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1. Manchester bus drivers announce fresh strikes in pay dispute
Bus drivers employed by First Manchester, have announced fresh strike action in the dispute over pay. The new dates for industrial action are a direct consequence of the company’s failure to make an improved offer to resolve the dispute.
The new days for strike action are Monday 31 January and then the following dates in February 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 15, 17, 18, 21, 23 and 25. In effect the 300 plus drivers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, will be striking for three days a week next month.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Bus drivers, including those at First Manchester, are no longer prepared to accept low rates of pay, for the difficult and stressful work they undertake.
“Unite now does exactly what it says on the trade union tin: it always fights to defend our members’ jobs, pay and conditions. The union will be providing its full support to our members at First Manchester until this dispute is resolved.”
2. Adur & Worthing next in line for bin strike as GMB members vote for action
GMB Union is set to formally ballot refuse collector members for strike action in Adur and Worthing.
A consultative ballot, which closed today saw 92.5% of members unanimously vote in favour of industrial action.
GMB refuse collectors in nearby Brighton and Eastbourne have separately won an above inflation pay rise after long-running strike action in recent weeks.
Mark Turner GMB B50 Branch Secretary said: “GMB has tried to speak to management at Adur and Worthing Council, but the message has been received loud and clear that they are not prepared to negotiate.
“Given what has happened up the road in Brighton and Eastbourne, you would have thought the council might want to nip this dispute in the bud.
“If they don’t receive a pay offer reflecting the value of their work, our members are very clear they will go on strike.”
3. Scotland could miss out on “golden opportunity” due to high whisky tariffs
The UK government must urge the Indian government to reduce the 150% tariff on Scotch whisky or face missing out on a “golden opportunity” for Scottish businesses, according to the SNP.
India is currently the world’s largest whisky market however due to high tariffs, Scotland’s whisky only makes up 2% of their market.
The SNP’s Shadow International Trade spokesperson, Drew Hendry MP, believes a slash to current tariffs would grow exports by £1.2bn over the next 5 years, create around 1300 jobs, and mitigate some of the damage imposed on Scotland from Brexit.
Commenting, the SNP’s Shadow International Trade spokesperson Drew Hendry MP said: “Ever since Boris Johnson signed his botched Brexit agreement, businesses up and down the country have faced unnecessary red tape, dodgy trade deals, skyrocketing tariffs, and all-round misery.
4. Welsh Liberal Democrats Call for Free Public Transport for under 25s in Wales
The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for the introduction of free public transport for all under 25s in Wales in a move which they say will help fight climate change and boost social mobility.
Ahead of a debate in the Senedd later today, Party Leader Jane Dodds has stated that Wales needs radical solutions to shift large sections of the public towards sustainable transport and in order to cut poverty levels.
Commenting on her Party’s calls, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated: “Providing free public transport for under 25s provides us with a radical way in which we can get large sections of the population out of private cars and onto sustainable methods of transportation.”
5. Stagecoach bus drivers in Bristol and Gloucestershire ballot for industrial action over low pay
Bus passengers in Gloucestershire and the South West face substantial disruption to their journeys from next month if bus drivers employed by Stagecoach vote for strike action in a dispute over pay.
The dispute involves around 360 bus drivers based at depots in Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud, Coalway, and Ross-on-Wye.
The drivers are taking action to combat low rates of pay. Many of them are paid under £11 an hour, for what is a highly skilled, responsible and demanding role.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Low pay is the scourge of the bus industry. That’s why Unite has been relentless in its campaign to ensure that our members at Stagecoach receive a fair pay increase.”
6.UK-India trade deal poses threat to India’s farmers and pharma sector
Campaigners at Global Justice Now have raised the alarm about how a UK-India trade deal poses threat to India’s farmers and pharma sector.
Responding to the news that international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, is to launch trade talks with India on Wednesday, Jean Blaylock, trade campaigner at Global Justice Now said: “Any trade deal with India needs to protect healthcare, access to medicines, jobs and workers rights. But, two themes loom over these trade talks – farmers and big pharma – and the mood music sounds ominous.
“At the end of last year, Indian farmers won a victory against ‘anti-farmer’ laws that would have stripped away jobs and livelihoods from millions of small-scale farmers and handed control to agribusiness. A UK trade deal with India must not be used to undermine farmers’ rights and reverse that hard fought gain.”
7.Prince Charles challenged over Duchy ‘private estate’ claim
Campaigners have written to Prince Charles, calling on him to stop referring to the Duchy of Cornwall as a private estate.
Republic, which campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy, has pointed out to Charles that the Duchy of Cornwall is Crown property, and is only in his possession for as long as he is the heir to the throne.
The letter says: “The Duchy is the property of the Crown. As such these statements on your websites are misleading, and give a distorted view of the financial support given to the Royal Household, and the total cost to the country for maintaining the monarchy.”
Speaking for Republic today, Graham Smith said: “Prince Charles has successfully spun the line that he receives no financial support from the public. The truth is that the Duchy is state property and without a Duke of Cornwall the Duchy’s income could instead pay for teachers, nurses and police officers.”
8. Coventry bin strikes stepped up to ‘all-out strike’ as council fails to make an offer to meet union demands for a decent pay rise
The failure of Coventry council to tackle low pay rates for its refuse collection drivers has resulted in an escalation in strike action.
It has been announced that strikes will intensify from Monday 31 January, with workers taking ‘all-out’ strike action from Monday to Friday each week. The strikes are scheduled to continue until Wednesday 23 March. An overtime ban is already in place.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Coventry council has had every opportunity to resolve this dispute through negotiations, yet they have still failed to table any offer to resolve the industrial action. The council’s failure to negotiate has left Unite with no alternative but to escalate the strike action.”
9. Greens demand emergency insulation for homes most at risk from fuel poverty
Responding to 27 leading national charities’ call for the Government to take urgent action to tackle the energy bill crisis, including boosting insulation funding, Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay said: “The UK has some of the worst-performing housing stock in Europe for energy efficiency and fuel poverty, which is driving the cost of living crisis now. Yet despite warm words, the Government seems to have put insulation on the back burner, with almost nothing on insulation in its recent Heat and Buildings Strategy.
“Greens have called on the Government to urgently introduce funding for emergency insulation in homes most at risk of fuel poverty, and longer-term to support the insulation industry and provision of renewable energy through funding, training, and the removal of VAT on retrofitting homes.”
10. Ovo job cuts devastating for staff and worrying for consumers, says UNISON
The government can no longer stand idly by and watch as the UK’s energy sector implodes, says UNISON, as it reacts to the news that 1,700 jobs are to go at energy giant Ovo.
UNISON head of energy Matt Lay said: “Hard-working staff across the company will be devastated as they anxiously await their fate. Closing offices will hit local economies hard too.
“Staff have been dealt a cruel blow. Instead of worrying about star jumps, porridge and cat cuddles, Ovo bosses should have been spending time on the issues that matter. Axing so many public-facing roles will have a huge impact on customers.
“Unions will be pushing managers to hold on to staff and retrain them. Those in at-risk roles must become part of the huge energy-efficiency drive that’s necessary if net-zero commitments are to be met.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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