Category Archives: Trade Unions

McCluskey targeted again: he’s right to apologise – but not for anti-Semitism

Len McCluskey: his words were not anti-Semitic.

Unite union leader Len McCluskey has rightly apologised to Peter Mandelson for comments in a BBC Newsnight report – but claims that his words were anti-Semitic are wholly wrong.

Responding to disparaging comments from Mandelson about the Jeremy Corbyn era of the Labour Party, McCluskey had said that he should go away and “count his gold”.

As this had nothing to do with the matters under discussion – and seems intended as an insult – it is right that McCluskey has issued an apology:

Sadly some people have chosen to interpret McCluskey’s words as an anti-Semitic trope:

There’s just one problem with that interpretation – and it’s a big one:

Peter Mandelson is not Jewish.

Jewishness is handed down by female family members and Mandelson’s mother was a gentile. He isn’t Jewish.

And consider this: isn’t it strange that one person with Jewish ancestors is said to be Jewish (for the purpose of attacking someone else), while another person with Jewish ancestors was told repeatedly that she was not (for the purpose of attacking her), even though she did self-identify as such?

To me, this seems just another opportunistic lie, made to attack a person on the left wing of UK politics.

Type “McCluskey” into the search box on Twitter and you’ll be able to make a list of the names and handles of a large number of fellow travellers who support this lie. Some of them are well-known so it is worth making that list.

And, as there is (clearly) still a strong campaign to disparage and discredit people on the left wing of politics, let’s see if the same names crop up to support the next lie.

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Popular support for UK’s biggest union as it cuts funding to Labour because Starmer is ‘not listening’

Len McCluskey: as long ago as March 2018, he said if Labour won’t support left-wing policies, it won’t have left-wing funds.

Len McCluskey is providing the leadership the Labour movement badly needs, and right-thinking people across the UK know it.

Late on October 6, the BBC’s Newsnight told us the Unite union general secretary had announced a partial disaffiliation from the Labour Party because new leader Keir Starmer is “just not listening” to the Labour movement.

One of the most contentious issues recently was Starmer’s decision to pay £600,000 to so-called whistleblowers who contributed to a Panorama documentary about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

After Labour denied their story, they threatened to sue the party for defamation. Legal advice was that Labour would win – but Starmer decided to pay up anyway.

Now, United has disaffiliated 50,000 of its members, meaning its subsidy to Labour will drop by one-tenth – around £700,000.

This Writer thinks the close correlation between this sum and the amount paid to the “whistleblowers” is no coincidence. Unite – and McCluskey – are saying that if Starmer has so much cash he can afford to blow it on appeasement, he can afford to do without some.

The cash that has been freed will go to left-wing grassroots organisations – a shrewd move if it leads to wider understanding of alternatives to the neoliberal policies of Boris Johnson (and Starmer himself).

And the decision has been met with widespread support from the general public. Here’s This Site’s friend, Cornish Damo (be warned that he doesn’t hold back and you may find some of his language too strong):

We need an opposition, not an “appeasition”. Yes indeed!

Others have also leapt up to voice their support for Unite – and their disgust with Starmer on this and other issues:

AFTERTHOUGHT: Sadly, looking at the social media, it seems the Twitter trolls are trying to take over the discussion with support for Starmer and insults for McCluskey.

Perhaps Unite and all the other trade unions who co-formed Labour in the first place should just withdraw all their funding now, as these so-called members and representatives clearly neither need nor want it.

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We should all support McCluskey over Labour ‘anti-Semitism’ payouts

Len McCluskey: if Labour won’t support left-wing policies, it won’t have left-wing funds.

Len McCluskey has the right idea: if Labour is going to waste its funds, then its funders should pull the plug on the party.

All left-thinking unions – and what’s the point of being in a union if it isn’t left-thinking and doesn’t look out for its members? – should agree.

New Labour under Blair, Brown and Miliband gave us 20 years in which members’ wishes were scorned for a bland, tepid watering-down of Tory policies. It would be an outrage if Labour’s supporters let Starmer take the party back to that.

