Posts Tagged ‘workers’ rights’

If we jump off the ledge on Thursday, we will fall hard

21/06/2016, 11:23:51 AM

by Joe Anderson

In 48 hours’ time we will take the biggest decision about our country’s future since we declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939.

Forget 1975. Back then the choice of staying in the (then) European Economic Community was a no-brainer, given we had barely been a member for three years.

This referendum on whether we stay in the EU or not is much more important and the impacts will be felt much more broadly.

We’re not declaring war on a country, but we are in danger of declaring war on the future.

If we decide to leave the European Union after 41 years as a key member, then we need to be prepared for what comes next.

It’s a grim future of neo-liberal economics, where we are buffeted about by global powers far larger and more powerful than us.

For Labour people, it means something else too. It will mean that the right wing of the Tory party has succeeded at last in its bid to get us out of Europe.

Margaret Thatcher will be jumping for joy from the afterlife at the prospect of Brexit.

Rights that have been hard-won will be easily lost. Social and environmental directives will be repealed, leaving workers, consumers and the environment at the hands of unbridled market forces.

Does anyone really think a Tory government will lift a finger to protect the working time directive when the deadbeat employers who want to sweat their workforces get into Number Ten and lobby Prime Minister Boris?

Of course they won’t.

What they call red tape, we call basic rights.


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We need to strengthen, not break, the union link

26/11/2012, 02:05:03 PM

by Ian Stewart

On the twentieth of November Mark Ferguson over at Labour List published a good article in support of the 150 workers on strike in Swindon in the Carillion/Great Western hospital dispute. It was posted on the same day that saw these workers and their elected GMB union representatives demonstrating and lobbying in London. It was a fine piece, arguing the case of a group of mainly women, mainly Goan employees who have been subjected to bullying, blacklisting and attempts to buy them off over a period of time going back to at least 2007.

The trouble was that the strike is now in its eleventh month. So where were the posts on Labour List, Left Foot Forward, Labour Uncut or any other mainstream site over the past year? Those of us who write and contribute to left wing political blogs can be accused of many things – hypocrisy, hair-splitting, hyperbole – but one thing which many of us need to own up to is all too often ignoring the trades union struggle, that is until conference time.

Aah yes, conference season, when we can all rely the usual suspects to explain to us lesser mortals exactly why unions are a bad thing, and being linked to them will lose us the next election. I am sure that the posts are already written for 2013, with “insert union leaders’ name here” blank – hey, it never gets old does it?

Only it does, it gets very, very old very, very quickly, especially if we are trying to broaden and strengthen our support across the country. Especially as we are trying to turn away from doing things in the old stale ways. For example, consider Arnie Graf and his report – you know the one that was so good, so visionary that I am not allowed to see it. Now one of his main ideas is that we as party members need to be much more firmly rooted within our communities, and to be fostering leaders, rather than sheep for central office to order about. All well and good, but amongst the church groups and community associations, can we please consider those mass membership organisations that foster leadership and self-confidence amongst working class people? If you have forgotten what they are called the name is TRADES UNIONS.


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Why Labour has to win in 2015

19/10/2012, 02:50:29 PM

by Ian Stewart

Politics is a game. It is irrelevant to the real needs. The authorised version of the game and its rules have been pickled, or maybe set in aspic, or possibly worse. The ingredients that make up our HP Sauce have curdled. That is the view from the bottom of the pile, it is the reason why so many of us cannot be bothered. It is also the view peddled by the seemingly endless parade of hip young things in our media today. That is unless they can find a cause that ticks the right boxes of their sales demographic.

If you want to practice politics go to a good university then get that job as a researcher or SpAd. Get yourself into a union machine, work in local government or law or work for a pressure group or the media. In other words get inside the established channels as quickly as you can, starting with student politics.

Whatever you do, do not get a job outside of the process. The process is king – never forget that. Once inside you can play the game to your heart’s content. In your chosen career – showbusiness for ugly people – you will be talking to others similar to yourself and most of those interested in what you do will also be like you. The rest of us neither matter nor care, except during elections.

You can read a lot of leftish blogs and sites these days and most of them seem to accept the rules of this game. It’s a game that few can ever win. Left wing commentators occasionally wring their hands over the fate of beings called “the low paid.”

I have a suspicion that most of them have only sensed these beings from a slight distance. Let me help you, my fellow blogging comrades, in your search for these mythical beings. They were serving your coffee, washing your dirty plates and getting you that glass of wine in the bar at that conference you attended… (did you tip, or did you think a few extra quid would be demeaning? Tightwad.)

I know this because I am one of them. I’ve spent most of my working life in catering, hotels, restaurants and bars. I admit that I’m atypical (particularly in London) as I am English and fairly educated. Oh, and I am interested in politics. Forgive me, I spent all of my working day on my feet, including my break, and am a little cranky. Sadly, in many respects George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London is all too familiar today. To those who see politics as simply a tribal game or as irrelevant to the lives we all lead, let me explain what a large bulk of “the low paid” go through on a daily basis.


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