The leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council has hinted that he could stand as a Green Party candidate after being deselected by the Labour party.
Councillor George Dunning, who expects to be removed as leader on Thursday, was one of ten Labour members who last week tore up their party card outside the office of the party’s would-be Redcar MP, Anna Turley.
The veteran Labour councillor was not selected, alongside his deputy Sheelagh Clarke and several members of his cabinet committee, by the party to fight in May’s council election.
Now he said he could stand as an Independent councillor but says several of the members have been approached by the Green Party.
Mr Dunning said:
“I expect to be thrown out as council leader as the Lib Dems move a motion of no confidence in me for a second time, the last time was September 2013. I expect that following Thursday’s council meeting I won’t be the council leader after being the longest serving Redcar and Cleveland Council leader. Options for me, and the other former Labour councillors, will then be considered.”
The news comes as a leading union official announced that he would be standing for the Green Party in the Redcar constituency.
“Obviously the Greens commitment to bring railways back into public hands struck a chord, but also policies to invest in the NHS, build social housing, institute higher taxes for those who can afford it, and put forward progressive policies on immigration informed my decision to stand.
“As a life-long socialist, I could see that most of the policies were what the Labour Party once had, but those days are long gone with Labour.”
Source – Northern Echo, 09 Feb 2015
A probation service union is seeking a judicial review amid concerns over a “dangerous privatisation” move.
The Government announced this week that Sodexo will play a leading role in running probation services in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.
The French firm, which has managed the 1,300-capacity HMP Northumberland since 2013, will take on the work of Northumbria Community Rehabilitation alongside the charity Nacro.
Napo, the probation service union, is now calling for a judicial review, and says introducing the reforms could place the public at risk.
Mike Quinn, spokesperson for the Northumbria branch of Napo, said:
“This is an important step in our campaign to halt these ill conceived plans to privatise probation.
“It should serve as a reminder to both the Government and bidders that we won’t give up in our fight to protect the public from this dangerous privatisation.
“The government simply can’t be allowed to carry on with plans which put the safety of the public in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland at risk without allowing proper piloting of their plans, or even publication of their own risk registers. They’re yet to convince anyone but themselves that there plans are any more than a way of making money for large companies.
“Northumberland and Tyne and Wear has been well served by a top performing probation trust for years.
“Over the last 6 months the minister has systematically attempted to destroy the Probation service – he must remember that the result of this isn’t just disgruntled workers with low morale, it’s an increase in crime and the victims of crime. It’s time he saw sense and called a halt to this privatisation.”
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling says the reforms will lead to better management of offenders in the region.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 31 Oct 2014
A union has dubbed a Teesside council’s decision to give one of the highest paid senior officers up to £18,000 more as “morally indefensible”.
And a councillor has said it is “alarming” a “so-called cash-strapped council” has given the nod to increase the pay of a senior manager.
But Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon called the comments “mischievous in the extreme”.
As reported, Middlesbrough Council has announced a shake-up of its senior management structure which includes reducing the number of senior managers from 22 to 12 over the past four years cutting almost £1m in costs and the addition of three extra executive members which will cost nearly £37,000 in allowances.
As part of the reshuffle, director of transformation Tony Parkinson is to become executive director of commercial and corporate services – a move which boosts his annual salary from £95,000 to between £102,681-£113,484.
Janet Greig, Unison regional organiser, said: “When this man was awarded £95,000 to be director of transformation we said it was morally indefensible when they were asking their staff to accept cuts in terms and conditions.
“Now to come along and raise it by 20% – if he gets the top of his grade – it’s morally indefensible. At the same time is the cost of these extra executives instead of employing a couple of managers who would have the skills necessary to take on that role.
“Members have a 1% increase in their salary so this is an absolute disgrace. They are shouting that they don’t have any money and Middlesbrough is hit the hardest with the national cuts but at the same time they can find this additional revenue.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon hit back saying: “The comments from Janet Greig are clearly disingenuous and are mischievous in the extreme. She is well aware that this is not a pay rise – this is a new role and the salary reflects the particular position and the duties and responsibilities that go with it.”
> Crafty ! Dont give someone a massive pay rise, simply create a new job title for them at a massively increased pay.
