Tag Archives: strike

Civil servants are upset that their pay is being cut like everyone else’s

Poor babies: civil servants have implemented government policies that have caused the cost-of-living crisis and a dramatic fall in UK living standards. Did they really think they were not going to be hit as badly as the rest of us?

Members of the organisation that implements government policy are reportedly up in arms after finding out that the policies they are implementing also affect them.

With inflation surging to seven or eight per cent, Cabinet Office minister Heather Wheeler has informed public sector employers that they may award pay rises up to just two per cent, plus up to an extra percentage point in some cases, to be “targeted at specific priorities in their workforce and pay strategies”.

It’s a massive pay cut, the same as the rest of us are facing.

The Guardian article I’m using as a source suggests that average rises are 4.8 per cent but I’ve yet to hear of anybody receiving that much. What happens to that average if it’s applied only to the bottom 90 per cent of earners?

Meanwhile, MPs are getting a huge pay rise that will cover increased costs – even though most of them will claim those costs on expenses in any case.

Mark Serwotka of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union did his duty by pointing out that the government is cutting pay in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis:

“The failure of the government to recognise the cost-of-living crisis is a disgrace and shows utter contempt to our members, who have worked themselves to the bone during the pandemic … PCS will now be discussing an industrial response to this outrage.”

But didn’t the rest of us work just as hard to keep the UK going during the pandemic? This Writer didn’t stop working for a single day but my income has fallen hugely.

And the civil service has been happy to implement the decisions that are impoverishing the rest of us.

It would be easy to say that these people should have had a backbone and refused to inflict misery on millions of their fellow citizens.

But that would be unrealistic. They are servants – it’s in their job title. Their purpose is to do what the government demands, no matter how destructive or deranged.

So it’s better to say:

If the civil service will force the rest of us to suffer this government-inflicted persecution, it should be prepared to join us in it, rather than taking industrial action out of self-interest.

Source: Fury after civil service pay rises capped at 3% amid surging inflation

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London bus drivers to stage 48 hour strike over cost of living – who can blame them?

Stopped: London’s buses.

Bus drivers in London will be on strike for two days early next week in protest at a pay rise that they’ve pointed out is a real-terms cut.

With inflation climbing to 8.2 per cent, the 1.5 per cent increase Arriva has offered its staff is a 6.7 per cent pay cut – anybody with the slightest understanding of mathematics can work that out.

Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ve started receiving letters from any firm that takes money from you on a regular basis, saying they’re increasing their bills in line with inflation because they want you to pay the increased costs of their heating and energy bills.

Here’s a simple question:

If our pay rises are limited, then why aren’t their bills limited by an equal amount?

That would seem fair to me – how about you?

If it was written into the law, think how fast business attitudes to your pay increases would change.

Source: London bus drivers to stage 48 hour strike on Monday in row over wages

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Sheffield #Labour councillors who broke #UCUstrike #picket line trigger #YoungLabour declaration

Packed: the Young Labour rally that Keir Starmer’s Labour conference app falsely stated was cancelled. Now Young Labour is refusing to campaign for party members who break picket lines.

This may have deep repercussions across the Labour Party – and indeed the Labour Movement, although the two are now very clearly separate entities.

After Labour members of Sheffield City Council broke the picket line at that city’s university, where UCU workers were striking over pay, pensions and other working conditions, Young Labour – the party’s youth branch – has announced it will not campaign for such people in any way:

Make no mistake – this announcement is a calculated slap in the face for Labour’s leader, Keir Starmer, who with his barely-legitimate general secretary David Evans unilaterally cancelled Young Labour’s conference, that must run alongside the main party conference, according to its rules.

That decision was apparently because the Young Labour conference would have featured an event showing solidarity with Palestine – at least, that’s how YL chair Jess Barnard saw it.

Note the line that a lack of solidarity “has no place in our movement”. Keir Starmer is fond of flinging that phrase around and this seems a deliberate choice to fling it back at him.

