Blog & News- unionstogether2

Beyond the rhetoric

Living and working in Brighton, I've seen what a Green Party in charge of services looks like - they run our local council. So I wasn’t surprised when Natalie Bennett imploded under the weight of a bit of tough questioning.

Much like the Lib Dems before the last General Election, the Greens promise much but delivered little.

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The unionstogether Profile - Lisa Forbes

Labour's candidate for Peterborough, Lisa Forbes is not your typical politician.

A proud working class woman and trade unionist, she knew she would have to get involved once the Tories got in in 2010 after seeing the damage they had done to her community.

She has worked tirelessly since being selected to stand up for the people she has lived and worked alongside in Peterborough for much of her life. 

WATCH below to find out more:

unionstogether Live Blog - The Budget

18th March: 17.45 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And here's the tea-time summary - covering some of the response from the trade-unions. There's some quality stuff in there...

18th March: 16.50 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is fantastic c/o Jon Trickett.

Don't, whatever you do, choose him...

18th March: 16.30 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ouch! Len McCluskey is having a good go here - we've summarised it for you: 

18th March: 15.46 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Right - too much Financial Times and not enough Left Economic Advisory Panel leaves a person slightly demoralised.

So here's their view on today's budget with it's 'brutal plans for a £13bn cut in public services and a £12bn cut in welfare.

You can see more here, if you like and we know you do.

18th March: 15.42 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This from James Landale of the BBC sums it up. The Tories are plotting an assault on our public services not seen before...

 18th March: 14.59 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some more budget reaction from the GMB - a classic line from our very own Paul Kenny:

18th March: 14.40 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

More graphs! But this is important so bear with us.

The OBR sounding the siren here, talking of a "sharp acceleration" in pace of cuts.


 You can see the offending graph here:

The Tories haven't detailed how they are going to make these unprecedented cuts on top of a Parliament that has already hit ordinary people.

What are they hiding?

18th March: 14.23 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This graph puts pay to the lie, which Osborne has repeated again today, that "we're all in this together". 

It shows that aside from the very rich, it is the poorest fifth who have been forced to bear the biggest burden of austerity. 

With a further £38bn of cuts still to come, how can we trust a Chancellor who attacks those at the bottom?

18th March: 13.55 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oh, at last - a bit of sense.

According to the Financial Times, the Corporation Tax cut costs over £5bn per year. Where will the money come from for that? Our schools? Our health service?

18th March: 13.48 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Miliband has a go at Osborne on the extreme cuts proposed by Osborne - he didn't deny that he would introduce them today:

They are the very same cuts which the austere NAO were so concerned about they warned publically that it could "threaten the health of the public sector"

18th March: 13.39 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ed Miliband is up:

He leads on the fact that Osborne has put taxes up 24 times on working families and then poses as their friend. Here's a cool graphic from the Class think tank which proves it:

18th March: 13.27 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In this 'no-gimmick' budget - the Chancellor has just announced a cut in the price of a pint by a whole penny. We've done our sums and calculated that if you take into account the fall in real-wages - you'd need to have 684 pints a day just to break even.

Your round, Chancellor!

18th March: 13.14 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As Osborne crows about "all being in this together" there are plenty of people telling the real story. Here's a snapshot of the reaction so far. It's not exactly good for the Chancellor...

The JRF:


Eoin Clarke:

Unite the Union:



18th March: 12.44 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Osborne is now moving onto the "jobs recovery"

He argues that the "lowest-paid are those which suffer most when the economy fails".

We at unionstogether couldn't agree more - annoyingly for George Osborne we work more for less under the Tories. Average pay for workers is down £2,500 under the Tories.


Osborne is up for Budget 2015. 

He starts with "Britain is paying its way" - but keen-eyed followers will know that this Coalition will leave behind more debt than all other Labour governments combined!


Because the low-pay recovery has dramatically lowered tax take.


18th March: 12.24 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is hard to get excited about a recovery where 80% of jobs created are in industries where pay is an average of £8 or less. Cameron and Osborne talk about a 'national recovery for all' but they don't mean it.

C/o our Comrades at the Trade Union Group


18th March: 12.11 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This video from the TUC nails the problem for the Chancellor. His low-pay recovery is the reason why he can't fix the deficit.

The Chancellor is collecting 57% less tax than he said he would.


18th March: 11.57 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Before the sound and fury, some solid facts from the sober IFS - poorest households hit hardest by Tory choices via Left Foot Forward: 

18th March: 11.49 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bloomin eck! Look! A shiny twelve-sided pound coin to distract us.

