GMB23, EU Law Revocation & Reform Bill

Two motions from London Region were assembled into a Composite, opposing the Government’s EU Law Revocation and Reform Bill. I have clipped the video, the words of the motion and Bismilla’s speech identify the rights at risk, and I talk about the move to a government by decree with the repeal of laws being at the whim of ministers, who also gain the right to amend the laws if they so chose. The Union passed the Composite.


GMB23: defending a new deal for workers

GMB23: defending a new deal for workers

Congress Composite C11 concerned Labour’s “A new deal for working people”. Hours before, Starmer had promised that this would be legislated for in the first 100 days. The motion, or the part of it that comes from London Region was designed to make it clear that there must be no backtracking and that the weaknesses in the proposals must be remedied. You can find Labour’s Policy statement here., the new deal for workers starts on P18 and cross references the green paper.

In my speech, see below or watch the video, I said,

The best defence against poor working conditions and low wages is a strong union movement, it has been since the Labour Party’s foundation that political and legislative programmes are also needed. There are many wrongs in UK employment protection law, and those members whose cases I help manage are often deeply upset that Britain the home of “fair play” has so few remedies for the poor treatment that they are suffering.

These are good documents but we need to ensure that the promises make it into a manifesto and into Government.

Apart from the failure to promise the repeal of pre-2016 trade union laws, the major disappointment is that the New Deal document promise on the minimum wage is unlikely to increase it. GMB policy is that this must be £15 per hour, we must reiterate this. The document is also sadly silent on statutory sick pay and redundancy compensation. It is necessary to rectify these injustices. The motion was carried, with qualification.

As in my other reports on GMB Congress, I have reproduced the motion, the qualification and the notes for my speech, which are below/overleaf. … …

GMB ’23, Workers and the World Trade

I seconded a motion on world trade governance, the motion welcomed Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which legislates for a Keynesian reflation and implements a state aid scheme which may be in contradiction to the World Trade organisation rules. The motion calls for reforms that will make the WTO treaties ‘worker centred’, oddly quoting the US Trade Representative, a role not well known as being in favour of workers or consumer rights. In my speech, I called this out, by saying, “We should be careful of the initiatives of the US in the areas of international trade, its commitments to workers’ rights abroad are to say the least variable. “

Heather and I worked on a proposing speech, but Heather was asked to use a speech written by the person that proposed the motion at the branch. I think ours was better, and some of what was said I disagree with. It’s a bit too autarkic.

Below/Overleaf is are a link to the video, the words of the motion and my notes for the speech.  …

LOTO speaks to GMB23

The Congress Political Speaker this year, was Sir Kier Starmer. The text of his speech is available from the Labour Press Office; like Corbyn he is not a great orator but that skill is exceptionally rare in today’s parliament. I feel the speech was tuned for a GMB audience, but no harm in that, provided the commitments offered are genuine, and not part of “I’ll say what it takes to win” strategy, although you’d have look very hard to find any new promises.

The video of his speech starts here, on YouTube. After the speech, GMB Congress asked each region to pose a question to Sir Kier. This year questions were posed on, the new deal for workers, the minimum wage specifically in social care industry, plans for energy industry infrastructure manufacture, plans for in-sourcing, public procurement and anti union firms, the blocking of new offshore mining licences, and finally, the regulation off hire & fire especially by firms in dispute with their union, but interestingly, despite a CEC special report on pubic sector pay, nothing on public sector pay nor on the public sector disputes,

The issue of the politics of energy supply and the GMB was fore-shadowed in an article in the Guardian, where Gary Smith, the GS, strongly criticised Labour’s plans to ban new North Sea drilling licences, in what might be called a “shot across the bows”.

Smith is quoted in the article as saying,

“We are critical friends of the Labour party and I think this is just a lack of intellectual rigour and thinking about where they have got to on oil and gas,” he said on Sophie Ridge On Sunday on Sky News. “They are focusing on what they think is popular rather than doing the proper thinking to understand what is right for the country.”

Below/overleaf I have posted the video of the Q&A session, and written a précis of the session. … …

Bye Bye Raab

Bye Bye Raab

Dominic Raab has had to resign from the government, due to an investigation into allegations of bullying having found that there was sufficient evidence to justify an adverse finding. Sorry about the complexity of that sentence, but he has not been found guilty, only that he has a case to answer. There was some question as to whether the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak would fire him or not. Raab saved him the problem by resigning in an extraordinary, apology free self-justifying resignation letter. There have been two parliamentary responses, the first is that the Liberal Democrats have rightly referred these events the parliamentary commissioner on standards, the second by some Tories that they rewrite the rules governing ministers’ behaviour towards civil servants.

The rest of this article, overleaf, looks what bullying is and the strange absence of its criminality. I also comment on the weakness of the parliamentary response. ...

