Len McCluskey: It’s Time For A New Deal For Workers – No Going Back To Business As Usual

There can be no going back to business as usual Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey has said in his May Day message. In a message of solidarity to workers Len says that it is time for a new deal for workers, the people who have kept the the country going during the Covid19 pandemic.

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Unite: Remember the dead, fight for the living – International Workers’ Memorial Day

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey calls on people to ‘Remember the dead, fight for the living’ with a one minute silence at 11am on International Workers’ Memorial Day, Tuesday 28th April.

“Safety at work is a right, not a privilege. Now more than ever the safety of our people is our primary concern.”

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Frances O’Grady: “We need a national council of reconstruction to rebuild the country”

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary

This article first appeared in The Times Red Box, April 20th.

By Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary

Last week we watched one of our Second World War heroes, Captain Tom Moore, complete laps of his garden on a walking frame, raising more than £18 million for the NHS. A moving act of duty and contribution to the crowning achievement of his generation, at our time of greatest need.

The Second World War is still central to the story we tell about ourselves. An island nation: we can do whatever we set our minds to. The Blitz spirit: the power of solidarity and stoicism. The Battle of Britain: the sacrifice made by heroes for the greater good.

That holds true for trade unions too. Ernest Bevin, the former union leader and member of the war cabinet, promised a worried public who were making huge sacrifices for the war effort that there would be no return to the inequality and desperation of the 1930s. He said: “This is a people’s war: it must lead to a people’s peace.”

The Second World War and its aftermath has much to teach us about how we come through this crisis and how we rebuild a country fit for our key worker heroes afterwards.

Bevin, as minister for labour, oversaw an effort to pull together everyone behind the war effort. Crucially this was not mere sloganeering, where politicians mouth the platitude “we’re all in it together” while demonstrating by their actions that we are not.

His Ministry of Labour paid as much attention to ensuring billets, fair wages, staff canteens and shorter working hours as it did to planning for the needs of the wartime economy. Bevin knew, and in this he was supported by Churchill, that the key to high productivity was worker wellbeing and commitment.

So everything he did was informed by a system of tripartite formal co-operation and planning. The joint consultation committee brought together government, trade union and business leaders on equal terms. They met 30 times in its first 18 months for frank conversations across the entire field of the ministry’s activities and continued to meet into the immediate postwar period as Britain got back onto its feet.

After the war ended Britain was bruised and bloody but unbowed. We really had come through it together.

So let’s take another lesson from the last time Britain had to rebuild itself from the ground up. If you want to build back better you cannot separate the needs of workers from the needs of the economy. For that you need unions in the room sharing power, shaping decisions and helping to deliver for the country.

Today’s unions were instrumental in delivering the job retention scheme. While not perfect, there is no doubt that without the scheme the claims for universal credit would have been even higher. With the chancellor and the CBI, we worked quickly to protect as many jobs and livelihoods as possible.

And we want to carry on making our contribution as we try to set our economy back on its feet. So this new approach to leadership must not be abandoned once the immediate crisis passes. The same tools that will get us through the public health emergency — common purpose, collectivism, consent — will be needed to see us through the economic challenges ahead.

That is why the TUC is calling on the government to establish a National Council for Reconstruction and Recovery, bringing together unions and business in a formal advisory role. We would not always agree with the actions the government takes, nor with the priorities of the employers. But we want to make a big generous offer to government: bring us into the room, give us an equal voice, listen to our ideas and make sure working people are not left behind.

In return we will roll up our sleeves and get stuck into the job of rebuilding our country so that it works for everyone. Just as we did after the Second World War.

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Five Trade Union Federations Statement On Covid-19

Five of the worlds largest trade union federations (the biggest affiliates of the International Trade Union Congress) have issued the following internationalist statement on the Covid-19 crisis.

