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Monday, 31 October 2011

Lambeth Unison Acts in support of the ballot


































Activists from Lambeth Unison attracted interest from the local press and the BBC today when a number of them dressed up in skeleton costumes and stood outside the Town Hall. The pictures above tell the story.. which one is Jon of the Rogers then?

Vote Yes in the ballot

We are getting near the end of the vote Yes campaign to and hpefully all eligible Unison members get to vote in the ballot to ensure that local government pensions are protected.

It is important that all members take part in the ballot and that the reactionary government is prevented for making us pay for their mistakes. Make sure you vote!!

Sophie Habibis

A dignified Sophie Habibis showed up on ITV Daybreak this morning and presented herself in a positive way and avoided the temptation to make any negative comments about any of the other contestants or even that idiot Louis Walsh, the man who somehow and in some mysterious way has slipped through the net and is now a judge? Yeah, he is as much of a judge as I am a Swedish nationalist from Streatham High Road!! Idiot! Well done to our Sophie who has a strong powerful voice, X Factor isn't about good voices though is it?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

X Factor 2011 and prejudice

I haven't been able to watch the X Factor as closely this year as I have better things to do with my time but I managed to switch on tonight only to see how the bitter and twisted Louise Walsh handled his obvious dislike of Sophie Habibis a girl who has more talent in her little finger than he has in his entire body.

Anyway to cut a short story long Walsh has been throwing negative comments aimed at undermining Sophie's confidence and turning the public against this brave and talented girl comparing her to a Secretary who decided to take up singing which makes him look like a donkey who changed his name into Red Rum.

I have said this before and will say it again but those who come from 'smaller minority groups' in British society often find themselves at the end of prejudice which is more often than not subtle but more sinister. The powerful minority are not too worried about picking on someone who comes from a background like Sophie does. I am not surprised that Sophie was send away given that she had to compete with the very talented Misha but the process that created the situation where we were at tonight was one that was engineered by the talentless Walsh.

I could see the difficult position that Tulisa, who comes from the same ethnic background as Sophie, was put in tonight given that if she had send Misha away everyone would have said it was for personal reasons. I am critical of the nasty, personal and negative comments made by Walsh and Barlow, at least G Barlow has a talent but no idea how Walsh thinks.. shame we can't have an investigation into judges prejudices...

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/simon-cowell-and-x-factor.html


http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/x-factor-2011.html

Qantas Industrial action

I am in full support of the action taken by unions involved with Qantas. The unions have a duty to act when global capital and those who are only interested in maximising the profits of their share holders impose changes that will destroy the future of ordinary workers.

The globalisation programme by Qantas management is total non sense and it should stop. Its all about exporting jobs outside Australia and cutting wages to increase profit. The capitalist class would want us all to be on minimum benefits doing 50 hours unpaid voluntary work and having little prospects. It's got to stop. I am glad union members have stood up against management.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Vote Yes in the ballot to save your pension rights!

Only a few days left for Unison members to vote in the ballot for Industrial Action against the governments attempts to impose massive changes to the local government pension scheme. It is important that all members who are eligible to vote do so!

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/local-government-pension-scheme.html

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/message-from-dave-prentis-on-vote-yes.html
http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/vote-yes-in-ballot.html

Friday, 28 October 2011

Local government pension scheme

Some in the media would have us think that workers in the private sector have to pay for the LGPS while local gov workers reap the benefits.

The reality is that everyone pays for everyone else's pension. Companies with occupational pension provision for their employees include pension costs when pricing their goods and services. All taxpayers pay for the cost of inadequate pension saving through the tax and national insurance spent on increased take up of state benefits and demand on NHS and council care services.

Vote Yes in the ballot and save your pension rights!

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/message-from-dave-prentis-on-vote-yes.html

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/vote-yes-in-ballot_26.html

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Message from Dave Prentis on the vote yes ballot

I have reproduced below the message from General Secretary, Dave Prentis, to Unison members who are being asked to vote yes in the forthcoming ballot on the pensions dispute.


Take the last chance to save your pension - vote YES in the pensions ballot

I'm writing to you because proposed changes to your pension threaten most of you with having to work longer, pay more and get less when you eventually retire.

These changes are unfair. They mean that many hard working UNISON members will be paying 50% more a month into their pension, working for much longer, and then retiring on a pension worth around 15% less.

UNISON, along with many other public sector unions, is balloting for industrial action. I'm urging you to vote in the ballot and to vote YES.

The ballot closes on 3 November - make sure you've posted your vote before then.

It's urgent that we let relevant ministers know that UNISON members don't deserve this treatment and that we're serious about saying 'enough is enough'.

As your general secretary, I am asking you to use your vote, even at this late stage: we know that those who are against us will argue that any abstention is a No vote and means you're in favour of the attacks on your pension. Don't give them that excuse!

So act now and vote YES to defend your pension. And forward this email to your work colleagues and friends ...

