Radical Roundup: 10 stories that have got buried – Week 3, June 2022

The news you didn’t see this week…

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1- New campaign launched to stop the sale of Channel 4

A new campaign designed to stop the privatisation of Channel 4 was launched this week. ‘Channel 4 ain’t broke’ is backed by a number of high-profile figures, including the Archbishop of York, Derry Girls star Siobhan McSweeney and Armando Lannucci. 25 production companies have also come together to support the initiative, adding their logos to a new campaign website, which went live on June 13.

As the ‘Channel 4 ain’t broke’ campaign points out, privatising the channel jeopardises the levelling up agenda, risking hitting regional jobs and causing businesses to go bust. The campaigners also refer to how Channel 4 doesn’t cost the taxpayer anything, and instead returned a profit of £74 million in 2021 and contributed £1 billion to the economy.

2- Plaid Cymru ‘betrayed’ over lack of representation in House of Lords says Dafydd Wigley

Lord Dafydd Wigley, ex-Plaid Cymru leader who is to retire from the House of Lords after 50 years in politics, has said the Welsh party has been “betrayed” by the UK government over a lack of representation in the House of Lords.

Having been the only Plaid Cymru representative elevated to the upper house; Lord Wigley said the situation had been very difficult for the party.

“Trying to run a one-person party in a 700-member chamber, with the whole range of policies, much of it relevant to Wales, is next to impossible, and the workload is going to be significant.

“There is a limit to how much one person can try to row such a boat,” he told Radio Cymru.

3- Care workers to strike over ‘cruel’ fire and rehire threat

Employees for a care provider in Bristol have voted for industrial action over fire and rehire plans labelled as ‘short-sighted and cruel’ by UNISON.

Workers at St Monica Trust say they were asked to agree to a reduction in wages or face dismissal. The employer denied it planned to fire and rehire staff, saying it wanted to work with employees to find the best way forward. UNISON says the care provider had targeted the “heftiest” cuts at the longest-serving and most experienced employees. 

4- Asda workers meet Rachel Reeves to discuss wage errors

On June 13, employees of Asda met shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves to discuss miscalculations in their wages. GMB revealed that more than 6 in 10 members they had surveyed had been paid incorrectly in their last paycheck.

The meeting took place in Harrogate at GMB’s annual Congress. The union’s survey of thousands of Asda workers showed 60% were having to borrow money from friends, 24% were relying on bank credit, over 7% were turning to high interest payday lenders and almost 20% said their credit had been affected. Over 65% of employees said the errors in wages had negatively impacted their mental health.

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said:  

“GMB members work hard to keep Asda stores and depots running. What they are asking for is remarkably simple and something that every worker should have; to be paid correctly and on time for the hours they have worked.  

“These are recurring problems at Asda and Asda understands they have a huge issue to resolve here.”

5- Rising worklessness among young men needs urgent action says think-tank

A report by the Resolution Foundation shows that while youth unemployment has fallen since the mid-1990s, it is rising among young men and urgent action is required.

The think-tank’s ‘Not Working’ report suggests that an increase in economic inactivity among young men is principally due to disability or long-term sickness, which accounts for three-quarters of the increase. Mental health issues are another a significant reason for economic inactivity and youth unemployment.

6- Manchester mayor calls for greater devolution for jobs

Andy Burnham is urging for more devolved powers to enhance skills in the region which would subsequently ‘unlock’ new job opportunities for locals.

Following the successful rollout of two other devolved budgets, the Adult Education Budget (AEB) and the Work and Health Programme, which saw Greater Manchester take control of adult skills and welfare support, the mayor has plans to take more control of the skills provision in the region.

Leaders in Greater Manchester also want to improve upskilling initiatives and careers advice for all ages in the region to facilitate local economic recovery.

7- Council workers in Scotland ballot on strike that could close schools

A ballot of 25 UNISON members in schools, nurseries, waste and recycling centres, has called for industrial action to increase a 2% pay offer. The proposed deal was described by Johanna Baxter, head of local government for UNISON, as a real-terms pay cut, which came “on the back of the Scottish government announcing cuts to public services that Margaret Thatcher would be proud of.”

A request by the union for Nicola Sturgeon to meet finance secretary Kate Forbes to discuss funding for local authorities was turned down. Baxter said the SNP’s failure to intervene to help reach a settlement was “a kick in the teeth to all local government workers.”

8- Portsmouth City Council celebrate Pride with prestigious Gold award

Portsmouth City Council has been awarded by a highly prestigious Gold award by Stonewall 2021 CYPS Awards, for its commitment to inclusivity among children and young people’s services (CYPS).

The sought-after status has only been received by three local authorities in the UK and recognises the council’s continued effort to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) children and young people in Portsmouth.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education and elected LGBT champion, recognised the importance of such a status: “It’s terrific news that the hard work on LGBTQ+ inclusivity in Portsmouth is leading the way nationally, and just in time for Pride.

“The award highlights the importance of working collaboratively across organisations in raising awareness and supporting young people in Portsmouth. But we know there is still work to be done and cannot rest on our laurels.”

9Doctors say extradition of Assange is ‘medically unacceptable’

A group of 300 doctors from 35 countries have warned the home secretary that approving the extradition of Julian Assange would be “medically and ethically unacceptable.”

Following the High Court’s ruling last month that the WikiLeaks’ founder could be removed, Priti Patel has until June 19 to decide whether to allow Assange to be extradited to the US to stand trial.

10- UNISON local government conference passes motion on private contractors’ pay

This week’s UNISON local government conference saw delegates unanimously vote to back a motion to campaign for pay rises for workers delivering outsourced services. This includes staff in social care, school meals and refuse collection. An amendment to include sick pay to the campaign was also voted through.

UNISON has long campaigned for pay awards in private contractors to match those in the private sector.

Introducing the motion, UNISON chair of the private contractor’s national forum Catharyn Richardson said: “If our pay doesn’t rise, we will.”

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

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