18th March: 11.41 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As the Budget approaches have a quick look at these figures from Rachel Reeves - nearly half of all new jobs created have been in the low paid sectors. Is this what Osborne means about a 'truly national recovery'?


18th March: 11.32 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Britain's largest public-service union wading in this morning on the government's ideological assault on the public sector. Do you really want to go back to the 1930s?

18th March: 11.24 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What is not to love about this video from Sigoma? Game of Thrones, drama and a serious message about the total inequality in cuts to local authorities which have lost 40% of their core funding under this Government.

18th March: 11.17 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's often what you don't say rather than what you do. Here's a few things you're unlikely to hear from George Osborne today...

18th March: 10.53 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here's a timely reminder from the New Statesman. An eye-watering 60% of planned cuts are still to come:

18th March: 10.18 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, there's a surprise - a hefty majority of the British public don't trust George Osborne. With average wages for workers falling by £2,500 since Osborne came to power, we aren't shocked. You can find the Mirror graph here.

18th March: 09.44 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Feels like an opportune time to quietly highlight the scoop from the raging lefties at the Financial Times yesterday:

"Radical cuts threaten the health of the public sector".

Sir Amyas Morse, who heads up the National Audit Office, warned that 'if you're going to do radical surgery it would be nice to know where the heart us. You're slightly more likely not to stick the knife in by mistake". So that's them told.

18th March: 09.31 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Do you shout at the tele when Osborne droans on about his achievements? Well now you can channel that rage into constructive arguments courtesy of our bright Comrades at Left Foot Forward:

Here's what they've got to say on the deficit and why it is almost three times bigger than he expected. The message? Austerity doesn't work!


18th March: 09.25 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A little aside - Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of the TSSA, is in line with the vast majority of the British public this morning:

18th March: 09.02 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In amongst the sound & fury of budget day, just take a moment to read this from the Morning Star - "Privateers' dirty hands all over failed NHS trust". The battle to Save our NHS has only just got started...

18th March: 08.39 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Interesting from Matt Pennycook - evidence suggests the cut in the personal allowance won't be particularly effective in helping the low-paid as many have already been taken out of tax altogether

18th March: 08.29 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oh eck - this is good from @38Degrees. George Osborne has talked a tough game on tax avoidance but he is losing billions of pounds per year in tax avoidance. That money could transform our society. Have a look how long it would take him to lose your tax:

18th March: 08.18 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Our Comrades over at Socialist Economic Bulletin getting stuck in. Austerity doesn't cut the deficit.

18th March: 08.06 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This cracking article from the New Economics Foundation reveals some of the budget myths. Here's a snapshot - head over to NEF for the full whack:

18th March: 08.00 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We rather liked this...

18th March: 07.52 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fresh from putting housing firmly on the agenda which you can see here if you're interested - and let's be honest you should be - TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady talks jobs guarantees, fair pay and British Investment Banks in her Budget Day Message:

18th March: 07.42 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's Budget Day 2015 - welcome to our live blog. We'll be bringing you alternative news & views from the last act of this useless Government.

Start the day with this scorching article from Ian Lavery MP - former President of the NUM and Trade Union Group Chair


17th March: 18.40 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Join us tomorrow for the final budget of this grim Parliament - we'll be bringing you totally impartial news and views on the last act of this union-bashing, millionaire-tax-cutting, NHS-privatising, real-wage-cutting, poverty-increasing Government.

Here's some required reading to keep you busy until the morning - unionstogether Chair and GMB General Secretary, Paul Kenny, telling it like it is:

The Tories have once again left whole communities behind - Ian Lavery

On the eve of the final budget of this depressing Parliament – the first in living memory where the standard of living for ordinary men and women is worse at the end than it was at the start – the Tories have given us one final reminder of who they are - and more importantly who they stand up for.

A document leaked to the Guardian revealed that the Tories are plotting a major tax-giveaway ‘designed to benefit the most wealthy’. The measure would potentially save some of the wealthiest households – in homes worth up to £2million – a massive £140,000 each.

It will cost the Treasury £1bn.

And yet, at the same time, they are claiming to try to “save” the same £1bn which they would give away so freely in a pre-election bribe, by introducing the Bedroom Tax – a cruel and punitive tax which has devastated families in my community and beyond.

The government call it “tough choices” and move on.

