I attended the TUC North West Annual Conference on the 29th March 2014 at Liverpool Town Hall on behalf of our branch.
The conference hosts all different unions like CWU/PCS/NUT/Unison from nurses to bank workers/train drivers and construction workers.
I arrived at 9am and went on the CWU stand until the conference started handing out union information and handing out goody bags.
The conference started with a short film on Tony Benn and Bob Crow with ta beautiful song tribute. Then a one minute standing applause.
The emergency motion was a Bob Crow Tribute - London May Day Rally on the 1st May in london which takes place on Worker's International Day. On this day Tony Benn will also be honoured. The RMT union will be at the forefront but all are welcome to joint that day.
The general motions were about supporting demonstrations against government cuts and that the con-dems must go, privatisation and perpetual austerity, Zero hour contracts and pay day loans. The NWRWC (North West Regional Women's Committee) has pay day loans as a motion at the CWU conference is year. A motion went through against Nick Griffin MEP and UKIP www.hopenothate.org.uk and firstname.lastname@example.org The motion on stamping out blacklisting and state surveillance by UCATT was very interesting and scary that companies are giving the government information on construction workers who ask questions about Health and Safety Issues and other issues . But this does not just happen in construction work it can happen in any company. Blacklisting can lead to imprisonment and unable to seek any other work. This is happening in this day and age. Bed room tax for the disabled people was brought up as they need a extra room for carers/wheelchairs. Another pressing issue of our times that is defeating the vulnerable members of our society.
Helen Kelly was guest speaker, she is the President of New Zealand Council of Trades.
Yesterday George Osborne laid out his plans for our money. In just under an hour he ran through plans for a guaranteed pot for the Mersey Gateway, a new £1 coin, tax cuts for savers and some changes to pensions. He mentioned the odd cut off things like beer and bingo but adding to the cost of cigarettes. In all its a lot to take in when you're working full time, got kids and a life to live. Then every paper and news show wants to feed their opinion down your throat telling you 'Osborne Cuts Cost of Living' or 'Osborne robs from the Poor' and to tell the truth, the one place I've found a fair report is on the BBC News website, others may have been fair, but for me the BBC explained it best.
It is a lot to take in and what are we the voting public meant to do with this information? Do we understand it? Where do they get these percents and data from? Does it effect me? Should I be saving more? Is my pension safe? These are all questions that come to mind when the budget comes on TV. I thought this must be thought by some other people, right? So to live by my word which is that educating each other is key to united success, I thought let me try and simplify the budget to make sense to you and me and see if it really is in favour of the real hard working tax payers, or just a slide towards protecting those in the billionaire's of Eton club.
First of all, austerity. This has been a big word over recent years, I remember using it as an excuse for
why I didn't pay for a ticket on the West Ham to Lakeside train, and a when trying to get a few extra wings in the chicken shop, "Why can't I afford a ticket? Are you mad, we're in austerity mate!". To me and probably a lot of us, the word 'austerity' has lost its value. Really and truly, in my opinion the word has been used as a 'buzz word' for the Government to excuse spending more on the people who already are doing ok, well doing lovely. Austerity means the reduction in buying luxury and consumer goods. An Apple product I would say is a luxury good. The Government put Apple products, mainly iPads into schools and now some schools are giving the kids iPads to take home and if they aren't, those kids are definitely going home and asking their parents to buy an iPad. I'm not saying innovation in education should be stopped for austerity, but the point i mean to make is that even though we are in 'austere times' we are still being force fed advertising about luxury goods from on our TV's to in our schools. How are we meant to live in austerity when our Prime Minister is encouraging people to get online and saying we want 5G Internet, but to be able to get faster speeds and online, we need luxury goods? I just remembered, with the instant loans we are being advertised every 2 seconds. The country is in debt, so its OK for the citizen's to get in worse debt with higher interest.
George told us yesterday that we don't save enough. Sorry mate, after all the cuts, that money I was saving got spent on making sure my family is fed, clothed and sheltered. Don't insult us George. Then he threw salt on the wound, we borrow too much. We borrow too much? We don't have finance education in the curriculum, they don't even teach you what a savings account is or how to save. But they allow companies to advertise that you can get a loan in minutes while not pointing out the 365% interest. His words make no sense, clearly there is a problem that people don't have enough money and are borrowing, maybe give people more money and they won't borrow as much? But lets look at what will happen if we save more of that money we don't have. We can put that money into an ISA and save up to £15000 tax free. I know my ISA is was being used to save for my wedding, but I had to use most of it on a new fridge, not that there was a lot in there and because I couldn't afford a good fridge, the one I have now is broken but can't afford a new one until I save some more. Are you seeing the circle?
What about the future? Has George got our futures in mind? Well he has released access to our pensions, you know, the ones that us under 25's don't understand and are struggling to put money aside for. Pensioners will have the freedom to cash in as much or as little of their pension as they want over the current process which is to get an annuity, from which I can tell is like a Bond, which you get a fixed income for the rest of your life, kind of like getting a wage while being a pensioner. In my opinion, this is good, I think we should get access to our pensions how and when we want. But as a whole, I find pensions complicated and hard to understand but encourage everyone to look into them and make sure you make an informed decision on your pension, because life is hard now, imagine being 65 with no money. Young people should be taught about pensions and the Government should make sure that every student has the opportunity to know about pensions before they go into the working world.