So Unite is reviewing its political donations to the Labour Party – reconsidering whether it should continue to be Starmer’s largest backer, or indeed back him at all.

The decision came after Starmer decided to pay huge amounts of money to seven so-called whistleblowers who claimed the party had not handled anti-Semitism properly in a BBC documentary.

A leaked report to the party that Starmer failed to release later suggested that some of those involved had themselves held back the party’s response in a bid to smear then-leader Jeremy Corbyn and harm Labour’s chances of election with him in charge.

McCluskey has been clear:

“It’s an abuse of members’ money,” he said. “A lot of it is Unite’s money and I’m already being asked all kinds of questions by my executive. It’s as though a huge sign has been put up outside the Labour party with ‘queue here with your writ and get your payment over there’.”

Unite is Labour’s biggest donor, contributing £7 million to the party since the beginning of 2019. The loss of any of these funds would be a huge blow when it is rumoured that thousands of members are quitting every day in disgust at Starmer’s recent policy u-turns.

It seems clear to This Writer that McCluskey has chosen the right direction.

Starmer seems entirely unconcerned about losing members – in fact he seems to be pushing left-wingers out of the door.

But he needs money, and the party’s business backers – many of whom deserted Labour during the Corbyn years – are unlikely to be hurrying back if the party’s remaining financial base is dwindling.

It could be that the summer Parliamentary recess is the perfect time to judge Starmer’s Labour.

He has just ditched his flagship policy – the one he used to woo enough party voters to win himself the leadership: higher taxes on the wealthy.

Can he be persuaded to reverse that decision? What other decisions has he been planning to make and, if they harm the Left, will he be forced to reconsider?

If he doesn’t, he may find himself with very little Labour left to lead.

Source: Unite sounds warning over Labour antisemitism payouts | Labour | The Guardian

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Here’s why schools should stay closed and why anyone saying otherwise may have a political agenda

School: even in exam conditions, teachers will struggle to keep pupils two metres apart.

Perhaps you think it’s not a big deal.

Ever since Boris Johnson announced that he wants schools to reopen at the beginning of June, the idea has become a raging controversy.

He didn’t say that scientists support this notion – for a very good reason, it seems:

Let’s have a look at the article, from Schoolsweek:

The Department for Education’s chief scientific adviser admitted he has not assessed whether guidance on reopening schools is effective, adding the current advice is “draft” and “will be developed”.

Appearing in front of the Parliamentary science and technology committee today, Osama Rahman also admitted the DfE had done no modelling on the impact on transmission rates of starting to reopen schools after the May half term break.

During a hearing that left some MPs visibly bemused, Rahman also suggested the government guidance issued yesterday on safety is a “draft”, and will be reissued after further consultation with Public Health England.

He also said the decision to reopen schools was made by cabinet, not the DfE.

Asked about the transmission rate among children during the hearing, Rahman said the evidence is mixed, and there’s a “low degree of confidence in evidence they might transmit it less”.

SNP education spokesperson Carol Monaghan then asked for clarification. Was it true that “we’re putting together hundreds of potential vectors that can then go and transmit. Is that correct?”

Mr Rahman’s response – “Possibly, depending on school sizes” – may have contributed to Ms Monaghan’s conclusion that, as a former teacher, she “did not think the profession will be satisfied or put at ease with what they are hearing”.

Asked what scientific evidence base underpinned the decision to reopen schools to pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6, and what modelling had been done, Mr Rahman said the Department for Education had not done any modelling at all.

He was unable to provide any proof that any scientific evidence had contributed to the decision to seek the reopening of schools at the beginning of June. He believed the Cabinet had made that decision, following advice from SAGE – albeit filtered through Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Rahman also admitted he had made no assessment on how effectively actions proposed by the government for schools to reopen safely can be implemented.

