Voices on the Left: 5 blogs from the left you need to read this week

A roundup of progressive news...

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1.Top European Airlines Have Spent £4bn on Russian Jet Fuel Since Crimea Invasion-DeSmog

DeSmog reports on how since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, European airlines have continued buying jet fuel worth billions of pounds from Russia.

The site highlights: ‘Last year, British Airways owner IAG spent an estimated £13.4 million on Russian-sourced kerosene, according to a new analysis of Europe’s ten largest airline companies.

“IAG – which also owns Spanish and Irish carriers Iberia and Aer Lingus – used 586 barrels of Russian jet fuel per day in 2021, spending the equivalent of £36,903 per day.”

In total, the ten airline companies spent an estimated £4.1 billion on Russian jet fuel since Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. This includes £850 million in 2019 alone, before sales dropped during the Covid pandemic.

Svitlana Romanko, coordinator of Stand With Ukraine, which campaigns against Russian fossil fuel imports to Europe, said: “The research has made clear that as of the end of 2021, British Airways, Scandinavian Airlines and other air flight providers were still buying aviation fuel from Russia.”

She called on airlines to disclose where they are currently sourcing their jet fuel, adding: “No one should buy Russian oil, gas and coal and feed Putin’s war machine, otherwise the whole world will face a bleak, dictatorial future devoid of freedom, security and choice.”

2. Energy Giants Pay £172 Million as a Result of Corporate Violations in Last 12 Years-Byline Times

Byline Times reveals that the UK’s biggest energy providers have paid more than £172 million as a result of regulatory breaches since 2010.

It comes as millions struggle to make ends meet during the cost of living crisis, with British Gas paying the largest penalties at £36 million. It was penalised last year, alongside 17 other suppliers, for over-charging customers who switched to another supplier or tariff.

‘E.ON and Npower, the latter now owned by the former, have each paid £31 million over this time period, Scottish Power has been penalised to the tune of £30.35 million, SSE has paid £21.6 million, and OVO – which bought SSE’s retail arm in 2020 – has paid £13.6 million.’

3. Revealed: UK’s COVID heroes among hardest hit by cost of living crisis-openDemocracy

Among the hardest hit by the cost of living crisis are the very workers who were hailed as heroes during the pandemic, a damning piece by openDemocracy reports.

The plight of cleaners, carers, NHS workers and transport workers is highlighted in the piece, with all of them struggling as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

One of the examples used is that of Ivan, who works for Mitie, one of the UK’s biggest outsourcing companies, and cleans Vodafone’s global headquarters, which take up five floors of a glossy Paddington high-rise.

While Vodafone’s staff were sent home when COVID cases were peaking, Mitie insisted Ivan and his colleagues continue cleaning, rather than placing them on furlough.

“We were made to come in every day to deep clean an already spotless office,” Ivan recalls. “Inevitably, I got sick and so did all of my co-workers.”

In June, Mitie announced profits of £167m, boosted by £429m of government COVID contracts in its annual results. But Ivan says his pay hasn’t kept up – Mitie agreed to a small rise only after a campaign led by his union, the IWGB. With inflation now reaching 10% and rents rising by 13% in London since last year, he’s worried about providing for his daughter.

4. Why London Bus Drivers Have Joined the Strike Wave-Tribune

Francesca Newton writes for Tribune Magazine about why London bus drivers have joined the strike wave, after many were hit with a pay cut, alongside tube and train staff.

Last week 1,600 bus drivers walked out over low pay and poor conditions, following a measly pay offer of 3.6 percent this year, and 4.2 percent next year, against inflation already in the double digits and expected to go higher.

Francesca highlights how London’s bus drivers have seen some of the worst consequences of cuts to networks and workers’ conditions in recent years. Bus drivers were also some of the hardest hit during the pandemic, with London’s bus drivers three times more likely to die from the disease than those in other occupations. In total, the city lost a devastating seventy-five drivers.

One bus driver says: “We’ll carry on striking until we get what we want—and deserve.”

5. Labour: Reverse Tory “failure” by making insulating homes a “national mission”-LabourList

Labour has called on the government to make it a national mission to insulate 19 million homes in a bid to reduce energy bills and make the UK more energy independent, LabourList reports.

Calling on Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to adopt Labour’s ‘warm homes plan’, set out by Labour last year, Ed Miliband told the leadership candidates that “too many working people and pensioners live in draughty, cold homes with high heating costs”.

“Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss bear responsibility for the Conservatives failures on this vital national agenda. Unless they change course and adopt Labour’s plan, pensioners will go cold, bills will stay high, and we will have to import more gas from Putin and his cronies,” the Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary said.

“If the Conservatives were serious about cutting energy bills, they could start right now, by delivering the warm homes plan that Labour has called for. A proper national mission would save 19 million families over £1,000 on their bills as well as creating good construction jobs, and boosting our energy security.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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