The Trade Union Bill

The trade union bill going through Parliament is a political attack on a vital organisation for many people. I am hoping that the bill will have many changes to it in the House Of Lords, the Lords seem to have the balance of views that our MPs do not. The trade union bill will see the prospect of people protesting on picket lines being forced to wear an arm band to identify themselves, the bill would also impose a minimum 50% turnout – and public sector strikes would need the backing of at least 40% of those eligible to vote. In an ideal world a 40% turnout would be a good thing for all elections, but just singling out the public sector is wrong.

David Davis as saying this trade union bill is like something from the dark days of General Francos regime, which our present Government is becoming more like every day. We have gone back to the days of the Conservatives being the nasty party. In 2005 David Davis won the first round of the leadership election to lead the Tory party, had became the leader of the Conservative party instead of David Cameron, things would be much fairer.


Low interest Rates, A Boon To The Banks !

Just as there are benefits, there are costs associated with keeping interest rates below their natural level for an extended period. Some argue that an extended period of low interest rates (below the natural rate) is a key contributor to the housing boom and the marked increase in household debt relative to after-tax incomes.
Other costs are associated with very low interest rates. First, low interest rates provide a powerful incentive to spend rather than save. In the short term, this may not matter much, but over a longer period, low interest rates penalize savers and our pensioners that rely heavily on interest income.
Those desiring higher nominal rates might be tempted to seek more speculative, higher-yielding investments, such as property, fueling the property boom.
The keeping interest rates low for an “extended period” may lead to a Japanese-style deflationary economy.

Our Government needs to show some bravery, and start increasing interest rate, slowly.

Network Rail and Public Sector Strikes

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the Network Rail pay dispute. Network Rail owns the infrastructure, including the railway tracks, signals, overhead wires, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and most stations; but it is mostly a Government funded organisation, a Government owned company in all but name. The National Audit Office and the Statistics Commission both treat Network Rail Ltd as a state-owned company. The previous coalition Government failed to honour the recommendations of the NHS pay review body, it gave public sector workers, including teachers below inflation pay rises year after year. Facing a 3 day strike, Network Rail have already offered a above inflation pay rise over 2 years; which has been turned down by the members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union. The NHS unions will certainly be taking note, the teaching unions and all the public sector.

The Conservative Plan

The new almighty powerful Conservative Government are saying that they will require a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots affecting essential public services. Our new Government was elected on a 24.4% vote of the electorate (36.9% of the votes cast).
How can David Cameron call them essential services and then not honour their Pay Review Bodies recommendations, but yet accept the recommendations of the Westminster Pay Review Body, that gave MPs an 11% pay rise.
The Conservative plan seems to be to divide the nation; public sector against the private sector, and rich against the poor.

The Balance Of Power.

The Conservative manifesto says that they want a “£30bn fiscal consolidation” in the first two years of the next parliament.

That means more welfare savings, because they have ruled out tax rises.

Yet both main parties support HS2 and HS3, which a study by the Institute of Economic Affairs suggested would cost a total of more than £80bn.

I am a great supporter of the railways, but surely upgrading the existing lines and rolling stock would be more cost effective.

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that there may be recruitment and retention problems in parts of the public sector if the Conservative plans for public sector pay go ahead in the next Parliament.

Nick Clegg has been speaking about the importance of giving the public sector a pay rise, MPs got the recommended pay rise, the one recommended by their pay review body, but the nurses did not.

After five years of pay restraint, teachers, nurses, police officers and all those who work in the public sector should no longer face pay 

This would mean a minimum pay increase in line with inflation for two years, and a guaranteed real terms increase in pay once the books have been balanced.

Recent polls have shown a slight increase in support for the Liberal Democrats.

Let’s just hope that it is Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power.

Election Bribes?

The Conservatives are the party planning to cut public spending the most if they gain power in the general election, as a sweetener they are now offering bribes to the electorate in the form of right to buy social housing and £4bn worth of Lloyds Bank shares, to be offered to small investors at below-market prices. Initial estimates suggest that the new ‘right to buy’ scheme could cost well in excess of £6 billion. The country needs to pay off its debt, not bribe the electorate.

Labour has warned that the number of NHS nurses in England is set to fall by almost 2,000 over the next four years according to the governments projections, this comes on the back of the increasing population, and nurse numbers not keeping pace. The funding of the NHS could be a real issue in coming years, since the coalition government have not honoured the NHS pay review body, but they did honour the pay review body for MPs pay. Hundreds of thousands of health workers including midwives, nurses, radiographers, cleaners and psychiatric staff got below inflation pay rises, year after year.

And with the coalition government giving all the public sector below inflation rises in pay in recent years; its unlikely that the Conservatives will get many of their votes. In Leeds, more than 100,000 people work in the public sector – around 22% of the workforce.

Those NHS workers, and the whole public sector will need a catch up pay rise, will that pay rise come from planned funds? A couple of percent extra pay rise, for 22% of the workforce throughout the country will cost a lot many millions.

A statement from the ‘Office of National Statistics’ in 2014 said “After adjusting for the different organisation sizes between the public and private sector, in April 2013 it is estimated that on average the pay of the public sector was between 1.3% and 2.4% lower than the private sector.”

Essex County Council and Term Time Holidays

The trail that was set begin on 10 November, of James and Dana Haymore for taking their child out of school during term time for six days has been dropped. Their case was taken on by Liberty which said “common sense must prevail”, and now it has, resulting in a massive legal bill for the council involved. The prosecution came after the couple took their 11-year-old son out of Primary School, between December 16 and 20 and on January 7 for a memorial service for Mrs Haymore’s grandfather in the US. Whilst an Education Select Committee is taking evidence of extremism and fraud in Free Schools and Academies; term time school holidays seems to be the Conservatives top priority.

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