June 4th : Rally For Venezuela


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Analysis of the impact of and policy response to MG Rover in Birmingham

Well worth reading. An interesting paper produced by David Bailey, Gill Bentley, Alex de Ruyter and Stephen Hall.

Click here to download the pdf.

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Manufacturing in the balance?

philip-pearsonBy Philip Pearson of the TUC

At the very time when manufacturing should be expanding its share of UK GDP, its contribution is now lower than in 2010. Evidence suggests that our ‘foundation industries’, the industrial heartland of UK manufacturing, are facing a steeper decline than manufacturing as a whole.


Our ‘foundation industries’ – iron and steel making, chemicals, petroleum products, pulp and paper, ceramics, brick, glass, cement, basic and precious metals and related products – are shedding jobs and business capacity at a disturbing rate, with a net loss of over 1,000 enterprises and 36,000 jobs (one in seven of their workforce) between 2008-2013.

EIIs-enterprisesThe UK’s Foundation Industries currently comprise a group of over 5,000 businesses with 210,000 employees across the UK – and more than four times this number in their extensive national supply chains.There appears to be an emerging consensus that ‘unprotected’ government departments face major cuts in the new Parliament.

But this is exactly at the time when a new era of government-led investment should be driving investment in low carbon technologies. In March 2015, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills published eight sector ‘Roadmaps to 2050′ for energy intensive industries. They show that a multibillion technology investment programme is required for their transition to a low carbon economy. Three issues for government stand out:  support for industrial carbon capture & storage; innovation clusters focussed on energy efficiency and recovering heat from industrial processes, not wasting it; and where industries have technology and investment needs in common, creating new regional strategies in our industrial heartlands.

Foundation industries in 2013:

  • Employed 210,000 people in 5,100 enterprises.
  • Provided high skill, high wage employment: £7.8 billion in wages, salaries and other employment costs in 2013.
  • Generated average employment costs of £37,000 per employee, 15% above the £32K manufacturing average.
  • Generated £102 billion of combined turnover in 2013 – one-fifth (19.5%) of manufacturing’s gross output.
  • Produced £16.3 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2013, or about 10.4% of the value of goods and services produced by UK manufacturing.
  • Spent £78 billion in sustaining their supply chains through the purchase of goods, materials and services in 2013, or one-fifth (21.8%) of all supply chains purchases in the UK manufacturing sector.

Our energy intensive industries have been at a sustained competitive disadvantage due to the relatively high cost of the UK’s energy and its climate change policies compared with our EU and non-EU competitors. In Walking the carbon tightrope, the TUC suggested that ‘the government has not struck the right balance’ between industrial competitiveness and energy policies. The loss of jobs and manufacturing capacity among our foundation industries is slipping towards a new phase of industrial decline which will require a new vision for manufacturing in a low carbon world in order to be reversed.

Between 2008-2013:

  • Over 1,000 foundation sector manufacturers closed down (16.5%).
  • Manufacturing as a whole lost 3,876 enterprises (2.9%) over the same period.
  • A quarter of the net loss of UK manufacturers (26%) were energy intensive industries.The UK’s manufacturing workforce fell by 10% (a loss of 283,000 jobs).
  • The foundation industries workforce fell by 14.6% (36,000 jobs) over the same period.
  • Net capital expenditure by energy intensive firms fell by £343 million (14.1%).Gross output fell by £7.9 billion (7.2%), with the steepest declines in the basic chemicals and iron and steel sectors.

As we argued in ‘Building our low carbon industries’, it remains the case that an ambitious government-led strategy is required, combining green innovation with measures to support these industries’ commitments to decarbonisation in the transition to a low carbon economy.

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USW Chemical Solutions Number 2

ChemsDownload at the link below the excellent United Steelworkers Newsletter for Chemical Workers : Chemical Solutions Issue 2 with articles on Health & Safety, Dow, BSAF etc

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Union organising In Kenya: Support ITF Campaign

The International Transport Federation are requesting support in a serious disputeconcerning their affiliate the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers’ Union and Agility Logistics.

The company says it will recognise the union in Kenya if it gains 50%+1 of the workforce. However at local management level seem to be determined to ensure the union does not reach this level.

An ITF Monitoring Team, has been sent to Kenya and have noted a planned and concerted attack on union organising.

