‘No holds barred’ fact-check from McCluskey team as Unite polls open

As ballot papers begin to fall through letterboxes for the Unite General Secretary election, members deserve to have reliable information, not ‘alternative facts’, to hand while making their choice.

Vibrant election campaigns are part of the lifeblood of a healthy union, and seeing candidates put forward alternative visions for Britain’s biggest trade union is always an exciting part of an activist’s calendar. But this campaign has been marked by a number of misleading or demonstrably false claims from Gerard Coyne’s campaign, not just attacking Len McCluskey but damage Unite’s democracy as a whole. This is a quick fact-checker to ensure the record is set straight as ballots drop.

Claim: Len McCluskey is more interested in Labour politics than members

Fact: McCluskey and Coyne’s campaigns could not be more different. McCluskey is running on his record – the number of industrial wins in workplaces across the country and across sectors, the world-class legal service and the expanded membership, including new Unite Community members.

Coyne’s, on the other hand, is entirely focussed on the Labour Party leadership. While it is fair for a union that funds the Labour Party to take an interest in Labour politics, Coyne’s media has consistently focussed on attacking the Labour leadership rather than defending Unite members.

Members aren’t interested in whether Coyne think Jeremy Corbyn is “pointless”, they are interested in what he will do for them. His appointment of a former Labour press officer to head up his campaign, his close operational links to Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, and the enthusiastic mobilisations for Coyne organised by Blairite Labour activists indicate where his priorities are.

 Claim: Subscriptions are too high and Gerard Coyne will freeze them

Fact: If elected, Coyne would not have the power to freeze union subs. That power rests with Unite’s elected executive. With £35m in their strike fund and not a single industrial action repudiated under the current leadership, members are getting more for their money than before.

Claim: Len has used union finances for his own interests

Fact: Unite is more financially healthy than ever before under Len McCluskey’s leadership. Coyne has made much of a loan provided by Unite for a London flat lived in by McCluskey. This loan was provided in a way that ensures Unite benefits – at the time of purchase the Union’s equitable interest in the property was 60% and the property must be sold 12 months after McCluskey’s employment finishes, and that the union’s entire equity interest in the property must be repaid at the time of sale and will reflect any increase in price. These arrangements are common for senior union officers, and are considerably better value for money than, for instance, parliamentary second homes.

It is worth noting that while McCluskey’s campaign has been funded by supportive Unite members and out of his own pocket, there is no clear detail on Coyne’s sources of campaign income.

 Claim: Len McCluskey will fund Labour factional causes before members

Fact: Even more risible than the claim that Len focusses only on Labour is the claim that he will focus the union’s finances on Labour. When Coyne ally Tom Watson claimed that Unite were planning to fund pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum, he had to be slapped down by Unite’s executive, clarifying that no such discussion had taken place. This did not stop Coyne repeating the allegation.

It is in fact Coyne’s campaign who has been making closed-doors deals with Labour, including, according to Unite, an unprecedented mutual support arrangement including data-sharing with West Midlands mayoral candidate Sion Simon. This has forced Unite to suspend donations to Simon’s campaign in order to protect the union’s integrity.
*A briefing seen by the Independent in December criticised the fact that “Len’s team focus on activists.”

Coyne’s campaign has demonstrated contempt for members who get involved in their union, dismissing his fellow Unite members as “toytown revolutionaries” and taking to right-wing newspapers like the Sun to write articles that appeal to tired old stereotypes about “union barons”.

To see a candidate for union leadership resort to anti-union rhetoric is disappointing to say the least, and belies his claim to be putting members first.

1185 branches have nominated Len McCluskey, and it is unlikely that members will be taken in by Coyne’s misleading campaigns. But post-truth politics has to be challenged where it emerges – especially in an election that concerns millions of honest working people in the British and Irish labour movements.

First published by The Skawkbox

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Len McCluskey ‘Viewpont’ in Tribune March 10th – 23rd.

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The Battle Of Grangemouth by Mark Lyon

‘The Battle Of Grangemouth – A Workers Story’ by Mark Lyon

This book tells the story of the industrial dispute at Grangemouth in 2013, when the owner threatened to close a large part of the complex unless the workforce accepted severe cuts to their wages and conditions.

The events at Grangemouth represented, in very acute form, the disaster of contemporary approaches to running the economy. What was once a publicly owned and well-run national asset has been allowed to fall into the hands of a company controlled by one man – Jim Ratcliffe – who thus has been able to exert immense power over the future of a vital national resource.

Ratcliffe conducted a relentless campaign against the union at the site, with the intention of removing its main organisers, partly through exploiting the row in Falkirk Labour Party over candidate selection. Through these endeavours he succeeded in inflicting considerable hardship on a large number of people, but he did not destroy the strong union organisation at Grangemouth, which remains committed to defending the workforce and local community from his depredations.

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Len McCluskey: Speech to Unite EWC Reps

Febuary 10th, Esher, UK

Colleagues,

I’m delighted to be here. I hear you’ve had positive and instructive debate over these two days and that’s something that will feed into our union’s work on Brexit moving forward.

And let me thank Simon Dubbins and his team for their work putting this two-day programme together.

It’s testament to the fact that our union is leading the way; addressing the Brexit issue and standing up for the interests of working people.

Just last week I spoke at our North West region’s Brexit Conference, made up of over 200 shop stewards from across our manufacturing sector.

And you – our EWC reps here today – represent some of the largest multi-nationals operating across borders.

Today I’m going to set out how Unite is approaching the Brexit challenge. And how our members and reps can feed into that process.

And how we will play our full part in the national debate, making certain that the interests of our members are heard loud and clear, at every stage.

But a few words on EWCs from me first (although I’ve no doubt I could learn a thing or two from the expertise we have in this room).

In a world where capital and profit moves seamlessly across borders, EWCs are an example of a social partnership catching up to that reality.

