It’s The Media, Stupid! Policies For Media Reform Conference

It’s The Media, Stupid!
Post Election Policies For  Media Reform

Henry Moore Room, Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AA
Saturday 8 February, 11.00am – 5.00pm


10.15-11.00 – Registration Coffee, tea and biscuits

11.00-12.00 – The Media and the Election
Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current Affairs Channel 4
Professor Dominic Wring,
Co-Director Loughborough University 2019 Election Survey

12.00-1.00 – The Press: Ownership, Regulation and Ethics
Louisa Bull, National Officer, Unite’s Graphical, Paper, Media and IT Sector
Nicholas Jones, author and former BBC Industrial and Political Correspondent.

1.00-2.00 – Lunch Break
We will not be providing lunch. There are a number of places to eat close to the conference venue.We will provide a list of them on the day for conference participants.

2.00-3.00 – Broadcasting: Regulation and Impartiality
Dr Tom Mills, Vice Chair Media Reform Coalition and author of
“The BBC: Myth of a Public Service” (Verso, 2016)

Sian Jones
(President, National Union of Journalists)

3.00-4.00 – Policing Propaganda: Democracy and the Internet
James Mitchinson, Editor, The Yorkshire Post (tbc)
Peter Geoghegan, Open Democracy speaker (tbc)

4.00-5.00 – Looking Forward: Policies for Media Reform
Dr Justin Schlosberg, Media Reform Coalition
Granville Williams, Editor MediaNorth


If you want to book your place (£10.00, conc £5.00) for the Leeds conference on 8th February send a cheque, payable to CPBF(North), with your name, address and email to:
CPBF(North), 24 Tower Avenue, Upton, nr Pontefract, West Yorks WF9 1EE.

Or you can pay by bank transfer to:
CPBF(North) at the Cooperative Bank,
sort code 08-92-99
account number 65796090
Ref ‘Leeds Conference’

but please post or email with your details.

For further information, please contact CPBF(North) by phone at 01977 646580 or 07790958270, email: or write to CPBF(North), 24 Tower Avenue, Upton, near Pontefract, West Yorks WF9 1EE

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Preserving The Future Of Aluminium In Quebec.

Major concerns about new  Canada, US, Mexico trade deal for Canadian aluminium industry.

From the @steelworkers in Quebec Canada, December 19th, 2019. 

Aluminum workers from the United Steelworkers joined elected officials from the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, union members from CUPE and Unifor, and other socio-economic stakeholders to demonstrate their concern about the new free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico and fears that Quebec aluminum will emerge as the big loser in the new trade deal.

They demand concrete measures from the federal government to protect Quebec’s aluminum and secure the future of these good jobs in Quebec.

The CUSMA certainly stipulates that 70% of auto parts containing aluminum must come from the North American zone for a vehicle to be exempt from customs tariffs. But a wide gap remains: it will be enough for aluminum from another continent to be melted and processed in one of the three participating countries for it to comply with the treaty.

“To consider that a part made in North America with foreign aluminum fulfills the North American content requirements is to make fun of us! We do not understand why the rules that apply to steel do not apply to aluminum,” said the presidents of USW Local 9490 Alma refinery, Sylvain Maltais and of Local 9700 representing ABI in Bécancour, Éric Drolet.

Steelworkers representative Alexandre Fréchette is astonished at the flip-flop of the aluminum lobby, the Aluminum Association of Canada: “Are the big bosses of the multinationals happy with the status quo since they have interests all over the planet? Have they thrown cold water on the spokesperson for their lobby in Canada?,” he asked.

Refuse a slow death!

The Steelworkers have little doubt that the agreement will be adopted. However, they urge the government to take vigorous measures to support Quebec’s industry. “Vague statements about aluminum dumping monitoring mechanisms will not reassure us. It takes investments to keep our factories competitive, on the cutting edge,” said Sylvain Maltais.

Rio Tinto has put its modernization and expansion projects in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean on hold for the past few months. “The recent episode of the trade deal adds fuel to the fire. The federal government must show with concrete gestures that it is not abandoning Quebec aluminum and that it is ready to mobilize for its future,” said Sylvain Maltais.

Recalling that the government of Canada collected more than $1.2 billion in tariffs during the steel and aluminum dispute with the United States, these funds can serve as an incentive, the unionized aluminum workers believe. “The Canadian government’s reluctance to defend our aluminum in the CUSMA negotiations is distressing, as is the government’s disregard of deferred investment in the aluminum sector. Ottawa needs to correct this quickly!,” said the representatives of the unionized aluminum workers.

