The Labour party conference is the main story across most of the newspapers with Labour leader Ed Miliband giving a strong interview on the Andrew Marr show – challenging Marr’s frequent interruptions - as a precursor to a day of debate. Unite helped set one of the key themes of the day with calls for a national investment bank while shadow chancellor Ed Balls set out a call for 100,000 affordable homes to be built to kick start the economy, receipts from the £3 billion sale of 4G licences could fund the deal. Balls (and Miliband) however remained under pressure over the backing for the Con-Dem’s coalition’s continuing public sector pay freeze which Unite general secretary said members were “furious” about and Len also warned that Labour would lose the next election if it copied coalition policies or allowed New Labour cuckoos to continue to hold sway in the party. Today will see Ed Balls outline his vision, although the words of GMB general secretary may ring in his ears as he’s quoted in a few papers: “Ed Balls! He’d give an aspirin a headache.” Unite will be pushing ‘Strategies for growth and defeating austerity” at a lunchtime (12:45) fringe at the Unite marquee with Len McCluskey, Jennie Formby, Owen Jones and Chuka Umunna.
And there is some good news on workers’ rights as the Mail reports that the European Court of Human Rights has given initial approval to an RMT challenge that the UK’s labour laws unfairly restrict the right to take strike action. Ministers had expected the judges to throw out the plea, but by allowing it to proceed the government will be forced to respond, let’s hope they don’t ask Andrew Mitchell to reply.
And still on union rights and the Telegraph reports that the latest idea from cabinet office minister Francis Maude is to ban promotions for union staff. Maude wants to single out some 250 officials in Whitehall who are full time representatives rather than the 10,000 that do some union work during office hours. More ominously the plans would allow Maude to agree directly to allowing any civil servant work for a union full time, a recipe for potential bullying and intimidation if ever there was one…
Elsewhere the cuts are continuing with the latest news being that 8,000 soldiers are expected to be in the firing line earlier than expected as they are to be handed fast track redundancies just after Christmas, nice timing.
And running out of time is the deadline for negotiations over the proposed BAE-EADS merger. Unite’s Ian Waddell and Tony Burke are both quoted in the papers, with the focus on protecting UK jobs, at least for once the government has hinted that ant agreement would be reliant on UK jobs being secured, the question will be for how long, especially as Germany and France have agreed a common position on the tie-up with the emphasis on maintaining controlling equity stakes in the defence giant. One other merger that is moving closer is between mining giants Glencore and Xstrata which has edged closer after an agreement on pay which allows shareholders to back the offer without having to endorse multimillion executive pay packages.
And from pay packages for the elite to ordinary people as today the ‘I’m in’ automatic enrolment in pensions in larger firms begins. Some nine million Brits should benefit from being drawn into the scheme, although how much it will generate in the long term is yet to be seen. What is sadly more striking is the national minimum wage also rises today, increasing by 11p to £6.18 an hour. However that 1.8 per cent rise remains below inflation so yet another cut for the poor from the Con-Dem coalition…
(no links all stories behind paywall)
- Spend phone windfall on new homes, says Labour (p1)
- Tributes to labour MP (p4)
- Cameron and Johnson on same team (p5)
- Redundancy danger arrives year early for thousands of troops (p8)
- RBS investigated for hotel takeover ‘fraud’ (p10)
- The PM can rise above the battle of the tiddlers – Tim Montgomerie (p23)
- Defence specialist sets course for a future out of uniform (p31) – Joe Conway quoted
- We’re as British as they come, says Aldi (p35)
(no links all stories behind paywall)
- Xstrata deal closer (p1)
and Paris unite on EADS line (p1)
- Balls’ call (p1-2)
- City fears Miliband bank threat (p2)
- ‘I’m in’ pensions rely on nudge theory (p3)
- Financial services groups shed 9,000 jobs (p4)
- Welcome back – again – to the eurozone crisis (p15)
- Opportunity, not necessity, in a BAE-EADS tie up – Ian King and Tom Enders (p15)
- BAE-EADS: UK suppliers keep anxious watch on talks (p23) – Tony Burke quoted
- Carmakers shift to lighter touch [to reduce weight and cost] (p24)
- Greyhound nears end of the road in UK (p26)
- BAT invests £100 million in alternative to cigarettes (p26)
Edited by Mik Sabiers