A Mechanism by which workers come together, resolve problems and improve their representation.

And a core Principle that if markets are liberalised for the benefit of capital, then a body like the EU must offer workers representation and protections to hold the capitalist class to account.

Now, I won’t stand here and pretend I have ever been a cheerleader for the neo-liberal agenda at the heart of the European project.

But it’s clear to me, now that the UK is leaving the European Union, that free-market cross-border capitalism is not under threat –

But the social and employment protections guaranteed by the EU most certainly are.

And so Unite’s position is that: whilst a majority may have voted to be out of the EU, they did not vote to be out of work.

Our priorities have been clear from the outset:

  • That an ambitious industrial strategy is the only way to mitigate the impact of Brexit on UK manufacturing and the wider economy.
  • That we need tariff-free access to the Single Market and to remain in the Customs Union.
  • And that all existing European workers’ rights, standards and environmental protections must be retained and protected.

There is no doubt that this government’s approach to Brexit so far, risks jobs and risks investment in our economy.

Unite campaigned for Britain to Remain in the European Union because we knew that the industries upon which so many of our members’ jobs rely would be vulnerable in any Brexit negotiation.

But we lost that argument – including, to be frank, with many of our own members – and we accept the result.

Whilst many of us rightly felt dissatisfaction with the referendum process, the conduct of those leading the different campaign groups, and the outright lies that were told;

(I don’t think any of us here today expect this Tory government to invest £350m each week in our NHS). But it’s time to move on.

We must now influence the debate and set out the best hope for working people going forward.

Because whilst we accept the Referendum result, we do not see it as a blank cheque for government to implement its own vision of a ‘Hard Brexit’, unopposed.

We simply can’t afford to leave it in the hands of this Tory government and the ‘Brexit trio’ of David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson.

Or a Prime Minister whose initial moves, to ditch the single market and dash across the Atlantic, and prioritise immigration concerns above economic prosperity, should set alarms bells ringing throughout British industry.

And make no mistake, these actions put hundreds of thousands of our members’ jobs at risk.

The Brexit debate cannot be decided alone by one person, or by one political party, especially when the mandate from the people is so clearly open to endless speculation.

For this reason, Unite supports in-depth parliamentary scrutiny of the terms of exit as well as “a seat at the table” for trade unions.

Unite will not shy away from seeking to move the political debate when it comes to defending our members’ jobs and shaping the economy of the future.

Anything less, would be a dereliction of the duty we have to our members.

And of course we look to the Labour Party to perform its vital function in holding the government to account – throughout this process.

And let me just say on that – Voting for or against the triggering of Article 50 is irrelevant to that task.

That was a vote to begin the negotiations to leave the EU.

It was not a vote on the substance of those negotiations or the outcome of them.

And holding the government to account is not simply a matter of trying to represent those who voted to Remain against a government forcing through a ‘Hard Brexit’ in the name of those who voted to Leave.

The country may have divided down those lines – 48% to 52% – last June, but maintaining those dividing lines will do none of us any good going forward.

The Labour Party must – and from what I’ve seen this week it is – put people’s jobs, employment rights, and investment in our economy at the core of its stance on Brexit.

After all, two-thirds of Labour constituencies voted to Leave the E.U. whilst one-third voted to Remain.

The Labour leadership has already challenged government, putting tariff free access to the single market and securing employment rights in UK law at the top of the agenda.

Let me set out what we in Unite are doing.In the aftermath of the result I set up our own Brexit Team, headed by Simon Dubbins, our International Director and working with Pauline Doyle, our Communications Director; Anneliese Midgley, our Political Director; Howard Beckett our AGS for Legal and working with each of our Assistant General Secretaries to ensure we monitor the impact of the Brexit decision across every industry and every sector.

This is a two-way process.

We need you, our shop stewards, to be responsive to what they hear on the factory floor or in the office and ensure that information is fed back to their Officers.

We have already brought together Reps from across the manufacturing sector to form a Combine;

A body focusing on the strategic policies needed to defend jobs across interdependent industries.

These sectors embrace, amongst others: Aerospace and Shipbuilding; Automotive; General Engineering; Graphical, Paper, Media and IT; Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Science; Metals and Steel; Energy; Railways; Manufacturing and Defence.

 And, of course, YOU are some of our elected workplace reps that sit on over 150 European Works Councils.

All of this is a level of interaction and collaboration which is without parallel in the trade union movement.

[The wider EU picture is even more impressive with over 1,000 EWCs in total, covering 19m employees and over 20,000 trade union reps actively participating.]

We have already issued a number of documents; for manufacturing and for finance – and we are developing more by the day.

We have general fact-sheets for activists and sector specific documents under preparation for health, transport and local authorities.

And next week our Brexit-Check website will go Live.

The first project by a trade union to assist working people through the process of Brexit, and to engage them in order that we secure the best outcome for working people.

All of this will inform our work lobbying government and the Labour Party. Something, of course, we are already doing.

Let me for a moment turn to the issue of the Free Movement of Labour.

There is no doubt that concerns about the impact of the free movement of Labour in Europe played a large part in the referendum result.

Particularly in working-class communities.

Indeed, for years now we have known through private surveys of membership opinion that our members were more concerned about immigration than any other political issue.

But if we are to argue for continued access to the free market, we have to deal with concerns of migrant labour.

So we need a new approach. One that I’ve been advocating for a while now.

It’s time to change the language around this issue and move away from talk of ‘freedom of movement’ on the one hand and ‘border controls’ on the other and instead to speak of safeguards.

Safeguards for communities, safeguards for workers, and safeguards for industries needing labour.

At the core of this must be the re-assertion of collective bargaining and trade union strength.

My proposal is that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad can only do so if they are either covered by a proper trade union agreement, or by sectoral collective bargaining.

Put together with trade unions’ own organising efforts this would change the race-to-the-bottom culture into a rate-for-the-job society.