The United Steelworkers, affiliated with the FTQ, is the most important private sector union in Quebec. It brings together more than 60,000 workers from all economic sectors.

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Labour Will Be On The Side Of Workers – Laura Pidcock MP

By Laura Pidcock Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights

“So many people’s working lives are dominated by low pay, insecurity and powerlessness. It is a sign of this broken system that many people – and not just the lowest earners – are forced to top up their monthly wage with debt, just to cover their living costs. 

As our economy has flatlined under the Tories, wages have stagnated. People are, on average, paid less that they were 10 years ago. This is a scandal that must end. The Labour Party is the only party that is committed to eradicating in-work poverty within the next Parliament.

People spend so much of their time at work and that time should not be characterised by worry and fear. As a government,  Labour will be on the side of workers the good employer and the trade unionist, while putting exploitative employers on notice. 

Labour’s transformative ransformative programme for workers would give them real power, real respect and dignity, while changing the culture of work in this nation. By breathing hope into workplaces across Britain, we can achieve real change.

Click on the links above to download Labour’s Workers Rights Manifesto.

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For A Europe With A Future – by Wolfgang Lemb

Excellent book edited by my comrade Wolfgang Lemb of the IG Metall trade union in Germany. Available on some book sellers sites.

“One thing is increasingly obvious since the European Elections of May 2019: The centrifugal forces within the EU are becoming stronger and stronger. Nationalism, far right populism, increasing inequality and democratic deficits all present the project of European integration with ever greater challenges. If Europe wants any future at all, it must be strong in solidarity, commit its full weight as a powerful global actor to the fight for a fairer version of globalisation, delineate social standards in the transformation now under way, stand up for a climate-neutral economy and society and improve people’s living and working conditions. But these challenges can be overcome. The authors – from the worlds of politics, research and the trade unions – show with their contributions published here in this anthology how this can and must happen.”

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The system is rigged against working people – this election we can put it right

The system is rigged against working people. This was shown very clearly recently when Asda threatened to sack workers who did not agree to a new contract.

The new contract would allow managers to change everything about their job – from their shift rotas to their job titles.

The rigged system was also shown when a high court judge granted an injunction against the Communication Workers Union for ‘infringing’ balloting rules.

Millions of workers are trapped in low pay, zero hours contracts, bogus self-employment and unending agency work.

Workers’ wages still haven’t recovered from the 2008 financial crisis and inequality is sky high.

This is no accident. It’s the result of deliberate choices by the current government and the previous Conservative-Lib Dem coalition to dismantle the employment rights that working people rely on for protection at work, to drive down wages and create a climate of insecurity in the workplace.

Over the last decade, these governments have doubled the qualifying period for unfair dismissal, passed the 2016 Trade Union Act to limit workers’ right to organise and join unions, and shamefully refused to ban zero-hours contracts.

The general election is a chance to put things right.

We know that when workers join together they can make their working lives better.

Workplaces with collective agreements negotiated by trade unions have higher pay, shorter working hours, better holiday and sick pay, more family-friendly measures, better policies to promote equality at work, and better health and safety.

Labour is proposing that workers will have the right to organise and win union rights at work. Workers will have the right to collectively bargain with their employers through trade unions to secure decent pay and better working conditions in their workplace and across industries; employment rights from day one and four new public holidays.

We desperately need new laws to end exploitation and to protect insecure workers from bogus self employment and a ban on zero-hours contracts as is being proposed by Labour’s manifesto.

Other countries such Ireland and New Zealand have banned zero hours contacts – so why not the UK?

And we don’t just need to fight for new rights. We need to defend the ones we still have including those derived from the European Union such as the working time regulations, protection for agency and temporary workers and workers whose jobs could be effected by takeovers and mergers, rights to information and consultation.

Trade unions have been clear that the Brexit deal Boris Johnson has negotiated – or a no-deal Brexit – would be a disaster for working people.

Leaked documents suggest the Johnson government is deliberately manoeuvring to downgrade UK workers’ rights in any post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

That could open the door to those politicians who want to turn the UK into a low wage, protection-free ‘Singapore on Thames’ style economy.

And it would allow bad bosses to slash workers’ rights that are currently protected by EU legislation such as paid holidays, work breaks, parental rights, protections for part-time and agency workers and protection for workers when companies are subject to take overs and mergers.

