Friday, 29 May 2009
I'd worked for Balfour Beatty for 30 years.
And then they laid me off.
It all started to go wrong when Scottish Power decided to cut their maintenance contract with my company. It was like the management seized the opportunity to cut jobs - especially those of union members.
If the worst came to the worst, I always thought that they'd look for voluntary redundancies or to re-allocate workers - even offer early retirement first.
But no - they went straight for compulsory redundancies. No second chances. No hope.
It was difficult to comprehend quite what was going on - and you have no idea how painful redundancy is until you've lived through it.
But this doesn't need to happen to you. The Unite for Jobs campaign is calling for more support to keep people like me in work through this downturn. I've already used the Unite website to write to my MP, Douglas Alexander, asking him to support Unite's campaign. The Unite website makes it easy to do - just click here:
We need the real help that can keep people like me in work. After all, I was the most experienced in my team - with 45 years in the industry. But they still sacked me - and four of my colleagues, from a team of six. You'd have thought after so many years of work that they could have waited a few months for a new contract - and kept my skills.
After all, I've got the perfect CV for work in the renewable energy sector - the jobs we'll need to build a green economy. But my employer chose to simply throw these skills away. We need real change to how we do business over here - and that is why I'm whole-heartedly supporting the Unite for Jobs campaign.
When job losses are announced on the news it's easy to forget that there are people behind those numbers. I'll never forget the day that one of the numbers on the telly was me - that's why I'm writing to ask for your help in making the system fairer.
It's not hard to write to your MP - but it will make a real difference. Please click here:
It only took me a few minutes to send my letter. There are already 122 MPs signed up to support our campaign. Will your local MP be our 123rd supporter?
Thank you for reading my story - and I hope you take part in this part of the campaign.
AlanUnite member from Scotland
With thousands of skilled manufacturing jobs now on the line at Vauxhall's plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton, we need our government to show it is not prepared to stand by and let these jobs disappear. With its actions at LDV, the government has shown that it has accepted the need - and principle - of getting involved in saving manufacturing jobs.
That's a good start, but the government needs to do more. Use your voice - send a message to government today by going to:
Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson need to hear from you. They represent the government; together we represent the workers. It is up to us to make our voices heard, and persuade them that government intervention is crucial if British manufacturing is to survive the economic downturn.
Send a message to government - and make your voice heard by going to:
In a recent radio interview Lord Mandelson warned of "painful change" at Vauxhall in the future if GM's operation is sold. He also said that he was 'working hard' to secure the future of Vauxhall's plants.
We need to make sure he does that - send him a message by going to:
Derek Simpson and Tony WoodleyUnite the Union
Sunday, 24 May 2009
Some of the information I would of liked to share with you in the past was not for the eyes of our competitors so I couldn't put it in the public domain.
On this page I will publish the results of ballots etc. Whenever I upload to the hourly paid site I will post a link to it on the main page to remind you to look.
Don't forget I need an email from you with clock number and name to give you permission to view.
There is a link on the right hand side of this page to email me.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
April sees a rise in total redundancies and a number of large scale job
In April a total of 18813 redundancies were announced in Unite companies,
up on the March total of 13161. Following first quarter results many
companies have embarked on further rounds of job cuts. Whilst the numbers
for April are not as dramatic as the job cuts announced in January of this year,
the last month nevertheless represents an upturn in the trend of monthly job
Please use link above for full report.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
The Department has published National Statistics on provisional figures for freight traffic at UK ports during in 2008 according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.
Provisional figures show that in 2008:
Total freight traffic through UK ports was 563 million tonnes (Mt), a fall of 3.3 per cent on 2007. Of this traffic, 549 Mt (over 97 per cent) was through the 52 major ports.
Inwards traffic fell by 3.1 per cent to 347 Mt, whilst outwards traffic fell by 3.5 per cent to 216 Mt.
Since 1988, total traffic has risen by 70 Mt (14 per cent). Inwards traffic increased by 28 per cent whilst outwards traffic decreased by 3 per cent.
Grimsby and Immingham maintained its position as the UK’s leading port in 2008 with 65.3 Mt (down 1Mt on 2007), followed by London with 53.0 Mt (virtually unchanged) and Tees and Hartlepool with 45.4 Mt (down 4.3 Mt).