Coulby Newham ward councillor Michael Hudson said: “It’s alarming to learn that Tony Parkinson has been awarded an £18,000 pay rise when the so-called cash-strapped council is in financial difficulty and especially when services are being reduced.”
Mr Mallon has defended the shake-up saying the increase to nine executive councillors, each receiving an allowance of just over £12,000 is “as cost-effective, as to employ two officers, at that level would cost at least £90,000”.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette – 14 May 2014
Despite wildly optimistic claims from the DWP, today’s launch of mass workfare seems to be in chaos behind the scenes. With barely any information yet available on the scheme it appears that the flagship Help To Work programme has no-one actually running it, no guidance for companies involved and no real plan to deal with the huge influx of claimants to Jobcentres from daily signing.
According to the BBC a mere 70 so-called charities have signed up to provide placements on the scheme which will involve forcing unemployed people to carry out 780 hours of unpaid work. For ‘Help To Work to be successful, these charities will need to accept hundreds, or possibly thousands of placements each. Predictably the DWP are not saying who the charities are. So far the only voluntary sector organisation…
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Yet whilst the so-called fighting PCS Union has dithered over benefit sanctions and workfare that is exactly what has happened under their very noses at the DWP.
As spotted by @boycottworkfare, Employment Minister Esther McVey recently boasted that 4,300 unpaid workers on the Government’s Work Experience scheme have been press-ganged into working for the DWP over the last three years. This could represent up to one million hours of forced labour – potentially replacing nearly a two hundred full time jobs over the same period.
Whilst the Work Experience scheme is officially ‘voluntary’ claimants who refuse to work for free at the DWP can face being sent on a mandatory workfare scheme instead. George Osborne even recently announced
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Health chiefs have received pay rises of up to 17% while nurses and health care assistants experience real term cuts topping 12%, a union has revealed.
Analysis of senior executive NHS pay by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has shown that bosses at hospital trusts in the region were awarded salary increases averaging 10.5% between 2010 and 2013, while mid-band nurses managed a paltry 0.1%. Taking into account inflation some suffered a real terms cut of 12%.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt previously warned that health service employees would face a pay freeze until March 2016 and that they might not get the 1% promised for 2014 unless unions accept greater pay restraint.
Glenn Turp, regional director for the RCN northern region, said: “Frontline nurses and health care assistants have already borne the brunt of the Government’s pay restraint policy over many years. And we know that, once inflation is factored in, NHS salaries have in fact been cut between 8% and 12% in real terms, between the period 2010 and 2014.
“The Chancellor promised to deliver a 1% pay rise this year for the front line, but the Secretary of State for Health is now trying to introduce a further pay freeze until March 2016.
“This is completely unacceptable. It is particularly galling that the Government is quite happy for NHS managers to get significant pay rises, while at the same time, the front line takes another hit.
“A 1% pay increase is a perfectly reasonable and proportionate request, particularly when put in the context of the rises in senior managers’ pay. The Government needs to stop having one rule for the frontline nursing staff, and another for senior bosses.”
The RCN northern region compared the salaries of chief executives across all North East trusts for the financial year 2010-11, with the most recent financial year data available, 2012-13.
Ian Renwick, chief executive of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, received the largest pay rise of 17% as his wages jumped from £190,000 to just under £223,000.
Jim Mackey from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust saw his salary rise 9%, from £211,000 to £230,000.
Newcastle Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive, Sir Leonard Fenwick, is paid the most at £246,000, although the trust has insisted he has had no pay rise in three years, despite the RCN suggesting he had received a 6% increase.
A spokesperson for Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “The salaries of our chief executive and of all our executive directors are decided by an independent nominations and remuneration committee and this is to ensure they are in line with publicly available salary benchmarking information.
“As one of the country’s top performing NHS Foundation Trusts, it is important that those with ultimate accountability are remunerated appropriately so that we can retain the very best healthcare leaders in the North East NHS.”
Figures show that a mid-band 5 nurse salary in the North East increased from £23,563 in 2010/11 to just £23,589 in 2012/13, a rise of just 0.1%. In 2011-12 a pay freeze was implemented by the Government to NHS staff earning more than £21,000.
