MPs Must Vote Down Theresa May’s Brexit Deal

Unite calls on MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal tomorrow when it is brought to Parliament.

The deal utterly fails to protect the jobs and working rights of our members. At best it offers us all – from manufacturing to transport and services – another 21 months of uncertainty with no promise of the deal we need at the end of it.

The deal fails every test Unite has set.

We demanded a deal to defend jobs, a deal which protects and enhances union-won working rights and a deal which prevents a hard land or sea border for Northern Ireland.

Instead we are offered a deal with no job security, no protections for our rights at work and drags the UK out of safety bodies such as EASA, EURATOM and pharmaceutical protections.

After two years of failed Tory negotiations with the EU, the document the government has published – with no guarantees or detail – is as uncertain for Britain as a no deal scenario. No wonder the Tories won’t publish their impact assessments of the deal – they know there’s absolutely no good news to share.

Many of you have been in touch with me to ask what the deal means specifically for our members in the automotive sector. Please see below for the latest statement from our Automotive National Industrial Sector Committee.

“Be in no doubt that a no deal Brexit would be a disaster for our industry. The experiment in chaos on the motorways of Kent proved exactly what would happen. Our sector relies on 1,100 trucks crossing the channel every day, yet even the 89 lorries which took part in the government’s trial experienced the sort of delays which would bring production to a halt in car plants across the country. If that’s the dress rehearsal, the real thing would mean the immediate severing of Just In Time supply chains and the sudden imposition of barriers with our largest export market. The cost would be measured in millions and we know exactly how employers would act to recoup that loss.

Many thousands of automotive jobs rely on Britain’s exit from the EU being orderly, with concrete plans in place to mitigate any damage and prevent any new barriers. Neither Theresa May’s deal or the Government’s farcical no deal plans provide for that.”

Sadly, all the sectors we represent as a union have similar concerns.

As a result, we utterly reject the deal and I am calling on you to stand with us, vote it down and fight for a Brexit that works for the many and not the few.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Speech On PMs Statement Today

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, responding to the Prime Minister’s statement on the Brexit deal in the House today, said:

Mr Speaker, I would link to thank the Prime Minister for advance copy of her statement.

In December, the government shamefully pulled the meaningful vote on her deal with the promise that the Prime Minister would secure legal assurances from the EU that the backstop would be temporary.

The Leader of the House confirmed this saying: “The Prime Minister is determined to get the legal reassurances that Members want to see”.

While the Foreign Secretary told us the Prime Minister would ‘find a way’ to win tomorrow’s Commons vote by getting assurances with ‘legal force’ that the Irish border backstop is only temporary.

On receiving this letter today to the Prime Minister from the President of the EU Commission and Council it must now be clear to all Members across this House yet again the Prime Minister has completely and utterly failed!

Today’s letter is nothing more than a repetition of exactly the same position that was pulled more than a month ago.

It categorically does not give the legal assurances this House was promised and contains nothing but warm words and aspirations.

Mr Speaker, isn’t it the case that absolutely nothing has changed from the Attorney General’s letter of advice to the Cabinet?

His advice which the government tried to hide explained with great clarity the reasons why the UK could find itself locked in to the Northern Ireland “backstop” Protocol with no legal escape route.

Today’s letter means nothing. The truth remains that by the end of 2020 the UK will face a choice of either extending the transition period, which comes at a unknown financial cost or we will fall into the backstop which the Attorney General has said, “endures indefinitely” until such time as an agreement supersedes it.

He has himself updated his legal advice today and he clearly says and I quote, “they do not alter the fundamental meanings”, as he advised them in November.

If there were legally binding assurances on the temporary nature of the backstop then surely they would be written into the withdrawal agreement itself?

The letter published this morning is clear this is not possible, saying: “We are not in a position to agree to anything that changes or is inconsistent with the Withdrawal Agreement”.

Mr Speaker, this morning’s joint letter does say, “negotiations can start as soon as possible after the withdrawal of the UK”.

But my question to the Prime Minister is how is that possible when the Cabinet cannot agree among themselves?

That is why the Political Declaration is so vague. Actually, Mr Speaker, I believe the right word is “nebulous”.

Given the Prime Minister has failed to secure the promised changes, there can be no question of once again ducking accountability and avoiding tomorrow’s vote.