It would end the fatal attraction of ever cheaper workers for employers, and slash demand for migrant labour, without the requirement for formal quotas or restrictions.

This is about engaging with the issue and giving real reassurance to working people in towns and cities abandoned by globalisation.

But let me make it clear.

Migrant workers are not to blame for anything.

They are just like all of us, trying to make a better life for their families.

It’s greedy, greedy bosses who are to blame and we need to stop their abuse of these workers.

And let’s not forget what unites all of us:-

Anger at the government’s disgraceful treatment of refugees, who deserve safety and protection;

Shame at the Tory attempts to use EU citizens already living and working here as a sort of negotiating card.

They must have the right to remain.

Unite will always be at the forefront of challenging racism and anti-immigrant sentiment.

We know that our NHS wouldn’t function without migrant workers and major companies elsewhere will continue to want access to skills in the future.

And that brings me onto the single market and the customs union.

There can be no doubt that maintaining tariff free access to the single market is the best option for the UK economy – and remains in the best interests of the rest of Europe.

That’s why it is our top priority – in spite of what the Prime Minister says.

It’s not just that government is refusing to listen to workers at the moment, we know they are deaf to the concerns of the manufacturing industry too.

The uncertainty allowed to manifest by government, the lack of planning for even transitional arrangements with the EU, and the threat of falling back on default tariffs and WTO rules are already – right now – threatening investment and damaging our economy.

We have hundreds of thousands of our members employed by multinational companies.

Hundreds of thousands employed in manufacturing.

And for every one person employed in manufacturing, there are another four reliant in the supply chain.

Outside the single market, with delays and costs on imports and exports, the components on which much of our manufacturing industry depends will be under threat.

Integrated supply chains will be disrupted without access to the benefits of the single market.

We are waiting nervously for the next wave of investment in companies such as BMW, GE, Siemens, GKN, Rolls-Royce?

It’s no surprise that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has warned that companies will want to see the results of talks between the UK and the European Union before decisions are made to invest.

This, even after Nissan received private guarantees from government last year.

What is clear is that the rhetoric which says “No deal is better than a bad deal” or that puts concerns about immigration above the economic realities of our members’ jobs is simply not good enough.

Unite will not be so easily swayed from the economic realities of leaving the single market and the customs union.

And as we step up our campaign, it’s worth remembering the position of the Welsh and Scottish governments on the single market.

Labour in Wales has demanded continued participation in the single market for “the future prosperity of Wales” and has proposed a new approach to immigration, linking migration to jobs and new employment protections for all workers.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has called for Scottish businesses to be free to trade within the European single market.

And I should mention Northern Ireland, where UNITE has played a very active role in supporting the peace process, establishing community centres to demonstrate this support.

There’s no doubt that the Brexit process is de-stabilising the peace process and the threat of a hard border again would be a disaster for our members and their communities.

It would be entirely irresponsible for this union, as the leaders of our movement, to genuflect to the whims and wishes of the leading Brexiteers, now seeking a ‘hard Brexit’.

And we should be confident that there is a breadth of support for maintaining our interdependence with Europe and putting our economy first in these negotiations.

We’re also working closely with trade associations, where we have found we share the same concerns and all too often the same frustrations with government.

And we are talking to our major companies in that same spirit of mutual support.

Let me just say something about the rush for new trade deals which may grab headlines, but in reality offer nothing by way of compensation for our current arrangements in Europe.

In terms of our current trade, a deal with the US would not come close to filling the economic chasm left behind after losing tariff free access to the Single market.

And that’s not to even speak of what an America-First president would demand from the United Kingdom in terms of access to our National Health Service for US private healthcare; the side-lining of trade union rights; International Labour Organisation standards and safeguards for other public services.

Be in no doubt. He may give us a few crumbs from his trade table, but Donald Trump will want our soul in return.

No doubt you will have been discussing the impact Brexit is already having on UK reps in EWCs.

It’s of great concern to hear anecdotal evidence that some employers are already looking at ways to prevent workers from taking up their EWC positions – before we have even begun negotiating our exit from the European Union.

So let me say to those employers directly, let our workers’ Reps carry out their duty defending UK jobs and industries during this crucial negotiation phase.

The law is clear on this. WHILST we remain in the EU our Reps must be allowed their full rights to participate on EWCs.

And for this reason too: because these negotiations must include the possibility of UK workers retaining their right to participate in EWCs after the UK exit from the EU.

It is certainly a surreal proposition; that major British companies employing thousands of workers in this country, and across EU states, will still have to comply with EU law to operate a European Works Council and yet may exclude British workers from participating in them.

Colleagues we must accept where we are.

What we will not accept is a Brexit paid for by working people.

I recently visited the world class Apprenticeship Academy at BAE Systems in Samlesbury and met a large group of young men and women full of enthusiasm and looking forward to a bright future.

Brexit now threatens that future.

Guy Hands, a kingpin of private equity, was telling the truth when he said: ‘wages will fall by 30%, but hedge funds are set to flourish!’

So it’s up to us to make sure this isn’t just another crisis for capitalism that will be turned to capital’s favour.

And we must put aside our views on the Brexit vote, whether we voted to Remain or Leave.

Protecting our industries, our jobs and our communities is our goal.

Thank you

 

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Len McCluskey Speech On Brexit & Manufacturing

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey

Liverpool, 2nd February 2017

 Let me start by welcoming you all here today – What a fantastic turn out.

We have over 200 people here today, shop stewards from across our manufacturing sector, including aerospace, automotives, chemicals, engineering……

I want to thank the North West region – Mick Whitley – for putting together today’s conference.

It’s testament to the fact that our union is leading the way; addressing the Brexit issue and standing up for the interests of working people. I’m hoping others will follow.

And this is only the first of many regional, national and sector-led conferences Unite will hold in response to the referendum result to leave the European Union.