The local company management has so far:

  •         Pressured workers to resign from the union
  •         Ended contracts of casual workers who join the union
  •         Penalised union activists with short notice transfers
  •         Initiated company loyalty pledges
  •         Interfered with union recruitment efforts
  •         Blamed the union for the delayed payment of wages
  •         Placed armed police in the cabs next to drivers against possible strike action
  •         Used the police to bar workers from the workplace

On 1st April, the ITF Team met with the top management of Agility Kenya, led by its CEO, Ali Saibaba Kola who was accompanied by his HR, transport operations and finance managers. Regrettably, however, the ITF’s offer to assist developing productive industrial relations which did not involve both parties becoming embroiled in a series of court cases was not taken up, and a constructive way forward was not found.

They insisted that the union must reach the threshold of recruiting 50%+1 of the employees as prescribed in Kenyan labour law.

It is clear that as the union is getting close to the 50%+1 mark, the company is becoming more desperate in their attempts to prevent this level being reached.

Recent reports say that truck drivers in Kenya working for Agility global integrated logistics were beaten, abducted at gunpoint and forced to drive their trucks to a company workshop. One driver stated: “I knew they wanted us dead”.

This police brutality follows protests by some 80 Kenyan truckers forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours in Maungu, near Voi and Mai Mahiu. The truckers’ strike action has paralysed Kenya’s northern corridor. All they want is for Agility to recognise their union and treat them with respect.

ITF affiliates (including Unite in the UK) are supporting the campaign and was part of the ITF team who visited Kenya. Belgian ITF affiliate BTB is sending a delegation to Kenya during the last week of April.

Please support the ITF and the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers’ Union and the workers in Agility, as they seek to establish union recognition, collective bargaining and decent working conditions in the industry.

Join the LabourStart campaign by clicking here and send your protest messages to the management.


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50 Leading UK Trade Unionists Show Solidarity With Venezuela

headerOn March 9th US President Obama signed an executive order declaring  “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela” and imposed a further round of sanctions on the country. This has been condemned by major regional bodies in Latin America and the Caribbean, governments all over the world and much of global civil society, including the ITUC and numerous other trade union bodies.

We the undersigned – representatives of trade unions and working people in the UK – stand in solidarity with Venezuela’s unions of Railway workers, Urban and transport workers, Oil and electric workers, Education, Public Sector and Health workers, and Construction Workers who have organised mobilisations over the last month saying ‘Venezuela is not a Threat – We are Hope’ and ‘Obama – Repeal the Executive Order.’

Venezuela is not a threat to the U.S or any other country – instead it offers hope, including through some of the most advanced legislation regarding trade union and labour rights in the world.

We support the international ‘Obama – Repeal the Executive Order’ campaign and will continue to both support the advances in social progress and workers’ rights that have taken place in Venezuela in recent years, and oppose US sanctions against Venezuela.

1. Len McCuskey,General Secretary, Unite the Union

2. Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign Vice-Chair

3. Doug Nicholls,General Secretary,General Federation of Trade Union & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign EC

4. Billy Hayes,General Secretary,Communciation Workers Union

5. Mick Cash,General Secretary,Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union (RMT)

6. Manuel Cortes,General Secretary,Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA)

7. Mick Whelan,General Secretary,ASLEF

8. John Smith,General Secretary, Musicians Union

9. Owen Tudor, Head of European Union and International Relations, Trade Union Congress (TUC)

10. Roger McKenzie,Assistant General Secretary, UNISON

11. Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary,National Union of Teachers

12. Gail Cartmail,Assistant General Secretary,Unite the Union

13. Steve Turner,Assistant General Secretary,Unite the Union

14. Andy Kerr,Deputy General Secretary,Communication Workers Union

15.Hugh Scullion,General Secretary, CSEU (Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions)

16. Dave Green, National Officer, Fire Brigades Union

17. Tom Jones,,Thompsons Solicitors & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign EC

18. Moz Greenshields, TUC Joint Consultative Committee

19. Joe Gluza, NEC Member, University & College Union (UCU)

20. Terry Hoad, University & College Union (UCU) NEC Member & Former President,

21. Mark Lyon, Chair, International Committee & EC Member, Unite the Union

22. Seán McGovern, Co-Chair, Trade Union Congress Disabled Members Committee & Unite Executive Council Member (Disabled Workers Representative)

