Over the past few weeks, our campaign about Pleural Plaques has been going from strength to strength. Literally thousands of people have signed our petition calling for justice for people living with Plaques.
The backing for the campaign so far has been overwhelming, and we have been touched by the messages of support we have been sent.
These are just a handful of the messages we have received since the campaign began:
“I am appalled at what the Law Lords have done, if you have been injured by any means whilst in employment then you should be entitled to appropriate compensation for damages.” Kevin Richards
“It is wrong that people through no fault of their own are denied compensation from employers when they contract this disease from doing their job. Bring back the compensation!” Jacqueline Wilkinson
“As a person who lost her grandad to a work related injury, I know we have to do all we can to protect the rights of current employees and compensate those whose lives have been blighted by industrial injuries and health compromising conditions. Keep fighting.” Diane Green
“My father in law had this in his lungs due to working with asbestos and subsequently died of related lung disease just as he had retired. He worked hard all his life and his widowed wife was entitled to no compensation and has to struggle on a pathetic pension….... this is outrageous and should be turned around to compensate the people and families who have had to or currently endure this condition.” Angela Southworth
Today, the two BNP MEPs who were elected last month take their seats in the European Parliament. In the run-up to those June elections, thousands of trade union members campaigned up and down the country to try to turn out votes to stop the BNP and their politics of hate getting a voice in Europe.
Hope not hate have run an amazing campaign to get people active in their communities in getting people out to vote on polling day, and in exposing the BNP’s extremist politics.
Watch their ‘not in my name’ video now - it’s an incredible testament to the how strongly so many people feel that the BNP do not speak for Britain.
Labour’s MEPs have also spoken up strongly about today. Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s Leader in Europe, said: “60 years ago we fought against the fascists together. Today, two UK fascists are taking their seats in this Parliament for the first time. Today is a sad day for Britain and we will not let matters rest.”
Streatham CLP have been working on putting together a discussion meeting, to bring together local trade unionists and Party members.
The Missing Link - the Labour Party & the Trade Unions - a discussion
Wednesday 24 June 2009
The Assembly Hall, Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane SW2 1RW
- organised by -
Streatham Constituency Labour Party in association with the GMB Union.
- speakers include -
Streatham CLP Parliamentary Candidate
General Secretary GMB
Lambeth TUC Chair
refreshments provided - all welcome
- supported by -
the Trade Union & Labour Party Liaison Organisation
the Lambeth Trades Union Council
UNITE 1/1148 Branch
We’re all rightly disgusted about this expenses scandal and the way some of our politicians have behaved. They have let us all down. It might seem easy to voice our anger by not voting this Thursday.
But that would be a mistake.
It would be easy to believe the press and the talking heads on television when they say all political parties are all the same. But they are not. No matter how angry and disappointed we are - we must never forget this. Because the price of not voting is so high - it could mean the racist BNP getting elected through the backdoor and representing you and me in the European Parliament.
Voting matters, because politics still matters.
A few months ago, we launched a petition attacking David Cameron’s plan to pull us out of the Social Chapter and undermine the rights we have fought so hard for. Thousands of people responded. They responded because of the very real threat that the Tories would pose to their rights - because politics matters.
If you agree that politics still matters I want you to take action now - sign our petition:
Politics matters more than ever at the moment. We are faced with two very different visions of how to lead our country during the economic downturn.
The Tories would do what they did in the 1980s - and leave every man, women and child fighting for themselves, forcing a generation onto the scrapheap of long-term unemployment. Cutting back on vital public services, sending us back to the days of leaking school roofs, the sick dying on hospital waiting lists and record numbers of homes repossessed.
The trade unions don’t think Labour’s got everything right - but we do know that under this government we have seen change for the better in Britain - change that has made a real difference to people’s lives.
Joan is a member of her trade union, and she got in touch with us to tell us why politics matters to her. Thanks to Labour, she was able to arrange with her employer to work hours that fit round her children’s school day, so she gets to spend more time with them every day. Or Brian, who got in touch to tell us how he was paid just £1.25 an hour before the minimum wage boosted his income. Or Rachel, who told us how she is now entitled to 4 weeks paid leave, and her employer can no longer force her to count bank holidays as part of her entitlement.
Real lives - and real change.
The truth is that politics does matter. With the threat of the BNP on the horizon, and a stark choice between real help now from Labour, or sink-or-swim with the Tories - now is not the time to turn our backs on politics.
If you agree with me that, despite the anger the expenses scandal has caused, politics matters - and that it can make a real and significant difference to people’s lives, sign our petition:
The job of the trade unions is to stick up for their members. That’s why we let the government know when we think they’re getting things wrong, and why we’re always pushing them to go further, to win a better deal for union members. But we also know that when it comes down to it, working people are always better off with Labour. That’s why I’ll be voting Labour on June 4th, and why I hope you’ll be doing the same.
The proposed part privatisation of Royal Mail, as detailed in the Hooper Report, has taken another hammer blow today from new financial analysis carried out by Compass. It has found that the likely revenue that could be raised by a 49% sale of Royal Mail to an external equity partner would see the Treasury net less than half the value they would have secured just a year ago.