No more playing for time; no more running down the clock to scare people into backing this damaging shambles of a deal.

I am sure Honourable members across the House will not be fooled by what has been produced today.

It is clear what we are voting on this week is exactly the same deal we should have voted on in December.

I am sure the Prime Minister knows this – that is why today she is trying to blame others for this chaos.
Given the lack of support for the Prime Minister’s deal, you might have thought she would try to reach out to MPs. Instead the Prime Minister is claiming that by failing to support her botched deal. Honourable members are threatening to undermine the faith of the British people in our democracy.

Mr Speaker, the only people who are undermining faith in our democracy is the government itself!

Mr Speaker, I can think of no greater example of democracy in action than for this House to reject a deal that is clearly a bad for Britain.

During the past 2 years of these shambolic negotiations the Prime Minister has failed to listen.

She hasn’t once tried to work with Parliament to construct a Brexit deal this House and the country can support. And now she is left facing a humiliating defeat. She is blaming everybody else but herself.

Mr Speaker, if this deal is rejected tomorrow and I hope it is the blame will lie firmly with this government and firmly at the feet of the Prime Minister.

There is a deal that could command the support of this House: a deal which includes a new and comprehensive customs union; a strong single market relationship; and a guarantee to keep pace with EU rights and standards.

Instead the Prime Minister still chooses to take the most reckless path.

Mr Speaker, as we enter the week of the ‘meaningful vote’, let us remember the incompetence we have been forced to endure.

We have seen two years of shambolic negotiations. Red lines announced and then cast aside. We are now on the third Brexit Secretary, all of whom have been largely excluded from vital stages of the negotiations.

We were promised the easiest trade deal in history, yet have seen a divided government deliver a botched withdrawal deal with nothing more than a vague outline for what our future relationship with the EU will be.

Meanwhile, conditions in this country for millions of people continue to get worse.

The government is in disarray. It is clear if the Prime Minister’s deal is rejected tomorrow – it is time for a General Election – it is time for a new government.

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Contrast Between Germany & UK On Immigration Policy

As the UK Government and the right wing media (and sadly the BBC) have been ramping up an ‘immigration crisis’ it is worth contrasting this with what is happening in Germany following Merkel’s ‘open door’ policy and how they have handled the many thousands of refugees fleeing war zones since 2015.

In 2015 Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the German borders to hundreds of thousands of war refugees. She faced open hostility and heavy criticism from the far-right Alternative For Germany (AfD) party who said the new arrivals would be a burden on Germany’s welfare system and economy.

But figures from Germany show that their companies have managed to attract more people to apprenticeships and to on-the-job training schemes due a growth in applications from asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The Head of Germany’s Labour Office, Detlef Scheele, has stated there was ‘no reason’ to be overly pessimistic about the country’s ability to cope with the record number of arrivals. “This is all going pretty well,” adding that the numbers were slightly better than expected. “These are good numbers, also taking into account that the people came here for humanitarian reasons and not for finding a job.”The number of employed migrants from the eight countries with the biggest numbers of asylum seekers surged by more than 100,000 to 306,574 in May 2018 compared with the same month in last year, data from the Labour Office showed.

Other important data shows that roughly three out of four refugees had found employment in which the company and the employee were paying full social insurance contributions.

There were 500,000 people from the eight main asylum seeker countries who were registered as ‘looking for work’ in July 2018.

However this includes people who are currently completing an integration and language courses.

There are still skill shortages in Germany with some young people un-willing to commit to apprenticeships and on-the-job training for up to three and a half years.

Germany’s crafts and trades, have long complained about skills and labour shortages, and have become active recruiters of refugees from war zones.

The head of the German Employers’ Federation (BDA) Ingo Kramer has said in the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper recently: “Of more than one million people who have come to Germany since 2015, almost 400,000 have an apprenticeship or job”

He said the speed with which refugees had found work had surprised him. ZDH, the German confederation of skilled crafts, announced that the number of refugees doing a craft apprenticeships had risen more than 140 per cent year-on-year.

What a marked contrast to the ‘siege mentality’ rhetoric and Sajid Javid’s dash from his luxury Safari holiday to ‘take charge’ – all in the name of trying to make the Government look ‘tough’ on people who risk everything in seeking a better life for themselves.