What will Starmer do?

Will he condemn his councillors and cause a rift with them? Will he condemn Young Labour and cause a rift with them?

Or will he just hide wherever he goes for weeks on end when difficult questions present themselves?

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#Labour councillors crossed a #picket line they should have been joining. Here’s the shameful reason [VIDEO]

The Labour Party is supposed to represent workers and working-class people, especially if they are struggling for decent pay, in-work benefits and pensions, as part of its reason for existing – wouldn’t you agree?

Members of the University and College Union have been striking in a dispute that is partly over the management and financing of the University Superannuation Scheme (USS), which provides pensions to the UK’s older universities as well as research institutes and academic thinktanks, and partly over low pay and issues including insecure fixed-term contracts used to employ an increasing number of teaching staff.

So why did Labour councillors in Sheffield not only cross a picket line but, in one case, apparently assault a picketer?

It seems a meeting of Labour-led Sheffield City Council had been scheduled to take place in a university building – during the strike, which seems extremely insensitive of a Labour-run organisation.

These councillors were attending a pre-meeting, and it seems they crossed the picket line to do so, attracting cries of “Scab!” from some of the picketers. That’s how the incident came to take place.

Sheffield UCU subsequently released a statement:

For those who can’t read images, it says:

Today, the majority of Labour councillors entered a University of Sheffield building for a pre-meeting, and in doing so, walked past striking members of Sheffield UCU. Along with UCU members from 57 other HE institutions across the UK, today is our first day of strike action in our dispute over rampant precarity, unhealthy workloads, equal pay, and substantial cuts to our pay and pensions. These are issues that we trust would be of particular importance to the Labour party.

“We do not condone the use of university buildings during strike action, and when we learned of this meeting, had worked with the Sheffield Students Union to find an alternative location in the Students Union next door, which is treated as neutral ground during industrial action.

“We are extremely disappointed that any member of the Labour party would choose to cross past striking union members, despite being given an opportunity to support our action by simply relocating their pre-meeting to a nearby building. We understand that at this pre-meeting, the Labour members took a vote and were determined to not attend the later, full council meeting. This decision does not negate their previous choice to do so, but we are pleased they made the correct choice in the end.

“We appreciate the solidarity of those Labour, Green, and Lib Dem council members who chose to not enter the building.”

Yes indeed. Apparently the alternative, Student Union, building was turned down by councillors because they thought it was too small for social distancing.

That doesn’t excuse the Labour Party from having scheduled a meeting to take place at the university during strike action, though.

What were they thinking?

And isn’t this typical of Labour Party policy at the moment – that the challenges faced by workers and working-class people are increasingly overlooked by career politicians who are more concerned with keeping their positions as members of the Establishment?

If that’s the political position occupied by Keir Starmer’s Labour, then it is worse than useless to the people for whom that party was originally formed.

Labour Exploitation Party. They climb to the heights by walking all over us.

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Labour is becoming a pit of lies. No wonder everybody is walking away

Sadiq Khan: the train is probably empty because no RMT driver would want to get on one with him in it.

Wasn’t this a desperately disappointing development from Sadiq Khan, just when Tube drivers need support from the London Mayor who belongs to the Party of the Workers?

Tube drivers are striking because Transport for London has ripped up existing agreements and working arrangements for the Night Tube, demanding extra night and weekend working.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch explains: “This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family friendly agreements that helped make the original Night Tube such a success. Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.

“We have made every effort in ACAS and direct talks since the off to resolve this dispute but it is clear that LU bosses are driven solely by the bottom line and have no interest whatsoever in the well being of their staff or the service to passengers.

“This strike action, and its serious consequences in the run up to Christmas, was avoidable if the Tube management hadn’t axed dedicated Night Tube staff and perfectly workable arrangements in order to cut staffing numbers and costs.

