BENEFITS SANCTIONS: a critical issue for the Labour Party

Thursday 6 June – 7.30pm
Greek Cypriot Centre, Britannia Road, N12 9 RU

Meeting and discussion with David Webster and Stop Universal Credit campaigner

David Webster is a Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University. He is currently carrying out an in-depth investigation into disallowances and sanctions in the UK unemployment insurance system.

Benefits used to be run on insurance principles – but the Blair government bought into the whole ideology of conditionality, sanctions and workfare. A research by the IFS concludes that almost 2million people will lose £1,000 a year with universal credit, and that it is those on disability benefits and low incomes who will be among the worst affected.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Trump’s State Visit – Just 2 Weeks Away!

Having withdrawn from the hard-won nuclear deal with Iran over a year ago, the US has tightened already punitive sanctions, moved an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers, and extra missiles to the Gulf region and held top level discussions about deploying as many as 120,000 troops to the area.

Any military action against Iran would lead to a devastating war that would draw in the whole of the Middle East and has the potential to escalate into a global conflict.

The Together Against Trump Protest against his State Visit on June 4th is the perfect opportunity to demand an end to his terrifying brinkmanship with Iran. Join us on the anti-war and peace bloc in two weeks time!

Employers not doing enough to keep pregnant women safe at work, TUC and Maternity Action warn

The TUC and Maternity Action have today (Wednesday) warned that employers are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work.

  • New guidance published to protect new and expectant mothers 

The TUC and Maternity Action have today (Wednesday) warned that employers are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work. 

The organisations have published new guidance which details steps bosses should be taking to keep female staff safe during and after pregnancy.  

The new guide says there are clear laws in place to protect new and expectant mothers. But warns that many bosses don’t know what they should be doing or are ignoring their legal responsibilities.  

A recent survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that two in five (41%) expectant mothers felt that there was a risk to their health or welfare at work during pregnancy.  

 
The guide highlights the risks new and expectant mothers face. These include:  

  • Irregular and long working hours: Working irregular hours such as night shifts can change circadian rhythms which regulate pregnancy hormones. And shift work and long working hours have been linked to miscarriages, and preterm births.   
  • Travelling: Pregnant women may have an increased need to use the toilet which can cause problems for bus, freight and train drivers. There can also be a higher risk of musculoskeletal problems such as back pain during pregnancy which can be made worse by driving or sitting in a train, car or plane for long periods.  
  • Stress: Constant stress in pregnancy can be damaging. Stress has been linked to poorer pregnancy health and possible developmental problems in babies.   
  • Heat: During pregnancy, the body has to work harder to cool down both the woman’s body and that of the unborn baby, so a pregnant worker is more likely to get heat exhaustion or heat stroke. And pregnant women are also more likely to become dehydrated.  

 
The guide suggests ways bosses can keep their pregnant staff safe including: 

  • making workstations like desks and checkouts more comfortable 
  • changing workload or hours to reduce stress  
  • varying starting and finishing times to make commuting easier  
  • agreeing an increase in breaks to visit the toilet and drink more fluids.  

 
The guide also sets out what employers need to do when a new mum returns to work, and how bosses can support their female staff with breastfeeding and expressing milk.  

 
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Pregnancy can be a stressful enough time for any woman without them having to worry about dangers at work as well.  

 
“Bosses need to do far more to ensure expectant or new mums are safe at work. Too many are ignoring their legal duty to remove risks from the workplace.  

 
“I’d advise every pregnant woman or new mum to join a union. Workplaces that recognise unions are safer and have better policies in place to protect all their staff.”  

Rosalind Bragg, Director of Maternity Action, said: “We know from the women that call our advice line that too many employers are failing to take the health and safety of pregnant and breastfeeding women in the workplace seriously. 

“As a result, we know that many women end up having to choose between risking their own health or that of their baby, going off sick, or leaving their job altogether. 

“Union reps have an important role in holding employers to account and ensuring that pregnant women are protected from workplace hazards.”  Editors note

- Pregnancy and health and safety is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/PregnancyBreastfeedingHS.pdf

– The EHRC research on pregnancy discrimination is available at:  www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/mothers_report_-_bis-16-…

– The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

Military and militias threaten Sudan sit-ins as civil disobedience escalates

A day after announcing agreement on key elements of a deal to hand power over to a civilian government led by the opposition Freedom and Change Forces, Sudan’s Transitional Military Council abruptly suspended negotiations and sent soldiers to clear barricades in the capital by force. According to international news agencies, military units used gunfire “extensively” on Wednesday 15 May as they attempted to clear protesters from the streets around the major sit-in outside the army’s General Command.