Perhaps it is unsurprising, given this background, that education unions united to declare that they would only support the reopening of schools “when it is safe to do so”:

The statement says:

“We all want schools to re-open, but that should only happen when it is safe to do so. The government is showing a lack of understanding about the dangers of the spread of coronavirus within schools, and outwards from schools to parents, sibling and relatives, and to the wider community.

“Uniquely, it appears, school staff will not be protected by social distancing rules. 15 children in a class, combined with their very young age, means that classrooms of 4 and 5-year olds could become sources of Covid-19 transmission and spread.  While we know that children generally have mild symptoms, we do not know enough about whether they can transmit the disease to adults. We do not think that the government should be posing this level of risk to our society.

“We call on the government to step back from the 1st June and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out.”

The principles and tests include:

  • Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle
  • No increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme
  • A national Covid-19 education taskforce with government, unions and education stakeholders to agree statutory guidance for safe reopening of schools
  • Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families facing economic disadvantage
  • Additional resources for enhanced school cleaning, PPE and risk assessments
  • Local autonomy to close schools where testing indicates clusters of new covid-19 cases

Doesn’t that seem reasonable? Not to Gavin Williamson!

He said: “Sometimes scaremongering and making people fear is really unfair, and not a welcome pressure that is to be placed on families, children and teachers alike.”

Amazingly, he has had support from a Labour MP – Barry Sheerman:

Fortunately, this chap faced an instant backlash:

So it seems we are being asked to believe the unions are scaremongering, despite the evidence from Mr Rahman that shows they aren’t.

What do you think?

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Responses to leaked Labour report shows the party – and unions – must kick out the racists

Why are elements in the Labour Party, along with unions like the GMB and Unison, trying to protect people in their ranks who have been shown committing vile acts of racism?

Not only is this behaviour highlighted in the leaked Labour report on how factions in the party’s staff dragged their heels over complaints of anti-Semitism in order to discredit the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn…

… but it seems miscreants in the party are now trying to protect the apparent racists – and attacking right-thinking people.

So ITV News is reporting that Labour staff members tried to stop the party’s Unite branch from sending letters of solidarity to Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler and Clive Lewis – the MPs named in the report as victims of racism and racial profiling.

A meeting by videoconference supported a motion that said the report had “highlighted damning examples of casual workplace racism at the most senior levels of the party” and “illustrates how the racism faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic members were ignored.” It also called for letters of solidarity to be sent.

The report continues:

During the meeting, some Labour Party staffers objected to this and an amendment was tabled to stop the letters of solidarity being sent out.

One Labour staffer, who is mentioned in the report in reference to these allegations, argued against it happening and said that it served as “an implication of guilt”.

Who are these people? What are their names? Why are they supporting racist abuse? When will they be suspended while their own conduct is investigated?

Perhaps more shocking is the motion put before the GMB’s Labour staff branch that general secretary Jennie Formby should “apologise personally” to staff named in the report (apologies for the source of this; we know Pogrund has published false information about This Writer but in this case it seems his facts are sound):

Why should Jennie Formby apologise to these apparent racists?

Or perhaps we’re seeing elements in Labour who believe the named people should be given the benefit of the doubt.

If so, are these the same people who were happy to demand the persecution and expulsion of left-wing party members, based only on inaccurate press reports (such as Pogrund’s, about me)?

Such people are obviously not acting in good faith and their memberships of their various organisations should have been suspended already.

Also ripe for suspension is Dave Prentis, right-wing general secretary of UNISON, who has said the jobs of two of the principle actors named in the Labour report are safe – in spite of outrage among the union’s members and executive committee.

According to Skwawkbox, “On Tuesday, hundreds of Unison members – including more than twenty elected members of the union’s National Executive Committee – demanded action from general secretary Dave Prentis after two senior Unison officials were accused in the leaked Labour report that detailed sabotage of Labour’s disciplinary processes and electoral effects.

“In an open letter, the members demanded a full investigation and firm action against any staff found to have undermined Labour as described in the report, “to retain the confidence of our members, who look to the Labour Party to deliver the political change they need“.

