News digest 26 March 2014

News digest 26 March 2014

26 March 2014

Today’s top reads: Stories to keep an eye out for:

·                Real Britain Ros on welfare ‘reform’ – Mirror

·                Pay to overtake inflation – Telegraph

·                Offshore wind farms vital amid tensions with Russia, says energy secretary – Guardian

·                Honda to cut Swindon car production, threatening 340 jobs – Guardian

·                1,600 axed as workers pay price of Royal mail privatisation - Mirror

Today’s digest starts with a simple story from the Mirror’s Real Britain Ros column which highlights the case of Lyn Ward, a 56-year old mother who has been forced back to work even though she is being treated for cancer and has had an operation to remove a breast tumour as well as chemo- and radiotherapy. She has been forced back to work because some 11 months after her diagnosis she has yet to receive her personal independence payment which is supposed to help with the extra costs of living with serious illnesses; the funds just don’t come through. And the government’s response, it seems Atos can do what it wants while chancellor George Osborne works to introduce a so-called ‘welfare cap’ today, the reality is shown by these stark examples. So much for the Con-Dem coalition helping Lyn with the cost of living…

The latest inflation figures were announced yesterday and saw a further dip to a four year low of 1.7 per cent for February 2014. The fall was helped by a drop in petrol prices, aided by a fall in gas and electricity bills plus clothing prices. The RPI – used to set many pay deals – also dipped to 2.7 per cent, however even with that the decline in real wages continued with the average change in earnings standing at 1.4 per cent, effectively people are seeing pay cuts in real terms. That’s why Unite says Britain deserves a pay rise and is backing #fairpayfortnight – find out more about what you can do to demand that pay keeps pace with prices.

And setting the pace for investment was Siemens. The German engineering giant announced that it would invest £160 million and create in the region of 1,000 jobs in wind turbine production and installation facilities in the UK. Siemens will enhance its Green Port Hull and nearby Paull, East Riding operations, and its partner Associated British Ports is spending a further £150 million at its Green Port Hull development. Unite national officer Kevin Coyne said: “The country’s wind power industry has been blown back on course thanks to Siemens’ investment. 1,000 green collar jobs are a lifeline for manufacturing  … and it’s great news for renewable energy and for Britain’s economy. Unite looks forward to working with Siemens to make the facility a green manufacturing success story.”

However, not all the news was good on the manufacturing front. Carmaker Honda announced it was planning to cut production at its Swindon factory, with 500 jobs under threat. About 3,000 workers based at the South Marston plant - building the Civic, Jazz and CR-V – were told that car plant two would be closing with the loss of 340 permanent jobs, plus some 160 temporary roles as the Swindon site drops from three to just two shifts a day. Unite national officer for car manufacturing Tony Murphy said: "These losses are a wake-up call to the UK government. The economy is far too fragile to proclaim a recovery - those workers losing their jobs today will find claims that the country is turning a corner an insult. The truth is that there is simply no pick up in the incomes of Honda's customers, either here or in the eurozone. People are not confident and do not have the cash to spend. That is something which must give the government serious cause for concern … I appeal to Vincent Cable today to work with us to find ways of persuading Honda to think again on jobs and investment into this country."

And there was worse to come, as the government sells more Lloyds shares the Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks announced they were to close 28 branches across the country. Expect many jobs to go, and just days after chief executive Moya Greene had been asking for an above average pay rise, the Royal Mail yesterday announced that it is planning to cut 1,600 roles as part of a drive to cut costs by some £50 million. The cuts will be mainly among its head office managerial staff. Brian Scott, Unite officer for Royal Mail, said:“First the government sells-off Royal Mail on the cheap and now the newly privatised service is ruthlessly sacrificing jobs. We do not believe that it’s a coincidence that this announcement has been made just before the company prepares to announce its first full set of accounts since privatisation. It’s more proof that Royal Mail’s primary reason for existing is now about making profits rather than serving the nation.” As ever privatisation results in excess cash for the top bosses while the workers bear the brunt of so-called efficiencies – for that read job cuts. So the Royal Mail has not just been sold on the cheap, but the workers have been sold down the river, how typical or this Tory-led shambles of a coalition…

Edited by Mik Sabiers

  Morning Star

  • Privatised Mail axes 1,600 jobs (p1) – Unite/Brian Scott cited
  • Inflation fall boasts won’t help poorer workers (p2)
  • Siemens boosts economy with wind energy project (p2) – Unite/Kevin Coyne cited
  • Honda slashes 500 jobs (p3) – Unite/Tony Murphy cited
  • Clydesdale and Yorkshire to axe 28 branches (p4) – Unite/Rob MacGregor cited
  • Why we’re backing [NUT] strike action (p8-9)
  • Britain’s flawed nuclear policy (p10)

  Daily Mirror

  Sun (no links all stories now behind paywall)

  • Hard up times for Ed Miliband (p2)
  • Teachers walk out (p2)
  • Brits set for first pay boost in six years (p40)
  • Blast post – union fury at Mail job cuts (p38) – Unite/Brian Scott cited
  • [Honda] cars write off (p38)



  Times (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Miliband not fit for No 10, say most voters (p1)
  • Voters back Cameron over Boris (p4)
  • Tax free lump sum from pension pot too much, says IFS (p24)
  • Wipe that smile, the worst [of cuts] is yet to come – Daniel Finkelstein (p37)
  • Lloyds shares sold (p39)
  • Unions hit back at Royal Mail efficiency drive (p44) – Unite/Brian Scott cited
  • Honda jettisons 500 workers (p44) – Unite/Tony Murphy cited
  • Women find power elusive (p45)




  FT (no links all stories behind paywall)

  • Lloyds sale to target £4 billion for taxpayer (p1)
  • Lenders seek to end levy burden (p2)
  • Inflation drop to buoy confidence (p20)
  • Honda to scale back productions (p4) – Unite/Tony Murphy
  • Santander’s loan pledge (p18)
  • Lufthansa chief warns of threat posed by Gulf airlines (p18)
  • Union threatens action at Royal Mail (p20)

Comment on this story