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Friday, 31 August 2012

TUC Conference season

The TUC will be holding a number of seminars and conferences during the autumn.


On 18 September the TUC will be holding a seminar exploring the changing relationship between women, the labour market and the welfare system. To register, go to: www.womenbenefits.eventbrite.com

Thursday, 30 August 2012

C4 On the Paralympics ceremony



An absolutely great opening ceremony for the 2012 London Paralympics spoilt only by the incompetent handling of the event by the C4 director who kept cutting the show for frequent adverts.

At one stage C4 chose to cut the Greek delegation and move to adverts. The country that invented the games was pushed out for commercial purposes. The question must be why wasn't the BBC given the job? This is not the USA!!

Good luck to all the athletes taking part.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Asbestos fund needs to go further

The Government is to make compensation claims easier for the thousands of people who have mesothelioma - as a result of asbestos exposure at work - but have until now been unable to claim because their employer no longer exists.


However, unions fear the new scheme falls 'well short' of what ministers had proposed a few years ago and will provide no help to workers who develop other cancers or life-threatening diseases and who still have no means of claiming compensation.

Full TUC response @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-21271-f0.cfm

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Priced out of justice

July's announcement of the scale of fees that the Government is to introduce for employment tribunals received a highly critical response from the TUC, which said that these would deter many workers, especially those on low wages, from taking valid claims to court and warned that rogue bosses would flout the law without fear of sanction.


Further reaction @

http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-21213-f0.cfm

Monday, 27 August 2012

How real is the current financial crisis?

Well its very real and nasty and has affected many people if not all. But I won't bore everyone by dishing out the usual stuff about the capitalist system, it won't help. We have what we have and until the general population finds the right leaders to motivate them towards the revolution we will be stuck with what is an unfair and unequal system that is sellf destructive.

I would say that there has never been a time when the world did not have some form of a financial problem. We just have periods where everyone forgets there is one. We have called these periodic stages when the accountants wake up and realise there is a problem a recession, a depression or a double deep recession. The terms don't matter that much what is important is that ordinary people are destroyed by the whim of a mad system.

The one truth is that we could never repay the collective debt of any states so why do we keep worrying about it? Why not make a new start and say that from Tuesday afternoon, and am sure there will be those who will go into opposition and would want the day to be Wednesday,  wipe out all debts and make a fresh start? No? Well.. what else can we do?

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Harry and his ginger bush..

There are enough serious incidents in the world to concern those of us with more than two brain cells available for use not to give a fig as to whether the Queens grandson, Harry, is parading his ginger bush around.

I am not too keen on having an unequal society to be honest and do not recognise titles as they are the symbol of inequality but what Harry and his mates do in their own private time is no business of anyone else? The entire incident shows us how the media can manipulate the unsuspecting population. Are we all so bored as to want to know what this below average looking guy gets up to?? Put him in a flat in a high rise block in Peckham and make him do some voluntary work I say.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Its not just about the euro...

Speculation has been around for months now as to whether Greece and then possibly Portugal would be forced to leave the euro.

But looking at the impact the economic crisis is having on the euro zone on its own is too simplistic. Its not just about the economics of the currency related issues that are of concern.

The real problem with a country with a significant geo strategic position like Greece would be the impact an exit from the euro would have on the stability of the region and the subsequent consequences.

Would, for example, a new crisis allow for a government of the extreme left and would that then lead to more anti Western adventures? A Syriza government will definitely challenge NATO and the EU so Merkel and co will have allowed their man on the ground, Samaras, to depart and replace him with the hostile Alexis Tsipras. I don't think the Germans will take that risk and big daddy in Washington will not be happy at all. So I can't see a Greek exit from the euro and if this was to happen then Italy will be next and not Portugal or Spain. That would be the final nail to the euro coffin..

Friday, 24 August 2012

Prince Lorenzo??

Moving on to another matter that concerns those of us with spare time and on the subject of celebrity big brother there is another guy in there who calls himself Prince Lorenzo. Now he is meant to be a Prince from Italy which is strange as Itaky is a proud Republic with no Princes or Queens. So God knows why the hel someone is allowed to call himself a Prince? I though they needed a kingdom to induldge their out of date fantacies??