“We warned months ago that slashing two hundred Night Tube Train Driver positions would create a staffing nightmare and LU need to start facing up to that reality and soon. The union remains available for further talks even at this late stage.“

Contrast that with what Sadiq Khan, Labour’s London Mayor, has said about it, and you’ll understand why Unite’s Sharon Graham has tweeted what she did:

Here’s where Khan crossed the line:

It seems the claim was not true:

The letter to Khan states: “Our Lead Organiser for TfL wrote an email to London Underground senior managers… which ended with the words “We are happy to attend ACAS to resolve the dispute. And are available to do so.” We never received a reply to this email.

“Our reps and members have seen the email in which RMT offers to meet at ACAS and are justifiably furious at the complete misrepresentation of our position in the public domain. It is having an incendiary effect. It’s hard for us to understand why you’ve done this and all I can think is that you have been fed an inaccurate line by hawks within TfL.”

The explanation kindly suggested by Mr Lynch in the letter, even if true, wouldn’t let Khan off the hook because he should have checked the facts with the RMT Union.

It’s a terrible position for a Labour politician, in an elected position of authority, to choose. Here’s the better choice:

And here’s what all Labour politicians should be saying about it:

Sadly, the damage has already been done:

And we have identified the heart of the problem:

That’s exactly it. The rot is at the heart of the Labour Party because it is spreading from the leader himself.

Yesterday morning, This Writer’s Twitter feed was full of comments like these:

There are lots of good points in those comments. Probably the most pertinent are those stating that people who want a better country – for everyone rather than just the very rich – don’t owe Labour anything now that it clearly does not have the principles on which it was founded.

Nobody is obliged to vote for Labour. It is Starmer’s – and Khan’s – responsibility to show, by example, that they are worthy of our support.

Starmer’s record since April 2020 – and Khan’s shocking performance over the Night Tube – tell us they aren’t even interested in it.

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Richard Ratcliffe ends hunger strike for Nazanin after government pays no attention at all

Action not words: and Boris Johnson’s government has done absolutely nothing.

This Writer is relieved. If he had gone on any longer, who knows how badly his body could have been damaged?

Richard Ratcliffe has ended his hunger strike to highlight the plight of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, after 21 days.

Nazanin has been imprisoned under false charges in Iran since 2016.

Boris Johnson famously mistook the accusation against her for what she did, providing the Iranian authorities with justification, not only for having jailed her, but for jailing her for an indefinite period to come.

then Johnson turned Nazanin’s freedom into a bargaining chip in an argument between the UK and Iran over around £450 million owed to the Middle East country since the Shah was overthrown in the late 1970s.

That gave the Iranians reason enough to find another charge on which to keep her imprisoned for another year.

Mr Ratcliffe, after having entrusted his wife’s well-being into the hands of the worst clown ever to hold high office, may have started his hunger strike in the belief that nothing will change unless there is a genuine threat to health and life.

But he has discovered that the Conservatives don’t even care about that. Current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will have passed him on the street (he was camped outside the Foreign Office) to attend Parliamentary votes. She never even asked how he was.

He said he had started to get pains in his feet overnight and after discussion with his doctor he ended the hunger strike.

According to the BBC, he said he “didn’t want to go out in an ambulance”.

“I want to walk out with my head held high,” he said.

He was likely to have caused permanent damage to his body from the 15th day of the hunger strike onwards.

So the end of this hunger strike is a good thing. It wasn’t changing any Tory minds because they simply didn’t care whether Mr Ratcliffe lived or died. Their only interest in his wife is as a bargaining chip in negotiations over money.

This is not a defeat for Richard Ratcliffe. It is disgrace for Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and the pathetic excuse for a government that they front.

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Richard Ratcliffe hunger strike: Nazanin’s husband is risking permanent harm but the Tories don’t care

We’re 16 days into Richard Ratcliffe’s hunger strike outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and none of the Tory government could care less.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

Since Mr Ratcliffe’s wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first imprisoned under false charges in Iran, the UK government has only worsened her situation.