The breakdown of major port traffic by cargo type in 2008 was: liquid bulk 44 per cent; dry bulk and other general cargo 27 per cent; lift-on lift-off (lo-lo) containers 11 per cent; and roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) cargo 18 per cent.
The top ten ports in 2008 in terms of tonnage were as follows:
Grimsby and Immingham
Tees and Hartlepool
The Department for Transport (DfT) has released its provisional throughput figures for the major UK ports for 2008.
Total freight traffic through last year was at 563m tonnes, a fall of 3.3% on 2007.
Inbound traffic fell by 3.1% to 347m tonnes, while outbound fell by 3.5% to 216m tonnes.
Grimsby and Immingham maintained its position as the leading port in 2008 with 65.3m tonnes (down 1m tonnes on 2007), followed by London with 53m tonnes and Tees and Hartlepool with 45.4m tonnes.
The breakdown of major port traffic by cargo type in 2008 was liquid bulk 44%, dry bulk and general cargo 27%, containers 11% and ro-ro cargo 18%.
A spokesperson said the DfT would release a more in depth breakdown in September.
Now we need to build on this momentum - will you write to your MP asking them to support our Unite for Jobs campaign?
Our campaign is about putting people first. Over the past few weeks thousands upon thousands of people have left messages on our website - it is their stories that have resonated; the tragedy of redundancy, the stress of threat to livelihood and the morale-crushing pain of long term employment.
They are the voices of this recession, the reason why we act and ultimately show the importance of our Union
The Unite for Jobs campaign has been about telling their story - through photos, email and blogs we've shown who really suffers in this recession.
But change comes through action. That's why we marched - sending the message that without an active Government safeguarding Britain's jobs and talents, we all suffer - socially and economically.
Now we'd like Unite members to contact their MP to send this message personally. We've set up a tool that lets you email your MP - will you send a message?
The power of our Union comes through collective action and a unified call for change. There is not a town, street or family in the land untouched in some way by this recession, but if we stand together we can emerge from this downturn stronger and fairer than before.
Our march in Birmingham was a great success but we need to build on this momentum. Please email your MP and help rally political support to our call for change.
Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley
Monday, 18 May 2009
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is becoming increasingly concerned at the number of containers arriving in the UK with misdeclared weight information.
Christine Barringer, head of the transportation section at the HSE, said there had been a number of recent incidents that had raised concerns, not just regarding underdeclared boxes, but also there were fears over instability during haulage.
She said it was unclear how widespread the problems were, but there had been an increasing number of enquiries for advice.
Figures from the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency showed that in 2007 and 2008, 25,529 vehicles had been stopped and weighed in roadside checks, and 7,760 were over the legal weight.
The HSE was recently contacted by a large UK-owned company seeking advice, after an unstable container had overturned while being unloaded.
The incident has pressed the HSE to begin looking at ways to collect more data on misdeclared containers.
"We know that there have also been accidents where people go to unpack a container and it literally bursts open, because the load inside has fallen, or it was badly packed, " Barringer said.
She added that initial findings by the Marine Accident Investigation Board’s investigation into the MSC Napoli had unveiled a "shocking" number of misdeclared containers.
"Of the ones they were able to weigh, 20% were more than three tonnes different from their declared weight. The largest single difference was 20 tonnes and the total weight of 137 containers was 312 tonnes heavier than on the manifest."
Thursday, 7 May 2009
This week, the Government began to show what can happen when the right choices are made. By extending a helping hand to LDV, the Government has given this manufacturer, and these workers, a chance of a working future.But LDV is by no means safe yet - as with thousands of manufacturing jobs across the country, we need sizeable and strategic action to protect the jobs and talents of our country's workers.That's what we're marching for in Birmingham - and it'd be great for you to join us. We've laid on free transport from across the country, there will be music and entertainment for the kids - all you need to do is sign up here:
You'll be joined by thousands of workers from across the country - a real demonstration of the desire for change across Britain. I know that these are difficult times, but our best chance of winning the support we need is to stand together.
