Reposted from Union Solidarity International
The list of Cabinet members who failed to secure 40% of the vote. They would not have been elected had the same criteria been imposed as strike ballots
Half the members of the new Tory Cabinet were elected on less than 40% of the electorate – failing the government’s own trade union legitimacy test.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid, himself elected by 38.3% of the electorate, yesterday announced new rules concerning strike ballots.
The proposal is that a ballot result would only be valid if: (1) at least 50% of members vote in them and (2) at least 40% of all members vote to support the action.
Therefore, the bare minimum will be 80% yes with a 50% turnout. meaning trade union strike ballots would no longer be declared by a simple majority, but would only become valid if 40% of members voted in them.
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Another quick round-up:
The warehouse workers who’ve been organising in West London want to hit the road and talk to other workers in big warehouse hubs across the country, as well as organising film screenings of a new documentary about struggles by warehouse workers in Italy. If you’d like to get in touch about an event in your town, you can contact them at email@example.com.
The Freedom Riders, the group of pensioners and disabled people who’ve been taking direct action against transport cuts in South Yorkshire with mass fare-dodging actions, have been going strong for a year now, and celebrated their first anniversary with a demonstration in Barnsley on Tuesday 31st. They’ve produced a two-sided leaflet to explain the story so far in their fight for free travel on both trains and buses.
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Another quick round-up of news across a few different areas:
In repression news, five water charge protesters are still in jail in Ireland for protesting against water meter installations. I’ve not been able to find any addresses to write to the five in jail, but I’ll keep looking. In the mean time, the movement’s not taken this attack lying down, with a fresh wave of angry protests in response, as well as ongoing resistance preventing water meters from being installed. It’s difficult keeping up with the myriad of facebook pages reporting on what seems to be a genuinely decentralised movement, but Release the Water Warriors NOW seems to be the main campaign for the release of the five, and the Workers’ Solidarity Movement continue to provide ongoing reporting from an anarchist perspective. Meanwhile, closer to home, the ongoing police crackdown on anarchists in Bristol has resulted in its…
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It’s been a few weeks since I did a proper news round-up. While there’s not been that much in the way of big, attention-grabbing stories, there’s still a multitude of local struggles going on up and down the country, so I’d like to try and highlight a few of those.
But first, a brief bit of international news. The South African farmworkers’ union, CSAAWU, was recently hit with an incredibly punitive court order forcing them to pay R600,000 (that’s $54,800 or £3,3400), which could well bankrupt them, so it’s good to report that, thanks to international solidarity, they’ve hit their first target of raising $10,000. There’s a long way still to go, but it’s clear that they’re not beaten yet. Meanwhile in Spain, the seven anarchists being held without trial as part of Operation Pandora have been released on bail, although there are still charges against them, and…
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So, another year has come and gone. To be honest, it’s not really been a great one, overall: on an international level, the wave of revolt that rolled around the world in 2010-12 feels like it’s still rolling back, with most of the struggles that broke out having been contained one way or another. In particular, something that’s been vividly illustrated over the last few years is the dangers of a popular revolt being turned into a military struggle: from Syria to Ukraine, we’ve seen how tragic the results can be when widespread anger against an unpopular regime can be captured and channelled into nationalist directions, especially when wider imperialist forces are involved.
In the UK, I don’t think there’s been many big, definitive moments that sum up the year as a whole: just like in 2013, life for most people has mostly continued gradually getting worse, and my real…
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Living wage campaigners have hit out after it emerged a third of people in some North East towns are not earning to enough to get by.
Unions, politicians and even the new Bishop of Durham have called for more firms to take up the Living Wage, currently set at £8.80 in London and £7.65 across the rest of the UK.
Just 20 North East firms pay the higher than minimum wage to their lowest paid staff, a move the unions say has to change.
Latest figures show more than one in five people receiving less than the living wage, with some parts of the region faring much worse.
Darlington tops the region’s blackspots with 37.6% of people paid less than the living wage, with Blaydon at 34.2% and Berwick 31.7%.
Northern TUC boss Beth Farhat said the unions were looking to see more support for their pay battle: “Extending the living wage is a vital way of tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across Britain.
