February 2011 (early)

Willie Walsh receives major award from King of Spain for work on Iberia/BA merger

Williw Walsh has been awarded the Encomienda de Número of the Spanish Order of Isabella the Catholic by the ambassador of Spain Carles Casajuana for his part in the BA/Iberia merger. The award is given to persons who have made an extraordinary contribution to Spain or inmproved Spanish relations in the international community. Willie Walsh magnanimously said that he accepted the award not just himself, but on behalf of all IAG employees who had helped make the meger a reality.

However, there will be some who feel that Mr. Walsh deserves rather different treatment. He oversaw the destruction of employee terms and conditions at Aer Lingus before moving on to British Airways. At BA he held employees to ransom to poach $1 billion from staff pension funds to plug a deficit that would have obstructed the merger. He then provoked a strike with his air crew, gave out misleading information to the press and proceeded to bully, discipline and sack any staff who stood in his way against his changes. Many will feel that he had forever tarnished the reputation of Britain's national airline. You decide.

www.abtn.co.uk/news/1515382-walsh-receives-spanish-honours

www.leftfootforward.org/2011/01/british-airways-dispute-view-from-the-shop-floor/

17th February 2011


Building of new affordable housing will fall to zero by 2014


Record youth unemployment as UK jobless figure rises further


Unite advert hits out at 'brutish airways'


Government do u-turn on plan to extend right to request training


Cameron 'to abandon plans to change forest ownership'


First successful prosecution for corporate manslaughter

The first successful case against a company under changed laws for corporate manslaughter found Cotswold Geothechnical guilty as charged. More details on the case are listed in our Health and Safety News section in an article from the 2nd of February, but essentially involved a junior geologist working in a trench that had no supports, resulting in a collapse and his suffocation.

Geotechnical,, whose director failed to attend court during the 3 week trial will face sentencing tomorrow at 14.00. The company could be fined an unlimited amount. This is a landmark case for health and safety reps and will hopefully send out a warning to companies who fail to take seriously their responsibilities to keep their employees safe.

www.hrmagazine.co.uk/news/1055130/Geologists-death-results-first-UK-corporate-manslaughter-conviction/

16th February 2011


Tory students lampoon Cameron, Osbourne and Clegg

To the embarassment of Tories, students at York University's Conservative group placed a series of posters on its Facebook page lampooning David Cameron, Geiorge Osbourne and Nick Clegg. While a similar series of posters from official Labour sources might well be seen as unsporting and the result of fininishing in second place in the general election, we see no reason not to make public the fact that even some Tories are becoming disillusioned with their leadership.

In fact, this is not the first sign that York students have reacted to Cameron's leadership. Last year, the head of the university's Tory group began asking voters to support the UK Independence Party, which resulted in his being removed from his position. However, the rises in fees and cuts to budgets for tutors has begun to create a backlash in the education system, even though students currently at university will not experience the worst of the coalition's changes.

15th February 2011


Cameron's housing and benefit reforms will hit poor and disabled hardest

David Cameron's plans for housing reform have been attacked by Labour and Green MPs and an Early Day Motion called to oppose the changes. Cameron's plans, which include a reduction in housing benefit and allowing council rents to be increased to 80% of the market rate. This will force out thousands of council tenants from areas with higher than average property prices. Another ConDem proposal is that council tenants will have their income reviewed every two years and be evicted if it is assessed that they can afford market rents.


Wikileaks - UK threatened to pull out of Open Skies if BA/AA alliance blocked

UK Airport News Info reports that the UK threatened to pull out of its Open Skies agreement if the US blocked an alliance between British Airways and American Airlines. It cites Wikileaks (via the Guardian) as the source of the report. According to the article senior Department of Transport civil servants sent cables to the US Embassy, threatening the move, which could have stopped US based airlines from making multiple stops in European countries.

