Tagged: health and safety

Labour MP Helen Goodman: ‘Immigrants on building sites should speak English’

Immigrants working on construction sites should be able to speak English, a North MP has said.

Helen Goodman, Labour MP for Bishop Auckland, said it is vital immigrants have a “reasonable understanding” of the language so health and safety isn’t put at risk.

The Shadow Welfare Reform Minister said some of her constituents have “completely fair” concerns about immigration and insists Labour would address them.

I think people have legitimate concerns,” she said. “They are also concerned about people not being able to speak good English.

“These are totally fair and totally reasonable concerns. On a building site you do need to have a reasonable understanding of English for health and safety purposes.

“You are working in a team and everybody needs to be able to understand what you say. If you go to the A&E department you want to speak to someone who can speak English.

“That is completely reasonable and fair.”

The Bishop Auckland constituency is home to just 800 non-UK nationals (of a total 89,500), which equates to just 1%.

In County Durham overall, there are 13,700 non-UK-nationals in County Durham (2.7%).

The MP’s words come after Bishop Auckland Mayor Colin Race defected from Labour to Ukip.

She said people are worried about the impact on wages and immigrants claiming benefits that will be wired overseas.

In general, people think that some immigration is good, particularly for things like high-skilled work in the NHS, but they want more controls,” she said.

They want reassurance that a Labour government would control immigration better and so I tell them that we will re-establish checks on the borders for people coming in and going out.

“The really big thing people are worried about is the impact on jobs and wages. They feel that people from Eastern Europe are prepared to work for less than they are and that some employers are exploiting that and that this pushes down wages.”

> Are they really prepared to work for less ?  Or could it be they see the apparant size of UK wages compared to those at home and it looks good, but they fail to take into account that costs – housing, food, everything – are also higher ?

And then they find themselves here working for less, but paying out more.

She added: “Labour plans to raise the minimum wage and to stop employers recruiting overseas while not offering jobs to local people. I think people are right to be concerned and they want us to tighten up. We will tighten up.

> How about UK citizens  working abroad ? Shouldn’t their jobs have been offered to local people too ? What’s going to be done about that ?

“I think it is fair that people want us to say that people aren’t allowed to claim benefits for children overseas.”

The Labour MP also took a swipe at Ukip, led by Nigel Farage, for being “all over the place” on policy and being anti-women.

They are a bit of a one-man band,” she said. “I suppose that the other long-standing parties, by definition, have to make the difficult decisions.

“Farage still benefits from being the new kid on the block. Once you get past the Europe issue, they are all over the place.

“They seem to change their policies regularly.”

She added: “I think they are very conservative with respect to women.

“In their eyes, women should have a very certain place. They want to take us back to the 1950s with respect to women.”

Source –  Sunday Sun, 15 Feb 2015

County Durham – council cutbacks threaten bowls clubs

Bowls players fear long-established North-East clubs could be forced to close under council funding cutbacks.

Durham County Council has written to club bosses saying it is unable to sustain its current financial support for the 30 public facilities across the county – and asking local enthusiasts to take over running their own facilities “as an alternative to closure”.

But club bosses say the £5,000 they say they have been offered as a one-off payment to cover start-up costs such as buying machinery is nowhere near enough and their ageing members are unable to do the manual work needed to maintain their greens and pavilions.

Bowls is vital to keeping pensioners active and socially engaged, they argue, with the 30 clubs having hundreds of elderly members between them.

One club leader, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s terrible. We pay our rates and some of that goes to leisure.

“To ask someone in their 70s to cut greens two or three times a week, the health and safety would never have it.

“Everybody’s upset and thinking their club could fold. For the smaller clubs, there’s no way they’re going to stay open.”

The cash-strapped council is facing Government funding cuts of more than £200m and Simon Henig, its Labour leader, has repeatedly said every service must be reviewed.

