Friday, September 28, 2007
This has dominated parts of the news over the last few days . Dominos apparently blame the 'abuse' on 'HR mistakes'!!
Pull the other one.
Abuses such as this are the tip of the iceberg and more will come to the fore as Unions begin to break into the gutter of rogue employers, gangmasters and the Employment Agency mafia.
Make Employers accountable.
And there is me thinking that it was Stalin who had the monopoly on 'doctoring' photographs.
I hope someone gets a bollocking for this. Mind you there is an unsubstantiated rumour going round that some of the press photos of the LP conference were doctored. Apparently people applauding were superimposed onto people fast asleep from boredom during Alistair Darlings speech.
Can this be confirmed?
Truth is, it been going on for nearly two decades. From Kinnock and his 'don't give us promises we are not going to keep ' to today's slavish dependence to the philosophy that keeping power and keeping the Tories out remains the priority.
The idea that the electorate are expected to vote for a party, not for its policies but in order to keep Cameron out of No 10 is a low cynicism that is reflected in the falling turn outs at local and general elections.
These people just don't get it.
Shame is, that it seems to have well and truly rubbed off onto the Trade Union leaders who really should know better, with their day to day knowledge of their members problems. The weight the trade unions carry is certainly not reflected in their Political Party, the so called 'workers party' they affiliate to and finance.
Maybe that's a bit harsh, after all, a deal has been wrestled out of Hain to protect the long term future of Remploy. Cynics amongst us may consider it a PR coup, a sort of lets-watch-our-backs-cos-we-cant-be-seen-rushing-around-with-DVDs-handing-out-redundancy-notices-to-disabled- workers kind of thing!!
Credit here is due to the tireless campaigning done by the Remploy activists who I had the privilege of meeting in Portsmouth back on the 17th September. They had the type of campaigning enthusiasm seldom seen today, especially when it comes to election time and political campaigning with the Labour Party.
Now I might by giving the impression that I am considering dumping the LP and just retiring to Trade Union work or drink crazed oblivion (tempting!!).
Not the case.
It is key to keep plugging away politically for our class and if that means arm twisting Labour ministers, MPs and Councillors into a guilt trip in order to change policy then so be it. Its what is going on in the grass roots that is important. Not what some well paid consultancy tells you. What happens in the workplace is a million miles from the focus groups and spin that Labour ministers are hooked on.
The perspective is to build in the workplaces and in the communities and to enthuse workers with a new 21st century vision of Socialism (Oops a swearword!!) away from the New Labour cynicism and the forever splitting mire that the left of Labour parties such as Respect and the SSP continually find themselves in.
The debate is going on today. It can be found in the Labour left, the Trade Unions and sometimes (if they stop squabbling for 5 minutes) the non Labour left groups.
Workers need something that ties all these debates together. We need a tendency that campaign's tirelessly for Socialism in a way that relates to workers.
One thing is for sure. Gordon Brown and stage managed 'conferences' ain't going to do that!!
If the fall in the turnout continues it might just let Cameron in. Be warned.
Another Rant over.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Anyway, the general consensus was a feeling that this was a bit different to the atmosphere in the previous Blair 'gulag'. It was felt that GB came over as reasonably genuine and modest. The speech has been referred as a 'thawing' from some quarters I have spoken to.
Obviously the difficulty was to look at the speech with the background of what is in effect a wage cut happening in the Public Sector and GBs fondness for inviting (a) Thatcher to No10 , and (b) inviting Tories into his inner sanctum (Digby-Jones, Bercow etc etc) Then there is the WAR to think about.
It was a speech that , especially from an electoral point of view must have put the shits up Cameron who has to deliver something pretty special at Blackpool to drag the Tory party out of the current muddy bog they are stuck in.
One thing that is pretty certain is the slick New Labour speech makers have certainly completed a pretty good PR job in ensuring GBs delivery hit all the right buttons to cause both TU leaders and business leaders to react positively or at least to take the positives out of it. I noticed as well and got general agreement from others, that GBs weekly dinners at the Daily Mail have paid off with certain references to keep middle England (still cant work out what that is!) happy.