We will play our full part in the national debate, making certain that the interests of our members are heard loud and clear, at every stage.

That’s because; a majority may have voted to be out of the EU, but they didn’t vote to be out of work.

Our priorities have been clear from the outset:

  • That an ambitious industrial strategy is the only way to mitigate the impact of Brexit on UK manufacturing and the wider economy.
  • That we need tariff-free access to the Single Market and to remain in the Customs Union.
  • And that all existing European workers’ rights, standards and environmental protections must be retained and protected.

There is no doubt that this government’s approach to Brexit so far, risks jobs and risks investment in our economy.

Unite campaigned for Britain to Remain in the European Union because we knew that the industries upon which so many of our members’ jobs rely would be vulnerable in any Brexit negotiation.

But we lost that argument – including, to be frank, with many of our own members – and we accept the result.

Whilst many of us rightly felt dissatisfaction with the referendum process, the conduct of those leading the different campaign groups, and the outright lies that were told;

(I don’t think any of us here today expect this Tory government to invest £350m each week in our NHS). But it’s time to move on.

We must now influence the debate and set out the best hope for working people going forward.

Because whilst we accept the Referendum result, we do not see it as a blank cheque for government to implement its own vision of a ‘Hard Brexit’, unopposed.

We simply can’t afford to leave it in the hands of this Tory government and the ‘Brexit trio’ of David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson.

Or a Prime Minister whose initial moves, to ditch the single market and dash across the Atlantic, and prioritise immigration concerns above economic prosperity, should set alarms bells ringing throughout British industry.

And make no mistake, these actions put hundreds of thousands of our members jobs at risk.

The Brexit debate cannot be decided alone by one person, or by one political party, especially when the mandate from the people is so clearly open to endless speculation.

For this reason Unite supports in-depth parliamentary scrutiny of the terms of exit as well as “a seat at the table” for trade unions.

Unite will not shy away from seeking to move the political debate when it comes to defending our members jobs and shaping the economy of the future.

Anything less, would be a dereliction of the duty we have to our members.

And of course we look to the Labour Party to perform its vital function in holding the government to account – throughout this process.

And let me just say on that – Voting for or against the triggering of Article 50 – the vote that was carried last night in the House of Commons – is irrelevant to that task.

That was a vote to begin the negotiations to leave the EU.

It was not a vote on the substance of those negotiations or the outcome of them.

And holding the government to account is not simply a matter of trying to represent those who voted to Remain against a government forcing through a ‘Hard Brexit’ in the name of those who voted to Leave.

The country may have divided down those lines – 48% to 52% – last June, but maintaining those dividing lines will do none of us any good going forward.

The Labour Party must – and from what I’ve seen this week it is – put people’s jobs, employment rights, and investment in our economy at the core of its stance on Brexit.

After all, two-thirds of Labour constituencies voted to Leave the E.U. whilst one-third voted to Remain.

The Labour leadership has already challenged government, putting tariff free access to the single market and securing employment rights in UK law at the top of the agenda.

Let me set out what we in Unite are doing.

In the aftermath of the result I set up our own Brexit Team, headed by Simon Dubbins, our International Director and working with Pauline Doyle, our Communications Director; Anneliese Midgley, our Political Director; Howard Beckett our AGS for Legal and working with each of our Assistant General Secretaries to ensure we monitor the impact of the Brexit decision across every industry and every sector.

This is a two-way process and this is important.

We need you, our shop stewards, to be responsive to what they hear on the factory floor or in the office and ensure that information is fed back to their Officers.

We have already brought together Reps from across the manufacturing sector to form a Combine;

A body focusing on the strategic policies needed to defend jobs across interdependent industries.

These sectors embrace, amongst others: Aerospace and Shipbuilding; Automotive; General Engineering and Manufacturing; Graphical, Paper, Media and IT; Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Science; Metals and Steel; Energy; Railway and Defence.

And Unite’s elected workplace reps sit on over 150 European Works Councils, a level of interaction and collaboration which is without parallel in the trade union movement.

This experience, along with our links to trade unions across Europe and the world, gives us a unique insight.

As one the government should be banging at our door to engage with.

We have already issued a number of documents; for manufacturing and for finance – and we are developing more by the day.

We have general fact-sheets for activists and we have a website about to go live and sector specific documents under preparation for health, transport and local authorities.

All of this will inform our work lobbying government and the Labour Party. Something, of course, we are already doing.

Our knowledge and expertise should be harnessed by our representatives in parliament, not dismissed.

So I call on Theresa May to meet with me and other trade unions so that government can benefit from the full weight of our industrial understanding and negotiating experience to secure a win-win for workers.

Let me for a moment turn to the issue of the Free Movement of Labour.

There is no doubt that concerns about the impact of the free movement of Labour in Europe played a large part in the referendum result.

Particularly in working-class communities.

Indeed, for years now we have known through private surveys of membership opinion that our members were more concerned about immigration than any other political issue.

But if we are to argue for continued access to the free market, we have to deal with concerns of migrant labour.

So we need a new approach. One that I’ve been advocating for a while now.

It’s time to change the language around this issue and move away from talk of ‘freedom of movement’ on the one hand and ‘border controls’ on the other and instead to speak of safeguards.

Safeguards for communities, safeguards for workers, and safeguards for industries needing labour.

At the core of this must be the reassertion of collective bargaining and trade union strength.

My proposal is that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad can only do so if they are either covered by a proper trade union agreement, or by sectoral collective bargaining.

Put together with trade unions’ own organising efforts this would change the race-to-the-bottom culture into a rate-for-the-job society.

It would end the fatal attraction of ever cheaper workers for employers, and slash demand for migrant labour, without the requirement for formal quotas or restrictions.

This is about engaging with the issue and giving real reassurance to working people in towns and cities abandoned by globalisation.