There will be speculation for the exact reason for the DfT's intervention in this matter. Did the civil service make the demands to benefit the interests of the UK aviation industry as a whole, or was it specifically in the interests of British Airways? If so, was this a simple matter of securing the alliance with AA, or was it to improve BA's bargaining position in the planned merger with Iberia? We should be told.

www.uk-airport-news.info/heathrow-airport-news-150211a.html

15th February 2011


Project Merlin called "a sham" as Barclays raises investment banker pay by 20%

London's Evening Standard has described the government's Project Merlin, which was meant to keep down bonuses for investment bankers "a sham" after it was revealed that Barclays Bank had given its investment bankers a 20% rise in overall pay, including bonuses. It was earlier announced that the bank had set aside nealy half of its profits for bonuses.

Project Merlin was introduced as a deal between the banks and the government in response to public anger over the banks' role in the recent recession. The deal involved the banks having a special levy imposed under Labour removed and banks promising to lend more to small/medium businesses and curb their bonuses and spread them over 3 years. However, some banks clearly do not see the need to follow the spirit of this agreement. 

www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23923514-barclays-gives-its-bankers-20-percent-bigger-pay-deal.do

15th February 2011


RPI hits 5.1%, CPI hits 4%

Government figures show that inflation has risen again, with the Retail Prices Index hitting 5.1% and the government's preferred marker (because it is usually lower) the Consumer Prices Index reaching 4%. The government target was 2%, but rises in VAT, fuel and food prices have meant that this was always going to be optimistic.

However, according to another government study by the National Office of Statistics, average wages only rose last year by 1.4%, so standards of living will have fallen for most ordinary people. Small companies have been hit hardest by the recession, while many larger corporations have been relatively unaffected. Predictions for unemployment rates are discouraging.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12462901

Labour Market Survey

15th February 2011


IATA predicts annual passenger traffic to increase by 800 million by 2014

The International Air Transport Association has published a report in which it predicts that the number of passengers making jouneys by air will increase to 3.3 billion by 2014. This compares with a figure of 2.5 billion in 2009. Nearly half of this increase will come from additional traffic in and with China. The report also predicts that air cargo will increase by nearly 50% from 26 million tonnes to 38 million tonnes.

While these figures will be encouraging for the industry as a whole, there will be concerns that some European governments will restrict growth in their countries by applying excessive taxation on passengers or aircraft because they see them as an easy target in their recovery programs. This could see Europe's hub airports lose out to newcomers such as Dubai. We hope that governments do not miss this opportunity for job creation at a time when so many others are contracting.

www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2011-02-14-02.aspx

IATA is critical of the UK's taxation policy on aviation, its lack of support for growth and its plans to sell off NATS (Air Traffic Control). In this respact it would seem that unions, employers and IATA are, for once in complete agreement.

www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2011-02-09-01.aspx

15th February 2011


TUC calls for volunteers to be stewards on March 26th

The TUC is calling for union members to register as stewards on its day of action on Saturday March 26th. There are two types of role that are required - travel stewards and route stewards. Travel stewards are needed to make sure that groups reach their destination and get back home again, while route stewards are needed to keep the march on track and answer questions. Stewards will not be expected to deal with trouble makers. 

Anyone interested should follow the link below

www.tuc.org.uk/alltogetherfor/stewarding.cfm

15th February 2011


Government bans councils from publishing criticism of cuts program

The government has published new guidelines that limit councils to publishing a maximum of 4 newsletters a year. It also restricts what councils can say in terms of promoting themselves or criticising government or other political groups. They also prevent councils using professional lobbyists to promote local issues in Westminster..Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has said that these changes are necessary to protect taxpayers' money.

Councils have responded that the new guidelines will make it impossible to communicate with local people and keep them informed about changes to services.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12436797

12th February 2011


VAT protesters descend on Heathrow

Today saw a protest by protest group TakeVAT on Heathrow's Terminal 3, who claim that they are targetting the aviation industry because it pays no VAT on aircraft fuel. The group claim that because the fuel is untaxed that airlines save paying £9 billion annually and that the government should levy VAT rather than cutting public services such as libraries and hospitals.

