being placed in mainstream schools. GMB has demanded a meeting with the council to ensure that a policy is adopted that gives adequate recognition to the demands for staff and pupil safety, and we are waiting for a date.

The survey is open to both GMB members and non-members, so please pass on to your work colleagues. A paper copy of the survey, and pre-paid envelope are also being sent to GMB members, this can also be used by non-members.

GMB strongly urges that all school support staff need to be in a trade union. Trade Union membership is extremely useful for all employees, but for school staff who work with children, trade union membership is an essential protection. Join GMB online here.

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Trade Union sponsored play in Corsham



‘Dare Devil Rides To Jarama’ by Neil Gore coming to The Pound Arts, Corsham on the 10th February 2017. This play has been sponsored by trade unions, including GMB.
(Box office: 01249 701628/712618 or online )

The show is about 1930’s famous speedway and wall of death star, Clem ‘Dare Devil’ Beckett. He fought for better wages in his sport and joined the International Brigade to help the people of Spain fight fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

Compelling and humorous, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama focuses on the contrasting lives of Clem Beckett, born in Oldham and famous star of the speedway track around Manchester and the North, and Christopher Caudwell, a renowned writer, poet and philosopher. Both men were killed together at Jarama in February 1937, having become friends as members of the British Battalion’s machine-gun company.

Through stirring song, poetry and compelling movement and dance, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama captures the raw passions and emotions of the time. Musical direction is from acclaimed folk singer and squeeze box player John Kirkpatrick. The play has a particular resonance in our current climate as it examines how the economic pressures in the 1930s contributed to the rise of xenophobic tendencies throughout Europe and the failure of a unified left to join together to successfully challenge these forces. Dare Devil Rides To Jaramaaims to bring the full story of the compelling dispute to life in this powerful and thought-provoking new play. This production follows Townsend Productions’ critically acclaimed United We Stand, The Ragged Trousered

The show has been commissioned by the IBMT and sponsored by all the Trade Unions it marks the 80th anniversary of the International Brigades and The Spanish Civil War. The play has had amazing reviews and audience response. It has been highlighted as one of the top shows in London for 2016 by London Theatre 1 and Blog of Theatre Things.

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Agreement reached with Swindon Borough Council

GMB welcomes agreement with Swindon Borough Council over proposed changes to pay scales for school support staff, and school staff will now have no pay cut.

The Council has now agreed to GMB’s proposals which means that no existing staff in Swindon Borough Council Schools will lose any money with the introduction of the new pay scales.

GMB was particularly disappointed that originally Swindon Borough Council had ignored the fact that GMB is the largest union in Swindon schools for support staff, and had only spoken to another union, UNISON. UNISON agreed the new pay scales despite the fact that it would lead to a pay cut for schools staff.

However, following the rejection of the proposal by GMB members, GMB had a positive and constructive dialogue with Swindon Borough Council, and we believe that these talks have reached an outcome that benefits everyone.

The original proposals were complicated and not the same for everyone. The new agreement between GMB and Swindon Borough Council means that a slow motion pay cut has been reversed.

As originally planned, it that would have left many GMB members £679 per year worse off by the time they have been there 5 years and reached the top of the grade. For those on a higher grade, the loss would have been a huge £1,765 per year after 5 years. Due to GMB’s action, these staff will now not lose that money.

The new agreement is that for all eligible staff recruited prior to 31st August 2016, they will progress two pay scale increments per year instead of one, which means that there will be no financial detriment. Staff taken on after 31st August were recruited on the new pay scales, and have therefore not suffered any detriment..

All school staff need to be in a strong union. Please encourage any of your colleagues who are not in a union to join GMB. They can join online here:


1) GMB has been a recognized trade union with Swindon Borough Council for many years, and is the largest union for school support staff in both Swindon and Wiltshire.


2) Swindon Borough Council has historically had slightly different pay scales from schools in the rest of the country. There has been, relatively recently, a national pay award. GMB members were balloted on that pay award and it was accepted. In order to give effect to that pay increase, there has been a recent process that Swindon Borough Council has called “assimilation” where some individuals have been moved on the pay scale, just so that the national pay rise could be given to them. In addition, a number of very low paid staff were working at less than the national living wage of £7.20 and recently received a pay rise to comply with the law. This did not have a detrimental effect on any GMB members. This is a separate issue from the increased number of points on the pay scale.

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