Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

Home Forums Discussion Forum Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019 Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

Kim Sanders-Fisher

The turmoil of the Covid crisis offers us a chance to select a new future, embracing equality for all throughout the UK, but will the Tory Party destroy that opportunity with renewed austerity under their fake ‘lev…up’ lie banner? In the Left Food Forward Article entitled, “Exclusive: Tory appointments to new Build Back Better Council ‘beggar belief,’ Josiah Mortimer reports on a shameful list; “Members include firms accused of tax avoidance, anti-union practices and fuelling climate chaos. Campaigners have rounded on the Government’s new ‘Build Back Better Council,’ a body entirely made up of business figures, including bankers, oil giants and aviation firms. Trade union figures, social justice campaigners and environmentalists have challenged the total exclusion of worker representatives and climate experts on the new body, intended to ‘unlock investment’ and ‘level up the UK’. The appointments have triggered fears that the post-pandemic recovery could be based on deregulation and handouts to corporations.”

Mortimer reports that, “The progressive Build Back Better campaign, not linked to government, has been calling for a ‘new deal’ after the pandemic, one which ‘protects public services, tackles inequality in our communities, provides secure well-paid jobs and creates a shockproof economy which can fight the climate crisis.’ But the membership of the Government’s own Build Back Better Council, launched this week, has set alarm bells ringing. The official government press release announcing the launch of the council on Monday led with a quote from BP, despite being ranked as one of the world’s biggest polluters. The UK is hosting the COP26 climate summit this November and Johnson has previously said there’s ‘no time to waste’ in tackling the climate crisis.”

Mortimer asks is this an “Anti-union government? Tony Burke Unite AGS told LFF it ‘beggars belief’ unions are being excluded from bodies like the Better Business Council: ‘The TUC has proposed a joint National Recovery Council, which the Government has ignored. We have significant expertise in industry and business and I know many employers who agree that it is not just foolish to exclude unions from these bodies, many see it as the Government adopting an anti union position.’ ‘It’s indicative of how they see unions, look at the way they ended the Union Learning Fund,’ he said. He added that the Treaty with the EU refers to a duty to establish ‘social dialogue’ involving unions, as well as in International Labour Organisation Conventions contained in the treaty. ‘There are many precedents for a social dialogue procedure, notably after times of crisis, including national bodies after the wars of the last century, the National Economic Development Council in the 1960s and EU social dialogue in EU treaties’.”

Mortimer reports that, “Yet unions still have no guaranteed places on the Domestic Advisory body that will deal with the Trade Agreement with the EU,” Burke said. Mortimer describes the, “Recovery for corporations,” saying, “Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, said: ‘Choosing an oil multinational to front a green industrial revolution suggests that the prime minister has a different definition of ‘building back better’ than the rest of us. ‘British society is coming apart at the seams, the result of decades of deregulation, privatisation and austerity. The pandemic, not to mention the impact of climate change, will make this much worse. We need a green new deal to completely refashion our economy…A mix of toxic trade deals, crony capitalism and further deregulation are as far away from what we need as it’s possible to get,’ Dearden added.”

Mortimer says that, “Prof Prem Sikka, a member of the House of Lords, told LFF the business council was a ‘gimmick’: ‘The Build Back Better Council has representatives of organisations associated with non-payment of the statutory minimum wage, tax avoidance, illicit financial flows and other anti-worker practices. ‘There is no presence of trade unions and local community organisations. The danger is that the Council will become just another mouthpiece of the right-wing Tory policies… ‘We need radical policies which invest in social infrastructure, new industries, public services, democratise the workplace, advance human rights and redistribute wealth and income to eradicate poverty and improve people’s life chances. Sadly, none of these are on the government’s agenda’ Prof Sikka said.”