But let me make it clear.

Migrant workers are not to blame for anything. They are just like all of us, trying to make a better life for their families. It’s greedy, greedy bosses who are to blame and we need to stop their abuse of these workers.

And let’s not forget what unites all of us:-

  • Anger at the government’s disgraceful treatment of refugees, who deserve safety and protection;
  • Shame at the Tory attempts to use EU citizens already living and working here as a sort of negotiating card.

They must have the right to remain .

Unite will always be at the forefront of challenging racism and anti-immigrant sentiment.

We know that our NHS wouldn’t function without migrant workers and major companies elsewhere will continue to want access to skills in the future.

And that brings me onto the single market and the customs union.

There can be no doubt that maintaining tariff free access to the single market is the best option for the UK economy – and remains in the best interests of the rest of Europe.

That’s why it is our top priority – in spite of what the Prime Minister says.

It’s not just that government is refusing to listen to workers at the moment, we know they are deaf to the concerns of the manufacturing industry too.

The uncertainty allowed to manifest by government, the lack of planning for even transitional arrangements with the EU, and the threat of falling back on default tariffs and WTO rules are already – right now – threatening investment and damaging our economy.

We have hundreds of thousands of our members employed by multinational companies.

Hundreds of thousands employed in manufacturing.

And for every one person employed in manufacturing, there are another four reliant in the supply chain.

In the North West alone, over 300,000 are employed in manufacturing, the highest for any region, and it’s here more than anywhere, we need to hear that the markets upon which people’s jobs depend will not be closed off.

Outside the single market, with delays and costs on imports and exports, the components on which much of our manufacturing industry depends will be under threat.

Integrated supply chains will be disrupted without access to the benefits of the single market.

(And I know Tony Burke will talk more about this in his remarks).

We are waiting nervously for the next wave of investment in companies such as BMW, GE, Siemens, GKN, Rolls Royce and others.

It’s no surprise that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has warned that companies will want to see the results of talks between the UK and the European Union before decisions are made to invest.

This, even after Nissan received private guarantees from government last year.

What is clear is that the rhetoric which says “No deal is better than a bad deal” or that puts concerns about immigration above the economic realities of our members’ jobs is simply not good enough.

Unite will not be so easily swayed from the economic realities of leaving the single market and the customs union.

And as we step up our campaign, it’s worth remembering the position of the Welsh and Scottish governments on the single market.

Labour in Wales has demanded continued participation in the single market for “the future prosperity of Wales” and has proposed a new approach to immigration, linking migration to jobs and new employment protections for all workers.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has called for Scottish businesses to be free to trade within the European single market.

And I should mention Northern Ireland, where Unite has played a very active role in supporting the peace process, establishing community centres to demonstrate this support.

There is no doubt that the Brexit process is de-stabilising the peace process and the threat of a hard border again would be a disaster for our members and their communities.

It would be entirely irresponsible for this union, as the leaders of our movement, to genuflect to the whims and wishes of the leading Brexiteers, now seeking a ‘hard Brexit’.

It’s our moral duty to stand and fight for decent jobs, and a decent future for our families and communities.

And beyond the Tory ‘hard Brexit’ on offer in Westminster there is a breadth of support for maintaining our interdependence with Europe and putting our economy first in these negotiations.

We’re also working closely with trade associations, where we have found we share the same concerns and all too often the same frustrations with government.

And we are talking to our major companies in that same spirit of mutual support.

The North West’s prosperity is linked to the European Union.

That’s because as a whole, manufacturing is a major generator of wealth for this region.

The North West is also an exception outside of Southern England, in trading. It exports more goods in absolute terms than any other region to the EU.

Leaving the Single Market therefore poses a unique threat here.

Let me just say something about the rush for new trade deals which may grab headlines, but in reality offer nothing by way of compensation for our current arrangements in Europe.

In terms of our current trade, a deal with the US would not come close to filling the economic chasm left behind after losing tariff free access to the Single market.

And that’s not to even speak of what an America-First president would demand from the United Kingdom in terms of access to our National Health Service for US private healthcare;

the side-lining of trade union rights, International Labour Organisation standards and safeguards for other public services.

Be in no doubt. He may give us a few crumbs from his trade table, but Donald Trump will want our soul in return.

We must accept where we are.

What we will not accept is a Brexit that will be paid for by working class communities.

It must work for the people of Manchester and Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow, and not just the City of London and the top floor of Trump Tower.

We have heard much from government in recent years about rebalancing the economy.

Remember George Osborne’s ‘March of the Makers’. And Theresa May even put the words ‘industrial strategy’ back on the plaque of the Business Department.

Since the crash of 2008 all politicians have agreed that our economy needs to move away from its dependency on the finance and service sector.

And there is only one way to do that: and that is to build a strong and vibrant manufacturing sector.

I visited yesterday the world class Apprenticeship Academy at BAE Systems in Samlesbury and met a large group of young men and women full of enthusiasm and looking forward to a bright future.

Brexit now threatens that future.

Our union – the biggest organisation of working people across our nations – has a duty to lead the way, to defend jobs and defend the industries on which they rely.

We will resist a ‘Hard Brexit’ rushed through to appease the zealots on the Tory benches that threatens our members’ livelihoods.

Don’t underestimate the support we will have in this battle.

And the unlikely alliances we build, across industry and with good companies, companies that produce great products – from automotives to aerospace that this nation is rightly proud of, and who provide good jobs upon which our communities rely.

Colleagues, we have all been here before.

We have a Prime Minister turning her back on British industry in order to embrace the cowboy capitalism so adored by the right-wing across the Atlantic.

Guy Hands, a kingpin of private equity, was telling the truth when he said: ‘wages will fall by 30%, but hedge funds are set to flourish!’

This is just another crisis for capitalism that will be turned to capital’s favour – aided and abetted by a hard-right Tory Party with no truck for working people.