The occassional table, celebrity Big brother 2012

Nothing is more witty and amusing than eccentric English sense of humour and no one is better at it than Julian Clary. He is in the celebrity big brother household with a few other people including Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch) Martin Kemp and Heahter from East Enders. The rest of the wannabes just happen to be there.

Anyway there is some guy in there from the USA who calls himself 'the situation' (no idea why) this man is as exciting and interesting as a bag of chips left on Jenny Jone's driveway on a wet Tuesday afternoon.

Julian is of course not at all amused nor can understand why this person calls himself 'the situation' so he is very cleverly referring to him as 'the occassional table' I am hoping this will stick from now on although thinking about it the description does not do justice to tables all over the world. Tables have, after all, some use?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Why is Greece going to get an extension?

Greek Prime Minister Antonios Samaras has been called to Berlin where he will be meeting the German Chancellor tomorrow and then the French President on Saturday. He will be asking for a two year extension which will allow the country to sort out internal problems and meet its 'commitments' re the bailout.

There has been speculation in the press about whether there is any truth in the hard line taken by the Germans and of course its all for show. It is obvious that if Samaras does not get his extension he will lose control of the fragile coalition he has put together in Athens and the mad Syriza party will have a chance of taking over. This will create a major problem for the EU and will definitely lead to instability so it is most unlikely that the Greeks will not get the extension they are looking for! Antonios Samaras is after all the German Governor of Greece and the Germans will not want to see him go??

Crucial meetings for the German Democratic Republic of Greece

PM of Greece Antonios Samaras will be meeting Angela Merkel tomorrow in Berlin and the French President the day after. Samaras is now asking for an extension by two years instead of more money. This will allow the German Democratic Republic of Greece more time to implement systems in place (systems that should have existed tears ago) to collect more revenue.

It appears that whilst the German Chancellor has in the past made statements showing how tough she can be she is privately happy that there is a true Tory running the country and would not wish to mess his chances of continuing doing the EU's job for them. So according to the German press it is more than likely that the extension of another two years will be granted.

The Greek press reports that if Greece would leave the Euro unemployment will increase to 40 % instead of the current 25% and it will mean a real catastrophe for the country. In the mean time the EU representative currently in Athens has refused a request to meet with the Syriza leader Tsipras who wanted to have talks with him.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Greek debt problem

Many in Greece are now saying that the so called deficit that represents around 130% of GDP is a simple matter for accountants to sort out and that its all about creative or in this case negative accountancy practises. This is of course not true. Almost every member state of the Euro zone apart from Germany, Holland and Finland have huge deficits.

The reality is that a state the size of Greece, Portugal or Ireland need to borrow to finance public services, so there are no easy solutions. The long term way to deal with the problem is for countries like Germany and France to redirect some of the industries they have to these countries and invest in their growth. That way the gap will get smaller and loans will be paid back. Making sure that Greece or Portugal go bankrupt will not in any way help the northern states! On the contrary it will give them bigger headaches!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

What must Unions do?

Membership figures for TUs in Britain are going down all the time. This is expected during a recession since there are many jobs going in the public sector. Unions are under pressure from many fronts and front line activists are struggling to defend what they have.

But we need to have a strategy that helps us manage our affairs better and attract more members. Increasing membership is perhaps the highest priority. To do this we need to clear our image and ensure that the general public and potential members do not associate unions with the bastions of left wing revolution they think we are. It will also hep if we had single sector unions. A wider and more mature debate needs to take place soon before its too late.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bosses play pass the pension charges

The TUC has called on the Government to ban employers from passing on to staff the costs of taking advice from consultants on the implementation of their new legal duty to enrol workers in a pension scheme.

