Podcast Ep. 77: Pepsi Air Strikes End War In Syria

Right Dishonourable Pepsi diabetes gag

US president Donald Trump’s new interest in bombing Syria, handbags during the leadership election at the union Unite, and the – like – super-offensive Pepsi advert featuring cleb Kendall Jenner are the topics three this week.

Joining us is Ely, better known as aTalkingDude on YouTube, where he discusses British politics, identity politics and much besides.

Image based on Pepsi Delivery Truck by Mike Mozart

What the ONS data really tells us about zero-hour contracts

Contract by Branko Collin

The number of workers on zero-hour contracts, which guarantee no working hours to staff, has risen 19 percent in the year to June to 744,000, or 2.4 percent of those in employment, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Wednesday.

The use of such contracts has been controversial in the past, with some arguing they disadvantage workers and allow firms to dodge the greater obligations to staff that come with full or part-time contracts. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the union TUC, said of the figures:

“Zero-hours contracts are a stark reminder of Britain’s two-tier workforce. People employed on these contracts earn £300 a week less, on average, than workers in secure jobs. I challenge any minister or business leader to survive on a low-paid zero-hours contract job, not knowing from one day to the next how much work they will have.”

But supporters of the contracts argue that they allow people to work flexible hours, and are actually popular among those that use them. To find the truth the Right Dishonourable dug into the data.

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Unite chief Len McCluskey disputes Tory dalliance with minimum wage

Transport House, Belfast in May 2015 by William Murphy

Len McCluskey of Unite called for more power for trade unions as he attacked the Tories’ record on prosecuting firms that avoid paying the minimum wage, in the wake of enforcement reforms from the governing party.

Speaking on Tuesday after the Conservatives detailed their plans, the head of Britain’s largest trade union questioned whether the self-declared “party of working people” truly had the plebs’ best interests at heart,  claiming there is “no substitute for strong unions at work”:

“Given the record of the Tory party on worker protection it will take some leap of faith to believe that they are now converted to the cause.

 

“Ministers themselves admit workers rarely secure the full return of the wages swindled out of them by an employer, and under this government exploited workers have been priced out of pursuing justice through industrial tribunal.”

On the same day the Tories announced plans to double penalties for those flouting minimum wage laws, increase the enforcement budget, set up a prosecution unit in tax authority HMRC, and disqualify wage cheats from directing companies for up to 15 years.

Though the business secretary Sajid Javid claimed the “one nation” Tories were “committed to making work pay and making sure hardworking people get the salary they are entitled to”, in July 2013 his party introduced employment tribunal fees for aggrieved workers and claims have since dropped.

Unrestrained by the Liberal Democrats, Javid and his ilk are also attacking union rights through the Trade Union Bill, which seeks to undermine unions’ ability to strike and potentially restrict Labour’s access to them as a source of funding.

“Trade unions are the frontline response to workplace injustice,” McCluskey said. “The truth is, when the government brings forward its bill to bring ruin to unions they will give rogue employers the upper hand.

 

“Instead of making it a mission to destroy unions, the government would be better occupied talking to us on solutions to the problems of Britain’s workplaces.”

Early this summer Unite backed hard leftist Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election, one of the moves that has led the North Islington MP to become the expected winner of the contest.

Image Credit – Transport House, Belfast in May 2015 by William Murphy

9 photos that sum up what the End Austerity Now march meant

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – In Conclusion

Anti-austerity campaigners and assorted leftists gathered on the streets of London last Saturday to protest against the Conservative government elected barely a month ago.

As with many of these marches the turnout was a hodgepodge of various interest groups united only in their disdain for the Tories and objection to public service cuts that the government will impose over the next parliament.

Here is the day in nine photos. (Well, ten if you include the header.)

1. No right-turns please

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – No Right Turn

2. The day’s weirdest float?

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Hands Up For Education

3. A bit of Marxist theory

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Austerity is a Bourgeois Construct

4. The, er, feeling is mutual

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Ipswich Says Fuck No

5. Bit of a balls up

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Red Unite Balls

6.  “I think I may have made a mistake.”

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Jewish Leprechaun

7. The placard that shows its working

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – David Cameron Hypocrite

8. One of the more polite banners

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Fucking Tories Etc

9. Savoy faces unwelcome news

End Austerity Now, 20 June 2015 – Cannot Eat Savoy

Photos by J.C. Servante. Words by Jimmy Nicholls

Unite slams cuts in oil that risk ‘another Piper Alpha’

Oil rigs, North Sea oil, Scotland, UK

 ABERDEEN – The trade union Unite has warned that spending cuts and job losses in oil could prompt another disaster on the scale of Piper Alpha’s, which led to the death of 167 people in 1988.

Tumbling oil prices in the last few weeks have led to a series of cuts in the sector, with energy consultant Wood Mackenzie estimating $170bn (£113bn) worth of cuts will be needed to maintain debt levels.

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