The five trade union confederations include:  AFL-CIO (USA), DGB (Germany), FNPR (Russian Federation), JTUC-Rengo (Japan) and the TUC (UK)

These are extraordinary times. More than four out of five people (81 per cent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures as countries battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to the health, economic and social impact of the worldwide pandemic requires close global cooperation between governments and social partners. This is the only way to effectively tackle this crisis and overcome the worst recession of our lifetime.

As union leaders and representatives of working people:

We mourn for all those who are losing their lives and stand together with all those who have lost loved ones;

We salute all the workers, first and foremost in health and care, as well as all those who go out to work each day to keep economies running and societies sustained, risking their lives and wellbeing;

We stand with all the working people whose lives and livelihoods are being put on hold or worse, as efforts to mitigate the virus take precedence – we will fight for them as we always have;

And we stand with those in the poorest countries, deprived of formal jobs, social protection and healthcare -they will not be abandoned.

Wherever you are, and whatever job you do, your union is there to protect you in these uncertain times from risk and protect your livelihood. We take tremendous pride in the work that our members do and in their solidarity at this most difficult time.

We are experiencing today the greatest display of solidarity in human history. 

Shutdowns and confinement now cover most of the world’s population, in order to protect in particular the elderly and the vulnerable. The solidarity shown by workers must be reciprocated by those with wealth and power.

In this time of crisis, people rightly look to their governments to act. In this crisis that means putting public health first while equally supporting the working families who are in need of assistance. It means leaders working together across borders and across the world. Many governments are doing well, some are doing less well and there are even some who deny the true reality of the pandemic.

The virus that causes COVID-19 does not discriminate, but its impacts do discriminate on grounds of class, race and poverty. Every person in the world is affected, and only by the whole world working together can we prepare for life everywhere with COVID-19 as an endemic disease.

The failures of globalisation exposed – now we must put people first. 

The pandemic is brutally exposing the flaws in the model of globalisation which has needlessly left so many behind. Public health systems have been deliberately weakened by political choice, leaving billions of people without access. Precarious work has left working people without security, outside social protection systems and consequently facing destitution. Global supply chains, honed to deliver immediate profit, have cracked or broken when the world needs them most to produce essential products like personal protective equipment. Border closures restricting medical and other vital supplies risk stability and can result in avoidable loss of life. Global coordination is needed to ensure access and prevent competition between governments for lifesaving equipment. These failings need to be fixed. People must come first.

While many companies are doing the right thing, there are corporate gangsters who are seeking to profit from the crisis. They must be stopped and governments need to have the courage to put price ceilings and other measures in place.

No government can respond to the pandemic alone. 

We live in one world and all our futures are entwined. The rise of the nationalistic right-wing has debilitated the multilateral system, a system which must be urgently revived and reshaped on respect for rights and inclusion to meet the challenge and manage the future. The alternative is unthinkable as exposed today where the shameful behaviour of some leaders, capturing vital supplies at the expense of others, would become the norm and lead the world into devastating conflict. Production of vital supplies has to be ramped up, and the products shared according to need along with the knowledge required to tackle the disease. And the needs are not only short-term. The virus will challenge public health, and safety in the workplace, for years to come.

We denounce the attempts by the extreme right to use this crisis so sow further discord and increase its influence. We reaffirm our absolute commitment to fight against it.

We welcome the decision of the G20 countries to hold a meeting of labour ministers, which should be expanded to include finance ministers and which must include engagement with labour. We call on the OECD to do this as well. Social partnership, bringing together unions, businesses and governments as well as civil society to shape a common agenda, the importance of which was recognised by the G7 at its last Summit, must be central to the response at every level.

In the midst of this crisis, we must also look ahead.

It is working people who are bearing the economic brunt and it is they who will build the future. Where governments and businesses are working with unions in this crisis, the positive results are already clear. That historic lesson must lay the foundations for a future global economy that must be resilient and capable of delivering health and shared prosperity to all. An international community and global economy which is able to overcome converging crises of the pandemic, climate change, poverty and other yet unknown challenges.

A future where women and men are truly equal, where discrimination is no longer tolerated, where work is safe and hygienic and where the rules of work are based on rights and just wages. And where social protection is universal and helps create and enable quality jobs, equitable access and equality for all.

