Archive for the ‘economics’ Tag

UK unemployment hits 14-year high of 2.38m

UK unemployment hits 14-year high of 2.38m

Almost a million young people are out of work after the biggest increase in unemployment since Labour came to power.

Youth unemployment has soared to a 16-year high, with 17.3 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 out of work — up from 15 per cent in February. The Prince’s Trust said that a young person was losing a job almost every minute over the past three months.

Almost a third of those aged between 16 and 17 who left school after GCSEs are also out of work, amid fears that unemployment among the young is set to rise over the summer as a new generation of school leavers and graduates struggles to find work.

Unemployment increased by a record 281,000 between March and May, bringing the total to 2.38 million — the highest since October 1995.

Yesterday’s figures also revealed that the number of long-term unemployed — those out of work for more than a year — has risen by 46,000 to an 11-year high of 528,000, with almost half that total having been jobless for two years.

Advertisements

This lost generation has been betrayed by its elders

This lost generation has been betrayed by its elders

If you want the City to know your despair, there is no better place to declare it than on the roof garden of the Coq d’Argent. The designers emphasised the Square Mile’s historic function of allowing old money and new to meet and breed by laying out a lawn dotted with box hedges and giant stone balls that look as if they have come from the gateposts of a country estate.

Last Sunday, just before his 25th birthday, Anjool Malde, a stockbroker and organiser of “alpha parties” for his young and wealthy colleagues, walked past the Bank of England and took the private lift to the plutocratic playground. He ignored the offers of caviar, bought himself a glass of champagne, went to the edge and jumped. The last thing he saw was the offices of the financiers and regulators who destroyed Britain’s prosperity.

Only rarely can a journalist get away with speculating as to why a man committed suicide. An impenetrable darkness separates those who kill themselves from those who face identical burdens but carry on fighting. Nevertheless, we know that Deutsche Bank had sacked three of Malde’s close colleagues, and that personnel looked as if it wanted to fire him for a piffling crime against corporate correctness. It seems probable that, like hundreds of thousands of others, his road to perdition began with an email from some swine in human resources. More strikingly, Malde was a child of the long bubble, and could not cope with the notion that he must stop “living the dream”, as he called it.

His fatalism is everywhere. All the talk of green shoots misses the point that we are facing a social catastrophe that many in the British establishment lack the nerve to fight or even recognise.

Total and unions reach deal on oil refinery wildcats

Total and unions reach deal on oil refinery wildcats

Early reports indicate a deal to end the bitter jobs dispute at the Total-run Lindsey oil refinery, which has led to unofficial walkouts by thousands of workers across the country.

The agreement follows talks between union leaders and employers of contract staff at the North Lincolnshire site. Unions said the deal involved the reinstatement of 647 workers sacked for taking unofficial strike action and would be put to the workers on Monday.

Total said it was pleased that “a positive conclusion” had been reached. In a statement on Friday, a spokesman for the company said:
Quote:

“Total is pleased that the contract companies and the unions were able to reach a positive conclusion at talks last night.

“We expect this means that the contractors will be able to get back to work as soon as possible and get the project completed on time and with no further disruption or additional costs.”

The Lindsey workers went on strike on 11 June after a sub-contractor cut 51 jobs. It is thought those people will also be offered the chance to return to work.

The dispute sparked wildcat sympathy walkouts involving thousands of workers at power stations and oil and gas facilities across the country.

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

A revolution is taking place in industrial relations, the Confederation of British Industry claims, courtesy of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. A new “solidarity of employers and their employees” has taken hold, John Cridland, the CBI’s deputy director-general enthused this week, as managements and staff roll up their sleeves to take the “difficult decisions” needed to survive the slump.

If so, news of the new understanding clearly hasn’t reached Lincolnshire, where hundreds of engineering ­construction workers at the Lindsey oil refinery burned dismissal notices on Monday after they were sacked for going on strike – and thousands walked out in sympathy across the energy industry for the third time in five months.

The latest dispute began nearly a fortnight ago, when a subcontractor for Total, which owns the refinery, made 51 workers redundant while another contractor was hiring 61 staff on the same project. After hundreds stopped work in protest and unofficial strikes spread by text and flying pickets across Britain, 647 workers were summarily sacked on Thursday night.

By any reckoning, this was surely a provocative and self-defeating move. Not only had the same workforce already demonstrated its capacity to shut down the site – and significant sections of the wider industry – if it believed agreements were being undercut. But the layoffs were in direct violation of a deal to settle an earlier dispute. Perhaps the idea was finally to bring to heel what one manager described as an “unruly workforce”. But after point-blank refusals to negotiate until the workers had applied for their jobs back, the contractors blinked once again and were back in talks on Tuesday, now due to be resumed .

This was, after all, the same group of workers whose unofficial strikes stopped refineries and power stations all over the country in February after a Sicilian contractor shipped in a non-union, and apparently less skilled, Italian and Portuguese workforce. That first Lindsey walkout was portrayed as anti-foreigner because of “British jobs for British workers” placards held by some strikers, as to a lesser extent was another strike in May over a refusal to take on locally based labour at ExxonMobil’s South Hook terminal in Wales.

In fact, both walkouts were clearly aimed at halting the exploitation of EU directives and European court ­judgments to undermine the terms and conditions of all workers in the industry, British and migrant alike – which is why hundreds of Polish workers joined the stoppages. And, crucially, they were successful. In a profitable and highly contractualised industry, a tightly knit workforce has turned a fragmentation designed to benefit employers to their own advantage.

Now, as the unions prepare to ballot 30,000 workers to turn the wildcat walkouts into an official strike, they look set to prevail again – just as Grangemouth oil refinery workers and Shell tanker drivers did last year in battles over pension rights and pay. Success seems to be catching.

Energy wildcat strikes spread across UK

Energy wildcat strikes spread across UK

The oil refinery wildcat strike over redundancies has escalated as workers from several power stations and oil terminals across the UK took unofficial industrial action.

The dispute flared a week ago at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire when a contractor laid off 51 workers while another employer on the site was hiring staff.

Around 1,200 contract workers at the terminal, which is owned by Total, have been taking unofficial action all week as efforts were made to convene talks.

Sources said today that workers at several other sites across the country joined the industrial action, hitting power stations at Drax and Eggborough in Yorkshire, Ratcliffe and West Burton in Nottinghamshire, Fiddlers Ferry in Cheshire and Aberthaw in South Wales.

Contractors at a BP refinery near Hull also joined the strike action.

Defeated Visteon offers former workers improved redundancy package

Defeated Visteon offers former workers improved redundancy package

After more than 30 days of protests across the country, the automotive parts company Visteon has finally cracked and offered its former workers what they deem to be an adequate redundancy package.

Nearly 600 jobs were lost at Visteon’s plants in Enfield, Belfast and Basildon just over a month ago, with staff being given less than an hour’s notice. The workers say they were given guarantees on pay and conditions when the company was spun out of Ford nine years ago.

Today Unite said a renewed deal, which goes beyond the Ford redundancy terms, had been accepted unanimously by the union’s convenors and shop stewards. The proposed settlement deal will see a considerable lift in the redundancy package offered to workers with long service and who previously worked for Ford.

Legalisation of drugs could save UK £14bn, says study

Legalisation of drugs could save UK £14bn, says study

The regulated legalisation of drugs would have major benefits for taxpayers, victims of crime, local communities and the criminal justice system, according to the first comprehensive comparison between the cost-effectiveness of legalisation and prohibition. The authors of the report, which is due to be published today, suggest that a legalised, regulated market could save the country around £14bn.

For many years the government has been under pressure to conduct an objective cost-benefit analysis of the current drugs policy, but has failed to do so despite calls from MPs. Now the drugs reform charity, Transform, has commissioned its own report, examining all aspects of prohibition from the costs of policing and investigating drugs users and dealers to processing them through the courts and their eventual incarceration.

As well as such savings is the likely taxation revenue in a regulated market. However, there are also the potential costs of increased drug treatment, education and public information campaigns about the risks and dangers of drugs, similar to those for tobacco and alcohol, and the costs of running a regulated system.

Workers occupy Visteon Ford car plant in Enfield, North London

Workers at a car parts manufacturing plant in Enfield, North London, have occupied their workplace. The occupation began following news that 600 workers were to lose their jobs at plants in North London, Essex and Belfast.

Photos of the Enfield occupation can be found here, while ongoing coverage is available from libcom.org.

Occupiers have issued a leaflet explaining their action and issuing demands:

We have occupied our factory Ford Visteon workers have occupied our factory since Wednesday 1st April. The previous day in a meeting lasting just 6 minutes we were told that the European company, with plants in Belfast, Basildon and Ponders End, Enfield, was going into administration and that we were to leave – without our wages being paid. Personal possessions could be collected the next day, but at 10 o’clock the factory was locked closed. Workers had already occupied the Belfast factory.

We demand what is due to us The 200 workers who are part of the Ford subsidiary want the same conditions they have always had via “mirror contracts” with the parent company. Up to now they don’t know when they will get wages due, and their pensions are to be controlled by the government Pensions Protection Fund. This means a maximum of £9,000 payout, and much reduced conditions! Some of the women and men have 40 yrs service!

The whole situation has been created for news management – announce it during the G20 and it will get buried in the media. And this is largely what’s happened. The move is to save Visteon USA money at our expense.

But unexpectedly Unite union members have taken determined action that bosses thought they had eliminated years ago.

The workers want their existing terms respected. Ford Visteon can’t be allowed to avoid their responsibility. So far they have tried legal intimidation but have even managed to mess this up.

As well as proper redundancy payments, some are suggesting that the skills of the workers who can make anything in plastic, should be used to make increasingly needed parts for green products – bike and trailer parts, solar panels, turbines, etc. Government investment in this rather than throwing money at bankers could be profitable & save jobs in the long term.

On Saturday, supporters converged for a solidarity protest with the occupiers. Today the leader of the union will be demanded to appear in court, while in Belfast, the sit-in continues and messages of support come in from around the UK and further afield. An interview with some of the occupiers and workers can be found here.

What I Saw: Protestors tell of G20 police violence

This week saw protests around the G20 summit being held in London. While world leaders met and talked, protests took place in the City of London, one of the biggest financial centres in the world.

During the protests, clashes took place between police and protestors. First hand reports are being collated at G20 Police: What I Saw, while coverage of the protests themselves can be found at the Indymedia feature on the G20.

Hundreds of French workers take bosses hostage

Hundreds of French workers take bosses hostage

PARIS, France (CNN) — Hundreds of French workers, angry about proposed layoffs at a Caterpillar factory, were holding executives of the company hostage Tuesday, a spokesman for the workers said.

It is at least the third time this month that French workers threatened with cutbacks have blockaded managers in their offices to demand negotiations. Executives were released unharmed in both previous situations.

The latest incident started Tuesday morning at the office of the construction equipment company in the southeastern city of Grenoble.

The workers were angry that Caterpillar had proposed cutting more than 700 jobs and would not negotiate, said Nicolas Benoit, a spokesman for the workers’ union.

They did not want to harm the Caterpillar executives, Benoit told CNN.

One hostage was released Tuesday evening leaving workers with four captives inside the Caterpillar building.

The released man was a human resources director identified only as Mr. Petit, because he has heart problems, union representative Bernard Patrick told CNN. Petit had a heart attack a few weeks ago, Patrick said.

The four others still being held are Nicolas Polutnik, the head of operations; two other executives; and Petit’s personal assistant, he said.

About 500 employees were also outside the building protesting.

A top Caterpillar executive called the hostage-taking unhelpful.