The largest employers need to start enrolling staff from this autumn, with other employers following in a phased programme finishing with the smallest employers in 2016. Many employers are seeking help from outside consultants to ensure that they are meeting their new pension duties.
Further details @
http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-21281-f0.cfm

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Young people not sharing in jobs growth - TUC

Last month's unemployment figures were described as 'excellent news' by the TUC, but there was alarm that young people were not sharing in the 'welcome' jobs growth and long term unemployment was still rising.

On the positive side, the TUC said that people would be relieved to see unemployment falling sharply, redundancies decreasing, vacancies going up and full-time jobs making up three quarters of recent employment growth.
On the negative side, however, long-term youth joblessness was up by 18,000 on the quarter to reach 421,000. The TUC said that the Government had to prioritise tackling youth unemployment before any more careers were wrecked before they got off the ground.
Full TUC response @
http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-21233-f0.cfm

Saturday, 18 August 2012

LGPS Ballot. Dishonesty of simple tactics?

I am not at all amazed by those few who have been campaigning for a No vote during the ballot on the LGPS scheme. They have continued going on about rejecting a proposal that we could not defeat because we are not organised enough to mount a decisive campaign against the government. They know that marching down London twice a year will not bring the Con Libs down and the 'deal' will be imposed.

So if they know members will be voting to accept the new scheme why campaign with such vigour to get people to say no? Some would say that this is a traditional method used by the hard or the left of the left groups in Britain who know the end result but want to protect their credentials amongst each other. They would be better off putting more effort into organising their local branches and increasing membership that way they will have a real lever to use when it comes to a fight? Some branches have around 20 to 30% membership of the workplace. Why not put effort into changing that?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Animal cruelty

Right now, across Europe millions of pregnant sows are suffering in silence. They are forced to spend nearly their entire lives in cramped, barren metal cages that prevent them from carrying out even the most basic natural behaviours such as rooting, foraging and lying down comfortably.

They cannot even turn around
Luckily the European Union has agreed to ban sow stalls (after the first four weeks of pregnancy) from 1st January 2013, greatly improving the quality of life for these intelligent, sentient, sensitive animals.
But there’s a problem -- some EU countries now say they will renege on their promise despite having had 11 years to prepare for the ban!
We cannot allow this vital animal welfare agreement to be ignored! Will you join me by adding your name to this petition urging EU countries to quit stalling on their promise?

Please act now to ensure that the sow stall ban is completely enforced across the EU from January 2013

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Falling inflation not enough - TUC

Inflation figures published last month showing that CPI fell to 2.4 per cent and RPI fell to 2.8 per cent in June were welcomed by the TUC, but with the caveat that these reductions hardly began to address the crisis in living standards in Britain.

While a decline in price pressures would bring welcome relief for many workers, millions were still facing real wage cuts as the longest squeeze in living standards in decades continued. Stronger wage growth and an end to damaging cuts to tax credits were urgently needed.
More on this @
http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-21227-f0.cfm

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Unison LGPS Ballot

Unison members eligible to vote in the LGPS ballot are reminded that the ballot helpline is now open: if you have not received your ballot paper, or need a replacement, call the helpline straight away on 0845 355 0845.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

LGPS Ballot

Most members would have received their ballot papers by now and they are being asked to vote as to whether they accept the changes to the scheme. National position is to recommend a Yes vote. They justify this by explaining that 90% of members will be benefiting or at least not losing out.

There are also a few on the other side of the argument suggesting that a No vote would force the government to do a u turn. This is probably because they feel that there is still a lot to be achieved through taking Industrial Action.

We have, so far, walked through the centre of London once or twice in the last two years to show our displeasure. I think that those who vote No should consider whether Unison nationally are able to organise effective action strong enough to make the government come back with more concessions?

The members will I am sure make the right decision.

Monday, 13 August 2012

London Olympics 2012 the closing ceremony

A major anti climax, that's what most of the world press described the closing ceremony of London Olympics 2012. And I agree with that statement. It was no where as good as the opening event two weeks ago. I don't know what was so different but it did not feel right. Perhaps its because I think Britain has more to do with its real people rather than Kate Moss or the Vivian Westwood designs we were shown.

