Tag Archives: employee

Why wouldn’t a UK embassy worker be spying for Russia? Its influence extends to the top of our government

Boris Johnson with his good friend, Russian ex-KGB agent Alexander Lebedev: Russia’s infiltration of UK politics is known to extend to the top, so it is no surprise that a UK embassy employee in Germany may have been spying for that country.

When I heard that a British embassy employee had been arrested on a charge of spying for Russia, my first thought was, “I wonder how he knows Boris Johnson?”

Doesn’t that say everything about the depth to which the UK has sunk internationally under Johnson’s excuse for leadership?

The so-called ‘Russia Report’, released in July 2020 after being delayed by Johnson for more than nine months so it would not harm his chances in the 2019 general election, defined Russian influence over UK politics as “the new normal” – at least while Tories like Johnson are in charge.

It said successive Conservative governments have welcomed Russian oligarchs “with open arms”, giving them access to political figures “at the highest levels” – and made absolutely no attempt to investigate Russian interference in referendums and elections; in fact, the Tories “actively avoided” doing so.

This has led, the report states, to the growth of an industry of “enablers” who are “de facto agents of the Russian state”. The report does not explicitly state that these enablers include Conservative government politicians, but its assertion that Russia had access to “the highest levels” of political figures certainly suggests that this is the case.

Johnson himself was considered a security risk by the UK’s national security services while he was Foreign Secretary – and with good reason.

Remember the time he went to a party to meet a former KGB agent, Alexander Lebedev, days after attending a Nato summit on Russia?

Who knows what secrets may have emerged from this tactless and indiscreet fool’s flapping gums?

That’s just one incident that is known to us. How many more have there been?

So it should come as no surprise that an employee of the UK’s embassy in Germany has been arrested on suspicion of passing to Russian agents documents he had received in the course of his work there.

Did he think that, if it was good enough for the prime minister, it was good enough for him?

Source: British embassy worker arrested in Germany accused of spying for Russia

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Employers are forcing staff to spread Covid-19, research finds

Rampant: the Covid-19 virus is once again on the loose across the UK because the Tories haven’t just lost control; they’ve deliberately thrown it away.

This is what wage slavery does to people; it forces us to do the wrong thing, harming not just our own health but that of everybody around us.

This Writer had to face it in one of my newspaper jobs. The company dictated that employees could only take a maximum of five sick days per year – and I suffered from cluster headaches.

The condition is now acknowledged by the NHS to cause the most extreme pain of any kind at all; when it comes on, it can last around three months, inflicting excruciating migraines on the sufferer (in my case) around four times a day.

You can see the problem. The condition could last three months but I was allowed only five days off work. Even taking all my vacation time, I could not cover the time I needed.

So this does not surprise me at all:

Thousands of workers feel pressured to return to their jobs when they still risk spreading coronavirus, and employers who breach Covid guidelines are avoiding serious punishment, according to evidence of major weaknesses in England’s lockdown measures.

One in 10 of those doing insecure work, such as zero-hours contracts and agency or gig economy jobs, said they had been to work within 10 days of a positive Covid test, according to research seen by the Observer. For workers overall the proportion is around one in 25.

These people have been coerced into endangering themselves and the people around them.

And consider the consequences. Suppose family members, friends, people on the same bus or train caught Covid-19 as a result, and some died. Who would get the blame for infecting them? The firm that forced people to work when they were sick? Or the employee?

I think we all know the answer.

And now the Tory government wants to cut back employees’ rights.

New Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has denied plans to strip us of our entitlement to paid holidays and other protections – but he is infamous for having condemned UK workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”.

So what do you think he’s going to do?

Meanwhile,

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors have not issued any enforcement notices on companies for Covid safety breaches since the start of the latest lockdown, despite having been contacted 2,945 times between 6 and 14 January about safety issues.

Just 0.1% of about 97,000 Covid safety cases it has dealt with during the pandemic appear to have resulted in the issuing of an improvement or prohibition notice. No company has been prosecuted for a Covid-related breach.

This is just not taking Covid-19 seriously.

No wonder the virus is rampaging across the UK and our hospitals are being overwhelmed.

Source: Staff ‘pressured to go back to work’ in breach of UK Covid rules | Coronavirus | The Guardian

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Web of lies around Priti Patel bullying report: why is she protected if she pushes people to suicide?

