Brexit secretary tells Parliament & public that industry impact studies do not exist

Brexit Secretary David Davis decieved Parliament & the public.

Unite has said David Davis has “deceived Parliament and the public”, after the Brexit secretary admitted the government has not carried out assessments of the impact of leaving the EU for different sectors of the economy.

Davis, who previously said the reports existed in “excruciating detail” and refused to publish them on the grounds that they would give away the government’s negotiating position, was forced to make the admission to the Brexit select committee on December 6th.

“There’s no systemic impact assessment,” said Davis, who went on to explain that the analyses regarding “about 50 cross-cutting sectors (and) what is going to happen to them” that he had spoken of in September 2016 were never carried out.

The studies conducted by the government and subsequently handed over to the Brexit select committee do not in fact contain a “quantitative economic forecast of outcome”, Davis said.

“That is not there. We haven’t done that,” he admitted.

The revelations came after Unite was told in a Freedom of Information Request in July that the government “has carried out extensive and diverse engagement with hundreds of businesses of all sizes across the UK on the potential implications of our withdrawal from the EU”.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “David Davis has deceived the public and Parliament. He has repeatedly said that the government has carried out 51 sector assessments, while Unite was told in no uncertain turns that it had spoken to hundreds of business on the potential impact of Brexit.

“But this morning Davis admitted there is no ‘systematic impact assessment’ on the economy. Manufacturing companies and our members in particular will be horrified by this admission. It is frightening that the Tories don’t know what their Brexit plans will do to the economy and it beggars belief that Davis would spend so long obfuscating the truth by pretending the documents he’s tried so hard to hide contain ‘sensitive materials’.

“It’s time for the Tories to recognise that the game is up. This week’s failed negotiations over the Irish border prove Theresa May has absolutely no control and today Davis has made it abundantly clear there is no Brexit strategy. For the sake of the country this floundering government must step down before it does irreparable harm to the country.”

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Speech to Unite Manufacturing Delegates, Unite Sector Conferences, November 15th, 2017.

Speech to Unite Manufacturing Sector Conference – 15th November 2017

The Challenge of Brexit

Conference we meet at a time when manufacturing is being damaged by the Brexit chaos created by a Government who have no idea of how to handle the most complex negotiations that any country has ever taken since the end of the second world war.

We all remember days after the referendum pro Brexiteers saying that negotiating Brexit would be “easy”.

They told us other countries in the EU would want trade deals with us – they told the country “nothing would change” and “all would be well”

But for members in manufacturing the complexities of trade and exporting manufactured goods – back and forth across the Channel, across complex supply chains we knew differently.

That is why our manufacturing combine of shop stewards put together our own arguments to get a ‘Brexit On Our Terms’.

Unite warned that companies would hold back investment.

Unite said we needed a trade deal with the European Union and a Customs Union agreement

We needed to protect employment rights

We needed access to skills and a fair immigration system

The Government had not worked out impact of Brexit on manufacturing – and following last weeks publication of the Trade Bill it is clear they are still clueless.

The group Hard Brexit MPs – Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg, Ian Duncan Smith, John Redwood are happy to see manufacturing jobs destroyed – just to get out of the EU – that is their end game.

They are not concerned that we will face a low skilled, low wage, low employment rights economy – it would be the completion of the Thatcherite project that was started in the 1970’s.

They are not bothered that 44% of manufactured goods are exported – and that manufacturing accounts for 70% of research and development.

They never mention that average earnings in manufacturing are £5000 more than the whole economy.

They just want out of the EU at any price.

And make no mistake Unite members will take no lessons from the likes of James Dyson who has advocated a “hire and fire regime’ to supposedly “kick start manufacturing” – this from a man who took his manufacturing to low cost Malaysia.

They Government has no plan for our members working in steel, in making tyres, in ceramics, papermaking and in glass and chemicals who will face the dumping of cheap products, notably from China, on our market without any trade protections – and we can be proud that it was Unite who have been at forefront of campaigning for protections to stop the dumping of steel and other goods to protect our members.

