Labour Leak – Closing the Stable Door

Labour Leak – Closing the Stable Door

This blog article is one of several albeit the first published on the labourleak. It focuses on fixing the problems identified and implied in the #labourleak in a holistic way. It looks at the controls, briefly on why they failed, how the private sector manages, the question of Union collusion, IT standards & controls, the disciplinary process, the NEC and if genuine professionalism can possibly improve the quality and honesty of the decisions taken by the Labour Party; it concludes by proposing that the rules be changed to place a duty on all role holders to conform to the Nolan Principles, and that whistle blowers have better protection, but on the way recommends that the Labour Party use a series of external certifications, ask the Auditors to to inspect that payments and receipts are handled according to the Party's financial control rules, increase the professionalism of the staff and NEC committees, all of this to guarantee to its members and staff that good practice and not arbitrary actions are the guiding principles of judgement and decision.

Can’t make it up

Can’t make it up

A note on LinkedIn on why managements need IT usage policies to prove their compliance and to act legally and fairly towards their employees. I suggest that ISO27001 is useful as a technical standard and COBIT as an organisational one.

This was written in the light of a couple of cases I had to deal with as an accompanying rep. or as an advisor.

You can’t claim that users are not performing if you can’t prove the IT systems work as documented. You can’t pursue a conduct disciplinary against people operating a policy. You can’t fulfil FOI or SAR requests if the data retention policy is suspect. You can’t be sure that corruption has not occurred if there is inadequate segregation of duties.

Having policy will help the organisation answer the following questions. Is our software supported?  Why and how was that data deleted? What should be logged? Who has permission to read, amend and run these programs and/or this data? Are our vendors signed up to our IT security goals? Why do you not know this?

This is all defined in these standards, and the GDPR makes certification to good practice evidence of good will. ISO27001 and COBIT are the big boys in town to prove technical and organisational protection.

You can’t make it up anymore. …

A note on redundancy

There’s redundancies coming! I wrote a short piece on our Union branch web site, emphasising the need for speed; the consultation period is only 45 days now. I briefly touch on the issue of economic viability; for redundancies to be legal and fair, the work must have gone or about to go. It will be harder to argue that jobs under threat are viable while CV19 is looking over the economy like a black rain cloud. I also discuss the need for transparency and fairness in selecting people for redundancy in cases where judgement is required. (Some business units may be reducing in size and so there remains the opportunity stay in employment for some, in these cases the decision must be fair, impersonal and transparent. …

Politics matters, even against a disease

Politics matters, even against a disease

It would be odd not to comment on the CV19 pandemic. For various reasons I have been looking back at my blog and remember at one stage it was a semi-public diary. Because it’s my blog, this is quite abstract and very political, I hope that my readers are keeping safe with their families.

It would seem that the worst of it may be over in the UK, provided that there isn’t a second wave. The best, most understandable charts are held at the FT and I have posted a screen grab of the their chart as at 19th April 2020. These charts and the Govt. numbers underestimate the deaths cased by CV-19 because they only count those that died in hospital; those who dies in care homes or at home are not counted.

The figures are probably double the official ones.

 

Within the Labour Party the fight for the tone of Starmer’s Party continues with some, including, it seems, him saying that we need to be a responsible opposition, which it seems to mean is not to oppose. The role of Labour in Parliament must be to act in the interests of people’s lives and safety; the Govt’s response to the COVID19 outbreak must be held to account, and where wrong opposed. The lack of preparedness, the lack of speed, the lack of PPE, the failure to test, all in breach of WHO guidance, the stupid exceptionalism in refusing to co-operate with EU & WHO are all failures, and the constant lying are things that as an opposition we should be challenging and where it makes a difference seeking to get changed.

The lack of tests and lack of hospital staff PPE is a continuing disgrace, to which there are simple answers. NHS Staff are dying. At least the Tories have postponed their Immigration Bill, but the current Brexit transition laws on immigration and citizenship are driving EU citizens back home, which is critically effecting the NHS ability to operate.