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Support Adrian Weir For NPF Seat

Support Adrian Weir (@AMJWeir) Standing for NPF seat on the London Labour Party Regional Executive

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Interview with Senator Napolean Gomez, President of Los Mineros Union in Mexico

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Steelworkers & Machinists Organising At Tesla Plant

From www.wivb.com

Tesla workers are pushing to unionise South Buffalo plant

As employees headed into work at the massive solar panel and roof manufacturing facility in south Buffalo, their fellow workers handed out organizing leaflets.

This push to unionize is coming into the light for the first time Thursday morning.

News 4 exclusively interviewed workers behind this push, and we’re finally hearing what it’s like working at this plant that was built and equipped with $750 million in taxpayer money.

At least some workers say big improvements are needed, especially when it comes to their pay.

They say they’re barely making salaries above what the state considers a living wage, and they’re hoping to bring in the United Steel Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to help change that.

Read a joint letter written by different communities in support of the Tesla workers here.

 

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Christmas Strike Announced At Cumbrian Newspapers

Journalists working for Newsquest-owned titles in Carlisle, Whitehaven and Workington have agreed to take strike action on Thursday 20 December over poor pay.

Newsquest has made more than a 100 people redundant since it took over the CN Group in March and now staff are being made redundant three days before Christmas. This has led to huge workloads for the staff remaining.

The titles affected are the Carlisle News & Star, the Cumberland News, the Workington Times & Star and The Whitehaven News. In Workington (with an 80 per cent turn-out) there was a 100 per cent vote for strike action and action short of a strike and in Whitehaven (with a 100 per cent turn-out) the votes were 80 per cent to take strike action and 100 per cent to take action short of strike action.

Last month the chapel in Carlisle voted for action over the failure of the company to offer any pay rise. They have not had one since 2015 and only two rises in the past 11 years. NUJ members in Carlisle had an 87.5 per cent turnout for their ballot and a 100 per cent vote in favour of strike action; they will also strike on Thursday 20 December.  In Carlisle, trainees start on £16,500, seniors get £20,500, subs £23,500 and the highest-paid reporters, with eight to 30 years’ experience, earn £26,000.

A spokesperson for the Carlisle chapel said:

“Newsquest appears to have a business model based primarily on cost-cutting. Over the past year, the effect of this in our Cumbrian newsrooms has been dramatic. It has driven away most of our most experienced local journalists, whose professionalism and local standing has benefited the company – and our community – enormously. Collectively, their departure represents a catastrophic loss of experience and knowledge. The NUJ in Cumbria believes the journalists, together with colleagues in the commercial departments, are the primary asset of Newsquest’s Cumbrian business. It is illogical for the company, while being prepared to invest in technology, to freeze the pay of its journalists indefinitely, as appears to be the case.

“If this continues, our newsrooms will be populated almost exclusively by junior, inexperienced and transient reporters, destined to move on quickly because they cannot afford to remain in a job where low pay rates confirm they are not valued. Carlisle members have been incredibly patient with Newsquest and were prepared to believe we were dealing with a management which aimed to turn around the company’s fortunes, allowing shareholders and staff to reap the rewards whilst offering a valued and quality to product to readers and advertisers. What we have seen however is simple asset-stripping, with staff treated with contempt and customers treated as collateral damage.

“The reporting team is now less than half what it was three years ago and is expected to work from 7am to 11pm, taking pictures, writing headlines and keeping up with social media, with barely any production staff to direct and check their work, meaning staff can often do little more than cut and paste press releases. This is hardly the independent, dynamic regional journalism which readers deserve, have long supported and surely need more than ever in a world afflicted by fake news.”

After years of hard work on a new pay structure, the chapels in Workington and Whitehaven have at the final hurdle been met by a blunt refusal to recognise the work of senior colleagues. This means that a reporter who has been a senior for four years earns more than a chief reporter. An NUJ chapel spokesperson said:

“Our chapels have tried for more than four years to sit down and negotiate a deal with both CN Group and Newsquest to ensure members are paid consistent with their experience and are rewarded for their loyalty. In this period members have never backed away from their responsibilities, adapted to the continuous changes, increased workloads and pressure. It’s fair to say we feel the company has not taken us seriously and we have now run out of patience.”

