Posts Tagged 'Trade Unions'

Education professionals undermining our children

In today’s News of the World, David Cameron shares his fears that he will struggle to give his children a decent education because there are so few good comprehensive schools close to Number 10.  As Cameron explained:

“In some parts of the country, there isn’t a choice of good schools,”

This is something that has been apparent to parents for many years.  Why else do parents spend a fortune to buy houses in the catchment areas of schools that do deliver a good standard of education to youngsters?  Why else are decent performing schools oversubscribed by many times for each place?  It’s just another example of Cameron stating the bloody obvious.

But while Cameron laments this state of affairs and gives the impression of standing on a level playing field with other parents, there is a complete absence of an explanation from him about why there are so few good schools.  For Cameron, a political coward who is only capable of facing down his own side, is terrified of admitting there are so few good schools because the standard of teaching is so poor.

And is it any wonder why the standards are so poor when the Chairman of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), Zenna Atkins, holds views such as this:

every school should have a useless teacher […]

[…] If kids can manage to cope with one bad teacher that’ll be a good learning lesson for them in life – it is not necessarily an absolute disaster.

Why should any schoolchild have to cope with a bad teacher?  Atkins has desperately tried to qualify her comments and wrap them into a different context, but the fact remains the person with responsibility for educational standards has such views.  The teaching unions are just as bad, given they are loathe to let any incompetent teacher be removed from a school.  The interests of children should be of absolute priority, but in reality they aren’t.  The children are expected to cope and if they can’t, well that’s just too bad.

Is it any wonder why the United Kingdom has slipped down the international league tables when it comes to ability in English, Maths and Sciences?

British Airways strike sanctioned by Court of Appeal

Commiserations to British Airways passengers, pilots, engineers, ground staff and management.  The airline will now be held to ransom by cabin crew members of the Unite union after three Court of Appeal judges voted 2-1 to interpret the legal requirements for communicating ballot results more loosely.  That’s the way things go in a country where the law is made up by judges as they go along, despite statute being Parliament’s responsibility.

The future of BA is now in the balance.  It needs to reduce costs and is trying to restructure the business to enable it to compete in a challenging sector.  But a number of the airline’s cabin crew are being manipulated by Unite for political reasons.  What this means is that instead of reducing its excessive cost base, British Airways will now be hit with greatly reduced revenues and loss of customer confidence.  One wonders, if Unite continues its nonsensical action and harms BA sufficiently, who will they blame when the airline is forced into a more severe downsizing, or even into bankruptcy? 

While employees in other industries accept with a heavy heart reductions in pay, benefits and headcount because of the current economic conditions, Unite’s band of cabin crew comrades continue to hark back to a bygone age where the airline could still operate while paying an excess number of people some of the highest wages in the industry.  Those days are long gone.  But Unite would rather kill the goose that lays the eggs, rather than accept fewer eggs from it.  What the flag waving dinosaurs above seem not to grasp is that their actions could eventually result in them spending all their time standing around doing nothing.

Unite is trying to pass the buck for its failings

Unite’s joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, is going to great lengths to create a smokescreen around his union’s failings in the communication of the strike ballot of British Airways cabin crew.  Unite believes the court’s decision to block the British Airways strike on a technicality is ‘an absolute disgrace’ and is appealing the ruling. But Unite only has itself to blame and Tony Woodley’s whinging in the media shouldn’t cut any ice with anyone.

Describing Unite’s error as a technicality is an attempt to downplay the union’s lack of attention to observing the legal requirements after the ballot.  The fact is the union failed to follow the requirements about communication of the result to the letter of the law.  Woodley is complaining that only 11 ballot papers had been spoilt.  But that is immaterial.  Unite’s legal obligations were clear and it failed to observe them.  That is why it is fatuous of Woodley to say the Court’s decision:

‘brings into question whether we have the right to strike in this country, which is a fundamental human right’

Utter nonsense.  What the Court’s decision does it old the unions to observing the requirements of the ballot process.  It doesn’t prevent people who feel their employer is behaving unreasonably from withdrawing their labour in a lawful manner.  If Unite had followed the process correctly, the British Airways strike by cabin crew would be happening today, legally.

Unite is also trying to play the underdog card in trying to excuse its error, describing itself as a mere voluntary organisation.  Yet this is a trade union that has the resources to plough millions of pounds into Labour Party coffers each year, fund lavish salary and benefits packages for its top tier of officials and employ lawyers to look after the interests of the union and its members.  If this is an underdog it is the size of a mastiff and has the ferocity of a rabid rottweiler.