Much of the so-called economic security measures are problematic. Firstly, for the wage subsidy there is too much discretion left to the employers, whether to declare work essential and whether to apply for furlough subsidy. Firms can only get the subsidy if the workers are not working; instead of furlough, some people are having their hours & money reduced which is causing real hardship. People, even vulnerable people, have no say in whether they have to work i.e. if their work is essential. This is all compounded by the shit level of statutory sick pay, which the companies often avoid by using bogus personal service contracts. Some companies fear that the lockdown and consequent slump will cause their companies to fail and have started redundancy programmes, where again the statutory minimum is unsatisfactory for the low paid, often being less than their notice entitlements, and certainly less than their bosses’s. (The notice period for consultation was reduced from 90 days to 45 by the Tories).  The support for the self employed/personal service companies is weak and the paperwork requirements onerous as is the furlough scheme. Not the least of its half arsed provisions is that this is only available to companies with a three year trading record and it only protects the average profit over that period; so it’s a bit amusing for those that have been hiding their income in a bloated expense budget, but less so for those with marginal profitability or companies started more recently.

Other factors increasing the misery is that Universal Credit is appallingly low, and there is a five week waiting period for it. This is a problem well known to anti-poverty campaigners, the only upside is that a bunch of people who have never considered themselves as possible benefit claimants are now learning what hostile environment means as they have to put themselves through the degrading application process.

Another under considered fact is that the Courts are hard to keep safe, they’re old and under cleaned and they have reduced their capacity s a response to CV19. This means that those unfairly dismissed will have difficulty getting justice as their representatives and the courts struggle to adjust with the extra work and reduced capacity caused by lockdown. The Tribunal notification deadlines should be extended.

Another group of workers who will suffer are those with less than two years service who will be denied any redundancy payments or any protection against unfair dismissal and will thus be more likely to succumb to threats to make them comply with reduction of hours or made to work in unsafe environments. Since the lockdown is to isolate the disease, these failures risk everyone’s health.

In the long term, we should be looking to see,

  1. Sick pay & Redundancy increased and made state payed
  2. The two year service requirement for unfair dismissal to be abolished.
  3. Universal Credit’s waiting period to be abolished, actually this should be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch

The final piece of the jigsaw, is aggregate demand. It’s one of the reasons we should be subsidising wages during the crisis, the economy will not recover if people aren’t spending, and the poor spend more of their next £1 than the rich. The government is doing this through monetary quantitative easing (QE) i.e. giving money to the banks; they have rejected a universal basic income as in Spain, increasing Universal Credit payments or even a people’s QE. …

Employee self-defence

Employee self-defence

I have been meaning to write an “employee self defence” manual for a while now, and something came across my desk today to remind me of this ambition. Here’s mine off the top of my head.

  • Always reply to management in writing and in good time.
  • Know where your contract is, make a good .pdf copy of it and keep a copy of any variations particularly if you work for a business unit that has been subject to a TUPE agreement, you’d be surprised how careless some managements can be in keeping good records. If you opt out of the working time directive or refuse to, keep a record. If seconded, or asked to cover other duties get the instruction in writing together with the commitment to end the change in duties.
  • While contracts can be varied unilaterally i.e. imposed, it depends on the wording of the original contract, if you object to the changes, let management know in writing, it can’t stop it but it may be relevant for future grievances or disciplinary processes.
  • Keep a contemporaneous diary and keep it off your employer’s IT; they can deny it to you when you need it or worse, amend the record.
  • See your Doctor when needed and take their advice, don’t make them look a fool. If signed off sick, make sure your appropriate management know and they have the appropriate documentation.
  • Tell your management if you are disabled or chronically sick, they won’t make reasonable adjustments unless they do.
  • If you want flexible working arrangements, you have a legal right for this to be considered, understand the management process, they may mandate a specific form and make sure your application and their reply is in writing.
  • Know your grievance and whistle blowing policy so you know who to talk to when you need it.
  • If you think it’s a grievance, lodge it, the least that will happen is that your case is in writing, actually shit managements might retaliate but your case is in writing and if they’re bad, it’ll only get worse anyway.
  • Know the IT use and record management policy of your employer; don’t break them and complain if others try and get you to do so too, by for instance, using personal phones or emails and whatsapp or twitter to discuss work matters. If an employee, don’t use your own phone for any work business; they have a duty to provide one if you need it for work.