And while I know that hundreds of thousands of people across the country support our march, not all of you will be able to join us.
If you can't make it to Birmingham - why not leave a message of solidarity with those who will be Marching for Jobs?
Derek and I will be reading through your messages - and we've both agreed to read out the best message to the crowd in Birmingham. So if you can't be there in person, you can still join us in spirit.
Your support is crucial because this campaign is about fairness for each and every one of us.We asked people to work hard. They worked hard. We asked people to train, retrain, and train some more. They've taken education levels to record highs. We asked them to save and buy their own homes. We became a nation of homeowners. We asked people to obey the rules and look after their community as well as themselves. We asked people to trust the system.And the result?Unemployment is up, repossessions are up, poverty and human misery will sadly follow. The people who have done nothing wrong feel the full force of the downturn, while those who caused the pain remain largely unaffected. Our economy is not in recession because of a lack of talent, ingenuity or hard work from the British people. Our economy is in recession because of the greed and irresponsibility of a few.In Birmingham we'll be taking a stand for all of these reasons and more - we need you to be there. Please join us.
After AXS-Alphaliner reported a decrease in idled container ship capacity during the first half of April, the first dip in six months, experts are predicting a surge of overcapacity by the end of the year.
According to AXS-Alphaliner, 485 vessels of 1.42 million TEU were idle at the end of March, representing 11.3% of the global fleet.
By April 13th, although the vessel count was 486, the idled capacity had dropped to 1.31 million TEU or 10.4% of the fleet.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
IT'S a stark sign of the times - part of Britain's premier port looking like a giant empty car park.
Landguard Terminal at Felixstowe has been mothballed, mainly because of the recession, partly because it will be demolished to make way for a new deepwater quay.
Forty years ago, this quayside was the scene of the birth of the containerisation revolution in the ports' industry in the UK - the very first purpose-built box terminal.
Now its high-rise ship-to-shore cranes are standing idle, its quayside storage area empty.
With cargo around 16 per cent down due to the global economic downturn - the UK's shops needing fewer goods to sell and its businesses and building trade less raw materials - all the visiting vessels can be handled at Trinity Terminal.
The port has switched Landguard's ships across to the northern part of the port, where they fill the gaps left by the drop in the number of ships visiting and the faster turnaround of those delivering less boxes than usual.
It means the workforce can be focussed on one terminal, rather than having split workloads at different ends of the 700-acre complex.
For ship-spotters using the viewing area alongside Landguard it means less to look at - binoculars are needed to observe Trinity.
Port chiefs had initially planned to have Landguard operating all the time while the first phase of the new south terminal was built.
It could mean though that Landguard will not see action again until it is extended out into the estuary with deepwater dredged alongside, new cranes and extra back-up land.
The project - originally earmarked for 2014 - will also see the viewing area demolished and rebuilt with extra car parking, heritage centre, toilets and foot ferry berth, in front of Landguard Fort.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Please see below a link to the revised TUC guidance on pandemic flu. It is at the same web address as the previous guidance so those unions that have links to it need not change that. www.tuc.org.uk/pandemicflu
The guidance is intended to be both relevant to the current situation as well as dealing with the broader issues. This is because, regardless of what develops over the next few weeks, employers should be developing plans to deal with a possible outbreak in the future. The new guidance also gives more detail on issues such as masks and anti-viral medicines as that seems to be what people are asking about, and links to government/HSE advice where appropriate.
The current signs are that the outbreak of H1N1 may spread quickly but initial indications seem to be that the strain that has been carried to Europe is milder than was feared at first. That could however change as the virus mutates. Meanwhile however there is no reason for any panic measures and simple good hygiene and people who are sick staying at home is the best immediate response.
In April 2009 a new strain of influenza broke out in Mexico and by the end of the month the World Health Organisation had assessed the risk of a pandemic as level five - indicating human-to-human transmission in at least two countries. This is the highest rating below an actual pandemic (level six). The Mexican outbreak appears to be a new version of the H1N1 strain of influenza type A. H1N1 is the same strain which causes seasonal outbreaks of flu in humans on a regular basis. But this latest version of H1N1 is different: it contains genetic material that is typically found in strains of the virus that affect humans, birds and swine
It is estimated that from the initial outbreak of a new influenza virus strain, once it is in the UK, it could spread to all major cities within two weeks with a peak around 50 days from initial entry in the country. Influenza pandemics occur either in a single wave or several waves that can be weeks, or even months, apart.