Jane Kennedy, NUJ organiser for the Northern and Midlands region, said:

“Instead of engaging positively with staff and the union Newsquest has set out to ignore the union, forcing members to leave the building to hold meetings, refusing to follow the terms of the recognition agreements and cancelling meetings at short notice. All this has done is to harden the resolve of members who are a highly-dedicated team of people whose commitment to local journalism is without question. Newsquest’s chief executive Henry Faure Walker promised investment in editorial and to conduct a meaningful relationship with the union. Yet these have proved empty promises.

“There are now fewer reporters since the take-over and Newsquest has shown a blatant disregard for their duty of care to their staff. It is the company’s attitude that has led to members having no choice but to act to defend not only their terms and conditions but also the heart and soul of quality local journalism.  When Newsquest bought the company, NUJ members knew and accepted that there were going to be changes ahead but the massive reduction in staffing and the deterioration in pay, terms and conditions harms the business and shows Newsquest has a total disregard for sustainable, high-quality journalism in the UK.”

Write a message of support for the strikers and send it to the local reps. Please email Workington MoC Fed Bendendo at federica.bedendo@gmail.com and Carlisle joint MoC Louise Green at irebygreens@btinternet.com

Organise lots of email messages to the company, ask your colleagues, branch reps, other trade unionists, politicians and prominent public figures to write to Newsquest – offering support for the strikers, condemning Newsquest’s pay rates and expressing concern about the impact Newsquest is having on quality, sustainable journalism in the UK. Address your polite messages to – CN Group MD Jonathan Lee at jonathan.lee@newsquest.co.uk and copy in Henry Faure Walker at h.faurewalker@newsquest.co.uk and then send a copy of your message to campaigns@nuj.org.uk

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Clamour For Vote Of No Confidence In Tory Government.

Len McCluskey, leader of the biggest union in the UK and Ireland, Unite, said:

“Millions of people have lost all confidence in this government. Tory Brexit bungling on top of the agonies of austerity means it is well past the time for Theresa May and her team to go.

“Whether it is the right moment for Labour to move a parliamentary vote of no confidence is another matter – it is far from clear that the views of the country would be reflected in the votes of MPs.

“In particular, Jeremy Corbyn should not be bounced by those who have little or no interest in seeing Labour elected. They would be better placed using a censure motion and waiting for the right time to issue a vote of no confidence.”

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Mexican President Endorses Corbyn For PM

Jeremy Corbyn with Mexican President López Obrador

Mexican President López Obrador has declared his support for the leader of the Labour Party to become the next British prime minister.

He made the endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn, whom he described as “my eternal friend,” during a gathering of high-profile friends at López Obrador’s ranch in Palenque, Chiapas, yesterday.

López Obrador, who is being sworn in on December 1st, posted a video to social media in which he appears with Corbyn, Miguel Ángel Revilla, president of the Spanish autonomous community of Cantabria, and Cuban singer Silvio Rodríguez.

“. . . We’re Hispanic but we have good relations with all the people and all the nations of the world and we especially have a very good relationship with the planet’s progressive movements,” the new president said.

“We have a very good relationship with the United Kingdom labor movement, we identify with each other because progressive governments, democratic governments respect migrants and respect the right that all human beings have to seek a [better] life, that’s the principle of human rights,” López Obrador continued.

The leftist political veteran also appeared to make a veiled attack on the hardline attitude of United States authorities towards the thousands of Central American migrants currently stranded on Mexico’s northern border.

“The United States is a country, a nation that became a power because of the work, effort and intelligence of migrants,” López Obrador said.

He then declared his unequivocal support for Corbyn to become the next leader of the United Kingdom.

“Those from Latin America, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, are our brothers and now the English people will have the opportunity – I hope, I want it with all my heart, with all my soul – to have a prime minister like Corbyn,” López Obrador said.

“I don’t know what the laws are, I’m not yet formally the president of Mexico, I won’t be the constitutional president until tomorrow, that’s why I dare to say these things. From tomorrow I have to put a limit on myself but now I say what I think and I have always said what I think,” he added.

A United Kingdom Labour Party statement issued from London said that López Obrador “faces huge challenges in his mission of transforming Mexico, but Jeremy hopes his election will offer Mexico’s poor and powerless a real voice and a break with the failures and injustices of the past.”

