Tuesday, 29 October 2013

No need for Tata steel to scrap 500 UK jobs

The Tata steel redundancies are not inevitable. The government could forestall the loss of 500 steel industry jobs in Scunthorpe, Teesside and Workington; and it can do so without waving a magic wand, or for that matter throwing 'tax-payers' (or, yours and my) hard earned at the problem.

Tata complains that the markets for its product, steel, is shrinking mainly because not enough houses are being built. There is a massive shortfall in affordable housing in the UK. There are also hundreds of thousands of building workers without work. The economy, despite misreporting by the government, is barely ticking over.

A programme of mass affordable house building would put construction workers back into work, thus pushing up the demand for steel.

But that would only be the start. When people move into new houses they tend to buy carpets, curtains/blinds, furniture, wallpaper, paint; they have new kitchens installed and bedroom cupboards built; back gardens are decked out.

Oh look! A burgeoning economy. Not only do we have hundreds of thousands of workers building the houses we have furniture, white goods, TVs, sound systems, etc being bought. These need to be manufactured and sold; creating and providing jobs for hundreds of thousands more workers.

But even that isn't the end of the upturn. Properly regulated, the extra supply in housing would help to stabilise house prices, especially in London and the SE where it is almost impossible for anyone but Croesus to get onto the property ladder; it would bring down rents; and make a nonsense of the an already universally derided bedroom tax.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

ATOS Members vote for action

A recent pay offer was rejected by ATOS IT Services and ATOS Healthcare workers who balloted 80%+ support for strike action and 90%+ support for action short of strike.

Loath or love them ATOS members have voted to support industrial action; it's a shame that such numbers do not resist the quota system they're operating. A system that serves to impoverish hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people while driving thousands of others to premature deaths.  

It is beyond me why ATOS workers feel they need to comply with a flawed DWP system of assessment and the government's blatantly obvious policy of driving down numbers of benefits claimants, as in the case of ESA claimants being shoved onto JSA, a less generous benefit.

There should be no need for health care workers to slavishly obey diktats that order them to compromise their professional relationship with ill and disabled claimants. Doctors and other health care workers take a Hippocratic Oath which calls on them to uphold professional standards; to keep patients from harm and injustice.  

There are also a number of codes of practice relevant to different disciplines within medicine. Again these call for practitioners to put the health and wellbeing of the patient above other concerns.

Indeed some practitioners adhere to their oath and codes of practice, in some cases resigning rather than going against their principles. Sadly they are too few; and while these people should be celebrated for taking a princioled stance against a flawed system, one that actually coerces its workforce to ignore ethics and pander to the bottom line, they are too few to move an intransigent DWP which is ideologically driven.

Proper union organisation is what is needed amongst the ATOS healthcare workers who carry out the assessments. A properly organised and politicised group of workers with a good reps structure in place would go some way to educating these workers; maybe opening their eyes as to the real class enemy.

However, the war against the mis-assessments, repetitive and unnecessary re-assessments and the awful toll in human misery they create can only be won when a government scraps the present system. Scraps the WCA and replaces it with an assessment which is transparent, fair and relevant to the claimant. Kicking out ATOS without first scrapping the WCA with a fit for purpose alternative will merely change the name of the hate figure.  

Saturday, 5 October 2013

We must encourage workers to take industrial action

"The unions and TUC should have already called a general strike but need to do so now urgently."

Strikes can only be brought about by workers in the workplace. The TUC could name a day tomorrow; yet without the support of the workforce this would be a pointless exercise.

Unite has supported strikes both in the public and private sector over the past few years. In fact Unite has not repudiated a single strike since McCluskey's became general secretary.

However, unless workers, in sizeable numbers, within both the public and private sectors are ready and willing to come out and strike we are not going to get a mass support for a general strike.

Finally, a general strike within itself may not be the solution to ridding ourselves of this dire lash-up that calls itself a government; after all Greece has seen over 20 general strikes in the past couple of years, yet sadly the austerity programme there still continues.