On the other hand it was great to inject a bit of Life of Brian humour near the end. I would give the closing ceremony 6 out of 10 for effort and the opening one 10 out of 10. Time to return to reality and the real mess the Tories have created with the economy.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

What happens after the Olympics?

Well to start with we will have to be exposed to having to watch career politicians on telly going on about how the success of team GB (as the press calls it) had a lot to do with their input?

We will have more of Miliband and Cameron going on about the meaning of life and the correlation between the planet Zanusi and money supply, so as far as I am cocncerned I would prefer to have more of the Olympics rather than listen to them!!

But it has been a successful two weeks as it brought together young people from all over the world, a new generation that can hopefully learn from the mistakes of the current and ruling class and their huge failures. There is hope for all of us.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

IMF warning - TUC

 

Ahead of the release of the latest growth figures, the TUC said that an IMF country report on the UK offered an 'alarming health check' of the state of the economy. Despite coming from the Chancellor's favourite economic experts, the study made it clear that Plan A was simply not working.
Earlier in July, the IMF's World Economic Outlook - which slashed the growth forecast for the UK to 0.2 per cent for 2012 and 1.4 per cent for 2013 - offered further evidence that austerity measures are failing catastrophically.
More on this story @
http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-21257-f0.cfm

Friday, 10 August 2012

Organising academy

TUC Organising Academy Training Programme 2012/2013
This year's programme focuses on making organising more strategic and improving
communications. Following on from our successful trial last year, we are
continuing to provide a a dedicated award for union support staff that will
enable them to contribute to the organising and campaign work undertaken by
their unions.
http://www.tuc.org.uk/union/tuc-21197-f0.cfm

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Netroots

Hundreds of bloggers, tweeters and online activists met at Congress House at the end of June for the third Netroots UK conference.
The event looked at how to advance progressive causes using digital tools, with a special focus on resisting government NHS reforms. Among the speakers were TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady, Sunny Hundal from Liberal Conspiracy, Raven Brooks from Netroots Nation in the US, disability rights activist Sue Marsh, Clifford Singer from False Economy, and writer Owen Jones.
Find out more @
http://www.tuc.org.uk/social/tuc-21144-f0.cfm
Visit the Netroots website @
www.netrootsuk.org

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

LGPS Ballot 2014, a compromise

 I am not sure that I totally agree with John Gray and Mr Unison Active about the offer on LGPS 2014 and whether it is a good one. It is not a perfect deal and no major victory and it should not be presented as one. It is, however, a compromise.

It is quite clear that given the long period of coordinated inactivity between the different unions in the last 2 years it will be impossible for us to win a big battle if all we can show for is our ability to march down the centre of London once a year. That, I am afraid is not going to bring the government to its knees.

So looking at all the available evidence and the factors that can make or break a victory it would seem sensible to accept that the current offer is the best that Unison can deliver. This is indeed unfortunate but it is real.

The arguments as to whether branches have the right to encourage members to vote in favour or not is also irrelevant as the ordinary member is quite capable of making their mind up without too much interference. The ballot will determine the outcome.

Unions in the Olympic games

Unions are playing an important behind the scenes role in the London Olympics, with 23 officials from the unions with members at the Olympic venues accredited for access to the Park should they be needed to handle disciplinary or grievance issues for their members.

In advance of the Games, Unite, UNISON and GMB, the three unions recruiting amongst the main contractors, agreed which union was to lead on which main contractor and details were put on a special section of the TUC website dedicated to the Olympics.
Performers union Equity also provided support for the many professional performers who took part in the highly acclaimed opening ceremony, as did their fellow entertainment union the MU, though the Musicians Union had a number of issues with Olympic-related events seeking to get professional musicians to perform free of charge - a perennial problem in the industry and one they will raise again at Congress this year.
More on the Olympics @
http://www.tuc.org.uk/union/index.cfm?mins=266&minors=53&majorsubjectid=14

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Build new economy: next general secretary

'We have the best opportunity in a generation to help build a fair, productive and green economy that works for ordinary people,' said Frances O'Grady, the next general secretary of the TUC, in her first comments after being elected to succeed Brendan Barber when he retires at the end of the year.