They’ve sold Brexit to the people, as the people taking back control, when in truth it’s the capitalist class that wants to steal the lot.

It’s families and communities in cities like these – and across the rust belt in America – that always pay the price for the free-wheeling, winner takes all capitalism that Thatcher and Regan revered in their day – and Theresa May and Donald Trump are pursuing today.

We must put aside our views on the Brexit vote, whether we voted to Remain or Leave.

Protecting our industries, our jobs and our communities is our goal.

It falls to all of us, colleagues, the leaders of our movement, to defend our people, our communities, and yes our class.

So, colleagues, let’s stand together.

I can assure you, I’ll fight with every sinew of my body to make sure your wishes and concerns are met.

 

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Excellent article from the Wall Street Journal: The End Of Employees

contractor-v-employeeNever before have big employers tried so hard to hand over chunks of their business to contractors. From Google to Wal-Mart, the strategy prunes costs for firms and job security for millions of workers

By LAUREN WEBER
The Wall Street Journal
Updated Feb. 2, 2017 12:41 p.m. ET

No one in the airline industry comes close to Virgin America Inc. on a measurement of efficiency called revenue per employee. That’s because baggage delivery, heavy maintenance, reservations, catering and many other jobs aren’t done by employees. Virgin America uses contractors.

“We will outsource every job that we can that is not customer-facing,” David Cush, the airline’s chief executive, told investors last March. In April, he helped sell Virgin America to Alaska Air Group Inc. for $2.6 billion, more than double its value in late 2014. He left when the takeover was completed in December.

Never before have American companies tried so hard to employ so few people. The outsourcing wave that moved apparel-making jobs to China and call-center operations to India is now just as likely to happen inside companies across the U.S. and in almost every industry.

The men and women who unload shipping containers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. warehouses are provided by trucking company Schneider National Inc.’s logistics operation, which in turn subcontracts with temporary-staffing agencies. Pfizer Inc. used contractors to perform the majority of its clinical drug trials last year.

The contractor model is so prevalent that Google parent Alphabet Inc., ranked by Fortune magazine as the best place to work for seven of the past 10 years, has roughly equal numbers of outsourced workers and full-time employees, according to people familiar with the matter.

About 70,000 TVCs — an abbreviation for temps, vendors and contractors —t est drive Google’s self-driving cars, review legal documents, make products easier and better to use, manage marketing and data projects, and do many other jobs. They wear red badges at work, while regular Alphabet employees wear white ones.

The shift is radically altering what it means to be a company and a worker. More flexibility for companies to shrink the size of their employee base, pay and benefits means less job security for workers. Rising from the mailroom to a corner office is harder now that outsourced jobs are no longer part of the workforce from which star performers are promoted.

For companies, the biggest allure of replacing employees with contract workers is more control over costs. Contractors help businesses keep their full-time, in-house staffing lean and flexible enough to adapt to new ideas or changes in demand.

For workers, the changes often lead to lower pay and make it surprisingly hard to answer the simple question “Where do you work?” Some economists say the parallel workforce created by the rise of contracting is helping to fuel income inequality between people who do the same jobs.

No one knows how many Americans work as contractors, because they don’t fit neatly into the job categories tracked by government agencies. Rough estimates by economists range from 3% to 14% of the nation’s workforce, or as many as 20 million people.

One of the narrowest definitions of outsourcing, workers hired through a contracting company to provide on-site labor for a single client, rose to 2% of all U.S. workers in 2015 from 0.6% in 2005, according to an academic study last year.

(Go here for more about the complications in counting contractors.)image009

Companies, which disclose few details about their outside workers, are rapidly increasing the numbers and types of jobs seen as ripe for contracting. At large firms, 20% to 50% of the total workforce often is outsourced, according to staffing executives. Bank of America Corp. ,Verizon Communications Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and FedEx Corp. have thousands of contractors each.

In oil, gas and pharmaceuticals, outside workers sometimes outnumber employees by at least 2 to 1, says Arun Srinivasan, head of strategy and customer operations at SAP Fieldglass, a division of business software provider SAP SE that helps customers manage their workforces.

Janitorial work and cafeteria services disappeared from most company payrolls long ago. A similar shift is under way for higher-paying, white-collar jobs such as research scientist, recruiter, operations manager and loan underwriter.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of all medical transcriptionists, who type medical reports recorded by doctors and nurses, were employed in what the agency calls the business support services industry in 2015. The percentage has jumped by more than a third since 2009, a sign that transcriptionists are being pushed out of many doctors’ offices and hospitals.

“I haven’t yet met a CEO who’s not surprised by how many people who touch their products aren’t their own employees,” says Carl Camden, president and CEO of staffing agency Kelly Services Inc. Outsourcing and consulting brought in 14% of Kelly’s revenue in 2016.

Eventually, some large companies could be pruned of all but the most essential employees. Consulting firmAccenture PLC predicted last year that one of the 2,000 largest companies in the world will have “no full-time employees outside of the C-suite” within 10 years.

Accenture is one of the world’s largest providers of outsourced labor. Along with many rivals, it is pitching chief executives on the idea that their company’s core business is smaller than they think.

“We’ve shown we can do core parts of their business better than they can do it themselves,” says Mike Salvino, who ran Accenture’s outsourcing business for seven years until he left in 2016.

Efficiency Boosters
Average revenue per employee at the largest U.S. companies has climbed 22% since 2003. The jump could reflect the growing use of contractors and temporary workers, who aren’t counted as employees. Outsourcing is having a major impact in manufacturing and might have inflated official measurements of labor productivity from 2009 to 2015.
Average revenue per employee, in 2016 dollars

Estimated number of outsourced temp workers in manufacturing

Outsourced temp workers as a percentage of direct-hire employees

image010image011image012Note: Revenue figures are adjusted for inflation and include about 430 companies that were in the S&P 500 from 2000 to 2016. Direct-hire employees usually have full-time jobs with benefits.