Yours,



Dave Prentis
General Secretary

A German warning

It was correct and brave of Chancellor Merkel to warn European leaders facing the current economic crisis of the shape of things to come if stability is not restored on the continent.

The consequences of us not dealing decisively with the current financial mess could lead to more wars and a return to pre war situations. This statement by the German Chancellor explains exactly what I meant in a recent entry on my blog where I reminded us of the way those from continental Europe think. The fear of instability and war is far greater in states like Poland, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Greece than it could ever be here in Britain. The need to achieve a united Europe is greater now than it has ever been before. Europe has to integrate to avoid a repeat of what happened in the last century the economics of it all are of secondary importance but of course integration cannot be real if there is no merging of the economies.


http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/europe-let-people-decide.html

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Vote Yes in the ballot

UNISON members have until Thursday next to return their ballots in the vital industrial action ballots over pensions - but only until next Monday (Halloween!) to request a replacement ballot by phoning 0845 355 0845

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/vote-yes-in-ballot.html

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/pensions-calculator.html

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/09/lambeth-unison-branch-meeting-motions.html

Save the London Fire Brigade Museum

Please sign the attached petition against the fire authorities decision to close the Fire Brigade Museum


http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/lfbmuseum

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Europe referendum

The thousands if not millions of those of you who never read my blog will know that I have always been firmly in favour of a United Europe. A Federal and united Europe will bring peace and stability on the continent. It might even stop the expansion of Coca Cola and MacDonalds.

Saying all of that I also know, and so does my mother and her friends, that the British electorate have major issues with Europe, so it is ridiculous that a Tory PM will not allow for a referendum to decide. The referendum should ask a simple question. It should ask do you want to be part of a European Union? If not then people should vote no and Britain ( I think Scotland will be going the other way) should negotiate a commercial deal with the rest of them and stop interfering with major decisions.

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/europe-let-people-decide.html

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/cameron-vs-sarkozi.html

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/last-chance-for-euroland.html

Monday, 24 October 2011

Europe. Let the people decide

I have made no secret of the fact that I am a pro European. A united Europe is a viable alternative to depending on the USA and it will ensure long term peace and stability on the continent.

On the other hand I am very well of the fact that the British electorate has never been comfortable with the relationship the country has with Europe so it is vital that the government allows for a referendum on whether we should stay in the Federation or not. Britain can't have it both ways. We can't have a situation where the USA determines our foreign policy but we also have a close link with the EU it should clearly be one or the other. A United socialist Europe will be a positive development but if Britain hates the idea so much then the people must be given the choice to decide.

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/last-chance-for-euroland.html


http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/cameron-vs-sarkozi.html


http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/truth-about-britain-and-eu.html

Cameron vs Sarkozi

It has always been the case that the French and Brits don't really want to spend much time baking a cake together. Everyone knows that in Europe. It is also the case that the Brits never wanted to be in or want a united Europe they would rather be an additional state of the USA.

So it comes at no real surprise when Cameron is told off by Sarkozi who claims that he has had enough of Cameron playing a double game. And of course this is probably true but that is how British foreign policy has always been so its a bit immature for President Sarkozi to lose his cool over this incident.

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/last-chance-for-euroland.html

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Last chance for Euroland

Interesting time for Europe, the summit this weekend will determine the future of the Federation. If the Franco German alliance wins the argument then the Euro will be supported and the member states will move closer to fiscal integration meaning that decisions about the economy will be made centrally.

I am sure that Britain has no choice other than to continue a close association with Federal Europe as it is a huge market. Britain will obviously not want fiscal integration and will therefore select to remain outside the close circle of those who may chose to go for it choosing instead to remain closer to the USA and use Europe for commercial interests only.

I think the current crisis is an opportunity to sort out the direction of this vast organisation and it will be a make or break point.


http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/greece-do-they-get-bail-out-money.html

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/greece-economic-mess.html

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/euro-zone-and-fiscal-union.html

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Greece. Do they get the bail out money ( a high interest loan)

I am hoping that the leaders of the not so free world who are meeting in the south of France this weekend whilst the rest of us can't pay our gas bills will dish out more dosh for mother Greece.

Greece deserves more money, as Joanna Lumley discovered, as they were responsible for all good things in the west? If that's the case then more euros should be found to ensure that the destruction that the west had caused on that country in the last century (well some of it anyway) is repaid.

Greece was thrown into the first and second world wars to fight fascism it was then forced to fight a war against Stalin which went on until the early 50s, then they had the military junta imposed on them in 1967 by the CIA, there was no marshal plan given to Greece instead NATO expected the country to be part of the organisation to protect the oil routes from the unstable middle East, never mind the suffering endured by its people who were never allowed to build up their country. Time to pay up. Europe needs Greece and not the other way around.

http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/greece-economic-mess.html

Simon Cowell and X Factor

I know I should have better things to do than worry about how the media is manipulating us but it annoys me greatly when PR strategists play their little plans and see them develop into facts.