That’s it for the moment but I know there’s more. …

Dignity and respect at work

I was writing a motion for GMB Congress on Bullying and came across this, from one of the ACAS codes, as part of the definition,

Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect at work

I thought that maybe there’s a human rights dimension so went to check out the European Convention on Human Rights since we are losing the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights which does include it. Nope! ECHR doesn’t! Well done! …

Workers rights for Maternity and the EU

Workers rights for Maternity and the EU

This article is a quote from the TUC’s “UK employment rights and the EU“, it relates to maternity rights and the EU acquis.

The EU Pregnant Workers Directive 1992 led to substantial improvements in the health and safety protections for expectant and new mothers in the workplace. It gave women paid time off for ante-natal appointments and placed duties on employers to assess risks and to adjust working conditions, transfer a pregnant or breastfeeding worker to alternative work or suspend them on paid leave where harm is identified.

While the maternity leave entitlement in the UK already exceeded the EU minimum of 14 weeks when the Directive was implemented, case law from the ECJ has had a positive impact in tackling the disadvantage and discrimination that many women face in the workplace when they become mothers. For example, it made clear that treating a women unfavourably because of pregnancy or maternity leave was direct sex discrimination and that it was not necessary to identify a non-pregnant comparator in similar circumstances to prove discrimination. This ended years of women potentially being defeated in discrimination claims because the employer argued that they would have treated a man who had to take a substantial period out of the workplace in a similar way.

Sex discrimination law in the UK was amended to create a separate category of pregnancy discrimination, which is now defined as unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy or maternity leave in the Equality Act 2010 with no need for any comparison with a non-pregnant employee. This change in UK law was achieved following a case taken against the UK government by the old Equal Opportunities Commission relying on EU law.

ECJ case law has also extended protection from dismissal on grounds of pregnancy or maternity leave to fixed-term workers. And, since 2008, women on additional maternity leave have had access to the same contractual rights as women on ordinary maternity leave as a result of ECJ case law. This means, for example, that employers are obliged to make contributions into occupational pension schemes for longer than the first 26 weeks of leave.

ooOOOoo …

Brexit and workers rights

Brexit and workers rights

Are EU employment protection laws better than the UK’s? This article contains quotes from the TUC, and the Institute of Employment rights detailing the importance of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights to employment rights in the UK and the way in which EU law underpins those UK worker's rights, despite recent adverse rulings . Read More ...

Employment protection & Johnson’s deal

On Johnson’s deal with respect to workers rights, the current withdrawal agreement unlike previous one’s makes no commitment to maintain those rights, i.e. those commitments have been removed. The TUC opposes the agreement, particularly on Worker’s Rights but also on its general crapness.

The current fear from some, is that Johnson will get his deal approved by parliament, thus negating/satisfying the Benn Act and then fail to bring the implementation legislation, written but secret, as are the legal text and impact analyses to Parliament and thus crash out on 31st with no deal. Much of the social protection legislation is implemented by SI and would be jeopardised by this manoeuvre i.e. the Law that mandates these rights is EU law.

Lexiters should also note that the withdrawal agreement maintains the state aid restrictions and there will be no Article 50 escape clause. Even Costas Lapavitsas is pointing at these flaws. Any agreement will be a treaty which to exit, would be under WTO treaty terms or the Treaty of Vienna. So much for bringing back control and freeing the country to pursue a socialist programme. …

Which Union

Which Union

A number of people are becoming active in politics and are asking which Union should they join because if a LP member, you must join a Union if eligible and must pay the political levy if the Union has a political fund. Anyway, if at work, it’s a good thing to do, for yourself and for others.

People join Unions because of where they work and who they work for; the principle is that as socialists and trade union militants, we should/must defend industrial unionism. In much of Europe, the Unions are even closer adjuncts of the political parties than in the UK and this is not a good thing.

I describe my rules and offer a web site URL below/overleaf. …