February 2011 (late)

Save the NHS - Day of Action announced

The first day of direct protest action against David Cameron's complete overhaul and privvatisation of the NHS has been annouhced. Protestors will assemble on the 7th of March at Liverpool Street station in London for an event that will last betwwen 16.00 and 18.00. This is likely to be the first of many events across the country that doctors, nurses and concerned members of the public will take part in to ensure the future of health services in Britain.

www.facebook.com/event.php.


A list of which services are legally protected and which can be scrapped

Your local council has legal obligations to maintain certain services, though it can change them to "improve efficiency". See which ones are protected and make sure your council isn't breaking the law in a drive to make savings.


Nick Clegg owns around £2 million and is the great grandson of a Russian Baroness


UK Uncut and US Uncut hold bail-ins in 90 banks

Nearly a hundred banks in the UK and the US were targeted by the Uncut protest groups, which is also starting to organise in other countries such as Canada. A report claims that every single Central London branch of Lloyds, RBS and Nat West were forced to close early today (26th February) by bail-ins organised by UK Uncut and their supporters. But just in case Barclays were thinking that UK Uncut had forgotten about them, a number of protestors found time to pay them a visit in branches around Britain. Mr. Cameron, has the public got your attention yet and are you prepared to consider an alternative and fairer way of closing the treasury's deficit?

Read the UK Uncut Press Release to find out what the banks have been up to


BA’s former cabin crew in Hong Kong can sue airline


Fact of the Day - George Osbourne is the son of a Baronet and has a personal fortune of around £4 million, but still (according to the LibDems) overclaimed £55,000 for 2nd home expenses 


IMF report casts doubts on government plan for growth by cuts

A recent report from the International Monetary Fund has said that the coalition's program of cuts is unlikely to achieve the growth in the economy that it hopes. The government's strategy might have suceeded in making UK products more competitive if other countries were not doing the same, but the global scale of the recession means that our economy is unlikely to see significant benefits from the painful and destructive changes that are being made. We could very well end up with zero growth and fewer taxpayers shouldering the burden of a society with 4 billion unemployed.

Paradoxically, the cuts to funding of education in the UK is likely to mean that when th economy does start to recover that the UK will have a severe skills shortage and become reliant on high immigration to supply business needs. Meanwhile many Britons will not be able to find work because they do not have the necessary education or training.

falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/just-how-damaging-will-the-coming-cuts-be-ask-the-imf 

25th February 2011


British Airways reconsiders expansion plans after fuel price rise


Fact of the day - Health Secretary Andrew Lansley "flipped" his second home, which was refurbished at taxpayers expense just before he sold it. When challenged, he said that it was "within the rules"


Hillingdon Against Cuts - The fight goes on

Protestors gathered once more in Uxbridge to challenge plans by the Tory Council to introduce a host of cuts to services in the borough. The number of people who turned up this evening was slightly higher than last week, with an estimated 500 demonstrators present. The protest began with one group gathering outside Uxbridge Civic Centre, while another formed outside Uxbridge station and then marched along the high street chanting "No ifs, no buts, no public service cuts".

Central to the protest was a group of over 100 musicians who have been past or current beneficiaries of the Hillingdon Music Service, which provides music tuition to young residents of the borough. An orchestra gave their own version of what might very well be the Last Night of the Proms for music in Hillingdon. The standard of performance was excellent and shows exactly what can be achieved when education services are properly funded.

The meeting of the Tory controlled council, which is required to be open to the public was once again held in a room that was too small for all those who wished to attend. In the usual Tory spirit of democracy, the council reserved 25 places for members of a Young Conservatives group, thus preventing a number of local people from being able to be present.

Anyone who wants to know more about the Hillingdon Against Cuts campaign can find out more details at hillingdonagainstcuts.wordpress.com/

24th February 2011.


Ford warned of strike ballot over 'attack' on pensions

Unite reports on a strike ballot at Ford over a management attempt to change the way that inflation is calculated on pensions from RPI to the normally lower CPI. Some analysts believe that pensions could be devalued by a third by the new calculation. The proposed change may affect not only current employees, but those who have already retired and may reasonably belive that they have a contractual right to pension terms that werein place during their employment wit Ford.

The government is proposing to introduce CPI calculations to the public sector and legislate to do the same for the private sector "to reduce the burden on business".  However, no such legislation currently exists and may not even be possible to introduce due to contract law. Ford's attempt to anticipate future legislation will be seen as provocative and developments will be watched by other companies and unions alike to see if these changes are successfully blocked.

24th February 2011


Tax havens and the global economy - Nobel prize winner talks to India Today


Unite's reaction to the False Economy report on NHS job cuts


Fact of the day - David Cameron is a direct descendent of King William the fourth


HLC Chair - "Cuts will mean the end of the welfare state as we know it"

Comment on the coalition cuts and plans to open all public services to private sector bids except for the courts and security services. 


50,000 NHS job losses uncovered by False Economy


Newsnight explains coalition plan for companies to pay zero corporation tax

At a time when the treasuy's deficit from bailing out the banks means that we are seeing public services slashed across the country, David Cameron's government is making some quite remarkable decisions. Mr. Cameron says that "we are all in this together" but as VAT and National Insurance go up and our pensions go down, what exactly is happening to the tax that is levied on business?

Firstly, the coalition is reducing corporation tax from 28% to 24%. To the general public this looks like a loss of revenue to the treasury, but Cameron's argument is that this will make comapnies more competitive, more likely to invest and more likely to create jobs (for all those people that the public sector has just made unemployed). These workers will then pay income tax and national insurance to offset the money lost to the treasury from the cut in  corporation tax. Simple, yes? (Er - no)

The second part of the plan deals with multinationals who have subsidiaries based in tax havens. At the moment a company in a tax haven (but doing business in the UK) pays tax to the tax haven at its low rate, but then pays the difference between that rate and the UK's 28% to the treasury. The coalition's proposal is that tax avoiders pay the havens rate and then pay no tax in the UK at all. The theory is that more companies will do business in the UK, employ more peole who can be taxed etc. The problem is going to be that there will be no incentive for those companies who actually do pay their UK tax to keep doing so. Why don't they all use tax havens and pay the lower rate? See the video and make up your own mind.

Newsnight video on Camerons corporation tax plan

22nd February 2011


Which council services will go and which survive - and why?


Fact of the day - 18 of David Cameron's 23 cabinet minsters are millionaires


Save our NHS

Another petition to stop the NHS being privatised. Please sign and forward the link to anyone who cares about the future of health services in this country.


Unite gives BA notice of new ballot of cabin crew members

Unite has informed British Airways that it intends to ballot its members in BASSA, Unite's section for BA cabin crew. It would seem likely that the result will be similar to the 78% in favour of industrial action that was returned last time, but not carried out due to complaints by BA to the Electoral Reform Society, believed to relate to one or more technical points on the ballot procedure.

Despite the clear mandate from BASSA's membership and the substantial damage being done to BA's reputation and its profits, there has yet to be any indication that management is in any hurry to seek a negotiated solution. Even if the airline manages to run 100% of its flights (unlikely) it will have extended the period of uncertainty for its customer base, who may well continue to travel with other airlines long after the dispute ends.

22nd February 2011


Coalition will be able to sell off public services without parliamentary scrutiny


IAG intend to buy European flag carrier before Asian or Latin American purchases

International Airlines Group, the company formed by the merger of British Airways and Iberia has admitted that it wants to buy at least one more European national airline before it adds Asian or Latin American carriers to its stable. It had previously been assumed that IAG's prime targets were to acquire a Chinese airline and one based in South or Central America.

Governments of several countries have expressed an interest in selling their national airlines to IAG, including Hungary, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Poland and Scandanavia. In the long term IAG wish to merge with American Airlines to take advantage of the US domestic markets. If IAG succeeds in getting the European and Chinese carriers that it desires, it may be that the US will find the trade opportunities too attractive to block a merger with American.

However, the prospects for staff of the airlines involved is not so rosy. Past mergers have often led to the loss of jobs or demands for increased efficiency - i.e. workload, as ground staff are expected to sell or process tickets, handle baggage and board a higher number of aircraft with fewer staff. We watch developments with interest and not a little apprehension.

news.airwise.com/story/view/1298286776.html

22nd February 2011


Cameron public services plan is 'classic nasty party stuff'


Every household in the UK must pay £1,100 because Osbourne won't close bank loophole


Tory donor wins £53 million contract to run prison hospitals. Is the NHS next?

The Daily Mirror reports that Care UK Ltd. has won a £53 million contract to provide health services to 5,000 prisoners in 8 jails in North East England. We would like to believe that the award of this contract was not in any way connected to the fact that Care UK's boss, John Nash and his wife Caroline have donated £200,000 to the Tory Party and £21,000 to the private office of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. (We'd like to believe it, but we don't! - Ed))

More worryingly, many of the companies who are expected to take over management of the NHS budget if the coalition's reforms go through have also spend huge sums either directly or indirectly in an attempt to take control of the billions we pay in National Insurance. 

One thing that the public has become far more keenly aware of as a result of the banks tax avoidance is that under Company Law - prided it complies with all relevant laws, every company is legally obliged to put its shareholders first. This has massive implications, since patients, the public and the government must take second place in the priorities in any privatised industry. This does not bode well for patient care in the future and we can predict that high profit parts of the NHS will see investment whilst low profit types of medical treatment will see cutbacks.

www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/02/06/fury-after-private-health-firm-with-close-tory-links-wins-53million-prison-hospitals-contract-115875-22901987/

21st February 2011


Corporate vultures just want to get their hands on NHS budget

As more details come out, it is becoming clear that David Cameron's plan for a total shake up of the NHS is not simply a matter of saving money. It's certainly not to give control of the NHS to the public. The truth is far more terrifying. Untold millions have been spent by major companies such as the pharmaceutical giants lobbying parliament to make these changes becuse, quite simply - they want to get their hands on the billions of pounds that we pay to the treasury through our National Insurance. Their goal is nothing short of the end of free health care - a world where everyone who wants treatment has to pay for medical insurance.