“Working families are experiencing the biggest pressure on their living standards since Victorian times. Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom and it’s costing our economy dear.
“The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it – but Government must show equal initiative.
“We need to see a far greater commitment to pay the living wage from Government and employers, and modern wages councils which could set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more. During Fair Pay Fortnight we’re asking workers to back our call to MPs to get all political parties to put decent pay at the top of their agendas in the run up to the election.”
The TUC campaign is today backed by Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, who said: “The Living Wage is good for everyone: good for the employee and their family – they have enough to live on; good for the employer in recruitment, retention and morale of their staff; good for us all.
“The Living Wage makes sense for everyone. It makes sense economically, socially, morally and spiritually. It helps us all build better lives and a better society.”
Union research suggested that for working women the picture is even bleaker.
The campaign has been backed by Hexham’s Conservative MP Guy Opperman, who has said he supports the need for firms to voluntarily take on the wage increase.
He said: “I have long been a supporter of the Living Wage. The campaign has really taken off in London and the South East, but what I hope to do today is to bring the campaign right here to the North East.
“I understand the concerns that business has, but I really want to explain the benefits it can bring. As many people will be aware, I am a huge advocate of the regional banking system we see in Germany. There are lots of things we can learn from our Germanic neighbours, especially around productivity.
> Is this guy (sic) really a Tory ? He won’t get far with opinions like those.
“Paying the Living Wage can have a hugely positive impact on things like productivity, quality of work, reduced absenteeism and retention of talented staff.
“In a recent independent study 84% of businesses believed paying the living wage led to increased productivity.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 01 April 2014
he Chancellor has been told his Budget today must address the North East’s unemployment record.
Businesses, house builders and unions have said the Government needs to start growing all parts of the UK economy, not just the South, and urged George Osborne to use his Budget to tackle the number of people out of work in the region.
At 10%, the region’s unemployment rate stands as the highest in the UK, remaining around that level even as unemployment falls in large parts of the rest of the country.
The North East Chamber of Commerce has already written to the Treasury calling for a renewed focus on tackling job creation in all parts of the UK.
Policy director Ross Smith said: “We have seen the recovery really accelerate over the past year. We now need to see measures that will sustain this for the longer term and make it better balanced – not a series of pre-election gimmicks.
“North East businesses are making a huge contribution to that recovery, but doing so within an economic system that is still skewed towards the South East. We need to see measures that will capitalise on the region’s export success, energy expertise and capacity for growth.
“That includes taking better account of the regional implications of taxes such as fuel duty and air passenger duty, better balanced delivery of infrastructure, and greater scope to ensure skills training matches the labour market needs in this region.”
The need for a regional focus was repeated by Beth Farhat, regional secretary of the Northern TUC.
She said: “Most people in the North East aren’t experiencing a real recovery and in fact for many here it’s getting worse, with unemployment for women rising 20% in the last year alone.
“We need a Budget focused on creating more North East jobs, with better quality work alongside with fairer pay. Ministers should end their ideologically obsession with cuts and privatisations to public services and focus much more on a thought-out approach to developing the economy, particularly in regions like ours.
“When eight out of 10 private sector jobs are being created in London it’s clear the current plan isn’t working and the economy is still geared towards London and the South East at the expense of everywhere else.
“There is a consensus across the region about what we need to do, so I’d urge the Chancellor to hand us the economic tools, powers and investment needed to enable us to contribute to regional success and balanced national growth.”
Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes said house building was a key way of kickstarting the North East. He said: “What we need is a tax break to incentivise house building on brownfield development sites – this would help deal with the chronic shortage of housing and make it financially viable for construction companies to take on more apprenticeships.
> Would it ? Or are we just talking about more housing that the majority of us couldn’t afford even if we are working ?
“The Government has announced their intention on building a New Town at Ebbsfleet, but a tax break like this would help us rebuild areas like Scotswood and Walker Old Towns.”
And the North East-based Home Group has also had its say, calling on the Government to force through better use of public land, making it easier for firms to build.
The affordable housing group called for the creation of special Housing Zones in which, like the business-led enterprise zones, incentives would be offered to kick start the building process.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 19 March 2014