Labour MP calls for Equal Pay for Women #IamaFeminist

Equal Pay for Women

How proud I was to hear Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley speak in parliament for equal pay for women. It so happens that I grew up in this constituency. It is about time the ordinary people of Yardley had an MP to stand up for fairness, equality and justice. Women work exceptionally hard, sometimes unpaid, and in paid employment it is scandalous that they are not equally rewarded.

Jess Phillips challenged the Tory MP, who had the audacity to laugh at the claims for equal pay for women as reported in the Birmingham Mail.

Birmingham MP Jess Phillips shouted “you are a disgrace” across the Commons chamber as Conservative equalities minister Nicky Morgan laughed at Labour proposal to ensure women are paid as much as men. 

Jess Phillips has revealed that she “lost it” in the Chamber of the House of Commons – after a Tory Minister taunted her for losing a vote on women’s pay.

Ms Phillips (Lab Yardley) had a blazing row with Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities.

She said: “When the votes were declared and we lost, I lost it.”

It came after Conservative MPs voted against proposals put forward by Labour to publish a report every year revealing how much men and women were paid in different industries – to highlight the fact that women are still paid less than men.

Ms Phillips backed the idea, telling the House of Commons: “We have a chance to show our mothers, wives, daughters and constituents that they matter and their rights matter.”

She said: “I sat opposite Nicky Morgan. As they declared the votes I just said ‘this is a real shame, it is a disgrace you didn’t vote for this when you are the equalities minister’.

“She basically laughed and said ‘it hurts to lose doesn’t it?’”

Ms Phillips said she shouted across the Chamber, telling Mrs Morgan: “You are laughing in the face of women’s equality. If you had seen what I have seen you wouldn’t think that laughing about gender equality was appropriate.”  

jessphillips

She added: “Her and her colleague just sat there laughing, so I said ‘you are a disgrace”, repeatedly.”

Ms Phillips said: “The Minister for Women and Equalities should show some class.”

Huffngton post reports.

Ms Phillips says

“This week I didn’t behave well. Really bad in fact. I mean I slow clapped the home secretary as she headed for her lobby. I then followed it with, what I will call a robust exchange, with the minister for women and equalities Nicky Morgan across the chamber.

If my mom was still alive she might have slapped my legs for my breaches. On this occasion though I think she may have joined me. Because my mom, the mother of three sons, and me her only daughter, whispered in my ear every day from birth, ‘there’s nothing they can do that you can’t.’

This Wednesday in Parliament the talk was of equal pay. The opposition put in front of the Government the motion to task the Equalities and Human Rights Commission with performing an ‘Annual Equal Pay Check’ to collate and analyse information published and recommend actions to ensure we close the gender pay gap this generation. Now I know this is not the ground breaking work of Barbara Castle and the Dagenham women. But it would help to hold businesses to account for their actions on the gender pay gap. It would have said “you know the fact that for every pound a man earns a women earns only 83p (in my constituency) well we know that sucks.”

The MP previously worked helping women who had been abused or were victims of violence.

In her role as a Birmingham councillor she was also chair of a group bringing together the council, police and other agencies to reduce violence against women, which involved examining cases of women in the region who had been killed.

“I have spent my career working with women who have been beaten, raped and exploited. What all failed to understand in the debate, is that women are beaten and raped exactly because they have less value in society. To me it was not about money and wages it was about worth. So as the government marched through the no lobby it felt like we women were worthless. So who can we blame when this week two of us, the worthless, are murdered?”

Ms Phillips also revealed that she “slow clapped” the Home Secretary, Theresa May, as she voted against the proposal.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Phillips highlighted Birmingham City Council’s massive £1.2 billion equal pay bill.

The council is paying compensation to women who were employed by the authority and paid less than men for doing jobs of similar status, and has been forced to sell the NEC Group for around £307 million to help meet the cost.

The MP said: “Like so many local authorities across the country, Birmingham has paid the price for the lack of equal pay in exceptionally costly – and, I am afraid to say, bankrupting – court settlements, with care workers, social workers, cleaners and dinner ladies paid less than bin men.”

“After all, why should we value those who look after our elderly relatives and feed our children?”

She added: “I believe that the council is selling the family silver, including the National Exhibition Centre, to settle those claims. I will not criticise it for that.”