The Court of Appeal should throw out Unite’s appeal on this matter and make them ballot its members again, observing all the legal requirements of such a course of action.  If Unite does its job properly, they will give no reason to British Airways to go to Court again to seek an injunction.  In the meantime, Woodley and his comrades should put an end to their hysterical overreaction and make they fulfil their responsibilities correctly.

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British Airways strike blocked after Unite union incompetence

Despite all those highly paid Unite union officials and their legal teams, the union is incapable of following the letter of the law when running and announcing a ballot on strike action.  Last time it was Unite balloting people they had no right to that saw the Courts rule to block the strike.  This time it appears a failure to follow the legal process correctly by not including the 11 spoiled ballot papers in the figures given for and against industrial action, sees the strike blocked by another injunction.

No doubt Unite’s brainless, militant and destructive shop stewards and officials at British Airways will try again to conduct a legal ballot.  They are determined to have their war with BA and risk inflicting losses on the airline that could see it forced to cut back even further.  This senseless union posturing will only harm the prospects of the airline and threaten the livelihoods of more BA staff than originally planned.

Every attempt by Unite to bring the airline to its knees and bow to union demands rather than commercial reality results in more passengers booking with other airlines to avoid possible disruption.  This will harm long term revenue and only an idiot would seek to undermine the longevity of their employer and improve the position of their competitors.  The pilots and engineers made agreements with British Airways in a realistic manner.  Unite is refusing to do the same because it is run by unrealistic, self interested officials who will still have a job when cabin crew numbers are cut due to reduced demand from passengers.

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Cameron comes out for the Trade Unions

Plus ça change… when it comes to David Cameron the more things ‘change’, the more they stay the same.  In an email to supporters over the weekend, Cameron trumpeted his Obama-style mantra of ‘change’ and said the following:

‘Real change is always hard because there will always be people and organisations with vested interests in preserving the status quo – even if that’s not in the national interest. We need to take these vested interests on, and I gave a speech earlier today setting out how the Conservatives will do just that.’

He alluded to taking on the trade unions who have, once again, started to undermine this country by making unrealistic demands and holding employers to ransom.  As Cameron put it:

‘Just look at what’s going on with the British Airways strike. Thousands of jobs and the future of one of Britain’s greatest companies is at threat, yet we have a Prime Minister who won’t come out in support of those who would cross the picket line because the Unite union is bankrolling the Labour Party.’

But this is David Cameron, so nothing is as it seems.  For as we learn from the pages of ConservativeHome, Cameron is perfectly happy to continue spending taxpayers’ money bankrolling the very trade unions, who are threatening the viability of British Airways, via the Union Modernisation Fund – a scheme that can only be described as money laundering.  So where is the change?  Like his hero Obama, Cameron is spouting vacuous nonsense to get a soundbite. Beyond the style there is no substance.

Although Cameron speaks of taking on the ‘people and organisations with vested interests in preserving the status quo’ and complains that the unions are bankrolling the Labour party, he is refusing to do anything about it. He will maintain the status quo at our expense. It is utterly hypocritical of Cameron to pontificate about taking on vested interests when he is committed to pouring our tax pounds into the trade union movement to fund activities the unions should be funding themselves.  Cameron finished off his email thus:

Since becoming leader of the Conservative Party I’ve rolled up my sleeves and argued for what is right, not what is convenient. It’s time we had a Prime Minister that did the same.

Well, if Cameron is elected we will still be waiting for a Prime Minister who will actually do what is right. Cameron is a political coward who only has the guts to take on his own party because he knows they are so desperate to win the election they won’t rock the boat. But when he faces opposition, Cameron is nothing more than a blowhard who crumbles like the very sand he is sticking his head into.  Which explains why it is left to the Taxpayers’ Alliance to speak out when our money is squandered in ways like this. Cameron is incapable of substantive opposition because he is wedded to the notion of  cosy consensus, regardless of how poorly this serves democracy and the interests of the British people.

Update: Just a couple of years ago Cameron was singing a very different tune in a Q&A in the Telegraph, as you can see below. My, how things change. Another u-turn!

So much for all your posturing in your speech on Saturday ‘Dave’, you cheap, unprincipled PR hack.

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Taxpayers’ Alliance target public sector non jobs

UNISON, the public sector trade union, recently launched an online video which claimed that cutting public spending meant leaving people without 999 operators, bin men or nurses.  It is typical scaremongering propoaganda from Union dinosaurs who believe we should carry on spending money we don’t have and borrowing our way into economic meltdown.

