Category Archives: Blog

Re-elect Len McCluskey!

I have been a member of Unite since I first started to work and am now the Chair of the Unite group in Parliament. I have seen first hand the hard work Unite members have put into ensuring Labour victories across the country and the incredible leadership Len McCluskey has shown.

Len has proudly led Unite the union since his election to office in 2010. Unite is the UK & Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members right across the country. He played a leading part in the negotiations that led to the formation of Unite through the merger of the Transport and General Workers’ Union and Amicus. From 2007, when Unite was formed, as Assistant General Secretary, Len’s work was dedicated to making the new union work for its members.

From Sports Direct to BMW, Easyjet to Jaguar Land Rover, from shipbuilding to London Buses, Unite is winning and improving conditions in workplaces across the UK and Ireland.

Leading the fight against failed austerity, defending our NHS and public services and challenging the rise of in-work poverty.  Bringing in thousands of new community members, standing shoulder-to- shoulder with the vulnerable in our communities and members across our union. He also built a strike fund of over £35 million to defend members fighting for justice.

Do not believe the lies and smears by the opposition’s campaign and the media. With 1,185 branch nominations, representing 559,000 members, Len is absolutely the right man for the job.

Len said:

“I will always fight to defend our members; fighting for proper funding of vital services, an end to ideological cuts and a return to investment in homes and people. Alongside resources to provide security, wages and conditions that value your work.

I will lead the fight to protect the vulnerable in society. Our support for the Peoples Assembly, action to defend our NHS and community campaigns to build user and worker alliances to help us win the struggles that affect us all.”

Len McCluskey’s re-election is important to the continued success of our movement, so if you’re a Unite member, then please #VoteLen.

Add a Twibbon on your Twitter profile picture: https://twibbon.com/support/i-voted-len/twitter

Fighting for Labour values

 

I campaigned to remain in the EU and the triggering of Article 50 is not the outcome Labour fought for last summer. But together, we can challenge Tory plans at every stage of this process. We must ensure that jobs, living standards and your rights at work are protected.

Labour’s focus is on making sure this Tory Government guarantees the rights and protections we value most. We cannot allow Britain to become a low-pay tax haven that only works for a few.

I will fight for real protection for the economy and the same benefits currently enjoyed within the single market. The UK needs to retain a strong relationship with our international partners, because important issues like climate change and cross-border crime cannot be tackled by one country in isolation.

Support the Great Daffodil Appeal 2017

Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal has been raising awareness and funds since 1986.

Every March, millions of people across the UK show their support for their work, simply by giving a donation to wear a daffodil pin.

Every hour donated by collectors, every penny raised, every daffodil people wear – it all helps fund crucial hours of care at home for people living with any terminal illness.

Without this generosity, thousands of families across the UK wouldn’t be able to make the most of the precious time they have left together.

The charity’s nurses work night and day, caring for people in their homes and in their nine hospices. They’re also there for people throughout their illness by giving practical information, offering support from trained volunteers and being there when someone wants to talk.

Anyone with a terminal illness, or a family member or friend, can request this help through their GP, district nurse, hospital nurse or consultant.

Last year, they provided care and support for more than 50,000 people living with a terminal illness, and their families.

Just £20 funds one hour of nursing care, so please donate

 

Walkers to Consult on Peterlee Crisp Factory Closure

The loss of Walkers Crisps is a devastating blow to the workforce at Peterlee and manufacturing in East Durham.

In the immediate aftermath of this decision my thoughts are with the employees and their families. In the weeks ahead support will be made available via Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response Team to help those affected who may need to retrain and upskill. The Rapid Response Team have been successful in the past assisting many of those made redundant from SSI on Teesside to make the transition into alternative employment.

It is quite right that we question the reasons given by Walkers to justify the closure of the Peterlee factory. Walkers have indicated the decision will improve productivity and deliver savings, however, locating production facilities in the South will increase their transport costs to the North of England and Scotland.

I hope Walkers will also be honest about the improvements required to retain East Durham’s manufacturing competitiveness, such as investment in transport infrastructure, skills and training.

The structural weaknesses in our local economy are issues that I will continue to raise with Government Ministers and the Local Enterprise Partnership who are tasked with strengthening and expanding business and employment opportunities in East Durham.

The Business Minister states the Government have invested £379.6m in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, however, there is little practical evidence of this investment in East Durham. Ministers are quick to exalt Nissan, however, our manufacturing base is much wider than one specific industry, and their over-reliance of a single business as an example of regional success is a worrying feature of the Government’s rhetoric.

Words are cheap. What we need now is practical support, to help those at Walkers, but also to deliver the growth required to provide the jobs we need for the future.

However, whether it is housing, education, transport investment, local government funding or business support, the North East is being hit first and hit hardest with spending cuts that are kicking away the ladders of opportunity that a responsible government would be looking to build.

