This report was written by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group (CACCTU). It builds on and develops the earlier work produced by CACCTU, One Million Climate Jobs (2014). The editorial group and contributors to this report are trade unionists, environmental activists and campaigners and academics who have collaborated to update and expand the previous work. Most importantly, this updated report is a response to the urgency of the climate crisis and the type and scale of the transition needed to match it.
The Covid-19 pandemic is the latest crisis to expose western economic and social orthodoxies as wholly inadequate for meeting modern global challenges which also include climate change, poverty, war and the mass displacement of people. In the UK, massive state intervention has been necessary, not least to ameliorate some of the effects of 40 years of austerity which intensified following the 2008 global financial crash. Our population has been exposed, not just to a deadly virus, but also to the importance of key – previously undervalued – workers (producers) and the impotence of markets.
The government’s initial laissez-fair response which sought to develop a Darwinian “herd immunity” has been forced to evolve quickly, take heed of progressive voices such as the TUC and now includes measures to underwrite the incomes of tens of millions of people – not out of benevolence but in order to maintain consumer demand and the stability of financial institutions in the short-term.
When organs of monopoly capital such as the Financial Times begin speculating about a post-pandemic economy requiring “radical reform” in which “public services [are] investments rather than liabilities…[when we must] look for ways to make labour markets less insecure” and “redistribution” is necessary, it becomes obvious that conditions are ripe for fundamental change. Things probably will never be the same again but our movement needs to be clear that minor reforms do not represent the sum total of our ambitions – even if, in the early days of an anticipated backlash or intensified class conflict, they appear to represent a welcome alternative to the default prospect of a period of much longer and much harsher austerity.
Aims for a post-pandemic consensus
Many workplaces, from hospitals to warehouses, supermarkets to schools and mail depots to care homes are unable any longer to be managed through a system of strict command and control. Workplace pluralism has broken out and is now recognised as necessary to optimise organisational efficiency and safety which is essential for the effectiveness of the public response to a national crisis and represents an opportunity for a renaissance of trade union activity.
Taking the existing provisions of the TUC Campaign Plan, Charter for a new deal for working people and considering the spirit behind the motions submitted to the postponed 2020 Annual Conference of the TUC North West, the Executive Group has considered the appropriate immediate tasks. These assume that the TUC and affiliated unions will form a functional part of the interventions required from civic society if we are to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic with a renewed relevance and appetite to deliver progress for the people we represent:
A stronger voice at work
The producers in the economy have assumed a new significance and found renewed respect throughout the public health crisis. Medical and social care professions, shop and distribution workers, engineers and other workers in the fields of education, communications, sanitation and transport; public sector employees engaged in welfare, justice, housing, social work and beyond; and thousands of other jobs and vocations which were previously undervalued at best or exploited, and even demonised at worst, but are now held in higher regard by society at large. Their workplace voice is being heard more clearly and with more confidence than at any time since the peak of collective bargaining influence in the mid-1970s with examples including the demands for personal protective equipment in hospitals, the practical and academic arrangements for schools to remain open for those who need them but closed for the majority of students and the social distancing regimes which are now routine in factories, depots, warehouses and shops.
Going forward, a recalibrated industrial balance tipped in our favour is essential; backed up with a range of new and legally enforceable, collective workplace rights to secure effective mechanisms for regulating relations between workers and employers of any size. International Labour Organisation conventions and publications such as the Institute of Employment Rights’ Guide to a Progressive Industrial Relations Bill provide a template for such an initiative to be progressed by the TUC and supportive organisations, consistent with existing policy and in conjunction with affiliates.
Employment, security and flexible working
The lockdown announced on 23 March has exposed a range of inefficiencies in traditional ways of working and forced a reconsideration of how technology can assist workers rather than be used to replace them. Video conferencing and digital communications have become commonplace and have replaced physical meetings – saving time, stress and significant levels of pollution from unnecessary travel on congested transport networks.
The process of “furloughing” (Job Retention Scheme), introduced in no small part as a product of TUC lobbying, challenges a whole plethora of assumptions about the role of the state and its relationship with industry, incomes policy, the markets and maintenance of some sort of temporary order in the wider economy. Moreover, the scandal of precarious employment, bogus self-employment and casualisation more generally, now needs to force a fundamental re-think about job security – not least because as many as 11 million workers are expected to fall between the gaps in the government’s emergency provisions.