Should the Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, succeed in railroading through Hooper’s recommendations (breaking one of Labour’s key 2005 manifesto commitments and Labour Party policy in the process), the price for a share of Royal Mail will be based on a multiple of 8 times earnings, conservatively estimated at £250 million for 2008/09. So in other words, a 49% stake would cost an external investor roughly £1 billion.
Of course, the financial downturn has a part to play in this calculation - as recently as last year the price would have been based on 15 times earnings. If Royal Mail were sold on those terms, the national coffers would be £1.9 billion better off in the short-term - almost double what Hooper’s proposal would bring in now. The government must therefore look at the poor state of the market and come up with a new plan to modernise the Royal Mail that doesn’t involve selling shares at rock bottom prices and losing hundreds of £millions in revenue in the process.
If you transpose this analysis onto the continental operators that Hooper uses as examples, there is a similar picture. If TNT had been sold at the height of the market in 2007 it would have been valued at around £11 billion. Today its sale would secure only £4 billion. Less than a year ago the sale of Deutsche Post would have secured around £21 billion, today it would be lucky to raise £8.5 billion.
Nonetheless a sum of £1 billion could be seen as an attractive one-off windfall for a government struggling with its Budget during the current economic crisis. But why sell the family silver when this short term gain could be wiped out in less than two years if Royal Mail stays wholly public. With an annual profit of £630 million, which takes into account the funding of an annual £280m pension deficit and the loss of £100m in unfair access charges to private companies using the network, given these figures it is hard to see the attraction of a fire sale. Keeping these profits in public hands means they will be reinvested in the business to modernise it, could be used to provide better services and crucially money will not be lost through paying out dividends to shareholders.
John Grogan MP has today quite rightly urged the government to think again, and said that the findings show how “part privatisation would represent a bad deal for the government and for the British public. Labour MPs will now be even less likely to support part privatisation once they see these figures” - he’s absolutely right.
Grave concern about a bad deal for taxpayers is broadened by the lack of interest in a part sale offer. Only TNT have shown any public interest, mainly because of the scarcity of available finance in the money markets for big ticket purchases like this.
Most worrying are the prospects for quality of service. Advisors to companies such as TNT and Deutsche Post will be telling their Chief Executives that they can increase their forward earnings through a cut price purchase of Royal Mail, allowing subsequent big cuts in jobs and services, which as one off costs are not included in forward earnings calculations.
So these findings will be very hard indeed to simply ignore, and gives further incontrovertible evidence that the Hooper report and proposed part-privatisation is a case not made. Even if you think it makes sense to sell, it makes no sense whatsoever to sell now.
Compass will shortly be publishing our own proposals and positive vision for a modernised post service that remains in public hands - keep an eye out for further updates on this important campaign.
Gavin Hayes is General Secretary of the social-democratic pressure group, Compass, who campaign and organise for a more democratic, equal and sustainable world.
A few weeks ago, we celebrated the Minimum Wage’s 10th anniversary. And while it remains an important step forward, there’s still more to do. We need to make sure that we build on ten years of success, to make it stronger, fairer, and to ensure that no-one is left unprotected by it. But does your MP support these goals? Ask them now:
While the trade unions celebrate the Minimum Wage, we’re also campaigning to improve it. We want to see apprentices covered by the minimum wage. We need to end the discrimination that lets employers pay young people less just because of their age. We need to make sure that the law is enforced - with tough penalties to make sure that no employer can wriggle out of paying it. And, of course, we want to make sure that the Minimum Wage keeps increasing. We need the Minimum Wage to go up in real terms and as a proportion of average wages each year - and that includes an increase this year too, as in the current climate fair pay is more important than ever.
10 years ago, there were many who said the Minimum Wage would never work - that it was a step too far. But we have proved them wrong, and shown the good that government can do by acting boldly to make work fairer.
Yet despite all the good the Minimum Wage has brought - there are still those who oppose it. So, on the Minimum Wage’s 10th birthday, we want our supporters to contact their MPs and ask them if they will commit to strengthen and support the Minimum Wage over the next 10 years too. Send your message now:
It’s an important question to ask. Not many people know this, but senior Tory MP Christopher Chope is trying to introduce a new law that would allow people to opt-out of Minimum Wage payments - effectively killing the legislation. He would drag us back to the days when many people were left on poverty pay. And the Tories have a track record here. Did you know that David Cameron actively campaigned against the Minimum Wage - even when some people were earning as little as £1.20 an hour?
We think that this is such an important issue that MPs need to be candid with their constituents - are they committed to supporting and strengthening fair wages, or do they want to take us back to legal poverty pay?
Ask your MP now -
A decade ago, trade unions and our Labour Government fought for the Minimum Wage, while the Tories mounted a whole-hearted campaign against it. We won that battle - but does your MP support the Minimum Wage now? Please take two minutes of your time to email your MP to find out.
Today, we asked our supporters to say ‘well done’ to the PM for getting a global agreement to invest 1.1 trillion dollars in getting our economies going again at the G20 yesterday, and to ask him to make sure securing and defending jobs is at the heart of our UK strategy for economic recovery.