I don’t like it when people in my government lie to me.

I have a feeling I share that opinion with many people.

Priti Patel seized on the part of Alex Allan’s report into bullying allegations against her, that said she had not been warned that her behaviour towards civil service employees exceeded the bounds of acceptability.

But it seems that this was because Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip Rutnam, the former Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, who is suing the government for constructive dismissal.

According to The Guardian,

sources say Allan was informed he could not interview Rutnam because of the legal action. Allan, however, felt that his inquiry was being denied potentially crucial evidence.

Rutnam… said she was clearly advised not to shout and swear at staff the month after her appointment in 2019 and that he told her to treat staff with respect “on further occasions”.

The indication that Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip suggests that his claim is correct. Priti Patel – as the person who was given the advice – would therefore have known she had it.

So it seems she lied, in order to make herself look better. That in itself is despicable.

Worse still, we hear that the prime minister – Boris Johnson – himself asked for the report on Patel to be “palatable”. Doesn’t this suggest that he didn’t want the facts – just something he could use to deflect criticism?

Is it any wonder that Sir Alex resigned after Johnson ignored even the findings of his report as it eventually appeared?

Finally, there is the odious spectacle of Tory MPs and ministers rallying to support Patel – a colleague whose loathsome behaviour appears to have pushed one employee into attempting suicide:

Mr Khan attempted to endorse it because his boss told him to help “form a square around the Prittster”.

So now we have an increasing number of Conservative MPs – and, presumably, other Tories – trying to deceive us all into accepting that there’s no reason for Priti Patel to be removed from office.

It seems one bad apple really can spoil the whole barrel. Or were they already spoiled and this episode just showed us the extent of it?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘asked for Patel report to be palatable’, source claims – BBC News

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Even in post-Covid Britain, fatcat bosses are paid hundreds of times more than you

How much do you earn?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (I know, I hadn’t heard of it either) reckons average pay in the UK is £30,353, but this includes the pay of the biggest bosses.

Take away the top 10 per cent and the average comes down to around £12,000-£13,000 – as This Writer discovered a few years ago when I did the necessary calculations.

Is that about right for you, too?

If so, then the CIPD/High Pay Centre revelation that FTSE 100 CEOs – bosses of the top 100 firms on the stock exchange – earn only 119 times the £30K average wage instead of 120, as was the norm before Covid, will come as scant comfort.

Between 2018 and 2019, their pay fell by 0.5 per cent, from £3.63m to £3.61m.

That’s around 277 times the £13K average that I reckon is closer to what people generally receive.

Oh, and that’s not taking into account the fact that so many people have lost their jobs as a result of Covid – three million new arrivals on Universal Credit in four months.

The highest paid FTSE 100 CEO received a total pay package of £58.73 million. This is 1,935 times the median salary of a full-time UK worker.

Six firms paid their CEOs more than £10 million in total.

70 companies disclosed the pay ratio between their CEO and the median pay of their UK employees. The highest quoted pay ratio was 2,605:1 and the lowest was 15:1. The median was 84:1.

Performance-related pay policies also continue to pay out as a matter of course: 88 FTSE 100 companies paid their CEO an annual bonus in 2019, with total payments reaching £108.48 million. So-called ‘Long Term Incentive Plans’ (LTIPs) paid out at 81 companies, totalling £238.19m.

These are the highest-earning companies in the United Kingdom. They’re not short of a bob or two, yet their policy is to hoard the money among a very few shareholders and decision-makers, while the people who do the actual work receive very little in return.

And the report makes a very obvious point in these days of Covid-19 “We’re all in this together”-ness: very high CEO pay risks undermining the spirit of solidarity that many companies are trying to project as they battle against the impact of the coronavirus.

Clearly, we are not “all in this together” when top bosses are still raking in (in one case) nearly 2,000 times as much as their employees. Remember that many working people have had to take a 20 per cent pay cut, having been put on furlough, and three million more are now unemployed.

The CIPD and the High Pay Centre have called for companies to consider whether the scale of pay awards really reflects good business sense and the CEO’s individual contribution to the company’s success. They say remuneration committees should be reformed to ensure CEO pay awards are fair, proportionate and assessed in a way more reflective of way the the pay of the wider workforce is determined.

