Tag Archives: Unite

Our Welfare State

28 Mar

Today, Unite the union has launched a new website to tell the truth about our welfare state, attacking the key myths that have been used to promote cuts in welfare. #OurWelfareWorks

Society’s safety net has been much-maligned by the Coalition government. ‘Open many newspapers or listen to some politicians speak and you’d think that the only people who received benefits were cheating the system or living a luxury lifestyle. This just isn’t the reality,’ and the campaign sets out a few home truths about benefits:

  • A tiny 3% of the welfare spending goes on benefits to unemployed people, but 42% is spent on the elderly and 21% spent on working families.
  • If you were in a couple with two kids and lost your job (like the 100′s of people from Jessops) you would receive £111.45 a week in Job Seekers Allowance, out of this you’d have to pay for food, heating, water, clothes, travel etc…
  • A single person just laid off, from somewhere like HMV, will only have £71 a week to live on.
  • People talk a lot about welfare fraud, but 0.7% of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently……but at the same time, up to 24% (£11.77bn) of benefits go unclaimed.
  • Experts also reckon that the gap between what the government thinks it should receive in tax, versus what it actually gets (the Tax Gap) could be as high as £120 billion.

The launch of the site coincides with the start of a new, hard-hitting advertising campaign attacking government welfare cuts, using two digital ad vans. Supplemented by national online advertising, the billboards will tour London and starkly contrast cuts to welfare and tax credits which will leave an estimated 11.5 million households worse off from 1 April, made even worse by the government’s insulting £100,000 tax give away to millionaires.

Attacking those who rely on welfare, and using divisive language like ‘strivers and skivers’ serves only to pit people against each other, and wear away the reasons that the welfare state was established in the first place. ‘Generosity, mutual support and cooperation’ were the watch words of the post-war era, leading to a determination to build a better society for all. This community spirit led to the creation of the NHS and our welfare state. The current government is not only implementing devastating cuts across all public services, but is attacking long-accepted arguments that society should care for its vulnerable, and those who may have fallen upon tough times.

Of course there are things that can be improved upon, and of course there are people who take advantage, albeit a tiny number. But this is the case for a number of institutions in society that can be exploited but we all agree must exist – a classic example being the law against rape and sexual assault. There are a tiny number of people who might make false accusations of rape or sexual assault, but nobody argues that this therefore means we should abolish the laws against these crimes.

It is great to see that someone is finally making the arguments for the welfare system. If you agree that #ourwelfareworks, please share this campaign with everyone you know. It’s time we started sticking up for a decent and caring society.

Why we support the London bus strike

22 Jun

by Amy Jackson


Today, tubes and trains across London are cramming in yet more passengers, cycle lanes are cluttered and pavements are crowded with more pedestrians than usual, as bus users are forced to find alternative ways to get to work. Only 3 bus companies are operational, as London bus workers in seventeen bus companies go out on strike.

The industrial action has gone ahead despite attempts to block it by a high court injunction, which the drivers’ union, Unite, branded an ‘affront to democracy.’

As some who lives in London, I am all too aware of the chaos that transport strikes bring. They make travelling in London even more stressful than usual, and in turn, Londoners even more grumpy than they normally are. But, for all the inconvenience, the strike is worth it. Here’s why:

  • It is estimated that six million people will be visiting London for the Games. This will put huge pressure on the transport system and it is perfectly reasonable that transport workers are rewarded for fairly for their efforts.
  • Tube and train drivers have already been promised at least a £500 bonus for the Olympics, why should bus drivers be left out?
  • This strike is a last resort. TfL and the bus companies refused to even meet with bus drivers until the 11th hour, despite repeated requests for meetings from Unite and the workforce.
  • Billions of pounds have been spent on the Olympics and personal fortunes have been made out of lucrative contracts. It is unfair that bus drivers, crucial to the success of the Games, are denied a mere £17.24 extra a day.
  •  The top 7 executives at TfL will be awarded an £80,000 bonus each after the Olympic Games, and yet they have condemned bus drivers for asking for £500 – less than one per cent of their huge bonuses.
  •  Bus drivers are not expecting the bonus for ‘free’. A visit to any tube station will show you that Londoners are being encouraged to walk and cycle to work as the strain on the transport system will be so great. London already copes with a huge number of visitors each day, but the numbers flocking to the city for the Games are unprecedented. TfL are expecting at least 800,000 extra people to be using buses.
  • Of the 21,000 drivers balloted , 97% of them backed industrial action. This is workers demonstrating their right to withdraw labour, and despite the transport problems caused,  the right to strike is fundamental to democracy and should be respected.
  • The bus operators have collectively made over £2 billion in profits according to their latest annual accounts. Unite’s regional secretary for London, Peter Kavanagh said,  “Despite the huge profits bus operators have given their workers three years of below inflation pay increases or pay freezes. If the operators shirk their responsibilities now they will sow the seeds of massive anger and frustration across the bus network inevitably leading to strife and industrial action during and way beyond the Olympic Games.”


Of course, people travelling daily in London tend not to have the collective patience of a saint, and this dispute needs to be resolved. The strike should act as a wake up call to the bus companies and TfL to get round the table and negotiate meaningfully about rewarding bus workers for their indispensable role in the Olympics. After all, it’s only fair.





The Great Jubilee Job Robbery and Pay-Dent

12 Jun

by Hannah Blythyn

The media and Twitter sphere has quite rightly been aghast at the shameful treatment of the stewards ‘working’ on the Jubilee pageant last weekend and Zoe Williams’ article asserting that it showed modern Britain at its worst was spot on.


Alas, they weren’t the only workers getting a raw deal as much of the country was munching on their soggy Jubilee sandwiches. Spare a though for the thousands of NHS workers who, a week ago today were doing what they do day in day to deliver the vital services our communities depend upon – but without the recognition that they were working an extra bank holiday.


Despite the UK government decreeing that last Tuesday was also a bank holiday more than one hundred NHS employers in the UK treated Tuesday’s Diamond Jubilee as a normal working day, denying hard-working staff the normal bank holiday pay and time off in lieu arrangements.


Unite reps managed to pull together a dossier of shame of a total of 113 employers which weren’t paying the UK wide nationally agreed Agenda for Change rates nor recognising the time off in lieu arrangements. Union reps highlighted how NHS workers were being hit by increased childcare costs and needed the extra pay to cover these costs.


So whilst many others were making the most of the extra day off public sector workers were bearing the brunt once again.


For a full list of the employers ‘named and shamed’ by Unite click here


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