But for a young man in my constituency, hit by the tax, this isn’t academic – his weekly income has dropped from £72 to £47 and he can no longer afford the basics in life.

And it isn’t academic for the social worker - working harder and harder to maintain the service for the clients they care desperately about - despite massive cuts and a pay-freeze which has lasted 4 years and left them demoralised.

Let’s be clear - this is a Government which has made political choices and dressed it up as necessity. A Tory government which has once again abandoned, or ignored, communities like my own while giving a tax cut to millionaires worth £100,000.

And a Government which intends to plough on with its attack on the poorest with a further £12bn in welfare cuts.

Their own figures even show that 30% of children in the North-East are now living in poor households once living costs are factored in.

But this lot have made their political choices – Osborne’s final budget won’t address the problems of low-pay, insecurity or inequality – so we need to get out there and kick them out ourselves.

 Ian Lavery is the Labour MP for Wansbeck in the North-East, Chair of the Trade Union Group of Labour MPs and former President of the National Union of Mineworkers. 

The Low Pay Scandal - Angela Rayner

Two hundred thousand care workers are paid below the minimum wage. By refusing to cover mileage and for travel in between clients, private firms do their staff out of £850 per year. 

For people already struggling to get by on pay which doesn’t even cover the basics, that makes life very hard.

I know because this happened to me. And when you’re on next to nothing then being paid for mileage and for the time it takes to travel between homes can make a huge difference.

It should be a national scandal, a disgrace, that those public servants who look after our elderly and most vulnerable, who work hard in incredibly tough circumstances are so disregarded that private firms can get away without paying even the barest minimum.

This makes me angry and let’s be honest, it would make most people angry too.

But for the 1.2million care-workers employed by private firms it doesn’t stop there. 80% of them are also engaged on zero-hours contracts with no guarantee of work from one week to the next.

But because they don’t have rich and powerful friends the Government haven’t listened to them. In fact on zero-hours contracts the Government even whipped their MPs to vote in Parliament to keep them. It is a scandal.

I was lucky, I eventually managed to get a job at my local council which valued and invested in its employees and for the past fifteen years, first as a care-worker and now a full-time trade union official and parliamentary candidate I have fought to make a difference for some of our most important but lowest-paid workers.

We campaigned to keep vital care services in-house, for instance, not only saving the council money but crucially stopping redundancies and pay cuts in the process.

But without a Labour government, there is only so much we can do. And make no mistake, a Labour government would make a huge difference to the people I have worked with and alongside my whole life.

Raising the minimum wage and clamping down on employers who illegally underpay would put that £850 that I and my colleagues missed out on back in our pockets and then some.

It is clear that for the millions of low-paid workers in the care services and beyond they need a party and a government which will stand up for them. If I win the support of people in Ashton-under-Lyne come May I will work night and day to make sure their voices are heard in the corridors of power.

Angela Rayner is a former care-worker at Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council and currently Regional Convenor for UNISON elected to represent 200,000 public sector workers across the North West. She is also Labour's candidate for Ashton-under-Lyne, you can find out more about her here

The Tories should abandon the political attack on check-off - Jon Ashworth MP

While the Tory Zombie government gave up months ago trying to legislate in the Commons, their attack on trade unions’ right to collect subs by check-off gathers pace.

We’ve had confirmation this week that in the remaining weeks before the General Election the Tories will try to force the end of check-off in the civil service.

The Home Office and Department for International Development have already removed check-off. Despite objections from opposition frontbenchers, HMRC continues to insist on the removal of check-off facilities. Next month before the general election, union members will see the final deductions of subscriptions from the HMRC payroll.

The Ministry of Justice has opened consultation with the unions with a view to ending check-off. The consultation ends on 23 March, and it is likely that they will give unions 3 months’ notice to end check-off.

Francis Maude has long been determined to kill check-off, despite the shambles of Eric Pickles’ scandalous waste of £90,000 of taxpayers’ cash when he tried to end check-off in DCLG. In December 2013, Maude’s Department sent instructions to all Government Departments to ‘review’ check-off because it was deemed ‘not desirable’ and ‘unnecessary.’ The extent to which this was a purely ideological exercise was confirmed when the Department for Transport admitted to me in a letter that it is facing costs in removing check-off.

Many of our best employers know the value of trade unions in the workplace. Unions not only play a key role in supporting good working conditions and protecting workers’ rights, but also help foster productivity and raise standards in partnership with employers. It's no surprise therefore that major private sector employers use check-off in their companies. In construction there’s Balfour Beatty; in pharmaceuticals there’s AstraZeneca; in manufacturing there’s BAE, GKN and Rolls Royce.