PR strategists have a job to do but they should not assume that we are all idiots and that we don't know what they are up to.

It is now pretty obvious that Simon Cowell who has a degree in looking at acts and eating cream cakes, would have known that viewing figures would go down following his apparent withdrawal from X factor, the changes in the format make it natural that the number of people watching will go down.

We would then all think that the figures have gone down because he and that great soprano of all times, Cheryl Cole, are no longer involved. The media then stirs it all up by having us believe that the return of Simon etc would make it all good again. Cut a short story long Simon comes back figures go up and his head gets even bigger.. Cheryl Cole makes a surprise return she sings ' i don't want a pair of shoes..' we all think she is as good as Maria Callas or Kiri De Kanot do and all is well. More dosh for her and Simon to eat even more cream cakes.

Does anyone in the media really think the great British public will buy this??

Bring back Wagner and give him the title I say!! Or get Jon of the Rogers to go on x factor and sing doing the Lambeth walk..


http://lawatwork.blogspot.com/2011/10/simon-cowell-and-x-factor-2011.html

Friday, 21 October 2011

Pensions calculator

It is important for those having any doubts about which way to vote in the national ballot on pensions that they get the right information. The attached link shows you how to calculate possible loses if the measures are imposed.

http://pensionsjustice.org.uk/pensions-changes-calculator/

Vote Yes in the ballot

Inaccurate information and misleading statements about the local government pension scheme are rife in the media and are being encouraged by politicians. Unison has a guide highlighting the most prevalent and erroneous of these myths and sets the realities of the LGPS to find out more go on the Unioson.org.uk website there is plenty of info there.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Go compare government

There is no question as to whether the coalition government is in touch with us or with reality. It is all getting rather ridiculous when Cameron in his 'infinite' wisdom proposes that people facing poverty because of his governments inability to manage the economy should go on go compare type of websites to find better deals for their energy supliers? He has obviously lost the plot or worst still he lives in a world of his own with other range rover owners in Kensington?? How the hell can someone in such a senior position have been elected to hold such a high office? How would my 80 year old neighbour who doesn't even know what the Internet is get a better deal on go compare?

Perhaps Cameron and the others should concentrate on stopping energy companies making huge profits in times of recession? Or has he no influence at all? What a mess we are in! Get rid of them all!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Greece. An economic mess

The Greek economy and society as a whole is facing a major crisis. The capitalist system which is based on the need to develop, expand then destruct so that more capital is released to pay for those in power works in cycles.

I am not blaming other countries exclusively for the mess that Greece is in right now but the leaders of the Franco German alliance in 2000 knew very well that the Greek economy was not ready for the Euro yet they insisted (in a hurry to support the then PM Costas Simitis) that Greece should join the Euro zone.

There were no real or hard checks made to ensure that what Greek government officials were stating and the returns they were sending Brussels were correctly prepared and audited, as a result Greece entered the Euro zone in a hurry and at a stage where the economy wasn't ready and there was not, in real terms, real convergence prior to entry!

Foreign banks had no problem lending billions to a Euro zone state which in turn encouraged successive government eager to please the electorate, to borrow more and more.

So we now have a situation where the Greek population is being punished for huge government mistakes. 30% of all public sector workers have or will be fired and even pensions have been reduced by 20% vat and other taxes have been increased and there is more to come. There has been one strike after another as the population and the unions there refuse to be punished any further. The austerity measures are imposed to ensure that the banks get paid at some stage in the future but that is at the expense of major poverty for the Greek workers.

The summit this weekend will determine whether Greece will default in which case all hell will break lose or whether the country will continue punishing the people with more austerity measures. If Greece defaults then other countries might do the same and then more banks will collapse...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ken Livingstone

I was glad to see Ken Livingstone and his PR team (we call it election team) get out and about in London yesterday. I think that Ken is caught between two difficult positions. On the one hand he knows that if he looked and sounded a little more independent he would win broader support on the other I am sure he understands that being seen with someone as unpopular as Ed Balls is not going to do him many favours. I do, however, understand that on balance he needs to be seen to be in with the Labour party 'elite'.. just don't over do it Ken! We want you to win!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Simon Cowell and X Factor 2011

Apparently we all believe in father Xmas and think Snow white was a communist. That's what the media seem to think of the general public.

And what may you say is the connection with that statement and Simon Cowell? Well apparently we don't know that its all a PR fix and the reason Cowell left the show to the new judges is so that he could return back in triumph once the number of viewers fell. The PR coup would then have us feeling that he is so good and that the show can't survive without his expert input? And of course the next step will be the re introduction of that magnificent opera singer and great soprano ( not..) Cheryl Cole, and then all will be well and the viewing figures will go up again as they will because the media will make sure the 'return' of Simon is totally sensationalised!