Why pandemic influenza is an issue for trade unions
The TUC believes that trade unions and employers, working together, can make a significant difference in ensuring that the effects of a pandemic are minimised, that the workforce are educated and informed on transmission issues, and in helping ensure there is no panic. Unions will also have a major part to play in ensuring that those workers who are ill as a result of infection stay at home and do not come in to work either through misplaced loyalty or employer pressure.
It is important that employers do not wait until the outbreak of pandemic flu before considering what measures they need to take. At the same time, it is also important that people do not take panic measures. Although the government response is based on the “worst case scenario”, with the closure of schools, major problems with transport and distribution, and very high levels of sickness, it will be impossible to predict the actual full effect of a pandemic until the beginnings of an outbreak. That is why forward planning must be flexible, practical, and based on realistic assessments of likely risk.
What unions can do
Trade unions should ensure that their employer has in place either a separate policy for dealing with pandemic influenza, or a general policy covering major disasters or incidents that also covers major public health incidents such as pandemic influenza. It should not be left to employers alone to decide on what is an appropriate response. Unions must also be involved, as any effective policy must have the confidence of the whole workforce.
Dealing with sickness absence
Some employers are planning for absenteeism rates of up to 50%. This is on the basis that it will not only be those who are ill that are unable to come into work, but also those looking after family members who are ill or those with children in the event of schools being closed. In addition, in the event of a severe pandemic, some staff will be afraid to come into work for fear of contracting the virus. There may also be difficulties with public transport.
While it is impossible to predict the likely rate of absenteeism during a pandemic, trade unions should ensure that employers are committed to equal treatment of all those who are absent. Those who are unable to travel because there is no public transport, or those who have got dependents who they cannot leave, should be treated no differently from those who are themselves ill. It is important that they are not disadvantaged in terms of issues such as pay, compared to those staff who are able to work from home.
Trades unionists will have to ensure that employers do not encourage staff to come in when they are ill and may themselves have to try to ensure that staff do not attempt to come to work through misguided loyalty to their employer or their client or their work colleagues. It is important that all staff who are ill remain at home until fully recovered. The HSE and government advice is clear. “Advise your staff to stay at home if they are sick with flu-like symptoms and send home any employees who are displaying flu-like signs/symptoms.”
Louisa Peacock28 April 2009 09:50
The UK has finally won its right to retain the opt-out to the Working Time Directive.
Talks on the European legislation broke down without agreement for the final time in Brussels last night, meaning employees will be able to continue to work more than 48-hours a week if they choose.
MEPs have been trying since November to limit the amount of hours an employee can work , claiming that many people were being exploited.
But the collapse in talks marks the end of the European Parliament's proposal to scrap the opt-out in three years.
Employment relations minister Pat McFadden said: "We refused to be pushed into a bad deal for Britain. We have said consistently that we will not give up the opt-out and we have delivered on that pledge.
"Everyone has the right to basic protection surrounding the hours that they work, but it is also important that they have the right to choose those hours."
Employers will be relieved at the news, as a cap on working hours could have led to staff demanding pay rises to make up the money they would have made under the opt-out.
More than one in 10 employees work beyond 48 hours per week, according to government figures, amounting to three million staff.
David Yeandle, head of employment policy at manufacturers' body the EEF, said: "Manufacturers will be relieved that they and their employees can now continue to use the individual opt-out from the average 48 hour working week following the collapse of discussions in Brussels last night.
"Retaining the opt-out will help employers to manage working time so that they can respond quickly and efficiently to changing customer demands and enable employees to choose to earn more by working longer hours." He called on the European Commission not to re-open negotitations.
The opt-out dossier in its current form will be formally axed when the conciliation timetable reaches its official conclusion next month. The European Commission will then decide how to proceed.