Boris Johnson famously mistook the accusation against her for what she did, providing the Iranian authorities with justification, not only for having jailed her, but for jailing her for an indefinite period to come.

And then Johnson turned Nazanin’s freedom into a bargaining chip in an argument between the UK and Iran over around £450 million owed to the Middle East country since the Shah was overthrown in the late 1970s.

That gave the Iranians reason enough to find another charge on which to keep her imprisoned for another year.

But it won’t do any good because Johnson and the Tories couldn’t care less what happens to anybody who isn’t one of them.

Mr Ratcliffe, after having entrusted his wife’s well-being into the hands of the worst clown ever to hold high office, has realised that nothing will change unless there is a genuine threat to health and life.

So he started his hunger strike, more than two weeks ago – and is now in danger of suffering permanent harm to his health.

And nobody in the government has paid a blind bit of attention.

Liz Truss, the current Foreign Secretary, has probably walked past Mr Ratcliffe – on her way to vote in support of corrupt Owen Paterson last Wednesday, for example – without a first glance, let alone a second.

Mr Ratcliffe is receiving his fair share of celebrity visitors who are raising whatever publicity they can give him – but it’s not doing any good, for the reason I state below:

Then again, how many people in the UK even know that the husband of a woman who is wrongly imprisoned because of the prime minister is even on hunger strike at all?

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Tories lift unfair threat to doctors over face-to-face appointments

Don’t sweat it, Sajid: really, this image should show egg on his face but we can’t have everything we want, can we?

The GP strike is off – for the moment.

You’ll remember This Site reporting last week that GPs in England were threatening to strike after Sajid Javid wanted to compel them to hold face-to-face appointments with anybody who wants one – and threatened to publicly humiliate surgeries that didn’t meet targets he would impose.

Well… it seems Javid has discovered that a week in politics really is a long time.

After the threats and counter-threats, appointment figures for September have been published – showing that GPs have already conducted a significantly higher number of face-to-face appointments.

Remember, they started doing this before Javid made his ridiculous threat.

According to The Guardian,

Figures from NHS Digital show that 28.5m appointments were estimated to have taken place in September – about 8% higher than for the same month in 2019, and up around 3m on the figure for August.

Of the appointments made in September, 43.2% took place on the same day they were booked and 61% were in person. This 17.3m total for face-to-face contacts is the highest figure recorded since February 2020 and is up by about 3.5m on the figure for August, when 58% of appointments were face-to-face, the data suggests.

It’s still fewer than the 80 per cent of appointments that were face-to-face before the arrival of the Covid crisis…

But it was enough to cause a shamefaced Department of Health and Social Care to withdraw its threat to publish monthly “league table” data showing what proportion of surgery appointments occur in person or virtually,

according to sources.

Oh, and

An NHS source claimed “naming and shaming” GPs carrying out low levels of face-to-face appointments had never been included in the plans, only that “appropriate levels of face-to-face appointments for patients based on local need must be delivered”. The NHS source added that “while more localised access data will be published, the plan does not include ‘naming and shaming’”.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter now that it isn’t going to happen anyway, does it?

Source: GPs win ‘significant concessions’ from NHS England over in-person access | GPs | The Guardian

Nazanin’s husband goes on hunger strike for second time, due to Tory inaction

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this image is now many years old. Is she still able to smile?

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has gone on hunger strike for a second time in two years.

He’s hoping to push the Tory government out of its current “couldn’t care less” attitude and into renewed efforts to bring her home.

Here’s the story:

Richard Ratcliffe will sleep in a tent outside the Foreign Office in London after his wife lost her latest appeal in Iran last week.

He said the UK government’s strategy was “broken”, adding: “It does feel like a policy of waiting and we can’t wait forever.