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence and The Wall Street Journal (revenue per employee); Matthew Dey (Bureau of Labor Statistics), Susan Houseman (W.J. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research) and Anne Polivka (Bureau of Labor Statistics) (manufacturing workers and direct-hire employees)

Steven Barker, 36 years old, says companies often dangle the possibility of full-time employment but seldom follow through. He has worked contract assignments at Amazon.com Inc., where it was common during orientation sessions for someone to ask if the job could become permanent.

He says the answer usually was: “We’ll see. Anything’s possible!”

At Amazon, Mr. Barker applied to become a full-time employee on X-Ray, which lets customers access actor biographies and other information while watching movies and television shows. He was an X-Ray contractor since it was in the development stage, he says, but wasn’t offered a job interview and eventually received a generic rejection letter from the company. Amazon declines to comment.

Companies sometimes try outsourcing and then change their minds. About 70% of Target Corp. ’s information-technology jobs were outsourced when Mike McNamara became chief information officer at the retailer in 2015. About 70% of those jobs now are done by employees.

“I’m a strong believer that if you can get competitive advantage out of something, you want it in-house,” he says. “That I have better supply-chain algorithms than [my competitors] really matters.”

Few companies, workplace consultants or economists expect the outsourcing trend to reverse. Moving noncore jobs out of a company allows it to devote more time and energy to the things it does best. When an outside firm is in charge of labor, it assumes the day-to-day grind of scheduling, hiring and firing. Workers are quickly replaced if needed, and the company worries only about the final product.

Steven Berkenfeld, an investment banker who has spent his career evaluating corporate strategies, says companies of all shapes and sizes are increasingly thinking like this: “Can I automate it? If not, can I outsource it? If not, can I give it to an independent contractor or freelancer?”

Hiring an employee is a last resort, Mr. Berkenfeld adds, and “very few jobs make it through that obstacle course.”

Visitors arriving at SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, likely don’t notice that about 30 receptionists at its U.S. facilities work for contractor Eurest Services, part of Compass Group PLC. It happened in 2014 after SAP executives concluded during a review of potential outsourcing opportunities that some managers were paying their receptionists above-market wages.

SAP handed over hiring, training and oversight of receptionists to an outside firm. They were told they could leave SAP or keep their jobs through Eurest, which pays the receptionists in line with the overall market.

SAP says the move left the company with less to manage. “Internally, when [an employee’s] skills aren’t up to par, there’s a protracted process of managing performance,” says Jewell Parkinson, the human-resources chief for SAP’s North American division. “Working through the vendor, it’s a more efficient turnaround.”

Some economists liken the strategy to Hollywood studios, which greenlight movies and then hire directors, actors, editors, special-effects teams and marketing agencies for production. All those outsiders work together to deliver the movie, but the studio has no long-term obligations after the film’s release.

When jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney no longer wanted to handle coordinating deliveries to its factories, it hired United Parcel ServiceInc., which has thousands of logistics experts and specialized automation technology.

For years, suppliers delivered parts directly to Pratt’s two factories, where materials handlers unpacked the parts and distributed them to production teams. Earl Exum, vice president of global materials and logistics, says Pratt had “a couple hundred” logistics specialists. Some handlers were 20- or 30-year veterans who could “look at a part and know exactly what it is,” he adds.

As Pratt wrestled with plans to speed production of a new jet engine and open three new factories, executives decided in 2015 to centralize delivery and distribution of parts in one facility. That facility would receive all the parts, pack them into assembly kits and send them to the five factories.

UPS custom-built a 600,000-square-foot facility, roughly the size of 10 football fields, for Pratt in Londonderry, N.H. About 150 Pratt employees who handled parts at the two factories were offered a chance at retraining for production jobs. Many did, and the rest left the company or retired. UPS has hired about 200 hourly workers for the facility.

Most of the UPS employees had no experience in the field, and assembly kits arrived at factories with damaged or missing parts. Pratt and UPS bosses struggled to get the companies’ computers in sync, including warehouse-management software outsourced by UPS to another firm, according to Pratt.

The result: a 33% decline in engine deliveries by Pratt, a unit of United Technologies Corp. , or about $500 million in sales, in the third quarter of 2015.

Production was back on schedule by the following quarter, and Pratt’s Mr. Exum says the facility is running well now. The 200 UPS employees can do work for five factories that 150 Pratt employees used to do for two. Pratt’s employees were unionized, but UPS’s aren’t. The union representing Pratt workers objected to the move.

The flexibility of outsourced labor helps Southwest Airlines Co. shield its employee base from the ups and downs of the airline industry. The fourth-largest U.S. carrier by traffic has about 53,000 employees and 10,000 outside workers.

The non-employees range from wheelchair pushers in airports to information-technology professionals.

“We’ve never had a layoff in our history,” says Greg Muccio, Southwest’s head of recruiting. “When we look at contingent workers, we’re protecting that because what we don’t want to do is balloon up and then be in a situation where we need to lay people off.”

Outsourced workers at Google parent Alphabet arrive through staffing agencies such as Zenith Talent, Filter LLC and Switzerland’s Adecco Group AG , which alone bills Alphabet about $300 million a year for contractors and temps who work there, according to an Adecco executive.

Google wouldn’t comment on how it decides which jobs are done by contractors rather than employees. A former contractor in the search division says he got the impression from conversations and meetings that he was a nonemployee because his skill set wasn’t a core feature of the product on which he was working. He says managers also needed the ability to ramp down quickly if the project wasn’t successful.

The contractor eventually became a full-time employee. He says he was told the decision to put him on the regular payroll had to be approved by Google co-founder Larry Page, now Alphabet’s chief executive, at a product-review meeting.