In response the Taxpayers’ Alliance has produced an edited version of the video which reminds us of the variety of non-jobs created in the public sector at taxpayers’ expense, which could easily be abolished, saving huge sums of money without any impact at all on front line services.  (hat tip: Guido).

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Labour evasion over international aid money to Unions

Last week following the release of a report by the International Policy Network Autonomous Mind blogged about how a significant sum of international aid money, that is supposed to be distributed to dedicated aid charities for use in poorer countries by the Department for International Development (DfID), was being channelled to the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) for use in the UK.

The matter was raised in the House of Commons yesterday by Conservative MP, Andrew Robathan, who asked DfID Minister Gareth Thomas ‘How much funding his Department has provided to the Trades Union Congress for international development purposes since 2003; and if he will make a statement,‘.  Thomas tried to bat away the question by giving one example of the use of the money, namely the TUC spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS in Ugandan workplaces.

It was a surprising answer given there are numerous charities that are far more qualified than a British trade union body in delivering HIV/AIDS education.  But Robathan came back with the real charge, that most of the money the TUC receives for international development work is ‘spent in the United Kingdom and is not accounted for in any way,‘.  Thomas’ answer deliberately avoided addressing that essential point and made a pathetic party political dig:

Like every other NGO to which we give funding, the TUC has to spend the money in accordance with the requirements of the International Development Act 2002, which, as I recall, had the support of all parties. I gently encourage the hon. Gentleman to look at the work of the TUC in supporting local trade unions in Iraq and Zimbabwe, for example. Although I recognise that he relishes the role of an unreconstructed member of the Conservative party, he might want to be careful about associating himself with a position that is more extreme than any taken by the last three Conservative Foreign Secretaries. Indeed, the last Conservative Government, from 1989 to 1997, paid the TUC to do work on international development.

If there was no truth in the charge Gareth Thomas would have denied it vehemently and with no small amount of indignation.  The fact he did not demonstrates that taxpayers’ money allocated to international development work carried out by charities in the developing world, is being siphoned off to sweeten Labour’s paymasters and fund political education and training in the UK, as the International Policy Network has claimed.

This is a disgraceful and unacceptable abuse of public money for party political interests.  This kind of casual corruption has to be rooted out and those responsible held to account.  I wonder how long it will take before an MP tries to defend this misuse of international development money, our money, by claiming such use was within the rules?  And politicians wonder why they are held in such low regard by the public.

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Trade Unions soak up international aid money

It is embarrassing that this story almost went past Autonomous Mind Towers without being noticed.  Yet again we have another example of public funds being misused for self serving political ends by the Labour government.  Once again it is the Department for International Development (DFID) which is being free and easy with our hard earned cash (hat tip: ConservativeHome).

Earlier this week it was confirmed in Parliament that a DFID civil servant has been seconded to Tony Blair for his work as Quartet Representative in the Middle East.  But at the same time the International Policy Network (IPN) was explaining that:

Following on from our previous investigation [Sept 2009] of how “foreign aid” is being used for advocacy work by NGOs inside the UK, IPN has discovered that trades unions are benefiting from millions of money aimed at “international development”.

From 2003 to 2006, the Trades Union Congress [TUC] has rececived £3.6 million from the UK Department for International Development (DfID). But much of this money has been spent on projects benefiting the domestic UK labour movement. We’re just not sure how this benefits the poorest people around the world.

Download the IPN report ‘A Closer Union’

Perhaps this is another generous ‘thank you’ from Labour to the trade unions who are keeping the party alive financially.  After all, during the period in question, 2003-06, trade unions donated £39,086,216.09 (yes, £39m) in cash to Labour both directly and through constituency Labour party groups.

In return, Labour has channelled around £10m of our money back to the trade unions for the ‘trade union mondernisation fund‘.  This meant the unions did not have to use their own money for training and development, enabling them to maintain huge political donations to Labour.  And now we see a further £3.6m of our money being given to the trade unions to help train people how to be better advocates of the trade union movement and the Labour party.  Labour is only one short step away from actually paying the subs for union members!

Strangely enough, the DFID web page ‘Where the money goes‘ makes no mention at all of these Partnership Programme Arrangement (PPA) payments to the TUC for use in the UK.  PPAs are made through a mechanism that is supposed to channel money to dedicated aid charities operating in poorer countries, such as Oxfam.

Clearly the payments to the TUC are neither international aid nor benefiting people in desperate need.  They are a corrupt abuse of public funds for political gain by a corrupt and morally bankrupt government.  This is just another example of ‘public spending’ that can be cut without affecting front line services.

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