A spokesperson from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “The remuneration of our leadership team is decided independently to make sure that salaries are in line with those of other high performing NHS organisations.
“To be clear, however, along with the rest of our staff, no director at Northumbria Healthcare has had an increase in pay since the pay freeze was implemented in 2011/12.”
Last night, the Department of Health defended its decision to limit pay rises for NHS frontline staff.
A spokesperson said: “The NHS is rightly playing its role in public sector pay restraint.
“Average pay has increased by around 1%. Despite this, many NHS staff continue to be well paid for the lifesaving work they do and the majority of staff have received additional incremental pay increases of up to 6%.
“The number of admin staff, managers and senior managers in the NHS has fallen by over 21,000. This will lead to a significant reduction in managers’ costs.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 03 Feb 2014
It’s farewell to your centuries-old right to free speech today, after your Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs won their bid to get the Gagging Bill passed by the House of Lords. It won’t go back to the Commons because the Lords made no amendments.
While you, personally, will be allowed to continue complaining about anything you want, you will no longer have the ability to link up with others to protest government actions in any meaningful way as such action may breach Liberal Democrat and Tory government-imposed spending limits. Your personal complaints will be deemed unrepresentative of the people.
You will still be able to have your e-petition on the government’s website – if you win enough signatures to have it debated in Parliament – ignored by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons.
The Liberal Democrats and Tories have even managed to rub salt into the wound…
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People looking for work have had their benefits stopped to meet government targets, the PCS union claims.
The union, which represents many job centre staff, said they had been under “enormous pressure” to stop claimants’ Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Some claimants said they had benefits withdrawn for “genuine mistakes” such as missing appointments.
The government says sanctions are a “last resort”, and strongly denies the union’s claim.
“Job centre staff are under enormous pressure to implement sanctions on unemployed people,” PCS union north-east regional secretary Simon Elliot said.
> Some of them. Others seem to revel in that little bit of power, and dont require any pressure whatsoever…
“Staff are faced with the threat of sanctions themselves in the form of what they call performance improvement plans if they don’t impose sanctions.
“If you look at the guidance for implementing the performance improvement plans it clearly states that it’s a measure against targets.”
David Taws from North Tyneside had his benefit suspended for forgetting an appointment.
He phoned to apologise but was told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) would need to be informed.
“The letter turned up on the 20th of December and I was literally sanctioned over Christmas,” he said. “It was horrific – I had to go literally begging for food at a church hall.”
Another man, who did not wish to be named, said his benefit was cut for a month in September.
“I explained that I was caring for my nana,” he said. “I was up and down to the hospital with her. It totally slipped my mind. I phoned up and said I’m half an hour late for my appointment and they said, ‘OK, we’ll just put it as a miss’.
“I got a letter two weeks later saying I was sanctioned – for 28 days.”
Mr Elliot said staff were being forced to carry out “politically motivated” objectives.
> Forced ? You’re a bloody trade union, man ! You should be in there fighting.
The DWP strongly denied there were any targets for the number of sanctions that Job Centre staff must hand out. It also said there was a right of appeal.
North Tyneside Council Conservative group leader Judith Wallace defended the use of sanctions to “stamp out the something-for-nothing culture”.
She said: “If people are unemployed, and looking for work, clearly it is right that they should get benefits but, equally clearly, it’s right that there should be conditions attached to those benefits.”
> Yes ? And haven’t there always been conditions attached ? It’s just that they’ve never been used as a political weapon in such a cynical way before. And for all sanctions have increased massively, lets not forget that unemployment continues to rise in the North East.
And where are our local Labour MPs in all this ? Or any other local political party outside the coalition ?
- The new regime came into force in October 2012
- Sanctions of between four weeks and three years can be imposed
- More than 400,000 in England, Scotland and Wales had Jobseeker’s Allowance stopped in the first nine months of the new system
- In Northumberland and Tyne and Wear the figure was almost 17,500 for the same period
- In Durham and Tees Valley it was nearly 16,000
- It was more than 20,000 in Cumbria and Lancashire
Source – BBC News Tyne & Wear, 24 Jan 2014