Globalisation and global markets have proven unable to provide an adequate response to the crisis, as exemplified by the absence of a domestic manufacturing sector capable of responding as quickly and effectively as required, for example, to produce medical ventilators, clinical gowns, masks and other types of PPE. With UK business investment and productivity continuing to decline and global debt to GDP at historic levels, the recovery from the crisis requires significant state intervention, specifically in respect of long-term domestic industrial development, research, skills and job creation, including new Green Jobs, towards a policy of full employment.
Flexible working and home-working have proven effective in ways that employers might not have previously thought possible and, with a few exceptions, unions have been able to secure pragmatic agreements on the use of discipline, capability, performance management, redundancy consultation and other Human Resource Management initiatives during the crisis. This reorientation needs to be secured after the crisis subsides with a transformation of management techniques and practices which are leveraged by confident workers with a better understanding of industrial relations.
Welfare, tax and public services
The fragility of social care provision has been brought into even sharper focus throughout the crisis – not least in respect of the lack of coordination around the provision of Personal Protective Equipment for an enormously undervalued group of professional Carers. Though just one example of the failure of market provision, this can provide the basis for a popular campaign of nationalisation and insourcing of a wide range services which have been removed from democratic control since the post-war consensus made way for neo-liberalism in the 1970’s but which have been demonstrated to be essential for societies to thrive and in reducing inequality.
This requires a new way of thinking about who contributes to society and how those contributions are valued. Hedge-fund managers and financiers were nowhere near the top of the list of “key workers” as identified by the government but to ensure that all citizens and corporations meet their social responsibility obligations it is necessary to re-evaluate how taxes on high salaries, profits and accumulated assets can contribute to a transformational programme of societal and economic reform. Such a programme does of course require sufficient numbers of trained staff to collect tax owed and circumvent domestic and international loopholes which currently allow and facilitate large-scale tax avoidance and evasion.
Reforms of the type described can provide a solid basis for root-and-branch social security reform in the interests of families; sick, disabled or retired workers and the professional staff who care for them.
Safe, satisfying and dignified work
Many workplaces have looked and felt different during the crisis with workers organising themselves to take control of social distancing matters and assert rights to other protective measures including access to equipment. This needs to be maintained and would be assisted by the introduction of new and enhanced health and safety legislation, under a reinvigorated Health and Safety Executive with strong worker representation, which goes beyond the protections offered by the European Union and provides recognised safety reps with additional powers to control the management of risks.
Alienation is a phenomenon that has long since afflicted a range of workers and this becomes more problematic with the advent of “lean” processing, excessive monitoring and intrusive surveillance made possible by exploitative bosses’ misuse of new technologies allied with management practices which have persisted since the industrial revolution. Enhanced workplace democracy allied with investments in life-long learning, skills, training and development can provide for more rewarding careers, higher levels of job satisfaction and a better work/life balance based on a shorter working week and better holiday provision.
One of the positives to emerge from the crisis is a new sense of solidarity that is evident among workers. This needs to be grasped as a new opportunity to build sustainable links within and between communities – and between nations – which helps us to root out racism, sexism, homophobia and any other prejudice which might otherwise be in danger of being exploited by the far-right.
Building class unity and winning a new deal for working people
Our unions already contribute to joint campaigns on issues such as health, education, welfare and transport, and Trades Councils provide the vital link between the workplace and the wider working-class community including service users. Many of our affiliated unions will maintain a direct link through the political levy with the Labour Party and actively participate within it. However, for the remainder of the pandemic and in its immediate aftermath, communities will rightly expect a new social settlement which is designed, planned, implemented and monitored in a manner which promotes maximum democratic participation and sustainability at local community level. This will not prejudice our international solidarity work; indeed, the opposite is true as an effective response to a domestic, post-pandemic class conflict will provide a range of opportunities to contribute to global campaigns for justice and genuine expressions of internationalism.
Economists have estimated that UK private enterprises will require a £350bn bailout in the period following the crisis and the working-class will need to prepare for a significant battle if we are to avoid being left to pick up the bill in a similar fashion to that which followed the global banking crisis of 2008. If left unopposed, working people will have job losses, pay cuts and evictions to look forward to while the public services that remain, albeit wounded, from the last attack will be further undermined. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Our working class institutions and the people who make them up have demonstrated their legitimacy and ability in running civic institutions and productive enterprises on new and better terms when transmission rates of the virus eventually subside and we emerge in to the post-pandemic period with a new outlook on society and our individual and collective roles within in it.