Don't they know that the number of those watching has gone down because people are bored with the same old? Plus many people now do not watch on the same night but catch up, like what I do, on i player which is not recorded as having watched the 'programme' ?

TUC document. Open Public Services White Paper - TUC Response

This paper provides a detailed, evidence based analysis of the proposals set out in the white paper and sets out the TUC's approach to public service reform. The TUC has serious concerns about the direction of Government policy on public service reform and the paper makes this case with reference to a wide range of sectors and sources.
http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-20175-f0.cfm

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Unions call on Standard Chartered UK to resolve long running dispute in South Korea

Korean, UK and global unions yesterday delivered a letter calling on Standard Chartered UK to resolve the month-long strike at its Korean subsidiary – the longest in the history of the Korean banking industry.

http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19859-f0.cfm

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Lambeth Unison RM's AGM

Great to see so many people attend the Lambeth Unison Retired Members AGM the meeting was vibrant and interesting with some new people turning up for the first time and many of those who have been members attending as well. The RM's division received reports and elected officers in line with policy and procedure.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Joanna Lumley Greek Odyssey



Excellent first episode by Joanna Lumley who makes a great ambassador for modern Greece (and lets face it we need one right now). The documentary started by showing us remote and not that unknown places and avoided concentrating on stereotype versions of tourist areas.

Choosing the remote part of the Peloponnese (Mani) was a great choice. Just wonder whether the average viewer who only knows Greece through the eyes of Tulisa Contostavlos and George Michael will appreciate what Delphi has to offer? There is of course Peter Andre or Pete Sampras to chose from so whether sticking Nana Mouskouri in the middle of Epidavros was a good idea remains to be seen.

Great start to what promises to be an interesting documentary.

Steps getting back together

Good news for a change, the popular pop group Steps that was disbanded 10 years ago is being put back together again. Good to see something positive happening in the middle of doom and gloom.

Pension studies, Lambeth Unison

PENSION CASE STUDIES

Whilst the fight to defend our pensions is about much more than just the impact upon each of us as individuals, many members are asking what the individual impact will be.

Here are some worked examples of the impact of the Government's two proposed options for the immediate future of the Local Government Pension Scheme. These come with no particular warranty and are just our best attempt to illustrate what all the percentages and "accrual rates" mean in practice. These examples take no account of the detrimental impact on all our pensions of the change in uprating pensions in payment from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is estimated to have reduced the lifetime value of pensions for those who have not yet retired by between 15% and 20%. These calculations also do not take account of any of the possible changes that may be proposed in the negotiations which have not yet begun about implementing the recommendations of Lord Hutton (except that they do anticipate that the pension age in the LGPS will rise in line with the state pension age as the Government clearly intend). Otherwise, what follows is based simply upon a comparison of the Government's options one and two with the current (2008) Local Government Pension Scheme.

Because these examples are for Lambeth they are based upon the Inner London Pay Spine.

CASE STUDY ONE – THE FORTYSOMETHING SPECIALIST

Ed is 47 years old with 28 years service and is at the top of PO2. Under the current scheme he could expect to retire on an unreduced pension in eighteen years at the age of 65. Based on today’s salary for that grade his pension at the age of 65 would be around £23,200 on the basis of the current scheme. He currently pays 6.8% of salary in employee pension contributions (£198.65 a month before tax).

In Option One, his pension contributions will rise to £219.09 in 2012/13; £242.46 in 2013/14 and £254.15 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving him more than £55 a month worse off before tax.

His retirement age will move to 66, and after working for one additional year to get an unreduced pension that pension would be around £23,050. If he chose to leave at 65 his pension of £22,510 would be actuarially reduced to an estimated £21,160 – a cut in pension of over £2,000 a year for life.

In Option Two, his pension contributions will rise to £207.41 in 2012/13; £227.86 in 2013/14 and £239.54 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving him more than £40 a month worse off before tax.

His retirement age will move to 66, and after working for one additional year to get an unreduced pension that pension would be around £22,750. If he chose to leave at 65 his pension of £22,230 would be actuarially reduced to an estimated £20,900 – a cut in pension of more than £2,300 a year for life.

CASE STUDY TWO – THE TWENTYSOMETHING ADMINISTRATOR

Rachel is 26 years old with 2 years service and is at the top of Scale 5. Under the current scheme she could expect to retire on an unreduced pension in 39 years at the age of 65. Based on today’s salary for that grade her pension at the age of 65 would be around £17,000. She currently pays 6.5% of salary in employee pension contributions (£134.44 a month before tax).

In Option One, her pension contributions will rise to £148.91 in 2012/13; £165.46 in 2013/14 and £171.66 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving her £37 a month worse off before tax.

Her retirement age will move to 68, and after working three additional years to get an unreduced pension that pension would be around £15,790. If she chose to leave at 65 her pension of £14,640 would be actuarially reduced to an estimated £12,450 – a cut in pension of more than £4,500 a year for life.