Conference,

  • We can be also proud of our campaign to for a free trade agreement with the EU
  • For a frictionless supply chain, to stop tariffs of up to 10% adding £1500 to the price of an exported car and that a tariff of 4% on imports from the supply chain which would also add a further massive on-costs.

Delegates: We accept the decision of the country – members may voted to leave the European Union – but they didn’t vote to destroy jobs, their companies and their communities.

So you can be assured we will continue to campaign for the best possible outcome that defends decent jobs for the future and ensures that we maintain a strong manufacturing base in the UK.

Automation

Conference in manufacturing we will be on the frontline facing the challenges from automation and the digital economy which will be set out by Sharon Graham this morning.Our manufacturing sectors stepped up to the plate and began the discussions on how we handle automation and a digital economy to protect our members jobs.

One thing is clear, trying to stop the “digital revolution” is like trying to “un-invent electricity” – it won’t happen.

Unite has set out a clear structure and policy and one which I would certainly commend to our Union Reps here today and deserves your full support.

Industrial Strategy

The lack of an industrial strategy from the Government has meant that there has been no consistent Government response to technological change and to the economic problems that our industries and our members face.

The Government – or so we are told – intends to publish its industrial strategy soon – Unite’s proposals for an industrial strategy has been with them since April! They need to get a move on!

So why do we need an industrial strategy?

Take for instance the steel industry. We were warning three years ago that SSI at Redcar was on the verge of collapse and when it did the Government panicked – it was Unite and the other Unions who moved to try to defend our members jobs, pay and conditions and pensions.

We mounted a campaign to Save Our Steel that took our members to Brussels and Strasbourg to fight for our steel industry.

Those members are a credit to our Union.

A proper industrial strategy with ‘steel at its heart’ as Len McCluskey has described it could have saved steel jobs but the Government were caught out – trying to cobble together a plan at the last minute.

And look at great companies such as Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port and Luton taken over by PSA – now facing job losses because there is no overall plan to ensure we defend our “jewel in the crown” automotive industry and the auto supply chain.

The lack of an industrial strategy mean you get massive job losses announced at BAE Systems because of the “short termism” on spending our defence budget – tax payers money – on “off the shelf” kit from the USA and not ensuring that our helicopter and surveillance planes are manufactured here.

  • It is Unite that is stepping up to the plate again to press the Government to urgently bring forward a plan to manufacture a 6th Generation of manned fighter planes here in the UK.
  • It is Unite that is also arguing for the UK Government to commit to the production of electric vehicles and the necessary infrastructure – here in the UK.
  • Our science industries – in chemicals and pharmaceuticals have faced a difficult time because of a lack of industrial strategy – as has our engineering and graphical industries.

It is gratifying that not only have we defended jobs when faced with problems we have also put forward workable alternatives such as our “Wells to Wheels” strategy for the oil industry.

Campaigns

Our Union have been involved in some hard fought campaigns. I can’t cover them all – but it is worth mentioning…

  • In the offshore oil sector on the North Sea the “Back Home Safe” campaign run by our Scotland Region to protect our members working in some of the most dangerous conditions on earth and to keep Super Puma helicopters grounded until we have found out why some have crashed in the UK and Norway and killed workers.
  • Our campaign to defend decent pensions at BMW and in other companies across manufacturing
  • Unite’s “Defend Our Spend” campaign to procure UK defence equipment – and our campaign to build the Successor submarines in the UK.
  • We are working to organise workers in the IT industry at Fujitsu and DXC
  • and we are fnow acing job losses in Northern Ireland at Bombardier where 4500 jobs are at stake from an attack on the company by Boeing – and also now Schlumberger, and at Cummins Transmissions in Stamford and Delphi in Sudbury who are once again off-shoring work and jobs.

