Saturday, 18 April 2015

Graph of the week - this government broke the economy

The government claims that the economy was contracting when they came to power in May 2010, but the graph above shows the economy contracted after the global banking crash and started growing in 2009. The dip in economic growth comes after the first two of George Osborne's budgets.

It was this government that stalled the economic recovery after the global crash.

With a hat tip to Paul Mason on Twitter @paulmasonnews

Monday, 13 April 2015

West Midlands Fire Service to become Living Wage Employer

Members at West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) look set to be paid at least ‘The Living Wage’, if the move is approved by members of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA).
UNISON began negotiations with the brigade in late 2014 and a report is being presented at a meeting of the WMFRA on Monday 13 April recommending that the service adopt the living wage from 1 April 2015.
This will mean the wages of 62 WMFS staff will rise to the level of The Living Wage, which is currently £7.85 an hour outside of London.
Tony Rabaiotti, UNISON West Midlands Regional Manager said:
“This is a huge step forward for West Midlands Fire and Rescue service and they should be congratulated for taking this step.
Receiving living wage gives employees the chance to earn an amount of money that covers the basic cost of living.The move to implement the living wage clearly shows that they, along with many organisations both public and private, are beginning to see that the minimum wage is not enough for our members to live on. 
More employers across the West Midlands need to follow WMFS’s lead and ensure that hard working staff are paid properly for the work they do”
Vic Mallabar, WMFS’s UNISON Branch Secretary, added:
“We welcome this positive response to our requests for our lowest paid staff to be lifted up to the living wage threshold. We recognise the difficulties faced by West Midlands Fire Service, but are proud that the management and Fire Authority have supported our lowest paid staff. We congratulate the service on becoming a living wage employer.” 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Survey Reveals Scale of Stress among Ambulance Workers

Long hours, an increasing focus on targets and staff shortages are placing an enormous burden on ambulance workers in the West Midlands as more than nine in ten (92%) say they are suffering with stress, according to a new UNISON survey published today.
The survey is published ahead of the union's annual health conference in Liverpool next week.
The survey of 238 ambulance workers in the West Midlands reveals that nearly three-quarters (72%) are suffering with sleep problems as a result of stress, 74% said they felt irritable and experienced mood swings, and more than half  (57%) suffered with anxiety. More than a third (38%) said they had to take time off sick because of work-related stress and 30 per cent admitted they were close to doing so.
One West Midlands paramedic described how paramedics are asked to deal with 999 calls:
“Late-finishing on shifts causes huge stress for me as a single parent. I can end up not seeing my child for days on end as he’s often asleep by the time I’m home.”
Another ambulance worker in the region revealed that their personal relationships are suffering because they always work late shifts and only get two weekends off every three months.
Worryingly, almost two-thirds (63%) admitted they did not tell their employer the reason that they were off sick was stress. Only five% said they would talk to a manager or a supervisor to cope with stress. Turning to friends and family is the most commonly mentioned source of support and almost half said they talk to peers in an attempt to cope.
As a result of pressures on the service and workers, a staggering four in five (82 per cent) admitted they had thought about leaving the job.UNISON is concerned that employers are not fulfilling their duty of care as more than half the respondents (56 per cent) said they were unaware of any steps being taken by their employer to remove or reduce stress.Six in ten (60 per cent) said their employer did not support a good work-life balance and more than two-thirds (34 per cen t)admitted they might need to take time off if the situation did not improve.
Franco Buonaguro, UNISON West Midlands Head of Health said:
“Working in emergency services is stressful but the pressure on ambulance staff is reaching dangerously high levels. It is unacceptable that the current system doesn’t allow for proper breaks between shifts. Workers have told us they often work 14-hour shifts without a decent break.Higher call out rates and lengthy waits outside A&E departments are adding to the problem. It is clear that the pressure caused by government funding cuts is having a huge impact on staff and on patient safety.
But it is vital that patients use the service responsibly – for example only calling 999 for an ambulance when there is a real emergency.This confirms the findings from the NHS staff survey that shows much greater pressure on staff in the ambulance service than any other part of the NHS.The pressure on workers is mounting and the apparent lack of support from their employers means they are suffering in silence. Year after year the levels of stress remain unacceptably high and yet neither employers nor the government have done anything to address this.”

