Disastrous economic policies are dividing Britain and destroying hopes of recovery, the leader of the country’s biggest union stated today (Monday 8 September 2014).
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, called for collective bargaining to be reintroduced to arrest the decades long fall in the value of wages, and give workers a fairer share of the wealth they create.
Speaking in the debate on the new economy at the Trades Union Congress in Liverpool, McCluskey said:
“It was a Tory – Benjamin Disraeli – who said that Britain was two nations. He would certainly feel right at home today.
“Workers in our country are today facing the longest drop in their living standards since the 1870s when Disraeli was prime minister. But to be fair to him – he saw the class divisions in Britain as a problem to be solved. His Conservative successor in Number 10 seems to rejoice in them.
“Because every measure David Cameron and George Osborne take is designed to increase the squeeze on workers’ living standards and widen the already scandalous inequality gap.
“David Cameron used to talk of the Big Society. The truth is he’s created Two Societies – a society of Bullingdon Bullies, country suppers with Rebekah Brooks, tax cuts for the rich, a society which is a happy home for the hedge fund managers who fund the Tory party.
“That’s not so much the Big Society, more like the Greedy Pig Society.
“On the other hand there’s a society of people in fear – fear of losing their jobs or their homes, fear of paying the heating bills, fear over the future of the National Health Service, where the government strips away any protection the poorest can still cling to.
“The Tories will tell you that it’s all going to come right – that after six lost years for the economy we will all feel the benefits soon. But the truth is that trickle down has dried up.
“For the first time in anyone’s memory we have an economy which is apparently growing – while living standards for ordinary people are still falling.
“To misquote another famous Tory: ‘Never, in the field of human economics, has so much been produced by so many to the benefit of so few’.
“We need a social rebalancing and only trade unions can deliver that – because all the power is on one side of the negotiating table.
“Most economists now recognise that this is the biggest structural obstacle to sustainable growth in a modern economy.
“Collective bargaining can ensure that workers get back more of the wealth they produce. Trade unions stand for the productive economy and the people who are the real wealth-creators. In Downing Street they represent only the parasites.”
Source: Unite Union Media Release via Welfare News Service, 08 Sept 2014
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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A GOVERNMENT minister has been challenged to a face-to-face meeting with South Tyneside councillors concerned at the impact the ‘bedroom tax’ is having on borough citizens.
> Good luck with that. The Jarrow marchers in the 1930s walked the length of England to London, only to have government ministers refuse to meet them when they got there.
South Tyneside Council chief executive Martin Swales is to write to Tory MP Kris Hopkins, the current housing minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, calling for the meeting.
> Make him come here.
It comes after a motion expressing concern over the scheme was carried unanimously at a full council meeting last week.
The motion – signed by ten South Tyneside councillors – stated that the tax ‘discriminates unfairly against the poorest in our society’ and welcomed a commitment by Labour Leader Ed Miliband to ‘repeal this draconian legislation’ if the party returns to power at next year’s General Election.
> Given Labour’s other plans for the poor, I should wait a while before we all start cheering (and voting).
A total of 2,770 council tenants in South Tyneside have been affected by the tax, which has seen a cut in housing benefit for households with one or more bedrooms deemed to be spare.
Nationally, one in three council tenants affected by cuts to housing benefit have fallen behind on rent since the policy took effect in April, according to figures from the Trades Union Congress.
Since March there has been an £81,000 rise in South Tyneside council rent arrears, with the total amount owed to the local authority now standing at £1.8m.
The motion stated: “South Tyneside Council notes with concern that 2,770 council tenants have been affected by the bedroom tax.
“The council believes that the bedroom tax discriminates unfairly against the poorest in our society, and that by forcing residents to leave their homes can lead to instability of close-knit local communities and neighbourhoods.”
> Suprisingly ( or perhaps not…) they don’t seem to have connected the above with the rise in begging on the streets in South Shields, reported yesterday.
Source – Shields Gazette, 21 Jan 2014
The North East is missing out on jobs despite the economic recovery, union bosses said today.
The Trades Union Congress said the region was one of four where the likelihood of being in work has fallen since 2010 despite the recent upturn in business.
Union officials say jobseekers in the region have not benefited from better trading conditions in other parts of the country.
The other areas affected are the North West, the West Midlands, and the South East while all other regions have shown a better jobs market.
Figures released this morning by the TUC and based on information from the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey said the North East had an employment rate of 67.3% last year. The figure compares to 67.9% in 2010 – a drop of 0.6%.
The reduction compares to increases in most areas including Yorkshire at 2.4% and London at 1.6%.
Neil Foster, Northern TUC Policy and Campaigns Officer, said the figures showed inconsistency across the regions.
He said: “This study shows that under the previous Labour government the North East was catching up with the rest of the country before the global financial crash hit hard in 2008.
> From personal experience, there’s some truth in that – I got more work between 2000 and 2008 than in all the preceeding decade – all short-term work admittedly (longest 7 months, shortest 3 months) but there was at least an anticipation of things improving. Then it all went pear-shaped again…
“However under the Coalition we have gone into reverse and we’re now seeing the bulk of new jobs created in the south so it’s even harder to find work in the North East.
> As noted in another post recently, a survey of all online jobs reported in Financial Times last Summer showed that London and the South East accounted for 46 per cent of UK vacancies, compared with just 3.3 per cent in the North East.
Of that 3.3%, many are part-time, temporary, zero-hour contracts or commission-based non-jobs – not much good for us unreasonable people who want, or at least need, full-time, permanent work
“The Northern TUC warned Coalition ministers in 2010 that this could happen if they dismantled Regional Development Agencies with the significant powers, budget and support they possessed.
“Going forward, we need a devolved industrial strategy that gives our region the tools to build a real recovery that can draw on our significant strengths and benefit people in need of work here.”
TUC General secretary Frances O’Grady said the figures were part of a survey looking at employment in the regions over 20 years.
She said: “Despite the return of growth the chance of having a job has actually fallen in much of England since 2010.
“Whilst it’s great that jobs are created in London and the South East, stronger job creation is needed throughout the country.”
> Government policy : fund those areas likely to return Tory candidates in the next election. The rest can rot.
It’s not even a new policy – the Thatcher government actually considered cutting city’s like Liverpool adrift to sink or…well, sink probably.
The figures were released ahead of new jobless statistics this week.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 20 Jan 2014