But let’s also look at some successes:

  • At Rolls Royce in Derby a great campaign by our Reps ensured that a new jet engine test bed is being located at the Derby site.
  • At Airbus over 1000 agency workers are now permanent employees, thanks to great work by our Unite Reps.
  • At Penguin Random House where Unite and the NUJ were stripped of union recognition, and after a great campaign by our members have won back full union rights at the company.
  • Unite secured union recognition at the new Aston Martin plant in Wales after the local management refused to talk to us.
  • Unite renegotiated with Toyota a new union agreement at the comapny and we about to sign a new collective agreement at Nissan in Sunderland which trebles the number of Shop Stewards and Union Reps on site at the biggest car plant in the UK.
  • And another important first – our members at Bentley in Crewe – winning a 35-hour week by 2019 – a great achievement.

It is Unite who have been at the forefront, of campaigning for skilled apprenticeships for young people, for women and for BAEM workers, with a real job at the end of training not low grade short term apprenticeships.

Labour

I am pleased to say that Unites’ industrial strategy was adopted by the Labour Party in their manifesto and that Labour Front Benchers now regularly seek our help, advice and support on manufacturing and industrial issues.

We can be confident that when we go into the General Election we will be able to beat the Tories hands down on manufacturing and jobs

  • You can all be proud that Unite is playing its part
  • that Unite’s voice is heard
  • and that Unite is leading the way
  • defending decent jobs,
  • defending decent pay and decent working conditions.
  • fighting for the future and fighting for manufacturing and our great Union.
  • thanks to all of our Reps and delegates for your support and dedication over the past two years.

 

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German Union Submits 6% Pay Claim And Demands Shorter Hours

Germany’s largest trade union, IG Metall which represents engineering, automotive, electrical, aerospace, steel and manufacturing workers is preparing to submit a 6% pay claim to German engineering employers  – coupled with a claim for shorter working hours.

IG Metall negotiates a national sectoral collective agreement with the German metalworking employers organsiation, which applies across the board to almost 3.9 million workers.

The claim for shorter hours is reported to be for a 28 hour week (down from the current 35 hours) in push for ‘better work life balance’.

IG Metall is preparing for the effects of the digital revolution and automation which it is anticptated may eliminate many manufacturing jobs in the coming years.

The demand also reflects a renewed confidence among trade unions in the EU and the expectation that Germany’s economy is expected to grow by 2% this year.

“There is no reason for restraint,” IG Metall President Joerg Hofmann says, pointing to growth in manufacturing and industry and the German economy’s strong performance.
In 2016, an increase of 2.8% was agreed in July 2016 – followed by a further 2% in April this year.

Hofmann also called for a fundamental change in the way companies deal with the issue of working time. Workers now put a bigger emphasis on work-life balance and the demands for more flexibility from employers must be reflected in any wage deal, he says.

IG Metall is seeking a right to reduce weekly hours to 28 hours from 35 hours — with a right to return to full-time work after two years for shift workers and those caring for children or relatives.

IG Metall says its strategy reflects changing working preferences of workers who want more time off instead of more pay and time to care for their children or parents and to engage in communal work.

The head of the employers association Gesamtmetall has rejected the demand for a 28-hour week, saying this would exacerbate shortages of skilled workers.

The demands, presented by IG Metall’s board for the 2018 wage negotiations, still need to be approved by its regional branches in the next few weeks.

The normal practice in Germany in the metalworking sector is for negotiations to begin in one region (usually where IG Metall is particularly strong) with any negotiated agreement forming the ‘template’ for the rest of the industry.

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Speech VSC/CSC Fringe Labour Conference 2017

Thanks to everyone for attending today. Unfortunately I cannot stay for the whole of the meeting as I have to rush back to speak at Unite’s fringe on Brexit in thirty minutes.

Firstly, as the position of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign has been caricatured in much of the media, I’d like to draw your attention to our statement on recent events on your seats.

I also want to say that Unite has been a long time supporter of VSC. We are not fair-weather friends – neither are we uncritical friends.

This is a most difficult time for the people of Venezuela. With turmoil in the country and a pending ‘attack’ by the USA.