“I had a conversation with the British foreign secretary, Liz Truss, to ask her what she was going to do and she still said, well we are going to talk to the Iranians and there will be consequences if Nazanin goes back. That’s too late.

“Hunger strike is an extreme act and it’s always a bit precarious at the beginning,” he told Sky News.

He continued: “I have to say, I thought that would be a unique experience and that when the prime minister came into office he would resolve our case and keep his word.”

Mr Ratcliffe’s Labour MP, Tulip Siddiq, tweeted in his support – with similarly harsh criticism of the Conservative government:

This Site has been covering Nazanin’s story since Boris Johnson’s initial – disastrous – intervention and it is well worth covering the saga of Tory government ineptitude that has progressed since then:

The case was brought to the UK’s Foreign Secretary – at the time, Boris Johnson – in November 2017. And the first thing he did was make the situation worse.

He said Nazanin had been arrested because she had been “teaching journalism”. In fact, that was the reason for her arrest – a reason that she denies (the Iranian authorities related it to activism against the state).

He later tried to claim that his words had not been clear and he had meant even if she had been teaching journalism, that would not have justified her arrest. But this was not true – one of many lies he has spoken on his way to the top.

The Iranian authorities said they would use Johnson’s words against Nazanin, but he refused to apologise for worsening the situation.

Next it was rumoured that Johnson was going to pay Iran £450 million owed to that country but unpaid due to international sanctions, in return for Nazanin’s freedom…

Then it was said that he had put the brakes on that scheme for fear of upsetting US President Trump.

Nazanin went on hunger strike. While she starved, Johnson (now prime minister) was working on his suntan, on the billionaires’ playground island of Mustique.

She appeared in court on March 14 this year, on a new charge of propaganda against the regime – apparently based on allegations that she took part in a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in London 12 years ago and gave an interview to the BBC Persian service.

She was later sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of propaganda against the regime in Iran.

Mr Ratcliffe now believes that Nazanin is a pawn in negotiations over the £400 million+ owed by the UK to Iran. The current issue seems to be about interest payable on the debt. Johnson doesn’t want to pay the figure demanded by Iran, one expects.

This Writer’s opinion is that Johnson doesn’t care what happens to Nazanin – he’d rather keep the cash. That’s a very odd way to behave, when one considers all the money he has splashed around to Tory donors and friends during the Covid-19 crisis.

But then, this is a man who (allegedly) said of Covid, “Let the bodies pile up in their thousands” – and they have. And now he is inflicting cholera on us all by allowing foreign-owned privatised water firms to dump raw sewage in our rivers.

With a prime minister responsible for that scale of barbarity, how could anybody expect him to lift a finger for one dual-nationality woman?

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Husband on hunger strike outside Foreign Office for second time in two years | UK News | Sky News

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No ‘unsustainable’ pressure on the NHS? Then why are GPs threatening to strike?

Sajid Javid: behind the smug smile there appears to be no intelligence at all.

The following tweets appeared next to each other on my timeline:

It’s just more evidence that Sajid Javid was lying when he said pressure on the NHS due to Covid-19 was “not unsustainable” – as if we needed it, after Stephen Powis contradicted him during his own press conference on Wednesday:

GPs are under severe pressure due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis – worsened by the government’s refusal to take action to reduce infections, in the face of increases past 50,000 a day and the worst death rate since March.

But Health Secretary Sajid Javid wants to compel them to hold face-to-face appointments with anybody who wants one – and is threatening to publicly humiliate surgeries that don’t meet targets he imposes.

As a result,

GPs in England are threatening industrial action in protest at the government’s attempt to force them to see any patient who wants a face-to-face appointment.

The British Medical Association’s GPs committee voted unanimously to reject the plan by the health secretary, Sajid Javid.

The doctors’ union has decided to hold a ballot on possible industrial action, which could result in family doctors at the 6,600 practices in England reducing the work they undertake.

So Javid’s interference is likely to make it less possible to see a GP personally. What a stupid way to run a health service.

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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