We’ve had a great response already. These are just some of the messages you’ve sent:
“a working Britain is a better Britain!”
“Left to the Tories we would have no fiscal stimulus, no injection of support for our economy and jobs.”
“Yes, it is a “well done” but do please put a plan of action in place to build up and sustain the jobs which should form the heart of the domestic recovery plan.”
“Well done, and now the real work begins.”
“Well done on the G20 conference - continue to support the public sector and all workers.”
Send the PM your message now:
People often scoff at politics. They say that politicians are just in it for themselves. That politics doesn’t matter. That there’s no point because no one listens any more.
But it’s not true. And I wanted to show you why. We’ve just made this video and I wanted you to be one of the first to see it -
Over the past 11 years the trade unions, working in tandem with Labour, have brought change to Britain. The minimum wage. Better maternity and paternity rights. And let’s not forget the extension of paid leave - meaning that all full time workers have 20 days holiday + 8 Bank Holidays. But David Cameron is threatening all of these rights and more.
He says that pulling out of the Social Chapter - the legal guarantee that protects hundreds of working rights - is his “top priority.” Senior Tories openly state that Cameron plans on letting the National Minimum Wage “melt away.”
If they get their way the Tories would condemn thousands of workers to a life on poverty pay.
But we believe in something better. Watch the video and then share it with your friends -
These are tough economic times, but it’s fair rights at work which will help us get through them - and build a fair and just economy, and society, for when the good times return.
Watch our latest video and then sign our petition.
Thanks for all that you’re doing to help us support working rights - our rights are precious and with your help we’ll keep them.
These are workers who could potentially face the full monty of abuse from verbal, to physical, spitting to sawn-off shotguns. I’ve heard stories about workers emptying games machines of thousands of pounds - on their own - and being threatened with disciplinary action if they locked the bookmakers shop for protection while carrying out the task.
A campaign to highlight the Community campaign in the Scottish Parliament attracted huge cross party support and hopefully played a part in focussing the industry on the importance of tackling this problem.
The hands-on approach from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell, who invited unions, local authorities and business representatives to a round table meeting in November has led to greater and more constructive dialogue from all sides of industry. A small working group was developed from this first meeting to look at how guidelines could be developed - initially in London - to help the industry deal with the issues more effectively. This group reported back to the Secretary of State this week and it was agreed in principle that a stakeholder forum including Community and the ABB would be set up to find ways of improving betting shop safety.
When I first got involved in the campaign I detected a natural resistance from employers to engage with the union because they felt the campaign was about trade union recognition rather than health and safety. These two issues have to be separated because there is a difference between recognising the legitimacy of the union to raise these issues and union recognition in terms of collective bargaining.
It’s early days but if anyone had suggested a year ago that all sides of the industry would have agreed a way of working together I would have been very sceptical. Community are now at the table with industry and that can only be positive for workers in the sector and in my view, improve safety. There are so many lessons to learnt from other sectors - particularly transport - where joint working has been very effective.
Some of the language used by the industry about Community did concern me and throws up a wider question of how trade unions can be viewed in this country. Whereas we believe the trade unions are a legitimate and integral part of our democracy - many still view them not as social partners - but as an inconvenience. For me that is a sharp reminder of what life would be like under a Conservative Government - where that view would be promoted, tolerated and very popular with some
And that is why I believe we have to make a really strong case to directly to trade union members as we approach the general election. If anyone thinks that life under a Tory Government will somehow be better for trade union members, they are wrong.
John Park is a Member of the Scottish Parliament and was elected as a regional list member for Mid Scotland and Fife in 2007. He is Shadow Minister for Economy and Skills. He has been an active trade unionist and a member of Unite the Union since he started working in 1989 and a Labour Party member for the majority of his working life.
Hundreds of you have already signed up, and emailed your friends to ask them to sign up too.
Many more of you have got in touch, to tell us what message you’d send to ‘Dave’ about your rights at work.
These are just a few of your messages:
“Rights at work have been won through years of struggle and they are vital to all of us. We won’t give them up lightly - they need extending, not cutting back, in these difficult times.”
“Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents fought tooth and nail to ensure that the working person was given rights and protection at work - in the face of conservative opposition. The country will be a poorer place for all if these rights and protections are not constantly improved - let alone undermined.”
“Rights to paid leave, a living wage, our working conditions and time to spend with our children of whom we are so proud and have such aspirations are fundamental to improving the social cohesion of are society that I am so proud of Mr Cameron. You are always harping on about broken Britain and yet by seeking to change these rights for British workers you will undermine the society you claim to want to mend.”
“I support the Social Chapter. It guarantees rights for the most vulnerable amongst our working population. Scrap your plans to scrap it.”
“Its time the workers that clean the streets, do night shifts to run our hospitals, hard working teachers and many others had their work appreciated. Labour has done a lot for them. Holiday pay for part-time workers, minimum wage, tax credit, winter fuel payment to name a few.”
Make your voice heard too: