News digest 18 December 2014

News digest 18 December 2014

18 December 2014

Today’s digest covers the good, the bad and the paltry. It opens with good news for the Miami 5 after US president Barack Obama announced a major shift in diplomatic relations with Cuba which saw US authorities exchange the three remaining members of the Miami 5 – five Cubans imprisoned for campaigning against terrorism - for American prisoner Alan Gross. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This historic move is the culmination of years of campaigning by the wives of the Miami Five and campaigners across the globe. It is difficult to imagine not seeing your children grow up or seeing your family properly for over a decade. That has been the story of the Miami Five and their unjust imprisonment, of missed years and a continual fight for justice. The Miami Five’s plight has been an issue close to the heart of Unite and its predecessor unions. Their release owes much to the energy of former general secretary Tony Woodley, their release shows what can be achieved through solidarity and perseverance, and will see families torn apart not just in Cuba, but in the United States brought together again after years of heartache.”

From the good news of the release of the Miami 5 to the bad news on the bedroom tax where despite a strong push in parliament the Labour motion to axe the hated bedroom tax fell. MPs voted 298 to 266 against the Labour motion to axe the tax that is heaping misery on people in social housing, it could only have passed with the support of the Lib Dems, but as ever when it comes to policy they say one thing [Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has supposedly ‘questioned’ the bedroom tax by saying he cannot support in its current form] but do another [namely trot through the Tory lobbies to back it in its current form!]. Labour’s Rachel Reeves said: “Time and time again we've tried to get this cruel law scrapped - and every time the government has voted to keep it. If one thing's clear, it's that the Tories and Lib Dems really, really like the bedroom tax. But we are disgusted by it. This is a moral issue: the tax hits hardest at the most vulnerable, most of all children in poverty and people with disabilities. So no matter how many times they vote to protect it, we will keep pushing the government to scrap it.” All you need to remember is that we now have the definite list of who backs the bedroom tax, so make sure they pay for it at the ballot box.

And finally there is the paltry, and although many of the [right-wing] papers herald the [supposed] rise in pay packets as inflation dipped yet again, the reality is that there has been a little boost to private sector pay [in other words big bonuses for those at the top] while the public sector and ordinary workers continue to suffer pay freezes or minimal rises. The FT reports that oil companies are cutting pay rates as oil prices drop [did they increase them in the good times?], while the Telegraph reports that people are risking their health while trying to hang on to their jobs. But the simplest example of how pay ‘rises’ are delivered is the coverage of the dnata dispute with ground handlers where staff were offered a rise of just half what supervisors were to be given. Unite regional officer Kevin Hall said: "Strike action is very much a last resort and our members are mindful of the potential disruption it could cause. It is extremely disappointing that dnata has acted in such a high handed way and sought to split the workforce between the haves and the have nots. Hardworking staff have seen their supervisors enjoy a pay rise double the amount that was imposed on them.” So much for rising wages, as ever it’s filling the pockets of those who already get the most…

Edited by Mik Sabiers

  Morning Star (not delivered)

  • Freedom for the Miami 5 (p1)

  Daily Mirror

  Sun (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • Squeeze cheer as pay rises (p2)
  • Air strike warning (p19) – Unite cited
  • Moscow rouble crisis (p49)
  • Lloyds in new year sell off (p49)



  Times (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • In from the cold (p1/6-9)
  • Council tax frozen again (p5)(p)
  • Osborne claims cuts will put Britain back in black (p21)
  • Ukip matched spending by Tories (p21)
  • Earnings finally outstrip inflation (p31)
  • The splintering of the Left is the big Tory hope – Tim Montgomerie (p37) – Unite/Len McCluskey cited
  • Russia crisis (p45)
  • Lloyds shares ‘dribbled out’ to market (p47)
  • Taxpayer lost £180m in Royal Mail sale (p51)




  FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Obama and Castro in prisoner swap (p1)
  • Chancellor targets £3bn from Lloyds share sale (p1/4)
  • Royal Mail sale lost £180m (p2)
  • Miliband attacks Tories’ 1930s vision (p2)
  • Wages on rise (p3)
  • The low frills, long-haul gamble (p11)
  • The sharing economy must share the risks – John Gapper (p13)
  • Visteon to shed air con stake (p21)
  • Wood Group cuts North Sea wages after price slump (p22) - Unite cited

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