On Musk and Twitter

On Musk and Twitter

Elon Musk has taken over twitter; I wrote a short piece on LinkedIn on the deal, its funding, and the technology. Since then some, including the FT (£) have commented on its funding, not the least the bank loans and thus collateral required. The linkedin article has some interesting links commenting on the deal, or at least I think so.

I also like this theory, that it is/was all a big mistake which Musk’s ego cannot permit him to admit,

The first thing Musk did was fire senior managers but the second is to fire half the work force. Advertisers are having second thoughts, based on wild comments made by Musk, not helped by the fact that many of the job cuts are aimed at content moderation teams and that programmers being let go are those who released the least lines of code, as many have commented, this is unlikely to end well. Another threat to a platform like twitter is that of regulatory intervention; in the UK, the Online Harms Bill is going through Parliament and the EU will also legislate on fake information and cyberbullying. Since politicians are so often the targets of such bad behaviour, there’s little support for Musk’s free speech line. Furthermore, the way in which the ‘reduction in force’ is being conducted would seem to be in breach of both Californian and UK Law, and both Prospect and GMB have commented on the UK downsizings, and in Europe, I wonder if twitter has established a European Workers Council.

Many of twitters users are talking of leaving but as Maria Farrel comments, on Crooked Timber,

There are now tens of thousands of journalists, policymakers, academics and various other thought-leader types who viscerally get what it is to be trapped inside a monopolistic tech platform, and for it to be costly and painful to leave.

Maria Farrel

Richard Murphy and the ORG (and others) are asking questions about the private ownership of the digital world’s town square. The ORG and most others point at mastodon as an alternative, which is designed as impossible to capture.

What users need is pretty clear. They need greater control over what content they receive, how it is prioritised and how it is presented. The way this is done, in a digital world, is to create more “open” systems that allow third parties to repurpose, filter and represent content in ways that users want. This can and should include better ways to moderate content.

The Open Rights Group

The social networking system lock-in, is the audience and social graph. It’s not been possible, without coding skills to extract the social graph or even the message feed from twitter for a while and linkedin now require one to know the email address of your proposed new linkedin correspondent. i.e. I am looking at transferring my tweet followers to linkedin so that I have a means of contacting them if they decide to quit twitter. In terms of personal twitter hygiene I have been using tweet delete to remove old and unwanted tweets and likes. I have a mastodon account on, but don’t read it every day and neither the big news sites nor my preferred commentators are there.  (I may change my habits, the quality of my mastodon home feed is immeasurably better today, than it was last week.) I should add that my mastodon postings have been more dilatory and personal than those on twitter, and of course, many of my twitter posts are retweets, probably more than posts which may make twitter easier to leave. For those worrying about the complexity of federation, or the fediverse, don’t worry, these are for developers and service engineers.

One user response already in progress is to adopt alternative short messaging products, mastodon is the obvious choice; another response for content authors would be to return to blogging, and encourage people to use a feed reader such as feedly! At least then their readers can get the content as they choose. , and some excessively long threads don’t get read.

For my European readers, although if reading my blogs, they don’t need the help,

Ich frage mich, ob Twitter einen Europäischen Betriebsrat hat
Mi chiedo se Tweitter abbia un Consiglio europeo dei lavoratori
Je me demande si Twitter a un comité d'entreprise européen

Fair Pay!

Fair Pay!

The press are full of stories about Google looking to reduce the pay of those who continue to work from home as the public health restrictions are lifted. This is unjust; if there’s one lesson learnt during the pandemic it’s that essential workers are under paid, but the idea of the world’s most profitable companies trying to restore/boost their profitability by reducing the wages of their workers is, while not unexpected, pretty appalling. In the UK, this may open an employer to equal pay suits.

Google claims to be a global talent company and it would surprise me if they don’t pay the market rate for the job wherever! I know that Sun Microsystems, in its last few years came to the view that the talent market was global and set up HQ offices around the world with Labs in Grenoble and St. Petersburg and a location in India. It bit them the arse when they came to close the offices, French redundancy consultation laws are a bitch … we could do with some laws like that. (In fact a game I played with my US managers and peers, was asking which country in Europe is it hardest to fire people in, and they all thought it was Germany. The answer was in fact Italy, where the comrades went on unofficial strike. Germany was 4th, after Italy, France and the Netherlands.)

Marxists argue that employers will seek to pay the minimum wage with crudely speaking a floor of the replacement cost of the labour; they also argue that all the value is created by the labour and that it’s the appropriation of surplus value is the driver of the class struggle. Classicists argue that now that labour has transformed from animal effort, there is a supply and demand for skills and experience and there is an equilibrium grate of wages. I suppose the cost to commute vs the born cost of provisioning the workplace are factors in determining replacement cost and/or the supply curve, but they are also part of a 21st century trend of dumping cost elsewhere. Let’s note that when employees work from home, Management save the cost of office space.  Here the employer is seeking to reduce wages by clawing back the employee’s travel to work costs and also make savings by reducing its office costs.

You need a Union, see also Less money for working from home? at GMB London General X58 Branch …