Archive | Political

Royal Mail workers vote to strike

Posted on 16 October 2013 by editor

Royal Mail workers have voted four-to0-one in favour of strike action on 4th Nov – the first national strike at Royal Mail in almost four years. 63% of union members took part, with 78% of those in favour of strike action.

The strike is to protect employees terms and conditions, which are under threat in view of the recent privatisation. The CWU has said that communications are still ongoing and they hope to avoid a strike on the 4th Nov.

Royal Mail was recently privatised with shares reaching a high of £4.89. On Tuesday, Royal Mail confirmed that full-time staff would receive 725 shares, worth £3,545 at Tuesday’s close. Labour has critisised the government for selling the shares too cheap.

The CWU’s deputy general secretary, Dave Ward, said: “Postal workers have spoken very clearly that they care about their jobs, terms and conditions far more than they care about shares.

“We have said from the beginning that we want an agreement and we still do. We have offered the company a two-week period to reach an agreement and having already had many hours of negotiation, this is achievable if there is a will.”

The strike will bear relief for some residents, as Royal Mail is widely used by Direct Marketers for unsolicited mail. Royal Mail however, have said that the strike could damage the service as customers and businesses seek to take their custom elsewhere.

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Posted on 08 October 2013 by editor

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London Midland cancels trains again

Posted on 07 December 2012 by editor

London Midland trains who operates the network between Birmingham-Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton-Walsall, Birmingham-London Euston, Coventry-Nuneaton and Lichfield-Redditch have cancelled 39 trains.

The operator has blamed a further shortage of drivers.

In Oct 133 trains were cancelled, and the latest cancellations means that there have now been over 900 trains cancelled due to driver shortage.

London Midland have said that new trainee drivers will be qualified by mid-December.

 

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Virgin Railways to continue running West Coast Mainline

Posted on 06 December 2012 by editor

Virgin Railways will continue operating the West Coast Mainline for a further two years.  This comes after a damning report into the way the tender process was handled by the Department of Transport.

Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary told MPs, in the Commons, that the independent report into the collapse of the tendering process for the West Coast mainline “made extremely uncomfortable reading” for his department. He stated that there was a “damning failure’ by the Department of Transport, after the report had found unacceptable flaws in the bidding process.

But Mr McLoughlin insisted that ministers had been given inaccurate reports and they had awarded the contract without being told about flaws in the bidding process.

It is estimated that the bungled tender process has cost in the region of £40million.

The first report that was released in Oct, highlighted problems with departmental officials failing to follow their own policies and guidelines, and failing to treat bidders fairly. It also indicated that inflation had not been taken into account.

The news that Virgin will run the line for a further two years is likely to be welcomed by the shareholders.  Tony Collins, Chief Executive of Virgin Rail Group, has promised “even better service”.

The news has been welcomed by many members of the public, with many saying that Virgin has been providing an excellent timely service, although some criticized their fares.

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Further job cuts at council run factory

Posted on 05 December 2012 by editor

A Birmingham City Council-run factory which employs people with learning disabilities is facing job cuts. The Erdington based factory which makes UPVC doors and windows and employs 81 people, has made losses of £4.5m over five years.

A review of the factory was conducted in 2011 and Birmingham City Council has said that the factory is outdated and 68 jobs are potentially at risk because it is able to operate with just 13 employees. Unison has described the cuts as ‘deeply disappointing’.

Councillor Tahir Ali said: “We are doing all we can to support staff with the aim of redeploying as many as possible within the city council or supporting them into mainstream employment.”

A number of people have taken redundancy, the council said. A report on the future of Shelforce is due to go before the council’s cabinet on Monday.

The council is under considerable pressure to make savings of £600m by 2017. It is also facing an enormous ‘fair pay’ bill, after it lost its recent tribunal on gender discrimination.

