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Monday, 14 January 2013

Misers But Not Scrooges; People Are Dying At Work, But This Government Makes It Easier For Bad Bosses To Get Away With Murder.

You can call this government many things; Idiotic, incompetent, miserly.

I often call them much worse, but for now will stick with 'diametrically opposed to the working rights of You and l'  

The coalition, via its erstwhile Business Secretary Vince Cable has, for reasons aimed undoubtedly at 'flying below the radar' attempted to sneak in some last minute amendments to the Enterprise Bill.  

The changes that Dr Cable silently bolted onto this 'bosses charter' centre on Section 47 of the bill. What they mean is that it is going to become massively harder, more complex, and significantly more expensive for you, l, and the majority of other workers to successfully sue an employer for compensation in the event of industrial injury.  

lf the new proposals ascend to the statute, any worker taking legal action against an employer will have to prove to the court that there was direct negligence on the part of their bosses.   Being in breach of the law will no longer be sufficient on it's own for a company or employer to be compelled to compensate an injured member of staff.  

Of course, the propaganda machine down at Coalition HQ will dress this in the jaded horse blanket that is the Governmental efficiency drive, and the massed media will enthusiastically spread the lie in an attempt to smear unions, activists and those who see beyond the distorted headlines and slanted press releases as 'vested interests' trying to fight reform, but when the truth is told, the Coalition have form on this.  

Since coming into office, the government have hungrily torn at the already restrictive worker protections on the statute book.

In just over two years, they have;  

* PRICED ordinary workers out of the tribunal system by raising fees drastically.  

* SLASHED the maximum amount of compensation workers can receive if dismissed unfairly.  

* EXEMPTED certain occupations from eligibility for applying to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) in the event of certain industrial incidents, injuries and trauma.  

* DOUBLED the qualifying period for applications to HM Courts & Tribunal Service following unfair or constructive dismissal.  

This list is depressing, but is not exhaustive, and is of course, set against a cancerous backdrop of Dickensian benefit bashing and criminal destruction of the NHS.  

These reforms have been bulldozed through on a tidal wave of deficit reduction. The Tories, gutlessly enabled by the LiberaI Democrats, spuriously claim that the changes I have outlined are essential for economic recovery.  

Not ONE SINGLE PENNY of the deficit has been paid back by preventing vulnerable employees from holding aggressive and sub-standard bosses to account.  

Not ONE SINGLE JOB has been created by denying justice to ordinary Working men and women.  

These changes to Health & Safety at Work law are as historic as they are unfair.  

The new law would remove the automatic redress provided by law that has been in force since the reign of Queen Victoria. All this will do is send the message to unscrupulous bosses that it is ok to jettison the Health & Safety of their employees because the government have jettisoned the scant laws that might just have made some think twice.  

The fact is that people are DYING at work under the current regime!  

* Mark Wright was killed after being engulfed in flames at Deeside Scrap Metal Yard near Chester in 2005.  

He was told to crush a pile of aerosol cans that hadn't been emptied by cleaning firm Jeyes. They were fined £330,000. His employers were fined £100,000.  

The manager at the site, Rob Roberts, Was fined just £10,000, despite stating he didn't bother with risk assessments because most of his staff were illiterate anyway!  

Mark's mother Dorothy, is a founder member of FACK (Families Against Corporate Killing) They campaign for harsher penalties in cases like Mark's and greater protections for workers.  

You can check out the FACK website by clicking here.  

* Shaughan Walsh, Tony Laughton and David Jowett were crushed to death whilst on a coffee break when a retaining wall collapsed due to high winds, causing the derelict warehouse they were working on to cave in on itself in Hull in April 2000.  

The CPS decided that there was 'insufficient' evidence to prosecute the owner of the building, Murli Thandani, despite a number of the staff on the site testifying that he failed to keep proper records, and sent labourers onto the 3rd & 4th floors despite being warned by Building inspectors that the upper floors of the building were unsafe.  

