Tagged: economy

SHOCKING! UK’s richest double net worth since ‘crisis’

Order Of Truth

ukrich.fwWe are led to believe the lie that the world has been plunged into an economic recession and ridiculous ‘austerity’ measures have to be introduced to redress the balance of the economy.

The propaganda has been relentless, with every area of our society affected by very severe budget cuts, job losses, and citizens plunged into the depths of poverty.

The vulnerable and low earners have been most effected, with middle-earners feeling a gradual creep of financial strangulation. But not everyone has suffered financially because of ‘austerity’ measures.

The richest families in the UK have DOUBLED their net worth since 2008. The richest 1000 families now control a total of £547 BILLION.

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, their assets have increased from £258 billion in 2009, a rise of 112%, with the biggest rise happening in the last 12 months – the biggest rise for the past 6 years.

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Tory proposal for union ballot reform could be a vote loser in the North East

With a general election looming ever larger on the political horizon, the main parties are now unveiling the policies they think will secure them victory.

The economy, immigration and benefits are among the battlegrounds which they will be fighting over in the next four months.

Another is the heavily unionised public sector which has undergone swingeing cuts since the Coalition Government came to office in May 2010 and historically has been the favoured whipping boy of the Tory party.

And so when David Cameron’s party revealed plans to make it harder to call strikes in certain “core” public services if it wins the general election, it came as no surprise.

A policy along those lines, after all, was floated last year by Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster general Francis Maude.

There was also no surprise in its backing by the employers organisations the CBI and the British Chamber of Commerce, or in its universal condemnation by members of the TUC.

Yet, while certain sections of the media need no invitation to attack the public sector, and its day of action last year caused discomfort and annoyance amongst the public – not least the sight of rubbish piling high in places like Newcastle – it is still a risky strategy.

For a start, it opens the Government up to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards.

After all, the present Coalition Government is made up of the Lib Dems and Tories who between them received 38% of the total number of the UK’s eligible voters – 18m out of 45.5m – and below the 40% threshold it wants to demand of the public sector it is targeting. The Tory share of this was 23%.

In her heyday , Margaret Thatcher won around 30% of the total available vote and, during the present parliament, the Tories voted down a Lib Dem motion to introduced an alternative voting scheme which arguably would have made parliament more representative of the people’s views.

Meanwhile, GMB general secretary Paul Kenny also got his calculator out to further hammer home the point. He said:

“Only 16 out of 650 elected Members of Parliament secured the support of 40% of those entitled to vote in their parliamentary constituency area election in 2010.

“Only 15 Tory MPs out of 303 secured that level of support. They had no hesitation in forming a government in 2010 without securing 40% support from the electorate.”

Another point is that, particularly in the North East, the public sector which employs many in the region, is not as hated as the Tories might think. So such a policy strategy could be a vote loser here.

Gill Hale, regional secretary of Unison in the North East, said:

“They are the anti-public sector party – you only have to see what they are doing to the NHS and what they have already done to local government.

“Industrial action is taken as a last resort, and when we’ve had to take it we’ve had very good public support. I don’t think it will be a vote winner.”

 

Meanwhile comments by Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable, in which he denounced the plans as “brutal” and “ill-conceived”, echo those of Ms Hale.

He said the Conservative proposals were “entirely ideologically-led and a brutal attempt to strangle the basic rights of working people in this country”.

Mr Cable added that a 40% threshold would be “odd”, when MPs do not have to overcome such a high hurdle to be elected.

Under the plans, a strike affecting health, transport, fire services or schools would need the backing of 40% of eligible union members.

Currently, a strike is valid if backed by a simple majority of those balloted.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC says the Conservatives’ proposals would have “profound implications” for civil liberties.

They would also end a ban on using agency staff to cover for striking workers, impose a three-month time limit after a ballot for action to take place and curbs on picketing.

The package of measures will feature in the party’s manifesto for May’s general election.

In explaining the plan, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said a planned London bus strike set to take place on Tuesday had only been voted for by 16% of people entitled to take part in the ballot, and called the walk-out “ridiculous”.

“I think before a strike is allowed to go ahead it must havemuch more support from the union members and cannot be called by politicised union leaders,” he said.

But Ms O’Grady said that participation in strike ballots and other types of vote should be improved by introducing online voting, in “safe and secure balloting”.

At the moment, strikes can only be called based on the results of a postal ballot – which “don’t do the job”, Ms O’Grady added.

She said the government “continues to oppose this proposition”, although Mr McLoughlin replied he would be willing to talk “in more detail” about such proposals.

However, his partner in the Coalition Government, Mr Cable, goes further.

He said: “If there is to be trade union reform, it should be to allow electronic voting in ballots which would improve the turnout and legitimacy of polls.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the Conservative Party’s proposed changes would have a “chilling” effect, and added the way to “resolve disputes was through negotiations – not to intimidate and silence by legislation”.

Ministers have repeatedly clashed with trade unions over pay – with a 1% cap on increases in the public sector – as well as changes to pensions and retirement ages.