“Prentis’s action appears to be a promise of protection to Emilie Oldknow and John Stolliday.

“According to Murdoch hack Gabriel Pogrund [him again], seemingly at a loose end now that Jeremy Corbyn is no longer leader of the Labour Party, Prentis has told the pair not to worry about their positions because he will back them.”

Time for a “no confidence” vote, perhaps?

Source: Group of Labour staffers try to block support for BAME MPs named in leaked report as racism and racial profiling victim – ITV News

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Universal Credit staff to strike this week – but not over the state of the so-called ‘benefit’

If you think Department for Work and Pensions staff in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stockport are striking over the appalling state of the so-called ‘benefit’ they are employed to enforce… think again.

They’re striking to get an improvement in their own working conditions.

Apparently people being forced to suffer because of the conditions forced on them will just have to fend for themselves. Charming!

According to Welfare Weekly, “Universal Credit staff working at two centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton will take two further days of strike action this week, after losing patience with the government in their campaign for more staff and better working conditions.

“The walk-out will take place between Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refused to meet the demands of workers.

“Staff walked out in March 2019, accusing the DWP of treating them with “utter contempt”.”

So they should understand how UC claimants feel, then.

The Mirror has said the strike will be joined by workers at a call centre in Stockport.

Organiser the PCS union has said the action has been motivated by cuts, workload increases and the victimisation of union representatives.

It says this is making it impossible for its members to properly support UC claimants.

The DWP, on the other hand, has said staffing levels are sufficient but it will monitor the situation and hold regular meetings with the union, in order to resolve the issues.

Meanwhile, UC claimants will undoubtedly continue to suffer with benefit claims rejected on false pretences. Will the DWP try to use employees’ claims of overwork as an excuse?

Source: Universal Credit staff poised for further walk-outs

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No, HuffPost, it isn’t a ‘taste of his own medicine’ – Chris Williamson wants re-selection for ALL Labour MPs

Up for re-selection: It’s what Chris Williamson wants.


Paul Waugh at the Huffington Post really needs to rein in his anti-Corbyn sentiments; this is fake news.

He has published an article claiming that efforts to make Chris Williamson go through a re-selection procedure, after he campaigned to make re-selection of Labour Parliamentary candidates mandatory, may be considered a “taste of his own medicine”. Clearly, it is not. It is what he wanted.

Here are a few snippets from the HuffPost piece:

“One of Jeremy Corbyn’s most vociferous supporters – who has pushed for the deselection of MPs critical of the Labour leader – is set to face his own battle for reselection following anger at his attacks on trade unions.

“One fellow MP said he will “get a taste of his own medicine” after spending months campaigning for some members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to be effectively booted out.

“The left-wing backbencher is popular among many members of the grassroots Momentum organisation, not least for his Democracy Roadshow campaign for automatic reselection of every Labour MP.

“But what was seen as Williamson’s move to cut trade union members out of the process sparked a furious backlash, with both Unite and the GMB warning that it was an attempt to cleave Labour from its historic roots.

“The issue flared up at the party’s conference last month, with some Momentum supporters shouting “shame on the unions” after they blocked more radical attempts to open up every Parliamentary seat to automatic selection.”

This does not make sense.

The article attacks Mr Williamson for “campaigning for some members of the… PLP to be effectively booted out” and also for campaigning “for automatic reselection of every Labour MP”. Well, which is it?

Labour MPs who may be removed, if they have to go through reselection, can’t complain if it is Labour Party policy, as Mr Williamson wants. And a campaign for “every Labour MP” to face automatic reselection cannot target particular members “to be effectively booted out”.

As for the unions who are targeting Mr Williamson for re-selection – from the article, it appears they blocked an attempt to make the Labour Party more democratic, justifying it by claiming it was “an attempt to cleave Labour from its historic roots”. I understand tradition but there is a place for it and, if it harms democracy, that place is in the past.

