The Leicestershire Branch was re-chartered at our Annual Conference in May 2018. The Branch is the smallest in WISE-RA but it more than makes up for this in terms of its enthusiasm and drive.
The Branch has committed activists in Leicester and Loughborough and has a well thought out plan for consolidation, growth and sustainability.
Meeting the demands of casework led to the demise of the Branch in the past but its activists are older and wiser and are pursuing a more sustainable model now. The Branch does provide representation and recently obtained a £10,000 Settlement Agreement for a Fellow Worker. Leicestershire Wobblies also have an illustrious history.
As Fellow Worker Rob puts it:
‘There were a few Wobs around in Leicester during the late 90s but activity dwindled in the early 00s with the IWW eventually shutting up shop. Then in 2006, with all new members, the Leicestershire IWW General Membership Branch was chartered. It had about 50 members and focused mainly on coffee shop campaigns, rag trade workers, education workers and shop workers.
Leicestershire GMB had five job shops. These were:
• Four job shops at – Leicester Adult Education College, Countesthorpe College, Leicester FE College and De Montfort University (members included teachers, admin and technical staff, cleaners and students)
• One job shop at Frontline Bookshop
We also produced multilingual flyers in Hindi, Gujarati, Dari, Arabic, Polish, Somali, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Unfortunately, the branch overstretched itself with too few people doing too many jobs and too many members doing very little. We had a high rate of successes representing members at disciplinaries, unfortunately, we found people were joining for the cheap support at low subs (often people who had no real interest in contributing to the union in any other way).
We also took on other campaigns at the behest of members who wanted the branch to be some sort of wider campaigning group (e.g a local Post Office closure campaign) which also took it’s toll on the branch.
Memorable moment… a group of Wobs walking into a rag trade sweat shop, whose boss was paying way below the minimum wage, basically “putting the fear of Wob in him” and forcing him to head to the cash point to get back pay for our member. Sadly, we were unable to organise other workers in that factory or the rag trade in general… but that’s another story.’
We are now starting a new chapter of that story…..