Archive for the ‘recession’ Tag

Vestas workers besieged by riot police

Vestas workers besieged by riot police

Workers staging a sit-in at the soon-to-close Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight are being starved out by police.

The police, many inside the factory and dressed in riot gear, have denied food to the workers who took over the factory offices last night, to protest about the closure of their factory. The police, operating with highly questionable legal authority, have surrounded the offices, preventing supporters from joining the sit-in, and preventing food from being brought to the protestors.

Around 20 workers at the Vestas Plant in Newport, on the Isle of Wight, occupied the top floor of offices in their factory to protest against its closure which will result in over 500 job losses.

Acting without an injunction, on private property, the police have repeatedly tried to break into the office where the protesting workers have barricaded themselves, and have threatened the workers with arrest for aggravated trespass, despite the fact that no damage has been done to the property where the protest is taking place. Police have also forcibly removed people from private property, another action that is of very questionable legality in the absence of a formal injunction.

The officer involved in the latter action was number 3606. The officer who appears to be in charge is 3115. It may help to let the local police authorities know that we are unhappy with their handling of the situation – in this case the email address to bombard is professional.standards@hampshire.pnn.police.uk

This heavy handed response is the latest in a long line of over-reactions to protest by various UK police forces.

For more updates on the Vestas occupation please visit Save Vestas.

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.

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.

Police fear far-right terror attack

Police fear far-right terror attack

Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command fears that right-wing extremists will stage a deadly terrorist attack in Britain to try to stoke racial tensions, the Guardian has learned.

Senior officers say it will be a “spectacular” that is designed to kill. The counter-terrorism unit has redeployed officers to increase its monitoring of the extreme right’s potential to stage attacks.

Commander Shaun Sawyer told a meeting of British Muslims concerned about the danger to their communities that police were responding to the growing threat.

Sawyer said of the far right: “I fear that they will have a spectacular… they will carry out an attack that will lead to a loss of life or injury to a community somewhere. They’re not choosy about which community.”

He said the aim would be to cause a “breakdown in community cohesion”.

Sawyer revealed that the Met commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, had asked the counter-terrorism command, SO15, to examine what the economic downturn would mean for far-right violence. The assessment concluded that the recession would increase the possibility of it.

Reoccupation of the Wyndford www.citystrolls.com

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

A group of housing activists have entered and occupied the house of Anne and Alan Keene. Both Labour MPs they were known as “Mr and Mrs Expenses” two years before the MP spending scandal broke; Mrs Keen, a health minister recently admitted making an expense claim for private hospital treatment for a member of her staff. At the centre of their scandal was their double mortgage claim, where they illegally used Parliamentary expenses to pay interest on the mortgages of both their homes – one of which has now been occupied by outraged locals along with activists from all backgrounds and nationalities.

It was revealed several days ago that they faced having their Hounslow constituency home repossessed by the council after leaving it empty for over a year. The £385,000 three-bedroom terrace was being renovated whilst they stayed in their central home London near Parliament which they billed the public £137,679 for. After an alleged falling out with the builders the house was left empty, but at a local residents meeting a member of the public alerted activists to the location of the house, and 2 days ago it was occupied.

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.

James Wong-McSweeney explains why he went on strike…

James Wong-McSweeney explains why he went on strike…

Having read the columns by Rachel Large and Kay Taylor, neither of whom supported the Tube strike, I thought you’d all like to hear from someone who did. I’m a member of the RMT and have been since I joined London Underground two-and-a-half years ago. You might think that the RMT is always on strike but we’re not – in fact, this was my first strike since I joined. I did it willingly and of my own free will. Nobody made me do it, let alone Bob Crow, whom I’ve never met.

Despite what Rachel believes, I did it because not one, or two, but seven injustices have happened – and 1,000 more are going to happen in London Underground and 3,000 more in Transport for London. That’s 4,000 job cuts, meaning 4,000 people out of work, no matter what it’s dressed up as. And all of this to pay back a debt that would never have happened if Gordon Brown hadn’t forced through the privatisation of the maintenance of London Underground.

That’s why I went on strike. Not to p*** off the travelling public but to defend my fellow union members. Why? So that when the day comes that I need help – and it will come – they will be there to defend me. Strength through unity: that’s what being in a union is all about.