It will be interesting to see press reaction today.
To conclude, I haven't as yet seen any real turn in the LP to the things that matter for working people in this country apart from the same old, same old, typical New Labour generalisations about the NHS, Education and crime. We all agree policy is important and now that the rule changes are to be implemented it will be wait and see if change can be brought about in the new structures developing in the party. http://labourleftforum.blogspot.com/2007/09/millibands-sentence-on-branches-and.html
My view is that it wont. But hey I'm a miserable lefty!!
The GBs speech showed a change in attitude is there but how it will be perceived by the hundreds of thousands of workers in debt, on low pay and with uncertain job prospects remain to be seen.There is still an untapped expectation out there amongst workers who still remember the misery of the Tory rule that blighted communities.
One thing is for sure, Labour will win the next election because there is nothing out there to match it. There is certainly nothing to match the onward march of the Brown machine so slickly presented at Bournemouth yesterday.
By the way, the march (see below) went well on Sunday. Good turn out and good to see the Remploy workers well represented.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
an end to off-shoring - quality, secure jobs for all,
to ensure equal rights for agency workers - and trade union freedom for all ,
to close the yawning wealth gap ,
to deliver fair pay to public sector workers and quality, publicly provided health and education for all ,
to free councils to build decent housing for all.
I will be going to the demo with a coach load of colleagues from Portsmouth. TGWU -Unite have organised coaches from each district so hopefully a turn out of 500 from the South West alone will have a good impact.Other Unions are joining in.
I feel the demo could be quite angry with Brown over his reluctance to support many of the demands that this march is for. I think it is important that the TU tops realise that Unions will not be just a lobbying organisation to catch crumbs from Browns table. Unfortunately this looks like what will happen with the currenet LP constitutional reforms being debated.
What were the TU delegates to the LP NEC thinking supporting the proposals?
Turkeys and Christmas come to mind. Lets hope the delegates show good sence and defeat them.
(Say hello if you see me. I am the tall ugly one almost to the right of the picture!!)
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
What a slap in the face for agency workers, migrant labourers, low paid cleaners and caterers, HGV drivers and shop workers. Lets not forget public sector workers, agricultural workers, construction workers, call centre workers and all the youth forced to take on shitty 'McJobs'.
Do we really need the lecturing from some 'Jurassic' capitalist who attends a meeting of us 'bruvvers and sisters' in order for him to demand we lie prostrate in front of the capitalist 'god' and do as we are told?
I have difficulty putting up with this. The problem is it cant be ignored, it has to be challenged. More power to the elbow of those TU leaders who are prepared to put their heads up above the parapet and say 'stop'!!
Our CBI delegate moans that Taxing the rich will cause a brain drain.Well I am not going to loose much sleep over bosses who sack by text message, exploit migrant labour, run companies into the ground and then 'retire' with millionaire pensions and take advantage of abysmally weak UK employment law to kick skilled workers on the dole then plead poverty and let the tax payer pick up the tab.
Our CBI friend is obviously living in a dream world.
Back to the real world.
Just in case some New Labour lover pipes up with a story about all the benefits New Labour have have introduced to workers in the last ten years, check this out
Earth to Harriett.
Mums arent happy with the flexible working regs. What are Labour going to do about it? If you need any assistance ask the TU movement what they would do. Its not hard because its being debated at TUC conference.
Working women need real workers rights not platitudes about having a 'balance' with the 'needs of the employer'.
Rant over, I'm having a beer.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
BATTERSEA AND WANDSWORTH TUC & LAMBETH TUC present::REMPLOY NATIONAL CRUSADE - LONDON SOCIAL No Closures!
'EU attacks workers’ rights
Supporters of the neo-liberal EU Constitution now claim that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights grants the right to strike.
This claim is not only being used to bully delegates into opposing GMB and RMT motions on the EU Constitution, it is also simply not true .
The Charter clearly states that the operation of anti-union legislation within member states will not be changed in any way.
Article II-28 of the Charter states that workers may ‘take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action’.
