Thursday, May 17, 2007

What next?

In the absence of a leadership contest in the Labour Party how do we try to get influence for the trade unions?

I doubt that making supporting nominations for Gordon Brown will do us much good. Is it true that this is what the TGWU section of UNITE have decided to do? What's the point?

One thing we can do is assess the influence we currently have. So let's have a look at the Government's performance on the promises it has made to us.

Here, from the TULO website is a list of 91 promises that form part of the “Warwick Agreement” between the Labour Party and the trade unions. There are 91 of these promises and I shall look at each of them in turn over the next (shall we say) 91 days – or maybe a few more since I don’t get to blog every day (or fewer if I get carried away).

I remember Gordon Brown telling the TUC in 2005 that the Government would implement the Warwick Agreement over the coming year, so we should have seen all these promises kept by now…

As a rank and file trade unionist I can comment on the real meaning of some of these promises and what has been done – but for others I shall have to do some work to find out what is going on. Any Scottish readers who can assist with an assessment of the penultimate promise on the list below please do!

I recollect that after the Agreement our General Secretary told the National Executive Council (NEC) that named national officers were assigned to chase up each of these promises, so perhaps I’ll cheat and ask for an update on all 91 items from UNISON officials…

And here are the promises...

Extending two-tier workforce protection in Local Govt across the public services, in consultation with the social partners
Consult with key stakeholders to monitor PFI, inc. future financial implications
Reform of local authority PFI credits to ensure equality of funding between PFI and conventional procurement
Confirmation that PFI does not require transfer of staff
NHS Choice and Capacity - the vast bulk of NHS services will remain directly provided
Review of NHS cleaning contracts on test of cleanliness
Network Rail to oversee all rail engineering work; national rail card
New rules for Quality bus contracts – giving greater public accountability. PTEs to have more control over fares. Crossrail Bill
Agreement to tackle unequal pay in local government inc. gender segregation
Public Services Forum will engage with unions on workforce development
Commitment on no extension of school selection by ability; affirm LEA role in admissions and raising standards
Making private schools justify charitable status to Charity Commission
Increase access to higher education for disadvantaged groups
Commitment to address term time workers issue
Measures to promote healthy eating in schools
Steps to develop staff e.g. health care assistants with paid training and poss. registration
Full implementation of the mental health national service framework
Elected regional govt to draw powers from central rather than local govt
Continued investment in council housing; more borrowing powers for councils; tackling abuses in Right to Buy
Strategy to promote independent living for elderly people where possible
Commitment to full employment
New ‘compact’, with contractors and unions to ensure that, when Government contracts for services, employees have access to trade unions, advice, basic training and skills.
Steps towards a national policy of occupational health and safety
Will legislate on corporate manslaughter; compensation for victims; draft this session.
UK government to support the EU Agency Workers Directive, and to engage with the Commission with a view to reaching an early agreement on the proposed Directive
A commitment to work in partnership with strong, modern trade unions and to help unions such grow
New sectoral forums bringing social partners together in low paid sectors to discuss strategies for productivity, health and safety, pay, skills and pensions
Working with unions and employers to develop a comprehensive, voluntary, ‘good employment standard’
Radically improved enforcement; advice, guidance and support for workers
New measures on insolvency to ensure that management consult and do not take precipative action such as removing plant
Uprating of redundancy pay
Review of changes in employment tribunal regulations, including the issue of re-instatement
Low Pay Commission to examine differential pay rates for 18-21 year olds
Protection from dismissal for strikers raised from 8 weeks to 12 weeks
Keep the Agricultural Wages Board and consider extending its remit
Bank holidays cannot be counted in four weeks statutory holiday
Support for pilot in union recruitment in small firms
Assurance that Posting of Workers Directive will not lead to under-cutting
Family friendly rights inc. review the right to request flexible hours for parents and carers, maternity, paternity, adoptive and parental leave (including paid); extending respite care
Major roll-out of childcare schemes; inc Sure Start and Extended Childcare Scheme for lone parents.
New Women at work Commission reporting in 12 months including on mandatory equal pay audits and equality reps
Recognition of the value of facility time for workplace union reps and need for a discussion between Government and unions on this
Rights for migrant workers, inc. stopping employers holding passports of migrant workers
Using ASBOs, eg on buses and in pubs; tackling violence and anti-social behaviour in and around front-line workplaces
TUPE-style protection to include pensions affected by a company transfer or merge
Steps to make Pension Credit payment more automatic and steps to move beyond old-style means testing
Moving to make pensions a bargaining issue for recognition proposes
Measures on women and pensions – report back in 2005
Commitment on pensions for same sex partners
Assistance for those who have already lost out on occupational pensions, seeking contributions from the private sector
Training for pension trustees and move to 50% member trustees
Agreement to engage in effective dialogue over future of public sector pensions
Legislation if necessary following the Turner Commission to move beyond the current voluntary occupational pensions system
Review and enhance investment funds for support for manufacturing with a view to having the best business support possible.
Increase R&D investment to 2.5% of national income
£1 billion extra spending on Science
£178m funding for the Technology strategy by 2007/8
Additional funding of £6million a year for the manufacturing advisory service.
Improve export credit facilities
Promote a procurement strategy which safeguards UK jobs and skills as permitted within EU rules to ensure that British industry can compete fairly with the rest of Europe.
Encourage public procurement contracts to be given to UK firms and benefit UK workers within EU law
Support an EU review of procurement policy.
A strong skills agenda
Expansion of apprenticeships
Rolling out Employer Training Pilots, with training for all up to NVQ2
Action in sectors under-performing on skills, including possibly training levies.
Target to treble the number of Union Learning Reps to 22,000
Removing barriers to TULRs, including through workplace committees
Pathway for training as a bargaining issue
Supporting trade union academy
Ensure RDAs produce manufacturing strategies and work with employers and trade unions
Encourage RDAs to assist manufacturers to find new markets
Bank of England to take note of regional and employment data and to engage with all stakeholders including trade unions
Improve productivity through a culture of long term investment, skills and high quality production
Labour is committed to narrowing inequalities in society, tackling the gap between rich and poor and abolishing child and pensioner poverty
Domestic violence – further action to tackle domestic violence and support those at risk
Royal Mail to stay in public hands; telecom regulation to focus on service choice and reliability, as well as network competition
Pensioners to remain able to collect benefits from post office
Agreement on steps to take forward the Disability rights agenda, with more Access to Work help Immediate review of NI Lower Earnings Limit to help low-paid workers get benefits
Stronger company disclosure on social, ethical & environmental issues
New Deal to utilize voluntary and private sector expertise; help for unemployed over-50s
Consider further action to promote race equality in private sector
Action to tackle unethical labour agencies in health sector
Extend training for police staff in widening their roles
Consider certification of air cabin crew
Take account of both UK industry and Less Developed Countries in radical reform of EU sugar regime
Actively promote accredited proof of age card for age-restricted sales
Consider ways to reduce smoking hazards at work
Legal limits to stop rip-off interest rates for credit
Will address long professional driver hours inc. self employed asap
Balanced energy policy
Encouragement of recycling/reducing waste; aid for alternative fuels
New wildlife, marine protection and animal welfare provisions
Consideration of road pricing, with proceeds to help transport investment
Precautionary approach to GM food; UK aim to produce 70% of its organic consumption
Recognition of importance of fish processing in Scotland
Commitments on world debt relief, increasing overseas aid and funds to tackle HIV/AIDS

That's the list of things which should have been done by now. Some of them are vague and pointless, some are more specific. Have we got them?

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