23. Ged Dempsey, Executive Council Member, Unite the Union

24. Andy Green, Executive Council Member, Unite the Union

25. Tommy Murphy, Executive Council Member, Unite the Union & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign EC

26. Maggie Ryan, Executive Council Member, Unite the Union

27. Simon Dubbins, Director of International, Unite the Union

28. Siobhan Endean, National Officer for Equalities, Unite the Union

29. Adrian Weir, Assistant Chief of Staff, Unite the Union

30. Martin Mayer, Chair,  United Left in Unite the Union

31. Jane Carolan, NEC Member, UNISON

32. Stephen Kennedy, NEC Member, UNISON & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign EC

33. Max Watson, NEC Member, UNISON

34. Carl Maden, Communciation Workers Union NEC member

35. Peter Pinkney, President, RMT (Rail Maritime and Transport Union)

36. Karen Mitchell, Legal Officer & Solicitor, Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union (RMT)

37. Andy Bain, Treasurer, TSSA

38. Marie Taylor, Chair,Community & Youth Workers Section, Unite the Union

39. Enrico Tortolano, Research & Policy Officer, PCS & Tribune Latin America Correspondent

40. Denis Doody, UCATT Regional Secretary, Northern Region

41. Bernard Regan, Chair,South East Region Trade Union Congress International Committee & Cuba Solidarity Campaign National Secretary

42. Jayne Fisher,Vice Chair, South East Region Trade Union Congress International Committee

43. Kevan Nelson,Regional Secetary, North West Region,UNISON

44. Dominic MacAskill, Head of Local Government,Wales/Cyrmu UNISON

45. Phil Thompson, Secretary of International Committee, UNISON Greater London Region

46. Kev Terry, Chair, South West Region, Unite the Union

47. Mike Hedges, Vice Chair, Passenger National Industrial Sector Committee, Unite the Union

48. Jim Buckley,Regional Officer,Unite the Union

49 Dave Lovelidge, National Industrial Sector Committee & Regional Industrial Sector Committee (South East), GPMIT Sector

50. Phil McGarry, Political Officer,Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union (RMT),  Scotland

Left Futures is supporting the Rally for Venezuela – End the US Sanctions, No More Interventions! organised by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Facebook event at and register by clicking here.

Tweet your support using the hashtag: #venezuelaisnotathreat #obamarepealtheexecutiveorder

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Labour’s Manifesto For Britain’s Workplaces

imagesHere is an edited version of Labour’s ‘A Better Plan For Britain’s Workplaces’, produced by Unite.

The central task for the next Labour government is to build an economy that creates better and more secure jobs and stop the Tory race to the bottom. This race to the bottom is the key factor behind the UK’s low level of investment, training and productivity relative to other advanced economies. Working people are suffering from reduced wages; low pay and insecurity are in turn driving higher government spending on social security to top up wages and reduced income from tax receipts.

  1. Addressing insecurity and unfairness in the workplace
  • More than half of employees are worried about insecure work
  • There are more than 1.8 million zero hours contracts in the economy
  • Britain cannot succeed when working people feel insecure.

Labour will crack down on the worst abuses in our labour market and the first Queen’s Speech will include:

  • A stronger minimum wage
  • Banning exploitative zero hours working. If you work regular hours you will get the right to a regular contract with contractual hours averaged over 12 weeks
  • A review of this to ensure action is taken to stop employers using short hours contracts instead of zero hours
  • Legal rights to workers not to be forced to be available at all hours
  • Legal rights not to have shifts cancelled at short notice without compensation
  • Making it illegal to use agency workers to undercut wages of permanent workers, and illegal for employers to only recruit from overseas
  1. Tackling low pay

In the last five years working people have experienced the biggest fall in wages of any Parliament since the 1870s.

  • Average wages have fallen by £1,600 a year since 2010
  • Half of all new jobs since 2010 have been in low paid sectors
  • One in five workers is low paid and more than a quarter of a million people are estimated to earn less than the legal minimum wage

Labour plan for Britain’s workplaces is to:

  • Set a national goal to halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, lifting over two million people out of low pay
  • Raise the National minimum wage to more than £8 before 2020
  • Introduce new 10p starting rate of tax
  • Use procurement to promote a living wage
  • Extend free childcare for working parents and double paternity leave to four weeks
  • Increase paternity pay so fathers receive the equivalent of a full week’s work paid at the National Minimum Wage for the four weeks of leave
  1. Justice at work

Labour will:

  • Ensure proper access to justice in the workplace by abolishing the Government’s employment tribunal fee system
  • Tackle bogus self-employment in construction and elsewhere
  • Set up a full inquiry that is transparent and public to examine the issue of blacklisting
  • Recognising historic cases, release all papers concerning the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ trials
  1. Supporting working families
  • Stagnated wages and rising insecurity have fuelled a cost of living crisis.
  • Full time workers in UK work some of the longest hours in Europe with a long-hours culture long-hours culture in many professions
  • A shortage of well-paid part time jobs, lack of affordable childcare and an outdated parental leave system cause further difficulties for families

Labour will:

  • Double the amount of paid paternity leave to four weeks
  • Expand free child care provision from 15 to 25 hours
  • Introduce a legal guarantee to wraparound care from 8am to 6pm at local primary schools
  1. Promoting partnership and productivity at work

In the long term, economic success will be rooted in high skill, high investment strategies. And Labour recognises that Trade Unions are an essential force for a decent society and as guarantors of jobs and wages.

  • Nearly three-fifths of senior business leaders judge short-termism to be a major impediment to growth
  • A chief executive in the FTSE 100 earn on average over 130 times their average employee
  • Just 27 percent of employees feel that they have a say over how their work is organised

Labour will:

  • Put employee representatives on remuneration committees
  • Reduce short-term pressure to turn a quick profit
  • Improve the link between pay and performance and ensure executive pay packages are transparent by publishing the ratio of the total pay of their top earner compared to their average employees
  • Where recognised, ensure Unions play a role in facilitating elections, as well as supporting the training of employee representatives
  • Give investors a duty to act in the interests of ordinary savers and prioritise the long-term growth of companies
  • Change takeover rules by restricting voting to investors who already hold shares
  • Require investment and pension fund managers to disclose how they vote and introduce binding votes on remuneration packages
  • Review implementation and operation of information and consultation regulations
  • Reverse the Department for International Development’s decision to withdraw funding from the ILO
  • Tackle short-termism by reforming takeover rules
  1. Supporting young people into work
  • Young people’s wages have fallen by over 8 per cent since 2010
  • Just one in ten employers in England provide apprenticeships
  • Proportion of apprenticeships taken up by young people has fallen significantly from 82 per cent of all apprenticeships in 2010 to 63 per cent last year.
  • A quarter of apprentices aged 19-24 receive no training at all.

Labour will:

  • Introduce a new apprenticeship Guarantee so that all those that get the grades at 18 are able to access a new high quality apprenticeship
  • Ensure that every firm that gets a large government contract to offer apprenticeships
  • Require large firms recruiting skilled workers from outside the Europe Union to invest in apprenticeships in the UK.
  • Make sure that apprenticeships can lead to higher level qualifications
  • Improve technical training for young people
  • Ensure the government creates thousands more apprenticeships in the public sector
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Latest on US Oil Strikes: Five Plants Still On Strike.

Striking oil workers at Marathon Petroleum refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky - now back at work!

Striking oil workers at Marathon Petroleum refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky – now back at work!

Just got this from the USW: From Dave Martin of USW Local 8-719 at the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky: “Contract passed. We will start the process of returning to work Monday and take the operations over on Saturday, 4/11/15.”

Locations left in the unfair labor practice strike:

BP Whiting, Indiana; BP Toledo, Ohio; Marathon Galveston Bay refinery in Texas City; Marathon Green Power Co-generation Plant; LyondellBasell refinery in Houston

Locations Back-to-Work:

Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas; Motiva refinery in Norco, Louisiana; Motiva refinery in Convent, Louisiana; Shell chemical plant in Norco, Louisiana; Shell Deer Park refinery in Deer Park, Texas; Shell Deer Park chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas; Tesoro Anacortes refinery in Anacortes, Washington; Tesoro Martinez (Golden Eagle) refinery in Martinez, California (near San Francisco); Tesoro  Carson refinery in Carson, California (near Los Angeles); Marathon Catlettsburg, Kentucky, refinery

Solidarity with those USW members still on strike.

Send messages of support to those on strike to lhancock@usw.org

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We’re Not Loving It – Protest At McDonalds, London

11081494_813035732065359_8823551469601948704_nUnite London hotel and hospitality workers are protesting against Fast Food giant McDonalds on the morning of April 15th – the international day of action in solidarity with fast food workers in the USA and all over the world. 