However, as John Hendy QC has pointed out, the “Explanations” in Declaration 12 actually states that such “rights” would only exist "in accordance with national laws and practices". This means that draconian labour legislation already existing in a member state can be preserved.
Furthermore, the government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has repeatedly said: “The charter doesn't create any new rights. We spent a very long time looking at this, in particular the disputed article. It does not create the right to strike”.
This is the case regardless of any ‘opt-outs’ Gordon Brown or Miliband may claim to have been removed as the “Explanations” are still in the Charter.
It is also important to remember that the EU can limit trade union rights in order to satisfy objectives of ‘general interest’ of the EU as pointed out in Article II-112.
Moreover, under the Constitution, in any conflict between workers’ rights and EU rules on free movement, the final ruling will be made by the highly federalist and unaccountable European Court of Justice. The ECJ is itself an EU institution which is required to promote EU goals such as an ‘ever closer union’ and the ‘free movement’ of capital and goods.
The Constitution would also hand powers to the EU to implement the Single European Market (SEM) as envisaged under the notorious Services Directive.
The aim of the directive is to introduce ‘free-market’ competition to all economic services operating within the EU.
It would allow service providers to operate outside the laws of the country where the service is being provided – setting in train a further race to the bottom in terms of pay and conditions.
In an example of what this would mean, Latvian firm Laval operating in the Swedish town of Vaxholm has refused to abide by Scandinavian collective wage agreements, claiming they break EU law on free movement of services.
The European Commission openly backs the Laval’s social dumping and union-busting activities and claims that Swedish labour laws contravene Article 49 of the EU treaties on ‘free movement’ of services.
If that does not convince you that the Constitution is bad for workers, the same European Commission that gave us the Constitution has produced a Green Paper, “Modernising labour law to meet the challenges of the 21st century”, promoting something called ‘flexicurity’.
This concept makes the false promise that if workers embrace “flexibility” then job “security” will follow.
However, the Green Paper argues for an end to protection for workers in a number of ways including the abolition of “overtly protective terms and conditions” in contracts which supposedly “deter employers from hiring during economic upturns”.
In plain language, this would mean an end to collective workers’ rights as we know them.
As Amicus General Secretary Derek Simpson told The Times (22/1/07) “The Green Paper hides behind the language of equality to propose measures to force exploitation and insecurity on to every worker in Europe”.
That is exactly the point of ‘flexicurity’ and the Constitution.
It is time to say no.'
Is it any wonder Gordon Brown and his Employer buddies dont want a vote on the EU constitution.
Secondly the leadership of Unite are making a huge issue of it at this weeks TUC conference.
I have recently raised the issue of employers using migrant labour to deliberately undercut wages and conditions, which is part of the wider 'globalisation' agenda the government is hooked on. I don’t support halting migration . I strongly support increased rights to end exploitation. This is what Labour should be doing.
Gordon Brown , not wanting to be ‘off message’ with the Trade Unions he is trying to court has come back with this response
He just doesnt 'get it' , to quote John Reid. This is not dealing with the exploitation of casual labour.
Our Labour government must be more proactive in dealing with the issue of casualisation. Workers don’t want to work this way. They want jobs for life to be able to manage their debts and to have stability for their families.
What we are seeing is not just the dumbing down of workers in this economy through our education system, but a sharp erosion in workplace terms and conditions which ultimately will be blamed by workers on the Labour government. There is a danger of this government being seen as managing this erosion of workers rights.
The BNP are waiting in the wings to exploit this issue for their own ends.They would cause havoc in workplaces.
The Tories though are remarkably quiet on the issue. This is not surprising because they would want to continue where Labour leaves off if they ever win an election. After all it is their natural allies and benefactors, the employers, that win in the casual economy
Saturday, September 8, 2007
This prompted me to get the ladder and dig out my extensive record collection from the loft, which had remained packed away for nearly 15 years.The aim is ultimately to stick enough vinyl on to my pc to put onto either disc or onto my ipod. Now considering I am a complete technophobe I press ganged my wife to set the system up. I have also purchased some record cleaning fluid from HMV in Southampton, to clean the 'mould' and other skankiness that seem to remain on the discs from parties long past
Anyway I thought I would regularly report on some of the stuff I had rediscovered.