George also released some new bonds for pensioners, an annual 2.8% bond and a 3 year 4% bond. I don't see why a pensioner would want to put their money away for 3 years after spending 30 with their money tied up in their pension and working hard while saving to enjoy their later years. I know when I retire, I want to be able to spend a few quid on a nice car and a nice little bungalow by the sea. Hopefully spend the rest on potential grandchildren. That's me though and we are all different with different dreams. I call them dreams because I've got a lot of saving to do!
I don't see any point in me mentioning the changes in premium bonds because I know I'm not reaching the limit of £30000, I have £100 in premium bonds which was a gift when I was born and I've won a grand total of £25 in those 25 years. Good luck to anyone who has got loads of them, you can go up to £40000 in June, then £50000in 2015, while the number of millionaires will double. We can dream, some more.
Us workers will be getting an extra £500 tax free in our wages each year. This is good news, maybe I'll be able to get that fridge sooner. Oh wait, I'm still £1600 worse off since the blue boys sloped into power. Maybe I'll buy the fridge, then the freezer next year? I suppose I could take George's advice and SAVE the money I use on the heating seen as that is becoming an expensive luxury.
The help to buy scheme, being extended to 2020. This is good news for me, well it would be if I had more money to be able to get on the scheme. But if you have been saving, not that George thinks you have, this can be benefit to you!
Cap on UK welfare spending. This one just seems like a dig at Labour. I imagine George sitting in his nice office, leather chairs, expensive wooden desk, pictures of other rich mates on his wall in expensive frames, I imagine his pen is worth more than my trainers and not just the ones I got for £25 in the Saltbox and while he is sitting in this office in a nice suit thinking about how to 'save' for the rich and rob from the people. Welfare is key to rebuilding our country, welfare puts money into areas where there is none. But George wants to cap it and prevent too much money going into the hands of the working class.
Then Georgie Boy added, "In future, any government that wants to spend more on benefits will have to be honest with the public about the costs, need the approval of Parliament, and will be held to account by this permanent cap on welfare"
This sounds fair on the outside but looks to me like a chance for the Tories to penalise a Government for putting money in the places where its needed and making sure the money spent is enough. Conveniently, this is a 5 year cap, what happens in just over 5 years from now?
In case increasing risk of cancer, damaging your lungs and decreasing your chance of living longer isn't enough of a killer, you will now be given the privilege to pay a 2% above inflation increase in the cost of your cigarettes. I'm sure this will help the illegal trade of cigarettes from abroad or fake packets. Kill us quicker George, and rob us on the way.
Drivers will be glad to hear about £200 million to be set aside for pot holes. I would be more gal t hear that the Government are spending money on better tarmac and workmanship to prevent potholes, rather than fix problems, they could prevent them from happening again. £140 million will be going to flood defence repairs and maintenance. Great news for Cameron's constituents.We could go into a debate, toot little too late and on spending money on global warming and how other countries like the dutch deal with flooding, but that would be a diversion from the budget.
Air passenger duty reform means all long haul flights carry the same tax rate as currently charged for flights to USA. This isn't bad news, although I haven't been on a long haul flight in 10 years and doubt I will for a good few more years. For people who do use long haul flights this may bring a smile to their face.
The tax on beer is decreasing by 1p. First of all my local pub is currently close, we are fighting to get it back into the communities hands and stop demolition of the building so I can't go to my local, like a lot of others, our local pubs have been closed down and turned into American fast food outlets or housing. Also, 1 pence???? 1 whole pence???? You can't even buy many penny sweets now! For this to have a real effect I would need to buy at least 20-50 pints and I will have a tip for the cab home, but wait! I can't afford that many pints and on top of that, the Government are encouraging us to drink less? I just feel insulted. As a part of their advertising they said this budget is to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy. I don't enjoy bingo, I've never played and as mentioned, can't enjoy a pint in my local because its been closed. I'm sure the halving of tax on Bingo is great, but is this not going back to my earlier point of telling us not to lend but then advertising bad lending, in this case, telling us not to drink or gamble, but trying to encourage us on the other hand?
In all the budget has not had a major effect on me nor done anything great for me. I tried to use a few calculators online to help see how better or worse off I will be, but the BBC calculator said I would be £194 better off with tax credits of over £4000 but I know I'm not entitled to that much tax credits. The Tory calculator requires my email address and postcode, I'd rather not so swerved that. The best one I found was from the labour party. A really easy graph to work out how a Conservative Government benefits your life.
Finally George said we would be introduced to a new one pound coin. In the age of Bitcoin, Paypal, iZettle and contactless payments through mobile and plastic devices, I fail to see the benefit, yes there are 1 in 30 pound coins coming out as fake but when I was a kid I got a pound coin when I lost a tooth, now I hear kids getting £2 or even £5 notes! lets be innovative, lets move forward and stop wasting time on little plans to avoid our attention from the fact we are not better off under this government. If we were, why have food banks run out of supplies? Why have people had to move into cramped housing? Why is there a stupid gap between the capital and the rest of the country? We are being left behind while working to keep the country running with no benefit.