In Option Two, her pension contributions will rise to £140.64 in 2012/13; £148.91 in 2013/14 and £155.12 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving her more than £20 a month worse off before tax.

Her retirement age will move to 68, and after working three additional years to get an unreduced pension that pension would be around £15,400. If she chose to leave at 65 her pension of £14,290 would be actuarially reduced to an estimated £12,150 – a cut in pension of more than £4,800 a year for life.

CASE STUDY THREE – THE FIFTYSOMETHING PROFESSIONAL

Jane is 55 years old with 33 years service and is at the top of PO1. Under the current scheme she could expect to retire on an unreduced pension in ten years time at the age of 65. Based on today’s salary for that grade her pension at the age of 65 would be £19,700. She currently pays 6.8% of salary in employee pension contributions (£188.73 a month before tax).

In Option One, her pension contributions will rise to £208.16 in 2012/13; £230.37 in 2013/14 and £241.47 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving her £52 a month worse off before tax.

Her pension age will remain at 65. Her pension will be around £19,330 – a pension cut of £370 a year for life.

In Option Two, her pension contributions will rise to £197.06 in 2012/13; £216.49 in 2013/14 and £227.59 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving her £39 a month worse off before tax.

Her pension age will remain at 65. Her pension will be around £19,250 – a pension cut of £450 a year for life.

CASE STUDY FOUR – THE THIRTYSOMETHING MANAGER

Dave is 35 years old with ten years service and is at the top of PO3. Under the current scheme he could expect to retire on an unreduced pension in thirty years time at the age of 65. Based on today’s salary for that grade his pension at the age of 65 would be around £24,130. He currently pays 6.8% of salary in employee pension contributions (£214.49 a month before tax).

In Option One, his pension contributions will rise to £236.57 in 2012/13; £261.80 in 2013/14 and £274.42 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving him almost £60 a month worse off before tax.

His retirement age will move to 67, and after working two additional years to get an unreduced pension that pension would be around £22,730. If he chose to leave at 65 his pension of £21,570 would be actuarially reduced to an estimated £19,190 ­– a cut in pension of more than £4,900 a year for life.

In Option Two, his pension contributions will rise to £223.95 in 2012/13; £246.03 in 2013/14 and £258.65 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving him £44 a month worse off before tax.

His retirement age will move to 67, and after working two additional years to get an unreduced pension that pension would be around £22,280. If he chose to leave at 65 his pension of £21,150 would be actuarially reduced to an estimated £18,830 – a cut in pension of more than £5,300 a year for life.

CASE STUDY FIVE – THE FIFTY YEAR OLD CUSTOMER SERVICES ASSISTANT

Sarah is 50 years old with thirty years service and is on the top of Scale 3. Under the current scheme she could expect to retire on an unreduced pension in fifteen years time at the age of 65. Based on today’s salary for that grade her pension at the age of 65 would be around £12,830. She currently pays 6.5% of salary in employee pension contributions (£109.02 a month before tax).

In Option One, her pension contributions will rise to £112.38 in 2012/13; £120.76 in 2013/14 and £129.15 from 2014/15 onwards, leaving her £20 a month worse off before tax.

Her retirement age will move to 66, and after working one additional year to get an unreduced pension that pension would be around £12,780. If she chose to leave at 65 her pension of £12,470 would be actuarially reduced to an estimated £11,850 – a cut in pension of £980 a year for life.

In Option Two her pension contributions will rise to £114.05 from 2013/14 onwards, leaving her £5 a month worse off before tax.

Her retirement age will move to 66, and after working one additional year to get an unreduced pension that pension would be around £12,680. If she chose to leave at 65 her pension of £12,370 would be actuarially reduced to an estimated £11,750 – a cut in pension of £1,080 a year for life.

If you have suggestions for further case studies please comment - or contact the pensions penguin at askthelambethpenguin@yahoo.co.uk.

And don't forget to vote "YES"!

--
Posted By Blogger to Lambeth UNISON News on 10/13/2011

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Jon's letter in the Guardian

A hat tip to the hat tip man Jon of the Rogers for getting his splendid letter printed in the Guardian newspaper, he is a worthy TU Leader.. well done Jon!

Here's his letter..

Thank you for reporting that nine out of 10 City bankers expect a bonus this year (Bankers' bonus expectations undented by crisis, 11 October). This sets an interesting example to us public servants who – unlike the bankers – are obviously deemed responsible for the financial crisis, since we have to make do with a pay freeze and now a raid by the Treasury on the cash in our pension funds.

Unlike a banker's bonus, my pension represents decades of my own saving for retirement as part of a scheme that is secure, affordable and financially viable. Yet, if the government has its way, I shall have to pay more and wait longer to receive less when I retire to help deal with a deficit caused by those still salivating in anticipation of unearned bonuses. Thankfully you also report that there is something I can do about this, by voting for industrial action to protect public service pensions (Unison ballots 1m workers on strike action, 11 October).
Jon Rogers
Branch secretary, Lambeth Unison

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/oct/11/bankers-bonuses-public-service-pensions

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Slovakia says no...