Freelance photographer Jonathan Warren took a number of photographs pf the protest and the police reaction to TakeVAT, which are posted on his web page at jwarren.co.uk/photos/protest/take-vat-heathrow/

TakeVAT's actions mirror those of UK Uncut, who highlighted the tax avoidance techniques of Vodaphone, Arcadia, Boots and other multinational and British companies that use foreign addresses to avoid paying their full UK tax bills.

12th February 2011


Report shows big increase in race hate and homophobic attacks

The London Evening Standard reports that there has been a significant increase in the number of attacks on minority groups in London over the past 4 years. Race hate crime has increased by 7% and homophobic attacs by 28%. However, there are indications that 2010 to 2011 will show much higher increases and nine London boroughs have already reached higher levels only part way through the reporting period.


Union members to lobby MPs to protect vital services

Tomorrow (Wednesday 9th February) hundreds of union members together with representatives of community services will go to Westminster to lobby MPs to protect vital services from the cuts. Many of those attending face losing their jobs if the cuts go through as expected, but others will be protesting because they or their relatives depend on services that are under threat. Around 400 organisation are faced with closure or severe underfunding as a result of planned changes.

The rally will be addressed by Unite Assistant General Secretary Diana Holland. Among the government's proposals that MPs will be asked to oppose will be the sale of Forestry Commision land, which has already generated an online petition with 460,000 names.

www.unitetheunion.org/news__events/latest_news/union_members_to_lobby_their_m.aspx

http://Sign the petition to protect the Forestry Commision's land

8th February 2011


Unite cabin crew to ballot again after BA threats

Unite cabin crew in BASSA are to be balloted again after British Airways wrote to the Electoral Reform Society claiming that ballot requirements had not been fulfilled. BA stated that this would make industrial action unlawful and that strikers would not be protected from disciplinary sanctions (which might include dismissal). Unite General Secretary has stated that he believes all efforts were made to comply with the rules for an industrial action ballot and that as far as he was concerned that industrial action would be legal. However, to avoid exposing Unite's members to the risk of disciplinary sanctions and having to go to employment tribunal to get these reversed, he would hold the ballot again.

The last ballot saw a 75% turnout and 80% of returns for industrial action. However, as Mr. McCluskey has pointed out BA have ognored this resounding mandate from BASSA's members that there are serious issues that need to be resolved by BA, in the 3 weeks since the ballot there has not been any approach from management to Unite to resolve these issues through negotiation.

Since last year when an earlier dispute took place, we understand that over 150 of BASSA's members - in particular union representatives have been disciplined on a range of charges. Most of these relate to union activities or the dispute. Over half of BASSA's members reported in a Unite survey that they had been bullied by BA management. The company's failure to negotiate and reliance on legal pursuit of technicalities can only postpone resolution of this dispute and further damage BA's international reputation.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12397119

Unite statement on British Airways ballot

8th February 2011


BA expands apprenticeship scheme

At a time when many companies are not only reducing staff numbers but cutting back on training budgets, the HLC welcomes British Airways' decision to expand its apprentice scheme. Skyport reports that BA will take on 120 engineering apprentices in 2011, up from 90 in 2010.

BA has taken the long term view and has had the common sense to understand that by the time the recovery is well under way, other airlines who have not had the forethought to recruit and train new engineers are likely to face a severe skils shortage that will place them at a substantial disadvantage in the aviation industry.

www.skyport-heathrow.co.uk/2011/02/ba-expands-apprentice-scheme.html#more

7th February 2011


Unite issues press statement ahead of NHS bill presentation

Unite has given a press statement in which it details a number of questions that it would like to be asked by Labour MPs at the committee stage of the Health and Social Care Bill tomorrow (8th February). Whilst other unions such as Unison have large numbers of members in the health service, Unite is also well represented and nearly all of our nearly one and a half million members will have concerns about how the changes might affect their health care.

