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School for Strikers; Event trains workers on organising industrial disputes.


PUBLIC sector workers on Tyneside are to be schooled in how to go on strike.

In what is regarded as the first "School for Strikers" in the UK, employment lawyers and a seasoned trade union official will hold a practical seminar next month on going on strike.

The event in Gateshead is partly sponsored by the North East Shop Stewards Network, a rank and file cross-union organisation that is attempting to unite unions across the region.

Derek Cattell, author and one of the organisers, told the Chronicle: "The purpose of the day will be to examine the tactics and strategies that can be used to successfully pursue industrial action. "This will also include how to win public support by those taking action to defend jobs and services".

The Shop Stewards Network believes the "school" idea is well timed with pay, pensions and job security now top of the agenda for public sector workers in the North East.

Mr Cattell added: "This can only mean that we will see more industrial action being taken in the region and trade unionists need to prepare for inevitable disputes."

The former union official has already written a booklet called Going on Strike which will be available at the seminar.

There is also a 27-point checklist for strikers to follow during a dispute.

Earlier this year British Airways was granted an injunction to stop a ballot of 11,600 Unite members for failing to notify BA about the number of spoilt ballot papers. But the union won on appeal.

Trade union legal adviser John Usher believes that employers are increasing prepared to use the law to block unions.

But Newcastle employment lawyer Tony McPhillips from solicitors Muckle LLP thinks that unions are sometimes shooting themselves in the foot by not understanding employment laws.

He said: "Unions have fallen foul of the legislation by failing to master its complexities and also because their own administration in terms of records of membership has been archaic and inaccurate in many instances".


ADVICE Derek Cattell with a copy of his booklet on how to strike
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 30, 2011
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