I say: fat chance!

The simple fact is that company pay is determined by the bosses, not the workforce as a whole, and they are never going to reform pay so other people receive more, if it means they receive less. They are all well-familiar with that old cliche about turkeys voting for Christmas.

The only measure that would force bosses to bring in fair pay is government legislation – and that will never happen under the Conservatives.

Labour – under Jeremy Corbyn – would have taken steps toward a system in which boss pay could not be more than 20 times that of workers. This is still a huge difference, but doesn’t that simply illustrate how massive the current injustice is?

No doubt Keir Starmer will get around to reversing that policy, if he hasn’t quietly done so already.

But there is considerable debate around the weaknesses in UK society that have been exposed by the Covid crisis and employment pay and conditions are a part of that.

It’s time you started to think about how your business could improve, with just a little more fairness and a little less greed at the top.

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Employees are to be taxed for every Covid-19 test they take, HMRC confirms

HMRC: if you have a Covid-19 test, the government will tax you for it.

Just when you think the Tories are as low as they can go, they find a new way to disappoint.

HMRC has confirmed that Coronavirus tests are to be treated as a “benefit in kind” and that every employee who takes one as part of their job will be taxed for it:

Some of us should be tested regularly because our jobs involve regular contact with large numbers of people.

Consider the doctors and nurses who have saved so many lives already, for example.

Do you think they should be penalised, simply because the nature of their work – saving lives – requires them to take these tests?

It won’t be a step too far because British people are notorious wimps when such impositions are made on their working pay and conditions.

But if you are affected, you should be downing tools and demanding that this decision be refused, and if you aren’t, you should be downing tools in solidarity. This is an attack on all of us.

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DWP worker took more than £1,400 of other people’s benefit money

Barbara Johnstone [Image: Gazette Live].

This is not a good look for a government department that just as-good-as admitted it denied sickness and disability benefits to people under false pretences – as a matter of policy.

A Middlesbrough woman diverted over £1,400 into another account she could access while working for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Barbara Johnstone was employed by the DWP and was working at the benefits centre in Stockton when she began moving the money into another account.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard how the 65-year-old stole £1,498.75 between May and October this year.

The court heard that the money came from the benefits of nine people.

Johnstone… pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position.

Source: DWP worker diverted over £1,400 of people’s benefit money for own gain – Gazette Live


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Why are the Tories trying to push sickness/disability claimants into work when firms won’t make adjustments for them?

job-centre-plus-sign-640x425

Here’s another sign that the Conservative Government doesn’t know how to do joined-up thinking.

Work and Pensions secretary Damian Green thinks it is a good idea to suggest more sickness and disability claimants should be pushed off benefit and into the job market.

But he and his government have done nothing to encourage employers to take them on, it seems.

Without that fairly obvious piece of planning in place, he is very clearly setting up the sick and disabled for a fall.

They won’t be able to claim benefit but they won’t be able to get jobs either.

These findings turn all the Tory outpourings about trying to help people, and work making them more healthy, into a sick perversion.

Promoting health? It’s more like a death sentence – for the crime of being different. That’s a fascist argument.

The latest statistics on autistic adults in employment demonstrates that more still needs to be done to allow for reasonable adjustments in the hiring process, according to diversity consultancy, The Clear Company.

In response to a survey carried out by the National Autistic Society, which found that only 16 per cent of autistic adults are in full-time paid work, the diversity specialists have called on organisations to be more proactive in providing reasonable adjustments in the workplace in order to encourage these individuals to declare their needs up front.

The consultancy added that the fact that 77 per cent of these individuals want a job demonstrates that the hiring process in many companies is still insufficient in meeting the needs of those living with such conditions.

Source: Employers must be ‘more proactive’ in providing workplace adjustments for disabled jobseekers

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Now Lucy Allan needs to apologise for her apology

It seems all the available photos of Lucy Allan show her smiling. Perhaps she is gloating over her latest displays of loathsomeness. What do the people of Telford think?

It seems all the available photos of Lucy Allan show her smiling. Perhaps she is gloating over her latest displays of loathsomeness. What do the people of Telford think?


Loathsome Lucy just doesn’t know when to stop digging, does she?