At the moment I am listening to the first Smiths album. Completely forgot I had this. Absolute genius!!
I have rediscovered the classic Wire album Chairs Missing. I have long been a Wire fan, one of the more interesting bands to come out of the late 70s punk/new wave. I hear that are still going but then they seem to come and go as they seem fit.
Please check out the tune 'Mercy' on the 2nd side. There are three tracks that make me feel like arguing with the 80s Tory cabinet with an AK47 ( I heard that said in NME once ). They are Holidays in the Sun by the Sex Pistols, Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana and Mercy by Wire. Brilliant track.
Found a lot of ancient hip hop.
Public Enemy, first two albums, the Beastie Boys first album, Eric B and Rakim , first two albums and Boogie Down Productions , By All Means Necessary the cover of which has a picture of KRS1 I believe holding a machine pistol or Uzi. Whatever next, bit radical these oldies. I hope it doesnt cause anti social behaviour in the future!!
A lot of the music I bought in the 80s was championed by the late great John Peel. I have a number of 12"singles what were part of his sessions put to vinyl and released through the Strange Fruit label. The discs I have include Stump, That Petrol emotion, Wire (again!), New Order and the wonderful Electro Hippies, a disc which includes the amazing Mega Armageddon Death that is under 1 second long. I want THAT played at my funeral!!
I also have singles by the Jesus and Mary Chain , the Fall, Yeah Yeah No and Serious Drinking with their classic Hangover EP.
I will try and update the blog as I progress.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Since those heady days we witness economic depression, mass migration and the rise of the far right. Was this really what western capitalist politicians foresaw when the Berlin Wall fell to the tune of the Scorpions rock band?
In yesterdays Morning Star there was an article about the the power of the neo Nazi right in east Germany. Here I am referring to the National Democratic Party, whose power base seems to be around Saxony.Referrals were made quite correctly to the poverty that causes these movements to develop. The article compares east Germany today to the Germany of the early 1920s. The main difference I have to add though is that you haven't seen the defeat of mass workers movements like you did at that time in Germany.
Today there are common reports of racist attacks , with the police often reluctant or too late to intervene.Theses attacks often lead to injury or death.The far right is often made up of young disenfranchised male youths who have been tossed on to the economic scrapheap.
On today's BBC news there is a report of the increasing influence of the Russian skinhead movement that raises the same concerns. I don't think anyone would not have noticed the far right attacks on the Pride marches in Russia earlier this year in particular the cowardly attack on Peter Tatchell.
Again the cause of this rise in neo Nazi groups in the former USSR is economic depression and the poverty it causes. Far right ideology is the easy option when you see a working class battered , bruised and split by the introduction of neo liberalism.
Are Capitalist Politicians forgetting their history? It seems to me that far right groups , as long as they are appropriately managed, are far more preferable to a United working class in militant unions. This 'tactic' will unfortunately one day bite the Capitalist in the backside.
What we see in these former Communist states (by communist I mean bureaucratically mis managed stalinist states) is not the 'freedom' that the majority of workers craved for , but the creation of a vast army of reserve labour to be used in the global market.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
This is a turn up for the books. Gordon Brown seems to be heading for an amazing show down with the entire public sector. This after the recent RCN position to consider industrial action. When so many groups of workers, some seen to be from the New Labour loved Middle England, are considering their position, surely now is the time to sit up and take note.
Comrade Brown, there is only so much you can screw people.
The links below give a backward chronology to the massive problems PPP causes the employee and the rail travelling public. There are more in depth reports on the BBC site.
The good news is that the unions have united their action in this dispute. RMT , TSSA and Unite have coordinated their actions which is the strategy that needs to be adopted in the public sector as a whole if we are to defeat the privateers and the below inflation pay offer the government ‘kindly’ offered.
I hope the London Mayor looks long and hard into his socialist past and changes his view on the strike. At its launch , back in May, the mayor was given the first membership card for the new Unite union.
The first strike starts on the 3rd September. Please show your support by visiting the picket lines.