These are essential foundations for peace and co-existence.

Health is a fundamental human right. It does not just co-exist with other rights – it is dependent on them. Massive investment in public health, in the workforce and in regenerating economic activity is essential, and the benefits from that will only flow if rights are respected.

To this end, we call for the establishment of a tripartite global council for recovery, reconstruction and resilience.

The human race is capable of anything if we work together.

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Len McCluskey: “We need to unite behind Keir Starmer to cleanse Labour of this shame

Unite’s Len McCluskey

With the labour movement reeling from the revelations contained in the leaked report concerning how Labour HQ has handled complaints over anti-semitism in recent years, the party’s biggest affiliate has called for unity behind the new leader.

Writing today (Wednesday) on the Labour List site, Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite the union slammed ‘politically crooked officials’ who were prepared to harm working people and the wider economy in order to deny a Corbyn-led Labour government.

He calls for a redacted version of the report to be put into the public domain and says that Keir Starmer, who bears no responsibility for these institutional and cultural failings, must now work with the party’s ruling national executive (NEC) to direct the clean-up.

McCluskey also says that Unite, by far the largest donor during the 2017 campaign, amounting to three quarters of total union donations, has a right to ‘honest accounting’ of how the funds were spent, and questions whether electoral law and Labour Party governance procedures have been breached by secret practices.

He writes: Let us be clear what the officials, whose cynical, abusive and factional conduct has now been exposed, were actually doing.  In working for a Labour defeat, they were working for a Tory victory – that is to say, empowering the party that stood for austerity and a “hard Brexit”.  These politically-crooked officials were prepared to risk dramatic damage to the interests of the British economy and working people just in order to scratch their factional itch.

“And some of these officials have now secured peerages or been dubbed this-or-that of the British Empire “for services to the Labour Party”.  If they are to keep these distinctions, at the very least the citations should be changed to “services to the Tory Party”.

“And we – the labour movement – were paying for all this.  Indeed, it seems we were also handing over money that was, unbeknown to the Party NEC, allegedly being squirreled away into secret slush funds devoted to supporting those MPs who Party officialdom favoured.  

“At first blush, there would appear to be a case to answer for breaches of electoral law and perhaps even embezzlement. Since Unite was by far the largest single donor to the 2017 election campaign, giving around 75% of total union donations, I have the right to expect an honest accounting for this.

McCluskey continues “this was not the result of a legitimate political disagreement.  A large minority of the Labour Party membership never supported Jeremy Corbyn and they had a right to their views.  If they were employed by the Party they had every right to keep their jobs, provided they continued to do them diligently, loyally and professionally.

“But that is a world away from the rancid, and very cruel, political culture revealed in the GLU Report.  The atmosphere exposed in the exchanges varies between what one might expect to hear in the toilets at a teenage nightclub or a Trump rally.  ‘Mean Girls’ meets ‘Mississippi Burning’.

“They seem to regard the Party as their private property and anyone a millimetre to the left of Tony Blair as a “Trot”.  Andy Burnham has spoken out about how he feels the same apparatus undermined him on NHS policy.”

Calling for the issues raised not to be `swept under the carpet’ and for the labour movement to focus on the content of the report and not be distracted by secondary issues regarding its commissioning, done as part of the wider response to the EHRC inquiry, McCluskey says “Those named in the report have of course the right to defend, contextualise or explain what is set out.  They could even just apologise. We should not pre-empt any outcome, either legally or in terms of Party rule.

“But this cannot be swept under the carpet.  First of all, the Party should make a properly-redacted version of the report publicly available.

“This should not be a crisis for Keir Starmer. His desire to unite the Party is almost universally shared, and certainly has Unite’s full support.  He bears no responsibility for the state of affairs the GLU Report reveals but it falls to him and the Party NEC to direct the clean-up.

