December 2011 (early)

The march through London on November 30th to fight to protect public sector pensions from a savage attacknite and the HLC were out on the picket lines today in support of public sector workers fighting to protect their pensions against a savage attack by the coalition government. In addition to local events in Hillindon, Ealing and Hounslow, there was a mass rally in London that included among its speakers Ken Livingstone, Len McClusky and Mark Serwotka.en McClusky announced that the official attendence figure for the London event was 50,000 - which rebutted claims by David Cameron that the strike had little support and was "a damp squib". 0th November 2011

Virgin say Government ‘ignored responses’ on Air Passenger Duty

Air France-KLM Denies Reported Job Cuts

Air France-KLM has denied media reports that it plans to cut 2,000 jobs in 2012 in addition to the 4,000 positions that have not been replaced over the past 15 months.

16th December 2011 

CAA says lack of airport capacity will increase airfares

Tax chief in for grilling

HMRC chief Dave Hartnett is to explain why millions of pounds in tax was allowed to go uncollected in a deal he did with Goldman Sachs. The British public will also want to know why up to £8 billion in tax was not paid by Vodafone at a time when the treasury has a huge deficit.

16th December 2011

More Business Passengers Flying Economy - IATA

2012 is expected to be a difficult year for the aviation industry and IATA is reporting that there is already a trend for business passengers to avoid travelling in the high yield seats that provide most airlines with much of their profit.

16th December 2011

Heathrow Christmas getaway starts today

Lufthansa reports China freight market is difficult to make profit

Trade with China was hoped to drive the recovery from recession, but Lufthansa have claimed that while 20% of its freight business is with China, profit margins are small. Cathay Pacific has also struggled over recent months with its Cargo trade.

16th December 2011  

400 social and care workers, managers and academics condemn NHS bill

Yet more groups have written to the government expressing their fears for our NHS if the Health and Social Reform Bill is passed

Latin America's biggest airline LATAM is approved

Finance woe 'will prompt major NHS revamp' that hits poor hardest

A committee of MPs warns that budget cuts to the NHS will force hospital trusts to restructure and in some cases merge. Specialist care units will be centralised, leaving smaller towns and rural areas able to provide only basic health services.

And the fear remains that waiting lists will continue to rise and that many patients will only be able to receive treatments for conditions that are not life threatening, such as hip replacements if they pay thousands of pounds to go private.

15th December 2011 

Iberia Signs Deal With 30 Transport Companies To Reduce Impact Of Pilots' Strike

Housing benefit cuts defeated by House of Lords in welfare reform vote

Dare we hope that the LibDem Peers are starting to find a bit of backbone and that many more defeats of the government will follow?

German air traffic control company want NATS stake

A German company, Deutsche Flugsicherung has expressed an interest in buying the UK government's 49% share in NATS, which operates our air traffic control network. George Osbourne announced that he would be releasing the shares last year. Unions will be concerned that commercial pressures will impact on jobs, or worse still on safety in UK airspace.

14th December 2011

Employment tribunal fees will deny the poorest workers justice

Which is presumably the reason why this hateful coalition wants to introduce them.

Greening clashes with MPs over 'Boris Island' airport

Transport Secretary, Justine Greening was evasive when asked whether she supports plans for a £40 billion airport in the Thames Estuary. She insisted that Boris Johnson's suggestion was not so narrow as to focus on a new airport on the Isle of Grain, but simply that Boris had said that the UK needed a modern airport in the South East. Ms. Greening insisted that the government was considering all proposals to deal with Britain's future air transport needs.

Critics will claim that this is an admission that the coalition has no clear strategy to deal with the shortage of slots at airports around London and that foriegn business opportunities will be lost.

Transport select committee clash with Greening over Boris Island airport

14th December 2011

Public sector losing jobs 12 times faster than private sector can create them

Plan A is not working. There is no plan B. So the government is increasing the rate at which it is getting rid of public sector workers. No wonder the unemployment figures are so bad.

UK unemployment increases to 2.64m

Thomas Cook to close 200 UK branches

Staff at 115 branches of Britain's oldest travel agent are expected to be told today whether they will lose their jobs.

Thomas Cook To Close Under-performing Shops

Meanwhile, TUI, Europe's biggest travel agent looks to have outperformed expectations. The main difference appears to be that Thomas Cook's main customer base is in the UK where austerity measures have reduced the disposable income of many Britons. TUI has a wider customer base that has not suffered so uniformly.

TUI Sees 2011 to 2012 Net Profit As Dividend Looms

NUS: Students turning to prostitution to fund studies

Increasing fees and high unemploment reducing the number of regular part time jobs has seen an increasing number of students turn to prostitution to pay for their education.

Students volunteer for medical trials to pay fees

MEP attacks Ryanair's sexist poster

UK Member of the European Parliament, Mary Honeyball has asked for support in her campaign against sexism in the civil aviation industry. Ryanair in particular comes in for criticism.

14th December 2011

Passengers down 0.9% at BAA and down 0.5% at Heathrow

Heathrow had 9 consecutive months of growth, but in line with IATA predictions, the recovery of the civil air transport industry has stalled for the time being. Many are anticipating that 2012 will be an extremely difficuly year, with passengers only returning in numbers to give airlines good profit margins in 2013.

However, the continuing austerity measures of the coalition and high employment mean that consumer confidence may stay low for a longer period. Public sector pay freezes followed by increases capped at 1% and below inflation rises in the public sector will mean that disposable income for luxury items such as holidays will be limited.

The HLC sees no sign that this governement will ease its austerity plans until about 18 months before the next general election, when typically governments tend to start spending to win votes. Unless foreign trade starts to stimulate the economy, then civil aviation may remain depressed until 2014 or 2015. We need the government to act now by reducing Air Passenger Duty and removing it completely when carbon trading begins.

14th December 2011 

Grim economic news as OECD cuts UK growth prediction. Again

Video - Rich tax dodgers watch out - UK Uncut are coming

CAUTION - STRONG LANGUAGE (Lots of it) but interesting and informative.

Unite union exec discusses results of N30

Socialist Worker reports that Unite's Executive Council met last week and called for the union to follow up the public sector general strike on November 30th with others early in the New Year to increase the pressure on the government to enter into genuine negotiations.

To date the coalition has refused to discuss changing several parts of its scheme which will mean that many public sector workers are likely to have to work into their late 60s, pay more into their pensions, receive less and see their pensions devalue more quickly by linking them to the Consumer Price Index rather than the Retail Price Index. Unions say that the extra money that workers pay into their pension schemes will go straight into the treasury rather than being used to pay for their retirement.

14th December 2011

The Economist on how airline alliances could lead to poorer service for passengers

Virgin makes offer for BMI

Virgin Atlantic Not Giving Up On bmi Deal

Easyjet reported to have refused blind lady's guide dog permission to fly

The HLC picked up a tweet this evening from Joanna Jones, who was due to fly out on Easyjet from Gatwick to Northern Ireland with her guide dog. Despite the dog being harnessed and tagged (as indicated on the airline's website), Easyjet demanded additional proof, which Ms. Jones was not able to get before the flight closed. Easyjet eventually accepted a phone call from the Guide Dogs Association and rebooked her on a flight for tomorrow. Ms. Jones has been a regular flyer with guide dogs for 12 years and this is the first time that an airline has demanded additional evidence that her guide dog is, in fact, a guide dog.

12th December 2011 

Bankers cost each one of us £8.40 for every £1 they produce, study shows

Contrary to the claims of those that believe in capitalism that freeing the rich to make more money means that wealth trickles down to the poor, it seems that the rich simply suck their money out of the rest of us. That won't really be news to anyone who has studied socialist economics.

12th December 2011

Andrew Landsley still defying Information Commisioner on NHS report before key vote

Despite being ordered by the Information Commissioner to publish a study of the risks to patients, the Health Secretary is still refusing to do so. This report, which was requested under the Freedom of Infomation Act, should be available to the Lords before they finish their discussions and vote whether to pass the contravertial NHS bill, which could see the entire service privatised. 

Why is he stalling? What does the report contain that he does not want us to know? And is he breaking the law by concealing this data? We should be told. This is our health service and we've been paying for it all our working lives. It's not the government's or anyone else's to sell off.

12th December 2011 

Environment experts say Durban deal 'locks in climate disaster'

Green campaigners claim that the deal that was finally signed in Durban does too little, too late and with inadequate legal powers to stop global warming. Almost all scientists who have studied climate change are in agreement that mankind is largely to blame and that severe changes to our weather are likely to result if we do not put massive efforts into reducing carbon emissions.

In fact, many changes have already been seen. Ice at the North Pole is only half as thick as it was when it was first measured. Some species are moving towards the poles as they warm, while others are threatened with extinction as their habitat disappears.

For a snapshot of what is happening at the poles today - and will probably affect the rest of the world tomorrow, please watch David Attenborough's excellent Frozen Planet on BBC's iPlayer before 16.00 on the 18th of December.

12th December 2011

Big business deeply troubled by Cameron's veto

Arik Air to relaunch Heathrow – Abuja flights

Arik Air is to relaunch its Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abuja service tomorrow (Monday 12th). The airline had reported that it was being denied slots for its flights and the Nigerian government had threatened action against UK airlines if the matter was not resolved. Flights from London to Lagos and Abuja are claimed to produce more revenue than any other route, so BA and Virgin in particular could have lost out if the matter remained unresolved.

12th December 2011 

Don't have nightmares… your next chief of police could be Katie Price

Be afraid, be very afraid. Plans to have elected crime commissioners look to be turning into the X Factor as celebrities put their names forward. Do we want competent people that we've never heard of, or untrained, unskilled fame seekers? This was a bad idea from the start, but it just got worse.

11th December 2011

Don't let the Tories get away with divide and rule. Stand together.

Cargolux Execs Plead Guilty Over Price-Fixing

So far 22 airlines are alleged to have been involved in a scheme to fix cargo prices.

A Whitehall scandal that's bigger than lobbying?

Kingfisher And Air India Bank Accounts Frozen

Kingfisher Loan Restructure Ruled Out

Two of India's biggest airlines have had their bank accounts frozen after missing deadlines to make tax payments. Despite India being part of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) that are predicted to have massive economic growth in the next couple of decades, its airlines have struggled to make a profit.

High fuel prices combined with a passenger group that is very sharp at finding the lowest price, rather than showing brand loyalty or paying for high yield (business and first class) seats have left India's airlines struggling. It may be the case that only once one or two Indian carriers have failed and there is less competition and higher prices that profits start to return.

10th December 2011 

Cameron didn’t sign EU deal because it’s not in the interests of the one per cent

A number of commentators including writers for the Guardian and the excellent Left Foot Forward have put forward the view that Cameron's stand against greater integration in the EU is simply to benefit speculators in the City of London - the same ones that wrecked our economy. Meanwhile he seeks to pull out from EU legislation that provides basic safety rights to workers and equality rights and human rights for all of us.

This is a cynical ploy to benefit the least ethical corporations at the expense of ordinary people.

Video - Max Keiser - "David Cameron has just committed economic suicide" 

Nick Clegg attacks David Cameron over European veto

10th December 2011

Global Airline Safety Improves In 2011 - IATA

Reforms are putting patients' lives at risk, say NHS trusts

There is evidence to suggest that thousands of patients have already died and that tens of thousands more will lose their lives because costs will be put before care under a privatised NHS.

Please sign the petition to Drop the NHS and Social Care Bill

Heathrow is central to Feltham and Heston Byelection

A recent poll shows Labour are 22 points ahead of the Tories (52% to 30%) in this constituency, which doesn't want Heathrow expansion but believes that it is vital to the local economy. Heathrow is by far the biggest employer in the area and residents recognise that without the airport there would be massive unemployment in the region.

10th December 2011

NLRB Says Boeing Case On Move To Non-Union Plant Is Closed

Summary of HLC meeting 8th December 2011

Fighting Back: resisting ‘union-busting’ and ‘strike-breaking’ in the British Airways dispute

Follow the link for a preview of Keith Ewing's report

Rattled Tories try pensions con trick

Government makes 'improved' NHS pensions offer

IATA Cuts Airline Profit Forecast

Senate Bill To Shield US Airlines From EU Carbon Trading Law

Republicans in the US Senae are seeking protectionism from the proposed EU carbon trading scheme. If Democrats support this motion, US airlines will have a huge competitive advantage over European carriers on transatlantic flights.

8th December 2011

Iberia Pilots Plan Two Strike Days On December 18th and 29th

Bell Pottinger is sleazy, but lobbying threat to justice is even more serious

Are lobbying firms not only trying to influence government for the benefit of their wealthy corporate clients, but attempting to gag the free press?

8th December 2011

Boeing Union Ratifies Contract Deal

Unions have negotiated a deal to keep production of Boeing 737s in Washington State. Boeing had previously triggered an ugly dispute by moving some of its production to a non-union plant in South Carolina.

8th December 2011

Air France-KLM November Traffic Up 2.5 Percent

Passenger figures are up, but freight traffic has fallen 8%.

Unite - "Giving birth has been privatised" - The sell off of NHS maternity services

As NHS cuts back, thousands are forced to pay for their operations

NHS cuts force patients to go private

Sparks fly across Britain - Electricians strike against forced changes to agreement

Today is International Civil Aviation Day

7th December 2011

Lack of Heathrow capacity a growing concern for business leaders

Unite sectors vote for major event to defend NHS in early 2011

Unite has posted a summary of motions passed at last week's sector conferences. Of particular interest are plans to follow up November 30th's strike with a very major event in defence of our National Health Service in early 2012.

In Civil Air Transport, it has been reported that there have been falling standards at Gatwick Airport and that the working conditions of former BAA workers at this location had deteriorated since the sell off. A motion was passed to ask the government to re-nationalise Gatwick.

7th December 2011

Southampton: Unite sectors discuss next step 

EU Court To Rule On Airline CO2 Cap

Shop Stewards call for a second public sector general strike in January

A spokesperson for the National Shop Stewards Network has called for unions to organise a second public sector general strike next month, but to work together with private sector unions to send a message to this government that is even harder to ignore.

A single strike was never going to be enough to defeat this coalition's plan to destroy public sector jobs, pay and pensions while protecting banks and big corporations. If we do not oppose this government, just think how much more damage they can do before they are forced to face a general election in 2015?

Public and private sectors must not allow themselves to be divided. We must be prepared to defend our rights by any means that are legally possible.

We will fight them in the courts. We will fight them on the picket lines. We will fight them via the media (apologies to Winston Churchill). 

7th December 2011

BA says it will cut back on hiring due to air duty rise

The HLC would have to question whether the rise in Air Passenger Duty is the actual reason for a reduction in recruiting, or whether it is simply being used as an excuse to reduce staffing levels.

However, we do believe that the rise in APD at the same time as attempting to introduce a carbon trading system will be damaging to the UK's aviation industry and ultimately our economy. We would also draw attention to a similar scheme in the Netherlands, which was shown to damage the national economy by a far greater amount than it raised for the treasury.

Britain's passenger tax is already far bigger than its competitors. The government should take note of the high number of transfer passengers that travel through the UK's airports, which as an island nation should surprise no one. But if the UK's aviation business becomes too expensive, or planning restrictions make it too difficult to modernise facilities at our airports, we will see our competitors steal business and our international prestige will suffer.

Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and Dubai are just a few of the other cities that might benefit if UK airports become too expensive for airlines that are struggling with high fuel costs and reduced profit margins. The government should seriously consider a u-turn on this price rise before it impacts on the fragile growth of our economy.

6th December 2011

IAG Traffic Up On Strong Premium Demand

Unite launches community membership for 50p a week

Willie Walsh slams Government on APD rise; says Thames airport ‘not credible’

Cable urged to end banned weapons funding

Why is Britain effectively subsidising the manufacture of cluster bombs, 3 years after signing a treaty to stop producing these weapons, which mostly maim children?

6th December 2011

Ryanair November Passenger Numbers Down 8%

Bomb threat note found on Virgin Heathrow – Boston flight

Flight cancellations kept passenger numbers down during strike

Unions criticise training standards of stand in staff during strike

Unions claim that flight cancellations and passenger rebookings for other days kept queues down on November 30th as civil servants with one or two days training (instead of nine weeks) staffed the UK's borders.

6th December 2011

BA pilot collapses after landing at Heathrow

UN Climate Chief Positive On International Carbon Cut Pledges

TUC publishes new guide to enforcement agencies to stop abuse of rights at work

Download the TUC Guide to Workers' Rights here

Why are so many airline bosses Irish?

Income inequality growing faster in UK than any other rich country, says OECD

Coalition "on path to becoming most environmentally destructive government in the UK"

David Cameron ready to put chunks of NHS up for sale, says Labour

England riots study: Anti-police anger 'was factor'

The only study so far into the causes behind the riots that took place in the summer found that 85% of those interviewed gave anger towards the police as a reason. Other factors given include a sense of injustice about the way that young people have been treated by politicians and high unemployment.

Despite David Cameron's attitude that the riots were the actions were simple criminal acts of thieves, he would be wise to attempt to understand the underlying causes of the unrest. Loss of educational and employment opportunities under this government have created a "lost generation" that feels rejected and ignored by their rulers. Until young people believe that they have a valued role in society, their allegience cannot be taken for granted and unrest in the future seems more likely than not.

5th December 2011

Lord Hutton says that government needs to change plans to reduce public sector pensions

Air tax hike 'will harm economy'

Private firms could access NHS data

Oh great. David Cameron is just about to allow private comapanies to have access to our private medical data in the interests of a more competitive market in health services. Anyone would think that he was on their payroll rather that the taxpayers'.

Animal test firms given your NHS data

4th December 2011 

London Mayor gives qualified support to ‘Airtrack-lite’

Rich 'in climate deal conspiracy'

ICAO Examining Four Climate Change Options For Aviation

Sir David Attenborough issues climate change warning

Attempts to implement controls that might protect our planet for future generations are being threatened by corporate interests and by richer nations whose economies are heavily dependent on oil and other fossil fuels. Many of the companies whose profits rely on the continued use of oil are lobbying politicians to vote against international agreements such as Kyoto, that would create restrictions on carbon emissions.

While many people would like to believe the propaganda put out by these corporations, that we do not need to change the way we live, almost every single scientist that has studied the subject agrees that climate change is real and that humans are the main reason for it. The evidence is overwhelming.

Tobacco lobbies silenced link to global warming

The reality of adapting to uncertain climate forecasts

3rd December 2011 

New Heathrow hotel near Hatton Cross receives planning permission

Disabled people disagree on whether Paralympics will promote equality

While holding the Paralympics in London should be a golden opportunity to promote the contribution that disabled people can make to society - if they are given the opportunity - opinions are divided about whether this event will genuinely reduce disability discrimination.

The recession has seen a massive rise in disability hate crime. The proportion of disabled people who have suffered verbal abuse has risen from 41% to 66% over the last six months. The government seems determined to weaken employment legislation that protect disabled people against discrimination. And the use of the French company ATOS to assess disabled people's eligibility for benefits has been widely condemned, with up to 70% of appeals against its rulings being successfully challenged..

The truth is that the coalition government shows little sign that it values what disabled people can do and is far more concerned about whether disabled people create an extra financial liability for the treasury or employers. The right wing press (with special reference to the Express and Mail) are allowed to promote disability hatred by portraying disability benefit claimants as "scroungers".

We should remember that before Hitler demonised the Jews, the first people that he persecuted were the disabled. Over 70,000 disabled people were executed in Nazi Germany under the T4 project. We should be extremely suspicious of any government that marginalises the disabled, not least because it begs the question, "Who's next?"

'Few excited' by the Paralympics

3rd December 2011 

Jeremy Clarkson ‘went on strike as a local reporter’

Judges rule that government pension switch from RPI to CPI is lawful

The High Court has ruled that the government's change to the index linking of public sector pensions from RPI to CPI is not unlawful. This ruling will be bitterly disappointing to the public sector unions that brought a legal challenge to the change, which is intended to save the Treasury around £6 billion. It is calculated that the change could wipe out over a quarter of the value of a pension over 20 years at the predicted difference of the two measures, which is 1.4%. However, the difference is expected to rise to 1.8% by 2016, meaning that pensions coulf be devalued by a third or more over 20 years.

The three judges who heard the case have given permission for the unions to appeal over some of the points that were raised. The private sector should be extremely concerned that this ruling may see companies attempt to change their schemes. Worse still, it has even been suggested that the coalition may make legal changes that will automatically switch private pension schemes from RPI to CPI to "reduce the burden on business".

TUC on the judicial review of CPI pensions indexing

2nd December 2011

New Icelandic volcano eruption could have global impact

PM taken to task over union rep pay

Video (a short one) - Speakers at the November 30th march in London

Civil rights lawyers move to fight Occupy evictions nationwide

Parties gear up for pre-Christmas by-election in Feltham and Heston

Following the sad death of local Labour MP Alan Keen in November, a by-election has been announced. This constituency was considered one of the targets for the Tories last year, but after their broken promises on the NHS (and pretty well everything else) it is hoped that Labour will increase its margin.

However, the HLC was concerned to hear that the BNP is planning to exploit the multi-racial nature of Feltham and Heston and field a candidate to promote its divisive ideology. So we would strongly recommend that all union members and those who believe in the principle of equality who live in the constituency make sure that they get out and vote.

1st December 2011

Kenneth Clarke delays £350m legal aid cuts

Office for Budget Responsibility warns gap between CPI and RPI will rise to 1.4%

All workers, whether in the public or private sector, should be concerned by this news, as it will erode the value of pensions in one way or another at a much faster rate. Public sector pensions would devalue (after retirement) at 14% for every ten years more than they would have under the old RPI calculation. Many private sector pensions are trying to follow suit.

But even if neither of these applies to you, your pension will still be exposed to devaluation if you change jobs or are outsourced. Deferred pensions (also known as "frozen" pensions) mean that the pension in your old job will only go up at the CPI rate. So by the time you actually retire, it may have lost a significant part of its value.

All the more reason to think that the fight with the government over pensions is everyone's battle.

1st December 2011

Pilot Protest Grounds Czech Airlines Flights

ICAO Seeks Emissions Deal By End 2012

Immigration union claims security lapse during strike

Reading this report together with the one below, it is difficult not to question whether the UK did actually manage to maintain standards of control at its borders on the day of the public sector strike.

Heathrow queues shorter on strike day

1st December 2011

Unite seeks to end compensation uncertainty for asbestos victims at supreme court

Mumbai Airport To Put Kingfisher On Cash & Carry

India's financially troubled airlines continue to make the news, despite the country being considered one of the best prospects for economic growth. Jet is similarly struggling. Air India being the national airline has some hope that it will be bailed out if its debts become too high, but it seems likely that the rest might be allowed to fail if they do not sort out their finances themselves.

Jet Airways Plans Sale and Lease Back

1st December 2011

How the public sector strikes were viewed in the USA

‘Health and safety’ in the workplace set to be eroded warns Unite

Unite warns that if government plans to weaken health and safety law are allowed, the 171 fatal accidents, 20,000 deaths from industrial disease and 115,000 reportable accidents that happened last year will almost certainly rise.

1st December 2011

Jeremy Clarkson apologises over strike comments