It added that the new president “has shown that a progressive agenda for change can win power and take on the status quo.”

Jeremy Corbyn is married to Mexican lawyer and activist Laura Álvarez.

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Trade Unions Are Winning Victories In Mexico

In a sign that things are changing for trade unions in Mexico following the election of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) the independent Mexican mining and metalworkers’ union Los Mineros has won an important union victory at the El Boleo Mine in Santa Rosalia in the State of Baja California Sur.

This follows a long battle going back April 2016, when workers at the mine went on strike to demand the removal of a company appointed union and free elections.

The strike was broken by the police and a month later the company fired 130 Los Mineros supporters. The federal authorities then blocked the Los Mineros’ demand for an election for two years in an attempt break the union.

Workers reported various problems including low wages, unpaid overtime, poor health and safety (including lack of proper lighting and ventilation in underground work areas) and lack of adequate safety equipment.

By a vote of 280 – 238, the workers at El Boleo have voted for Los Mineros over an imposed company union that was installed by the labour contractor, Servicios y Desarrollos Meseta Central SA de CV, without consulting the workforce. The mine is controlled by Korea Resources Corporation (KORES), which is owned by the government of South Korea.

Not withstanding this victory there are still massive problems with Mexico’s current labour legislation which AMLO has vowed to change including measures to guarantee workers’ freedom of association, specifically in global manufacturing supply chains.

The Federal Labour Board has now scheduled a recognition election on this week at the Arneses y Accesorios de México plants in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila which produce wire harnesses for Ford and other US automotive companies.

The plants are owned by a Finnish company (who recognise unions in their home country) PKC, a subsidiary of Motherson Sumi Systems Ltd. (MSSL) which is part of the Samvardhana Motherson Group. Most workers make around $50 per week.

Los Mineros are challenging the Confederación de Trabajadores de México (CTM – a ‘protection’ or yellow union) for representation. 6,000 PKC workers have been fighting to establish an independent union for over ten years.

In 2011, PKC signed a contract with the CTM without the knowledge or participation of the workers.  In 2012, Los Mineros lost a union recognition vote by 2509 – 2311 in an election marked by PKC’s interference and intimidation in the election and sacking union activists in retaliation for their union activities.

Los Mineros filed a legal demand for a new election in  2012 but the Federal Labour Board used procedural objections to delay the workers’ right to choose their representative for more than six years.

The company fired Los Mineros leaders in the plant, including the workers who had acted as union observers during the election.

Ten union leaders complained that they had been unjustly dismissed with the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board who ordered the re-instatement of four union officials in 2915. The company appealed, but the Board again issued a decision in 2016 ordering that the workers be reinstated.

The workers went to the plant entrance accompanied by an official from the Labour Board, but the company refused to allow them to return. In 2017, the Labour Board issued an order threatening to arrest the company’s legal representative if the workers were not reinstated. The Company ignored the order, and the Board took no action!

PKC has continued an aggressive anti-union campaign, aided by the media and the CTM union (which holds 55 protection contracts in automotive companies in the region).

The company has given complete access to the workplaces  to paid CTM “delegates”; excluded Los Mineros from the property; allowed distribution of anti-union materials; offered incentives to workers who oppose Los Mineros; backed a social media campaign “Save Arneses (the company) and Acuña (the town)” which repeats threats that the plants will close if the workers vote for Los Mineros.

PKC’s campaign violates the Federal Labour Law, which makes it illegal for an employer to “intervene in any form in the internal regime of the union, impede its formation of the development of union activity through implicitly or explicitly reprisals against the workers”.

The fact that the current government is calling elections at the last minute shows its determination to try to weaken independent unions before the inauguration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as President this weekend.

AMLO is already planning to establish independent labour courts, and to combat employer domination of unions by guaranteeing workers’ right to vote on their collective bargaining agreements as well as reforming procedures for union elections and stopping the collusion of employers, and government officials.

This is the only way to ensure independent unions such as Los Mineros and Mexican workers can win justice in the workplace – and it can’t come soon enough.

Los Mineros (Mexico) along with Unite the Union (UK & Ireland) and the United Steelworkers (USA & Canada) form the global trade union Workers Uniting.

This article appeared in the Morning Star, Latin America 2018 supplement on December 1st

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