Well the inevitable has happened and the last member state of Euroland has voted no to the EU fund bailout meaning that the measures proposed by France and Germany cannot be put in place.

This could mean that countries like Greece and later on Portugal, Ireland and Spain may default on their debt which will in turn lead to a collapse of the Euro and a deeper recession than the one we have right now. The proposal is being taken back to the Slovakian Parliament end of the week so that they can have another go. The signs are all there the system is obviously not working and something better needs to be put in place.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Time for action

Encouraged to read the statement from General Secretary Dave Prentis about the action organised by Unison and other unions.

The 30 of November should be a major day and the action taken should send a clear message to the government. Saying that I would like to see more branches making preparations locally for local action. I know Lambeth Unison have done well on this and activists there are putting a lot of effort into ensuring that the 30 of November doesn't end there, but more branches should do more and coordinating the approach with other unions will be a very wise thing to do otherwise we will end up with a situation similar to the one we had on the 30 June where it was only the NUT that did anything??

Monday, 10 October 2011

X Factor 2011

It is inevitable and the direct consequence of natural progression that X Factor in its new format would lose viewing figures. The number of those watching the 'show' has fallen by one million in accordance with some reports in the press. I think the introduction of i player and the ability for people (like myself) to watch an episode on a different day rather than on the night could explain the fall.

But I do not think that the drop in numbers has anything to do with the ability of the new judges to inspire confidence. They are all more qualified than the likes of Simon give me more money Callow and Cheryl I can't sing Cole. So that isn't the reason. The acts are also fairly okish so that isn't the reason either. I think that people are bored with the concept and they have found better things to do on a Saturday night? But don't blame Gary Barlow or Tulisa for the fall. Its all a game so that Simon I want more money makes a sudden entry later on to show how brilliant he is... call me a cynic but that's what I think!

The truth about Britain and the EU

It is a well known secret that Britain was never in favor of a United Europe and they thought that the idea would collapse soon after the treaty of Rome in 1956. In fact Britain did not want to join the EEC until they realised that they were losing out, so it was Edward Heath that more or less forced the UK to join and we all know that De Gaul was totally against the idea.

Britain's foreign policy then changed in some respects with different governments wanting more influence over what Europe said and did. The US wants the UK to be there to keep an eye on the Europeans...

The EU is essentially a Franco German initiative and it has attracted medium size states who feared constant conflict and invasion so the way mainland Europeans think about the Euro project is very different from how the Brits see the concept.

Then we had Tony Blair's 'clever idea' to enlarge the EU primarily because he knew that by expanding it so much it would make the whole thing less effective.

Britain is caught between two major strands of thought. The first one supports the idea that the UK is better off staying under the influence of the USA (Hence the strange relationship between Bush and Blair or Thatcher and Regan) the other strand knows and understands that a United Europe is an inevitable consequence of development and progression. The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a clear policy on this.

It will be difficult to see Britain surviving in a world where the major powers are being replaced by China, Russia, India and Brazil. The US monopoly of international control is coming to a close end. It makes sense for a strong and unified Europe to stand together despite the current economic difficulties. Britain's traditional foreign policy of sitting on the fence and being able to divide and rule is now too obvious and as a consequence less effective.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Question on TU facilities, statement by D Prentis

The right wing press has been at it again attacking TU facility time. Here is a statement from General Secretary Dave Prentis on the subject which I have reproduced below:

"Attacking trade union facility time is just plain daft. Far from costing taxpayers money trade unions save the public purse between £170m and £400m every year by creating a more efficient, motivated workforce, and resolving issues. A government report estimates they also boost productivity by nearly £4 billion a year. Public sector union reps also contribute up to 100,000 hours unpaid hours every week. With huge cuts, sell offs and service reorganisations hitting our public sector, workers and employers need unions more now than ever before."

Greek debt crisis

A lot has been said about how incompetent the Greeks have been with handling their financial affairs. But many have forgotten that Greece was virtually destroyed by the Italian and German invasions during the second world war and the country was then thrown into a more destructive civil war immediately after that when Stalin and Churchill fought over which sphere of influence Greece should come under. As a result Greece had to face another devastating conflict which lasted an additional 5 years.

The West insisted that Greece should not go communist and as a result the civil war was followed by a succession of military coups instigated by the CIA after that. The country had very little chance to develop and there was no marshal plan to support any re building programme.

The Greek press have been covering this issue widely lately correctly stating that the amount that was given to Germany after the last war was 20 times higher then the loans given today by the EU. I am aware that the Greeks must do better but to simply blame the country without looking at the problem within a historical context is not right and it is ignorant. The Greek people have been the victims of manipulation by foreign powers since independence in 1827. So if anyone wants to know why what is happening today looks so bad they had better go and read their history, a history of interference and manipulation by the super powers.

