News digest 19 December 2013

News digest 19 December 2013

19 December 2013

Today’s digest opens with coverage of news that the UK unemployment rate has fallen to 7.2 per cent - its lowest level since 2009 - however, the drop masks the reality. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Unemployment falling will be welcome relief to many, but the underlying trends point to a growing part-time, low wage economy where the recovery is passing ordinary people by. Behind the headlines are hardworking people struggling to find a decent week’s work and make ends meet as the world of work becomes more insecure and inflation continues to outstrip wages. “Unemployment may be falling, but Cameron and Osborne’s cost of living crisis is deepening and forcing working people to food banks this Christmas. The government needs to boost the minimum wage and invest to create a high skilled economy where people are paid a decent wage for a decent day’s work.”

There was also a boisterous House of Commons debate on the rise of food banks and poverty in the country, which was marked by the contrast on either side of the house. The government benches seemed to revel in the stories of how ordinary people were struggling – even cheering at times - while the opposition was shocked in to silence at the stories, and at the audacity of the government’s actions and denial of the scale of the problem. Leading for the government, employment minister Esther McVey said: "In the UK it is right that more people are... going to food banks.” Yes really. The reality is that the government is burying its head in the sand as its callous polices drive the country backwards. Unite is calling for an immediate £1.50 rise in the national minimum wage, for the government to hold a proper inquiry into the rise in the use of food banks and also to publish its own report on food banks, or has it got something to hide?

And there’s more misery on the way as the government also announced that England's councils will face an average spending cut of 2.9 per cent in the year 2014-15. Unite damned communities secretary Eric Pickles, arguing mass scale cuts to council budgets will lead to the death of local government and heap punishment on the most vulnerable in society. Unite national officer Fiona Farmer said: “This government is presiding over the complete meltdown of local services … this is a shamelessly political settlement which rewards wealthy Tory councils and punishes the less well off. The government will be gambling on the public blaming local councils for service cuts, but it is wrong; the public understand where the real blame lies - at the door of the communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles.”

Elsewhere, the Co-op bailout has been approved, so it is goodbye to its old mutual status, it could also be au revoir to House of Fraser as Galaries Lafayette is looking at buying the chain, although if the deal takes time they’ll have to pay with plastic money as the Bank of England plans to phase in plastic notes from 2016. However, over in the US the money tap is being turned off as the Fed announced an end to its stimulus package, but is the recovery really happening for working people? Business secretary Vince Cable seems to think zero hours are fine, and its business as usual for Vodafone which the FT says has cut its tax bill by a fifth, and we thought Vodafone didn’t pay tax, but the front page of the Indie simply sums up the recovery by stating: “The New tax code: Take from the poor, but not the rich.” The day we get rid of this shambles of a government and elect one that really understands what life is like for ordinary people can’t come any sooner…

Edited by Mik Sabiers
The digest will be taking a short seasonal break and will return in January 2014 – season’s greetings to all.

  Morning Star

  • Con-Dems drop cuts bomb on councils (p1) – Unite/Fiona Farmer cited
  • Millions of jobless face bleak Xmas (p3) – Unite/Len McCluskey cited)
  • Renold staff in 24-hour walkout (p3) – Unite/Simon Coop cited
  • Firm fined over horror arm injury (p4)
  • Coca-Cola staff set to protest cuts (p5 ) – Unite/Sarah Mitchell cited
  • Vulture takeover of Co-op approved (p5)
  • Alternatives to Amazon (p8)

  Daily Mirror

  Sun (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • ‘Turkey’ Ed Balls stuffed (p2)
  • Immigration campaign (p15)
  • Jobless total at four year low (p18)
  • Zero hours deal axe (p18)
  • French may bid for House of Fraser (p46)
  • Plastic cash by 2016 (p46)
  • £1.5 billion Co-op rescue (p47)



  Times (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Thousands of homes to be built on green belt (p1)
  • Record 30 million in work (p4)
  • Harman lashes out at Labour chief over women’s role (p16) – Unite/Len McCluskey cited
  • IDS is saving social security – Tim Montgomerie (p31)
  • TUI restores dividend (p46)
  • Profit warning for Fiord (p48)




  FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Fed bond buying cut (p1)
  • Balls sets out to find spending cuts (p2)
  • Jobless figures raise concerns over forward guidance (p2)
  • Doctors should prescribe, not promote – John Gapper (p13)
  • Ford turn for worse (p17)
  • Vodafone cuts tax bill by a fifth (p18)
  • Swedish jet orders lift Saab (p20)
  • Boeing heir lined up (p20) 

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