It was during the day of action last summer when hundreds of thousands of public sector workers took part in a day of strike action across the UK, that Prime Minister David Cameron said it was “time to legislate”.

Public Sector Workers Day of Action March and Rally Newcastle
Public Sector Workers Day of Action March and Rally Newcastle

But Ms Hale added:

“We already have some of the most draconian laws in Europe regarding industrial action. There are so many obstacles we have to get over.”

However, Mr McLoughlin said:

“It is wrong that politicised union leaders can hold the country to ransom with demands that only a small percentage of their members voted for. That causes misery to millions of people; and it costs our economy too.”

He said the changes, which would be introduced in the first session of a Conservative-led Parliament, would “increase the legitimacy” of strike action held by unions.

It is only fair that the rights of unions are balanced with the rights of hard-working taxpayers who rely on key public services.”

CBI deputy director general Katja Hall commented:

“Strikes should always be the result of a clear, positive decision by those balloted. The introduction of a threshold is an important – but fair – step to rebalance the interests of employers, employees, the public and the rights of trade unions.”

However, the TUC has previously said imposing a minimum turnout would leave unions with “about as much power as Oliver Twist”.

Labour criticised those plans as “desperate stuff”.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the proposed measures would make it virtually impossible for anyone in the public sector to go on strike and would shift the balance completely in favour of the government and employers, and away from dedicated public servants.

He said: “The UK already has tough laws on strikes – there is no need to make them stricter still.”

But John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “In the eyes of businesses large and small, these proposals have merit, as they would help ensure essential services and the freedom to work in the event of strike action.”

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 12 Jan 2015

Coalition has ‘shifted money from poorest to better-off’

Order Of Truth

colmonshftThose of us who have been keeping an eye on the coalition government for the past few years are well aware of the social and economic engineering taking place which penalises the poorest and most vulnerable in our society and keeps the well-off (Tory voters) sweet.

A study published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research and the London School of Economics reveals that the coalition has taken money from the poorest to fund tax breaks for the well-off. The cuts in low-income and disability benefits has had no effect on public funds contrary to government claims.

The most financially-disadvantaged experienced cuts of nearly 3 per cent of what they would have earned if Britain’s tax and welfare system of May 2010 was retained.

Those who gain from the changes include couples who both work and those in their 50s and early 60s, with an increase of between 1.2…

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Workers are becoming economic slaves of the rich – and it’s getting worse. (#economy #politics #welfare)

Order Of Truth

ecslavIn a poll published by The Independent on Sunday, Britons find their jobs more stressful, precarious and demanding than ever before.

The findings are indicative of a shift in work culture towards less for more for workers, and more for less for large companies and their wealthy shareholders.

The survey found that two thirds of people say the amount of work they are expected to do has grown over the past few years, and over a third say they are expected to do unpaid overtime.

One in five says they have seen at least one person sacked or made redundant without good reason.

Only one third look forward to going to work, with the rest either ambivalent or dreading it.

Twenty five percent feel there is not enough flexibility in their jobs to balance work and the rest of their life.

One in five people say that either they or…

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Inflation drop doesn’t mean wages will rise

Vox Political

'For the privileged few': If you're earning the average wage of £26,500 per year, or less, then nothing George Osborne says will be relevant to you. ‘For the privileged few’: If you’re earning the average wage of £26,500 per year, or less, then nothing George Osborne says will be relevant to you.

Why are the mainstream media so keen to make you think falling inflation means your wages will rise?

There is absolutely no indication that this will happen.

If you are lucky, and the drop in inflation (to 1.7 per cent) affects things that make a difference to the pound in your pocket, like fuel prices, groceries and utility bills, then their prices are now outstripping your ability to pay for them at a slightly slower rate. Big deal.

The reports all say that private sector wages are on the way up – but this includes the salaries of fatcat company bosses along with the lowest-paid office cleaners.

FTSE-100 bosses all received more pay by January 8 than average workers earn in a year. Their…

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Why Labour SHOULD be ‘the party of welfare’

Vox Political

[Image: Redpepper] [Image: Redpepper] What follows is intelligent, adroit and not mine. It was written by Bernadette Meaden on the Ekklesia website and passed on to me by a mutual friend.

It constitutes what I think may be a complete answer and refutation of ‘accusations’ that the Labour Party is the so-called ‘party of welfare’. Tories love to bandy this about as though it is an insult. What they don’t tell you is that their alternative is abject poverty for all but an elite few.

I’m jumping ahead of myself. Here’s what Bernadette had to say:

“Conservative MPs frequently say that the Conservatives are the party of ‘hardworking people’, and the Labour Party is ‘the party of welfare’. It’s said as an accusation, an insult, and many Labour MPs take it as such, attempting to deny the charge as if it’s something to be ashamed of.

I would like to see Labour…

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Private company given contract to harass the long-term sick

Vox Political

The Department for Work and Pensions is setting up a new “service” offering “advice” to people who are off work with an illness for more than four weeks.