Conclusion and recommendations
There can be no going back to pre-pandemic societal and economic conditions. The TUC will need to make a crucial contribution to popularising the principals and demands set out above as part of a broad coalition which includes individual affiliates, civic society and progressive community-based organisations.
We will work to ensure that the TUC:
Reaches out at regional and local level to allied organisations who share our broad aims with an invitation to come together to explore opportunities for joint working towards winning mainstream support for a new settlement for working class people won through genuine participatory democracy not necessarily limited to traditional structures
Utilises all its resources to contribute to a programme of political education designed to support the above aims
Encourages its Officers to seize the initiative now to broaden support for these aims through proactive media interventions, publication of articles, opinion pieces, blogs and a coordinated social media campaign
Through its network of Trade Councils, seeks to play a leading role in the community organising necessary to prepare to win the post-pandemic social settlement in our interests
Monitors, critiques and effectively challenges attempts to structure economic and democratic reforms in the immediate aftermath of the crisis which are contrary to the aims set out above
Local council tax support is currently given to around 30,000 individuals and families in the Bolton Borough whose personal circumstances mean that they are eligible for financial help to pay their council tax. The Council are proposing that the local council tax support scheme be amended as of 1st April 2021 and are asking residents to voice their opinion as part of their review.
Whether or not council will pay heed to any contribution from the public is uncertain. Bolton TUC nevertheless urge as many residents as possible to voice their opinions and to oppose any attempt to reduce the number of people who may be eligible or to reduce the amount paid to those who qualify, especially under present circumstances.
To give you an idea of the type of comments you might care to make, here’s an example of one already submitted by a Trades Council delegate earlier this week.
While the Conservative Government are inflicting another £40 million of cuts upon the people of Bolton they are at the same time handing out over £1.9 Billion to supermarket chains via the Treasury’s 12-month holiday on business rates. This is resulting in bumper payouts worth millions to shareholders. In response we demand that the central government not only make up the £40 million shortfall but set forth a package of economic regeneration that will see a genuine economic recovery for all the people of Bolton.
The Treasury’s 12-month holiday on business rates was sold to us as essential financial support to businesses to prevent them from going under and unemployment increasing, but as is often the case, the real winners were not small local businesses but instead supermarkets who have seen sales soar and will continue to do so under a lockdown.
The Conservatives claim to be a party of low taxation but instead we see a consultation taking place on proposals for an amendment to the local council tax support scheme that will see us paying more council tax at a time when unemployment is rising and the level of in work poverty is at it highest rate ever.
As there wasn’t an ‘Other’ option to this question our Trades Council delegate chose not to reply.
Our argument remains the same throughout, in that the only way to build a strong vibrant economy is by investing in the infrastructure and the skills of the future, not using our tax to reward Tory Party donors.
Tributes have poured in from across the trades union and Labour movement following the death of much loved veteran trades unionist and lifelong Socialist Brian Northey who died last Tuesday aged 80. He is survived by his wife Lynn, his daughter Ann, son John and his grandchildren.
Leading those paying tribute to the former AEU, Amicus & Unite full-time official, as well as former Bolton Trades Council President during the 1970s & 80s, Unite the Union colleague and Bolton Councillor, Martin McMulkin said: “Brian touched the lives of thousands of people with his integrity, humour and big heart. Brian’s legacy will live on because wherever people stand against injustice and believe a better world is possible, Brian’s spirit will stand with them and his flame will burn in their hearts”.
“Politically Brian was a committed socialist and played an active part in local and national politics, chairing his local Breightmet Branch and Bolton North East Constituency.
“He never shied away from holding to account local and national career politicians who he believed where not acting in the interest of the working class.”
Bolton Trades Council’s Secretary, Andrea Egan said: “He was a fighter for the working class who campaigned all his life for a better world, and for those who knew him personally he was a great inspiration. He never minced his words, was straight to the point and God help if you were on the receiving end.
“Brian will leave us with a big gap in our lives and for many a big gap in our hearts, but he will always remain in our minds and with us in our fights ahead.”
Writing in The Morning Star newspaper his long-time Labour Party and Trades Council colleague Bernie Gallagher writes:
“He came from a humble background and struggled financially for many years with a young family after being blacklisted for trade union activities. As a consequence, he fought all his life for the repeal of anti-trade union legislation.
“In 2016 Brain was awarded the Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Socialism by the Bolton Socialist Club. In his nomination he was described as ‘The scourge of employers across Bolton and beyond’ as it was said that he always put the members first.
“It is the view of many in the Labour Party, and an opinion shared by many beyond, that Brian was the finest full-time union official the town has ever seen.