 

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London Midland Chaos

Posted on 26 October 2012 by editor

London Midland, which operates Birmingham-Coventry-Northampton, Lichfield-Birmingham-Redditch and Wolverhampton-Birmingham-Walsall-Rugeley lines have cancelled more than 400 trains in the last three weeks because of driver and staff shortage.

133 trains are expected to be cancelled on Sat 27th Oct 2012.

The operator runs more than 1,300 journeys a day, but has had to terminate services due to the shortfall in staff. A London Midland statement said: “Due to a temporary shortfall of qualified train drivers, we have had to cancel a number of trains over recent weeks. We’re sorry if you have been affected.”

Further cancellations are expected everyday until 11 Dec 2012.

Norman Baker, Rail Minister has said the firms performance will be monitored because it is currently ‘unacceptable’.

Local Birmingham businesses, in particular the retail sector has been hit, especially during the school half term.

More to follow…

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Massive cuts at Birmingham City Council

Posted on 23 October 2012 by editor

Birmingham City Council has reported that it must make savings of £600m by 2017, with 1100 jobs in jeopardy and services left in tatters as decommissioning was imminent. This is £200m more than previously thought when the government introduced spending cuts.

The coalition government responded by saying, Birmingham City Council has got £2,576 to spend on every household – more than the average in England of £2,186.

Council leader Sir Albert Bore said that the governments cuts to grants are to blame for the financial situation, which does not take into account population changes and inflation. Birmingham City Council wanted to raise council tax by 1.6%, but the government banned them from doing so. As a result this is the end of the council as we know it.

Councils are encouraged to be inventive and find new ways to work with partners like public agencies, schools and the business community to find different ways to do this.

The council has been know to employ over 19,000 individuals, but this figure is likely to reduce to approx 15,000 by the end of the cuts. The extent of the cuts and just how many jobs would have to be axed will not be known until mid November, but senior posts are at most risk.

Ravi Subramanian, Unison’s regional secretary for the West Midlands, said: “We want the council to stand up for Birmingham and take a strong message to Eric Pickles to say we need more money to keep our city services running.”

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Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell resigns

Posted on 19 October 2012 by editor

Governement Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell has finally quit after several weeks of mounting pressure over allegations he mistreated a serving police officer.  The Tory MP admitted that he swore at the officer whilst trying to cycle through the main Downing Street gate, but has denied calling the officer a “pleb”.

He informed Prime Minister, David Cameron who has stood by him since the allegations came to light – that continuous “damaging publicity” meant he could no longer carry out his duties. The resignation is likely to be warmly welcomed by the police federation and some member of Labour who have called for him to resign.

Andrew Mitchell has been an MP for Sutton Coldfield for the past 25 years. He was recently promoted to Chief Whip when David Cameron re-organised his cabinet in September.

We are though to believe that the prime minister has accepted his resignation.

Mr Mitchell – whose role as a Conservative MP was to maintain discipline on the Conservative benches – was thrust into the public spotlight when The Sun newspaper accused him of calling police “plebs”.

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Unemployment fails to fall in Birmingham

Posted on 17 October 2012 by editor

Recent figures released by the government reveals that the number of people out of work in the UK has declined for Sept 2012 from 8.1% to 7.9%. However, Ladywood, Hodgehill and Sparkbrook areas of Birmingham all failed to show progression. With over 10% in Ladywood and Hodgehill currently unemployed and figures for Sparkbrook are only marginly lower. All three areas have remained stagnant for the year.

The government said it was positive news, but Labour highlighted the growing numbers of people in temporary or part-time work because they could not get full-time, permanent jobs.

The ONS figures show that some 1.57 million people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance in September, a fall of 4,000 on the previous month.

A combination of more jobs being created and more people entering the workforce pushed the absolute number of people in employment to 29.6 million, the highest since these records began in 1971.

The percentage of people in work rose to 71.3%, the best rate since April 2009. “It’s a real landmark to see more people in work than ever before,” Employment Minister Mark Hoban said.

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