Unite press statement

7th February 2011


CSV and CAB join Liverpool Council in saying "Big Society" not possible due to cuts

The head of the UK's Community Service Volunteers has said that government cuts are making it impossible for volunteers to function effectively. Mr. Cameron had hoped that volunteers would take over some of the functions that had previously been paid for by central and local government as part of his vision for a "Big Society". However, Dame Elizabeth Hoodless who has directed the CSV work for 36 years has said that there was no coordination of government plans and that cuts to council budgets were hampering their efforts. There were also indications that some volunteers were feeling that the government was taking advantage of their efforts.

In December the co-founder of the charity Community Links said that the pace of the cuts could kill off the volunteer groups that Mr. Cameron was hoping to fulfil his vision. His comments were later echoed by the Citizens Advice Bureau's Chief Executive, Gillian Guy.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12378974

Unite statement on cuts to charities and "Big Society"

7th February 2011


Institute of Directors calls for collective bargaining rights to be removed in public sector

In a move that has angered trade unions and described as a "Thatcherite fantasy" the Institute of Directors has called for collective bargaining rights to be removed from teachers and NHS staff. The institute also wants the right to request flexible working to be abolished. In all there are 24 "freebie proposals" in the IoD's recommendations - presumably free in that the government would not need to spend money, even if workers paid dearly with their livelihoods.

The right wing Institute of Directors is well known for its attacks on the rights of trade unions and workers and was in the news last month after it called for employees to be required to pay a £500 fee to submit a claim to an employment tribunal - something an unfairly sacked worker might struggle to afford. The way that the IoD's proposals were phrased make it clear that they believe that making these changes during the recovery from a recession would be an opportunity not to be missed. A representative of this organisation was seen on Newsnight last week arguing with a UK Uncut speaker who believed that whilst tax avoidance might be legal, it was still unethical. 

One would hope that Mr. Cameron ignores these proposals, because any suggestion that he might consider going down this route might very well trigger a general strike of public sector workers while it still is legal.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12378565

Unite statement about the IoD proposal

TUC response

Left Foot Forward's analysis of proposals for Tribunal fees

Boris Johnson enters row over tribunal fees

As if the above is not enough to worry about, right wing think tank, the Policy Exchange is proposing that the UK cut its ties with the European Court of Human Rights. This could prove a disaster for equalities in Britain if it comes to pass.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12338931

7th February 2011


UK government wants to abolish International Workers Day

The TUC has responded angrily to proposals to remove the May Day bank holiday (on International Workers Day) and replace it with a day in October. If proposals go through, the replacement bank holiday may be called something like Trafalgar Day or UK Day. There will be a public consultation on the proposals, but trade unions will undoubtedly feel that highlighting the issues that of billions of workers across the world are facing NOW is more important than the celebration of a 200 year old battle.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12372625

TUC response to Bank Holiday proposal

5th February 2011


Aer Lingus says dispute with union is over

An HR manager for Aer Lingus has reported to RTE that a 3 week long dispute with the union representing its cabin crew is over. The dispute began after Aer Lingus brought out new rosters that meant that cabin crew would be expected to work an extra 20 hours per year. 215 crew who had been suspended are now expected to be reinstated. The dispute resulted in a large number of cancelled flights.

news.airwise.com/story/view/1296828882.html

5th February 2011


BA to challenge legality of Unite cabin crew industrial action (again)

The Daily Mail reports that British Airways is making a legal challenge to the validity of the industrial action ballot carried out last month by Unite of BA's cabin crew at Heathrow. The ballot, which saw a high 75% turnout and 80% vote in favour of industrial action is being challenged on technical points. General Secretary of Unite Len McCluskey has says that as far as the union is concerned that the ballot was legal.

This is not the first time that BA have elected to make a challenge to a cabin crew ballot rather than sit down at the negotiating table. BA took out two injunctions in 2010 against ballots, one of which was overturned. If Unite are to carry out industrial action based on this ballot, they are legally required to make an announcement of dates by February 18th for an action no later than February 25th.