It’s time to stand up for what trade unionists believe in, to protect our hard-won rights at work and to fight for Labour’s new deal for workers, in Labour’s excellent manifesto.

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Len McCluskey At Trade Unions For Cuba Conference

2 November 2019

Good morning comrades and friends. I feel especially proud and privileged to be invited to speak here today.

Here at this conference marking:

  • the 60thanniversary of the Cuban Revolution Fand most particularly
  • the 80thanniversary of the founding of the Cuban trade union federation, the CTC.

But before I go on can I personally acknowledge the presence of:

Carmen Rosa López Rodríguez, the Deputy General Secretary of the CTC, and the rest of her delegation and

  • my great friend, Her Excellency Teresita Vicente Sotolongo, the Cuban Ambassador to the UK who sadly will be leaving us soon.

Can I also congratulate Rob Miller and his team at Cuba Solidarity Campaign in putting on today’s event? A truly great event as we’ve come to expect from CSC.

Of course I was a child in 1959 but I do remember reports of what had happened in Cuba and how many in the dock workers’ community where I was brought up welcomed the news.

Similar scenes were reported from mining districts when news of the Russian Revolution first reached Britain in 1917, miners on the streets crying tears of joy.

And what news it was to welcome.

A US backed fascist dictatorship, installed to protect US agricultural plantations and mafia run gambling and prostitution operations, had been toppled by a lightly armed, small in number, guerrilla army.

No one in the elite really believed it had happened; they took off for Florida expecting to come back to their mansions and plantations in a couple of months when the Revolution had blown over.

How wrong they were. Because the Cuban Revolution was not just one corrupt group swapping power with the previous corrupt group – the Cuban Revolution was a socialist revolution embarking on a course of national and international liberation.

That’s what made it different.

I’m sure you will hear here today details of the great social advances that have been made in Cuba since 1959:

  • literacy rates superior to many countries in the west
  • free education for all from nursery to university
  • free health care, low infant mortality and major advances in biosciences.
  • But the issue that most keenly matters to me is the development of labour rights in Cuba.

From trade union activists being tortured and executed under Batista today workers and their unions, organised by the CTC, have a special place in Cuban life.

Workers and their unions have to be fully consulted and involved in decision making at workplace level.

The CTC and its affiliates are included in the great economic decisions that have to be made by the government.

When the new labour code was being drafted, the CTC organised innumerable workplace meetings of union members who are articulated demands for change and, most importantly, amendment or rejection of the government’s proposals.

You may know that I have often given the government here advice on its labour laws but unfortunately I do not seem to enjoy the same sway with our government as the general secretary of the CTC does with his.

The setting a good example has not been welcomed by Cuba’s northern neighbour.

Since 1962 an illegal blockade of Cuba has been enforced by the US.

It is estimated that this blockade has cost the Cuban economy at least $922 billion

Money that could have been spent to further benefit the lives of Cuban workers and their families.

Although there was an apparent freeze under Obama the blockade remained in place and has been hardened under Trump causing real hardship to everyone in Cuba.

The blockade is of course an attempt at regime change, to bring back big US agrifood industry and the mafia, to return Cuba to the dark ages of Batista.

As socialists, our commitment to international solidarity demands that we stand by Cuban workers, their unions and their revolution.

Building on the unprecedented solidarity work for the Miami 5 by the unions here in Britain Unite was able to mobilise unions in the US to this cause.

Our campaigning work, reaching up to the highest levels of government and into the law courts, helped break the wall of silence and eventually led to freedom for the 5.

International solidarity is course reciprocal and in the past 60 years the Cubans have been to the forefront.

In 1988 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces halted the South African advance northwards into Angola at Cuito Cuanavale; an action remembered by Nelson Mandela:

The decisive defeat of the aggressive apartheid forces in Angola destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor. The defeat of the apartheid army served as an inspiration to the struggling people of South Africa.

More recently Cuba’s international solidarity has taken a more peaceful turn.

Cuban medical brigades have been the first into places of natural disaster or serious epidemic – Pakistan, west Africa, Haiti and Ecuador.

Operation Miracle has restored the sight to 3.4 millionpeople in Latin America, including the Bolivian solider who executed Che Guevara.

Since 1959 Cuba has been a beacon to progressive forces in Latin America and the developing world.