There is also a lot of bad press and a popular story is to do with tax evasion by Greeks, I think there is some truth in this but if anyone wants to look at the history of tax evasion they should not go further away than the shores of Britain where millioners who use the country to create wealth conveniently live in tax free countries to avoid paying tax? Now who is taking the piss?

Euro zone and Fiscal Union

It is inevitable and in some quarters diserable that the 17 states within the Euro zone would move to fiscal union. It will mean that all matters to do with budgets, raising revenue and spending it will be done centrally. This will of course accelerate the real objective of the EU and it will create a real Federal Europe with countries like Britain having a customs relationship with federal Europe. I am hopeful that a United Socialist Europe will be a positive influence in the world.

I said it before and I will repeat this again I have always been in favor of a united Europe and have explained the reasons why. Many on the continent are more concerned about security issues and avoiding conflict and that was indeed the real reason behind starting project Europe in 1956 (Treaty of Rome 25 March 56) Britain is of course in a different place and will always be. I think its all to do with mentality and those who live in Europe will always remember the huge destruction created by the two world wars in the last century. Conflict between states is still happening today and a United Europe will have some control over this.


I know and understand that Britain is more comfortable under the shadow of the US ( a diminishing world power) and that is again part to do with the special relationship between the two countries but those who live in states like France Germany Belgium, Greece Italy would tell you that the fear of invasion is part of their phychology. That is why European Union on the continent is the ultimate goal for these countries. The current economic problems and the Euro zone crisis are just temporary.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

DCLG pensions' proposals - UNISON response

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, said today that the Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG) proposals for local government pensions would hit the predominantly low paid, women workforce in local government, hard.

Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government, said:

“These proposals would hit low paid women in local government hard – they make up the vast majority of local government workers. Their pensions are already low – average rates are £4,000 for men, dropping to just £2,600 or £50 a week for women. Changes to the accrual rates would bring down the value of their pensions even further.

“We have said from the start that these drastic changes to the local government pension scheme are not necessary – it is cash rich and financially sound. The reforms already made in the last set of negotiations have made it affordable and sustainable for the long term.”

Key facts about the local government scheme

The local government scheme could fund all its liabilities for twenty years without a single penny more in contributions.

It has funds worth £140 billion – equivalent to 12% of UK GDP, making it one of the biggest institutional investors in the world.

Tension in the near East

There is a lot going wrong in the volatile near East with both Greece and Turkey increasing the number of patrols in the Aegean sea. Both countries are members of NATO but that has not stopped them from getting near confrontation point. There is a long dispute around the question of oil exploration in the Aegean sea and whilst the occupation of Cyprus continues the risk remains high.

TUC H&S Newsletter

Health and safety newsletter 8 October 2011

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-20137-f0.cfm

Friday, 7 October 2011

One union for all

I am coming back to an idea that some had a few years ago supporting the need for a single union for each sector, so you would, for example have one union representing workers in the public sector and not the current 5 or 6 we have.

The benefit for having this will allow for better organisation and a more coordinated approach. This is a debate we need to have fast as our numbers are dwindling. I am aware of the argument against having monopolies and freedom of choice but we are under constant attack and we need to group to strengthen our position having so many different unions doing the same job doesn't make sense. Free market forces will not sort our problems out!

Did Cameron need a barber?

According to the Independent newspaper Brendon Barber, TUC Secretary, went off to Tory land for secret talks during the Tory conference to meet Cameron he was apparently there to discuss a way out of strike action.

Now am not against any of our great leaders having talks and I am not against anyone trying to find a way to resolve a dispute but at least we should know about it and have some input in whether the idea is a good one or not. Never trust a Tory is my moto so I am amazed that the barber of the TUC would have taken such a risky step.

At the end of the day Unison is an independent trades union and our own General Secretary is preparing us for Industrial action something that conference made a decision on, that is the avenue we want to follow unless the government come to their senses and have real negotiations with those representing us. Until then the Tories must not be trusted as they have no intention of being helpful.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/union-bosss-private-talks-with-ministers-to-avert-mass-strikes-2366148.html

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Single sector Unions

The debate as to whether we are doing ourselves a favor by not achieving real unity at the time when our numbers are dwindling needs to start again. I strongly believe that having a number of unions within the same sector weakens our strength and diminishes our ability to coordinate effectively.

I am an advocate of having one single union for public sector workers and if this means that Unison merges with some parts of the GMB and Unite then so be it. On a practical level we are now faced with holding 3 different ballots (if not more) that may produce different results? This is not healthy we need to act decisively.

The PM's speech

Good that the press managed to get hold of Cameron's original speech before William where am I during the riots Hague changed it.