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1353289/BA-strike-Royal-wedding-Legal-challenge-launched-outlaw-cabin-crew.html

5th February 2011


Pilots oppose rule change to allow them to work longer hours

Skyport reports that BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) has been lobbying parliament this week to block a proposed EU rule change that could increase the period that they might be required to work from 10 hours and 15 minutes to 13 hours and 55 minutes. They have also presented reports to the European Aviation Safety Agency that indicate that pilot fatigue is the main factor in 15 to 20% of fatal air accidents and that the risk trebles when pilots have been on duty for over 12 hours.

www.skyport-heathrow.co.uk/2011/02/pilots-lobby-ministers-and-mps.html

5th February 2011


TUC says that "substantial cuts" to Equality Commission will hit disadvantaged groups

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has criticised cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which are believed to be substantial. The EHRC was only formed 3 years ago as a cost saving exercise through the merger of the Disability Rights Commission, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission  for Racial Equality. Recent reports from the commission have highlighted that several groups still suffer major inequalities in terms of treatment, pay and opportunities for advancement in employment as well as outside work.

Mr. Barber said 'Reducing the EHRC funding over the next three years is bad news for the most disadvantaged groups in society - the very people who will be hardest hit by public sector spending cuts".

www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-19100-f0.cfm

5th February 2011


Campaign to save Britain's libraries gets underway

A nationwide campaign to save 450 of Britain's libraries from closures due to government cuts has begun, with a series of around 80 protests planned across the country. Authors and celebrities including Phillip Pullman, Julia Donaldson, Mark Haddon, John Dougherty, and Billy Bragg are among those who will be taking part. In some areas such as Warwickshire, Dorset and Doncaster, over half of libraries are scheduled for closure. Somerset County Council had planned to close 20 of its 34 libraries but reconsidered after strong protests from local people.

The TUC considers libraries to be essential to Lifelong Learning, where all workers are encouraged to continue to learn new skills throughout their lives. Many people now rely on their libraries not just for books, but access to the internet and e-mail, so this will hit those who cannot afford their own computers particularly hard.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12367392

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-12363947

4th February 2011


Waste firm has fifth fatality in 10 years, but is only fined £60,000

Health and safety reps will be concerned at the result of a recent case in which waste management firm Biffa, who has been prosecuted five times in the past ten years over fatalities at sites it manages was only fined £60,000 over a death at its Belfast facility. Biffa is valued at £1.2 billion and will barely notice the fine.

A far more substantial fine, or better still a conviction for corporate manslaughter appears to be necessary to make Biffa overhaul its safety procedures.

www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/100663.

3rd February 2011


Tories admit that they want poorer people to be deterred from university by tuition fee rises

Two Tory figures have recently stated that they are hoping that tuition fee rises will put people off from going to university. The first was Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, who wrote a quite remarkable letter in the Times newspaper 10 days ago. He also seemed to be suggesting that the NHS should be abolished so that people (who could afford it) would have their taxes reduced and have more to pay for private health care.

More recently, Tory MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson made it extremely clear that he believed that the rise in tuition fees was a good this because it might "encourage certain sections of youngsters to do something different". He also described it as ridiculous that it should be desirable that 50% of youngster be able to go to university. His use of the term "certain sections of youngsters" is highly suggestive that he believes that university should be the priviledge of an elite section of society.

For the record, John Stevenson went to the University of Dundee and Michael Gove went to a private shchool before going to Oxford University.

www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/michael_gove/article1070161.ece

www.leftfootforward.org/2011/02/tory-mp-john-stevenson-good-thing-if-fewer-teenagers-go-to-university/

3rd February 2011


IATA reports air passenger traffic up 8.2% and freight up 20.6% in 2010

The International Air Transport Association reports that 2010 traffic was significantly improved in 2010 over 2009, indicating that the Civil Aviation industry has made substantial recovery from the recession. The European carriers saw an increase in passenger demand of 5.1%. Some, but not all markers of demand are at a higher level than before the recession.