That's why it's so disappointing, though not surprising, that Francis Maude, when embarking on major changes to the civil service, chose to provocatively attack the workforce unions rather than actively engage with them on the process of change.

The Tories should abandon these attempts to rush through the end of check-off before the General Election. Of course Labour believes the long term sustainability of trade unionism is more secure when members transfer from check-off to direct debt for payment of union dues. But such a move should be done in a fair and timely way while check-off remains in place or is reinstated if necessary, which is what we are committed to do.

With the election just weeks away sadly we’ll see more nasty political attacks like this from Tory Ministers on decent hardworking union members. While Tory MPs sitting for marginal seats were cheering Francis Maude in the Commons this week, it’s the hardworking union members who live in those constituencies who will soon get their chance to pass judgement on the Tories.

Jon Ashworth is the Labour MP for Leicester South and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister. You can find Jon on twitter here @JonAshworth.

The unionstogether Profile - Lara Norris

A community campaigner and former charity worker, Lara Norris is the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Great Yarmouth at the election in 2015.

20 years ago, Lara left her home with her two children to join a women's refuge and found that opportunities weren't open for working class people like her. 

After a Labour government took office in 1997 she had the chance to go to University, working part time and raising two children as a lone parent. After leaving University she joined home-start, a charity which supports parents with children under 5.

Since being selected as Labour's candidate two years ago, Lara has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of her local community. Have a look at the video below or her twitter @Lara_Norris to find out more about her.



The unionstogether Blog - Clive Lewis

Clive was selected to be Labour's candidate for Norwich South back in 2011 and since then he has led campaigns to save the local NHS walk-in centre, campaigned against the exploitation of workers with the use of zero-hours contracts and joined up with trade unions to protect the pensions of our public servants.

Clive was the Chief Political reporter for BBC East and an Army reservist serving in Afghanistan as a Lieutenant.

A long standing trade-unionist and socialist Clive has vowed to campaign to make Norwich a living wage city, and if elected will proudly cast his vote to end privatisation in our NHS.


People often say that politics doesn’t matter – that even though the government changes the only real difference is the colour of the rosette.

But in one week at the end of last year I voted to end the bedroom tax, protect firefighters’ pensions and support food banks. Had that have gone through – had we had just a few more MPs who thought as we do – there would have been genuine change for the hundreds of thousands of people facing eviction from their homes or the thousands of people in my constituency who have to rely on the kindness of their community to feed their families.

In the end, what matters is who we choose to stand up for. Over the course of this Parliament, I’ve spoken out time and time again both in the Commons chamber and outside as the Tories, backed up by the Liberal Democrats, have voted through changes which my constituents couldn’t afford. They voted to keep zero-hours contracts, voted to introduce the bedroom tax, to increase tuition fees to £9,000, to reduce tax for millionaires and, have created a crisis in our NHS through their costly reorganisation, cuts in staff and social care budgets and in their rush to privatisation. 

That record speaks loud and clear about who the Tories are and who they stand up for but also, perversely, it demonstrates something else. It demonstrates that politics does matter – that who we vote in for and who they, in turn, stand up for matters.

I didn’t get into politics to put more money into the pockets of the already wealthy – I started out working with children in care and with young homeless people, asylum seekers and refugees. What connected all of them was that they lacked political power and it has been those people who lack political power who I have stood up for in Parliament.  

So this year with only 93 days to go until the General Election I’ll be making the case at street stalls, in workplaces and on the doorstep that this election really does matter and that having a Labour government matters. We would guarantee paid work for young people without a job, build 200,000 homes a year, we would raise the minimum wage, clamp down on exploitative zero hours contracts and we would put people back at the centre of our health service by repealing the Health and Social Care Act and using a Mansion Tax to fund 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 doctors.

Politics matters because the choices politicians make matter. At this election that choice is between a Labour Party which will put communities like mine first and a Conservative Party which will continue to only look after the interests of a few.

Lisa Nandy is the Labour MP for Wigan and Shadow Minister for Civil Society. You can find out more about her and the campaigns she has been running here

The unionstogether profile - Jo Stevens

A trade union solicitor for 25 years, Jo has spent her entire career standing up for trade unionists in the workplace and representing them when they are injured or mistreated at work.

Jo has been a longstanding political activist, first joining the CND on marches aged 14 and going onto join the Labour Party a few years later. 

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