“The council should have paid the women more in the first place.”

Quite right, Ms Phillips. I am with you all the way. We are all feminists. We believe in equal worth.

Is the whisper of the People heard through “Democracy” looking down on them? @Corbyn4Leader

Democracy or Philanthropy? How can we combat poverty and injustice?

The Collective Voice of Labour

Think tanks, philanthropists, charities, celebrities  and  lobbyists are shouting from the wings the answers to an impoverished world.  Joseph Rowntree, Barrow  Cadbury, Bill Gates, Russell Brand, Oxfam, and NSPCC are just a few. All these are undoubtedly good deeds and with the best intentions, and yet poverty prevails. We can go on, but where where is the place for charity and philanthropy in a democratic society? Do we have a real democracy at all?  Why is Russell Brand’s voice any more valid or interesting than yours or mine?

 For whom do the rich and powerful  speak, and should they?

When rich people make a decision to spend money on supposed good deeds, they abuse power. The media abuses power. Is charity  a quick fix to alleviate stresses in a crisis? Do they address the injustices or reinforce them? It is a quandary which I have struggled with and blogged about. In a true democracy each vote should be equal. Whoever we elect, it seems that the resultant politicians abuse that power we give them.

Caring deeds are admirable, helping one another out on a day-to-day basis comes naturally, and the spirit of ’45 is something our society needs to recapture. That caring  society is exactly what Thatcher denied existed, and that has been eroded. On the other hand having to depend on charity is degrading and humiliating. I think this is why people become suspicious of one another, and fear anyone who’s different to them. We need to learn to trust again. We need honesty, not smoke and mirrors.

What is wrong with everything is capitalism, competing consumers clambering over one another and anything to get to the top of the pile – whatever that is. To throw crumbs from above (philanthropy) cannot justify the means taken to get there. When we build a society whitch satisfies everyone’s needs, and eliminates poverty, spend time alongside one another we have society. Tony Benn believed in a real democratic movement. He said Labour should say what we mean and mean what we say. Tony Benn encouraged me, and now Jeremy Corbyn stands to encourage new generations and rejuvenate our Labour movement. Jeremy Corbyn also stands apart in that belief. With Greece, where democracy was born, now on its knees, is our species doomed?  

It is the collective voice of Labour which must be heard and formulate policies for Labour – a leader needs to facilitate and encourage this voice to be heard.

Every voice matters, but that does not take away the responsibility for education, and we should use our influence to change minds and put the Labour Party back at the heart of the people.  The party should be formulating policy through a renewed internal democracy. First we must put in place a clear statement of our aims and objectives. These must be SMART and agreed by the party. We should be brave and honest. If we are not, no one else will be.  

Straight talking Labour is what we need to be.

From “In Place of Fear” , Ch.2, Aneurin Bevan (1)

“As we fumble with outworn categories our political vitality is sucked away and we stumble from one situation to another, without chart, without compass, and with the steering wheel lashed to a course we are no longer following. This is the real point of danger for a political party and for the leaders and thinkers who inspire it. For if they are out of touch with reality, the masses are not. Indeed, they are reality. For them their daily work is an escapable imperative. While those who are supposed to be doing the theorising for them are adrift like passengers in an escaped balloon, the workers are tied to reality by the nature of their work. In the absence of clear theoretical guidance, they make empirical adaptions and formulate practical categories. So far as these are incomplete, and therefore unsatisfactory, the first result is a distrust for those who have demonstrably failed them.”

We  failed as destruction and divisions of the Labour Party over the last three decades has left an impotent voice, where Labour politicians  are frightened to speak out in the media or alongside workers taking industrial action against austerity, and  yet continue to  agree with policies cutting public services. Our public services should not be available for breaking up for pickings for profit seekers. It is scandalous that a Labour government supported private finance initiatives breaking up our health and education – echoing the Tories. Is it any wonder people did not back Labour?

This is why we have to recapture a true democratic socialist movement. The Labour Party, and our politicians should stand alongside ordinary people who call for justice on picket lines, and marches.  Together we must defend  human rights, and our  trade unions and fight austerity. We must call for tighter control on banks, oppose TTIP and other supposed “free trade treaties”. We must support renationalisation – of the railways, energy, utilities – and democratic control of money, as a tool. All this is what ordinary people know and call for. Why aren’t our politicians?