After receiving nominations from 32 unions representing 96 per cent of total TUC membership, Frances will become general secretary designate at Congress in Brighton in September, working alongside Brendan until the New Year when she becomes general secretary in her own right.
Read profile of Frances @
http://www.tuc.org.uk/the_tuc/tuc-21198-f0.cfm

Monday, 6 August 2012

Olympics 2012. Triumph of diversity

If nothing else critics of the 2012 Olympics should be celebrating the coming together of the world and the show casing of London the most diverse city in the world. A city which is capable of producing winners and world champions that are from different communities and different cultures. Lets celebrate that achievement!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

London Olympics 2012. Celebration of Diversity

British athletes are winning medal after medal and this could perhaps be the most successful Olympics of all times for team GB.

To many of us the 2012 Olympics are about the power and energy released by the diversity of our great city of London and Britain as a whole. It shows the world how modern Britain can produce worthy winners, winners that come from all walks of life and backgrounds.

There is a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm on and off the Olympic park and the games have been managed quite well on the whole. I am still critical of the overt commercialisation that so prominently dominates the site with MacDonalds so called restaurant buildings stuck in the middle of the park but apart from that the games should be celebrated by all of us, even those on the left of the left who appear to remain silent on blogosphere?

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A day at the 2012 London Olympics



Went to the Olympic park yesterday to watch the Spain vs South Africa hockey match. Arrived early and spend the day walking around with friends. The atmosphere was excellent and critics of the games should, if they can, turn up and see what's it all about.

On the other hand I strongly objected to the over commercialisation of the event. I do not accept that McDonald's should have two massive and prominent buildings right in the middle of the park. In addition I do not see why Visa should be allowed to have stands telling the world that the Olympics organisers are proud to have them there? Absolute disgrace and the wrong picture and message to send out to the whole world. Is Britain the land of MacDonalds? I find that wrong.

But apart from that the day was great and the atmosphere fantastic the place to meet people you would never meet before and make new friends.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Drilling in the Arctic

There is a reason that polar bears are the silent spokespeople for stopping climate change. They are the unfortunate result of decades of environmental destruction. And now, drilling in the Arctic threatens them even further.

Enough is enough. It's time to declare the Arctic off-limits to drilling and industrial fishing!

Big oil companies -- who have played a major part in causing climate change -- are now ready to take advantage of the retreating sea ice. They want to start drilling in the Arctic for oil, putting the polar bears' fragile habitat at even greater risk.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

LGPS 2014 Ballot and confusing messages

There are confusing messages being communicated to ordinary members by two different strands on opposite sides of the debate.

Unison, through the anonymous Unison Active blog, is telling members to vote yes and explains why the negotiators have done the best they could under the circumstances. The key to their message is that 90% of members will not see an increase in their contributions and the important point to someone like myself is that any outfit that is transferred out of local government will be protected under the TUPE regulations.
Then there are a number of branches, like Lambeth Unison, with policies that were voted on at branch meetings to reject the deal. Jon Rogers leads the way on this with a number of explanations on his blog about why the deal is a bad one and why massive resistance and strike action can force the government to give in to our demands within 3 weeks.

The most confusing part of this entire affair is whether local branches have the right to ignore national policy which is to support a yes vote? Those supporting the national line are saying that a branch is acting outside the rules by allowing its officers to actively campaign against the proposal supported by the NEC? Is that right?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Your rights at work - TUC

 


The TUC has just published the fourth edition of its popular handbook on the law in the workplace, Your Rights at Work.

The new edition contains revised sections on maternity rights, equality law, flexible working, agency working, time-off for training and grievance procedures. All the original material has been updated.

While the book is pitched at everyone at work, it is particularly useful for union reps and officers and can be used as a recruitment tool or general introduction to workplace rights. Unions can purchase the book in bulk at discount rates.

Further information and ordering details @

https://www.tuc.org.uk/publications/viewPub.cfm?frmPubID=633