One worker told investigators how the building shook whenever large vehicles passed, and how Thandani responded to the warnings issued by building inspectors by sending his workers straight back to the upper floors of the warehouse, and posting lookouts on the approaching roads to the site to detect any returning inspectors!  

l personally witnessed Murli Thandani FALL ASLEEP in court as the particulars of the case were discussed!  
Thandani was eventually fined only £99,000 for causing the deaths of 3 men.  

* On April 24th 1998, 24 year old Simon Jones was killed in an horrific incident on his 1st day working for an agency unloading ships at Euromin's terminal docks in Shoreham By Sea, West Sussex.  

Simon was in the hold of a cargo ship when he was decapitated by the mechanised jaws of a crane.

He had not received adequate briefing or training, and was grossly inexperienced. 

The crane operator didn't speak English, and the Banksman responsible for directing the Crane Operator, and the Supervisor were unable to verbally communicate with each other due to the language barrier.

Once again, the CPS declined to prosecute anybody over Simon's death. His family were nothing short of valiant in maintaining their campaign for justice.The Euromin terminal was picketed, and the agency Simon worked for occupied.  

Simon Jones' family made legal history by being the first people to successfully apply for a judicial review into a decision by the CPS not to prosecute for corporate manslaughter.  

Despite this, and despite picketing of the CPS Headquarters, nobody was found guilty of being responsible for Simon's death.  

You can read the full story of the campaign for justice for Simon Jones by clicking here.

The only people to face legal sanction were Simon's parents for obstructing the offices of the employment agency, and some protestors picketing the Euromin port who were arrested under the anti-trade union laws!  

These 3 examples illustrate the raw tragedy of death at work , as well as underlining how hard it is ALREADY to hold unsafe bosses to account.  

What we need, are TOUGHER laws without the infinite loopholes that are brazenly used by companies to escape their duty to those who generate profit.

UnfortunateIy, this government of clueless rich kids, and spineless enablers do not see OUR safety at work as important.  

History is the screaming lessons of past mistakes at the Coalition but they choose to play deaf.  

They are too busy playing to the gallery of the Daily Mail, and currying favour with tax dodging millionaire moguls to care.  

I started this piece by talking about what we CAN call this government;  

One thing we CAN'T call them is Scrooge.

After all, even he listened and learned from the ghosts of the past.    

Friday, 11 January 2013

Greed Is Not Good Enough! Please write to your MP! Tell them that a 32% increase in pay is PURE GREED! (Feel free to copy, adapt and use this letter..it only takes a minute to have your say!)

Recently, MPs were polled anonymously on the issue of their pay.

The average MP believes they should receive a pay rise of 32%!!

...all whilst nurses, teachers, and other vital, low paid staff face pay freezes and job cuts, and pivotal local services are forced to close in the name of an idiotic austerity.

Below is a letter I have sent to my local MP Karl Turner.

In it, I call on him and his Labour colleagues to show principle and leadership by refusing ANY pay increase which is over that which is to be afforded workers in the public sector.

Feel free to copy, adapt and use the letter as a template to contact YOUR MP.

You can do it online. It only takes a few minutes by clicking here:

It's YOUR duty as an elector to tell your MP that greed is not good enough!

Dear Karl Turner,

I write with regard to the recent anonymous poll of yourself and your
colleagues on the issue of MPs remuneration.

Firstly, I must assert my belief in, and appreciation of good campaigning MPs, our parliamentary system, and the excellent work
carried out by parliamentary office staff in support of members and
constituents alike.

Your work assisting Hull Kingston Rovers with stadium improvements,
and the assistance afforded to me by the office staff of Hull West &
Hessle MP Alan Johnson whilst representing a benefit claimant in an
Employment Support Allowance appeal are two such examples.

However, I feel that I must make explicit to you just how unacceptable
it would be for MPs to accept a pay rise that, at current rates, would
take hard pressed and demonised public sector workers until 2045 to
equal in terms of percentages!

In Hull we now have 55 job seekers chasing each vacancy, ballooning
poverty thanks to the coalition's cuts, and wages amongst the very
lowest in the UK.