“Known simply as Northey to his members and friends who he served with dedication, commitment and passion, Brian’s contribution to improving the life of so many is immeasurable.”
Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions (CSEU) General Secretary Ian Weddell said Brian was “…a tireless, life-long campaigner and Socialist. Chair of CSEU District 29 long into his retirement with a keen interest in seeing money from the 35 hour week campaign go to good use in the Alex Ferry Foundation. He was a friend and comrade who will be sorely missed”
Former local (NUT) Teachers’ Union and Trades Council Secretary Tom Hanley said: “Brian was part of the fabric of trade unionism in Bolton for as long as I can remember.
“His dry sense of humour, often accompanied by tales that might have provoked defamation claims if repeated, lightened many a post-meeting pint. But his energy and commitment to trade unionism was immediately evident (I think it led to his being blacklisted during Thatcherism). He was active in most campaigns for workers rights throughout his working life and beyond, and was never afraid to get stuck in where necessary.
“I will miss him, value the time I’ve spent with him, and celebrate his great contribution to improving the life of so many by his unswerving commitment to building a world which serves the many, and opposing always the powerful few who stand in our way.”
Fellow Breightmet Labour Party colleague, NHS Ward Sister Marlene Stringfellow said:
“I first met Brian in 2016, when I joined the Labour Party. He was still the Chair of the Breightmet ward at that point. Brian was most welcoming and encouraging – and although I knew him only for a relatively short time, he certainly made a huge impact.
“During the 2017 leadership contest, I came to appreciate his commitment. He always made himself available as we campaigned locally, despite his health beginning to to fail at that point. However, I came to recognise that he was a colossus and clearly respected by many with his unflinching socialist ideals.
“He often had a twinkle in his eye, as delivered his colourful speeches. He became very dear to me, and will be greatly missed…..”
There are many other tributes and kind comments on our Facebook page.
Brian’s funeral will take place at 1.00pm next Tuesday 17th November at the West Chapel, Overdale Crematorium , Overdale Drive (off Chorley New Road), Bolton BL1 5BU
Members of the Trades Council and Brian’s other Trades Union and Labour Party colleagues are being asked if they wish to, and are able to get there, to stand outside the West Chapel from 12.30pm onwards in a socially distanced show of respect for Brian and of solidarity with Lynn and other members of his family at this sad occasion. Please note masks are to be worn throughout.
We think Brian would also want all his comrades and friends to heed the famous words of Joe Hill and rather than mourn is passing to instead step up their organisation and effort to achieve all the things he himself devoted his life to fighting for.
National Education Union joint general secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney called on the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to adopt the NEU’s policy proposals to tackle child poverty.
This was based upon new research published by the End Child Poverty coalition shows the shocking reality of child poverty in the UK, even before the further impacts of Covid and recession. Our big cities continue to have very high rates of child poverty – particularly London and Birmingham – whilst the North East of England has experienced the greatest rises in child poverty since 2014/15.
The analysis, in a report commissioned by the End Child Poverty coalition, shows that here in Bolton in 2014/15 just over 32% of children aged 16 and under were living in families with low incomes and that has risen by 6% to 39% in 2018 / 19 we can only wonder what that figure will now be under a pandemic.
The plight of children going hungry is one that Marcus Rashford has taken the government to task over recently urging his 3.4 million Twitter followers to lobby MPs to back his campaign which was taken up by Labour’s motion calls for the scheme to be extended over school holidays until Easter 2021.
The Labour party’s analysis showed that nearly one million children living in areas subject to Tier 2 and Tier 3 corona virus restrictions are set to lose access to free school meals over the coming holidays.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “This vote is about our values as a country and whether the government, in the middle of this crisis, is happy to let our children go hungry. “Millions of families up and down the country are facing a bleak winter of real hardship as the furlough scheme is withdrawn and further restrictions are put in place without proper support for businesses, jobs and livelihoods.”
The government had previously bowed to pressure and extended meals over the summer holidays, but whipped Tory MPs to defeat the motion by 322 votes to 261 a majority of 61 showing their promise of levelling up to be nothing more than hot air with Bolton MPs voting
Members voting ‘aye’ (in favour of the Labour motion)
Yasmin Qureshi – Labour (Bolton South East)
Members voting ‘no’ (against the Labour motion)
Mark Logan – Conservative (Bolton North East)
Chris Green – Conservative (Bolton West)
Meanwhile Nicola Sturgeon announced the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment, which is an additional payment of £10 per child per week for low income families.