To see the Government’s response to my questions about manufacturing in East Durham and Walkers Crisps, please visit: theyworkforyou.com

Invitation to sports funding workshop in Easington

Date: Thursday 6th April
Time: 6pm – 7pm
Venue: Shotton Community Centre, Bridge Road, Shotton Colliery, DH6 2PQ

Do you know how to access funding so that you can improve or upgrade your club?

Grahame Morris MP will be hosting a Sport England workshop on Thursday 6 April with Sport England experts who will be answering any questions you may have.

Sport England is the Government Agency working with grassroots sport. Its investment and expertise has helped thousands of clubs, such as yours, get more people playing sport more often.

Sport England understands that many clubs need that little bit of help and support when they are applying for funding, whether it is being directed to the right funding stream or making sure they take the correct steps when applying. The workshop will explain the funding available, which fund would be most appropriate for your project, and how to apply.

If you would like to attend please email: lee.longstaff@parliament.uk

International Women’s Day- #BeBoldForChange

International Women’s Day, held on 8 March, marks a celebration of the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of women.

Every person – women, men and non-binary people – can play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women. Through meaningful celebration and targeted bold action, we can all be responsive and responsible leaders in creating a more gender inclusive world.

The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. So around the world, International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity for ground breaking action that can truly drive greater change for women.

This year, the 2017 Spring Budget falls on International Women’s Day, but women won’t have much to celebrate under this government.

Never have we needed a Labour government more. Both at home and internationally we are seeing a worrying erosion of women’s rights and freedoms.

Labour has a strong record on advancing women’s rights and freedoms that we can be proud of. Almost every major piece of legislation that has improved the lives of working women has been introduced by a Labour Government. They brought in the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, The Equality Act, the minimum wage and introduced Surestart.

A woman I would like to pay tribute to today is Ruth Dodds.

Ruth was born on 8 May 1890 in Gateshead and attended Gateshead High School for Girls. Ruth wrote a number of plays reflecting her historical and political interests, including The Pitman’s Pay, about Thomas Hepburn, the miners’ union pioneer. Ruth was Secretary of the Gateshead branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and became more politically active around 1915.

During the War she started work in her family’s printing business on Newcastle Quayside until a disagreement with her brother in 1926 regarding the General Strike led her to leave the business.

After the War Ruth Dodds joined the Labour Party and her involvement in local politics grew. She served on a number of Gateshead Council committees as a co-opted member and in 1925 took over as editor of the monthly newspaper, Gateshead Labour News (later renamed the Gateshead Herald). In 1929 she was elected as a Labour councillor and retained this position for most of the next decade. Wider political ambitions, however, were not fulfilled as she failed to gain selection as Parliamentary candidate for Gateshead in 1931 or 1936.

Ruth found herself as one of thousands of North East women who worked long shifts in the region’s munitions factories. In her diaries she records observations on her working life at Armstrong’s armaments factory in Newcastle, and also her feelings about the war.

“I hate war and I hate killing and yet I am right to make munitions. I thought once that I could not, but since then I have changed my mind. And our men write saying that every shell helps to save their lives.

“I admire the German women who are working day and night for their men, and shall I not imitate what I admire? I cannot stop the war by holding back, but I and my like may shorten this war by working.

“And I cannot escape blood-guiltiness by sitting at home idle. Thank goodness I have no time for thinking these things when I am actually at work.”

Ruth Dodds’ contribution to her hometown was recognised in 1966 when she became the first woman to be made a Freeman of Gateshead.

Dodds was a pacifist and a Socialist; the last political action of her life was casting a postal vote in the municipal election of May 1972. Ruth was born into a world where women couldn’t even vote and yet she fought her way to become a councillor. Her admirable fight for what she believed in inspired the next generation of female politicians.

While International Women’s Day is about recognising how far we have travelled in the fight for gender equality, we must also recognise how much further we have to go, both in the UK and internationally.

In 2017, women in the UK are more likely to work for less pay than men, in low paid sectors and be disproportionately affected by cuts to public services

Empty words on equality and the occasional cash giveaway will not do. We need structural change, a budget and economy that work for everyone – not just a privileged few.

Under a Labour Government, all economic policies will be gender audited to ensure that we have an economy that works for all.

For International Women’s Day 2017, we’re asking you to #BeBoldForChange.

Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.

Stop attacks on NHS staff

Ahead of today’s Westminster Hall Debate relating to attacks on medical staff I would like to issue my support and solidarity to everyone working for the NHS.

They are the everyday heroes in our communities; from the doctor performing pioneering surgery, to the auxiliary bringing an old lady a cup of coffee, we cannot take them for granted.

I firmly believe that more action is needed to protect our healthcare staff from violence and aggression.

A survey by the Royal College of Nurses found that 56% of their members had experienced physical or verbal abuse from patients, and a further 63% from relatives of patients or members of the public. Their survey of lone working nurses also found that 10% reported being physically abused over the previous 2 years, and 60% suffered verbal abuse.

