Tag: Lisa Nandy

Prime minister phones union leaders in desperate attempt to peddle her Brexit deal

theresa may on phone

Theresa May has taken the completely unprecedented move for a Conservative PM of telephoning union leaders, including Unite’s Len McCluskey, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, to lobby support for her Brexit plans ahead of next week’s Commons showdown. 

I think he gave her pleading a swerve.

She also called Tim Roache, the general secretary of the GMB union. It was the first time she had spoken to either man since she became Prime Minister in 2016, indicating her desperation. Downing Street has also confirmed that she plans to call other union leaders, thought to include Unison’s Dave Prentis, in the run-up to Tuesday’s “meaningful vote” on her Brexit blueprint.

I’m sure the draconian policies designed to stifle trade union freedoms, which took our country down a dark path, will have been forgotten by now. We’ve all really valued the big move away from freedom and towards greater control for the state over our lives over the last eight years. Who could possibly object to state micromanagement and such authoritarian attacks on unions and collective bargaining, diminishing citizen freedoms that are not theirs to give away.

The EU Social Charter of Rights was intentionally excluded by May’s government from the Withdrawal Bill. Many Conservatives see Brexit as an opportunity for more deregulation and ‘cutting red tape.’ Priti Patel, for example, said: “If we could just halve the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3bn boost to the economy.”

A boost for whom?

When Conservatives talk of a boost to the economy, they are usually referring a boost in private profits that comes at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Back in 1984, Margaret Thatcher reached the absurd conclusion it wasn’t possible for someone to be in a union and be loyal to their country. Consequently, GCHQ employees in Cheltenham were denied their basic rights and could no longer have the protection of a union at work. Fourteen workers who refused to give up their union membership cards were unceremoniously sacked.

In 2013, the coalition government introduced fees for taking cases to employment tribunals, claiming it would cut “weak and unnecessary cases”. This not only limited access to justice for some of the most vulnerable citizens in our society, it also gave some of the most unscrupulous bosses free reign exploit people, to abuse health and safety and employment law, knowing there was little chance of being called to account.  In July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the Tribunal fees were unlawful and the government was forced to reimburse all those who had paid them. This is a prime example of a vindictive government policy which hurt employees.

In 2015, when the Conservatives were elected with an overall majority, they attacked the trade unions and their right to organise and strike. The right to strike is a fundamental freedom in our democracy.

Now the Conservatives have the brass neck to treat worker’s rights as a mere bargaining chip to get their own way. A means to an end, nothing more. I’m pleased to say that Roache gave her a scornful rebuff to her bargaining bid. He said: “I represent 620,000 working people and it’s about time their voices were heard. After nearly three years I’m glad the Prime Minister finally picked up the phone.

“As you would expect, I was very clear about GMB’s position – the deal on the table isn’t good enough and non-binding assurances on workers’ rights won’t cut it.”

“If the deal genuinely did the the job for GMB members, our union would support it, but it doesn’t,” he added.

Both unions came out against her deal, saying her efforts to woo them were nowhere near enough to get their support. 

May’s approach is all the more surprising because of her previous lack of engagement with the TUC’s Frances O’Grady, revealing last year that she had only met the PM once since she came to power.

The PM has also launched an attempt to sell the merits of her withdrawal agreement to Labour backbenchers in an apparent recognition that she needs to reach out to opposition MPs to avert a very heavy defeat. The government is also preparing to back an amendment tabled by Labour MPs John Mann, Caroline Flint, Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell to give stronger guarantees that EU workers’ rights and environmental safeguards are enshrined in British law.

Mann met the PM last night along with others, including Flint and Snell, to discuss working together.

It’s rather late in the day for the PM to suddenly declare her concern for worker’s rights. The Conservatives have spent the last eight years destroying people’s job security, and any opportunity for worker’s to exercise collective bargaining. People claiming social security, for example, are coerced into accepting any employment, regardless of pay or conditions, otherwise they face sanction – the withdrawal of their lifeline support, which is barely enough, as it is, to meet basic living costs. 

May has gone out of her way to meet small groups of Labour MPs from strongly Leave-supporting constituencies. Nandy, the MP for Wigan, told the BBC that the PM would only win backing for her agreement if she negotiated with the majority of MPs opposed to no deal or a hard Brexit.

“That’s the importance of what happened this week. Finally there seems to be a recognition from the Conservative leadership that they are going to have to do that,” she said.

Downing Street described May’s contact with union leaders as “constructive” and denied that the move was a sign of desperation.

A spokeswoman said: “It’s part of her ongoing engagement with leaders from across the United Kingdom.”

She added: “The PM speaks to leaders across a range of industries, business groups, and has done that consistently throughout this process and today she spoke to a couple of union leaders and there will be further engagement in the days ahead.”