Having been outed as a workplace bully after she sacked an employee who was on a temporary contract – and gloated about it on the telephone to her victim – Ms Allan tendered what can only be described as a pathetic excuse for an apology – which appeared briefly on her website before being removed after only a few hours.

The BBC reports that, in a statement, the MP said: “Whilst it was certainly human to be frustrated and exasperated by Arianne [Plumbly, the sacked employee]’s conduct, it was wrong to express that frustration as I did, and I have apologised for this.”

To clarify, Ms Plumbly had been signed off work by her doctor. This is no cause for any employer to be “frustrated and exasperated”, certainly not by the conduct of a person who is officially ill.

Ms Allan stated the first she heard about her employee’s complaint was when the ‘bullying’ allegations appeared in the media. She stated that this was inappropriate as an employee should attempt to sort out problems with an employer first.

That’s all very well, but we’ve all heard Loathsome Lucy’s phone message to Ms Plumbly, haven’t we? After a call like that, would anybody want to have contact with such a person again? Of course not.

It was also alleged that Ms Plumbly had made a complaint to the Conservative Party. Interestingly, rather than handle this complaint in a reasonable manner, the Tories appear to have threatened her with a gagging order. Perhaps the fear of such behaviour from Loathsome Lucy was another reason Ms Plumbly didn’t want anything to do with her.

The fact that the Conservative Party itself behaved in a manner falling well below the standards to be expected of it merely demonstrates its own failings – and tells us much about the Tory attitude to employment.

All of the MP’s claims – the most pertinent of which were allegations that her former employee had not kept in touch regarding medical issues – have been denied by Ms Plumbly herself.

It seems clear that Loathsome Lucy is nothing more than a typical sleaze-ridden Tory snake who will do everything possible to slither out of a bad situation, while retaining her hold on what little power she has.

It seems many people have already called for her to resign in disgrace, and there is already a petition on Change.org, calling for her resignation after she faked an emailed death threat over the vote on air strikes in Syria.

With the Conservative Government having shelved a Parliamentary Bill giving voters the power to remove their MP – perhaps corruptly, given the conduct of Loathsome Lucy? – it seems the only way to get rid of this creature is to force her out by making her position untenable.

That would be a job for her constituents – the people of Telford.

Are you up for it, Telford?

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Fake death threat Tory MP Lucy Allan sparks new bullying scandal

It seems all the available photos of Lucy Allan show her smiling. Perhaps she is gloating over her latest displays of loathsomeness. What do the people of Telford think?

It seems all the available photos of Lucy Allan show her smiling. Perhaps she is gloating over her latest displays of loathsomeness. What do the people of Telford think?

It’s all gone wrong very quickly for Telford’s evil Tory MP Lucy Allan. She was only elected in May and already she has faked a death threat and has now been found to have threatened a member of staff with the sack – for taking sick leave under the advice of a doctor.

It seems Loathsome Lucy has followed through on her threats, as she has admitted dismissing her victim, Arianne Plumbly.

This Writer likes the comment by fellow blogger Tom Pride, who pointed out that this scandal has broken as “new research shows that 14 million people faced debt problems in the last year, directly related to the fact they are on temporary, part-time or zero hours contracts:
◾1.26 million people now are forced to work part time because they can’t get a full time job
◾565,000 work a temporary job because they can’t get a permanent job
◾790,000 people now are forced to work on zero hour contracts as their main job

“And the Tories claim to be on the side of working people.”

What’s the betting that the people of Telford are wishing the Conservatives had not shelved – indefinitely – their plans for a new law allowing the recall of MPs whose behaviour has fallen below the standard expected of them?

Perhaps they should launch a campaign for Ms Allan to do the decent thing and, metaphorically, fall on her sword.

Or would that merely prompt another silly faked death threat?

The Tory MP who “faked” a death threat has been accused of threatening to sack a member of staff if she took four weeks off work sick – as advised by her doctor.

In a fresh bullying scandal to hit the Conservative party, Telford MP Lucy Allan was accused of launching a “vicious” verbal attack on a female staff member who phoned in sick.

Ms Allan accused the alleged bullying victim Arianne Plumbly of having an “alcohol problem,” dismissing her claims to be ill as “pathetic”.

In a recording of the telephone call handed to the Evening Standard, Ms Allan is heard telling the alleged bullying target Arianne Plumbly: “I’m not paying you for that then; it’s ridiculous” and told her she had “pissed around on my life”.

