Category Archives: Trade Unions

Is Department for Transport planning ‘all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’?

Two-fingered salute: Boris Johnson’s message of thanks to transport workers who kept groceries, other goods and medical supplies moving during the Covid-19 crisis. His government is apparently planning to attack their jobs, pay and pensions as soon as it can.

The Tory government is planning to reward key transport workers who kept the UK running through the Covid crisis – with a kick in the teeth, it seems.

The Department for Transport is hoping to employ a “union-buster” to take on workers in an “all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions”, according to the RMT union.

And where the DfT leads, will other government departments follow in a renewed effort to destroy workers’ representation once and for all and begin a new dark age for the people of the UK?

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Employees (RMT) reports that the DfT is recruiting for a Rail Pensions and Workforce Director who will be a member of a new-created team of 15 workers.

An advertisement in The Guardian states that the successful applicant “will shape and define the future of pensions and workforce in the rail sector”, operating in a “politically sensitive environment”.

Welfare Journal quotes RMT general secretary Mick Cash:

RMT has been warning that the Government and the employers would be gearing up for a post-COVID assault on our members across the transport sector and here they are headhunting a dedicated hitman or woman.

It would be a scandal if the essential transport workers who have kept key staff and freight moving throughout the pandemic were rewarded with a kick in the teeth on jobs, pay and pensions.

And why not?

Matt Hancock has already slapped NHS employees in the face with his refusal to reward doctors, nurses and support staff for all their dedication, working to keep thousands of people alive in the face of indifference from their political employers who failed to source appropriate equipment.

So why shouldn’t the government tell the people who transported all the supplies – including, no doubt, the medical gear that we all needed (when it finally turned up) – that their contribution is not appreciated at all and that they will be punished rather than rewarded for it?

What did these people expect from selfish, ignorant, entitled toffs?

And what can you expect in the future? You know the Tories will get around to attacking you as soon as they’re able – don’t you?

Source: Government ‘gearing up for an all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’ | Welfare Journal

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Victory in fight against ‘fire and rehire’ by British Airways after Unite union secures deal

This is great news at a time when companies seem keen to ramp up the stress on employees who already have enough worry with Covid-19.

British Airways has agreed to end so-called “fire and rehire” employment practices.

The company came to the deal after nine days of strike action over the Christmas/New Year period which the union United said caused “overwhelming disruption to the company’s cargo services”.

Unite had proposed a urther nine days of strike action to start on January 22 but the first three days were called off at the last minute, after progress was made at the negotiations.

Another round of strikes due to begin this weekend has also been called off.

The deal is as follows:

  • End of “fire and rehire” (the last area of BA where this was a threat)

  • Workers will revert to previous contractual provisions subject to agreed changes

  • No compulsory redundancies

  • Improved pay protection for staff whose pay sits above the new agreed rates

  • An increase in pay for a significant proportion of staff

  • Members who did not sign the new contract and were dismissed will be offered their jobs back on the agreed terms.

Unite’s members will have to be balloted on the deal, and it is understood that they are likely to accept it.

It’s a great victory for Unite, but let’s not minimise the step that BA has taken at a time when other firms are opportunistically forcing employees to re-apply to do the same job they’re already doing, but for less money and with fewer work-related protections.

BA is setting an example, and even if nobody else follows it, let’s applaud that choice.

Source: Unite ends BA ‘fire and rehire’ dispute by securing deal to avoid forthcoming cargo strike action

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Tories finally tell PRIMARY schools in LONDON to stay closed. Union calls for rest of England to do the same

Wearing the dunce’s cap again: for Gavin Williamson, the reopening of schools at the height of the Covid crisis isn’t a hard decision – he does what he’s told to do by Boris Johnson. That’s why he has made a fool of himself – and why he is deliberately endangering your children and (if you are a parent) you.

Could anything better illustrate the weakness of Boris Johnson and his Conservative government?

They want to keep the UK’s economy going, despite having done everything possible to let Covid-19 rampage through the population while pretending to restrict it.

So they need to keep schools open, so parents don’t have an excuse to stay at home.

That’s why none of their restrictions/lockdowns since September have included schools.

They seemed ready to keep up this farcical charade into the New Year – even though Covid-19 infection rates have soared and schools are the most common vector – right up until January 1, days before the new school term was due to begin.

Then – at the very last minute once again, meaning parents’ plans have been thrown into chaos for no good reason – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson u-turned, signing off on a plan for all primary schools to remain closed for the time being…

In London.

For clarity, you need to be aware that secondary schools and colleges were already set to be closed to most pupils for the first two weeks of term, while primaries in 50 local authorities in London and southern England were also told to remain closed until January 18.

It was only after council leaders in 10 other London boroughs, where Covid transmission rates are high but schools were told to remain open, said they would defy the government and support closures that Williamson agreed to close them all.

He had been backed into a corner. Whatever he did would have led to humiliation so he chose the option that would not result in open defiance.

But his decision only covers those 60 local authority areas in London and the south, prompting education unions – most prominently the National Education Union – to ask:

Why are are children and parents in the rest of England being left vulnerable to Covid?

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Mary Bousted, has called on the government to close schools across that country (remember: education is a devolved responsibility so the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland choose whether their schools will open or not).