Wednesday’s attack by the army followed a major assault on the sit-in on Monday 13 May which Sudan Doctors’ Union representatives say was led by militias connected with the El-Bashir regime’s supporters in the People’s Congress Party and the National Intelligence and Security Service, Sudan’s feared and brual political police. According to information received by Middle East Solidarity from the Sudan Doctors’ Union, the attackers used live ammunition from guns, rifles and machine guns, tear gas and metal bars. At least 6 people were killed, including an army officer, and the ‘field hospitals’ in the sit-in were quickly overwhelmed by injured protesters.

The Army leadership eventually sent paratroopers to defend the sit-in on Monday. But the deployment of troops on Wednesday to clear barricades outside an agreed protest zone, along with previous attacks on sit-ins in Darfur, sends an ominous message about the continued power of Sudan’s numerous military and security forces and their capacity for violence against unarmed protesters.

Despite the threat, thousands of protesters were reported to have joined the sit-ins overnight, as opposition groups and the Sudanese Professionals Association rejected the military’s demand to remove barricades. Meanwhile, sit-ins, strikes and civil disobedience continue to multiply. Workers at the Bank of Khartoum were one group which answered the SPA’s call to escalate collective action, shutting down the bank in a strike which shut down 30 branches, according to reports on social media. Workers at ten other banks took part in demonstrations in solidarity with uprising and threatened to escalate to strike action. Sudanese activists told Middle East Solidarity strikes and sit ins were spreading to government ministries, such as the ministry of health.

What you can do:

  • Rush messages of support for the uprising’s demands for civilian rule, real democracy and social justice to info@sudaneseprofessionals.org
  • Pass a resolution in your trade union branch
  • Demand your government breaks all links with the Sudanese military, security forces and individuals and groups involved with attacks on protesters and human rights violations.

URGENT call for protest in solidarity with imprisoned academics: Solidarity with the People of Turkey

“Turkey is incarcerating its academics!” This is what Tuna Altinel (University of Lyon 1, France) wrote to the European solidarity networks last Wednesday (8th of May 2019), as Füsun Üstel stepped into the women’s prison in Eskişehir. A retired political science professor from Galatasaray University, Füsun Üstel is one of the 2237 signatories of the peace petition published in January 2016, that denounced the Turkish state’s violation of civilians’ basic rights in the Kurdish cities of Turkey. Since then, more than a third of the Academics for Peace have been prosecuted, on the grounds of “terrorist propaganda”. The outcome of the trials has invariably been a jail sentence. However, until recently, the indicted academics were sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison with a suspension provision, provided they refrained from committing further “crimes” over the following five years.

Füsun Üstel refused this provision because she did not want to be condemned to silence. That is the reason why she is now behind bars. Other academics are likely to face a similar treatment soon: nine of them followed her example and are awaiting their judgment on appeal. But there is more: in December 2018, Gencay Gürsoy was sentenced to 27-month imprisonment. Gürsoy is the former president of the Turkish Medical Association and a well-known activist of the fight for human rights in Turkey. As such, he was not judged for terrorist propaganda but for “insulting the Turkish people, the Republic of Turkey, the state institutions and the government”. Since then, several dozen academics have like him been sentenced to more than 24 months in jail, which means that the suspension provision is no longer an option. Furthermore, eleven members of the steering committee of the Union of Turkish Physicians have just been sentenced to 20 month-imprisonment for declaring, when Afrin was invaded in January 2018, that “war is a public health issue”

The last episode in the relentless expansion of arbitrary practices and crushing repression took place this Saturday, 11th of May, when Tuna Altinel, a mathematician who has been an associate professor at the Claude BernardUniversity of Lyon 1 and a French resident since 1996, was put in jail.  Tuna is Turkish and has a Turkish passport which was confiscated at Istanbul airport last month, when he travelled to Turkey to visit his family over the Easter break. During his trial as an academic for peace, Tuna had refused to disavow the peace petition. Indeed, when asked whether he agreed with its content, he had responded that he had arrived at the same assessments as those contained in the declaration during his stays in the region, and that he actually had had a lived experience in Nusaybin and Cizre of what the declaration describes as if he was the author.

The official grounds provided for his incarceration today are that he took part in an event organised in Lyon on the 21stof February 2019 by an association of solidarity with Kurdish people, which an MP in exile, from opposition party HDP and from the city of Cizre, was also attending. During that event, a documentary was shown with scenes of the massacres committed by the Turkish security forces in Cizre after the electoral defeat of the ruling party AKP on the 7th of June 2015, i.e. the very massacres that motivated the peace petition.