In terms of that topic of today’s event, alarm bells were ringing around the world recently when Donald Trump’s said he would not ‘rule out a military option’ when it comes to Venezuela.

He followed this up by introducing sanctions aimed at strangling the economy and articulating his support for ‘regime change’ in Venezuela.

Such US led ‘regime changes’ have been a disaster in other countries in recent years and there’s no reason to believe it would help the people of Venezuela.

Already food imports have been blocked due to these sanctions, which will hit all the people of Venezuela.

There is currently deep political polarisation in Venezuela, primarily driven by severe economic difficulties, fuelled by the collapse in oil prices, and undoubtedly worsened by some sections of right-wing opposition seeking to use their economic power to sabotage the economy for political ends.

Serious analysts agree that both the Government and the right-wing opposition maintain the support of millions of Venezuelans, as recent elections and an opposition-called plebiscite showed.

October’s regional elections – which both pro and anti-government parties are participating in – will probably confirm this analysis,

What is needed in such a situation is dialogue as a way for Venezuela to peacefully resolve it’s current difficulties, and the current talks in Dominica between the government and opposition have been widely welcomed internationally.

Dialogue has to be based on all forces renouncing violence as a way to achieve political ends, and the rights of the Venezuelan people being guaranteed.

Violence to overturn constitutional mandates – including that of the democratically elected President – should be opposed.

As Venezuela’s right-wing opposition becomes more emboldened through a series of recent attacks, we risk a return to the days of the 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chavez.

In this context, a peaceful solution is the only option.

Governments internationally, including Britain and the EU, should do all they can to facilitate and support such a dialogue process and help peacefully resolve the country’s difficulties, constructively engaging with Venezuela.

Instead of such an approach, the Trump administration is introducing unilateral US sanctions and threats of military force against Venezuela. These will not facilitate dialogue, but exacerbate the country’s difficulties and divisions.

In light of the US’s history of intervention in Latin America, including backing the 2002 military coup against Hugo Chavez, it is hardly surprising that polling suggests the majority of both opposition and government supporters in Venezuela oppose the US widening economic sanctions.

However, this is not the position of the whole international community. Proposals for the EU to follow Trump with its own sanctions have met with some scepticism.

President Macron of France has indicated his support for dialogue in Venezuela, and it has been reported that the governments of Portugal and Greece do not believe sanctions are the best way forward to help improve the situation.

Those who actually want to help Venezuela out of the current crisis – rather than simply using it as a stick with which to beat Jeremy Corbyn, as the right-wing press do – should put their efforts into supporting peace and dialogue.

Message from the Venezuelan Ambassador to the Labour Party fringe meeting

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Support Birmingham Bin Men This Sunday

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US Unions & Trump’s NAFTA Renegotiations

Celeste Drake of the AFL-CIO

NAFTA is back in the spotlight 23 years after it became law. Donald Trump pledged to withdraw from it. Instead he’s seeking to renegotiate it (in secret). The first round of talks wrapped up August 20th. The AFL-CIO’s top trade policy expert, Celeste Drake explained to Don McIntosh of nwlaborpress.org US Unions’ opposition to NAFTA and

What’s wrong with NAFTA, from the AFL-CIO’s perspective?

Where to begin? I think it’s best summed up as the wrong set of rules. NAFTA imposes on the whole North American economy, not just the U.S. economy, a set of rules that benefit large global corporations at the expense of working people. In practice that sets up a race to the bottom. It has driven down wages. It has made it harder for working people to organize and negotiate. It fails to protect the environment. It says that corporations have effective and enforceable rules that protect them, while the rest of us are left with, at best, “guidelines” that fail to protect us. And it includes the odious “investor-to-state dispute settlement” system (ISDS), which provides private justice for foreign investors and leaves everybody else out.

How does that critique differ from President Trump’s narrative about NAFTA?