The above figures strongly suggest that airlines and freight companies can no longer use the recession as an excuse for staff cuts or below inflationary pay rises. RPI is at 4.8% and CPI at 3.7% and it would be unfair for workers in civil aviation who have helped see the industry through this difficult period to face the costs of higher tuition fees for their children and a host of other cost of living rises without proper pay increases. They should rightly feel that there is no reason for their jobs or that their employers have reasons to carry out major restructuring. Howev er, we have no doubt that aviation workers will togather with all others need to show massive determination and solidarity to maintain our standards of living over the next few years.

www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2011-02-02-01.aspx

At IAG, the airline formed by the merger of BA and Iberia, January traffic was up by 4.5% on the previous year, with an increase of 7.4% in business and first and 4% on non-premium passengers over the previous year, when they operated as separate companies. However load factors (percentage of seats filled) were down by 2.3%.

news.airwise.com/story/view/1296772396.html

3rd February 2011


Labour figures comment on the cuts

70% of councils will cut bus services

Funding cut of 80% to universities will deny poorest opportunity for education

Selling off forests will deny public access

Yet another business study shows that cuts will damage economic growth

3rd February 2011


First Corporate Manslaughter trial under new law begins

The first trial for corporate manslauter under laws introduced in 2008 has started this week at Winchester Crown Court. The case concerns a junior geologist, Alexander Wright who died after a trench he was working in collapsed and he was suffocated by earth falling in to the trench. The prosecution alleges that his employer, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings failed to line the sides of the trench with wooden supports.

If CGH are found guity of corporate manslaughter are found guilty they may be subject to an unlimited fine. The case in a landmark in health and safety and is expected to last for around three weeks. However, those of us who have lobbied for better H&S protection for workers are wary that so far the legal system has been reluctant to hold corporations and directors to full account for the deaths and injuries of their employees. We wish the family of Mr. Wright the best in their search for justice.

www.postonline.co.uk/post/news/2015671/corporate-manslaughter-begins

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-12307477

2nd February 2011


Cuts in public spending and VAT rise "will result in loss of 1.6 million jobs" 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has warned that the government's program of cuts and tax rises will have a devstating effect on the UK job market over the next 4 years. 490,000 jobs in the public sector were expected to go as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review, but CIPD believes this to be an underestimate and that the actual figure will be around 725,000 jobs.

However, including private subcontractors to government departments and jobs from government contracts, there are also likely to be job losses in the private sector of 650,000. CIPD estimates that VAT rises are likely to cause another 250,000 private sector jobs to be lost.

The CIPD, which is the professional body of Human Resources advisors is not the first organisation to predict that job losses will be far more severe than official estimates, but the results of their study will concern the government as well as their opponents. The possibility of 1.6 million extra benefit claimants, 1.6 million fewer taxpayers and 1.6 million consumers with less money to spend can only mean that national growth and repayment of deficits would be at best very slow - or possibly that the UK is thrown into a second recession. We urge the government to rethink their plans. 

www.hrmagazine.co.uk/channel/employmentlaw/article/1038497/Cuts-public-spending-rise-VAT-will-result-loss-16-million-jobs-warns-CIPD/

Meanwhile, the TUC is quoting a report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies that describes the government strategy as "risky" and indicates that there should be a "plan B" in case the plan for the economy proves unsuccessful.

www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-19084-f0.cfm

2nd February 2011


Wealth gap between super rich and the rest of us widens

Newsnight reports that while big corporations, banks and billionaires are quickly recovering their wealth after the recession, that small businesses and the poorest people have been left behind. This is a global phenomenon and reflects how much better protection is for the wealthy than ordinary people. Even China is now seeing a wealth gap develop that is comparable with any of the capitalist nations.

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9382745.stm

Tonight's Newsnight at 22.30 will cover this issue.

2nd February 2011


Daily Telegraph reports that BA cabin crew will use "guerilla tactics" in dispute

Tuesday's Daily Telegraph reports that Unite will conduct its current dispute in a way to cause maximum disruption and uncertainty, which might involve scheduling strikes and then cancelling them at short notice or working to rule. The newspaper describes these as "guerilla tactics" though this seems a rather sensationalist way to describe two extremely common ways of carrying out industrial action. 