In the early years of this century progressive governments came to power all across Latin America; most recently in Mexico, and down as far as Argentina, many acknowledging their Cuban inspiration.

Times have changed and much of that advance has been reversed by:

  • US led attempted regime change in Venezuela and Nicaragua
  • the jailing of Lula and electoral loses in Brazil and Ecuador
  • soft coup in Honduras and Paraguay.

But it’s not over by any means. In October this year:

  • the people of Ecuador defeated the IMF
  • 1 million people in Chile marched against neo-liberalism
  • Evo Morales was re-elected as president of Bolivia
  • the Left has won the presidency of Argentina

And Cuba stands firm in the face of unprecedented economic attack from the US.

In closing, I’d just like to share a short anecdote with you.

Some years ago, before the time of Evo Morales, a leader of the Bolivian trade unions came to visit our office. “What would you say is the most important task?” he was asked. “The defence of Cuba” was his reply.

Comrades, we can demand of ourselves nothing less than that.

Thanks for listening.

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Community Wealth Building Briefing From Unite

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Uni Finance Declaration of Support For Lula

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Thirteen unions urge UK government to condemn Turkey’s invasion of Syria – and act to avert ethnic cleansing and potential genocide

Trade unions representing millions of UK workers and their communities have demanded that prime minister Boris Johnson deploy the UK’s influence to prevent a humanitarian disaster as a result of the Turkish invasion of north and east Syria.

Thirteen trade unions and a leading law firm are warning that President Trump’s ‘appalling’ abandonment of the fragile region will see Turkey seek its own military and strategic advantage which will `undoubtedly lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds as well as a resurgence of ISIS’ in the region.

The move by the unions is a major display of solidarity with those forces fighting against repression in the region.  The unions say that the UK must show its clear and utter condemnation of Turkey’s invasion, calling for a no fly zone and international force deployment.

Having recently returned from the region, Simon Dubbins, Unite’s director of international, said: “We have been part of a parliamentary and union delegation to this region.  It is plain for all to see how extremely dangerous the situation is and the human misery that will unfold unless the international community comes together and stands as one against this appalling and unwarranted aggression.”

In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson the unions urge the UK government to condemn outright the Turkish aggression, reminding both  the UK government and the international community of the debt owed to the Syrian Democratic Forces for their `sacrifice in stopping and defeating ISIS’.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing in relation to last Sunday’s appalling announcement by President Trump that he intends to immediately withdraw US troops from Syria. This is a green-light to a Turkish military invasion of North and East Syria, which, as we have already seen in Afrin, will undoubtedly lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds as well as a resurgence of ISIS.

The international community owes the Syrian Democratic Forces a debt for their sacrifice instopping and defeating ISIS and building peace and stability in the region, they are our friends and allies.

We therefore call on the UK government to immediately condemn Turkey’s threats of invasion and to work with the international community to deploy an international force and enforce a No-Fly Zone to prevent the imminent catastrophe and protect civilian lives.

If the Turkish invasion is not stopped the SDF will be forced into a long and bitter war for survival against the second-largest NATO army. In the resulting chaos tens of thousands of

ISIS fighters will escape their current internment and resume their barbaric acts of terror across the globe.

We demand that the UK government take action to prevent an invasion of North and East Syria by Turkey and protect the very people who have protected us.

Given the gravity of the situation we would appreciate an immediate response.

Yours sincerely,

Len McCluskey – General Secretary, Unite the Union

Tim Roache – General Secretary, GMB union

Dave Ward – General Secretary, Communications Workers Union

Mark Serwotka – General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union

Mick Whelan – General Secretary, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen

Manuel Cortes – General Secretary, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association

Mary Bousted – Joint General Secretary, National Education Union

Kevin Courtney – Joint General Secretary, National Education Union

Paddy Lillis – General Sectary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers

Mick Cash – General Secretary, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

Mike Clancy – General Secretary, Prospect

Ronnie Draper – General Secretary, Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union

Larry Flanagan – General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland

Doug Nicholls – General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions

Stephen Cavalier – Chief Executive, Thompsons Solicitors

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UK auto makers prepare to shut down again fearing No Deal Brexit disruption

By Professor David Bailey, Professor of Business Economics at Birmingham Business School at University of Birmingham, Visiting Professor at Centre for Brexit Studies and Senior Fellow at UK in a Changing Europe. Republished with permission from Centre For Brexit Studies and David Bailey.