Of course, academics are not the only ones under attack in Turkey: journalists, lawyers, civil servants are also targeted. But, through Füsun Üstel’s and Tuna Altinel’s incarceration, the Turkish state is punishing the refusal to bend to its arbitrary pronouncements and to submit to its parody of justice. We declare our solidarity with Füsun Üstel and Tuna Altinel, and with all the signatories of the peace petition who currently live under threat, and we call on all Universities in the UK and the EU and their federations, as well as on the EU institutions, to intervene and demand the immediate release of our incarcerated colleagues, as well as the end of state repression in Turkey.

source

LESE Race Relations Committee: Celebrate the Windrush Generation

TUC Congress House 23-28 Great Russell Street WC1B 3LS London United Kingdom GB

Wednesday 26 June 2019

6 – 8.30pm

  The LESE Race Relations Committee invite you to join them celebrate the Windrush generation and remember the suffering that the Windrush scandal has caused. It is time for a change, in attitude, how people are perceived. The Windrush generation and their families did nothing wrong and do not deserve the treatment experienced.

Guest Speakers include:

Betty Joseph, Chair, LESE Race Relations Committee and NEU

Arthur Torrington, Windrush Foundation

Nairobi Thompson, Writer and Poet

Patrick Vernon, Social commentator and political activist

Scratchylus, Musician who promotes consciousness and edutainment

Zita Holbourne, Co-founder of Black Activist Rising Against Cuts (BARAC)

Please register: 020 7467 1220 / lese@tuc.org.uk

This event is hosted by the LESE Race Relations Committee

Thanks to CWU event support

Record pay for bankers but most workers still earning less than a decade ago – TUC

• Real wages in the finance sector grew £120 a week, but the average worker is still £17 a week worse off

• Nurses and teachers amongst hardest hit • New rights needed to give people a voice at work on pay and conditions, says TUC

New analysis published by the TUC today (Tuesday) shows that real wages are still £17 a week lower than a decade ago. But they are up more than £120 for those working in the finance sector.

Bankers doing best

In most sectors of the economy wages are still worth less than before the financial crisis. However, a small number of industries have bucked that trend.

Average real pay in the financial sector has increased by 9.3% (£119 per week) since 2009 reaching a record average of £1,405 per week.

Other sectors that have seen real wage growth include, retail and hospitality, which are likely to have been boosted by increases to the minimum wage.

Nurses and teachers amongst hardest hit

While pay has recovered for bankers, the story is very different for public sector workers.

People employed in health and social work and education are still £36 a week worse off than in 2009.

The TUC says this is a clear consequence of the government’s decision to hold back the pay of hardworking teachers, nurses and other public servants behind rising prices.

The hardest hit workers are those working for membership organisations, repair services and in furnishings. Their pay £86 per week lower in real terms than a decade ago.  

The next worse performing sector is manufacturing of food and drink, where real pay is still down by £52 per week.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“It’s not right that pay is racing ahead in the City when most working people are still worse off than a decade ago.

“The architects of the financial crisis are earning record amounts while teachers and nurses struggle to get by.

“Workers deserve a much fairer share of the wealth they create.  That’s why unions need new rights to access workplaces and negotiate industry-wide rates.

“Pay inequality helped drive the last financial crash. It can’t be left unaddressed.” Editors note

Weekly pay by industrial sector (£), 2009 to 2019 (prices = 2018)

Industrial sector Dec 2008
– Feb 2009
Dec 2018
– Feb 2019
% change £ change
Financial & Insurance Activities 1286 1405 9.3 119
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 373 398 6.7 25
Manufacturing: Chemicals, man-made fibres 732 772 5.5 40
Retail Trade and Repairs 317 331 4.3 14
Administrative & Support Service Activities 419 435 4.0 17
Manufacturing: Engineering & Allied Industries 688 703 2.1 14
Transport and Storage 599 608 1.5 9
Accommodation & Food Service Activities 254 256 0.9 2
Information and Communication 870 876 0.6 5
Manufacturing: Textile, Leather & Clothing 439 439 0.0 0
Real Estate Activities 531 522 -1.6 -9
Wholesale Trade 636 618 -2.8 -18
Mining and Quarrying 1276 1240 -2.9 -36
Other Manufacturing 558 541 -3.0 -17
Electricity, Gas and Water Supply 720 696 -3.4 -25
Manufacturing: Metals & Metal Products 608 585 -3.7 -23
Construction 656 630 -4.0 -26
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing 430 405 -5.9 -25
Professional, Scientific & Technical 772 724 -6.3 -48
Education 485 448 -7.5 -36
Health and Social Work 478 441 -7.6 -36
Public Administration 640 583 -8.9 -57
Manufacturing: Food, Beverage & Tobacco 571 519 -9.1 -52
Other Service Activities
(incl. membership organisations, repair services)
472 386 -18.2 -86