The Telegraph does not indicate its source, so the HLC cannot confirm whether this is a tactic that might be used in the dispute. Equally we can not rule out the possibility that BASSA might employ such methods at some stage. We also view the Telegraph's claims about union membership numbers with some suspicion and our own sources have suggested that many of BA's new recruits who did not join Unite immediately have begun to show an interest in solidarity with longer serving staff.

www.skyport-heathrow.co.uk/2011/02/ba-cabin-crew-consider-guerill.html

www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/8293621/Cabin-crew-plan-guerilla-tactics.html

www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php

2nd February 2011


UK Uncut put their case to close tax loopholes on Newsnight

On Monday night's Newsnight, the BBC allowed UK Uncut to present their case why multinational corporations should not be allowed to avoid paying corporation tax at the national rate by a range of systems such as using offshore tax havens. The Institute of Directors responded on behalf of the business sector. The links below are to 3 video clips shown on Newsnight.

UK Uncut video of protests outside Boots and Vodafone

Jeremy :Paxman interview with UK Uncut and Institute of Directors

Vince Cable stating that he believes that Phillip Green's Arcadia Group shoup pay UK tax rate

2nd January 2011


London business community calls for Heathrow to allow mixed mode

The city has demanded that Heathrow increase its capacity by around 10% by using the mixed mode system of take offs and landings. At present a single runway is used for take offs and the other for landings in the mornings, with these functions switched round in early afternoon. This allows local residents on the flight path to have an extended period when the noisier take offs are not intruding on their peace and quiet.

The proposal will meet with strong resistance from those in areas such as Hounslow and Twickenham, as ther will be no period when they can reasonable expect to be free of noise from departing aircraft. We would even venture to suggest that a third runway using single mode would have been less disruptive to them.

Mixed mode has also been criticised by safety campaigners, including NATS, who believe that the system creates unnecessary risk and impossible demands on the concentration of their Air Traffic Controllers. The government is currently indicating that it has no interest in this scheme, but has broken so many pre-election promises so far that it seems entirely possible that it will "trial" the system to pacify business interests that had hoped to benefit from a third runway.

www.uk-airport-news.info/heathrow-airport-news-310111a.html

www.skyport-heathrow.co.uk/2011/02/city-pressures-government-to-a.html

1st February 2011


Local hospitals likely to close after LibDems u-turn leaves their fate to "market forces"

Unite has condemned LibDems, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg for turning their backs on promises made before the election to protect hospitals. It now appears that as a result of the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently being debated in parliament that fund managers such as BUPA may be allowed to let hospitals close without intervention from Westminster. The Bill passed its first reading in the House of Commons yesterday by 321 votes to 235, with not a single coalition member voting against it and only one abstaining.

John McDonnell MP, who met with the HLC 10 days ago alerted us to the strong possibility that the £20 billion of cuts in the NHS budget meant that one or more of the hospitals close to Heathrow might face closure. Hillingdon hospital is seen as being at particularly high risk of being a casualty of these cuts.

unitetheunion.org/news__events/latest_news/liberal_democrats_set_to_ditch.aspx

The health comminunity has made a number od sceptical comments about the benefits of the NHS shake up. To David Cameron's embarassment, his own brother in law, Dr. Carl Brookes has put it on record that he does not support the changes and that hospital care will be damaged.

labour-uncut.co.uk/2011/02/01/tuesday-news-review-37/#more-7478

 In fact, despite Cameron's claims that his reforms were largely supported, he was only able to name 5 bodies that were in favour, with at least 20 having stated opposition. Even the 5 organisations that were cited as being "broadly supportive" have expressed concerns about the changes. The link below is to the Daily Mirror's article on the topic.

www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/02/02/david-cameron-s-dodgy-claims-on-nhs-reform-backing-exposed-115875-22892558/

Unite brands Vince Cable and Ed Davey "hypocrites" over NHS u-turn

1st February 2011