“In my view, where there is clear evidence of a party member having engaged in misogynistic or abusive conduct, or having worked to undermine the Party’s election campaign, or even having broken the law, there is a case for suspension pending a thorough investigation (with no presumption of guilt).  

“I know there are tens of thousands of Labour Party members, many of them also in my union, whose dismay at these revelations may lead them to wonder why they should stay in a Party where such things can happen. Let me urge them to remain with the Party and get behind our newly-elected leadership as they handle this crisis.

“Labour can, will and must move on.  Transparency and accountability will be key.  I am confident that Keir Starmer and Angie Rayner will be guided by these values, and will allow no return of the poisonous environment which prevailed when the hard right of the Party last ran the machine we all pay for.”

 

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Keir Starmer appoints Labour frontbench

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“This is a new team that will take the Labour Party forward in a new era. Under my leadership, the Labour Party will be utterly focused on working in the national interest, rebuilding people’s trust in our party and winning the next election.”

Keir Starmer has appointed Angela Rayner as Shadow First Secretary of State. She will also deputise for him at Prime Minister’s Questions and in other key functions.

Party roles and parliamentary private secretaries will be appointed in due course.

Leader: Keir Starmer

PPS: Carolyn Harris

Deputy Leader, National Campaign Co-ordinator, Party Chair and Shadow First Secretary of State: Angela Rayner

Treasury

Shadow Chancellor: Anneliese Dodds

Shadow Chief Secretary: Bridget Phillipson

Ministers:

  • Dan Carden (Financial Secretary)
  • Pat McFadden (Economic Secretary)
  • Wes Streeting (Exchequer Secretary)

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Shadow Foreign Secretary: Lisa Nandy

Ministers:

  • Wayne David (Middle East and North Africa)
  • Stephen Doughty (Africa – joint with DFID)
  • Stephen Kinnock (Asia and Pacific)
  • Catherine West (Europe & Americas)

Home Office

Shadow Home Secretary: Nick Thomas-Symonds

Ministers:

  • Bambos Charalambous (Crime reduction and courts)
  • Sarah Jones (Policing and the Fire Service)
  • Holly Lynch (Immigration)
  • Conor McGinn (Security)
  • Jess Phillips (Domestic Violence and Safeguarding)

Cabinet Office

Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Rachel Reeves

Young People and Voter Engagement: Cat Smith

Ministers:

  • Paul Blomfield (Brexit and EU negotiations, joint with Int Trade)
  • Helen Hayes (Cabinet Office)
  • Ministry of Justice

Shadow Justice Secretary: David Lammy

Ministers:

  • Lyn Brown (Prisons and Probation)
  • Alex Cunningham (Courts and sentencing)
  • Peter Kyle (Victims and Youth Justice)
  • Karl Turner (Legal Aid)

Ministry of Defence

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence: John Healey

Ministers:

  • Sharon Hodgson (Veterans)
  • Stephen Morgan (Armed Forces)
  • Khalid Mahmood (Procurement)
  • Health and Social Care

Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: Jonathan Ashworth

Mental Health: Rosena Allin-Khan

Ministers:

  • Liz Kendall (Social Care)
  • Justin Madders (Public Health and prevention)
  • Alex Norris (Public Health and patient safety)

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Shadow Secretary of State for BEIS: Ed Miliband

Ministers:

  • Chi Onwurah (Science, Research & Digital – joint with DCMS)
  • Matthew Pennycook (Climate change)
  • Lucy Powell (Business and Consumers)
  • Alan Whitehead (Green New Deal and Energy)

Work and Pensions

Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions: Jonathan Reynolds

Ministers:

  • Jack Dromey (Pensions)
  • Vicky Foxcroft (Disability)
  • Kate Green (Child Poverty Strategy)
  • Seema Malhotra (Employment)

 International Trade

Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade: Emily Thornberry

Ministers:

  • Paul Blomfield (Joint with CDL)
  • Bill Esterson
  • Gareth Thomas

Education

Shadow Education Secretary: Rebecca Long Bailey

Ministers:

  • Margaret Greenwood (Schools)
  • Emma Hardy (FE & Universities)
  • Toby Perkins (Apprenticeships & life-long learning)
  • Tulip Siddiq (Children & Early Years)

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

Shadow Secretary of State for DCMS: Jo Stevens

Ministers:

  • Tracy Brabin (Cultural Industries)
  • Rachel Maskell (Voluntary Sector & Charities)
  • Chris Matheson (Media)
  • Alison McGovern (Sport)
  • Chi Onwurah (Digital, joint with BEIS)
  • Alex Sobel (Tourism & Heritage)

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Shadow DEFRA Secretary: Luke Pollard

Ministers:

  • Steph Peacock (Flooding)
  • Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Natural Environment & Air Quality)
  • Daniel Zeichner (Food, Farming and Fisheries)

Communities and Local Government (CLG)

Shadow CLG Secretary: Steve Reed

Shadow Housing Secretary: Thangam Debbonaire

Ministers:

  • Mike Amesbury (Housing and Planning)
  • Janet Daby (Faiths)
  • Kate Hollern (Local Government)
  • Naz Shah (Community Cohesion)

Transport

Shadow Transport Secretary: Jim McMahon

Ministers:

  • Tan Dhesi (Railways)
  • Mike Kane (Regional Transport)
  • Kerry McCarthy (Green transport and aviation)
  • Matt Rodda (Buses)

International Development (DfID)

Shadow DfID Secretary: Preet Gill

Ministers:

  • Stephen Doughty (Joint with FCO)
  • Anna McMorrin
  • Yasmin Qureshi

Northern Ireland

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary (interim): Louise Haigh

Ministers: Karin Smyth

Wales

Shadow Wales Secretary: Nia Griffith

Ministers: Gerald Jones

Scotland

Shadow Scotland Secretary: Ian Murray

Ministers: Chris Elmore (joint with whips office)

Women & Equalities

Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary: Marsha de Cordova

Ministers: Gill Furness

 Employment Rights and Protections

Shadow Employment Rights and Protections Secretary: Andy McDonald

Ministers: Imran Hussain

 Leader of the House of Commons

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons: Valerie Vaz

Deputy Leader of the House of Commons: Afzal Khan

 House of Lords:

Shadow Leader of the House of Lords: Baroness Smith

Lords’ Opposition Chief Whip: Lord McAvoy

 Attorney General: Lord Falconer

Solicitor General: Ellie Reeves

 Whips Office

Chief Whip: Nick Brown

Deputy Chief Whip: Alan Campbell

Pairing Whip: Mark Tami

Senior Whip: Jessica Morden

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Unions & Employers: We Need A Manufacturing Army To Beat Virus.

Unite, the doctors’ union, Unison, the British Medical Association, and the nurses union the Royal College of Nursing have joined together in calling for government to unleash a national effort to produce the protective equipment (PPE) millions of key workers desperately need to keep safe during the health crisis.

The unions, have been joined by industry employers in the aerospace sector – ADS Group and printing employers British Printing Industries Federation, in saying that that manufacturing capacity currently furloughed or under utilised should be repurposed amongst the UK’s world leading manufacturers to produce the PPE kit desperately needed by our NHS, social care providers and other front-line workers across UK industry.

Skilled workers are desperate to play their part, using their engineering and manufacturing expertise to ramp up production, under license from existing manufacturers that simply can’t cope with demand or secure essential supplies given the unprecedented demands on raw materials and components.

With millions of PPE kits urgently needed to supply UK industry, Unite believes that demand at home, with excess dispatched across the globe, could be met from an army of manufacturers once the government gives the signal for UK Plc to swing into action, supplemented by a domestic army of small businesses and home workers with access to the appropriate tooling and technologies, such as 3-D printers.

Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said: “We have plants and people standing idle and underutilised when they could be put to great use in defence of the public’s health. 

“Government must now move from soundbite to action and put out a ‘call-to-arms’ to existing providers, materials suppliers and manufacturers. Temporarily addressing manufacturing restrictions based on copyright, patent or intellectual property, we could have a manufacturing army up and running, producing a range of PPE and essential supplies, in a matter of days.