Bolton Against COVID Evictions (BACE) was set up specifically to reduce the impact of COVID 19 on the most vulnerable members of our community.
No one should lose their home because of COVID 19 arrears yet Bolton faces a bow wave of COVID related evictions.
We aim to help people stay in their homes through providing advice and support to tenants and by demanding that the Local Authority and Landlords fulfil their obligations and remain within the law.
We seek a permanent solution that will see council houses built and managed by the local authority.
PRESS RELEASE 21-09-2020
Monday the 21st September will see us in Bolton Town centre calling for the government to do more for those who will be threatened with eviction and calling upon Bolton Council to prepare for additional renters seeking emergency housing assistance from them.
In a very short time we have seen our support grow amongst Trade Union, Community and faith groups across Bolton who share our concerns and are proud to work alongside Greater Manchester Law Centre and Greater Manchester Tenants union.
The threat of eviction for those with COVID 19 arrears
Homelessness often has lifelong consequences for people. The social and financial costs of homelessness and resettlement are huge and will fall to our already over stretched council.
Precarious employment, zero hour contracts, a shrinking jobs market and the worst sick pay in Europe all contribute to the increasing vulnerability of renters with many people struggling with in work poverty and just one pay packet away from destitution. Giving people longer to pay only delays the inevitable, you cant pay 24 months rent with only 22 months pay
Israel has gone into the 2nd lockdown and we in Bolton are worried about the lack of testing and how that may allow a second wave to develop under our noses making many of our community even more vulnerable.
Families who are evicted often have their work, school and access to medical care disrupted too.
In her review of the ONS analysis by local area and socio-economic deprivation Bolton Councils Consultant in Public Health Lynn Donkin concluded that “Therefore we might expect to see disproportionate impact of COVID 19″
In March Robert Jenrick said that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”. But the government have done little more that to kick the can down the road which gives renters little comfort and we need to see a long term solution to the housing crisis. Firstly by the halting evictions until the end of august then giving a 11th hour reprieve pushing that date back to 21st September and more recently banning evictions for six months the government have shown a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to come to the aid of renters as they did their friends in business.
The financial cost of evictions will fall upon the public purse and we demand an fully resourced intervention.
Have not assessed the potential number of evictions
Is unprepared for the additional evictions
Will end up overstretched unless they prepare
Will foot the bill for emergency accommodation
In a response to a member of our group the lead member for the council replied that
We don’t know about possession orders because we don’t have a Mag’s court.
This is something that GM are looking at
1. We don’t know about possession orders because we don’t have a Mag’s court.
Possession orders are heard in County Court, not the Magistrates, Bolton has one within the combined courts.
The authorities duties under HRA extends the period an applicant is “threatened with homelessness” from 28 to 56 days, and in addition ensures that anyone that has been served with a valid section 21of the Housing Act 1988eviction notice that expires in 56 days or less is classed as “threatened with homelessness”
Prevention is the key here and hence our question about assessment of the problem and allocation of resources
It is possible that a tenant does who does not have the correct advice who leaves when a landlord serves a notice could be deemed intentionally homeless and the council would claim that they therefore have not got a duty towards them
The advise is always stay put (unless a risk of harm)
2. This is something that GM are looking at
The duty falls to the council, and whilst there may be collaboration, you’d hope that there was, the duty remains with BMBC for its residents.
There may be ways in which we can help to prevent you from being homeless.
If you’re having problems with any of the following, please get in touch with us:
Your landlord has asked you to leave……..
We can help you stay in your accommodation by offering:
A mediation service
Help with your money
Talking to your landlord on your behalf
Advising you of your rights and responsibilities
Support with your tenancy
Find alternative accommodation
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (HRA) will be enacted from April 2018. … The Act places a number of new or strengthened duties on local authorities that are designed to ensure all households at risk of homelessness receive earlier and more effective interventions
The part of the HRA that we are most concerned with at this point is outlined in Policy Fact Sheet: Threatened with Homelessness clause 1, which we are most focused on extends the period an applicant is “threatened with homelessness” from 28 to 56 days, and in addition ensures that anyone that has been served with a valid section 21of the Housing Act 1988eviction notice that expires in 56 days or less is classed as “threatened with homelessness”
We are calling upon Greater Manchester social housing landlords to pledge never to seek possession for rent arrears on “mandatory” grounds and hence reduce the risk of unjust evictions resulting from CV19 by making one significant commitment –
A pledge not to issue rent arrears possession proceedings on mandatory grounds.