Mr Waugh, and the HuffPost, have been upbraided for the misleading (in fact, confusing) report:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1049658150469681155

What do you think about Mr Williamson and his campaign for mandatory re-selection? You have an opportunity to make your voice heard, simply by Re-Tweeting the Tweet below:

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POLL: What do you think of Labour’s plan for employment reform?


John McDonnell has outlined Labour’s proposed employment measures to bolster the strength of unions and transform the gig economy in a speech to the Trades Union Congress.

If you’ve managed to miss the details, here’s a short video about the headlines:

And here‘s The Guardian with some of the finer details:

“A Labour government would ban zero-hours contracts, repeal the Trade Union Act, clamp down on bogus self-employment, end private finance initiatives and set up a department for employment to implement the policies, he said. There would be a particular emphasis on workers in the gig economy.

Workers in jobs with flexible hours and short-term contracts could be given similar rights to those in permanent work, including eligibility for sick pay, parental pay and similar benefits, he said.

Government contracts would only be given to firms that allowed collective bargaining and a Labour government would relaunch employee ownership funds, under which staff at larger companies would receive shares in order to give them a stake in the profits and management of their firms.

McDonnell also repeated a promise that Labour would spend £500bn over a decade to fix Britain’s crumbling infrastructure.

This would include road and rail, digital, research and development and alternative energy sources, he said, adding that the £500bn figure was supported by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), with whom Labour was working to develop the proposals.”

That’s fine – but are these plans any good?

Let’s have a poll:

Feel free to use the ‘comment’ column to detail the reasons for your response.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the TUC New Deal rally

This is just a representative image. If you want to see how Mr Corbyn appeared at the rally, watch the video.

He said all the right things – didn’t he?

Let’s have your opinions.

The sound on the following video is really good until around 10 minutes in – then it drops out, but can still be heard (just about). See how you get on with it.

https://twitter.com/Jezza4_PM/status/995313119252697088


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VIDEO: Thousands (upon thousands) converge on London to demand a new deal for workers

The TUC march gets underway.

Trade unionists and workers from across the UK have converged on London in their thousands to demand a “new deal” for working people.

The TUC (Trade Union Congress) says real wages are still lower than before the crash in 2008; three million workers are stuck on zero hour contracts, in agency work and in low paid self-employment; hard-working public servants haven’t had a proper pay rise for eight years; our NHS is at breaking point; and years of cuts have led to poverty, homelessness and despair for too many.

This Writer agrees with every word.

And so, it seems, do the masses.

News coverage hasn’t been that wonderful, though. As I write this, the BBC News channel is broadcasting something called Royal Wedding Singalong so you can see what the priorities are there!

But there has been some coverage. Here’s Sky News:

Not sure about the link between Brexit and racism that the anchor was discussing? It has to do with an intervention by the UN’s special rapporteur on racism. See:

Back at the march, the BBC has broadcast a few interviews:

The participants certainly know how to make some noise – here’s the PCS Samba Band:

https://twitter.com/StuartBonar/status/995271242604273666

Here’s the GMB’s Paul Maloney on the reasons for the march:

And the TUC itself put out video information on the reasons for the march earlier:

The Conservative government is apparently trying to tell us we’ve never had it so good. Wages are up by £2,000 (a year?), according to people like Iain Duncan Smith. Unfortunately, experts are telling us real-terms wages won’t reach parity with 2008 levels until 2025.

The Tories are also telling us employment is at its highest in 40 years – a meaningless statistic if the amount those people are paid is negligible – and it is.

Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies appeared on BBC News to say that wages are stagnant because productivity is stagnant – we aren’t producing enough to be paid more. Until this changes, the situation is unlikely to improve.

That’s as may be, but executive pay has skyrocketed under corrupt Conservative rule while workers’ pay has stagnated.

Perhaps people might feel less inclined to take part in huge marches against austerity if of these greedy fatcats stopped taking all the cash.


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