Tagged: Northern Public Services Alliance

Dave Prentis: Unison reps have more standing than Conservative MPs

A union chief claims his reps have more standing than the MPs calling for reform.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the country’s biggest trade union, Unison, slammed Tory plans to make striking harder . . . and said millions of paid up members give union chiefs more clout that politicians.

He was speaking as of the Northern TUC held a Public Services Alliance Emergency Summit in Newcastle over what unions brand a “constant assault on the public sector”.

David Cameron’s party wants to raise the strike ballot threshold to a 40% turnout, end a ban on using agency workers to cover strikers, impose a three-month time limit after a ballot for strike action to take place and curb picketing.

Today, a strike is valid if it achieves a simple majority.

Defenders of the proposals – which form part of the Tories’ election manifesto – say strikes with low turnout among supporters are not legitimate.

But Dave Prentis said his union has the backing of its 1.3 million members, adding: “As public sector workers, we need to be able to take many forms of action or employers will be able to do whatever they want to us.

“If we do get another five years of this coalition, public services will shrink back to 1930s levels and the trade unions will be hit more than anybody else.

“We represent 1.3 million public sector workers and I really do think that trade unions and their representatives have got more standing than the politicians putting forward these proposals.”

The union chief is lashing out after a long period of discontent which has seen dozens of strikes across the public sector over job losses and pay cuts.

He added the reforms put unions in an impossible position.

He said: : “Turnout is about 25% to 30% throughout the country but we do want to encourage people to vote.

“We spend millions of pounds sending out voting papers to home addresses when life is different now. You can vote electronically and in many different organisations you use email or mobile phone but we can’t do that.

“We are willing to fund a ballot box near workplaces to do a vote just like in a general election, but because of legislation we can’t do these things.

“The only means our members can vote is a postal ballot. This puts us in an impossible position.”

The Emergency Public Services Summit is being held at the Thistle County Hotel in Newcastle city centre on Saturday.

It is chaired by Clare Williams, chair of the Northern Public Services Alliance, and other speakers include Tyneside Labour MPs Dave Anderson and Chi Onwurah.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 17 Jan 2015

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Unemployment rate in the North East rises to 9.9% despite fall overall in the UK

The jobless rate for the North East has risen to 9.9% – despite a fall in the overall UK figure.

As the Government celebrates the national rate dropping from 6.4% to 6.2%, saying it is the lowest since the height of the economic crisis in 2008, the trend in this region is upwards.

The only other UK region to see an increase in its jobless total from May to July was the South West where it rose 0.1% to 5%.

The latest rise in the region, from 9.8% to 9.9%, is the third in the last three quarters.

However a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said the rate is down 0.5% drop on this time last year.

We know the jobs are there,” he said.

Meanwhile the figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, revealed the full extent of the affect of Government policies on the Public Sector.

They showed that since the May 2009 election, won by the Tory Lib-Dem Coalition, the number of people working in this sector has plummeted 58,000 from 296,000 to 238,000.

The Northern Public Services Alliance which campaigns to defend public services is now calling for an urgent Public Services Summit on November 29, to deal with what it describes as the “devastating scale of attack on our region’s public services.”

Over the last quarter the employment rate has dropped 11,000 while economic inactivity is up 13,000.

Despite this the latest Claimant Count for August was 58,700, down 1,700 on the previous month and a 23,900 drop year-on-year.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 17 Sept 2014