The news comes as a fresh analysis from the BBC indicates that the PM could face a whopping 228 vote loss. 

 

Related

The link between Trade Unionism and equality 

 


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Please can someone help this girl who is sleeping in a bin

No one should ever have to live like this in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. 

In 2013, Chris Skidmore, a Conservative MP, claimed that the impact of austerity and public service cuts wasn’t bad because people have not been left “lying dead in the streets”. He made the remarks at the Conservative conference during a meeting of the Thatcherite Free Enterprise Group.

He defended the comments at the time, and said: “The point I was making was that when we were making cuts, people suggested they were so bad that people would be lying dead in the streets. That has clearly not happened.

“With the economy recovering it is not the picture of doom that was predicted.”

People ARE dying because of austerity. And more than 500 homeless people have died in the last 12 months in the UK

Labour MP Lisa Nandy responded to Skidmore’s comments, saying that they exposed the Conservative’s callous attitude to people hit hard by their austerity measures.

She added: “It’s a pretty extreme measure by which to assess the impact of cuts. Hundreds of thousands have been hit by the bedroom tax and a million youngsters are out of work.

“People will be shocked to hear the dismissive way Tories treat suffering.”

The denial, strategic narrating and editing of people’s accounts of their experiences of austerity by this disgraceful government must end. There is no use for a government that simply uses techniques of neutralisation and calls those raising legitimate concerns ‘scaremongers’ to divert us from the fact that their policies are inflicting great distress, harm and premature death on some targeted groups, and to stifle valid criticism.

What is the point of a government that does not ensure that citizens in the UK have the means of meeting their most basic survival needs, in the sixth wealthiest nation in the world, while handing out public funds it has taken from the public to millionaires and rogue private companies? 

It’s time for positive change. In fact for many of us, change is essential if we are to survive. 

Earlier this year, a homeless man died from horrific injuries after sleeping in a bin in Rochester, Kent. He was wrapped in a roll of carpet to keep warm, when the bin was emptied. Russell Lane did not wake up and was hidden from view under the carpet. This tragic incident is a further reminder of the risks associated with sleeping in bins – both in cases involving homeless individuals, or those on a night out. Hypothermia may make homeless people drowsy and they may experience difficulty with their level of alertness and with waking up.

Large padded bins are a sheltered location to sleep, but those sleeping in them are often hard to detect and are at risk of serious injury or death both from falls into collection vehicles and the deadly compressing machinery within them. Imagine how awful it must be having to choose between dying of hypothermia and exposure or taking a risk and bedding down in a bin.

Just before Christmas last year twenty-eight-year-old Jay McLaren was found dead at a recycling plant after sleeping in a bin following a night out in Sunderland town centre, while last July there was a large-scale search for the body of RAF gunner Corrie McKeague who, it is believed, fell asleep in a bin in Bury St Edmunds before being unknowingly taken to landfill for incineration.

As a so-called civilised society, we mustn’t look the other way. In cold weather, the plight of people who have no shelter is especially harsh, and many passersby may struggle to know what to do. But here are small things we can each do to make a difference, and reduce the dangers of freezing weather for homeless citizens. For example:

  • We could stop, smile and buy someone a warm drink, or provide some warm food.
  • We could set up places were people can take their old coats and blankets, socks, hats, gloves, scarves – and then distribute those to people sleeping rough. Or even set up a point in each town so that homeless people know where to go for warm clothes that have been donated.
  • We can also contact Streetlink. (Click) When a rough sleeper is reported via the Streetlink app, or by phone – telephone number 0300-500 0914. The details  you provide are sent to the local authority concerned, so they can help connect the person to local services and support. You will also receive an update on what action was taken so you’ll know if the situation was resolved. StreetLink aims to offer the public a means to act when they see someone sleeping rough, and is the first step someone can take to ensure rough sleepers are connected to the local services and support available to them.

Please help this poor girl.

The young woman was found in the recycling wheelie bin could have been crushed to death had she had not been found and filmed by a refuse collector. He bought her a meal. However, no one seems to know where she is now.

People are starving destitute and dying on the streets because of draconian Conservative policies that were designed to cruelly punish the poorest citizens.

It’s time that people in the UK stopped looking the other way.


 

I would like to help, but I live at the other end of the country, and would struggle to travel down to London at the moment, as I am very unwell with a lupus flare. I have to get to the hospital in Newcastle on Monday (Christmas eve) for an emergency appointment with my specialist for some additional treatment – it’s usually a high dose shot of steroids. So I can’t travel at the moment.


 

My work is unfunded and I don’t make any money from it. But you can support Politics and Insights and contribute by making a donation if you like, which will help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others facing the consequences of the punitive welfare ‘reforms’.

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