Radical Roundup: 10 stories that have got buried – Week 4, May 2022

The news you didn't see this week...

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  1. Green Party oppose extending windfall tax to renewable energy sector

The Greens have said the sustainable energy sector should not be liable for a windfall tax. The party has also made it clear that fossil fuel companies must not avoid having to pay a windfall tax by ‘hiding behind the façade of clean energy investments.’

Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party said: said:

“Oil and gas corporations have been making eye-watering profits, not renewable energy companies, and neither Shell nor BP paid any tax at all last year. It is the fossil fuel giants that should face a dirty profits tax, based on the billions raked in from fossil fuels over the last year, irrespective of their investment plans.”

2. GMB says a further energy price cap rise will make cost-of-living crisis a catastrophe

Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley has told MPs the regulator is expecting an energy price cap in October in the ‘region of £2,800.’

GMB Union has responded saying that the price cap rise predicted by Brearley would turn the cost-of-living crisis into a catastrophe.

The union has criticised the prime minister and chancellor for doing nothing and being “hamstrung by their own squabbles.”

On this week’s price cap increase projection, Gary Smith, GMB General Secretary, said: 

“If Jonathon Brearley is right, this whopping increase in the energy price cap will turn a cost-of-living crisis into a catastrophe for low paid workers. 

“Millions of carers, school staff, NHS employees, retail workers, and more will be plunged into fuel poverty. 

“Meanwhile the Chancellor and Prime Minister do nothing – hamstrung by their own squabbles. 

“At exactly the time we need firm leadership and action, this administration is asleep at the wheel.” 

3. SNP MP to challenge UK government over its refusal to release secret independence polling

Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, has been fighting to have information about secret independence polling released for years. The documents relate to Westminster’s public polling attitudes towards Scottish independence and the union. He previously won an Information Commissioner ruling to have the documents made public.

However, the UK government has refused to hand them over and now Sheppard is taking the government to court in a bid to obtain the information.

Sheppard originally requested the information through a Freedom of Information request in 2019. It was however rejected by Whitehall. The Cabinet Office has subsequently appealed the ruling to hand over the data twice. The latest court appearance is the first in-person hearing on the case. 

4. Climate campaigners urge Gove to reject Cumbrian coal mine

A decision on whether planning permission is granted for a controversial new coal mine in Cumbria is expected to be announced by the government in forthcoming weeks. Environmental campaigners are urging Michael Gove, who is expected to make the decision before July 7, to put green energy transformation at the heart of Cumbria.

Friends of the Earth are opposing the application for planning permission for the site, along with local campaign group SLACC (South Lakes Against Climate Change).

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner, Tony Bosworth, said:

“The evidence for rejecting this mine is overwhelming. It would increase carbon emissions, its market is already starting to decline, and it won’t replace Russian coal imports. We need a green economy and the new jobs this brings, and areas like West Cumbria must be at the heart of this.”

5. Usdaw labels Ofgem’s £2,800 price cap in October as ‘spine chilling’

Following Ofgem’s price cap announcement, Usdaw is again calling on the government to announce an emergency budget, labelling the forecast rise in the autumn as ‘spine chilling.’ The union is calling for a windfall tax on the huge profits of North Sea oil and gas producers, a reduction in VAT from 20% to 17.5%, an increase to all social security payments, and an urgent and fundamental overhaul of Universal Credit.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “It is absolutely spine chilling that the energy price cap is expected to more than double in a little over six months and that could plunge millions of households into fuel poverty. Yet the government continues its ‘wait and see’ policy on whether they are going to help, while so many working people are struggling to make ends meet.”

6. Two Palestine Action activists denied bail

Two Palestine Action activists will remain in prison after being denied bail at a hearing. The campaigners are part of a group of nine protesters who occupied and dismantled the headquarters of Elbit Systems in Bristol, Israel’s largest arms company.

An ongoing campaign is underway for the activists’ release by Palestine Action, which is calling for greater resistance in the face of repression and is urging supporters to join the campaign to ‘Shut Elbit Down.’

7. Further pay strikes to be held at Carlisle factory

Further strikes over pay at the Crown Bevcan factory in Carlisle are to take place in June. Around 200 workers have already taken two days of strike action over a 3% pay offer and will strike for another nine days next month.

Unite the Union have said the strikes will hit summer supplies of cans of Coca Cola, Heineken, Brewdog, Magners and Bulmers.

Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Crown Bevcan in Carlisle is part of a hugely profitable business empire. It can easily afford to pay workers a wage that will help combat this punishing living costs crisis. Yet once again, business puts its greed ahead of the workers’ needs, rewarding shareholders while telling workers to take a pay cut. This is just not acceptable to Unite.”

8. MindOut to host series of wellbeing workshops and events over summer

MindOut, the mental health service run by and for LGBTQ communities, is to host a series of online and in-person workshops and social events over the summer. Workshops will focus on subjects like coming out, supporting a suicidal friend, changes and resilience, and intrusive thoughts.

9. TUC criticises government plans to introduce laws requiring minimum staff to work during strikes

Ministers are reported to be looking at drawing up laws which would mean industrial strikes are illegal unless a minimum number of staff work during the action. The TUC has condemned the plans, with general secretary Frances O’Grady saying:

“Ministers have spectacularly failed to deal with the cost-of-living crisis. Now they are trying to distract from their failure by picking a fight with unions. “The right to strike is crucial in a free society. 

“We will fight these unfair and unworkable proposals to undermine unions and undermine the right to strike. And we will win.” 

10. UNISON urges Sajid Javid to put NHS pay right to stop staff quitting

UNISON has written to the health secretary calling for urgent action on pay to help stop NHS workers leaving in their droves as they face a ‘cost-of-living apocalypse.’

The union warns that the NHS workforce is in crisis and large numbers of employees leaving will result in “longer ambulance queues outside hospitals, ever-increasing waiting lists and people who are in desperate need of treatment getting sicker.”

The letter appeals for fair pay for health workers for every hour they work. An online version has been signed by more than 35,000 health staff and members of the public.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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