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Welcome to In ToUCh e-bulletin from the TUC, the bite-size round up of our news and views.
This issue features the build up to the Future that Works demonstration on 20 October, a biography of new TUC President Lesley Mercer, and details of polling showing that the public are against regional pay.
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Future that Works: countdown
The TUC's Future that Works march and rally is now less than two weeks away, with the 20 October mobilisation shaping up to be another momentous day.
The aim of the demonstration is to highlight the immense damage government austerity measures are causing to the economy, public services and communities, and to call for an alternative future based on jobs, growth and tax justice.
The event got a big publicity boost when, in response to a question at the Labour Party conference, Ed Miliband said that he would be taking part. The main focus of the day will be in central London, with a march forming up at 11 am on the Embankment and heading to Hyde Park for a rally. Events are also taking place in Glasgow and Belfast.
The demonstration website is being regularly updated with information about the route and timings, and details of transport arrangements for the day. Those attending are urged to plan ahead as there is some disruption to the tube network in London on 20 October.
Visit the Future that Works website @
Get your placards ready
Union placards and flags will no doubt dominate the march, and as at the March for the Alternative in 2011, there are likely to be lots of individually made, personalised messages.
This year, in recognition of this particular art form, a competition for the best placard is being organised with an invitation to demonstrators to make videos explaining why they are marching.
Average worker is £1,600 worse off
The fact that most people are now getting poorer year on year will be a big feature of the demonstration, with new TUC research showing that the average worker is now £1,600 a year worse off than they were three years ago.
The study showed that workers will have to wait another nine years to get back to the level of income they enjoyed in 2009, during which time they will have suffered an average of £8,500 in real terms wage losses.
Further information @
Last month's TUC Congress marked the point at which Frances O'Grady formally became TUC General Secretary Designate.
The scrutineers' report to Congress confirmed that she had been nominated by 32 unions representing almost 96 per cent of the total TUC affiliated membership.
Lesley Mercer is TUC President
Lesley Mercer, Director of Employment Relations and Union Services at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, became the first representative of her union to be elected TUC President at the end of last month's Congress.
A member of the TUC General Council for the past 12 years, she was elected to succeed Paul Kenny on the final day of Congress. She will chair General Council meetings throughout the next Congress year before presiding at the 2013 Congress, which is to be held in Bournemouth between September 8 and 11.
More about Lesley @
Big hand for Ed
Labour leader Ed Miliband's address his party conference in Manchester was welcomed by the TUC.
'Ed Miliband spelled out a compelling vision of the new Britain we need to build, based on fairness and one nation social solidarity in place of inequality and division', said Brendan Barber.
Further information @
New proposals for small business announced by the Chancellor in his speech to the Conservative Party conference would have little positive impact on growth, the TUC said in response.
Find out more @
State run rail
The government decision to re-tender the contract for the West Coast mainline rail exposed the 'inherent flaws' of the current rail franchising system, the TUC said.
Instead of encouraging private operators to submit 'unsustainable bids' the Government should learn the lessons from the state owned East Coast mainline which last month posted a £20m increase in profits that will be reinvested back into the service.
More on this story @
Scrap regional pay: poll
Government plans for postcode pay in the public sector are unfair and would be bad for NHS patients and schoolchildren in poorer areas, according to polling published by the TUC in September.
Almost two-thirds of respondents in the poll - carried out for the TUC by pollsters Survation - think that government proposals for local or regional pay for public servants should be scrapped.
Summary details @
Full results available @
Wage rise is pay cut
The increase in the minimum wage by 1.8 per cent to £6.19 an hour for adult workers will result in the lowest paid suffering a real terms pay cut, the TUC said when the new rate came into effect on 1 October.
With RPI inflation running at 2.9 per cent, around 940,000 people, two-thirds of them women, will see a further squeeze on their living standards. Young people will be hit the hardest as the youth rate will be frozen at £4.98.
Full TUC response @
Shame pay cheats
Meanwhile, the TUC has welcomed the decision by Norman Lamb, Minister for Employment Relations, to name and a shame a business in Leicester for flouting the minimum wage and called for more employer abuses to be made public.
The Leicester-based Treena Professional Hair & Beauty Salon was found to have underpaid a former worker by more than £3,000 as a result of not paying the minimum wage.
Civil society crisis
The ability of voluntary and community organisations to support their local communities is being seriously undermined by funding cuts, delegates to a special TUC conference heard earlier in October.
Organised with the National Association of Voluntary and Community Action, the National Coalition for Independent Action, Unite and Unison, the event brought together over 100 different voluntary and community organisations.
More on this @
Living standards: still squeezed
Last month's inflation figures, showing CPI inflation at 2.5 per cent and RPI inflation at 2.9 per cent, demonstrate that the squeeze on living standards is continuing with price rises still outstripping wage growth.
The TUC added that worse news lay ahead for low-paid workers if the Government decided to freeze benefits. The combination of low wage growth, higher indirect taxes, in-work benefit freezes and tax credit cuts added up to an 'unprecedented' attack on the living standards of low-paid workers and their families.
More on this @
Lack of full-time work for women
Many of the recent increases in women's employment levels have been in self-employment and involuntary part-time work, which pose a threat to pay and job security, according to the TUC's latest economic report.