Meanwhile, this government of feckless millionaires are forcing
themselves and the political process further from the weakening grasp
of ordinary working people and the vulnerable.

If MPs were to accept such an excessive pay increase in the current
economic climate, there would be fury in the streets if East Hull,  and
indeed mist constituencies across the UK!

A great many of your stable mates spend their time touring media
outlets condemning unionised workers for taking action to improve their
pay, force safety improvement, or make firms stick to their contractual
word, and demonising the working poor and vulnerable by virtue of their
receipt of benefits.

Infuriatingly, Labour MPs seem to be ever more eager to join in with
this unedifying pass time!

MPs MUST be seen to be subject to the same economic pressures and pay
restraint that you advocate for the electorate you are paid to
represent, and as a Labour party member, I cannot overstate the need
for leadership from party MPs on this.

Whilst I appreciate that MPs remuneration is handled by IPSA now, it is still down to the members of the house to accept whatever rise is
proposed.

By all accounts, the results of the poll on pay indicated that the
Tories wanted the biggest increase, despite their being the most
generally affluent. The perception of ALL MPs is increasingly one of a
group of individuals who have no connection with ordinary people, and
care not for their struggles.

As a constituent and party member, I call on you, and your party
colleagues to set the parliamentary standard by refusing ANY pay award
in excess of the constraints currently in place within the public
sector.

The major representative trade unions within that sector are major
sources of finance for Labour Party campaigns and activities,  and I am
certain that they would view the prospect of such excessive increases
to MPs pay with the same outrage and derision as I, given that
organised workers are so regularly lectured by those same elected
members who teeter precariously on the edge of such an economically
hypocritical act.

I have copied this letter to Ed Miliband MP, and I await your response
with interest.

With very best wishes.

Yours Sincerely,

Karl Davis

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Iain Duncan-Smith: Silence Isn't Quiet Enough For 'The Quiet Man.

Iain Duncan-Smith famously announced that "the quiet man of politics is turning up the volume"

Its such a shame then, that since being handed the megaphone of ministerial high office, the only sound we have heard fron thus self-styled "champion of welfare reform" is the white noise of governmental lies.

For the second time in just a few days, the lies and ideological axe-grinding of the Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith (IDS) and his staff have been laid bare by the most basic level of scrutiny.    

Channel 4's Fact Check Blog, written by Cathy Newman, first identified Duncan-Smith's spinning of benefit statistics by exposing as false, his claim that tax credit payments had increased by 58% during the last Labour government, when the ACTUAL rise for the period concerned was 8%.    

Jump forward a day or two , and Duncan-Smith was at it again, this time claiming that working age benefits have risen faster than wages in a clear attempt to drive a wedge between those in work and those in need.    

Yet Cathy Newman's blog once again exposed the folly of IDS and his flunkies within the DWP by pointing out that the figures quoted do not cover a long enough time frame to provide a fair analysis, and do not take into account the effect of the recession on the private sector, or the consequential effect of recession in the private sector in terms of more people having to claim the very "working age benefits" so clearly despised by the Tories.    

What makes the comments of the Work & Pensions Secretary even more unpalatable, aside from them being anathema to the values of fairness and justice, is the sheer hypocrisy.

In opposition, Duncan-Smith was one of the most vociferous critics of the New Labour obsession with spin and press manipulation through statistics, yet when holding high office, he and his staff seem to be amongst the worst offenders when it comes to purposely misleading the electorate to suit an ideologically dogmatic end.

People may dismiss the above as uninteresting political manoeuvring, but Duncan-Smith needs to stop bastardising the working class, take command of the state sponsored shambles that has infected every  echelon of his department, stop chasing gutter press headlines and start administering a benefits system that helps the working poor, and the jobless live a better life by providing them with guidance and opportunity for self-improvement, rather than punishing them for struggling against unfortunate circumstance.

IDS may well have turned up the volume.

If I'd have known that he would be topping up his already considerable wealth with a six-figure public salary earned by spouting quite so many spiteful, inaccurate and divisive announcements, I feel certain that I would not be the only one scrambling for the mute button.