From what I can tell, he has not adopted our analysis. Rather than looking at the way the rules favor the largest corporations across all three countries, he seems to blame the other countries and the workers in the other countries. And he seems to blame U.S. negotiators for not doing a good job. That’s wrong. As much as I disagree with what the negotiators did, I think they did what they were asked to do. It wasn’t working people who demanded NAFTA. It was the big corporations. To highlight where the president’s analysis isn’t quite right … if NAFTA was so great for Mexico, if they were doing so well under it, you would have the working people of Mexico defending it.

But instead you saw during the negotiations last week a big march in Mexico City where Mexican workers themselves were saying NAFTA is a disaster. They fear that the renegotiation will be used by corporations to make NAFTA even worse.

What do we know about the negotiations that have taken place so far?

Not a lot. The first round concluded (August 20th). It did not really open up, in the way that we have suggested, to public participation, releasing documents to Congress and the press. We know that there were meetings on every chapter, even though text wasn’t put forth. We know Canada is going to be aggressive in looking for a strong commitment on labor.

During the campaign, Trump pledged to withdraw from NAFTA altogether. Are you in favor of withdrawal?

We strongly believe that the best way to protect workers is through having international agreements. There’s no way we can be isolated from the rest of the world. So our first choice is replacing NAFTA with a deal that really raises the standards of living for the workers of North America. If that can’t be done, then certainly withdrawal from NAFTA is an option and would be an improvement in a lot of ways from the status quo, because the status quo is driving a race to the bottom.

If it becomes clear that this is not in fact an opportunity for working people, and instead it’s going to be another tool whereby corporations gain additional leverage to push down our wages and working conditions, then we’ll get behind a repeal NAFTA campaign. But we have done so much work over the last few years about fast track and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), that we have an active and engaged electorate. We don’t think Americans will just take anybody’s word for it that NAFTA is great again. Because NAFTA never was great, and we know what to look for to determine any claim of success about whether NAFTA is getting better.

Does NAFTA have any role in increasing undocumented migration to the United States?

Certainly. Right after the signing of NAFTA there was a flood of agricultural exports from the U.S. to Mexico that really undercut a lot of the smaller farmers. And when they were no longer able to compete with U.S. agricultural products, the promised “good manufacturing jobs” in the cities just weren’t there. I’ve seen estimates as low as 1 million and as high as 3 million potential undocumented immigrants as a direct result of NAFTA, primarily from pushing folks off the land.

Is NAFTA’s impact exaggerated by critics? Offshoring manufacturing to Mexico was happening already, and in fact much more production has moved to China, a country we don’t have a NAFTA-style agreement with. Is NAFTA mainly a symbol for overall trade policies that aren’t benefiting working people?

Somewhat. Both of those things you said are true. However it’s easy to defend the status quo by saying NAFTA didn’t cause the manufacturing job losses, but its critics generally don’t claim that it that caused all of Americas manufacturing job losses. The bigger effect quite frankly is the wage impact. We can document 850,000 job losses based on opportunity costs lost because of the trade deficit.

But even more workers than that recognize that it’s harder to negotiate for better wages and benefits now. And NAFTA has a role in that. NAFTA was the first trade agreement of its kind. And you can trace a lot of the ideas of the WTO from NAFTA. So if we can get NAFTA to go ahead on a different model, that sends a huge signal that we need to start looking at our other trade policies and reforming them.

 

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French Labour Law Reform – Why The CGT Says “Non”

In 2016, the French government, led by PM Manuel Valls, forced a law through Parliament, the so-called “El-Khomri Labour Law” (after the name of the then-Labour Minister). There is an article in the French Constitution (article 49.3) that provides for a fast-track option, which means the adoption of a law by Parliament, without any possible debate in either houses. The law turns upside down the order of collective bargaining in France, i.e. bargaining on pay and leave to be carried out at company rather than national level, which would lead to disparities and hence further casualization of working conditions.

In May this year, following highly-disputed presidential and then general elections, the government appointed by President Emmanuel Macron, had both houses adopt an enabling Act, which allows it to pass laws by decrees. This means that parliamentary mechanisms are totally bypassed. In effect, it means that the government can take a decree which becomes immediately applicable. The decree is then submitted to both houses for ratification – without any opportunity for discussion or amendment. If both houses ratify it, it becomes a law. Otherwise, it remains a decree, but with the exact same applicability as a law. Given that the President’s party (“En marche”), has the overall majority in parliament, it is highly likely that the coming decrees will be ratified.