In the original he is telling us to pay off our credit cards, this of course shows how much he really is in touch with ordinary people, people who have to make drastic cuts in their own personal budgets to ensure that they have enough to pay the rent and feed themselves and their families. In Cameron's la la land world of range rovers and privilege they have enough money not to need credit cards never mind paying them off!

His speech was a work of fiction and on balance he won the acting competition between the 3 main leaders. But the electorate is not stupid and they will know an actor when they see one...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Greek economy

The drastic measures imposed on the people of Greece by the PASOK Socialist government and the EU Troika mean that more than 30,000 public sector workers will lose their jobs.

In addition the government may not be able to pay out salaries and pensions by the end of October if the 6th instalment of the loans isn't paid out by the EU. There are confusing messages coming out from Athens. The Finance Minister E Venizelos insists that there is no prospect of a Greek default or Greece leaving the Euro zone, on the other hand certain sections of the Greek press are discussing partial default.

Lambeth branch meeting a big success

Reports coming back from Lambeth Unison would indicate that the branch meeting that was held yesterday to inform members of the importance of a yes vote in the forthcoming ballot was a tremendous success. This shows, once again, how united activists can mobilise and motivate members to take action.

All motions in support of the strategy outlined by the branch were successfully passed unanimously. The meeting was also one of the best attended in the last 10 years.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Lambeth Unison branch meeting today

The branch has been actively encouraging members to attend the special branch meeting which will be taking place at 12.30 today. Members will be informed of developments with regards to the pensions dispute and will be asked to vote yes in the ballot for strike action. Its all systems go in Lambeth Unison! Make sure you attend, this is an important one.

All about Ken

I am supporting Ken Livingstone for the position of Mayor for London he has much more to offer than Boris. Saying that I am concerned to see that Ken and his team are slowly but progressively allowing BJ's (sounds dirty?) PR machine to push our Ken out of the way. Team Boris do not lose an opportunity for him to be on telly surrounded with positive images and stories.

Ken needs to do something quick as May 2012 is just around the corner? His last appearance on national television was during the Labour party conference when he went on and on about how good Ed Miliband is, well I am afraid that kind of talk is a no no, Ed is unfortunately as popular as a bad cold in the middle of July! Stop going on about Ed our Ken and concentrate on winning you can dish out the standard eulogy after you win the election!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Osborn warns the Unions..

The Chancellor did not hesitate to warn the unions over their intention to take strike action and attacked public sector workers, who do not get the bonuses and gifts his mates in the City get, for having an already generous pension scheme.

He ignores the fact that many who have worked in the public sector were sold a pension scheme which they have been paying into for many years on the basis that they would get the benefits as these were described when they agreed to join. This warning will make the unions more determined to take action and it is designed to provoke!

Osborn to freeze Council Tax

In another move to please Tory voters George Osborn is to freeze the level of Council Tax. This will inevitably mean that more jobs and services in the public sector and specifically local government will go. Well we don't expect less from a Tory Chancellor!

Unfair Dismisal chages in the qualifying period

Tory Chancellor Osborn has just announced that the qualifying period for Unfair Dismissal to Tribunal will now be moved from one year to two. This, in his opinion, will give 'small business' more flexibility. In other words it will allow for more victimisation of vulnerable workers.

In addition those who take a claim to the Tribunal would have to pay a fee in advance which they will get back if or when they win. These drastic changes will put those who are in a weak position in a worst place.

My advice is for anyone who feels victimised to look whether their claim is covered by any of the Discrimination laws and regulations. The qualifying period for that is one day!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

X Factor and the motivation behind it

The thousands of those of you who never read my blog would know that I can never be accused of being a spoilt sport saying that I have observed that the majority of participants in the X Factor (around 61.9 %) when asked would say that the reason they want to do it and win is because they fancy having a nice big villa like the one Simon C has or want to be as successful as Wagner on a Friday night. My vote will go to the one who would say that they want to win it because they are passionate about singing.

Are we turning people into total materialists and destroying our culture? Is shallow land taking over..

The BBC and BC AD why not AJP?

Was out with friends last night and thought why doesn't the BBC do something constructive with our money and instead of replacing BC and AD with some other none sense they use a today and relevant catch abbreviation? So we thought AJP After John Prescott would be more of a real time and satisfactory term to use. After all he is now a Lord whereas when he started off he has something different? Just a thought..

Saturday, 1 October 2011

X Factor in the Aegean

Good to see that Tulisa Contostavlos is taking the groups from X Factor to Mykonos this evening, it will be great to see some beautiful scenery, the Aegean is always fantastic with its deep blue sea and clear blue sky. Greece has been getting some bad publicity lately so it will be nice to see the other side of things.

Ed Miliband and Ken Livingstone

It looks like Ken Livingstone is getting milder as he gets older. He was very soft on Ed Miliband this morning on his LBC programme with David Mellor (another great socialist..) it would appear that Ken knows not to get too controversial with the new leader in the hope that he will get something out of him when he becomes Mayor of London next year. Where has the rebel gone then?