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1.Unite vows to fight threat to axe 700 Royal Mail manager jobs
Unite the union has pledged to fight plans by the Royal Mail to axe 700 managerial jobs, after a £400 million giveaway to key shareholders.
Unite said its members were being made the scapegoat for the bosses’ failure to maintain deliveries during the two-year old pandemic which has led to the possibility of fines from the regulator Ofcom.
The union, which represents thousands of Royal Mail managers, said a restructuring announcement could impact up to 900 of its members overall in the delivery division and the threat of an industrial action ballot was now on the cards.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Coming on top of a record turn-around in the company’s fortunes, which resulted in the board handing over a £400 million giveaway to certain shareholders, this is cold comfort for those long months when postal employees were being badly hit by coronavirus at its worst.
“Unite will be giving maximum support to our members in fighting these unjust job cuts and this includes the possibility of an industrial action ballot. Now is the time for the top executives to reconsider their proposals.”
2. Barrow faces bin strike as GMB ballots members over pay snub
Barrow faces a bin strike after GMB Union began balloting members for industrial action.
More than 20 refuse collectors working for FCC Environment will vote on whether to walk out. The ballot closes on 7 February. If the strike goes ahead, more than 33,000 households in Barrow could be affected.
Michael Hall, GMB Organiser, said: “Despite inflation running above seven per cent, all Barrow’s refuse collectors are asking for is a three per cent pay rise, so they can keep their heads above water.
“Bosses can’t even give them that.
“The last thing they want to do is inconvenience the people of Barrow by not emptying their bins, but FCC have backed them into a corner.
“GMB urges management to negotiate and properly value what these keyworkers do, before they are left with no choice but to go out on strike.”
3. Public sector key workers face another year of “wages gloom”, TUC warns
Key workers in the public sector face another year of “wages gloom” unless the government acts swiftly, the TUC has warned today.
New analysis published by the union body shows that median pay in the public sector fell by 2.3 per cent in real terms in November – the equivalent of £60 a month.
However, the squeeze on wage packets is set to get worse with inflation forecast to hit 6 per cent this year. The TUC is calling on the government to prioritise key worker pay in 2022.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Hard work should pay for everyone.
“But millions of key workers – on the frontline of the pandemic – face another year of wages gloom. That is not right.
“The government must stop burying its head and get pay rising across the economy. Ministers cannot abandon families during this cost-of-living crisis.
“Our public service workers need a decent pay rise – especially after more than a decade of lost pay.”
4. Tory MSP must apologise for ‘disgraceful’ food bank comments
The SNP has called on a Tory MSP to apologise for her “disgraceful” remarks about families in Scotland who use foodbanks.
Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton suggested that families who are forced to turn to foodbanks are “less well-educated” when it comes to cooking and preparing meals.
The Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP made the remarks during a session of the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee. She was asked to clarify her comments by SNP committee member Alasdair Allan – but chose to double down on her “completely out of touch” comments.
Commenting, SNP MSP Alasdair Allan said: “Rachael Hamilton’s comments were utterly disgraceful and an insult to thousands of families across Scotland who do everything they can to put food on to the table every day.
“People relying on foodbanks often find innovative ways to make meals go further and it is completely inappropriate for a Tory MSP to suggest that families in poverty are ‘less well-educated’ in how to cook and prepare food.”
5.Welsh ambulance waiting times unacceptable and dangerous
Responding to the latest ambulance response times figures, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated ambulance waiting times are unacceptable and dangerous and stated that addressing the issue must be at the forefront of the Welsh Government’s priorities. According to the figures, just 51% of red calls are being met within their 8-minute target time.
Commenting, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated: “These figures are a tragedy. Targets aren’t even close to being met and ambulance response times have deteriorated further. We all understand the severe pressure the pandemic has placed on NHS, but these problems are not new.
“If we are to reduce pressures on our ambulance services and A&Es, we must invest more in community healthcare and GPs. If people could get a GP appointment in reasonable time there would be far less pressure on emergency services.”
6. Takeover of London GP practices by private US healthcare company set for landmark judicial review on 1 February
The takeover of GP practices in London by US health insurance giant Centene Corporation will be subject of a landmark judicial review on 1 and 2 February after tens of thousands of pounds was raised by the public to fund the case, Unite the union has said.
Campaigners say that the review will focus on the lack of consultation with patients, following the takeover early in 2021 by Centene’s UK subsidiary Operose Health of the privately-owned AT Medics set up in 2004 by six NHS GPs and which runs 37 GP practices across London.
Campaign organisations, including Unite, Keep Our NHS Public, 999 Call for the NHS and We Own It, spearheaded the campaign which saw the public donate generously so that the judicial review got the go-ahead last October.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a landmark case in the fight against the accelerating pace of privatisation of the NHS in England. Unite, with 100,000 members in the health service, fully supports the judicial review. We will not allow our GP services to be hived off to profit-hungry American private healthcare companies.”
7. UK voters value ‘honesty’ most in political leaders
The UK public want politicians who are honest, have integrity, and operate within the rules, over and above delivering outcomes, a new report by the UCL Constitution Unit finds.
Published on Tuesday, What Kind of Democracy Do People Want? details the response of 6,500 people, representative of the voting age population across the whole of the UK, who were surveyed in July 2021.
The report, which is the most in-depth to date in terms of asking people about what roles institutions should play, shows that UK voters care about how those in power are held to account and that there is notably higher support for judicial interventions than is often supposed.
It reveals that people do not want power concentrated in the hands of a few but would like it shared among parliament, judges, regulators, civil servants, and the public.
When asked to ‘imagine that a future Prime Minister has to choose between acting honestly and delivering the policy that most people want’, 71% chose honesty and only 16% delivery. When asked about a range of characteristics that politicians should have, ‘being honest’ came top, followed by ‘owning up when they make mistakes’. ‘Getting things done’ and ‘being inspiring’ were far behind.
8. “Unmanageable” social work caseloads putting vulnerable people at risk
Almost two-thirds 58% of social workers say their caseloads are unmanageable, according research for Social Workers Union.
With almost all social workers (97%) saying that the vulnerable would be better protected if case loads were lighter, the Union has called for urgent action to better support front-line social workers.
In the last 18 months almost half (48%) of social workers have raised concerns about cases where they don’t believe appropriate action was taken. Of these, 29% have highlighted more than 5 cases in that time.
John McGowan, General Secretary of the Social Workers Union, commented: “This recent member survey has highlighted what the reality of being a social worker in 2022 is and reflects the pressures our members are presently under.
“It is a great concern that half of social workers are considering leaving the profession due to the pressures of the work and the impact the work is having on their mental health.”
9. Security guards at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), walk out for six weeks
Security guards at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), will walk out for six weeks in their ongoing fight for equality with NHS workers on 2 February 2022.
The strike will be one of the longest security guard walkouts in NHS history.
Security guards at GOSH are denied the same annual leave, sick leave, and career progression as other NHS workers.
“GOSH is made up of departments of families. And in a family circle, even when one member of the family feels he’s been left behind, or he’s not been treated fairly, there’s always going to be a reaction,” said Samuel Awittor, security guard at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
10. Government must ensure pay in key services is high enough to halt staff exodus, says UNISON
Commenting on analysis from the TUC that shows key public services workers face another year of “wages gloom” without government action, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Health, council, care, school and police staff have been at the heart of the pandemic. Those same essential workers are being hit hard as living costs soar.
“Frontline services, already struggling with a crushing number of vacancies, are losing employees at alarming rates.
“Unless ministers ensure pay is high enough to halt the exodus, the public will lose much-needed services.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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