One of the first decisions taken by the government has been to draft a new labour reform, the so-called “extra-large labour law”, which will become applicable before the beginning of the autumn. It is a follow-up to, and an amplification of, last year’s law, with a further deterioration of working life and conditions.

This spring, the CGT and Force ouvrière (FO) lodged a complaint with the International Labour Organization (ILO), regarding violations of conventions 87 (freedom of association), 98 (collective bargaining) and 158 (termination of employment) by the El-Khomri law. The purpose of the complaint is to secure disavowal of anti-union repression in 2016, of negotiations of derogatory agreements by employers and the creation – at their discretion – of a third ground for dismissal (on top of misconduct and economic lay-off).

Last year, polls showed that 70% of workers were opposed to the El-Khomri law. The same is true today, yet the government is moving fast and has worked through the summer period –July and August are inauspicious for mobilisation – to ensure that these decrees are ratified and become law.

The primary purpose of the new reform is to grant yet more room to company level bargaining on all aspects of work, to the detriment of national law, and hence turn upside down the standards that currently regulate labour relations. Company-agreements would even take precedence over the contract of employment which would lead to different regulation of work in different companies, and hence to greater competition between workers. To make sure that employers can secure company agreements, the government means to allow them to bargain without representative unions or through referenda that they would organise.

As a way of getting round workers’ representative bodies, the government decided to merge the three existing ones (staff representative, works’ council and health and safety committee). This merger will reduce the means available to their members, thus health and safety issues may well take second-rank in company issues.

Finally, the government advocates that these company agreements should be able to alter the contract of employment, casual contracts (short-term or temporary) should be developed, the use of operations contracts (or assignment contracts of limited duration) developed and that unfair and illegal dismissals by employers be protected by capping claims by workers instigating legal action.

The government is rather concerned as to the reaction of trade union organisations and workers. It has not, as yet, put forward its draft, but informed orally the unions of the probable major items of the reform. Individual meetings were held – 6 hours in all per union! – but these were neither for consultation nor negotiation, but merely for information. There is a total lack of transparency.

The government will publish its draft on 31 August. It will then be ratified by the Council of Ministers, for implementation before the beginning of the autumn.

This labour reform intensifies and worsens workers’ vulnerability and casualization: increasingly less rights for workers, less room for manoeuver for their representative organisations and more freedom for employers, including when they overstep legality.

The CGT will not accept this ambiguity. We mean to put the issue of “Work” at the top of the agenda, as part of a pluralist and democratic debate, as opposed to a law drafted on the sly with the employers’ assent. We feel it is unacceptable that unions were not clearly involved in negotiations in good faith with the government. That is why, without waiting for publication of the decree, the CGT has called French workers to mobilise for a national day of action on 12 September.

We hope for active solidarity from our friends worldwide.

Thanks to Patrick Correa, FTM-CGT, Montreuil, 20 August 2017

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Highly Respected Trade Unionist ‘Sacked’ From EHRC Board

Sarah Veale – ‘sacked’ by Greening

Sarah Veale, a highly respected trade unionist has been effectively dismissed by the Minister of Women and Equalities Justine Greening from her position on the board of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Sarah Veale, who was awarded a CBE in 2006 for services to diversity is the former head of the TUC’s Equality and Employment Rights Department.

She has been a member of the Commission since January 2013 and was set to be re-appointed this year at the request of EHRC chair David Isaac, who said he was “very impressed” with her contribution.

Sarah received a letter from Ms. Greening, praising her at length for her work on the Commission, but the sting in the tail was that her “term had expired” and she would not be reappointed.

The EHRC is governed by a Board of Commissioners, who are publicly recruited and appointed.