In the letter to bowls clubs, Nigel Dodds, the council’s strategic manager for culture and sport, says it is unable to sustain financial support for what is a non-statutory, or optional, service and aims to save £146,605 from spending on greens and pavilions.

The council manages around half of the bowls facilities across the county and, since the letter went out, two summits have already been held to discuss their future.

Consultation will continue until September, although clubs considering taking over running their facilities have been asked to express an interest by today (Monday, June 30).

The council hopes to reach “in principle” decisions by the end of August and have new arrangements in place by next spring.

Terry Collins, the council’s corporate director for neighbourhood services, said consultation was ongoing and no decisions had yet been made.

The authority would provide business advice and planning, Mr Collins added, and consider making start-up grants.

Early feedback has been encouraging with many clubs receptive to the proposals as they have an understanding of the difficult financial decisions the council is having to make and also have a desire to see the clubs continue to operate.

“The solutions may include local partners or clubs working together,” he said.

Previously, the council has handed over the running of leisure centres, community centres and a golf club to volunteers.

Source – Durham Times,  30 June 2014

Engineer refused to install meter at Saltburn home – because he wasn’t trained to climb step ladders

An engineer refused to install an electricity meter at a Saltburn couple’s home – after telling them he was not trained to climb step ladders

Householder John Stearn couldn’t believe it when the worker from Utility Warehouse came to change his electricity meter only to cry off because he was not allowed to climb the ladders.

He said he was not trained in the use of ladders and would have to call in specialist colleagues who had gone though a health and safety course.

John said he downed tools and left without lowering the meter.

He said: “You don’t need a training course to be able to use a pair of ladders. You have to laugh at what seems another silly health and safety rule.”

John had asked his supplier to change both his gas and electricity meters to a pre-payment scheme after running up high debts.

The gas meter was changed without any delay because it was at ground level but the electricity meter was placed on the wall above head height.

He said: “We have been customers of Utility Warehouse for a number of years and re-located to our present address in September 2011.

“We paid for our gas and electricity with a monthly plan but admit we never entered our meter readings.

“So when the meter was eventually checked we found ourselves £1700 in arrears.

“After this we had nothing but hassle, resulting in many letters demanding payment.

“My wife Linda is on a pension and I am on Jobseekers Allowance so we are experiencing severe financial difficulty.

“We agreed to have pre-payment meters installed thinking it would be a simple thing to do, but we had this delay over the ladders.”

Jon Goddard, head of distributor marketing at the Utility Warehouse, admitted there had been a health and safety issue over the job at John’s home.

He said: “We had asked the customer on many occasions to submit his own readings to us so we could ensure his bills were accurate, but he chose not to do so.

“Subsequently, we have verified the accuracy of the meters at the customer’s request, and also offered to spread repayment of the deficit over the next 24 months.

“The customer then asked us to install pre-payment meters, and to add the outstanding balance on to them.

“We were able to install a gas pre-payment meter, but the installation of the electricity pre-payment meter has been delayed because the engineer we sent to do this work was unable to climb a ladder to exchange the meter due to health and safety reasons.

“This has now been referred to our specialist metering team, for them to lower the current meter and install a pre-payment meter. With co-operation from the customer, this work should be completed shortly.”

The highly specialised work was later completed.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  09 June 2014

Osborne’s bid to end democracy by the back door

Vox Political

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The Coalition government has finally put its cards on the table, calling for the completion of a ‘free trade’ agreement with the United States of America that will end democracy as we know it today.

Do you think this statement is needlessly hyperbolic? In fact, it probably does not make the point strongly enough!

You will lose the ability to affect government policy – particularly on the National Health Service; after the Health and Social Care Act, the trade agreement would put every decision relating to its work on a commercial footing. The rights of transnational corporations would become the priority, health would become primarily a trade issue and your personal well-being would be of no consequence whatsoever.

Profit will rule.

Also threatened would be any other public service that has been privatised by this and previous governments, along with any that are privatised in the future; all would fall…

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