TUC Leader is spot on over May’s failed Brexit ‘Deal’

That Teresa May’s failed Brexit (and now withdrawn) ‘deal’ would have been bad for jobs, the economy, employment rights etc. etc. is a given simply because it’s a poorer deal than we presently have as EU members. Here’s what the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady had to say about it:-

www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/deal-will-threaten-uk-workers%E2%80%99-rights

But of course, every form of Brexit deal will only deliver a worse outcome than we presently have so no one can ever promise one that will meet, never mind better, our present situation as EU members. The TUC knows this better than most because it’s the millions of trade union members across the UK who are at risk from us leaving the EU under ANY deal.

However, I fear that Frances O’Grady has to be careful what she says with TU leaders like UNITE’s Len McCluskey trying desperately to stop Labour from adopting a pro-EU stance. Sadly there’s always been a wing of the trade union movement who have been anti-EU despite it being a really positive force for good on things like employment rights and protections. How on earth they can call themselves trade unionists beats me. As a life-long supporter of the TU movement, I’m ashamed that it has Little Englander’s in its ranks.

Uber – It’s drivers deserve employment rights says Employment Tribunal

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37802386

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

As a trade unionist and indeed as a Liberal I welcome this Employment Tribunal result.

There is a trend these days for companies to require those who do work for them to treat themselves as self employed. The question is why do that? Is it in the interests of the person doing the work, or is it to reduce employment costs and responsibilities? But if I understand this particular case properly then the requirement is not even full self employment rather a restrictive version of it.

A quote from the BBC web article – The ruling accused Uber of “resorting in its documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology”, adding: “The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our mind faintly ridiculous.”

Merseyrail – Driver only trains (No guards) – TUC puts more pressure on Labour-run Merseytravel

Merseytravel logo

Nice to see the TUC wading into this matter of public safety concerns. Here is the text of a letter sent by the TUC, by Lynn Collins, to Cllr. Liam Robinson the Chairperson of Merseytravel:-

tuc_Logo

Dear Liam

New Merseyrail Rolling Stock – Driver Only Operation of Trains

I’m writing following the Annual Conference of the North West TUC which unanimously passed a resolution on the threat of removal of guards and the introduction of a Driver Only Operation in the North West.

During a very lively debate, delegates from many unions spoke in support of the resolution. Notably the Fire Brigades Union raised specific safety concerns in relation to DOO/DCO mode in the single bore underground sections of the Merseyrail Network. Both our Disabled Workers Forum, and our Women’s Committee also expressed their concerns in relation to access and safety.

I know John Tilley has written to you detailing the specific safety related issues, and I look forward to seeing your response to those concerns shared by all our unions.

I have offered my assistance to our rail unions in working with you to reach an agreement on a way forward that puts passenger safety and security at the heart of an integrated transport system for Liverpool City Region.

Kind regards.

Yours sincerely

It will be interesting to see Merseytravel squirm over this issue and you can bet your bottom Dollar they will be being kept under significant pressure not to remove train guards when they order the new trains for Merseyrail.

Lib Dems defending trade union rights

An article by Newshound from Lib Dem Voice

Well, there’s a turn-up for the books. A former Business Secretary teams up with the head of the TUC to warn about the draconian effects of the Trade Union Bill introduced by the Government.

In an article for the Guardian, Vince Cable and Frances O’Grady say that the Bill is trying to resolve a problem that doesn’t exist. Anyone who was brought up in the 70s would surely find it hard to argue that today is even remotely as bad as it was then. They say:

“Strikes, when they happen, are not always popular. The public, and business, face disruption. Strikers themselves lose pay. But the right to withdraw labour as a last resort in industrial disputes is fundamental to free societies, as the European Convention on Human Rights recognises.”

“Moreover, it is far from obvious that Britain has a “strike problem”. There have been periods in 20th-century history of intense industrial strife. But in the 1990s and 2000s strikes accounted for well under a million days a year. The trend continued under the coalition, despite strong disagreements over pay, pensions and redundancies. The 6.5 million British people who belong to a union – just over a quarter of the labour force and over half of public sector workers – withdrew their labour, on average, for one day in 15 years.”

Of course, the Tories wanted to bring in this Bill during the coalition years, but the Liberal Democrats stopped them:

“Several major changes are envisaged, all of which were considered by the coalition and rejected on their merits by Lib Dem ministers (who had absolutely no self-interest in defending trade unions that sometimes seemed as angry with them as the Conservatives, if not more). But the Lib Dems simply regarded the proposals as ideologically driven, unnecessary and bad policy.”

After looking at the proposals in detail, they conclude that there is a much better way to prevent strikes – constructive dialogue:

“The Conservative proposals are ideological rather than practical and have a weak evidential and legal basis. An opportunity is being missed to work with unions on a positive and forward-looking basis. Unions represent a substantial and, now, growing proportion of the workforce. Many good employers, private and public sector, work constructively with unions to raise productivity, and thence pay. As the TUC has argued, we should be seeking to strengthen industrial democracy, involving the workforce in genuine consultation around the transition to a digital age, in training and worker education and – yes – in pay differentials from top to bottom.”

The Tories should not forget that GB is the land of free speech

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34017423

For Government to even suggest that trade unions should be restricted in their use of social media is very alarming. The Tories should remember that they often say this is a free county, yet their actions via this pathetic excuse for a present Government indicate that what they want to do is to restrict freedom for those they disapprove of.

Removing rights by chucking out the Human Rights Act, snooping on our e-mails (as Labour was also keen on during their appalling identity card phase) and now suggesting that trade unions may need to give notice of social media use during industrial action is more like the actions of despots than an elected government.

International Workers Memorial Day

Tomorrow (Tuesday 28 April) is International Workers Memorial Day.

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day commemorates those workers.

Workers’ Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year, all over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activities to mark the day.

The day is also intended to serve as a rallying cry to “remember the dead, but fight for the living”.

PCS support calls for strong regulation, in the UK, Europe and internationally. PCS are committed to campaign for:

· full protection of statutory time for union health and safety reps.

· better worker protections against work-related stress, back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders, long hours, excessive workloads, presenteeism, and poorly designed jobs and workplaces

· zero tolerance on bullying, harassment and victimisation

· meaningful joint preventive, inspection and enforcement action

· a fully resourced and independent Health and Safety Executive.

PCS campaigns with other unions, the TUC and other campaigning organisations (Hazards, and Families Against Corporate Killers) to defend our members, jobs and services.

My trade union sent me this message today and a well thought out message it is too. Many moan about Health & Safety regulations but they are there to keep us safe in the workplace and elsewhere. They may sometimes look like too much red tape but the reality is that many lives have been saved and accidents reduced by sensible H&S planning. Forget the nonsense of stopping kids playing with conkers and remember that lives can be saved by H&S compliance – maybe you or I have been saved from an accident at some time but we don’t know it because what we did had been made safe or safer.

As a former Health and Safety Representative and Trade Union Officer I know the value of a safe workplace.