The trade group Staffing Industry Analysts estimates businesses spend nearly $1 trillion a year world-wide on what it calls “workforce solutions,” or outside services to place and manage workers.

As more companies outsource jobs, the resulting improvement in some measurements of productivity puts pressure on other companies.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. executives were asked in a 2015 earnings conference call to explain why its revenue per employee trailed other banks.

Todd Gibbons, BNY’s vice chairman and chief financial officer, said investors should focus on a different indicator “because it’s just too hard to tell exactly what’s going on with head count and how people compute it and whether they’ve got contractors in versus full-time employees and so forth.”

BNY Chairman and CEO Gerald Hassell vowed to “drive down the labor component of our company” with technology that can perform tasks currently done by people. Other companies view contracting as a stopgap until more jobs are automated, freeing firms to dispense with some workers altogether.

In January, BNY told analysts and investors that the bank has “more than 150 bots now in production.”

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Alborada: Latin America Uncovered Article

Brazil

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Letter issued December 31st 2016 by Len McCluskey

letter-to-branches-dec16

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USW Chemical Workers Newsletter December 2016.

Download the lastest Newsletter from the United Steelworkers for Chemical Workers by clicking here. December 20106. Issue number 6

Thanks to Kent Holsing.

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Len McCluskey : Free Movement Of Labour Is A Class Question

len-bannerWe need a new approach to the vexed subject of immigration – and at the core of this must be the reassertion of collective bargaining and trade union strength, writes Len McCluskey.

There is no doubt that concerns about the impact of the free movement of labour in Europe played a large part in the referendum result, particularly in working-class communities.

It is those same communities — traditionally Labour-supporting — where our party is now struggling.

It would be easy to simply say: “Let’s pull up the drawbridge.” However, that would be entirely impractical in today’s world, as well as being undesirable.

Let’s not forget the many economic and cultural benefits Britain has secured from migration.

But we are well past the point where the issue of free movement can be ignored. As long ago as 2009 private surveys of Unite membership opinion were showing that even then our members were more concerned about immigration than any other political issue.

And we are also, I would argue, past the point where working people can be convinced that the free movement of labour has worked for them, their families, their industries and their communities.

Moral arguments may be fine for the middle distance, but if it comes up against the reality of people’s daily experience, these arguments will fail.

Let’s have no doubt: the free movement of labour is a class question.

Karl Marx identified that fact a long time ago. “A study of the struggle waged by the British working class,” he wrote in 1867, “reveals that in order to oppose their workers, the employers either bring in workers from abroad or else transfer manufacture to countries where there is a cheap labour force.”

So it is today. Anyone who has had to negotiate for workers, in manufacturing in particular, knows the huge difficulties that have been caused by the ability of capital to move production around the world — often to China and the Far East or eastern Europe — in search of far lower labour costs and higher profits.

Likewise, the elite’s use of immigration to this country is not motivated by a love of diversity or a devotion to multiculturalism.

It is instead all part of the flexible labour market model, ensuring a plentiful supply of cheap labour here for those jobs that can’t be exported elsewhere.

The benefits of this are easier to see in Muswell Hill than they are in Middlesbrough.

Of course, all socialists must ultimately look forward to a day when people can move freely across the world and live or work where they will.

But that is a utopia removed from the world of today, and would require international economic planning and public ownership to make a reality.

Argument that wage rates are not affected does not stand up to scrutiny either.

Put simply, if all you have to sell is your capacity to work, then its value is going to be affected by an influx of people willing to work for less money and put up with a lower standard of living because it nevertheless improves their own lives.

Supply and demand affects the sale of labour too, pitting worker against worker.

Of course, there is a straightforward trade union response — we need to do everything necessary to organise all workers here into trade unions, wherever they may have been born and whatever their history, and fight for decent pay, proper working conditions and full rights at work.

And we should join the Labour Party in demanding that this country — the sixth richest in the world — provides every worker, wherever they are from, with a decent job and every family with a decent home.

And unions here need to unite with trade unions in other countries to end the playing off of workers in one part of the world against each other, to oppose the power of global capital with the power of a renewed international labour movement.

And let’s not pretend that free movement is a straightforward benefit to the countries workers are leaving behind, being denuded of young people and skilled labour.

Yes, more labour contributes to growth here, but that is growth foregone in poorer countries by that logic.

There is another more immediate argument for the free movement of labour — it is the price for keeping access to the single market, which is essential for so many British jobs.

That problem needs to be frankly acknowledged — fixed barriers to free movement will hardly be acceptable to the European Union if access to the single market is to be retained.

So we need a new approach.

I believe it is time to change the language around this issue and to speak instead of safeguards for communities, for workers, and for industries needing labour.

At the core of this must be the reassertion of collective bargaining and trade union strength.

Unite has proposed that any employer wishing to recruit labour abroad can only do so if they are either covered by a proper trade union agreement, or by sectoral collective bargaining.

Put together with trade unions’ own organising efforts this would change the race-to-the-bottom culture into a rate-for-the-job society.

It would end the fatal attraction of ever cheaper workers for employers without the requirement for formal quotas or restrictions.

Add to this proposal Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to fair rules and reasonable management of migration, as well as Labour’s pledge to restore the Migrant Impact Fund for communities suddenly affected by large-scale migration, and there is the basis for giving real reassurance to working people in towns and cities abandoned by globalisation.

And let’s not forget what unites all of us:

Anger at the government’s disgraceful treatment of refugees, who deserve safety and protection;

Shame at the Tory attempts to use EU citizens already living and working here as a sort of negotiating card — they must have the right to remain;

And a determination to resist the rise in racist attacks and invective which has blighted our society since the referendum.

Those are the anti-racist priorities of today. Let’s not let pandering to Ukip on the one hand or a utopian ultra-leftism on the other divide us.

  • Len McCluskey is standing for re-election as general secretary of Unite. From the Morning Star, December 24th.
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