Where and when: Marble Arch, 10.30am

This industry is rife with low pay, abuse, workplace injuries and a lack of dignity at work.

We echo our #FightFor15 comrades in the USA who have organised over 190 strikes across the country in saying “SHOW ME $15 AND A UNION” and “LOW PAY IS NOT OK”. We are inspired by their courage and their movement.

We link their fight with ours in the UK where fast food workers are on poverty wages and face the same risks and lack of respect.

Join us, it’ll be fun. We will have a clown theme going on.

We’ll also be joined by our friends in the BFAWU Hungry for Justice campaign and we will be joining their action later. UNITY IS STRENGTH.

For details click on the Facebook site

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What Is Productivity?

7240080694_929c367031_o_0CLASS Briefing: Productivity

There has been increasing media coverage about the UK’s growing ‘productivity gap’ in the last few weeks, but why is it important? The shaky and unsustainable return to growth experienced over the last year has not produced the improvement in living standards many were hoping for. The inherent structural weaknesses in the economy that were a major cause of the economic crash of 2008 remain very much the same today.

Productivity is one of the main ways of measuring the health of the economy and year after year from 2007, UK productivity levels have fallen behind other comparable economies such as France and Germany, with productivity growth now the weakest since the Second World War.

Government has the power to enact a range of economic policies that will have a real impact on the lives of ordinary people and their prospects for the future. A responsible attitude towards the economy is desperately needed and this briefing sets out what productivity is, why everyone is talking about it and what actions are needed from the next government.

So what is productivity?

Productivity is an average measure of the efficiency of production. Productivity is how employees’ ‘output’ at work is measured over a given period of time and is influenced by investment in machinery or training that allow workers to be more productive.

UK productivity (GDP per hour) and income grew faster than in France, Germany and the United States between 1979 and 2008, reversing a century of relative decline. However UK productivity stagnated after the Recession of 2008-09 and remains about 15% below historical trends. This is due to a mixture of cyclical and structural effects but austerity policies have made things worse.

 According to the latest ONS figures, UK productivity growth is the weakest it’s been since the second world war. Productivity decreased by 0.2% in the third quarter of the last financial year, leaving output per hour worked 17% lower than in 2007.

Read more by clicking here.

The poor performance in recent years has widened a longstanding productivity gap between the UK and other countries. UK GDP per hour is currently around 17% below the G7 average.

Read more by clicking here here.

Why does it matter?

Productivity has a direct correlation with wages. If output is higher, all things being equal, workers are paid more. As a result of the UK’s poor productivity, businesses have sought to keep their costs in check by keeping a lid on their wage bills.

Wage stagnation combined with growing inflation over the last 5 years has led to a sharp fall in living standards for millions of working people.

The weakness of productivity is a direct result of the government’s austerity policies. Austerity has reduced demand and economic growth and the labour market has adjusted to this weaker growth through severe cuts in wages and the quality and security of work.

Employment growth, often only part-time and via ‘zero hours’ contracts, has been concentrated in the lowest–skilled, lowest-paid jobs.

Unless we can improve productivity, wages will remain low, living standards will continue to suffer and tax revenues will struggle to improve.

 Read more by clicking here

 The UK has a poor productivity record which is linked in large part to poor investment by both public and private sectors. If our infrastructure had matched that of other leading global economies during the first decade of the 21st century economic growth could have been 5% higher to the benefit of millions of working people and their families.

Under the Coalition, investment levels plummeted. Public investment halved in the first 2 years of this parliament alone.

 Read more by clicking here.

 What action can be taken?

Major investment in infrastructure

Developing large-scale infrastructure projects (transport, utilities and connectivity) and creating a National Infrastructure Bank will benefit the wider economy as well as improve productivity.

 Investment in training and skills

Productivity can be improved through investing in developing the skills of staff through apprenticeships or training. Current schemes are failing to provide the training and apprenticeships that are needed to fill the growing skills gap. In 2014 the number of people starting apprenticeships fell by 70,000 and there were 6,000 fewer 19 to 24-year-olds starting new apprenticeships.

An end to austerity

Just a 1% increase in public sector pay would inject between £470 and £880 million of extra value into the economy and enable much needed government investment.

 A Living Wage

Higher wages not only benefit workers, they can also incentivise investment and training, enabling workers to deliver higher outputs above their wage increases and thereby also generating profits. If everyone was paid a Living Wage or above the Treasury would gain an additional £3.6 billion a year.

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