Mortimer says on, “Climate chaos, Connor Schwartz, climate lead at Friends of the Earth, said: “This is a far cry from just two months ago when the Prime Minister announced the need for a green industrial revolution. Instead of listening to fossil fuel companies and airports, the government should turn their ear to the majority of the public who want climate change prioritised in the economic recovery to coronavirus. ‘A great start would be scrapping the £27bn still earmarked for roads, multiplying investment in green technologies, and creating good green jobs in every corner of the country,’ Schwartz told the site. Challenged by Left Foot Forward, the Prime Minister’s spokesman defended the new council, telling journalists that the Government had ‘ongoing engagement with trade unions’.” Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

In an Update: “On Tuesday afternoon, Business Sec Kwasi Kwarteng admitted in front of the Business Select Committee that he is reviewing regulations on employment protections, which could include scrapping protections on maximum working hours. Full list of Build Back Better Council members: Isabel Dedring, Arup; Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty; Stephen Welton, BGF; Rachel Lord, Blackrock; Bernard Looney, BP; Sean Doyle, British Airways; Philip Jansen, BT; Poppy Gustafsson, Darktrace; Penny James, Direct Line; Ronan Harris, Google; Emma Walmsley, GSK; Lord Deighton, Heathrow; Mark Tucker, HSBC; Dame Carolyn McCall, ITV; Thierry Bolloré, Jaguar Land Rover; Dame Sharon White, John Lewis Partnership; Robert MacLeod, Johnson Matthey; Cressida Hogg, Landsec; Nigel Wilson, Legal & General; Vivian Hunt, McKinsey & the CBI; Ron Kalifa, Network International; Karen Jones, Prezzo; Laxman Narasimhan, Reckitt Benckiser; Liv Garfield, Severn Trent; Carl Ennis, Siemens; Martin Murphy, Syncona; Ken Murphy, Tesco; Alan Jope, Unilever; Charlotte Hogg, Visa; Sir Ian Wood, Wood.”

In the Labour List Article entitled, “Labour movement vows to fight Tory plans to rip up workers’ rights,” Sienna Rodgers says that, “The Labour Party and trade unions have come out today declaring that they will fight reported Conservative government plans to rip up UK workers’ rights now that the Brexit transition period has ended.” She points out that, “The Financial Times has reported that a proposed package of deregulatory measures likely to please many Tory MPs is being put together by the Department for Business, though has not yet been approved by ministers. It includes ending the 48-hour working week, ‘tweaking’ rights to rest breaks at work, not including overtime pay in holiday pay entitlement calculations and scrapping the need for businesses to log detailed daily reporting of working hours.”

These proposals are what the Americans refer to as a ‘busisness friendly’ work environment that will be transported across the pond and inflicted on our workforce to maximize profit through exploitation. Take just one of these measures, the right to break periods at work. When I worked in the OR at Johns Hopkins, considered America’s top Hospital, I would be left stranded in the scrub position in Surgery for 8, 10 and in the worst case 12 hours solid without a break until I nearly passed out. That was 12 straight hours performing a critical role in transplant surgery without water, food or a chance to pee, let alone sit down; I couldn’t touch anything that wasn’t sterile, so I couldn’t even scratch my nose for 12 hours! You cannot even demand such extreme work conditions of a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention, but, when I complained about the abuse, I was targeted for removal and, due to ‘At Will Firing’ laws, I was fired as a Whistleblower for protesting negligence that put my unconscious patient at risk.

As this Tory Government move closer towards their goal of selling off our NHS to powerful US Healthcare Corporations it will throw the door wide open to their extremely exploitative business practices, like the one described above and we can expect the laws on dismissal to be relaxed too. Rogers reports that, “Saying ‘the mask has slipped’ and vowing to ‘fight tooth and nail’ against the proposals, Labour has asked the government to rule out moves that would row back on these specific protections from which UK employees currently benefit. ‘Crucially, while the government speaks in platitudes, there has been no real denial that the specific proposals reported are on the table,’ Ed Miliband said. He added that the policies ‘should not even be up for discussion’. ‘The pandemic has imposed huge hardship on workers and families in our country. We owe it to them to build a better, and more secure future for Britain. The way to do that is not to take a wrecking ball to their hard-won rights, but to build on them.”

Rogers reminds us that, “The Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady highlighted that the Tories had promised in the 2019 general election to implement ‘the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation’. She said: ‘The government promised that it would strengthen workers’ rights, not weaken them. Working-class voters rely on their precious paid holiday, and safety measures like rest breaks and limits on working time.” The example outlined above recounting my ordeal in the OR occurred during a lengthy Liver Transplant case where my patient was on veno-veno bypass; it clearly demonstrates how dangerous it is to remove these critical workers rights as they increase the likelihood of human error mistakes that can cost lives. Rogers quotes O’Grady saying, “Rather than threatening hard-won rights, the Prime Minister should make good on his promises to his voters. And the best way to do that is to bring forward the long-awaited employment bill, to make sure everyone is treated fairly at work.”