“We showed how UK manufacturing can pull together in the national interest to produce urgently needed medical ventilators and we already have our members at the Royal Mint producing medical visors. 

“Further, Friday’s call across Northern Ireland saw over 100 companies responding positively to produce everything from hand sanitiser to medical scrubs, while a call from the Australian government last week saw 130 manufacturing companies step up to produce everything from hand sanitiser, visors and face masks, to goggles, gloves, surgical gowns, mask fit test kits and thermometers.

“There is no reason why we cannot ramp up production across the UK – with government planning and coordination between those coming forward to provide lifesaving PPE for all; from our NHS to local government, food manufacturing to parcels delivery. Unite’s members stand ready to deliver – government must now make the call.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said“NHS and care staff are doing vital jobs looking after us all, but the work they do mustn’t put them at risk.  Shortages of protective equipment are making staff anxious, but they’re in the forefront of the fight against this deadly disease. 

“There must be a nationwide effort with government and manufacturers all doing their bit so public service workers can get the equipment they need.  As they are protecting and looking after us, so we must protect and look after them.  This sensible proposal could go a long way towards solving the current problems.”

Dr David Wrigley, GP and BMA deputy chair said: “Doctors, healthcare workers and carers are risking their lives day-to-day in the battle against COVID-19. They must be protected with proper PPE so they can stay healthy to care for patients safely and stop the spread of this deadly virus. 

“The government must urgently spearhead a national drive the likes of which has not been seen in peacetime and support UK manufacturers right now to make the vital PPE equipment health and care workers need.  With the UK’s health workers enduring severe shortages and suffering a postcode lottery in the supply of vital protective equipment, the government has a moral duty to do everything in its power now, to protect doctors and protect patients.

“We are in the grip of the biggest public health crisis of our lifetimes and will be dealing with it for a long time to come. Let us now unleash the brilliance of the UK’s manufacturing workers to alleviate the critical shortage of PPE and protect doctors so that they can help you.”

ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “Our members are among manufacturers helping to supply the NHS with vital protective equipment like face masks, respiratory equipment and clothing. Companies in our sectors are also responding to a call from the government for proposals to develop technology for rapid sanitisation of ambulances. Manufacturers have the capabilities needed to help the government and the NHS address the challenges they are facing and we are working with them to help make sure they can access the equipment they require.”

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretarysaid: “Weeks into this crisis, it is completely unacceptable that nursing staff, wherever they work, have not been provided with personal protective equipment. I am hearing from nurses who are treating patients in Covid-19 wards without any protection at all. This cannot continue. They are putting themselves, their families, and their patients at risk.

“We will not accept anything less than aprons, gloves and masks for all staff, in all settings. But this is a minimum – and that is why we are so disappointed even that level of protection has yet to be provided. Every minute we wait is a minute too long.”

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“We’ve Got The NHS”

Here’s “We’ve Got The NHS” written and performed by Canning Town bluesman Bill Farrow with Richie Milton. 

They are looking to do a gig around this to support the great NHS workers but looks like that can’t happen – so please help by tweeting and pasting this on your Facebooks…

 

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They used to be on the naughty step. Now the unions are front of house

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March 2020 Edition Of Media North – Download

You can download the new 8 page pdf edition of Media North’s latest newsletter by clicking on this link MediaNorth.March2020

It has some great reports from student journalists on the very successful February ‘It’s the Media, Stupid!’ Conference, along with our usual array of interesting articles including:

BBC Under  Attack By Tories; Local News Matters; Challenging Media Power; What About Media Workers? 

There’s news of the book related to the conference too – that’s due to be published in mid April.

Details of how to pre-order are on page 8.

We’re currently working on a special MediaNorth issue on media coverage of the coronavirus.

Ideas or contributions welcome. We aim to get this to you mid April.

Follow Media North on Twitter at @campaign_and

 

 

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