The EHRC is the UK body that has responsibility for overseeing the law as it relates to unlawful discrimination and human rights. It advises the government and others, for example employers, on how the law works and what organisations and individuals should do to avoid unlawful discrimination and promote diversity and inclusion.

It has legal powers to intervene in court proceedings and to set up formal inquiries if it has evidence that there is systemic discrimination occurring.

For example, the EHRC recently intervened in support of UNISON in their successful court case to abolish fees for Employment Tribunals; it also conducted an investigation into discrimination against migrant workers in the meat processing industry

Appointments to the board were carried out with independent scrutiny but recently that changed, giving ministers far more control over the process – enabling them to override the recommendations of the recruitment panel.

The Commissioners currently consist of a partner at a law firm, a former director of Human Resources at BT, a diplomat and prison governor, a business consultant, a former fire chief, a law professor, a consultant psychiatrist and a Conservative peer.

The decision of not reappointing Sarah leaves no trade unionist on the Commission for the first time.

Commenting on the decision Sarah said: “There was no reason given for not appointing me. Could it be political? It is hard so see any other reason and it follows a spate of similar decisions. If so, it is not good for our democracy and, if continues, means that public bodies will lose important knowledge and experience and, essentially, the authentic voice of working people.

“My particular contributions to the EHRC have included direct involvement in the important statutory role that the Commission has to monitor the various UN conventions and treaties, to which the UK is a signatory, and to produce reports on how and whether the UK government has fulfilled its obligations.

“These relate to the treatment of disabled, BAME and LGBT people and to women, as well as human rights obligations. The Commission has been critical of some of the current and past governments’ failures, for example, as a result of their austerity programme.

“I have also been involved in the very successful investigation into discrimination against pregnant women at work and ensured that the TUC and unions were directly involved too.

“Although Board members are not able to become involved directly in employment matters within the Commission, throughout the recent dispute between the Commission and the recognised unions I did keep in contact with the unions and ensured that their concerns were heard on the Board”.

A number of trade unionists are taking the view that not only is Sarah’s dismissal ‘political’ – it is another an attempt by the Conservative party to take out trade unionists from public bodies when ever they can.

The Health & Safety Commission (HSE) has reduced number of worker representatives and appointed an employer to one of the places and the Central Arbitration Commmittee (CAC) ignored recommendations of people to join the Committee – and the recruitment panel and took over a year to make appointments.

It is also being seen as revenge for the Unison – Employment Tribunals Fee win in the High Court which caused the Tories massive embarrassment.

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Brexit: The EU Thinks We Have A “Cunning Plan”

Baldrick Means Baldrick:  “I have a cunning plan Mr. B”

Reports from the EU say some of the EU 27 think that the UK has hatched a cunning plan behind the shambles currently afflicting the Government and our UK negotiating team! This helpful little guide was posted by an “anonymous commenter” on twitter and referenced by David Allen Green (@davidallengreen) in the FT and his excellent blog.

Well worth reading and reminding ourselves of the damage the Government is doing as the clock runs down to March 2019.

“Here’s a list of negotiating ploys that the UK has toyed with since the referendum, all of which have failed, either in the sense that they have been discarded or that they have failed to move either Brussels or the 27 other EU member states:

  • that feelers or even negotiations could begin prior to Article 50 notification
  • that feelers or even negotiations could be opened with individual EU member states, so bypassing or weakening Brussels
  • that the UK could divide individual member states to its advantage
  • that the UK could cherry pick benefits (floated by Boris Johnson, specifically dismissed with respect to the single market in Mrs May’s Article 50 letter)
  • that the UK could brandish effectively a threat to diminish or even to cease security cooperation
  • that the UK would owe nothing once it left the EU
  • that the UK would be content to crash out of the EU without any agreement whatsoever
  • that discussions on the ‘divorce proceedings’ (the Irish land border, post-Brexit citizens’ rights and the divorce bill) could be conducted in parallel with discussions on the future trade relationship
  • that the ECJ’s role would, for the UK, cease from 29 March 2019.to which one might add:
  • that the EU would be moved by the ‘strong and stable government’ that was to emerge from the June 2017 election.”