Rogers reports that, “Unite’s Len McCluskey also joined the criticism, saying: ‘There is immense loss, sadness and uncertainty in our country just now. No decent government would pick this moment to launch an attack on the rights of its citizens. The people who have kept this country fed, safe and supported under unimaginable pressures deserve so much better than to be threatened with the loss of their basic rights. This is a huge mistake by this government.’ GMB acting general secretary Warren Kenny described the changes under consideration as ‘unforgivable’ and pointed out: ‘If ministers are serious about building back better, then that means levelling up on rights at work’.” There is little doubt that the PM and Tory Ministers want us to conform to the so called ‘business friendly’ US model that maximizes Corporate profits. When I was fired without cause, in retaliation for exposing Hopkins Management for not calling in their on call team to stand by for trauma and give me a break, I was a Union member: it didn’t help!

Rogers reports that the, “Progressive think tank IPPR has called attention to its analysis of the Brexit trade deal last month, which warned that the agreement gave ministers ‘considerable scope to roll back workers’ rights and environmental protections’. IPPR’s Marley Morris has stressed that the measures reported by the FT ‘would risk retaliation from the EU for breaking the ‘level playing field’ commitments in the UK-EU trade agreement,’ including, potentially, tariffs on UK exports. ‘While the agreement does not prevent reductions in labour standards in all instances, it does so where it can be proved that there is an impact on trade or investment between the UK and the EU. This flagrant act of deregulation could meet that test.”

Rogers says that, “Labour shadow cabinet members Ed Miliband and Andy McDonald have written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to seek reassurances that he will not adopt the proposals and to apply pressure on the government. The opposition party is emphasising that scrapping the 48-hour working week cap ‘could seriously risk the safety of key workers including hauliers and delivery drivers’ as well as NHS staff who could feel pressured to agree to excessive hours. Below is the full text of Labour’s letter to Kwasi Kwarteng. It begins, Dear Kwasi” alerting him to the, “Workers’ rights regulation” and highlighting the “report in today’s Financial Times states that the government plans to ‘rip up’ worker protections, including the 48-hour week, as part of an overhaul of UK labour markets. It has been reported that the package of measures is being put together by your department.”

Rogers reports that the letter reminds Mr. Kwarteng that, “Ministers have repeatedly promised that there would be no dismantling of workers’ rights after leaving the EU and Labour will hold them to that promise. We note your response to the piece on social media on 14 January, in which you reiterate this promise and say the Government is ‘not going to lower the standard of workers’ rights’ and further ‘We want to protect and enhance workers’ rights going forward, not row back on them’. In that case, it should be straightforward for you to ease the anxiety that many workers will be feeling as they read about your plans and specifically rule out the proposals to erode workers’ rights on which the FT says your department plans to consult. We would therefore appreciate your response to the specific questions below to provide reassurance to workers and their families across the country.” The list is as follows:

1. Will you rule out ‘rowing back’ on the 48-hour weekly working limit which keeps workers and citizens safe in key professions?
2. Will you rule out ‘rowing back’ on the inclusion of voluntary overtime in holiday pay entitlement?
3. Will you rule out ‘rowing back’ on other changes which might undermine rights to holiday pay?
4. Will you rule out ‘rowing back’ on any changes to legal rights to breaks at work?
5. Will you confirm whether there will be a consultation on changes to any workers’ rights derived from the Working Time Directive; and if so when this consultation will be published?”

Rogers says that the letter concludes by saying that, “Businesses and workers across the country have faced one of the most difficult periods of their life. Many businesses are still deeply anxious about surviving the crisis and many workers are struggling to make ends meet and worried about their health too. Stripping back workers’ rights would reduce living standards and damage our economy. We hope you agree that the government’s priorities must be focused on rolling out the vaccine, securing the economy, protecting jobs and livelihoods, and supporting the safety of workers, not taking a wrecking ball to workers’ rights. Given the worry this will cause people across the country, we request an urgent response.” It is signed. “Yours sincerely, Ed Miliband MP, Shadow Business Secretary; Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Employment Rights Secretary.”