Over 600 loyal, but sacked Visteon workers are now fighting for justice from their employers. Last month they were sacked by the components company with only moments' notice, denied redundancy pay and the pensions they'd saved years for and were promised when they transferred from their previous company, Ford. Unite believes Ford were complicit in helping Visteon make the most of weak UK labour laws to put these workers out of a job. You can help these workers by signing the petition by going to:
Both Ford and Visteon behaved appallingly; Now hundreds of workers and their families face a future with no income, no job and no pensions. Work with us to get these workers their jobs back - and to make sure workers who lose their jobs are paid what they're owed. Please sign the petition by going to:
This shameful behaviour has to end - now. UK employment laws must change to stop this callous mistreatment of UK workers.Please sign the petition today and send a clear message to companies like Ford and Visteon - your behaviour will not be tolerated. And help us show the UK Government that the British people demand justice for workers, now. Sign the petition by going to:
Growing interest in the port-centric logistics concept has led senior PD Ports executives to predict bullish 2009 volumes as possible buyers circle the company, now officially for sale.
Commercial director Graham Wall predicted a 27% growth in container volumes at Teesport in the financial year, which begins on 1 July, despite the recession. The port has seen an 8% decline this year.
The company expects the new Tesco distribution centre at Teesport to be a major source of cargo when it opens on 17 August, with 160,000 pallet spaces generating additional container imports through the port.
Asda is also expected to increase its throughput at the port, while a series of other deals are in the pipeline.
"We’ve secured a deal with a major 3PL that is going to confirm another 17,000teu, " said Wall.
Logical Link and East Coast Feeder are also driving volumes. Then there are smaller port-centric logistics deals we’ve done, for instance with Tailors of Harrogate, where we’ve secured a contract for 1,000 containers a year.
"We’ve also secured a deal with Containerships, which acquired Contaz, and we’re now deemed as the Containerships transhipment hub in the UK, which we expect to develop another 20,000teu with their advancement into the Mediterranean.
PD Ports is for sale following Australia-based owner Babcock and Brown filing for administration in March.
Despite uncertainty over its future ownership, executives also remain confident that the planned 1.5m teu Northern Gateway development will proceed, with phase one expected to begin operations in mid-2013.
Wall explained that six shipping lines and four major retailers/industrials had issued letters of intent expressing interest in shipping through Northern Gateway.
DFDS has admitted it is interested in buying ferry operator Norfolkline from Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk.
DFDS confirmed it was holding discussions with Maersk but declined to say whether it had made an offer.
“We can confirm that DFDS is amongst the parties with whom discussions are taking place,” said DFDS CEO Niels Smedegaard, “It is uncertain, whether a transaction will take place.
“DFDS’s interest is based on a strategic objective of expanding the route network to include more regions in northern Europe to improve the competitiveness of transport solutions and realise operational synergies, including consolidation of existing activities.”
Maersk revealed last week it was interested in selling Norfolkline.
In a shareholder announcement Maersk said it was holding discussions with prospective buyers.
The global container fleet overcapacity that contributed to last year’s dramatic decline in ocean freight rates is set to continue, despite predictions of a revival in trade growth next year.
Paul Bingham, MD of IHS Global Insight’s global commerce and transportation group, believed volumes would start to improve by the end of the year and reach a growth rate of 5% during 2010, driven by increased consumption, inventory restocking and improved credit availability.
And, IHS figures estimate, annual growth between 2009 and 2013, will average around 4%.
However, figures from Lloyd’s Register Fairplay show that the global container fleet will grow by around 9% a year - despite ship scrapping.
"There is no question that oversupply of vessels on a sustained basis will help suppress the rates shippers will have to pay," said Bingham.
He added that low rates would also support trade growth and continued globalisation, which had been questioned because of the high cost of fuel, increasing protectionism - fuelled by recession - and lack of trade finance.
"In fact [low rates] will also contribute to the resistance of the global economy to any sort of reversed globalisation impacts from factors such as the fuel price spikes we saw last summer, " said Bingham.
"We think [low rates] will act as a boost to facilitate and support the return to growth of trade in the world, but is not significant enough on its own."
Monday, 4 May 2009
The port of Felixstowe has seen a 20% decrease in the amount of traffic passing through over the past six months.
During previous downturns the port continued to grow, albeit slowly, as Richard Bond explains.