No reference is made to improving people’s health.

It should also be noted that sickness absence in the UK is among the lowest in Europe, and has halved over the past decade.

The announcement was made on the BBC News website shortly after midnight. Nothing has appeared on the Government’s own website so it seems the Corporation has gone back to being Westminster’s poodle again – breaking news for the government in order to give spin doctors time to assess the reaction and then write a press release that is more acceptable to the public.

The Health and Work Service will be a privately-run operation covering England, Wales and Scotland, offering “non-compulsory” medical assessments and “treatment plans”. This is reminiscent of the…

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Coalition drags out the pain with promise of many more cuts

Vox Political

140205cuts

The BBC has reported findings by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, showing that the Coalition government will be less than halfway through its planned spending cuts by the end of the current financial year (March 31).

The organisation said 60 per cent of the cuts were still to come.

This raises a few urgent questions. Firstly: This government was formed on the promise that it would balance the books by 2015, which presupposes that its entire plan for doing so would be in place long before then. We know that this ambitious claim was dismissed after years of failure, but part of the reason for this failure was that George Osborne stopped a recovery that was already taking place, and which would have led to economic growth of 20 per cent by now, if it had been allowed to continue (according to Michael Meacher MP). My question, therefore…

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Hey, Kid – Wanna Job In The Automotive Sector ?

Blame the teachers time again –

Schools failing to prepare North East pupils for career in automotive sector

– declares the headline in the Newcastle Journal, and continues:

Schools are failing to encourage children to consider a career in manufacturing – and the economy of the North East may suffer as a result, a major new study has found.

Pupils in Sunderland are not being given the advice they need to make an informed choice about their future career, said think tank IPPR North, with girls in particular failing to consider careers in science, engineering or technology.

Researchers from IPPR North worked with two schools in the city to examine the attitudes of pupils towards a career in manufacturing, and particularly in the automotive sector.

As part of the study, they arranged for pupils to visit Nissan’s factory in Sunderland, and asked them whether this had changed their attitudes towards manufacturing.

The think tank warned: “Employment avenues for young people are not being closed off so much as never being opened. A systemic lack of interaction between schools and businesses is restricting the career options of young people in Britain.”

The failure to interest girls in science, technology, engineering or maths – the so-called STEM subjects – was robbing the sector of potential future employees, said the report.

> With such high levels of local unemployment ? Pull the other one ! There is probably going to always be be more people than there are jobs, so hardly a lack of potential employees. Many of them will already have the necessery skills, and if they haven’t they could learn them… if the employers were willing to invest in a little training, of course. But that would probably bite into short-term profits.

It warned: “The lack of interest in post-GCSE STEM subjects and vocational education among girls is a cause for concern given that skills shortages in these sectors are looming.”

IPPR focused on the automotive sector because of its importance to the economy of the North East – and it said there is “evidence to suggest the automotive sector would continue to grow in the coming years”, making it even more significant. Around 1.5 million cars and commercial vehicles and three million engines are produced annually in the UK, and 70% of vehicles manufactured here are exported.

> Hmmm… and its not so long ago that call centres were being touted as the big new thing. Which they may have been momentarily, but as soon as the companies found they could transfer the work to low-wage (and thus higher profit) economies overseas, you didn’t see them for dust. Anyone want to bet the automotive sector wouldn’t do the same if it was deemed profitable ?

Nissan’s plant in Washington is Europe’s most productive car manufacturing site, responsible for one in three of all cars produced in the UK.

> It’s also generally understood locally  (but unprovable) that Nissan don’t employ anyone over the age of 30. Not much hope for the older unemployed there.

However, the think tank warned that manufacturers were concerned about the lack of available skilled labour in the UK, which could limit future investment in the country.

> People aren’t born with the skills for a particular industry fully formed. What’s wrong with the companies involved training workers to the required level ? They always used to.

It also pointed out that “pay tends to be significantly higher for graduate engineers than for most other graduates”, but young people considering their future career were not aware of this.

> But not everyone can be a graduate engineer, nor is that the only job in manufacturing. Perhaps kids realise this. Or perhaps they just think there’s more to life than selling their souls to an industry that may up sticks and move abroad if they think it in their interests.

The study warned: “Given the importance of both good careers advice and business-school interaction in shaping the choices that young people make, it is essential that Government, schools and businesses take action to plug future skills gaps and change the perceptions of those who might potentially be attracted towards careers in the automotive industry, and in engineering more widely.”

> School are like government training schemes – you might get a nice certificate, but it does not prepare you for the world of work. But why blame the schools, it’s not their role to provide factory fodder, surely ?

Once again we seem to be rushing to put all the eggs in one basket – mining, shipbuilding, call centres, automotive … in a year or two the same claims will be made again about the next transient  industry, and all the unemployed automotive workers will be told they dont have the right skills and so must retrain…and so on ad infinitum.

But don’t blame the schools.
Source – Newcastle Journal  01 Feb 2014