Monday, 30 March 2015

Graph of the week - Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK and EU

The above graph is from a report from the Office of National Statistics that looks at poverty and social exclusion across the EU. The graph shows the percentage of each country's population that is at risk of poverty and social exclusion.

It is worrying that the UK, which is third richest country in the EU after Germany and France is only better than the EU average. It seems we are "all in it together."

For more info download the whole report here.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Graph of the week - In work poverty in the UK

This graph from the Office of National Statistics report on Poverty and Employment Transitions in the UK and EU, 2007-2012 clearly shows that despite the UK being the third richest nation in the EU (after Germany and France) we rank 16th for in-work poverty and are only just bellow the EU average.

This is a statistic the government should be profoundly ashamed about.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Happy International Women's Day - but we could do better in the UK

Today is International Women's Day and you can find out more here. For the past nine years the World Economic Forum have produced a report with the Global Gender Gap (GGG) Index for countries all across the world.

The 2014 report is now available and it does not really make good reading for a rich and well developed nation like the UK, which is ranked 26 out 142 countries. The UK is unsurprisingly behind the Scandinavian countries which are known for their good gender equality, but the UK is also behind countries like  Nicaragua, Rwanda, Latvia, Burundi, Ecuador, Slovenia and Bulgaria. The full rankings can be found here.

The UK is ranked 48 out of 142 countries for wage equality.

The detailed gender equality analysis for the UK can be found here and is shows we still have a long way to go to get full gender equality.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Graph of the week - The Rise of Zero Hours Contracts

Zero hours contracts have been in the news a lot over the past few months, and the government have been claiming economic success with more people in employment. But is this telling the whole story?

We grabbed the data from the ONS website and knocked up a quick graph. In 2013 there was a big jump of over 300,000 additional people on zero hours contracts. So these people may be off the unemployment register, but they are not in decent, secure full-time employment.

Hardly the job creation miracle that some are claiming.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Make Birmingham a Living Wage City: Citizens UK Birmingham and Midlands TUC visit living wage employers

The Midlands TUC and Citizens UK Birmingham have joined forces in response to the revelation Birmingham Northfield is the top living wage blackspots in the country with 53.4 per cent of the jobs based there paying less than the living wage.

On Thursday afternoon, campaigners will be visiting employers in Birmingham City Centre to present a ‘thank you’ card for paying the Living Wage. Chocolate and campaign speech bubbles will also be presented to staff as part of the campaign to encourage more employers to commit to paying the Living Wage.

Midlands TUC Regional Secretary, Lee Barron, said:

“The appalling Birmingham living wage statistics revealed during Fair Pay Fortnight demonstrates the urgent need to make Birmingham a “Living Wage City. It is simply unacceptable that so many brummies, and people right across the Midlands, are not earning at least the Living Wage.

That is why it is right to give credit to those Birmingham employers who have committed to working with staff and unions to pay their workforce the Living Wage, and we will work with others to urge more employers to follow suit.

“The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it. But we need to see a far wider commitment to pay the living wage from government, employers and modern wages councils – to drive up productivity and set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more.”

Citizens UK Birmingham Organiser, Becca Kirkpatrick  said: 

“Citizens UK shares the TUC’s aspiration to make Birmingham a Living Wage city. Though there is much to do, Birmingham City Council, KPMG, Unity Trust Bank and others have already shown great leadership in helping to increase the number of accredited Living Wage employers here.

More employers every week are discovering that the Living Wage is not only good for the wellbeing of their staff and their families, it’s good for business too. We believe that everybody deserves to earn a Living Wage, and we will organise with our partners all year round to persuade more employers to pay it."