These massive companies employ literally hundreds of people to lobby on their behalf. Many of them are former politicians and civil servants who know exactly how to influence government policy. We must stop the destruction of our public NHS now!

Sign a petition to keep our NHS public and free

Watch a video about how the corporate giants get the government to do what they want

21st February 2011


A&E unit closures in NHS - More broken election promises from Cameron


UK Uncut targets Cadbury at Tescos


An end to Bevan’s dream of free healthcare for all Britons?


Welsh Labour conference: Miliband attacks NHS changes


Health and Safety lobby of Parliament - March 2nd


Ireland election - large swing to the right predicted

With an election looming, opinion polls in the Republic of Ireland are indicating that the right of centre Fina Gael is likley to get close to an overall majority, something that rarely happens in Irish politics. In the past Fina Gael has had to form coalitions with the Irish Labour Party to secure a majority in parliament.

The current government led by Fianna Fail, which is traditionally in the centre of politics held power with the Greens and Independents, but was forced to call an election after the public lost confidence following the economic crisis. The Irish government made guarantees to its financial institutions to ensure economic stability, but was in turn forced to call on Europe to provide funding. The public turned on Fianna Fail and appear to have shown a preference for a savage program of cuts rather than an extended period of national debt with huge financial obligations to other European states.

However, Fina Gael has already indicated that it intends to protect business and the rich in its recovery program, refusing to consider a property tax, not going after tax avoiders and raising VAT which will hit the poor hardest. Unite's Irish section has already attacked their proposals

www.leftfootforward.org/2011/02/irish-general-election-preview/

19th February 2011


Barclays is target of UK Uncuts "bail-ins" as they pay only 2.4% (or less) tax on profits

Today saw 35 branches of Barclays Bank around the country become the target of protestors who feel that they should be paying a far greater share of the cost of the recovery from a recession for which banks must take a very large share of the blame. Banks were turned into libraries, child care centres, youth centres and other services that are being cut as a result of the coalitions decision to fund the bail out of the finance sector by slashing public services.

Companies are normally required to pay 28% of their profits as corporation tax, though the coalition is amazingly lowering this tax to 24% whilst average people are expected to fund the hole in the treasuries coffers. Barclays has manged to avoid paying over 90% of their corporation tax through a combination of passing its funds through offshore accounts in tha Cayman Islands, Jersy etc. and setting its losses from 2008 against this years profits - something that it will be allowed to do for several years to come.

Channel 4 video of the Barclays Bank protests

Guardian comments on the scale of tax avoidance

Next Saturday's bail-ins (February 26th) are scheduled for the following places (though more may be added) -

Birmingham Leeds London Manchester Middlesbrough Tunbridge Wells

www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/20/george-osborne-bank-tax-plan

19th February 2011


Mums, Widows and Poor to lose out in Welfare shake up


US state attempts to deprive public sector workers of bargaining rights

In a move that is likely to be seen elsewhere across America and indeed the world in the very near future, the Republican Governor of Wisconsin is trying to introduce a Bill that will deprive 170,000 public sector workers of there collective bargaining rights. The move by Governor Walker is claimed to be necessary to deal with a $3.6 billion hole in the state budget, but has been unanimously opposed by Democrats.

This case is important, because the strength of public reaction and the result of likely challenges in the courts over whether this move is legal or constitutional will have an impact on how quickly and enthusiastically European politicians try the same over here.

www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/101233

17th February 2011


Worldwide campaign for higher taxes on finance sectors begins

The TUC reports on a worldwide campaign to ensure that the finance sector pays its fair share of the bill to recover from the recession. G20 Finance Ministers, in particular those from the UK, France and Germany will be lobbied by thousands of trade unions to make sure that their members are not left footing the bill for the banks' greed and mistakes.

www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-19186-f0.cfm

17th February 2011


Anti Cuts protestors demonstrate outside Uxbridge Civic Centre

This evening around 250 demonstrators including over 100 children gathered outside Uxbridge Civic Centre to protest at a series of vicious cuts being implemented by Ray Puddifoot's Tory council. The children were their especially to challenge the council's decision to close the Hillingdon Music Service, which provides tuition in music for youngsters. Others were there to contest the decisions to close or reduce a range of services, including Jobcentre Plus's Connexions service, which helps get the unemployed back to work.

   

  

  

For anyone who wants to get involved in the Hillingdon Against the Cuts (HAC) campaign, their website is at hillingdonagainstcuts.wordpress.com/

17th February 2011


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