Big campaigns like Russell Brand's jumping around encouraging people not to vote will come about and fail. WHY? Because you cannot get EVERYONE not to vote, and the ones that will vote, will vote for the Tories or worse, UKIP. What we need to do is be more involved, lobby our local MPs, send emails and letters to Ed Milliband to tell him what we want and he can put it into place. We can become members of the Labour party and become a part of the difference to our nation. Too many of us leave politics to the boys from Eton, well now we need to stop letting them get away with robbing us. We have real working people within the Labour party who care about working people's issues as much as we do. Real people like Ian Lavery, Luciana Berger, Diane Abbott and so many more. The more working people that come together and be a part of the political activity in the UK, the stronger hold we can have on the issues that effect us in our country.
With the next general election coming close, I really do encourage everyone to talk more about the budget and educate each other about
politics so when the next election comes around we can come together and complete an educated vote for a better working nation. Don't look at the faults of previous leaders, look at the issues being raised by the leaders wanting your vote, look into what they want to do and whether you believe what they say. We can blame Blair for a lot, we can also blame thatcher, Cameron is not the baroness and Miliband isn't Blair so lets look at Cameron and Miliband and see who wants to build a better nation for the people living in it, not the investors and big boy bankers with nice big villas in exotic places.
Tony Benn stood among many great men but he stood out.
During Harold Wilson's Government, Benn was postmaster general. In this position he oversaw the opening of the Post Office Tower which was the UK's tallest building. Benn was also a part of the creation of the Girobank.
On the 40th anniversary of the Girobank, Benn said,
“It’s relevant to be talking about this subject at a time when the private banks are in a less reputable state than they were, discussion of a publicly owned bank is now very exciting.”
“We set up a bank without nationalising anything.
“It became the sixth-biggest bank in Britain,” Mr Benn continued. “Then, in 1978, Girobank was relaunched as a fully fledged bank but, in 1989, Mrs Thatcher sold it off to Alliance and Leicester.
“Then, in 2003, the name Girobank was dropped.”
The organisation chalked up notable firsts. It was the first bank designed with computerised operations in mind; the first bank inEurope to adoptOCR (optical character recognition)technology,the first UK bank to offer free accounts to individuals; the first bank to offer interest-bearing current accounts,and the first bank in Europe to offertelephone banking, operating several years prior to the start of Midland Bank'sFirst Directservice. It is widely credited for shaking up theUKbanking market, forcing competitors to innovate and respond to the needs of the mass market.
On this day, 14th March 2014, the Bootle Financial Services Branch of the Communication Worker's Union pay high respect to Tony Benn and our deepest sympathy and love to his family and friends.
Nikki welcomed everybody and
thanked everybody for all their work last year within this Committee.
Guest Duncan Healey and Emma Roberts
and guest speaker Teresa Griffin MEP Candidate.Gail
Robertson was appointed auditor for this year.
Donations for this year are
Went though the campaign plan
Then we went over to the normal
Regional North West meeting after the AGM had finished.
We received a copy of the new TUC Working
Women Book for our branch.
Teresa Griffin spoke on the how
the CWU places an important part in europe in the elections in May this year.
The vote goes on the percentage of people that have voted so if the ukip or if
the tories or lib dem get just 6 percent they are voted in. We need labour
members in europe as a lot of regulations and legislations like Health and
Safety , maternity pay and worker's rights all started from Europe and we all
know that this present government is trying to get rid of unnecessary (what
they think are unnecessary) legislation's and regulations for the workers. A Labour European member would
fight against this. So please vote in May it is
important the CWU will provide more information nearer the time. You can vote
by post as well . 60 more percent vote by post. Billy Hayes will be sending all
CWU members information how to do postal votes because a lot of people are not
registered to vote or just can not be bothered or able to walk to the voting stations. You can find out
yourself by wisiting www.aboutmyvote.co.uk selecting how do I vote
and then vote by post. Your vote is important in the European elections. If the
government can not run the country how can we trust them in Europe to speak on
We then went over promotional material
for the next 12 months like pens/mini torches.
Prop for conference that the
women’s magazine should go out with the voice. As 60 percent of women members
read the voice. That was the one from last year but it was not spoken on as
time ran out at conference.
Friday 7th March
is women’s international day and events are being held in Liverpool to
celebrate this important date.
We also went through what www.caadv.org.uk Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence stands for. It is a statement of commitment from business to
raise awareness and provide employers with practical support and tools towards domestic violence Members
are BP/The Body shop/British Airways and Department of health. Check the
website for more info.
Then we covered the meetings, venues
and events for 2014. We got to run through the women’s kit and it has three sections. Green is branch copy and purple is for
members and yellow for women’s officers. These are the colours in the women’s
north west logon.
Carl Webb thanked everybody for
all their work and Karen Bosson for all her hard work within the committee.
Please support the Women’s North
West Regional Committee as we are their to help you.
Health and Safety Officer
North West Health and Safety forum Women's Officer