Published to coincide with a TUC seminar on women's work and benefits, the study looks at male and female employment trends since the recession. While male unemployment rose fastest during the first two years of the recession, female unemployment has risen more sharply in the last two years, mainly due to public sector job losses.
Summary information @
Access full report @
New state bank: too little, too late
Plans announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable for a new state investment bank received a cautious welcome from the TUC.
While the bank would provide much needed support for businesses to grow and create jobs, the TUC said that the £10 billion of lending available was not sufficient.
Earlier, a TUC-backed report by the Institute for Public Policy Research called for a state investment bank with £40 billion of funding available over four years.
TUC response to Vince Cable announcement @
TUC/IPPR report available @
Eroding rights won't boost growth
Government plans to reduce compensation for workers sacked unfairly will do nothing to boost economic growth, but will make it easier for bad employers to mistreat their staff.
The TUC welcomed the news that Business Secretary Vince Cable had rejected calls for employers to be able to fire employees at will, but said the proposals he put forward risked deterring genuine victims from pursuing cases.
More on this @
Government plans to abolish safety inspections in thousands of businesses across the UK will put the health of millions of workers at risk, the TUC warned last month.
'Contrary to myths peddled by ministers, the UK is facing an occupational health epidemic', said Brendan Barber. 'Over 20,000 people die every year as a result of a disease they got through their work and a further 1.9 million people are living with an illness caused by their work.'
Further details @
Fiji sanctions should continue
The TUC last month called on the European Union (EU) to continue imposing sanctions on Fiji after an International Labour Organisation (ILO) delegation was expelled for looking into possible human rights abuses.
The ILO group was instructed to leave within hours of arriving on the Pacific islands, despite being given earlier permission by the government to investigate reports that union activity was being criminalised and union activists targeted across the country.
More on this story @
Boardroom pensions bonanza
Directors of the UK's top companies have built up pension pots worth an average of £4.3m, according to the TUC's tenth annual PensionsWatch survey published in September.
PensionsWatch, which analyses the pension arrangements of 351 directors from FTSE 100 companies, shows that the average transfer value for a director's defined benefit pension has increased by £400,000 over the last year to reach £4.33m - providing an annual pension of £240,191. The biggest pension pot in this year's survey is worth £19.4m.
Summary details @
PensionsWatch 2012 available in full @
Stronger regulation and enforcement are needed to weed out sub-standard apprenticeship schemes and raise quality standards, the TUC argued in its submission to the Richard Review into the future of apprenticeships.
The TUC is a long-term supporter of apprenticeships and has welcomed the efforts of both the previous and current governments to boost the quality and popularity of apprenticeships.
But the TUC is concerned that a minority of employers are providing poor quality schemes which risk tarnishing the much-improved reputation of apprenticeships. Worse still, some companies are able to do this while still claiming government subsidies.
Summary information @
Read full submission @
Act on celebrity tax avoidance
With tax avoidance by companies and the super-rich costing the public purse an estimated £25 billion a year, the TUC last month published Kerching! - a spoof celebrity-gossip style magazine - to embarrass the government into acting against the celebrity tax dodgers who are only paying a fraction of the tax they should be.
Kerching! A Celebrity Guide to Tax Dodging lists the ten most popular ways in which celebrities and corporations get around tax rules, including the use of offshore trusts, an over-enthusiastic use of Gift Aid and an extensive use of tax havens like the Bahamas, Mauritius and Panama.
More this story @
Kerching! available @
Two important seminars and two conferences are scheduled for this autumn on key issues for the TUC.
The annual climate change conference takes place on 23 October, with Business Secretary Vince Cable amongst a range of speakers, including employers, union representatives, politicians and campaigners.
On 15 November there is the next in the series of After Austerity events, looking at executive pay, with speakers including Simon Walker from the Institute of Directors and Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott.
On 27 November union members who are pension fund trustees gather for their annual meeting, looking at ways of bringing union influence to bear on multibillion pound pension fund investments.
And on 3 December the TUC will be marking World AIDS day with a seminar looking at the workplace response to the pandemic and lessons from the three-year initiative recently completed in partnership with the Nigeria Labour Congress.
Details of TUC events @
A new publication from the North West Labour History Society - Up then Brave Women; Manchester's Radical Women 1819-1918 - will be launched on Saturday 13 October. The book looks at the role of women in movements such as Chartism, trade unionism, socialism and Votes for Women.
The launch event takes place at 6 pm at the Black Lion pub, 65 Chapel St, Salford M3 5BZ. The event is free.
More on the Society @
10 October IER employment law conference
17 October TUC poverty conference
20 October Future that Works demonstration
23 October TUC climate change conference
15 November Executive pay seminar
27 November Pension fund trustees conference
3 December World AIDS Day seminar
More info on TUC events @
New this month
TUC Publications List 2012 - the new publications catalogue - from Publications.
Labour market report no.29 - briefing on employment trends - from Economic and Social Affairs dept or @ http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-21435-f0.cfm
Economic report no.4 - examination of women's employment - from Economic and Social Affairs dept or @ http://www.tuc.org.uk/tucfiles/376.pdf
Details of TUC publications @
Find out about union history @
Check out union history on Facebook @
Visit website of the Working Class Movement Library @
Blog of anti-cuts campaign in Manchester @
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