According to the BBC,

In Wales, there will be “flexibility” at the beginning of term, with teaching due to start in most places from 4 January. Schools are expected to offer face-to-face learning for most pupils by 11 January, with a full return by 18 January.

In Northern Ireland, primary school pupils will be taught online until 11 January. In secondary schools, years 8 to 11 will be taught online throughout January. Years 12 to 14 will return to school after the first week of January.

In Scotland, the Christmas holidays have been extended to 11 January, and the following week will be online learning only. A full return to face-to-face learning is planned for 18 January.

Dr Bousted pointed out that it is impossible to stop children from mixing with each other in large numbers and if just one has the virus, then they all may catch it and transmit it to their families – and out into the community:

She added, on Andrew Castle’s LBC radio talk show, that teachers have a legal right to refuse to work if they think opening schools will create a health risk:

For Gavin Williamson, the situation has now become extremely precarious:

Will Williamson cave in again, or will he stand accused of condemning thousands to catch the virus when the NHS cannot take the strain and fatalities are rising?

And what will happen to Boris Johnson’s precious economy if this irrational stubbornness over schools creates knock-on havoc in business and industry?

Whatever happens, responsibility for the result will lie entirely with Johnson and his Conservative government. But we, the people, will pay the price.

Source: All primary schools in London to remain closed after U-turn | Schools | The Guardian

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Labour civil war: unions weigh in, former MP signs out, and Margaret Hodge contradicts herself

.Margaret Hodge: she once praised Jeremy Corbyn glowingly but is singing a different tune now. Why the change of heart? Political expediency?

For a leader who said he wanted to bring unity to the Labour Party, Keir Starmer has certainly caused a lot of division.

This Writer thinks the best conclusion to be drawn by those of us who are watching is that he lied; Starmer’s plan was always to cause the maximum amount of upset possible and ensure that Labour is incapable of opposing the Conservatives at a time when the Tory government is itself weak.

That is the only explanation that makes any sense at all.

So today the antagonism has intensified – as witnessed in the articles of that exhaustive follower of Labour’s woes, Skwawkbox.

I’ll level with you: this story is likely to develop so quickly and in so many different directions that it will be hard to keep up. But I’ll try to keep tabs on developments and point you to those that are of interest.

Skwawkbox tells us first that the unions have condemned Starmer’s continuing persecution of Jeremy Corbyn:

Unite’s Len McCluskey condemned Starmer’s ‘vindictive and vengeful decision which despoils Party democracy and due process‘ – and for acting in ‘bad faith’ in his ‘continued persecution’ of Corbyn – and accused him of destroying ‘party unity and integrity’ while undermining the EHRC report he has pledged to implement in full.

Fair comment, I think…

CWU general secretary Dave Ward went even further, describing Starmer’s action as ‘shocking’ – because it gives Boris Johnson a free ride over the serious issues of the day. Millions face redundancy, hundreds are dying every day and the government gets away with it. But Starmer wants a civil war.

Also fair. Read the full report here.

Meanwhile a well-respected former Labour MP has quit the party in disgust at Starmer’s behaviour.

Former Colne Valley MP – and PPS to John McDonnell, meaning she worked as part of his shadow Treasury team – Thelma Walker has resigned her membership of the Labour Party, while expressing solidarity with former party leader Jermey Corbyn.

She made her feelings clear in a tweeted response to another former Labour MP:

“Labour MPs used [the PLP] as a vehicle for self-aggrandisement and personal attacks on those they didn’t agree with.”

“[I] witnessed the toxic atmosphere [in the Parliamentary Labour Party] every Monday evening. My stomach used to turn over before I went in the room. The same people would leave the meeting and report to journalists.”

That’s not the kind of Labour Party This Writer wants to have and I don’t think you want it either. But thanks to Starmer and his cronies, that’s the party we have.

Read the sad details here.

On the subject of Starmer’s cronies, one of the reasons he kept Corbyn from rejoining the PLP seems to have been a threat by Margaret Hodge that she would quit the party if it happened.

Hodge has been a vociferous opponent of Corbyn, having spent several years denouncing him as an anti-Semite. It seems she is also a hypocrite, as a comment uncovered today shows:

“I was fighting fascism and that would be completely up his street. He takes stands on things and he fights his corner. I like that about him.”

How times change. The Skwawkbox article is here.

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Unions unite to demand reinstatement of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour’s ratings plummet

 

Seven trade unions have jointly demanded the reinstatement of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour Party.

Unite, CWU, FBU, TSSA, BFAWU, ASLEF and the NUM have all signed up to the demand after the party’s new general secretary, David Evans, suspended his membership over comments on the EHRC report into anti-Semitism – that Corbyn was fully entitled to make.

It seems Corbyn has been subjected to the usual treatment faced by party members accused of anti-Semitism under a right-wing general secretary: he still does not know what rule he has broken.

For more information see this article.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party’s approval ratings are plummetting, according to an opinion poll.

A snap poll by the admittedly Tory-run firm YouGov found that Starmer’s ‘favourability’ rating had dropped by seven points over the two days of the report and suspension, with Labour’s falling even further, by twelve.

Further information on that is in this article.

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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

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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