These figures correspond with reports from NHS Protect that show a 4% rise in physical assaults against healthcare workers in England from 67,864 in 2014/15 to 70,555 in 2015/16.

Whilst much of the current focus on violence in the NHS draws attention to pressures in Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments, I am also aware that physical assaults occur in a variety of environments including mental health and in the community. The risk of physical assault is even higher for staff working alone – the proportion of lone workers in the NHS sustaining an injury from a physical assault is approximately 9% higher compared to non-lone workers.

Criminal sanctions are not always appropriate and must go alongside prevention.

There are a number of preventative actions which can be taken to reduce and manage the risk of physical assaults such as training in conflict resolution, the provision of lone worker alarms and well-designed environments. However, the length of time waiting to be seen by a health professional is cited as a common factor behind assaults.

A specific offence would send out a strong deterrent message to those who wilfully assault professionals and other health care workers in the pursuit of their work. Such a law would need to be inclusive of all NHS staff working in a variety of environments.

The Tories have made it progressively harder to train and work in the NHS, despite a high demand for these professionals. Medical staff do not deserve to be abused whilst carrying out their job and I fully support any law that would protect them further.

The success of the NHS Breast Screening Programme

Yesterday NHS Digital released the impressive statistics for the NHS Breast Screening Programme, England 2015-16.

Under the NHS Breast Screening Programme, all eligible women aged between 50 and 70 are invited for breast screening every three years, with the aim of detecting breast cancer at an early stage and increase the chances of successful treatment.

The report contains statistics on the proportion of eligible women who have been screened in the last three years, uptake of invitations, outcomes of screening and cancers detected as a result of breast screening.

The Key findings include:

  • In total, more than 2.16 million eligible women aged over 45 were screened, an increase from 2.11 million in 2014-15., which represents an increase of 2.7%.
  • 2015-16 saw the first increase in coverage in five years with 75.7% of women aged 53 to 70 having a recorded test within the last three years.
  • All regions outside of London met the NHS minimum standards for breast screening coverage. London reported breast screening coverage of 69.3%.
  • Uptake of invitations was highest among the women in the 65-70 age groups (73.4%).
  • Uptake at a regional level was above the national minimum standard of 70%, except London, which reported invitation uptake of 64.9%.
  • Of all women screened and with cancers detected, 41.2% (7,543 women) had small but invasive cancers (<15mm) that are usually too small to be detected by self-examination.

This is extremely promising and I hope that the success of the programme continues, and reduces cases of one of the worst types of cancer. I would encourage every woman to get screened whenever it becomes available to them.

Read and interact with the report with here:http://content.digital.nhs.uk/pubs/brstscreen1516

 

 

Heart Unions week

From the 8th to 14th of February, the TUC are running a special week of action throughout England and Wales. It will showcase the amazing work unions do, and tell the stories of ordinary members and reps. It’s all about getting members involved, telling positive union stories to the wider public, and recruiting new members to the union movement.

Now, more than ever, we must come together to protect our rights and promote equality in the workplace. Trade union membership currently makes up about 25% of the working population in the UK. However, barely 5% of trade union members in the UK are aged 16-24, but more than one third (39%) are aged over 50. Yet young workers are some of the most vulnerable, who are particularly affected by low pay, precarious contracts, over-qualification, without opportunities for training and progression.

They are often working in sectors with low or no union presence and without collective agreements, such as in retail, hospitality and outsourced social care. They are the workers who could benefit the most from union membership, yet their voice is currently missing from the movement. It is essential these young workers have a better understanding of, and are able to participate in, trade unions.

This means that we need to get better at responding to their needs and organising in ways that benefit them. This will mean organising in different ways, using digital tools and listening to young workers values and aspirations. If we are unable to involve young workers, we won’t have a trade union movement in the future.

The challenge is significant, but I hope that heart unions week gives members and activists the opportunity, ideas and confidence to rise to it.

Parliament is coming to East Durham

The Parliamentary Education Service will be visiting six schools in East Durham during March as part of the Regional Education Outreach Programme.

Although some of these visits have been suspended due to recent events, they should be re-arranged for the next few weeks.

Children at Ribbon Academy, Cotsford Junior School, Westlea Primary, Shotton Hall Primary, Dene House Primary and Ropery Walk, will learn about how Parliament works by taking part in workshops and activities around debating and finding out about how elections work and legislation is passed.

Easington MP Grahame Morris said:

“The Outreach Programme is a fabulous scheme bringing Parliament closer to young people in East Durham who may not have the opportunity to visit the House of Commons like schools nearer to London.

The Parliamentary Education Service offers a multitude of materials and resources to cater for children of all ages and I would encourage schools in East Durham to make use of their services.

There are also schemes to subsidise transport costs for schools in East Durham who would like to visit parliament.”

If you would like more information regarding the Parliament Education Service please visit: www.parliament.uk/education