This is not even a complete list.

  • there was the attempt to deploy the Duchess of Cambridge on a new royal yacht,
  • an implicit threat of military action over Gibraltar,
  • and the suggestion of making the UK a new low-tax no-regulation Singapore.

And worth adding to this list is their boneheaded response to the voice of manufacturing and unions on the dangers of:

  • being outside of the single market, outside of a customs union, no formal access to skills, key EU bodies such as EASA, Medicines and other regulatory bodies plus the uncertainity being caused by confusion and the damage to investment and jobs;
  • stunts and foreign trips to pretend the UK can do trade deals with the USA (and Trump), Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey and others to replace an EU trade agreement –
  • plus the lack of any discussions or real input by trade unions, who represent millions of members who will suffer from their studpidty.

 

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Posted in Blogs, Economics, Employment Rights, European Trade Unions, Labour Party, Media, Politics, Solidarity, Trade Unions | Leave a comment

Mr. Fox Goes To Washington – Why?

UK trade secretary Liam Fox MP is visted Washington, D.C. on Monday, 24th July for talks with the US administration on a future UK-US trade deal. As representatives of working people on both sides of the Atlantic, we want to know what exactly he is after except air miles and a publicity stunt.

Mr Fox has claimed that Britain’s tremendous trade with the European Union can be replaced – and even improved upon – by enhanced trade with the USA and other countries.

For the UK, that’s a dangerous pipe dream, because despite the enormous trade flows between our two countries, it’s unlikely that the USA could come close to replacing a significant proportion of the UK’s current trade with the rest of Europe, which is half of all UK trade.

And for the USA, trade with the rest of the EU is far greater than trade with the UK, and much more likely to grow.

Trade agreements on their own are not the best way to increase trade between developed economies like ours – and certainly not the best way to create growth. Our respective governments would be better off devoting time and energy to boosting demand through infrastructure investment and raising pay.

Nevertheless, properly managed, trade can create good, secure, well-paid jobs. And it can mean more choice for shoppers and lower household costs for working people who are, of course, also consumers.

But if it isn’t properly managed, bad trade deals can destroy jobs, suppress wages and harm our industries and public services, as well as raising prices and lowering quality.

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, Britain’s workers have a vital interest in the future relationship between the UK and the EU. And that really needs to be settled before we arrange a trade deal between the UK and the US – if one is eventually needed at all, which would not be the case if the UK were to stay in the EU Customs Union.

Negotiations between the UK and the EU have only just started, and won’t get around to the future trading relationship for months if not years. US workers will need to know the shape of the future UK-EU relationship before working out what’s in their best interests.

The TUC and our colleagues in the European Trade Union Confederation have called for the future relationship to include frictionless, barrier-free access between the UK and the rest of Europe, with continuing protections for workplace rights to prevent undercutting and exploitation.

UK and US trade unions, with our long experience of trade deals around the world, know that these issues – and the protection of public services like Britain’s NHS – are vital if trade is to benefit ordinary people, rather than the top 1%.

We also know that trade deals negotiated behind closed doors, with only the politicians and their trade experts present – or with the voice of business present but no role for workers – are bad deals. It is why American workers’ top priority is reforming the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

We’d have more confidence in Mr Fox’s trade strategy if he was more open to trade union concerns and voices. But the fact that neither of our trade union movements have been consulted about this trip suggests it’s not a real trade mission at all. Business organisations that we regularly engage with know nothing more than we do. And that really does imply that this visit is more of a public relations stunt than serious trade talks.

The first thing any government needs to do before preparing trade negotiations is to find out what is wanted by business, workers and civil society. Until then, we must remain deeply sceptical and a little suspicious of what Mr Fox and his friends in the US administration are up to.

Frances O’Grady is general secretary of the TUC
Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO

More on Mr. Fox and his trip to the USA soon…..

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Posted in Employment Rights, European Trade Unions, International Trade Unions, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment