December 2011 (late)

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

Indian Regulator Meeting Kingfisher and Air India

The Indian regulator is due to meet with cash strapped airlines Kingfisher and Air India over concerns that their financial situations risk compromising safety. The regulator is also believed to want to discuss how Kingfisher's grounding of part of its fleet (because it cannot pay maintenance bills) is impacting on passengers.

5th January 2012

Boeing dumps 2,160 US workers

Iberia cancel Heathrow to Madrid flights over pilot strikes

Unite condemns prime minister for his comments on health and safety

David Cameron says that he wants to "kill off the health and safety culture". Unite has quite rightly condemned this insensitive statement and pointed to the 171 people who died last year in workplace accidents and the many thousands who lose their lives every year from industrial disease.

5th January 2012

Public sector pensions offer rejected by Unite

Unite unanimously rejects NHS pensions offer

EU "green" tax could add £130 to cost of family holiday and threaten Heathrow jobs

The problem is not the Emissions Trading Scheme itself, but the combined cost of the ETS and the Air Passenger Duty, which together with high fuel prices is pushing civil aviation to the margins on profitablity. A double dip recession could well see some airlines go to the wall if the government does not take note that our high cost national tax must be reduced to allow the European levy to work without driving away business from the UK.

Chinese Airlines Won't Pay EU Carbon Tax

Asian Airlines Mull Fare Increases For ETS

Delta Adds USD$3 Surcharge On US-Europe Fares

4th January 2012

Child poverty set to soar, says IFS study

Lufthansa may be breaking law by using temporary staff as flight attendants

The German trade union Verdi has criticised Lufthansa for using 200 temps to crew aircraft flying out of a new airport in Berlin and says that it believes this is a breach of the law. The airline will use the staff privided by an agency for up to two years before either offering them a contract or dismissing them.

4th January 2012

Passport fast track for Olympic athletes and VIPs may mean delays for everyone else

The Economist criticises IATA plans for "streamlined" airport security

Economist magazine has commented that plans by IATA for a two tier security system are unrealistic. The proposals, which would have subjected passengers to different levels of security subject to an initial profile being made of the passenger. Airlines favour systems that would allow their business and first class passengers to be fast tracked, but critics have asked whether we should assume that those who pose a threat will always travel economy.

4th January 2012

Lufthansa and other airlines will pass on carbon tax to passengers

Lufthansa has said that it will not bear the cost of the new Eurpean carbon trading tax, which is intended to encourage airlines to have more green policies. Ethiad and Emirates have also indicated that they expect fares to rise.

3rd January 2012

IATA predicts 2012 difficult year for global aviation

Airline chiefs call for Air Passenger Duty reversal ahead of introduction of carbon tax

January 1st sees the introduction of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This is intended as a "green tax" on civil aviation, as was one of the original goals stated for Air Passenger Duty (APD). IAG, Virgin, Easyjet and Ryanair have all called for APD to be repealed so there are not two green taxes making British airlines uncompetitive in the global market.

30th December 2011

Strike Grounds A Third Of Iberia's Flights

The strike by pilots union Sepla follows the annoncement of plans by IAG, which also owns British Airways, to introduce a budget airline - Iberia Express, which would pay lower rates to employees. The union says that this is in breach of existing collective agreements.

29th December 2011

Police appeal for witnesses after man is killed by car near Heathrow on Boxing Day

The accident happened at around 07.20 on Boxing Day on the Heathrow spur of the M25 (junction 14) and anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to come forward.

China's CATA To Sue EU On Airline Carbon Rule

Unemployment set to rise in 2012

A report from the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) has predicted more misery for us in 2012 with unemployment rising yet again. This will surpise few trade unionists who have seen the government's failure to address the issue of job creation as they throw hundreds of thousands out of work in the public sector.

If this actually resulted in significant growth and a reduction in the deficit, then the coalition might perhaps be able to salvage some small amount of credibility, but it manges to show itself to be incompetent as well as uncaring.

27th December 2012 

Tory MP wants union reps' pay docked when they talk to members

Tory MP Priti Patel has started regurgitating the anti-union ideas of the Tax Payers Alliance. Their latest attempt to bring back the feudal system of the middle ages is to dock union reps wages whenever they are asked to advise their members on issues in work time.

What's Next In The Airlines v EU Dispute?

Air France-KLM reported by media to have around 300 million euro operating loss for 2011

Air France-KLM has refused to comment on the repot in a French newspaper. Earlier this year it also refused to respond to claims that it should be issuing a profit warning. The airline may be holding off making an announcement until its restucturing plan is better developed. A research company has already said that without restructuring, the airline could have to face losses of up to 500 million euros.

24th December 2011

Time to stop making the poor pay for the rich's greed and recklessness

United Continental Sees 4th Quarter Revenues Rise

Council says Heathrow mixed mode trial sees noise complaints rise

Exposed: Richard Branson the cuddly union-buster

Richard Branson has produced a video to discourage his staff in Virgin America from voting for union recognition. Mr. Branson believes that this will stop Virgin from being "different" from other airlines. It would also mean that from time to time that he would have to negotiate rather than being able to run his company as an absolute dictator.

Perhaps Mr. Branson should look at the facts before he attacks the Transport Workers Union. Workplaces that are unionised have half the number of accidents of those that do not. Unions encourage members to get training and education, so provide more to the employer. And unions hold managers to account for unethical and illegal practices. If Virgin had a proper union structure in its management team, it might have avoided the damaging publicity that resulted from getting involved in a price fixing scam with other airlines. 

23rd December 2011

High Court postpones ruling on eviction of Occupy LSX protestors until 11th January

10 quotes from the aviation industry

Which airline CEO said, "What part of no refund don't you understand? You're not getting a refund, so fuck off!" (Clue - he'd like to charge you for visiting the toilet). 

23rd December 2011

BA wishes staff a not-so merry Christmas

Willie Walsh's announcement that job losses will follow IAG's purchase of bmi if it is approved by the regulator, who he hopes will allow completion in March. He has also rejected Richard Branson's statement that he will be challenging the sale as anti-competitive and not in the interest of passengers.

23rd December 2011

Ministers ban PCS from pensions talks

UPS Pilots To Sue Over US Fatigue Policy

The Independent Pilots' Association has said that it will sue US regulators over its decision to only apply new rules on rest breaks for pilots if they are in control of passenger aircraft. Cargo aircraft are planned to be exempt from the new regulations, which are the result of an investigation following a fatal accident 3 years ago.

23rd December 2011

Out in the cold on Christmas day: The growing homelessness crisis

As a new study shows that the life expectancy of homeless people is only 47 for men and 43 for women, many people are asking if this government is making matters worse by taking a tough stance on squatters and allowing Wesminster council to ban soup kitchens and relief actions for homeless people in central London.

A civilised country should be judged on its compassion for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. Sadly, it appears that this government has very little, as it cuts back on plans to build social and affordable housing (only 454 this year - lowest since WW2) while demanding that council house rents be raised to 80% of that charged in the private sector.

Could the welfare bill signal the death of social housing?

 23rd December 2011

EU Carbon Tax 'Could Spark Trade War' – China

The Economist - Trade wars and morals

EU Carbon Law Likely To Raise Airfares To Europe

Heathrow Express to carry out maintenance over Christmas

HEX has announced that between the evening of 24th of December and morning of December 27th that the train service will be replaced by coaches while engineering works are carried out. Please follow the link for more details.

British Airways owner IAG buys BMI from Lufthansa

IAG has signed a binding deal to buy bmi from Lufthansa, though the sale will have to be approved by the Competition Commission. Virgin, which also put in a bid has indicated that it will challenge the sale on the grounds that it will give IAG an extra 56 slots at Heathrow, giving it 52% of the available take off and landing opportunities and reducing choice for passengers. IAG is expected to sell some of the new slots to keep the regulator from blocking the sale.

Unions are concerned that Willie Walsh has already announced that there will be a restructure at bmi that will lead to a reduction in its workforce of 3,600.

IAG To Buy bmi For London Heathrow Growth

IAG's deal to buy BMI will lead to job losses

22nd December 2011

Police To Ease French Airport Strike

Nicholas Sarkozy has authorised the use of French police as strike breakers at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Lyon after security staff announced they would be holding a pre-Christmas strike after pay talks broke down.

22nd December 2011

BA parent pledges to ‘grab’ BMI ahead of Virgin

Highest EU Court Upholds Airline Carbon Law

The European Court of Justice has rejected a claim by Airlines for America that the EU carbon trading scheme is unlawful. AFA, which represents the joint interests of US based airlines had pleaded that charging foreign airlines for the distance that they travelled beyond EU airspace exceeded the authority of the European parliament. The ECJ rejected this and other arguments.

However, retaliatory action by the US against European airlines remains a possibility and it is expected that the demands for concessions for American carriers will continue for some time.

22nd december 2011

Jeremy Corbyn MP - Tories jumped the gun in claiming pension victory over unions

Two UKBA executives caught up in border controls row back at work

Two senior UK Border Agency officials who were suspended together with Brodie Clark over an alleged relaxation of immigration standards during busy periods have been cleared after an investigation and reinstated. It is still not known to what extent the Home Office knew about the easing of controls when queues created health and safety problems, but the creation of long delays was entirely predictable when staffing numbers were reduced.

Border agency officials return to work

22nd December 2011

Bank of America fined $335m for discrimination

The Bank of America has been given a record fine after it was ruled that its subsidiary Countrywide regularly charged higher interest rates to black and Hispanic borrowers.

22nd December 2011

US Boosts Pilot Rest, Exempts Cargo Carriers

As Europe considers relaxing the rules on the rest breaks that pilots must take, the US is implementing rules that will increase the minimum amount that pilots of passenger aircraft must have. The rule change is the result of a review after a fatal accident 3 years ago. Pilots of cargo flights will not be affected by the rule change at this point.

22nd December 2011

Law Society gives stark warning over new Bill

The Law Society warns that justice will be beyond the reach of all but the wealthy if the new legal aid bill is allowed to go through

Gatwick Sees Small Rise In Passenger Numbers But Cargo Down

2012 rail fare rip-off unveiled

 While many workers are facing pay freezes and others are losing their jobs entirely or unable to find any, rail fares are set to rise at above the rate of inflation.

Taxing Problem For Kingfisher Airlines

Kingfisher's financial problems seem to be getting even worse, as a junior minister in India has reported that most of the income tax deducted from the wages of the airline's employees over the past two financial years have yet to be deposited with the government.

21st December 2011

Almost 30,000 to fly with BA on Christmas day

Rival airlines fight to buy BMI

Unite response to government’s position on local government pensions

Following this statement from Unite, the union understands that Eric Pickles may (or may not) have withdrawn his extra conditions that he wants put into any pension agreement. Unite is now seeking an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Communities to clarify the position on pension reform.

Local government trade unions suspend agreement pending further talks

Eric Pickles angers unions by adding new conditions to public sector pension offer

21st December 2011

Is anything achieved by sending young protestors to Feltham Young Offenders Institution?

Almost all young protestors who have fallen foul of the law in this year's protests have been sent to Feltham Young Offenders Institution, despite there being specific recommendations to the contrary in some cases. The institution has been criticised for its high suicide rates and lack of realistic programmes to rehabilitate offenders. Inmates report living in daily fear of violence or being locked up in cells for 23 hours a day.

But the behaviour that sent some of these young people to Feltham YOI is surely not much different to that that has been reported about Oxford's Bullingdon Club, whose members included David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Except that the protestors were trying to make a political point and the Bullingdon crowd were a bunch of rich kids that smashed things up for fun. Is this justice?

20th December 2011

BAA increase profit forecasts

UK Uncut plans legal action against HMRC over tax write offs

Parliament releases damning report into dodgy corporate tax deals

Mixed response from union leaders to government's "final offer" on public sector pensions

The coalition government set a deadline of today (Monday) for unions to respond to a revised offer for public sector pensions. However, the proposals still mean that public sector workers would pay more, work longer and receive less on a pension that could be severely devalued by the change in index linking from RPI to CPI. It should also be considered that the group of workers that has been targeted for this "pension tax" is in the middle of a two year pay freeze, followed by two years of pay rises capped at 1%, seeing salaries (and the final salaries on which pensions will be based) lose perhaps 16% of their value.

Just what has this group of workers done to deserve this sort of treatment, in what may have been a lifetime of public service?

Unison has offered to put the proposals to its members, while others want a better understanding on the package before they make a decision. Other unions have rejected the proposals outright and are recommending further industrial action in the New Year.

To quote from the government's own advisor, Lord Hutton, "Public sector pensions are far from gold plated" and "while some private sector employees receive less, this should not affect public sector workers" and "this should not be a race to the bottom".

TUC - "No agreements have been reached, but unions now have proposals to put to their executives and members"

19th December 2011

Safety campaigners condemn decision to reduce fine on UK Coal over deaths

Campaign group Families Against Coporate Killers (FACK) reacted angrily at a court decision to reduce the fines levied against UK Coal after four of its workers died in separate incidents. The company clearly broke health and safety legislation and equally clearly did not make sufficient changes to its procedures to prevent further deaths.

The question that should be asked is not "How much should UK Coal be fined?" but "Why is the Managing Director of UK Coal not in jail?"

19th December 2011

Kingfisher Grounds 15 Planes - Working With Banks

It has been reported that Kingfisher has had to ground 15 more planes due to a cashflow problem. The Indian airline, which has never made a profit has seen its share lose two thirds of their value. Kingfisher plans to join the Oneworld alliance in February 2012, but unless a deal can be reached with the banks, its future looks uncertain.

19th December 2011

Why was there no disruption at Heathrow on general strike day? 50,000 fewer passengers

Government accepts recommendation to separate investment from retail banking

The government has accepted the Vickers report, which recommends that speculators should be split from retail banking by 2019. In theory this should mean that irresponsible gambling in the investment market should not result in massive bail outs from public funds.

However, banking lobbyists will be making huge efforts to create loopholes in the scheme. Investors rely on using the assets of the retail sector as collateral for their speculation, so the opportunities will be reduced for making huge profits as well as huge losses.

No government has ever managed to completely control the banks - if anything it often seems the other way round. Expect to see demands from the banks for tax breaks and other concessions to offset the "lost profits" caused by implementing the Vickers report. We also anticipate cries that this will make Britain's banks unable to compete with foreign institutions that are not restricted in this way.

This legislation will be opposed all the way by those in the money markets.

18th December 2011

Revealed: how City fees are eating into our pensions

A disturbing report from the Guardian, based on leaked advice from consultants to the Treasury. The City, so favoured by David Cameron, is accused of using funds such as pensions primarily to benefit the managers, rather than investors. In some cases the fees charged by managers are so high that investors will get less out of their funds than they put in. Yet another failure by the FSA to properly regulate the fincial sector.

18th December 2011

US Court Sides With Unions In Airline Dispute

This is an important ruling that rejects airline demands that union members who do not vote should be counted as having voted against taking any kind of action. David Cameron has also indicated that he would like to consider union ballots to be invalidated if turnout is below 50%, despite becoming Prime Minister with less than a quarter of the votes that could have been cast at the last general election.

U.S. Court Upholds Fair Election Rule for Air and Rail Workers

17th December 2011

Look Left – Labour hold Feltham but deeper problems remain

Ministers say they will introduce pension reforms whether unions agree or not

Unions claim that the pension reforms are nothing less than a tax on public sector workers, with extra contributions going straight to the treasury rather than into their pension funds.

17th December 2011

Virgin say Government ‘ignored responses’ on Air Passenger Duty