June 2011

Workers' Memorial Day photos (click on photos to see next)

Heathrow Express approaches second strike date on June 24th

Police refuse to answer FOI request on Royal Wedding Facebook page closures

Shortly before the wedding of Prince Harry and Kate Middleton, a number of facebook pages that had expressed criticism of coalition government policy were closed down temporarily. The pages included Save NHS, Bootle Labour, Rochdale Law Centre and several dozen other groups. A number of Freedom of Information requests to ask if the Metropolitan Police had asked Facebook to close these sites and if they were holding information on users of those sites.

The police declined to answer - citing an exemption from the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act when monitoring extremist groups and for national security. But this is disturbing. Consider the implications -

  • The police are effectively stating that they can monitor the activithy of any group that holds political discussion that contadicts the views of the government
  • The police can hold this information indefinitely
  • The police can ask websites to be closed or suspended because people have used those websites to express those political views, so denying freedom of speech
  • The police can then refuse to answer whether or not they have done any of the above

By taking this position, the police have effectively declared themselves as having the right to censure political debate if they see fit. and by refusing to answer the FOI request they have stated that they cannot be held accountable for what they do or do not censure. This is a disturbing move towards the "Police State" and we should all be concerned.

16th June 2011

British Airways and Kingston College launch apprenticeship in Ground Operations

PCS ballot result sees civil servants up number of possible strikers on June 30th to 750,000

Prospect presents government with arguments against further Air Traffic Control sell off

American Airlines and pilots make progress in difficult talks

BALPA pilots at EasyJet agree new pay deal


Heathrow Chief Operating Officer leaves BAA

Environmental campaigners gather at Grow Heathrow gardens

ITF calls for messages of solidarity with Air Canda workers in pension dispute

The International Transport Workers Federation - the group that represents trade unions in the transport sector at an international level is calling for branches acroos the globe to hold motions of solidarity for Air Canada workers based in Canada who are fighting attacks on their pension schemes. Motions of support can be submitted via the ITF on the link above.

Flights Delayed As Air Canada, Union Talk

Canadian Government may use legal force to make Air Canada employees return to work

16th June 2011

ConDems refuse to sign UN charter protecting domestic workers

The UK government will probably be the only member of the International Labour Organisation to fail to sign this charter protecting domestic workers. This is a national disgrace and appears to be yet another instance of the Confederation of British Industry dictating government policy. As a result of the failure to sign this document, thoudsands of domestic workers in the UK will not be protected by minimum wage legislation or key employment laws.

TUC Statement

16th June 2011

92% of NUT members & 83% of ATL vote to strike on June 30th. PCS ballot result tomorrow

The results of public sector industrial action ballots, which will almost certainly lead to strike action of June the 30th have started to come in. The NUT and the more moderate ATL teaching unions have voted overwhelmingly for strike action.

The government and Tory owned media will, no doubt criticise these actions and say that teachers are threatening our children's education. But how much more damage have the ConDems done to education in this country? Consider -

  • Education maintenance allowance to keep children from poorer families in schools and college between the ages of 16 and 18 - scrapped
  • University tuition fees tripled from £3,000 to £9,000 in most cases
  • Lecturers fund for universities slashed
  • Budget for teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages slashed
  • Council budgets slashed, leading to huge cuts in adult education funding
  • Inner city schools budgets targeted to raise funds for "academies" which are mostly in wealthier areas

The above may well be just the tip of the iceberg as government departmentsand schools seek to balance there budgets. We may well see schools closed or amalgamated, even more sports facilities sold off and teaching staff cut in their thousands. As pay and pensions fall, we can expect people to leave the profession and more tasks taken over by classroom assisitants and temporary teachers. In five years time we can expect there to be a severe skills shortage that will mean that British jobs will have to be filled by those with qualifications from abroad. Youth unemployment may well rise to over 30% nationally and to 50% in deprived areas, with women particularly struggling.

No, the teachers are not to be blamed for taking a stand against an unethical and incompetent government that has yet to close a single tax loophole for the rich - and has in fact lowered tax for the big corporations. The HLC wishes the public sector unions success in their struggle with Michael Gove. We may yet find a way to support you in your battle.

14th June 2011

Public overwhelmingly backs Archbishop’s attack of Government policy

Canadian ticket sales and customer service staff strike over end of AC final salary pension

Group of economic experts backs unions in calls for "Robin Hood" tax on banks

Heathrow had highest ever May traffic in 2011

Unite wins justice for workers sacked when Woolworths went under

This is an important tribunal ruling. It shows that an employer must consult with employees (or their representatives) not just for the minimum period required by law, but as soon as it becomes aware that redundancies are reasonably likely to take place.

14th June 2011

Arab airlines accuse IATA of secrecy and bias towards biggest carriers

TUC says that inflation figures show government needs to invest in jobs and growth

‘NHS privatisation train has not been derailed by Future Forum report’, says Unite

Coalition’s jobs plan to exploit vulnerable

United and Continental airlines integration on track for completion by end of 2011

BAA increases EBITDA profit forecast to £1.12 billion

British Airways to make decision whether to send Concord Alpha Foxtrot to Bristol museum

Crunch week for NHS as ‘privatisation’ controversy rages over PM's 'pledges'

38 Degrees is an online petition group where you can support other people's petitions or propose your own. It submitted a 400,000 name petition against the privatisation of the NHS and has been involved in many other lobbies against cuts and changes imposed by this government. The name 38 degrees comes from the angle at which an avalanche starts. Get involved today.

Boeing criticised after 787 Dreamliner plant opens in non-union state

Hungarian government to sell off stake in Budapest Airport

The Hungarian governemtn has announced that it is to sell off it's remaining 25% stake in Ferihegy airport in Budapest. The government had previously sold 75% to BAA in 2005, but this was later resold with Geman company Hochtief buying 37.5%. The Heathrow Liaison Committee has previously been involved in supporting workers at Ferihegy after management imposed new contracts on employees at lower rates of pay. During the resulting strike hundreds of Greek workers were brought in as strike breakers. We asked our MEP Robert Evans to write to EU Commissioner Sim Kallas to express our concern that untrained and unvetted Greek workers appeared to have been used to carry out security duties. Whilst Mr. Kallas accepted his inspector's reports that no safety or security rules had been breached, some people believe that Hochtief had not handled the issue well and this contributed to its withdrawal of its bid for Gatwick Airport.

11th June 2011

Southern Cross 'to hive off 132 homes'

Spanish government announces plan for part privatisation of national airports

Brussels Airport closed by Aviapartner handlers strike after Swissport given contract

EU rejects aviation industry criticism of its carbon emission policy

GPs not fooled by Cameron’s pledges and vote overwhelmingly to stop destruction of NHS

It will take more than a band aid to fix what's wrong with Andrew Lansley's NHS Bill, so David Cameron should not be surpised that his tweaks and hollow pledges were resoundingly rejected by the body that represents Britain's doctors.

Archbishop of Canterbury attacks ConDem policies

Steve Cram deal with Atos Healthcare (disability deniers) is condemned by Daily Mirror

Hundreds of care home for the elderly may close

BA agrees to pay $89.5 million fine for airfreight price fixing

IATA presents plan for the future of airport security

Walk-Through Sniffer Could Speed Up Airport Checks

Video - How the NHS reforms will affect Hounslow and beyond

How the proposed NHS reforms will (or won't) work and what's already happening in Hounslow healthcare

Office of Fair Trading to rule on British Airways and Virgin "price fixing" this summer

IAG expresses interest in buying BMI from Lufthansa

International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia has expressed an interest in buying up BMI if Lufthansa if they are interested in selling. For some of BMI's employees this news will be stressful, as a number of them have just experienced a forced transfer of contracts (TUPE). In fact, a number of former Lufthansa staff have experienced as many as seven transfers between companies over the past 15 years, before ending up at BMI (which is a wholely owned subsidiary of Lufthansa). It is hard to see how this endless series of mergers, acquisitions and sell offs benefits anyone apart from the shareholders, as jobs are often shed and facilities closed as "efficiencies".

8th June 2011

BA pensioners urged to make a 'public expression of anger'

Unite warns that Cameron "promises" will not protext our NHS

Morning Star - "Five lies David Cameron told today about the NHS"

Left Foot Forward - Why Cameron's 5 pledges are destined for failure

Anti-NHS privatisation campaigners (such as Lord Norman Tebbit) compared to Stalinists by top Tory

Athlete Steve Cram attacked by disability rights groups over deal with Atos

European, Commonwealth and World gold medalist Steve Cram has become the target of disability rights groups after he agreed a deal to promote Atos Healthcare, the French company appointed by the government to carry out assessments of the ability to work of disabled people. Atos has also been the subject of several protests after legal rulings showed that many of the people decared "fit for work" were in fact seriously disabled. It has also been made public that Atos has been removing the disability benefits of people suffering terminal illness such as cancer and severe heart disease.

There are reasons to believe that a numbe of seriously ill people have died as a result of being forced to work while unfit to do so. Others have suffered severe stress due to fear of losing financial lifelines and a number of suicides have been attributed to the way that these assessments are being carried out. Meanwhile, campaigners who have tried to raise awareness of the way that Atos has contributed to these deaths using the slogan Atos Kills have been threatened with legal action.

If you feel that Stev Cram should end his association with Atos before his reputation becomes irreparable damaged, please send him a message on his facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002159912430#!/SteveCramMBE on send him an email at info@cram-alert.co.uk

If you're not on facebook, you can still see what people are saying about Steve at The Virtual Gherkin

7th June 2011

Unite condemns Vince Cable for threats to public sector workers over June 30th strike

Aer Lingus pilots cancel strike after compromise deal is put forward

The shocking impact of Osborne’s heartless cuts on the disabled

Aer Lingus pilots strike more likely after talks break down

IATA to make legal challenge to EU carbon emissions scheme for aviation

How the wealth gap between rich and poor has grown over the last 30 years

IATA expected to halve its forecast for airlines' profits

Cyber attacks increase on activist websites and facebook pages shut down

Over the past few weeks there have been a disturbing number of actions to close down websites with anti-establishment views. This was well documented at the time of the Royal Wedding, when not only were activists being arrested for "pre-crime" in case they attempted to protest at the wedding, but websites and facebook pages were taken down for voicing anti-monarchist sentiments. This denial of free speech is reminiscent of the repression of dissent used in China and some Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes.

More recently a number of other groups have reported attacks on their websites and their groups being shut down by facebook. We have also seen twitter agree to release details of a reported 75,000 people who were alleged to have made posts about a certain footballed who issued a superinjunction.

Freedom of speech - the right to express views and share information is vital to the democratic process. The public have a right to have their say - especially where a government is unwilling to listen to ordinary people - preferring instead to "sell" access to ministers for £60,000 a time (as in a special dinner with Andrew Lansley). This may be acceptable for rich corporations, but leaves ordinary people with few options to get their views in the public domain and ultimately into the political arena.

Those who believe that they are getting a raw deal from this government have a right to express their views and will not be silenced. We will not allow this country to become a repressive regime run by the elite, for the elite and where only the elite can have their say.

 How disabled people's internet campaign against Atos for emoving their benefits came under attack

4th June 2011

Political cartoonist Steve Bell's sketch helped raise awareness of the role of Atos in enforcing government cuts to disability allowances

A shameful story about how our government is treating the disabled and chronically ill

This from Guardian Letters TODAY!

The government says it is committed to a "fair and accurate" work capability assessment. The distress and injustice caused by this new system needs to be publicised far and wide.

My brother died last week of kidney cancer. He was diagnosed a year ago and at Christmas was told he had about four months to live. In the spring he was summoned for a work capability assessment (by this time he had two brain tumours) and found fit for work. In addition to everything else, he became anxious about losing the small amount of money he was living on. He was asked to go in to the jobcentre for an interview but was too ill at the time. On 19 May he received a letter from Jobcentre Plus telling him he was to be treated as having limited capability for work. The medical officer overseeing his case had advised that "death within six months is unlikely to occur due to the client's cancer" and there would be no "substantial risk to his mental or physical health if he were found capable of work-related activity".

He died six days later, having been unable to get out of bed for four weeks. What work were they suggesting he was capable of? He asked: "What have I paid national insurance for if not help to pay the bills and feed me at a time like this?"

Claire Debenham


4th June 2011

Former CIA operative sparks controvery with comments about al-Qaida

7,000 Qantas cabin crew are offered redundancy as part of cost cutting exercise

IAG sees premium traffic up by 14% and load factor up by 4.7%

Terminal 5 building C opens

International Transport Workers Federation attacks Ryanair over denial of labour rights

Equalities workers to strike on June 6th over job cuts and change of role at EHRC

Delta Airlines anti-union stance sparks "Don't fly Delta" campaign

IATA - Passenger traffic up 11.9% and freight up 3.3% but recovery slowed by fuel prices

Skyport letters on attacks on British Airways pensions

Fully backing campaign

Sort out pension mess

31,000 elderly people at risk as care crisis deepens

Public sector pay deals 'at zero'

Cameron’s constituency misses out as coalition stops listening on NHS reforms