It has been said throughout history that “An Englishman’s word is his bond,” so just how patriotically British are the Tories when it comes to their promises? In reality the devious elite have propagated this sporadically honoured myth regarding trustworthiness to grease the wheels of negotiation, but the Tories have publicly stated a commitment to breaking a signed treaty! It is easier to ‘Decimate Down’ on the working poor if you can convince them of the opposite! In the Labour List Article entitled, “Ministers must not break their promise to protect and enhance workers’ rights,” Tim Sharp reminds us that, “This government went into the last election having promised to protect and enhance workers’ rights. But reports in today’s Financial Times suggest that rules around holiday pay and working time could be ditched as part of a labour law overhaul. Make no mistake. This is not minor tinkering. Hard-won protections relied on by workers for years, particularly those in insecure jobs, could be in jeopardy. So what is at risk?”

According to Sharp, “Holiday pay appears to be at the top of the chopping list. Under EU law, workers are entitled to four weeks’ holiday pay a year, which UK law bumps up to 5.6 weeks by adding bank holidays to the count. But workers have had to take court cases to force employers to include overtime and commission payments in their calculations. Judging by today’s leaks, these protections, which are particularly important for those working shifts or irregular hours, could be among the first to be rolled back. Other working time rules designed to protect workers’ health and safety are also under threat. These ensure that workers can rest between shifts, receive meal breaks and should have a working week of now more than 48 hours. They are crucial for health and safety. Despite these safeguards, there is still evidence that UK workers put in more hours than elsewhere in Europe. It’s completely bogus to say that removing them will boost productivity.”

Sharp warns that, “Agency workers are another vulnerable group. Rights based on EU law aim to ensure such workers receive equal treatment on pay, holidays and working time after 12 weeks in the job. They are also granted equal access to facilities like toilets and canteens. Last year the government finally closed a loophole that allowed some employers to pay agency workers less than permanent staff. Watering down these rights would be a sop to bad employers who want cheap labour. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was quick last night to reiterate his commitment to ‘protect and enhance’ workers’ rights. But workers have a right to be wary. Kwarteng was also a co-author, with others now in government of the notorious Britannia Unchained pamphlet that proclaimed: “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world.”

Sharp claims that, “The public want stronger rights at work. After the last election, the TUC conducted a 3,000 poll of voters. The findings on workers’ rights were crystal clear:
• Nearly three-quarters (73%) of voters said the government must protect and enhance current workplace rights guaranteed by the EU, like paid holidays and rights for temporary and agency workers.
• This was supported by two-thirds (65%) of people who voted Conservative in 2019, and by eight in ten (79%) of those who switched from Labour to the Conservatives.
• The vast majority of voters (71%) also wanted new rights for gig economy workers, including the majority (65%) of Conservative voters and those who moved from Labour to the Conservatives during the election (78%). There is clearly no public appetite – especially among ‘Red Wall’ voters – for any watering down of rights at work.”

Sharp calls this a, “Time for action.” He demands that, “To allay workers’ fears, the government needs to back up his fluffy rhetoric with action. The Queen’s Speech straight after the last election promised an employment bill. It is time for the government to bring this legislation to parliament. If it is short of ideas, the TUC has a few:
• Ban zero-hour contracts
• Make flexible working a day one right
• Ten days’ paid carers’ leave
• Ethnic minority pay gap reporting
• Trade union access to workplaces”

Tim Sharp, who is senior policy officer at the TUC, says that, “The country is going through the worst crisis in generations. Many insecure workers, including care workers, delivery drivers and shop staff, have been at the forefront of keeping society going. Ministers need to put a marker down that the country won’t repeat the mistakes of the last downturn in 2008 and allow insecure, bad jobs to spring up in the place of good ones. Some ministers might want to forget the government’s promise about enhancing workers’ rights. But trade unions will not let them.” We need to fight tenaciously to maintain workers rights while our Unions still have the power to make a difference; in the US Unions have few powers to protect workers when ‘At Will Firing’ means loss of all job security and Healthcare tied to employment is instantly removed. The Covert 2019 Rigged Election gifted the Tories a majority to implement ‘business friendly’ laws in the UK; we must Protest, Challenge, Investigate and Expose the truth: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!