Despite Michael Gove’s claims last week that the automotive industry was ready for a no deal Brexit, Jaguar Land Rover has become the latest firm to say that it will shut down its UK plants in November in an effort to mitigate potential disruption from a no-deal Brexit.

JLR’s Chief Exec Ralf Speth said the firm had no choice but to stop production lines at its four UK plants (Solihull, Castle Bromwich, Wolverhampton and Halewood), stating that “We cannot think about it, we just have to do it. I need 20 million parts a day and that means I have to make commitments to my suppliers. I have to have every and each part available and I have to have it just in time.”

The latter point illustrates again the vulnerability of automotive and manufacturing that rely on a ‘Just in Time’ (JIT) supply chains to a No Deal Brexit that could cause customs delays and supply chain disruption.

The JLR plants produce around a third of total UK car output and around half a million engines that go into those cars.

A long lag-time in ordering components from suppliers means the firm can’t reopen the plants at short notice if Brexit is delayed beyond October 31. “We will have to close. We cannot switch off and on again” said Speth.

Essentially, customs delays under a No-Deal Brexit would throw a big spanner in the works of JIT systems commonly used across UK and EU manufacturing.

JLR isn’t alone. Toyota has said it won’t build cars at its Burnaston plant on 1st November (sources tell me that it will review its position every three days given uncertainty over the flow of components). BMW will halt production at its Oxford plant on 31 October and 1 November and has said it may send home workers on unpaid leave. Peugeot-owned Vauxhall is also likely to shut its plants.

It’s the second time this year that car firms will have shut down because of Brexit uncertainty. Back in April much of the UK car industry was idled in anticipation of the original end of March Brexit deadline. Firms brought forward planned maintenance shutdowns and took extended breaks in an effort to mitigate the cost of disruption caused by Brexit. Output fell by 45% in April compared with a year earlier.

In recent days several national auto industry bodies, including the German car industry body the VDA, have said that Brexit would have a “seismic” impact on car makers on both sides of the channel.

In the UK, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reckon that car makers in Britain have spent hundreds of millions of pounds preparing for an exit, with some of that money spent in the weeks leading up to the end of March.

Responding to Gove’s claim that industry was ready for Brexit, the SMMT’s CEO Mike Hawes tweeted that “Auto has been consistent & clear: Spent over £1/2 bn on prep but can’t fully mitigate serious risks. Need deal & free & frictionless trade.”

An SMMT press release earlier this week stated that: “A ‘no deal’ Brexit would have an immediate and devastating impact on the industry, undermining competitiveness and causing irreversible and severe damage… (and) risks destroying this vital pillar of our economies.”

JLR has repeatedly stressed that No Deal would cost the firm £1.2bn and threaten a pipeline of tens of billions of pounds of investment in the UK. Before he was PM, Boris Johnson earlier this year dismissed Ralf Speth’s concerns in an LBC radio interview, suggesting that it was not certain that JLR’s Chief Exec knew more about the car industry than he did.

Another major issue in the event of No Deal would be tariff barriers for automotive of around 10%; this would push up import and export prices of cars, and impact on exports and hence production in the UK.

In our recent book Keeping the Wheel on the Road: UK Auto post Brexit, Ian Henry forecasts a short-term production hit from a No-Deal of at least 175,000 cars a year (that’s not including the Honda closure), which is over 10% of UK car output.

Longer term, there is a significant risk that some firms would consider shifting production activities outside of the UK such that the loss of output could be much higher. Honda and Ford have already announced plants closures in the UK for a variety of reasons; Brexit uncertainty being seen by many as one factor.

Other assemblers may follow in the event of a No Deal, especially when new model production is being planned. Peugeot has already stated bluntly that No Deal would mean no investment at Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port (the current Astra model is due to be replaced in 2021).

That’s before we get to Toyota, which began new Corolla production last year at its plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire (an investment decision which goes back before the 2016 Referendum). Like Honda, the plant has been operating below capacity in recent years, and there is a big question mark over its future when production of the current Corolla ends in 2024.

It’s worth noting that there is plenty of spare capacity in the European auto industry. Other countries would jump at the chance to attract such assembly activity, hoping that that they could also pull in significant (especially higher value) parts of the value chain. The employment effects of losing assembly operations could be significantly higher than just the jobs associated with major assemblers.

Exiting the EU in an orderly way with a Deal, minimal trade friction and a transition period remains vital for the British auto industry. No Deal would be very damaging to output, jobs and investment.

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