Methodology: The TUC analysis compared quarterly figures from the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey for December 2008-February 2009 and December 2018-February 2019 (EARN03 ‘average weekly earnings by industry’). Figures are adjusted for inflation using CPI for 2019Q1. Figures include bonuses and arrears. The source data is here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/april2019/relateddata

Average pay: The figure of -£17 for the change in the average wage across the whole economy from Dec08-Feb09 to Dec18-Feb19 is derived from ONS data for the whole economy in EARN02, which gives non-seasonally adjusted figures. This provides a more accurate comparison with the figures in EARN03, which are also non-seasonally adjusted. This figure also includes bonuses and arrears, so differs from the monthly figure for regular pay issued by the ONS.

–  Fairer pay for all workers: To achieve fair pay for all working people, the TUC is calling for:

  • A £10 an hour national minimum wage and an end to discrimination against young workers through lower rates of minimum wage
  • Workers to be elected onto remuneration committees to help curb greed at the top
  • Legal requirements on employers to report on and act to close race, gender and disability pay gaps
  • New employment rights for insecure workers, including a ban on zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment
  • Full employment rights from day one for all workers, including protection from unfair dismissal

A stronger voice at work: To ensure everyone has fair treatment at work and can negotiate fair pay and conditions, the TUC is calling for:

  • New rights to give unions access to every workplace so that nobody has to face their employer alone
  • New rights for unions to bargain for fair pay and conditions across industries, ending the race to the bottom
  • An end to the unfair and undemocratic trade union act that restricts the right to strike

About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

Building Power: London Renters Union all member assembly

Building Power: London Renters Union all member assembly
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, Shoreditch, E1 6LA
11:30am – 4pm, Saturday June 22
Register for free using the form below

To celebrate a year since our public launch, having more than 1,300 members and all that we’ve achieved together so far, we’re holding our first all-member assembly.

💜Meet members of the London Renters Union community from across the city.

🔥Hear from LRU members that have stood up to landlords and estate agents with the union and WON.

🚀Shape our strategy and plans for the coming year.

💡Help create our vision for a housing system that puts people before profit

This not-to-be-missed event is your chance to get more involved in the London Renters Union community and to help shape our plans for the coming year.

Lunch provided. The venue is wheelchair accessible.

We will be running a free, professionally staffed crèche in a community centre next door.

London Underground staff to strike over safety-critical cuts

Over a thousand key London Underground staff to strike over safety-critical cuts

TUBE UNION RMT confirmed today that over a thousand key London Underground maintenance and engineering staff will strike for three days in a dispute over the hacking back of train preparation and inspection schedules which the union warns would have a devastating impact on both service reliability and public safety. The announcement follows a nine to one vote for action.

‎Staff will take strike action as follows:

Not to book on for any shifts between 07:00 on Friday 17th May until 07:00 Monday 20th May 2019

In addition workers are taking action short of strike in a number of areas around risk assessments , a ban on lone working and a ban on working without valid licences and fire wardens being in place.

The staff involved work at tube fleet maintenance depots right across Greater London and are critical to the day to day operation of London Underground.

Earlier this year RMT advised London Underground that a dispute situation exists over its intentions to extend the fleet train preparation schedules. Despite that, LU has continued to fail to engage in any meaningful consultation or negotiation with RMT or provide the union with full information on all safety aspects.

The LU proposals will decimate inspection frequencies beyond all recognition. Not only will it lead to major fleet issues, it will inevitably lead to more train failures in service putting unacceptable pressure on members and leaving the whole of LUL and the travelling public at significant increased risk.

RMT has demanded that no changes to fleet preparation schedules take effect without agreement between LUL and RMT and that all current activity in relation to the matter is halted until full consultation and negotiation has taken place, including full examination of all safety aspects in relation to this matter.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“The nine to one ballot result showed just how angry tube staff are at proposals London Underground are attempting to bulldoze through that would decimate the inspection and safety culture on the fleet.
“Despite that result tube bosses have ignored the workforce and are pressing ahead and it is that intransigence that has left us no option but to confirm industrial action today.

“Our message is clear, LU should pull back immediately rather than crash on regardless of the consequences of their actions.

“We remain available for genuine and serious talks.”

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