Our politicians should not be frightened to stand with us against all these injustices and above all expose the truth about capitalism which is driving the world in a downwards spiral, and to stand up for the collective good for all which can be brought about by socialism.

I am backing Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party, and the people’s democracy.

Great News! Lancashire slams the Fracking Door in Cameron’s Face

Slamming the Fracking Door in Lancashire

There has been a widespread campaign against the unpopular, uneconomical and dangerous proposed plans to extract gas from the earth by a process of fracking.

Cuadrilla, which is chaired by Lord Browne, had been searching for shale gas in Lancashire, and had suspended operations there in 2011 after its drilling was found to be the likely cause of tremors in Blackpool. Government plans were pursued against scientific advice.

Years of campaigning from environmentalists and an emergency petition this weekend signed this weekend by 65,000 have today resulted in  Lancashire councillors rejecting these proposals.

Greenpeace UK reports  

No  to Fracking

* BREAKING! Lancashire slams door on fracking! *

This was the scene just now outside Preston town hall, as residents celebrated a hard-fought victory against fracking company Cuadrilla, whose plans to drill for shale gas were defeated by a 9-3 vote at Lancashire County Council.

This is the result of years of local campaigning and over the weekend 65,000 of us signed Today our voices were heard.

Government has signed up to the potential of shale gas after it transformed energy policy in the United States, despite severe criticism from environmentalists

A major new scientific study has concluded that the controversial gas extraction technique known as fracking poses a “significant” risk to human health and British wildlife, and that an EU-wide moratorium should be implemented until widespread regulatory reform is undertaken.

The damning report by the CHEM Trust, the British charity that investigates the harm chemicals cause humans and wildlife, highlights serious shortcomings in the UK’s regulatory regime, which the report says will only get worse as the Government makes further budget cuts.

It also warns of severe risks to human health if the new Conservative government tries to fast-track fracking of shale gas across the UK. The “scale of commercial fracking” unleashed by the Government’s eagerness to exploit the technique “should not be underestimated”, it cautions.

It is clear that the main reason this policy has been pursued has been self interest of the Conservative party. The article. “They are corrupt to the fracking core” , was published two years ago, and a number of conflicts of interest were cited. 

Conflicts of interest

Lord Browne

The former BP boss is chairman of Cuadrilla, which is exploring for shale gas in Lancashire and West Sussex. He is lead “non-executive” across Government, meaning that he helps recruit other non-executives to Whitehall.

Baroness Hogg

The non-executive for the Treasury sits on the board of BG Group, which has significant shale gas assets in the United States.

Sam Laidlaw

The non-executive to the Transport Department is also chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica, which recently bought a 25 per cent stake in Cuadrilla’s most promising shale gas prospect.

Ben Moxham

A former executive at BP when Lord Browne was at the helm, he followed the peer to Riverstone Holdings, which owns 42 per cent of Cuadrilla. Moxham was energy adviser at No 10 but quit in May.

Lord Howell

George Osborne’s father-in-law is also president of the British Institute of Economics, whose backers include BP and BG Group.

 Lynton Crosby, Mr Cameron’s own aide, been linked to the fracking industry.

Opponents will continue to protest against fracking until it is shelved by this government and today’s News proves how effective these protests have been. Well done to everyone involved! The Labour opposition must demand total and permanent rejection of these proposals.

Solidarity is forever, not just Election Day, SNP.

Solidarity is forever, not just for Election Day

One has to question the authenticity of the claims that SNP stands for socialism and anti-austerity. These policies  were attributed to have resulted in the huge numbers of voters in Scotland who gave their vote to the SNP on May 7th this year, resulting in all but three Scottish seats returning an SNP member of parliament.

I am reminded of the huge turn-out for the Liberal Democrats in 2010, many people saw the LibDems as an opposition to the  Conservatives in the wake of disappointment with New Labour. These voters, angry with LibDems joining the  coalition turned their back on LibDems in 2015, many candidates losing their deposits and with the party  gaining only 8 seats, out of the 57 defended.

Over the next few years, will the SNP prove to be the socialist opposition so many anticipate, or will, in 5 years time, the SNP suffer a similar fate? Much will depend on how the SNP act in parliament, and also the direction Labour decides to follow.