It was not the first instance of aggressive behaviour from Ms Allan, according to ex staffers who told the Evening Standard that at least two complaints about her conduct had been made to Conservative HQ.

But neither of the two complaints were properly acted upon by the party, they said.

It is the latest allegation of bullying to hit the party, following the unconnected case of the young Conservative activists Elliott Johnson, who committed suicide and left a note blaming his death on Mark Clarke, the former head of the party’s youth campaign who has since been expelled by the Tories and banned for life.

In a written response to the Evening Standard Ms Allan said: “Arianne Plumbly was dismissed from her employment with Lucy Allan, MP in Telford, after four months’ employment, for gross misconduct following misuse of the Parliamentary email system, persistent unauthorised absenteeism, refusal to follow a reasonable instruction and rudeness to residents.”

Earlier this month Ms Allan admitted adding a “death threat” to a Facebook post designed to expose the “unacceptable” abuse she received after voting in favour of air strikes in Syria.

Source: New Tory bullying scandal breaks out as Conservative MP Lucy Allan ‘threatens to sack staff member’ for taking sick leave | UK Politics | News | The Independent

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BBC1 classic adaptation is as relevant now as when it was written – sadly

David Thewlis as the Inspector and Finn Cole as Eric Birling in the BBC's upcoming 'An Inspector Calls' Photo: BBC Pictures/Drama Repbulic

David Thewlis as the Inspector and Finn Cole as Eric Birling in the BBC’s ‘An Inspector Calls’ [Image: BBC Pictures/Drama Republic].

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen An Inspector Calls, and don’t want to have it ruined for you, it would be a good idea not to read this article just yet.

The BBC took an unexpected – but welcome – turn to the Left for an hour and a half on Sunday evening (September 13), when it screened a new adaptation of An Inspector Calls.

The play, first performed in the then-Soviet Union in 1945, is considered to be a scathing critique of the hypocrisies of pre-World War One English society and an expression of Priestley’s Socialist political principles.

It details a visit by an ‘Inspector Goole’ to the stately home of the prosperous Middle Class (some might say Upper Class) Birling family, where he questions each family member about the suicide of a young working-class woman, Eva Smith (also known as Daisy Renton), revealing that they have been responsible for the young woman’s exploitation, abandonment and social ruin, effectively leading to her death.

Having seen Les Miserables only a few weeks ago, it seems likely to This Writer, that Priestley may have taken his inspiration from Victor Hugo, whose character Fantine’s fall begins when she is sacked from her job at a factory – just as Eva Smith’s does when Birling sacks her, after she calls a strike for higher pay to meet ever-increasing rent costs. Both are reduced to prostitution of one kind or another.

Does this seem familiar to anybody, here and now, in the 21st century?

We have ever-increasing rents and a government that is unwilling to do anything about them other than worsen them with its Bedroom Tax – because it forces the poor out of desirable residential areas.

We have employers who won’t raise wages to cover these spiralling costs, and can remove troublesome workers with impunity because the government has compliantly weakened the trade unions to the point of impotence.

We have a benefits system that, despite being the last resort for people who are otherwise without hope, withdraws payments from the neediest people for the flimsiest of reasons, leaving many of them in the belief that suicide is their only escape.

In the 19th century we had Les Miserables. In the 20th century we had An Inspector Calls. Where is the 21st century expression of this exploitation?

The plot is already written for us: This time, the doomed character would be sacked from their job for complaining that conditions there had created health problems that put them in permanent pain. An appeal to their trade union would fall on deaf ears. Forced to resort to benefits, they would face the inhuman work capability assessment – and fail to achieve the number of points needed to gain incapacity payments, meaning they would have to sign onto Jobseekers’ Allowance. But JSA demands that a person must be fit for work, and forces claimants to carry out ridiculous tasks in order to prove that they are doing all they can to find work. An invalid, unable to comply, would be forced off the benefit if their illness was obvious, or sanctioned if it wasn’t. With no money and no health, what is left for them but death – either slowly due to their illness or quickly due to suicide?

All it needs is a 21st century way of bringing this home to the Middle- and Upper-Class vermin who participate in this degradation of their fellow citizens, or support it with their votes.

Would any writers care to take on the task?

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