Already the cracks are beginning to show in the SNP’s facade. Failure of SNP to stand alongside ferry workers taking industrial action does not indicate solidarity with workers or opposition to austerity.

The SNP sails into choppy waters after ferry strike statement  

RMT calls on SNP members to reject party’s “defeatist” line over austerity action

A row has broken out between the RMT, whose members at Calmac Ferries are today on strike, and the Scottish National Party.

The RMT members are taking action to defend jobs, conditions and pensions, warning the Clyde and Hebrides service is being set up for takeover by the profiteering private company Serco.

Ferry copy

And they have been infuriated by the release of statement from the SNP’s Trade Union Group which, while saying it recognises the union’s right to take strike action, fails to support the strike.

The statement reads: “The SNP Trade Union Group is aware of the ongoing dispute between the RMT and Caledonian MacBrayne – which operates the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry service (CHFS) which our communities rely on – and has resulted in RMT members balloting for strike action.

“The SNP Trade Union Group recognises the democratic right of fellow trade unionists to ballot for strike action and also recognises the concerns of RMT members regarding terms & conditions within the Caledonian MacBrayne workforce.

“In light of this escalation, the SNP Trade Union Group’s representatives, MSP’s and MPs have been invited to talks with the RMT to discuss these issues further.  These discussions will take place early next week and will hopefully help the workforce and the SNP TUG will do all it can to ensure that the concerns of the RMT are heard and heeded.

“Additional meetings have also already been organised by Christina McKelvie MSP – convenor of the SNP Backbench parliamentary trade union group at Holyrood – between the RMT and the transport minister.

“The Scottish Government is required by EU procurement laws to place the contract out to tender, with the process is being carried out in accordance with EU rules on procurement and state aid. This has been the case previously in 2005 where Caledonian MacBrayne was awarded the contract.

“The SNP Trade Union Group takes the unwavering view that terms & conditions should never be eroded in the workplace and that working standards should be raised at every opportunity. We welcome the statement from Transport Minister Derek MacKay pledging that the Scottish Government will ensure that the pensions of the CHFS workforce are protected.

“We believe that the current tendering process must be an opportunity to improve and strengthen the working conditions of all working on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry service. Additionally, every effort must be made to ensure that the workforce is at the forefront of decision making while this process is ongoing and continuing on into the future.

“However, while the SNP Trade Union Group is pro-European in its outlook, it believes that the EU laws that have necessitated the current tendering process are inherently flawed and do not take into account vital lifeline services such as the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services that communities depend on.

“The SNP Trade Union Group will ensure that its elected members take this issue to the heart of Europe. We will campaign for a rethink of this regressive procurement policy which is damaging to both the workforce and the communities in Scotland and across Europe which rely on such services to survive.

In response, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This statement from a group claiming to represent trade unionists makes not a single mention of support for fellow trade unionists battling to defend jobs and services and instead hides behind a barrage of EU anti-worker legislation that has no relevance at all to this dispute and which could be challenged anyway with a united campaign.

“RMT would appeal to rank and file SNP members and supporters to reject this defeatist line and stand by a workforce fighting to defend jobs, conditions, safety and lifeline ferry services against this attack. You can’t claim to be anti-austerity, pro working class and pro public services and then duck the issue when jobs and services are under all out attack like on CalMac. The question to the SNP TU Goup is which side are you o‎n?”

Yesterday a cross party motion tabled in Scottish Parliament backed the union’s campaign. Supported by John Mason (SNP), Neil Findlay (Lab), David Stewart (Lab), Elaine Smith (Lab), Anne McTaggart (Lab), Cara Hilton (Lab), John Wilson (Ind) Jean Urquhart (Ind), the motion read:

That the Parliament notes the current dispute between Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) ferry workers and the employer over concerns about future services, staffing levels, job security and pensions, which it understands have arisen from the tendering process of Clyde and Hebrides ferry services currently operated by CalMac; supports CalMac workers and what it considers the excellent job that they do and calls for their concerns to be addressed; notes that the private sector corporation, Serco, is bidding to take over CalMac services, and believes that the interests of islanders, tourism and the Scottish economy would be best served by these lifeline ferry services remaining in the public sector.

This article reproduced by Creative Commons Licence previously published by Unity Solidarity International